Tuesday, March 6, 2012


There are two quick items I'd like to address related to my blog.  These issues have arisen in the course of blogging on the first three cards of the Major Arcana.

1.  When I initially mentioned the order that I was going to take the cards in, especially the Minor Arcana, I went with a more traditional order for the cards.  However, in re-reading Chanel's book on the King's Journey tarot, I remembered that she had a specific order in mind for the Minor Arcana that corresponded more with her model for the journey of the deck.  This makes a lot of sense, and in that spirit I am going to take the Minor Arcana in the following order:


In this manner I can model my own personal journey in the same way that Chanel did when she designed the deck.

2.  I am a busy man with a full time job and two volunteer obligations.  I believe that I have set myself up for failure in setting a six month goal for completion of this project.  I thought that a short timeline would be a good discipline, however the nature of this project is all about reflection and introspection on the journey that I am taking - the journey that we all are taking.  So, again, in the spirit of Julie and Julia, which was my inspiration for the project, I am setting myself a one year deadline for the project.  Therefore my completion date will be February 12, 2013.  This way I can truly take the time I need for each card and also be able to reflect on the overall nature of how the cards fit together - the "big picture."

I sure wish there was a tracking option for these blogs so I could set deadlines - oh well!  Such is life.

That is all.  Next up is the Empress.


Friday, March 2, 2012

II The High Priestess

II - High Priestess

We have left the Magician behind, but have acquired his influence in a direction and a recognizing of our talents and our abilities.  He is a masculine influence who encourages action, even though he sits and ponders at his stand.  We are still just starting out so we need something more - we'll obviously get much more as we head down the path of Tarot.  But what is next?

Slowly, night falls.  Fortunately the moon is full and bright, with a halo that reflects from the mist in the air.  The chill of the air and the breeze cool us, but we are alert and ready to face whatever comes our way.  Over a ridge and through a dark copse of trees we see a woman clad in purple holding her arms up.

She appears to be in the middle of a trance, or a dance.  She holds a veil in the air that is parted over her face.  She has gained the ability to see through the veil.  A spirit being is being invoked.  Her Spirit self emanates from a boiling cauldron behind her.  She has an air of a witch.  A female magician that is invoking a spirit from the Fire and Water of the cauldron, and from the Earth and the Air that surrounds her.  The spirit dances behind her, wispy and transparent, obscuring the moon.  Also behind her is a bowl that contains some new growth of plants, there is an aura of mystery and darkness permeating this place.

This is a ceremony.  Ceremony is such an important part of our life, whether we know it or not.  Ceremonies can bring a young man or woman into adulthood.  Ceremonies can initiate people into sacred circles.  Ceremonies can lift us up and connect us with something bigger, more spacious, than ourselves.

She trusts her divine guidance.  I see the divining pendulum that is her belt as a certainty that Spirit will give her the correct answers and show her the way.   But the divining pendulum also indicates that she doesn't necessarily have all the answers.  She sometimes needs a little help to discover what is needed in any situation.  She also wears a necklace with spirals, indicating the circular nature of life and the universe.  She understands all of this and beckons us to join her.

The High Priestess brings us our first contact with Spirit.  She has opened the veil to the Spirit world and can see clearly with both material eyes and spiritual eyes.  This can be a scary place at first, but the little gnomes working away in the background remind us that the High Priestess is still connected with the Earth, and with work.  She brings a balance of the Spirit and material world, but she also stands as a gateway.  None can pass through to the Spirit without her allowing it.  You could say that in our spiritual endeavors she is the one that grants us the vision.

But she is also the keeper of the Sacred Temple.  She stands, framed by the stone and the cauldron, as if she is protecting the Spirit being behind her.  She protects the Spirit and keeps it from the influences of evil, greed and corruption.  She allows us into that world when we are ready for it.  We are all in various stages of growth, various stages of rebirths.  We all have important lessons we are learning in this lifetime.  At the age of 49 I can see more clearly several of the important lessons and karmic growth that I am facing. 

It's funny how our spirituality grows throughout our lifetime.  I remember when I was very young, my grandfather was the head of the local Episcopalian Church in Fullerton.  I don't remember too much about going to church but I remember my grandfather being a very funny, and stern, man.  I had heard about God and I imagined that God must be holding me up like puppet strings, leading me around and guiding me to where I was going.  Well, I guess I had a funny view of God back then.

My father was a rebel and didn't want to follow the Christian spiritual path.  As I got older my father became involved briefly in the Transcendental Meditation group.  I was probably around ten years old and he actually paid for me to get some meditation lessons.  I got my "secret mantra" and was put into a room by myself where I was supposed to close my eyes and repeat the mantra over and over in my mind.

OK, so I'm only ten years old, mind you, and this place was a little strange.  It was a large, white house that was in the city of Orange.  I sat in the dim room and when I realized that I had been left alone I got up and wandered around the room.  I apparently wasn't ready to meditate yet.  I just wanted to go home and play.

My father didn't stay with the TM group very long and he eventually hooked up with the Self Realization Fellowship founded by Paramahansa Yogananda.  In this Fellowship he found his true path and through the lessons and training he truly learned how to meditate.  He went all the way through Kriya Yoga and achieved a state of basically permanent meditation.

So, we experience the Spirit world in our own way and at our own speed.  My father, bless his soul, gave me a very early taste of spirituality and even though I didn't embrace it right away it was always there; always in the background.  I must have started meditating 50 times over the course of the years that I lived with my parents.  But I just wasn't ready yet, my character hadn't yet ripened to the experience of spirituality.

So as we see, the path is there, it's always waiting for us.  The teachings of the many great spiritual masters that have been around for centuries are just waiting for us to open up to the realm of the spiritual.  It is not a path that is for everyone, but everyone is touched by their Spirit.  Everyone lives in this dual realm of materiality and spirituality.  We can embrace it or reject it, but it won't go away.

There is growth in this card and there is magic present.  Magic is everywhere.  Imagine that if we take a seed and put it in the ground, and water it, and care for it, eventually a young plant will spring up.  If we continue to care for the plant it will get bigger and bigger.

If you mix flour, baking powder, salt, eggs and milk, beating it until it is smooth, then take small pieces of it and put it on a pan and cook it at 425 degrees, you will get delicious biscuits.  If you add cinnamon and brown sugar, you get an incredible sweet texture to it.

Magic is everywhere.  Most of the time it is how we perceive it.  How do you perceive the world?  Is it magical?  Is it filled with people that are representations of God, living and breathing manifestations of Spirit?  Do you wake up every day excited for what strange and wonderful lessons that will be cooked up for you?

Imagine that your Spirit self is behind you, connected to you, with you every step of the way.  Isn't that a fascinating way to proceed through the world?  I don't know about you, but it helps connect me with an immensely compassionate state of mind.  I have a sense that I really want to see people happy.  I really want for people to realize that all the lessons and challenges they face are there for their benefit and growth.

Of course, you are your own person and I am mine.  My hope for you is that no matter what you think or believe, that you are true to yourself as you face the days.  The little gnomes work away, enjoying their work, enjoying the field that is plowed, enjoying the magic of growth and the change of the seasons, the aging of the universe.

So, what a magical thing!  We have been connected with our Spirit and seen the possibilities that exist behind the veil.  But we must remember that we are physical beings and that we have a job to do.  We have a journey we need to go on.  We can use Spirit to keep us connected to the magic in the universe.  There is so much magic, even as the Earth spins on its grooves of pain and suffering, we can perceive that it is all there for us.

Let us together thank the High Priestess for allowing us to see past the veil and into the world of Spirit.  I wonder what could possibly be next on our Journey through the King's Journey Tarot.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I The Magician

I Magician

As we leave our home and comfort in the distance we notice a stand by the side of the road populated by a young man with a faraway look in his eyes.  The gaily colored stand houses a variety of potions and artifacts.  Specifically we may notice the presence of a wand, sword, cup and coin.  All of the elements of the universe present in their earthly form.  Well, I definitely want to stop and have a look.

I see in The Magician a combination of energies, like the elements on the table in front of him.  There's our skills and talents - often well-hidden from our view.  The Magician can represent those talents in the array of potions and artifacts.  I also see The Magician as our will, directed as we see or as our spirit dictates.  There are such a tremendous amount of colorful items on display that one can be dazzled and unable to see clearly - like the clouds that have obscured the sun.  But as in so many tarot cards we have to ask ourselves: are the clouds settled in or are they about to clear? 

It would appear that the Springtime reference from the Fool holds - as there is a light frost that is clearing.  Also the magical rose bushes containing the white roses of the intellect and the red roses of the emotion have not yet formed leaves.  What is it about our nature that we are so often stuck in a frozen winter-like state?  We experience so much suffering and endure so much hardship - mental and physical - that keep us stuck in the repetitive cycles of our life.  We attach ourselves to things in the hope that they can bring us happiness, when they only fade and go away.  We must find the combination of elements to lift us out of that frozen state where we go nowhere and drown in our negative emotions.

I hit a point about a year and a half ago where the suffering in my life became too severe, and I finally decided to take my father's advice and start meditating.  I'd done meditation off and on at various stages in my growth but had never taken it on seriously as a discipline.  During the process of learning how to meditate I faced a number of challenges - backaches, confusion, not being able to decide the "meditation path" that I wanted to take, etc.  However, as it started to settle in I noticed very subtle changes occurring in my life that steered me toward a more active involvement in practicing Buddhism.

The point of this is that I was at the end of a long winter, metaphorically.  I decided to make a change in my life that has had tremendous effects over the year and a half that I've been practicing.  It is our choice to pull ourselves out of whatever our wintertime looks like.  It seems like when we're suffering, spring doesn't just magically appear, we have to will it when we get tired of suffering.

Which returns us to the Magician.  The winter is thawing and this magical stand has been exposed to us.  The proprietor doesn't appear particularly attached to what is going on around him; he's just casually observing, being in the moment.  We observe that perhaps as the winter has thawed, this Will and these Abilities have been slowly revealed to us as we pay more attention to what is really going on, rather than the fantasy world in our minds.

There is a medicine bag hanging on the front of the booth.  A medicine bag is a place where you keep small items that are sacred to you - sage, sand, a pebble - these represent what you hold sacred.  I've noticed that in spiritual work, a lot of times an outer item has an inner representation.  When we wear a medicine bag we can just wrap our hand around it and be reminded of the sacred - take us right there!  So the Magician has a place for what is sacred, as well as what is practical.

In the colors of the canopy I see a recreation of the red-white emotion-intellect connection, with green added, which indicates a grounding influence of Earth.

As far as the sign on the Magician's golden stand, I must say I've had to meditate on this for a while.  In the course of doing this blog I am striving to reach my own conclusions when I look into the meanings of the cards and ascertain the symbolism based upon my own experience.  I stared at the sign, which seems to be an announcement of the stand - like when I set up a tent to read tarot cards, I'd have a sign that says "Tarot Readings."  So what is the magician trying to say?  What is this sign saying to me as I walk by it on my journey?

The connection that I made is that the sign appears to be the "not equal" sign from mathematics.  Typically in a not equal sign the slash through the equals is at a slight angle, but this is what came at me the hardest.  So I have to sit and ponder what that means.  Not equal... Not equal...

What is equality?  In mathematics it means that the formula on the left side of the equal sign is identical to what is on the right side of the equal sign.  Mathematics contains logical representations of numbers and processes to combine numbers.  It exists, at least in the beginning, on a purely mental or ideal plane.  The idea of equal in real life seems impossible, what is equal to something else?  If I knit two little monsters, using the same pattern and the same yarn, there are bound to be little details that are different, placement of the eyes, etc.  Equal is a term that sounds good in theory but in reality it is very difficult to make happen.

So, not equal - we are unique, we are different, we are one of a kind.  When we strive to embrace our uniqueness and see ourselves that way, a lot of the cruel judgments we have about ourselves vanish.  How can we be mean to ourselves if we're not comparing ourselves to someone else?  How can we attack ourselves if we know that we are being true to who we are?

And so to wind back to the path of our journey, we've left home and now we have come across a simple man who only wants to empower us.  Not only does he demonstrate to us what our unique talents are, he also inspires us to find a direction on our path.  We need a direction, a purpose, when we're traveling down this road of life.  A purpose gives us an anchor to cling to when we're being buffeted by the winds of change and adversity.  A purpose gives us a measuring stick that we can use to figure out what we should be doing.  If you ask yourself "does this serve my purpose" and the answer is yes, then do it.  If the answer is no, it's best to just let that one go and move on.  If it doesn't serve your purpose, then leave it.

So we have discovered our talents and found a direction.  Let us thank the Magician for bringing us to a point of clarity and clearing out the clouds of our initial folly.  Not that we have discovered our talents and our direction, the journey would seem to be easier - I say seem ironically, as it has only just begun.  I'm certain that there are many pleasant, as well as painful lessons awaiting us.  However if we are open to the experience and not attached to it, then we can always get a lesson.

Monday, February 20, 2012

0 The Fool

King's Journey Tarot Site

0 The Fool

The journey has begun.

We leave behind our home, our castle, and our security, to go out into the world.  We don't know what we're looking for or even why we are doing this, but we know we must.  All we bring with us is what we carry in our sack.

In Chanel's Fool we see our intrepid journeyman stepping off the drawbridge.  What is wrong with him?  Does he want to fall into the moat like the pebbles he has kicked off the drawbridge?  Even his faithful dog doesn't want him to go.  Does his dog want him to stay, or is he merely trying to keep The Fool from falling into the water?

To answer this it would be helpful to know if the drawbridge is going up or down.  The drawbridge going up would seem as if the king was trying to keep his wayward son at home - in the safety and comfort of the castle.

If the drawbridge is going down, we must imagine that this young man is so impatient to be on his way that he doesn't even notice that he's stepping off the bridge.

Every time I start a project, a journey, there is always hesitation - that question - that doubt.  Is this the right thing to do?  Is it the right time?  Will I succeed or fail?  The hundreds of questions can keep me back and paralyze me at times.  Life is rarely a yes or no, a black or a white.  Life is a series of grays - a series of questions.  So I think that he is looking forward to his journey but there are doubts that could hold him back.  But if he doesn't go, then nothing is accomplished. 

It is a beautiful, sunny day, but there are some grayish clouds faintly obscuring the sun.  Doubts cloud the sun of our Spirit - in our Spirit anything is possible; in our Spirit possibilities are infinite and endless.  But how many of us can instantly tap into that infinite resource?  The clouds of doubt follow us, but it is our choice how we react to them.

The tree that we can see in the distance is full and covered with white flowers.  What better time for The Fool to go journeying than a spring day, with nature and the world waking up from it's long winter sleep?  But the weather doesn't matter, we have work to do.  Traditionally in tarot the white flower is symbolic of the intellect, in contrast to the red flowers, which are emotions.  But when we think about The Fool, intellect is the last thing we consider.  Perhaps it is a reminder that our intellect is always present, even in these moments of recklessness and abandonment.

We are all The Fool.  I've noticed that life, which seems like one long journey, is actually a combination of hundreds of smaller journeys.  There are journeys like the ones we take when we leave home for the first time and make our way into the world, our first job, school, our first romance.  And there are those smaller journeys.  For me, a smaller yet no less significant journey I am on now is learning to knit.  It has become a way that I can express myself by making something with my hands.  It's challenging and rewarding and provides me with a meditative way to use my creativity and talent.  We could all point to many different journeys, not only that we have already trodden, but many that we are currently on.

When we deal The Fool in a Tarot spread it can often point to folly - the idea that we are wandering into a perilous situation with an attitude like we just don't understand or care.  Folly is a funny thing.  I've discovered that the greatest lessons that I receive are the lessons that come from when I act from foolishness.  I was once fired from a job because I was so bored that I wrote short stories at work.  Many of my stories were - well - heavily violent and sexual.  And my boss happened to come across one of these when I was away from my desk.  It was a really, really ugly story. 

It was so humiliating and embarrassing.  My boss told me she was disturbed and how could I do such a thing, and yadda and yadda and yadda.  I was so Foolish it was astounding.  Not only was I writing crazy stories at work but I was leaving them lying around.  Isn't it funny how often we do things that sabotage us? So often that sabotage falls in the middle of a time when we think we're really rocking and life is great - and then BANG. Isn't it funny how sometimes it seems like it's our subconscious - something deep inside us - is setting these dramas and painful lessons up?

However, the flip side, and the growth and lesson that the foolishness led me to was the best job I've ever had in my life.  I'd been working at my job for twelve years and was going nowhere.  But I didn't have the courage to move on.  I was scared and didn't trust myself or my abilities.  After two months of unemployment I got a call out of the blue from an HR rep at Advanced Medical Optics (now Abbott) who talked me up for 30 minutes and said I had to come in for an interview.  She was totally dazzled by me.  She said that she had never spoken to anyone like me.  She thought I would be perfect for the Executive Assistant position that had opened up with the Corporate Controller.  Perhaps it was that crazy imagination I had that allowed me to write super-bizarre stories, or maybe it was just my sunny and open personality.  Anyway, my foolishness in getting fired led to a better job.

The point of this story is that often folly is a path to greatness.  But we'll never know when we're in that moment, when the suffering is so real and present and the pain is so all-encompassing.  All the suffering and pain we feel could be pathway to great things.  That is one of the reasons why I am an optimist.  I always believe that things will work out, no matter how bad things seem to get.  And how bad they get, is all dependent on how our minds are working, how we're perceiving reality.

When I get The Fool in a tarot spread I always hope that it will show that spirit of openness and adventure that accompanies the beginning of a journey.  How exciting it is to put on our pack and head out into the unknown!

But what about that little dog?  I've read many different interpretations of what that dog is but I usually think of it as that "safe and comfortable" part of us that doesn't want us to go, that doesn't want us to change.  According to Buddhism change is always present in everything.  Buildings crumble, people age, every seven years we have a new body because of cellular regeneration.  Everything changes and everything dies.

Yet it is so hard for us to accept this.  We are so attached to this idea of an unchanging self that we would defend it to the death.  That part of our mind that wants us to be a solid, unchanging self is going to fight the adventurer every step of the way.  Our ego will not just let us go quietly on our way!  It is going to nip at our heels and grab our coat and try to pull us back into the safety and comfort of the imaginary Self - the imaginary home and comfort.  It is good to have a realistic view of the world and the journey that we're on, but when we let our fear of growth and change hold us back then our journey will never begin!

So let us imagine the fool, with a smile on his face.  He knows that the drawbridge hasn't finished lowering yet, so he's holding his foot up, waiting, anticipating the moment that the drawbridge falls onto the ground.  Do you see that path leading off path the tree and into the distance, guess what?  That's where we're going.  I don't know what we'll find on this path but I definitely know that I'm going.


Sunday, February 19, 2012

King's Journey Tarot Deck

The purpose of this blog is so that I can document my journey through the King's Journey Tarot deck.

This deck was designed by Chanel Bayless and drawn by James Battersby.  I came across this deck a while back through my brother who is a big time tarot enthusiast.  I purchased the deck and found in the beginning that I was having trouble using it.  It has a passing resemblance to the Waite-Smith tarot but many of the images (e.g. Lovers, Chariot, Justice) are very different from any deck I've ever seen.

I am a creature of habit and I like a "familiar and comfortable" deck where I don't have to work very hard to understand the cards.  I've always liked to combine using the image and the book meaning of the card - usually leaning more toward the book learning part as I am a bit of an intellectual.  I have to drop the words and allow my soul and spirit to come out in order to take in the images and allow them to shape the interpretation of the card.

Throughout the deck I'll be mentioning "Chanel's Deck" for brevity but I understand that James was a huge influence in the symbolism of the cards and the playfulness that is ever-present in this astounding Tarot Deck.

So Chanel's deck challenged me on that level.  Take the Chariot card.

Now, if you were to look at the Waite Smith chariot you will see a man in armor in a chariot drawn by two odd Egyptian-looking animals.  The chariot is actually not moving as the animals are sitting.

When you look at KJ (I'll use KJ as an abbreviation for King's Journey from now on), you see a man in blue robes standing at a crossroads, on the left is an ominous looking cave and on the right is a monster hiding behind a tree.

Now, my "safe and comfortable" tarot reading mind just didn't know what the heck to make of this!  I fumbled around and finally saw the crossroads as a sort of an interpretation of the two animals that are pointed away from each other - as well as one being black and one being white.

I don't want to get deeper into the interpretation right now.  I'll do that when I get to the card.

So here's what I'm doing.

I'm going to go on the King's Journey myself.  I am going to blog on each card in order and what the card means to me as far as interpretation and how it applies to my life.  This should be a fun and cathartic way to experience the deck and learn it as well.  I would love to know what's going to happen but I'm just going to have to see what happens.

I'm setting a 6 month goal to complete this mission.  This is an expanded 94 card deck with a fifth suit as well as two completion cards.  The order I'm approaching this is:

Major Arcana
Spirit (exclusive to this deck)
Final two cards

Alright, the introduction is done so on with the show.....