Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Yoruba Sacred Groves, Self-acceptance and Shadow Work

Chrysalis' Little White Book space restrictions did not allow us to explore unfamiliar symbolism on the pip cards. The Chrysalis companion book won't short shrift symbolism. This card is a perfect example of intriguing symbolism. The card's keyword is compassion, or selfless well-being.

Holly included symbology from the Yoruba people of Nigeria in the card art. Historically, the Yoruba maintained sacred groves just outside their villages. They believed the success of their culture and religious beliefs were dependent upon spirits of the forest who lived in the groves; one is represented by the figurine (left).
 
Over the years, and for lamentable reasons, the sacred groves were felled and ploughed under. The old gods and goddesses were replaced, sometimes brutally, by the new gods of Islam and Christianity. But today a remnant population remains along with one sacred grove outside the city of Osogbo. It is named Osun for both the goddess at the heart of Yoruba divinities and the river that winds through the grove. The Yoruba of Osun-Osogbo repelled an advancing jihad in the 1800s and also survived British colonialism and its misplaced evangelical religious zeal.

So, on the macro level this card symbolizes the struggles of "assimilated" remnant populations: the Yoruba, Celts, Basques, Native Americans, First Nations and Aboriginal peoples, to mention a few. The Three of Mirrors symbolizes their rich pantheons of gods and goddesses along with their love and high esteem for the Earth and its sacred mountains, rivers and forests; their ability to adapt and co-exist while maintaining the souls of their rich cultures.

The Sacred Grove of Osun-Osogbo
On the micro level or personal scale, this card symbolizes self-acceptance and the urgent need for all populations, remnant or otherwise, to view themselves through the mirrors of love, compassion and goodwill toward others. In a reading, the Three of Mirrors asks that we re-examine our own prejudices and priorities that may impede full spiritual awakening.

This blog just happens to coincide with the publication of Sam Harris' new book, Waking Up: A Guide to Spirituality without Religion:

"..a true spiritual practitioner is someone who has discovered that it is possible to be at ease in the world for no reason, if only for a few moments at a time, and that such ease is synonymous with transcending the apparent boundaries of the self. Those who have never tasted such peace of mind might view these assertions as highly suspect. Nevertheless, it is a fact that a condition of selfless well-being is there to be glimpsed in each moment."

Like all cards in Chrysalis Tarot, the Three of Mirrors underscores the constant need to create conditions of "selfless well-being" in life.


One way to create conditions of selfless well-being is through recollection, which is the Four of Scrolls' keyword. This card is one of many "healing" cards found in Chrysalis Tarot.

The word recollection, once freed from religious dogma and superficiality, simply means understanding how you see yourself through your own eyes. Or perhaps just as important, to resist seeing yourself through the eyes of others. Recollection is meditation on self-acceptance designed to nurture self-esteem. The practice exemplifies the Socratic "life examined."

Here are four questions (one for each scroll) that may be used as meditation guides:

1. How can I become more humble and exercise greater humility?
2. Who or what do I need to forgive, and who do I need to seek forgiveness from?
3. How can I become mindful of negative thoughts and take steps to curtail them?
4. What contribution does Gaia wish me to make to the growth and complexity of cosmic consciousness?

Planet Earth, Gaia, like the cosmos, is a conscious living organism. She, like Osun of the Yoruba, is our mother. Each human mind symbolizes a jewel in her crown and represents an important circuit that contributes and receives information with the interconnectedness of all things through the cosmic feedback loop that drives the evolution of consciousness on Earth.

Quoting again from Sam Harris' new book: "Our minds are all we have. They are all we have ever had. And they are all we can offer others...Every experience you have ever had has been shaped by you mind. Every relationship is as good or as bad as it is because of the minds involved."


The Five of Spirals doesn't look much like a meditation card, but it is; notice the 12-petal mandala on the dragon's wing. The dot in the center represents unity. It is like the singularity at the center of a black hole, or the singularity designating the center of Self, which is the heart chakra. The secrets of the cosmos plus secrets of Self can be found at their respective centers.

These three cards, a 3,4 and a 5 from different suits, represent a dynamic, triangulated process, another step toward enlightenment. The Three of Mirrors teaches compassion, the Four of Scrolls teaches self-acceptance, and the Five of Spirals teaches, well, psychic cleansing.

These five spiraling fireballs symbolize the stuff that floats to the surface of consciousness during recollection and introspection. By summonsing these fireballs of repressed stuff to the level of conscious awareness - and the word summons is a fitting way to characterize it - you neutralize their energy. This stuff, you see, would much rather hang out in your unconscious mind where it can potentially foul up your life.

Shadow work is the most effective way to purge your psyche of accumulated dross. (The keyword for the Five of Spirals is shadow.) The Hero's Journey, a most harrowing personal pursuit, is, as anyone who uses Chrysalis Tarot has discovered, an exciting journey of self-discovery filled with joy and delight yet fraught with growth-producing challenges, opportunities and tricky crossroads.

But letting go of anger, resentment and other negative emotions, as well as undesirable traits, is only one benefit of shadow work. Another unleashes your creative potential; an integrated shadow is a great asset for creative pursuits. As psychologist Stephen Diamond wrote in Meeting the Shadow, "When we give voice to our inner demons...we transmute them into helpful allies in the form of newly liberated, life-giving psychic energy."












Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Archetype of the Apocalypse and the Divine Feminine


Fear not.

This piece wasn't composed to raise alarm; as if we haven't already been sufficiently alarmed by events over the past few weeks! Most grasp the myriad dangers (and opportunities) that face the world today. We may have even become inured to the warning signs, not a good thing when the pressing need for change occupies center stage.

One feature I most admire about Holly Sierra's interpretation of Kali are the skulls, which are symbols of a higher state of consciousness. Raising consciousness is what Kali is all about. Holly wrote, "Having read that Kali is credited with creating the Sanskrit alphabet, whose symbols often appear on the skulls around her neck, I decided the skulls were a necessity!"

Signs of the time abound: the horrors in Ferguson, Missouri; the Middle East in general and Syria in particular; not to mention the repugnant news that the Vatican recently scurried its papal nuncio (ambassador) out of the Dominican Republic to avoid local justice. The nuncio stands accused of sexually abusing a number of Dominican children. (The story is here. The allegations are sickening.)

A case can be made that the disorder we witness in the world today, and have witnessed since Oklahoma City or even earlier, are psychic manifestations of the Archetype of the Apocalypse. The late Jungian analyst Edwin Edinger defines the Apocalypse as, "the momentous event of the Self coming into conscious realization...This is what the content of the Archetype of the Apocalypse presents: the shattering of the world as it has been followed by its reconstitution."

The previous two millennia have distorted the historical meaning of the word apocalypse in the collective psyche. The word actually means the uncovering of something previously hidden, not the catastrophic End of the World popularized, seemingly anticipated, by excitable religious extremists. What is being uncovered is a new Zeitgeist - a paradigm that heralds a more rational understanding of the nature of reality. We live in exciting times of unprecedented change. From Kali's unique perspective, our world is being picked up by the cosmos and set aright.

911 Memorial Park, NYC
Sri Aurobindo wrote, "Man may help or man may resist, but the Zeitgeist works, shapes, overbears, insists.” The word Zeitgeist refers to the Spirit of the Time or Kala in Hindu mythology. Kala is Kali's consort; Kali is the Hindu Goddess of Time and Change while Kala is Eternal Time itself.

When Kali appears in a reading she may communicate either microcosmic (personal) implications or macrocosmic (global) implications; her Third Eye indicates you'll need to use your intuition to figure out which scale. Kali most commonly appears in readings when something traumatic is about to occur on the world stage. In either case, she definitively confirms an element of stubborn resistance to change - a resistance that must somehow be overcome either at the personal level or collectively as a society. The Zeitgeist will "insist" on it.


We easily observe the negative/destructive aspects of the Archetype of the Apocalypse as they emerge on the world stage; some people and religious groups, as suggested above, actually identify with her destructive characteristics. A common meme among the more radical of these groups is barefaced oppression of the feminine. In civilized societies, that oppression may be more subtle, but it's still there. Indeed, it's ingrained in the current (soon to be old) paradigm.

The Muse (left) is perhaps the softest, gentlest, and most unassuming of all archetypes in Chrysalis Tarot, a role model for us all. The Muse's archetypal attributes are similar both to the Divine Feminine and Great Mother archetypes. Interestingly, Kali in her primal manifestation was identified with the Great Mother goddess. The Muse assumes a more personal, maternal role to gently inform your heart chakra.

The Muse appears in readings to help you face difficult times and make difficult choices. She herself is a wise teacher who informs with the reflected brilliance of the full moon and the mysterious darkness of the unconscious mind, as symbolized by the new moon. She is a true friend to the true Self and archenemy of the hyper-inflated ego. She communicates mostly through meditation or prayer.

The evolving Self seeks spiritual enlightenment; the entrenched ego seeks power and control. The Self thirsts for change and growth; the ego staunchly resists both. An enlightened, holistic world will require models of integration and forbearance rather than domination and control.


Speaking of entrenched ego ...

Actually, the King of the Forest card can be interpreted that way in a reading if ego has you in a headlock, but Chrysalis always prefers to focus on the light at the end of the cave, so to speak.

The LWB meaning of the Seven of Spirals advises the querent to hunker down and defend turf. Turf, in this instance, is a metaphor for your divine right to transformation and spiritual growth. The pilgrim seeker should always expect to be challenged by those who stubbornly refuse to abandon old and outdated perceptions and ways of doing things.

But frankly, the time has come when we must shift change into high gear. That is a goal we can only accomplish one butterfly at a time. As each transformed soul leaves the chrysalis and flaps its wings, change happens throughout the cosmic Web of Life.

Consequently, the energy of The Seven of Spirals, and the mighty bear as a spirit animal, is directed toward seekers of all stripes - to those making an earnest and honest effort to grow spiritually, seek truth and transform. To them this card says, always keep an open mind but also question precepts rigorously while politely defending your free will choices and personal boundaries. The bear brings the courage to stare down adversity.

If one resists the Zeitgeist and Kali from a hunkered down position of excessive pride or inflated ego, they will tweak your tensors. Kali's presence in today's world hails a rare opportunity to review, recollect and reflect upon all aspects of one's current view of reality, as well as ensure the ever irrepressible ego is mitigated.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Balance, Choices and the Divine Feminine

Anne Baring, author of The Dream of the Cosmos, tells of an encounter with the Divine Feminine in one of her three life-changing Great Dreams.

Baring dreamt she was caught in a net, which she later realized was symbolic of Indra's Net from Hindu mythology. Gazing into the sky, her entire field of vision was engulfed by a beautiful image of the Divine Feminine. The vision had a giant wheel in her abdomen that reminded Baring of the labyrinth at Chartres. Baring saw that she, too, had a wheel, but that hers was off center.

The vision indicated to her that she needed to center her own wheel, but didn't explain how to go about doing it. Indra's Net, by the way, symbolizes universal connectivity and interdependence, foundations of Vedic philosophy and, later, Buddhism.

Baring concluded, after spending years reflecting and writing about her Great Dreams and spiritual journey, that our world has arrived at a precipice, a critical juncture in the evolution of our species. We, like the sparrow on the Two of Spirals above, are confronted with a crucial choice. Will we as a species choose to continue living in nests of division and separation? If so, we put ourselves are at great risk.

Fractal: Indra's Net from LightWeaver.com
On the other hand, if we individually choose to center our wheel and actively seek interior balance, we can, and will, change the world. We also will be spiritually prepared for an interdependent future on the planet that we all inhabit.

It's easy to begin aligning your personal center with the Divine Feminine. Simply integrate the holistic worldview symbolized by Indra's Net. The holistic worldview must also integrate the long neglected principle of the Divine Feminine, which has been mostly absent from humanity's individual and collective psyche for thousands of years.

The Kabbalah teaches the Divine Feminine, the Shekinah, has been in exile. The Great Awakening will end that period of exile.

"The Net of Indra is a profound and subtle metaphor for the structure of reality. Imagine a vast net; at each crossing point there is a jewel; each jewel is perfectly clear and reflects all the other jewels in the net, the way two mirrors placed opposite each other will reflect an image ad infinitum.


"The jewel in this metaphor stands for an individual being, or an individual consciousness, or a cell or an atom. Every jewel is intimately connected with all other jewels in the universe, and a change in one jewel means a change, however slight, in every other jewel." ~ Stephen Mitchell, author of The Enlightened Mind.

We recommend taking a few minutes each day to still your mind and journey within to the center of your essence. There you will connect to the essence of all other things in the universe. You have the ability to respond, the response-ability to become a glistening jewel in Indra's Net. Visionary physicist Nassim Haramein often alludes to the Lorenz Attractor, known as the Butterfly Effect: "Become the butterfly that flaps its wings and produces a hurricane of change all over the planet."





Cards numbered 2 in tarot are about maintaining balance and making patient, well discerned choices. The bear gracing the Two of Stones is no exception.

It's springtime. The frozen lake crackles with melting sheets of ice adrift in emerging new energies. The King of the Forest himself emerges from his winter's nap to re-test his own balance.

Likewise, it's important that we maintain balance in a rapidly changing world. It is not easy to abandon the set of beliefs that views Earth as ours to dominate and exploit. Putting a new set of beliefs into practice that emphasizes compassion and Cosmic Oneness is also difficult. Even the bear is not sure how to tackle the daunting ascent to higher ground.

When we designed Chrysalis Tarot, we anticipated the difficulties brought about by the emerging energies of a paradigm shift and foresaw the trials and tribulations that normally accompany a sea change in thinking. Chrysalis is helping our devotees locate their divine center and balance their lives.

In coming days, there likely will be distracting moments of doubt and distress that require us to return to our center and reconnect with the universe to gain solace and glean understanding. This is easily accomplished if you previously aligned your center with Cosmic Oneness through yoga, meditation, tarot or other methods.



The Two of Mirrors is a reminder than unconditional love is the surest way to maintain your balance and center your life. No emotion resonates with a higher frequency more so than unconditional love. No emotion resonates with the Divine Feminine more so than selfless love.

If you draw the Two of Mirrors in a reading, be sure to take swan energy into consideration. As a spirit animal, swan can heighten your intuition and awareness, especially in changing times. The Two of Mirrors symbolizes the most reliable centering energy available. It impacts the Heart Chakra immediately and profoundly.

The interconnectedness and interdependence symbolized by Indra's Net is little more than a philosophical abstract without a foundation of unconditional love. The two mirrors worn by the swans reflect your aura and intentions throughout Indra's Net and on to the edges of infinity.

Unconditional love forms ripples on the cosmic lake, which is always crackling with emergent energies. Every action, every gesture and every thought is another ripple that impacts the entire cosmos.

Indra and Indrani, The Cosmic Preservers
"Our species, it seems, is plunging ever deeper into madness and horror and stands poised on the abyss of self-extinction. Never has the birth of a new state of consciousness been more urgently needed." ~ Graham Hancock

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Pain and Necessity of Letting Go

We must be willing to let go of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. ~ Joseph Campbell

Letting go is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, process we encounter on the Road to Ascension called the Hero's Journey. Surrendering to the universe and just letting go is a scary idea.

Yet many cards in Chrysalis bear this message. We'll examine 4 of them. All are cards we haven't previously addressed in the blog. Since all our major archetypes have been addressed on these pages, we should take special note of the 3 majors who also point to the process of letting go.

They are Merlin, Bella Rosa and Ariadne. Whenever Merlin appears in a reading it's a reminder to let go and trust him. Bella Rosa reminds you not to hide behind a false persona and just to be yourself. I watched a movie last night, Divergent, that carried that same message. Frankly, I think I'd have been better off meditating on Bella Rosa for those 2 plus hours.

Ariadne reminds you to slay your inner demons (the dreaded Minotaur that plagues us all) and place your trust in her maternal care. She, Merlin and Bella Rosa are your trustworthy friends and guides.

The young lady in the Nine of Stones hears the call of her inner shaman and sets off on a new adventure. Her load is light; she carries no preconceived notions of how her new life will unfold. She has no expectations at all, just quiescent acceptance. She simultaneously is one with nature and the universe. She allows the energy of both to flow through her. She has surrendered and let go.

Before leaving on her journey, she neatly organized nine stones symbolizing completion of the prior life she's leaving behind. The stones represent mixed memories of joy, fear, loss, gain, regret, acceptance, blame, forgiveness, attachment, abandonment, selfishness, self-centeredness and control. The latter is probably the hardest stone to let go of; we all like to be in control of our lives. On a true Hero's Journey, such control is totally unacceptable. The Ravens will see to that if you don't.


This stunning image of the Ten of Spirals (left) is an example of cards as they appear on our Chrysalis Tarot app. As you can see, app cards are borderless on three sides. Unlike the printed cards, they  include keywords from the Little White Book, such as Crossroads on the Ten of Spirals

Another challenging aspect of the Hero's Journey are those inevitable crossroads you must face. This overburdened centaur has a huge question to answer before he's able to get on with his journey. Am I a conscious human being who makes free-will choices, or am I simply a beast of burden and a victim of circumstance?

In a reading, this card fixes your attention on a life-changing choice.

Like all cards numbered 10 in tarot, this one is about concluding one cycle before proceeding down the road of yet another cycle, or leg of the journey. In life, there's always another cycle characterized by linear beginnings and endings. Our centaur apparently bears the burdens of 10 such cycles, so the time for choice has certainly arrived. Man or horse; caterpillar or butterfly? Which shall it be?

If, say, a single cycle in human terms lasts 4 or 5 years, then 40 or 50 years would seems about right for our centaur. Personally, I was 45 before Ariadne tapped me on the shoulder and said, "it's time to let go." And I did. But it wasn't easy and never is.


Today time seems to be speeding up if not passing us by. We all intuit this. The world we live in is in the midst of humongous change. To understand what's happening to our sense of time, visualize yourself in a small rowboat paddling down a meandering river that is approaching a waterfall. Yikes! Would that we could row backward, eh?

This is analogous to an approaching singularity, or paradigm shift. We can graph what an approaching a paradigm shift looks like with the illustration I borrowed from special relativity (right). It depicts the speed of light as it approaches infinity. The chart makes the point nicely; something must reverse the flow of the river and start the paradigmatic pendulum swinging in the opposite direction. (For those who may be interested, the technical term is enantiodromia.)

The nexus facing the world today, in our opinion, are symbolized by the Chrysalis cards numbered 10. The dynamic of Chrysalis cards numbered 10 is restoration of balance.


Talk about a fellow who could use a paradigm shift!

The Ten of Stones personifies the material worldview. The sprite personifies the accumulation of stuff. Could his life possibly be more untidy, tangled up and complicated? For him, letting go looks to be far more difficult than for the shaman in the Nine of Stones, or even the centaur in the Ten of Spirals.

If you draw this card in a reading, don't be alarmed. This fellow is like Shakespeare's Puck.. He's simply showing you what can happen to souls stuck in a materialistic worldview. If that description applied to you, it's not very likely you'd be reading Chrysalis Tarot or this blog.

A Chrysalis readings is a process that leads to conversion. Conversion to what, you ask? Simply put, to the alchemical change that brings on a better understanding of how our universe actually works. This new and better understanding bids adieu to the burdens and entangled thinking of the materialistic worldview in favor of a holistic, spiritual living universe worldview. In quantum theory, everything in our universe is interconnected. Quantum theory merges scientific fact with secular spirituality.

The conversion to a new worldview is alchemical because it implies a "personal conversation with the unseen numinous." Such conversations can take many forms: tarot readings, synchronicity, visions, dreams, ah-ha moments of enlightenment, etc. The conversation may begin with a thunderbolt that knocks you off your high horse, or a polite tap on the shoulder. Regardless, it is a clarion call to let go.

Sometimes letting go requires a mental reboot, symbolized by our next card.


The tiger in the Ten of Scrolls represents the same energy of surrender, except in this case the energy is being held captive. Actually, it's bottled up in a self-imposed prison because a lesson that hasn't been learned must be learned. Rather than a crossroads, it's a cul-de-dac. Accordingly, the cycle must repeat itself. Worse, it will go on repeating itself until the lesson is learned and something changes. The lesson is letting go of a mindset.

An example of self-incarceration could be someone who's very experienced with traditional tarot but still wishes to learn and benefit from Chrysalis, although they may not yet understand why. They resonate with Chrysalis cards, but are imprisoned by an old mindset.

Escaping this confinement requires a process known as kenosis, or self-emptying. It's quite  impossible for Chrysalis Tarot to add to a glass that's already full. A Merlin Moment is needed - letting go of preconceived notions about where you're going and how you intend to get there.

This brings to mind why we designed Chrysalis to be different. The Ryder-Waite deck's equivalent card, the Ten of Swords, depicts a deceased fellow lying face down in a violent tableau with 10 swords plunged into his back. This is an example of how the RWS system evokes linearity of time. The Chrysalis system evokes the cycles of nature. The tiger, although beaten down and forlorn, still has hope; the corpse is quite dead and does not.

The old linear worldview is ill but still alive. It calls to mind a fearful eschaton - the final ending. The analogue of this hopeless outlook is the bloodied corpse of the Ten of Swords elevated to macrocosmic proportions.

Its dogma (eschatology) emphasizes an apocalypse - the End of the World. This was the dominant worldview when RWS as well as its antecedent, The Tarot of Marseilles, were conceived. This was the dominant worldview for the popular Thoth Tarot, and this remains the dominant worldview today.

Chrysalis abhors fear laden dogma. In fact, Chrysalis Tarot itself is obviously a product of non-dogmatic thinking. It espouses a new, holistic worldview in which everything and everyone are interconnected and interdependent in an endless cycle of creation.

If one believes we're all interconnected, that individual is more likely to steward Gaia compassionately. Chrysalis' love of life and hope is apparent in the Lovers card (above) and throughout the deck. If one believes, on the other hand, that his or her race, religion or social class is exceptional and should reign, their attitude toward Gaia will be one of conquest and dominance, specifically conquest and dominance of nature.

The Chrysalis Tiger and the RWS corpse illustrate the starkness of the choice that confronts our world today. Humanity's dilemma is analogous to the centaur's in the Ten of Spirals: we can't continue like this.

David Suzuki, author of The Sacred Balance, wrote, "How you imagine the world determines how you live in it." Humanity is poised for a quantum leap in the evolution of consciousness that will manifest a Golden Age of Oneness imbued with the energy of the Tiger.


N.B. The alchemy of spiritual transformation, which is shamanic, is a dialog with transcendent other, regardless of how the word other might be defined. Such conversations are constructive, edifying and bring about an increase in consciousness. This will happen regardless of which tarot deck(s) you use. Decks that strongly resonate with you will yield the best results.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Three Holographic Gentlemen from the Cosmos

Physicist Michio Kaku observed that the cosmos is, "A symphony of vibrating strings." The symphony half of his statement was confirmed several years ago by NASA space probes (please catch the amazing video beneath the blog). The universe makes a lot of very strange sounds.

Kaku's use of the word strings alludes to a scientific concept known as String Theory. However, there's a more poetic route to the science of a Theory of Everything (TOE). It's called the holographic model of the universe. The Poet, The Illusionist and The Dreamer will help us explain it.

"The Music of the Spheres" is the science of poetry-in-motion, of the ground breaking discoveries that will lead to a unified TOE. A unified theory will unite the big things we observe in space to the tiny subatomic particles no one's ever seen. In other words, it will connect everything.

The reason a TOE is so important to everyone is because of the illusion of separateness and duality that separates me from you, us from everyone else, and humanity from the conscious biosphere we call Gaia. Whatever poetic theory is playing in the murky theoretical middle ground, that no man's land between outdated classical physics and quantum reality, the verses slowly move our understanding of the universe from the latter to the former.

When The Poet (above left) appears in a Chrysalis Tarot reading, he's there to help us discover the truth of the new reality. This Chrysalis mission to redefine reality applies not only to The Poet, but to The Dreamer and, paradoxically, to The Illusionist. Poetry, dreams and illusion connect us to the higher realm; the scientists who see visions are mystics: "The finest emotion of which we are capable is the mystic emotion. Herein lies the germ of all art and all true science." (Einstein) Groundbreaking discoveries begin life as illusions - a round Earth was once an "illusion," as was the heliocentric solar system.

It's often said that yesterday's science fiction is tomorrow's science.

Defining reality is a difficult task in today's world where so many alternative versions of reality compete for attention. What is the truth of reality anyway? This group touts their truth, and over there another group insists that theirs is the only true reality. Well, the definition of reality changes, and it is changing yet again in our times. A new holistic paradigm is emerging to herald the end of arbitrary distinctions, divisions and the illusions of separateness, the modern scourge. The new paradigm or worldview is a first step toward re-capturing a collective sense of our meaning and purpose.

Please take another quick look at The Poet's image. It's quite lovely, of course, as are all Chrysalis cards, but in reality it's a flat, two-dimensional painting. Yet we easily discern the rabbit appears closer than the man. Although our eyes only see 2-dimensions, our brains conveniently compute and add depth, the third dimension. Extra dimensions are vitally important when interpreting the Chrysalis Tarot Troupe, as we shall see. 

Adding the third dimension to two-dimensional information is analogous to the way a hologram works. We all remember marvelling at Princess Leia's holographic plea in Star Wars: "Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope," as well as the virtual reality simulations on Star Trek's fun-filled Holodeck. A basic familiarity with holograms is useful in coming to terms with a new reality. And holograms are relatively easy to understand.

To the naked eye, a piece of holographic film resembles nothing more than a blur of scrambled nonsense. It's impossible to discern coherency, or presence of an intelligible pattern. But once you shine light on the film with laser light, the illusion of a three-dimensional image appears, as R2 D2 is demonstrating above. 

Holography plays a role when reading Chrysalis Tarot cards since the Chrysalis architecture is holistic. The holographic model explains how everything in the universe is interconnected. Let's invite The Poet's rabbit to escort us down the rabbit hole. There we can explore the depths of the holographic model of reality.


When you run across the term "holographic universe," regard it as a metaphor; the universe is quite real. It's not a projection, at least we don't think it is. But the metaphor is still useful since it allows us to perceive the universe a different way - as an interconnected whole with seemingly magical properties.

Let's say our holographic film is the picture of an apple. Now let's cut a large snippet out of the film. If we direct lasers at the snippet, we will still see the entire apple in 3D. We can continue snipping away and yet each smaller piece of the original film reproduces the entire image of an apple holographically.

The universe is greater than the sum of its parts, but contains the whole in each of its parts. And all these parts exist in an ocean of vibrating energy. The universe is not empty space.

When The Illusionist appears in a reading, he may, like all Troupe members, represent an aspect of your personality, another person, an ancestor, a spirit guide, an outcome, or he may have come to deliver a personal message that only you can make sense of by relying upon your intuition. The Troupe have one goal in mind: to escort you on your pathway to higher consciousness.

They accomplish this goal by somehow making certain you read the right books, meet and interact with the right people, ask the right questions. But most importantly, that you nurture an insatiable desire to grow spiritually and mentally.

In readings, The Illusionist cultivates what's known as transpersonal experience. Non-ordinary consciousness expert Stanislav Grof, speaking of transpersonal experience, notes that "The feeling that all boundaries are illusionary, the lack of distinction between part and whole, and the interconnectedness of all things are all qualities one would expect to find in a holographic universe."


The Dreamer  (Knight of Mirrors)
The Dreamer is a messenger from the unseen Otherworld, part of the universal hologram of undivided Oneness. As such, he is called a liminal figure. That is to say, his magic carpet glides effortlessly between the visible and the invisible, between the old reality and the new, and between all corners of the holographic universe without him batting an eye. Liminal characters like The Dreamer are betwixt and between.

As you see, The Dreamer is thoughtful, reflective and mindful. He is always thinking, always contemplating. He's an active dreamer, one who creates his own reality and then helps you create yours. His tiger Spirit Animal symbolizes the powerful, resonating energy of the Vision Quest.

When this card appears in a reading, it reminds you that positive emotions are essential to attracting your heart's desire. Positive emotions vibrate at a higher frequency and resonate with other high frequencies. The Dreamer wants and imagines all good things for you. He himself resonates the power of the moon and the tenacity of the tiger.

The holographic model of the universe is one easily embraced by Neo-Pagans, taroists and others who intuitively grasp the interconnectivity of all things. Now science is proving that reality. The holographic model explains virtually all paranormal and mystical experiences. These include near-death experiences; archetypal encounters with the collective unconscious, which is the hallmark of Chrysalis Tarot; non-ordinary states of consciousness; lucid dreams; shamanism and shamanic journeying; energy healing; the placebo effect; psychokinesis; out of body experiences, and, of utmost importance to tarot, synchronicities.

We'll reflect upon these non-ordinary phenomena of consciousness in the Chrysalis Tarot companion book (June '15) When The Poet, The Illusionist or The Dreamer visit a reading, they come to request that you contemplate your own belief system and worldview. Other cards such as Herne the Hunter and The Corsair add emphasis to the request.

The reality of a holographically organized universe lends substance and beauty to the sage symphonies conducted by the The Poet, The Illusionist and The Dreamer. Their mystical, musical poems are the lyrics of illusion - the mystical Music of the Spheres. Listen.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Chrysalis Tarot's Ancestral Council

The subtle energy of our ancestors is always near; always informing the inner self, always inspiring and guiding. Sometimes we pay attention, but mostly we don't. The role the ancestors play in our lives is sadly undervalued. The upshot of this piece is to nudge us to become more mindful of our ancestors more frequently.

We designed Chrysalis Tarot to promote ancestral communication not only through readings but also through synchronicity, dreams and those "odd notions" that pop into our minds out of left field we tend to take credit for, but probably shouldn't.

With it's ability to promote ancestral communication successfully, Chrysalis Tarot has exceeded our wildest expectations. A week or so ago, Chrysalis co-creator Holly Sierra visited Virginia on family business. When it came time to relax and see the sites, the idea to go antiquing popped into a family member's head. So off they went.

Holly wrote a full account of what happened next on her Facebook page. I'll paraphrase it here. To set the stage, in an antique store Holly decided to demonstrate to her eldest daughter how to dial an antique rotary telephone. Since the 60s, people have had to do little more than push buttons on phones - and on most everything else it seems. Holly dialed the number her parents had while she was growing up. (Both Holly's parents passed away while we were at work on Chrysalis.) Nevertheless, she called her mom.

And her mom answered. Well, not exactly. But Holly then began noticing strange things. C.G. Jung termed this "meaningful coincidence." There was an antique mirror identical to one her mother owned; a plaid school lunchbox like the one her parents bought her; an ironstone china pitcher with the once popular tea leaf design, a design her mother loved and collected; a book written by someone who shared her mom's first name. On Facebook Holly wrote, "After finding 3 of my mom's pieces in succession, I then saw a little canvas next to an angel statue that was propped up near the tea leaf pitcher. It read, I Love You."

Along the way, Holly also picked up an old alarm clock that had "intrigued" her. The time on the clock was 9:10. In fact, she later recalled that the time on every clock in the shop was 9:10.

Upon further reflection, Holly also recalled that her dad had passed away in September '10 (9/10). Her mom followed him 18 months later. Both departed at the same time of day - 4:40 in the afternoon.

Since an angel statue was involved, I thought I'd look up the significance of angel number 440: "Be patient as solutions to any issues or problems will soon be revealed. You have nothing to fear in regard to your life, work or soul purpose as the angels surround and support you, encouraging you to keep up the good work you've been doing."

The first antique shop visited by Holly and her daughters that day was named "The Beekeeper's Cottage." As you might recall, last week's Chrysalis blog about healing mentioned the Honey House in The Secret Life of Bees. One piece of glazed synchronicity buzzing around this coincidence was Chrysalis Tarot's "The Healer" card, whose character just happens to be a beekeeper.

Belief that our ancestors play a role in our lives is no longer a mystery of faith but a fact of science. We will address the science of synchronicity as well as the topic of subtle energy in the new Chrysalis Tarot companion book (June 2015).


Convening an Ancestral Council


The Mime (Page of Spirals/Wands)
First, you'll want to cull the following cards from the deck. These cards configure the council.

1. Storyteller (The Grandmother)
2. Four of Spirals (A Luna Gathering)
3. Six of Mirrors (The Fairy Folk)
4. Eight of Spirals (Lord of the Forest and Ancestors)
5. The Mime (Hushed Memories)
6. The Muse (Queen of Heaven and Mother of Good Counsel)

With Storyteller as your centerpiece, surround her with the other 5 cards (face up) in a clockwise, circular pattern using the order above, e.g. the Four of Spirals should be placed above Storyteller's head, followed next by the Six of Mirrors, etc.

In the Chrysalis companion book, we'll delve into greater detail about the reasons behind the council's symbolic "seating" order. But for now, it's not important.

It is important to respect your Ancestral Council reading as a sacred ritual - a tarot ritual.* As with any other sacred ritual, this particular tarot ritualized reading merits a reverential ambience. Rituals unite us with the sacred realm of spirits and recreate sacred time. It's interesting to note the world ritual is contained within the word spiritual. Burning either incense or a candle would be a fitting gesture. After you silence and center your mind, draw 5 additional cards.

Randomly place each drawn card beside one of the cards in the circle. Trust your intuition and the reflected power of the moon when deciding these pairings. Alternatively, these 5 additional cards may be placed beside council cards in the order you drew them. For example, the first drawn card would go next to the Four of Spirals, and so on around the circle.

Full Moon Ritual, by Jena, The Majestic Carnival
(Presented here in memory of Margot Adler, 1946-2014)
The indigenous shamans who walk in many worlds surmise ancestors and archetypes abide in different realms. In Chrysalis parlance, we explain that distinct energy fields of non-ordinary reality, the afterlife for example, resonate within one holistic, dynamic energy field. Jung termed this field the Collective Unconscious. Often Chrysalis simply calls it the Otherworld. And some call it heaven.

In working with ancestral subtle energy and the Ancestral Council, we seek to cultivate a "heaven to earth" resonance that, to a degree, already exists between you and your ancestors. Whatever that degree actually is depends upon you and your receptivity. And whatever that may be, this ritual is designed to increase its resonance.

This resonance is best symbolized by the energy of the Eight of Spirals, Lord of the Ancestors. (The magnificent sika red stag originated in the dense forests of central Asia. He is the ancestor of all deer, including the elk.) As his image (top) suggests, the product of this resonance isn't sound, it's fleeting synchronicity. Like deer in dense forests, most synchronicity zooms by unnoticed. When observed, its magical inspiration is channeled through your Third Eye. This is symbolized by eight shooting stars. Remember, the Otherworld's silent language is spoken with signs, symbols and memories, so one has to be alert.

Here's what you may hope to glean from a council ritual reading.

1. Synchronicity inspired by ancestors
2. Repressed memories in need of healing
3. Deeper understanding of yourself and your kinship with the Otherworld

Troupe members among the five drawn cards likely represent real people, perhaps even ancestors. When interpreting your reading, don't forget to give consideration to Troupe Spirit Animals , i.e. The Muse's hind; The Mime's ram. Ancestral Council readings with Chrysalis Tarot are best interpreted intuitively. Keep a sharp lookout for key cards and curious patterns.

Synchronicity inspired by ancestors often produces an emotionally charged peak experience, so don't lose yourself in the experience and forget to "read the tea leaf pitcher" or, in other words, to sift through the synchronicities to divine the entirety of your ancestors' message.

* We hasten to emphasize the Ancestral Council ritual is not a seance; the sole objective is to revivify ancestral synchronicity and inspiration, not to invoke or simulate direct contact.

Here's an excellent example of an Ancestral Council reading from Zanna Star at Tarot Notes.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Chrysalis Healing: The Honey House, Subtle Energy and Soul Loss

Image from Chrysalis Tarot's app
Chrysalis Tarot, if only by virtue of its name, implies that it's about personal and spiritual transformation. Any tarot deck that claims to magically touch souls must also be an instrument of healing, for the promise of transformation without compelling healing is an empty promise.

In a tarot reading, The "Beekeeper" Healer (left) cultivates synchronicity to guide lost souls to her Honey House, a spiritual sanctuary and refuge where fragmented psyches can be soothed and healed.

One of Chrysalis' Facebook fans recently commented that The Healer card reminds her of Lily, the main character in the book and film, "The Secret Life of Bees." The story is a maudlin parable about healing, hope, and soul loss. The subtle energy of synchronicity sculps the heart of the parable.

Lily, as you already know if you read the book or saw the movie, is a physically and psychologically abused child who blames herself when her mother, also a victim of abuse, leaves home without her. Lily's mean-spirited, drunken father convinces Lily that her mother, who he claims never really loved her, deserted her.

Synchronicity, an unseen energy that shapes lives, takes Lily by the hand and leads her to the Honey House, where she's welcomed by a maternal sisterhood of compassionate beekeepers. The sisters provide Lily with a nurturing family and the healing love she never had. We discern the helpful hand of synchronicity when we learn Lily's mother also stayed at the Honey House in her childhood. However, only the sisterhood's perceptive matriarch, August Boatwright, is aware of this fact.

Lily Owens (Dakota Fanning) at May's wailing wall

While in their care, Lily reconnects with her mother and slowly recovers the lost pieces of her soul. She thrives as a beekeeper. One of the sisters, May, best personifies the healing balm of Honey House. Like our own Chrysalis healer, May is an empath - a naturally gifted healer. Perhaps today we might consider super-sensitive May an Indigo adult, at least I hope we would.

May, you see, often is overcome with the sorrows of the world and the people around her. So often, in fact, that her sisters built her a special wailing wall.

The wall is a sacred space where May can shed her tears and place sorrowful invocations written on bits of paper. "Those bits of paper are all the heavy feelings May carries around. Seems it's the only thing that helps her," August tells Lily. The journal Lily keeps provides the storyline for both the book and subsequent film. The great healers, it seems, often bear the greatest pains.

Lily's heartwarming story underscores an important spiritual truism. The Otherworld communicates via meaningful coincidence, also known as synchronicity. Journaling communicates via metaphorical language in healing parables, also known as the Secret Life of Bees.


The healing mission of the Three of Scrolls  is soul retrieval. The term soul loss implies the brokenness of a fragmented psyche. Soul retrieval makes the self whole again. Fragments of soul can be lost, given away, or stolen. Soul loss, symbolized by the fox's tear, occurs in three ways, symbolized by the scrolls

First, soul loss can result from trauma of any type. Lily's story is a fitting example. A person gives away a piece of soul by engaging in codependent relationships, usually a result of low self esteem. Soul can be stolen by those who drain soul energy, commonly called psychic vampires who zap energy. It's said that psychic vampires are drawn to awakening souls.

More commonly, soul is stolen if a person is disempowered or allows power to be taken from them. An unforgiving person can be an unwitting soul thief. When we suffer soul loss of any kind, we lose balance and harmony within ourselves. We become broken and in desperate need of spiritual healing. Even one's path to personal destiny is obstructed.

Soul retrieval is vital to Chrysalis Tarot's goal of spiritual transformation, which is symbolized by Psyche (below right), the traditional "World" card. Psyche is a gloriously transformed butterfly (you). The word psyche means butterfly in Greek. And it also means soul.

21 - Psyche
A complementary interpretation of the Three of Scrolls speaks of the need sometimes to "let go" of life's many injustices and forgive. By forgiving, you rebuff power that siphons fragments of your soul.

In some instances, however, and for understandable reasons, we can permit brokenness to define who we are. In turn, this begets a false persona and even fosters a psychological addiction to victimhood. Once soul is retrieved and restored, it's healthy to embrace your healing, give thanks and celebrate.

Soul loss is primarily a spiritual affliction. However, left to fester it will likely manifest as physical disease. Indeed, there's a large body of empirical evidence suggesting many diseases are directly linked to soul loss, chronic spiritual disharmony and/or embedded negative energy.

Fortunately, embedded negative energy can be extracted, which essentially involves clearing and cleaning chakras. When healing cards turn up in Chrysalis readings, they may implicate a chakra blocked by embedded negative energy. These blockages, as well as negative emotions and stress in general, vibrate at a low frequency, thereby impeding cellular function.

Healing methods that modify and mollify subtle energies in the body, e.g. yoga, meditation, shamanism, acupuncture, qigong, and, yes, Chrysalis Tarot, all are stress-reducing, high-frequency activities that support the body's natural healing ability, which itself is nothing short of miraculous!  

In the new Chrysalis Tarot companion book (June 2015), I'll delve into chakras, various subtle energy practices and Chrysalis cards with specific healing attributes. Suffice it to say, one root cause of embedded negative energy lies in the conflict between reality and a cherished worldview. This is known as cognitive dissonance, a term that means holding, or struggling to hold, two or more contradictory beliefs in the mind at the same time. One of these two beliefs will eventually become disabling.

The mental disharmony and sheer intellectual stress brought about by disabling beliefs can block activation of your Third Eye chakra, as well your Crown chakra. This condition is rampant in today's world. In changing times, critical thinking skills become hugely important as front-line defense against mind-numbing disabling beliefs.


Seven of Stones
Syrinx, a fair maiden, reflects on the choice she made between external freedom or internal imprisonment (damnation). She now experiences a vague sense of regret, although she doesn't quite know why. Syrinx represents women everywhere.

Briefly, here is Syrinxes story from Greek mythology: The amorous god Pan, half-man and half-goat, pursued Syrinx relentlessly but she courageously resisted his advances. One day, while once again trying to escape Pan, she was blocked by the River Ladon, seen in the background. Helpful Spirits of the River rushed to transform her into a reed just as Pan caught up to her (image below).

Hearing the sweet, whistling song the reed made, Pan fashioned the reed into a flute so he could own Syrinx, if not in love then in music. Syrinx is pictured (left) holding her namesake, a syrinx, which also is called a Pan's pipe.

Sweet story, eh? Well, not exactly. Pan is symbolic of man's violent, aggressive, domineering nature. Syrinx is a symbol of a woman's stolen soul. The choice Syrinx made was straightforward: she could preserve her soul, albeit in music, or see it stolen and imprisoned (Pan would, of course, insist she gave her soul away).

In today's world, women are programmed by the brutal soul messages of a patriarchal society - by its political, social and religious institutions. Those messages are also straightforward: that women are second best; that they are not as intelligent as men; that they're eroticized objects for lotus-eaters to relish and ravage at will, and that they were created by a male god solely to serve men and procreate. The Divine Feminine has been exiled; the Goddess does not exist, indeed never existed. Such repugnant programming of the unconscious minds of women and men has resulted in cultural soul loss.

Pan and Syrinx, Paolo de Matteis 
The Seven of Stones is also is about getting on with life and tossing regret in the river. It's about making courageous choices and spiritual healing, which, in our society, so many women and men desperately need.

Chrysalis Tarot readings harmonize subtle energies originating in the Collective Unconscious. They anchor an effective healing regimen via the Hero's Journey of self-discovery and self-cultivation, a form of soul retrieval.

Transpersonal psychology and shamanic healing in the form of journeying is also effective, especially in cases that involve severe trauma and searing soul loss.