Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Chrysalis 3-Card Ebola Reading

Image from the Chrysalis App
(Note: We will post to the Chrysalis Tarot blog sporadically while our new companion book is being written. Thanks!)

Several days ago, as the U.S. Ebola fear index peaked, I decided to perform a Chrysalis reading on the outbreak from the perspective of the global community. In other words, a holistic reading in the fullest sense of the word.

The 3 cards drawn from the well-shuffled deck made sense on first glance. The transformation indicated by the second and third cards - Phoenix and Psyche - spoke to the transformation of our outmoded but dominant worldview. The reading, therefore, was in harmony with energies one would expect to encounter during a global paradigm shift.

Perhaps no card in the Chrysalis deck better symbolizes the shift in perception required for the challenging transition from a disconnected universe to a connected universe than Celtic Owl.

In a connected universe - as opposed to a disconnected universe, in which people, places and things are separated and differentiated - everything is interconnected and interdependent. When one part of the Human Family contracts an infection, for instance, we all become infected; there is, in this humanist and holistic mindset, no such thing as them and us.

Like Celtic Owl, one must fly high and use night vision to grasp - without judging - what exactly is going on today in the human drama. This is challenging because our disconnected-universe worldview was built on a model of conflict and competition. It's the way we now think, although we are transitioning to a model of compassion and cooperation. Indeed, West Africa received a compassionate response from the International Community. However, the crisis is still rife with us-them detachment and bias.

In many ways, the old model of separateness is a far greater threat to our species than a virus that appears to be exceedingly difficult to contract in the developed world. The longer the West African fire rages, however, the more real and imminent the threat becomes to other parts of the Body Human: viruses mutate and seek to outmaneuver modern medicine. This particular virus is mutating as fast as annual influenza.

When viewing the Ebola crisis through the holistic lens of Chrysalis Tarot, it may be understood as a manifestation of a much deeper problem: unsustainable, egoistic-driven growth. Unsustainable growth destroys the environment, justifies wars over natural resources and creates economic injustice.


For Chrysalis users, and all who believe in a connected, purposeful universe, the preferred reaction to fear of any kind is to remain in the moment and avoid becoming unbalanced or uncentered. One of the greatest challenges to physical and emotional well being is stress. We know that fear and significant change of any kind are major sources of stress, ill health and psychological distress, not to mention irrational and impulsive behavior.

But it's not easy to let go of your cherished worldview. However, it is essential for those who comprise the vanguard of the Aquarian Age. Worldviews are like gardens and should be cultivated, lest they become overgrown with strangling weeds. An us-them mindset is a pernicious, strangling weed.

The dominant materialistic, disconnected worldview holds that events happen randomly and embrace no purpose. To materialists, the universe is like a clock, a dead machine made up of disparate chunks of matter that lack coherency. If I thought that way, I too would grow fearful and apathetic.

The connected universe, on the other hand, is living, conscious and coherent. All humanity is connected by a vast energy field that pervades the cosmos. This energy field forms a feedback-feedforward loop that always is learning and increasing in complexity and consciousness, i.e. evolving into more sophisticated states of organization with ever greater coherency. The Collective Unconscious is one of many resonant frequencies that comprise this cosmic energy field. Another is Gaia.

In a previous blog about global transformation and the Aquarian Paradigm, I quoted Sri Aurobindo: "Man may help or man may resist, but the Zeitgeist (new paradigm) works, shapes, overbears, insists." Ebola is a manifestation of Zeitgeist insistence.


In the final analysis, the Zeitgeist will celebrate the macrocosmic transformation from the old worldview to the new, as symbolized by Psyche (left). To me, this underscores the primary reason fear is such a wasteful and harmful low frequency emotion. It's far better to comprehend and cooperate with the Zeitgeist than to resist essential change from entrenched bunkers of fear, ignorance and apathy.

The late engineer/philosopher Buckminster Fuller, who referred to himself a "random element," coined the term synergetics, which details the study of systems in transformation. In the introduction to Synergetics he wrote:

It is essential to release humanity from the false fixations of yesterday, which seem now to bind it to a rationale of action leading only to extinction.


We designed Chrysalis to inform consciousness utilizing both the personal (micro) and collective (macro) strata. This simple 3-card reading examines the macro and foretells of an exciting new world. But it's up to us as individual "random elements" to birth this reality.

On the personal level, the driving narrative of Chrysalis engenders an increase in self-awareness that activates higher consciousness and consequently produces a transformative shift in thinking. It is the shift from separateness to wholeness - the shift from callow ego to authentic Selfhood.


An 'extra card' from the Chrysalis App
The centaur carries the burdens of an outmoded worldview

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Four Cornerstones of Chrysalis Tarot

We began publishing the Chrysalis Tarot blog in March and it achieves a milestone with this post. All 78 Chrysalis cards have now had the blog's attention. The complete list is located on the right side navigation bar. These are easy, direct links to whatever card you might be interested in.

But we won't stop with this post. In the coming weeks, we'll blog on ideas presented in the new Chrysalis Tarot companion book due out in 2015, as well as other subjects we believe Chrysalis fans will find interesting.

The Artiste (left) is dedicated to artistic creativity and expression, i.e. art, writing, dance, musical composition and the performing arts. As one of our "minor archetypes" (all Troupe members are minor archetypes), she represents the creative impulse of imagination and intuition, two cornerstones of the Hero's Journey in Chrysalis and the Chrysalis philosophy.

The other two cornerstones are represented by our final two cards.

Chrysalis Tarot is different in many ways and the Artiste underscores one of these differences: the absence of esoterica. With Chrysalis, there's really no need to look something up in a book. By this I mean there's no need to memorize how our cards should be interpreted and how to interpret our symbols. They either resonate with you or they don't.

Tarot is a subjective enterprise, the distinction that makes tarot an art rather than a science. Every card in the deck will mean something different to different people at different times in their lives. The interpretations and keywords we offer are put there simply to point you in the right direction. In time, this teaches you to become your own Artiste - someone who appreciates that their own intuition and imagination are far superior to reams of written material and mysterious arcane symbolism when interpreting a card or a reading.

When The Artiste turns up in a reading, she's there is to remind you of this responsibility. You must paint your own canvas; you can't look it up in a book or have someone else paint it for you. I'm reminded of this truism whenever I contemplate the Divine Child card (right). This card symbolizes Jungian individuation, which is another way of stating the idea that you alone can paint your canvas.

In the final analysis, you alone are responsible for your own spiritual growth. You make all the important artistic decisions.  Divine Child is the message and the medium.

Here's how C.G. Jung described individuation (emphasis is mine):

"The concept of individuation plays a large role in (Jungian) psychology. In general, it is the process by which individual beings are formed and differentiated; in particular, it is the development of the psychological individual...as a being distinct from the general, collective psychology. Individuation, therefore, is a process of differentiation...having for its goal the development of the individual personality."

To that we can add that the "development of the individual personality" parallels the process of self-realization - the destiny-driven goal of the Hero's Journey. That's why Jung was a staunch supporter of tarot's ability to plumb the Collective Unconscious and assist taroists with their personal growth and development and reach their fullest potential (destiny).

In other words, to paint your own unique butterfly with your own pallet (the individual) rather than attempt to paint by numbers (the collective). This distinction is hugely important. Chrysalis does not seek to manufacture clones.


The third cornerstone of Chrysalis Tarot is the art of letting go. As Yoda said, "You must unlearn what you have learned."

We live in a time of enormous change. We're discovering that our previous beliefs about cosmology are wrong. The same goes for physics, archeology and biology. We're transitioning away from a mechanical worldview where everything is separated into collectives to a holistic worldview where things are connected and interdependent but also individuated. We're moving away from bleak materialism to a rational form of spirituality.

Among the realities that materialism cannot see or measure, and therefore discounts, are subtle energy and consciousness. The old worldview has myopically focused us on matter and neglected the energy field or force we once called spirit. We have failed to grasp the implications of the fact that 99.9999% of what exists in our universe is space. We have failed to come to grips with the quantum reality that empty space is not a vacuum but a plenum filled with oscillating energy we once called spirit and now call quantum foam.

The Sojourner is aware of all of this. As the King of Mirrors, he is connected to all universal truths. So are you. But to apprehend and comprehend new truths we first must let go of antiquated old ones, e.g. the Earth is not the center of the universe. We must "unlearn what we have learned" as Yoda said. Like The Sojourner and his trusted steed, we, as a species, find ourselves precariously balanced on the precipice of a new age that will be defined by change.


The fourth and final cornerstone of Chrysalis Tarot is discernment. We know that all the answers we ever need are already inside us and that we can access them anytime we want via the subtle energy field we call the Collective Unconscious.

We know this and yet ego and emotion will often cloud clear and rational thinking. Exercising discernment - making good decisions - is dependent upon our ability to still our minds and hear the Music of the Spheres: to allow the truth to resonate with us. Another word for this is mindfulness - being in the moment at all times.

I'm a huge advocate of daily meditation and chakra attunement. Yet with our busy lifestyles in our busy world of wired communication, I believe tarot is the most effective tool available to assist our decision making. But it must be understood and used correctly, otherwise it will merely echo the ego.

I prefer the word discernment to divination simply because the latter implies a decision has already been made. How disempowering is that!? The word discernment, on the other hand, implies that you yourself are empowered to make the choices that affect your life.

A tarot reading primarily is a conversation with the Collective Unconscious about difficult choices. It is a conversation taking place beyond the noisy interference of the ego, although you remain fully aware and alert and are in a state of ordinary consciousness. In a nutshell, that's the difference between tarot and other forms of discernment that alter consciousness in varying degrees.

With tarot you commune with the numinous. Moreover, these conversations help you get to know and understand yourself better and engender self-acceptance. They reinforce the strengths and expose the weaknesses we all have. And they facilitate mindfulness.

In this context, The Companion card serves as a metaphor for listening to your inner voice. This is accomplished via the subtle energy of Chrysalis Tarot resonating in community with the Collective Unconscious. There is no single greater tool for self-realization. This is why we call Chrysalis Tarot "Transformational Technology for Everyone."



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Healing and the Dark Night of the Soul

The Nine of Scrolls is one of the most important cards in Chrysalis because it represents the agony some spiritual seekers experience on their journeys and teaches a difficult lesson.

But like all Chrysalis cards designed to challenge us, the Nine of Scrolls places great emphasis on personal empowerment and healing. We dig our own ruts, and then we dig our way back out of them. C'est la vie.

This angelic messenger appears to have tried almost everything. She's now at her wit's end and clings to the ninth scroll, the symbol of her last remaining hope. The Ninth Scroll represents the Dark Night of the Soul - despair entombed by irrational fear.

In tarot, the Dark Night of the Soul is a minor arcana card rather than a major because not every seeker who embarks on the Hero's Journey must endure this level of suffering. Why is that?

The Hierophant of traditional tarot would probably answer that question with holy platitudes: "It's a mystery," he might say. Or, "God draws with crooked lines, my child." In Chrysalis, the Hierophant is cast as the Divine Child. Her or she symbolizes your unrealized potential and inner voice. The Divine Child answers questions with direct language, "Stop the blame game. Stop blaming God, or Aunt Hilda, or your parents, or your circumstances and accept personal responsibility for your own well being and spiritual growth."

Indeed, the blame game often walks hand in hand with prolonged periods of intense loneliness and despair. A controlling ego can usually be spotted in this noxious mix. We all know what motivates a controlling ego: Fear. And not just any garden variety fear, but fear of true Self, as strange as that sounds.

Fear of Self is the imprisoning fear of letting go, pure and simple. It plays nanny to "I, me and my." The Hero's Journey allegorizes this spiritual contest between Ego and Self, as we discussed in last week's blog featuring The Acrobat.

In spiritual circles, we often hear this contest of Ego vs. Self described as an agony, e.g. Dark Night of the Soul, the Agony in the Garden, etc. The word agony comes from the Greek agónia, a word that describes the feelings an athlete endures before a contest - great fear, anxiety, dread, etc.

For seekers, the dark night persists until ego finally admits defeat. That significant event is followed by a period of sublime joy and realization that you're not the person you've always thought you were; your true Self is vastly different, vastly better and now made whole.

Ironically, the ego itself actively pursues higher consciousness for obvious reasons. It doesn't want to relinquish control. But the ego can never attain higher consciousness. Some people get that, others don't. The more stubborn the ego, the more difficult the trials.

Many healing cards in Chrysalis focus on the lessons of letting go utilizing three principal themes: shamanism, meditation and unconditional forgiveness. These healing themes help true Self overcome ego. The three major arcana cards that underscore these themes are: Papa Legba (shamanism); Golden Flower (meditation), and Ariadne (forgiveness). Shamanism, in this regard, refers to communing with the Collective Unconscious, the linchpin of tarot.

Ariadne, for example, is like a "Get Out of Jail Free" card for those suffering the Dark Night of the Soul. When you face the minotaur, you learn to forgive yourself. That's the first step.  Forgiveness of others costs nothing except perhaps a piercing wound to the I-Me-My ego, and that's a welcomed piercing for souls in search of higher consciousness and spiritual transformation.


The Eight of Mirrors embodies all three of the aforementioned healing themes: shamanism, meditation and forgiveness, which all mirror selflessness, this card's keyword.

The enlightened shaman pictured (left) probably guided an initiate up the Mountain of the Eightfold Path and is returning to assist someone else. Alternatively, he may symbolize the cyclic ascent to the mountaintop that is a never ending process. Mircea Eliade called it the "myth of the eternal return."

Interestingly, the Dark Night of the Soul is triggered by the Divine Child when the time is right. It's something that will happen only when your psyche is ready and deems it necessary to outclass the last ramparts of ego.

The spiritual virtues of the eightfold path as envisioned by Chrysalis Tarot are: selflessness, truthfulness, harmlessness, mindfulness, respectfulness, goodness, peacefulness and righteousness. All of these virtues engender healing and interior balance, which are requisites for transformation.

When we allow ourselves to step away from the metaphors and focus on science, we learn that psychological and emotional healing are functions of subtle energy.

What we call higher consciousness is itself a function of resonance with that same subtle energy, which pervades the cosmos. Resonance is accomplished by acts of attunement, i.e. unblocking and aligning the body's energy meridians (chakras). Every card in Chrysalis Tarot is imbued with this "attunement" intention and visually portrays and engenders subtle healing energy.





Wednesday, October 1, 2014

On Perspective, Yoda and Infinite Energy

The dragonfly in the upper right corner of The Acrobat suggests this card is about transformation, self-transcendence and gaining a fresh perspective. The youthful spirit of the monkey suggests this card is also about being keenly aware of your surroundings and transcending your comfort zone.

Tarot can be put to many uses. It can be a card game, a tool for divination, or a tool for self-development, self-awareness and spiritual growth. Chrysalis Tarot was created to assist with these latter uses. The Acrobat symbolizes how this can be accomplished: she symbolizes the authentic Self that soars above the illusions of ego.

Let's unpack that notion. First off, to say something is an "illusion" does not mean it doesn't exist only that it's not what it seems. Chrysalis Tarot's Hero's Journey itself symbolizes the struggle between the actualizing Self and the prevaricating Ego. Chrysalis constantly coaxes you to mitigate the illusions and allures of ego.

The Self, like the Acrobat's monkey, desires to smile, play and appreciate life in the present moment. Indeed, the monkey knows no other way. The ego on the other hand seeks to anticipate the future and control it. The Self is disposed to mindfulness while the ego is fascinated by adventurous mindlessness. To use tarot terms, the mindless "Fool" is on an ego trip while the "Hero," Chrysalis' designation for the "zero card," embarks on a pilgrimage of self-discovery.

The idea of mindfulness comes from Eastern philosophy. Alan Watts, who popularized Eastern traditions in the West, wrote: "The primary consciousness, the basic mind which knows reality rather than ideas about it, does not know the future. It lives completely in the present, and perceives nothing more than what is at this moment. The ingenious brain, however, looks at that part of the present experience called memory, and by studying it is able to make predictions. These predictions are, relatively, so accurate and reliable (e.g., 'everyone will die') that the future assumes a high degree of reality - so high that the present loses its value."

This tendency of ours to live for the future lies at the root of our anxiety. How can we overcome it? Well, we can use tarot to open a personal dialog with the Collective Unconscious, where the mythologies of past (below), present and, yes, an imagined future all merge (right). Myths are maps to treasure troves of wisdom. Chrysalis Tarot will open that conversation.

Imagine the scope of the communication from the Collective Unconscious to humanity through the imaginative minds of George Lucas and Gene Roddenberry; the wisdom of the ancients barely known to us because the limited perspective of our narratives, indeed our egos, filter the past to fit the preconceived notions about the present, as the next card illustrates.



Stonehenge echoes the lesson taught by The Acrobat: all is not as it seems. This megalithic monument, according to today's archaeologists, dates to 2,500 B.C.E. Evidence was recently found, however, that indicates Stonehenge is at least 5,000 years older, perhaps more.

When new discoveries like this are made I'm reminded of the 15-year-old exposé Michael Cremo and Richard Thompson developed in Forbidden Archeology, namely that the predominant narrative of human history and human evolution is significantly gaslighted. Like the dust mite, I suppose, there are some things we're just better off not knowing.

Setting aside the substantial body of evidence that indicates anatomically modern humans roamed the Earth millions of years ago, I'll focus instead on the antediluvian knowledge that appears to have existed on Earth a scant 150,000 years ago, but is considered forbidden. The reason is simple: dogma; in this case scientific dogma. Researchers who venture into anomalous domains are like religious heretics. They are marginalized, can't get published and don't receive grants or tenure. A prominent example is the suppression of Nikola Tesla.

Another example of this involves forbidden theories about sacred geometry and the Flower of Life design. This design found in diverse ancient cultures the world over from Egypt to China to Israel. The image (right) is of a 3D Flower of Life sphere from the Grand Temple in Bangkok, Thailand. Although ancient, this design is particularly relevant today because of its implications to theoretical physics. The geometric structure of spacetime itself can be expressed using this geometry.

This design, according to Nassim Haramein of the Resonance Institute in Hawaii, ".. represents how tiny discrete packets of energy organize themselves with the geometric structure of the fabric of the vacuum of space itself."

The term "vacuum of space" is an intentional misnomer since classical physics still considers "empty space" to be a vacuum. It isn't. Space is a plenum filled with tiny fluctuating packets of quantum energy. There's enough energy, for example, in one cubic centimeter of space to power our entire civilization for a day. The vacuum is an energy reservoir of colossal capacity. Infinite energy pervading the entire universe is how the vacuum is viewed by "New Physics."

As Yoda forewarned, "You must unlearn what you have learned."



The Ten of Mirrors is about learning how to just let things be. It's my fervent hope you're better at this than I am!

But it's true: everything is unfolding just as it should. There is order as well as purpose in chaos; now is the time for each person to gaze into his or her mirror of true Self and realize that the greatest responsibility we have as humans is to grow in knowledge, make the necessary revisions to cherished worldviews, and just to go with the flow, as it were.

The flow leads to a new world, an Aquarian worldview heralding science and spirituality as its unified centerpiece. By inference this requires the decomposition of scientific and religious dogma; a letting go of the prevailing and rigid materialist worldview, as well as the "correct beliefs" at the core of decidedly unscientific religious dogma. It requires a "new conception of god," as Anne Baring phrased it; a rational spirituality, if you will.

Change of any kind is stressful. Change on the magnitude of an age-ending paradigm shift hasn't happened in over 2,000 years. Chrysalis Tarot was designed for the Age of Aquarius not the existing Age of Pisces, and for the transition. It was also designed to mollify change by explicating the new paradigm to "those who have ears to hear and eyes to see," as the prophet Jeremiah famously proclaimed.

The Ten of Mirrors is one of the most positive cards in our deck. It symbolizes an unbreachable barrier to waves of doubt and distrust seeking to dislodge your inner peace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Metaphysics of Spirituality and Discernment

Tarot's Scrolls (Swords) suit represents the element of air. Human intellect is considered to be its primary correspondence. However, in Chrysalis Tarot intellect has two very different and distinct connotations.

The first refers to mental processes or activities of a rational mind. It represents the objective case, problem solving, intelligence, and the way a person interprets reality and deduces truth.

The second, yet equally important meaning of the Suit of Scrolls, is intuition. It refers to the subjective case, which gleans or induces truth via personal experience and supersensual, metaphysical inspiration and intuition.

Albert Einstein believed intuition is a neglected art: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." Chrysalis aims to address that imbalance.

In Chrysalis, we don't seek to define the meaning of tarot cards with great precision. First of all, it's not possible, and second of all, every card serves as a painted invitation to fire up your imagination and intuition and write your own definitions. The unconscious mind is a treasure trove filled with lifetimes of experiences and memories - you own memories, those of your ancestors and moreover of all humanity. Raising the unconscious mind to conscious awareness is another goal Chrysalis addresses.

Tarot is both a metaphysical pursuit and a spiritual exercise. To dogmatize tarot with sacrosanct, and in many cases arbitrary meanings, is not simply to misunderstand how tarot really works but to corral and diminish its efficacy - indeed, to trivialize it. As one Chrysalis reviewer wrote, "You will have to look into your soul to discover what these cards mean, and what they will mean to you is different from what they will mean to anybody else." And that is how it should be.

Once this simple premise is understood and accepted, all your hard work over the years will pay off. You can now easily draw Excalibur from the Stone of Destiny and begin your quest freed of dogma in earnest. In doing so, you extract the secrets of both the Suit of Scrolls and the tarot. As Chrysalis artist Holly Sierra observed, "When the future king draws the sword from the stone he prepares to sacrifice all for his personal destiny and that of his realm."



The keyword for the Six of Scrolls is consolation, an important but frequently overlooked spiritual concept, especially when discerning difficult decisions. Questions put to tarot cards frequently involve decision making dilemmas. Tarot helps you solve them.

Let's say someone is discerning whether to take a new job or perhaps move to a new city. The first thing to do is make a list of all the pros and cons. Ask family and friends for their insights and listen closely to their responses. Finally, sleep on the decision for a night or two.

I then recommend one, but no more than three, different Chrysalis Tarot readings on the nuances of the question at hand. It's silly to keep reading the same question over and over until you get an answer that pleases you. Chrysalis Tarot's strength is one of personal empowerment; it will not presume to make decisions for you.

You then submit your provisional decision, symbolized by the scroll held by the elephant (infinite wisdom). Any number of methods can be used to submit your decision for confirmation. Personally, I think writing it on a piece of paper and placing the paper with (or inside) your tarot deck is sufficient.

If your provisional decision is in accord with your personal destiny (your greatest potential) and best interest, it will be confirmed by at least one of three ways, all of which produce abundant spiritual consolation:

1. Consolation via synchronicity
2. Consolation via a strong, consistent feeling of peace concerning your decision
3. Consolation through a disinterested and objective party (usually unexpectedly)

If confirmation is forthcoming, it rarely takes more than 3 days to manifest.

Conversely, if insurmountable obstacles prevent your moving forward, or should you remain fretful about your decision, then humbly return to the drawing board. While the decision may be correct, perhaps your timing is off. You can, of course, go forward regardless, but expect stormy seas rather than clear sailing. Stormy seas sometimes are required to teach important lessons.
A replica of The Matthew, John Cabot's ship

Another thing to remember: Decisions reached in times of consolation that are free from perturbations (high anxiety) should never be reversed unless the situation dramatically changes.

One reason we often hear that, "the answers are inside you," is because your unconscious mind already knows what you are going to do. Afterall, it operates on a decision making program you helped it write, so it knows how (and why) you do what you do.

If you have a history of poor decision making, Chrysalis Tarot may be quite useful. It was designed to make you mindful of unconscious programming and break free of repetitious negative cycles by revising that programming.



Let say, for instance, the list of pros and cons you put together has more cons than pros, but in your heart you know your decision represents "the right thing to do." However, you can't articulate exactly why that's the case so gray clouds of indecision gather.

Remember, if you received consolation and were comfortable with your decision when you made it, then stick to it. Ignore the little voices in your head that create confusion.

Sometimes indecision still persists (left). You've gone over and over the list and still get the same result: five undesirable answers, one ambiguous answer (the scroll he's holding) and only one desired answer. Your feet want you to go one way but your heart has other ideas. Like this Seven of Scrolls satyr, you're split in half.

The satyr's animal half is hard wired, its human half is not. There's no doubt in my mind which door this satyr will eventually choose - and probably should choose. What's your best guess?

Sometimes the most courageous decisions we make involve great risks, hence great rewards. But such decisions often go completely against the grain. They seem to make no sense, yet we're drawn to them. In these cases, intuition and emotion always trump the intellect. You just have to set sail and hope for fair weather.

The moral of the Seven of Scrolls is to always trust your intuition and your emotions.

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.