Thursday, June 21, 2012

Tarot Blog Hop: Celebrating the Sunrise

Hello everyone! Welcome to my entry on the Tarot Blog Hop for Litha (Midsummer)! Our theme this holiday is "Celebrating the Sunrise". (I hope that you're coming from Matt Williams' blog, but if not, please go check it out!)

A sunrise is a gorgeous, beautiful thing. And today, the sun greets us and will stay out longer than any other day this year. Reaching the pinnacle of the sun's power on earth makes me consider the cyclical nature of all life, and in particular, our lives as individuals.

As a Scorpio, I'm all too aware of the temporary, transient nature of things. Intellectually, we know that everything changes, evolves, grows, dies, and is reborn. As human beings, we often don't want to believe this is true. We want the good things to stay exactly as they are, and we want the bad things to be even more temporary. So we remain stagnant. We get caught up in the day-to-day nonsense of what we are doing. In hindsight, we can look back and say, "Yeah, I remember that month. I realized that I should have made a change and not resisted; it would have been better for me that way."

With the sun at its peak, I'm asking questions about how I made it here to build on my successes. How did I improve myself, physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually over the past year? Who helped me grow? Which relationships truly benefitted me? How did I help others? The warm, lasting sun helps me to appreciate all of these blessings.

At the same time, it is for just this one day that the sun remains at its zenith. So I ask myself very specific questions on how I can improve myself and my life. As a young man, I realized I made two very grave errors in judgment more than once. The first is that I often told people that I "would never change". The Universe just laughed at me on that one, folks, let me tell you. But I learned that change would be forced on me if I didn't choose it, and overall that was a good thing. The second is that I made radical changes in my life quickly, only to figure out that in many areas, gradual change is easier and more effective.

At Litha I also ask myself how I can improve myself over the next year, and I look for small ways that can build up over time. The sun's power gives me a healthy boost of enthusiasm and confidence to start making those changes. "How much weight can I lose in the next year?" became "How can I become healthier in the next year?", for example.

This year I have important unfinished business to attend to. The first is my health. Despite some success in being healthier this past year, I have to do better. Without my health, nothing else matters, and the day-to-day rat race make excuses on why I haven't done it very easy. I need to keep the sun shining down on my good health as long as possible. So I'll be making a few gradual changes to ensure that happens.

The second is that I have a nonfiction tarot book that needs to be edited. Many times in my life, I have not succeeded in finishing a book. My family, friends, clients, and students keep asking me when I'm going to be done. But my own weakness and lack of confidence keeps me from it each time. A year from now, I want to have this book in the hands of an interested publisher.

Finally, I'm branching out and writing a novel, something I never expected to do. A close friend asked me a few months ago why I didn't write fiction. I came up with some bullshit excuses, which she promptly shot down--I am thankfully surrounded by powerful women in my life who respect me enough to call me out when necessary--and consequently, I have been working on it since that time. Next Litha, I would like to have that also in the hands of an interested publisher.

I look at Litha as a mini wake-up call. I'm going to "Celebrate the Sunrise" by allowing the sun's rays to illuminate those areas of my life where I am most blessed, while burning away the fog of excuses and rationalizations that keep me from attaining my full potential. The things I want won't happen overnight, but I'm confident that I'll be well on my way when the sun again rises to its peak.

I hope that the sun gives you the courage, determination, and peace of mind that you need to accomplish your long-term goals.

Thanks for stopping by! There are a lot of talented tarot professionals doing this blog hop, like Jaymi Elford, whose blog is next on the blog hop. I hope you take the time to visit them all!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Problem with Unlimited Self-Expression

Hi everyone...this post is a little different than many of my others, and it deals with self-expression in an age when you can let pretty much everyone know what you're doing and how you're feeling at any given moment.

I'm a huge fan of the Internet. I can't get enough of it. I believe that everyone has the right to say whatever they want on their Facebook, Twitter, or other social media site, web site, blog, or other Internet-based medium. But very much like Dr. Malcolm from "Jurassic Park", I also believe that just because you can do something doesn't necessarily mean that you should.

As an example, if you're angry with someone, I don't really need to see your passive-aggressive "YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!" rants on Facebook. You should probably take it up with the person you're angry with or send non-public (private emails or texts) to people you want to vent to. This is also because people will be able to comment on anything you post.

I love reading news articles on the Internet, and my axiom is that the comments are often more funny, revealing, and interesting than the original story. I'm a huge fan of culture and I'm always fascinated by how people comment on stories; those comments tell a lot about who we are.

My hometown paper is the Patriot Ledger, and the example I'm going to provide below is from that paper. But let's be clear: This happens everywhere.

An article appeared a few weeks ago in the Ledger about two muggings in Quincy, MA, the city where I was born. The second of these muggings involved a young Asian woman who was walking home; she was pushed to the ground and her cell phone was stolen. This is something that unfortunately happens a lot more frequently than we would like.

Commenter A wrote (and I am copying and pasting, so any mistakes are that of the author):

I think the guy that stole the phone may have been trying to make a point here. Sounds like he was annoyed by an Asian talking loud into her phone in manderin drivel. I see it all the time at Stop & Shop there's NO bounderies with these people - they get right in your face while screaming on their phones.
Definitely not a nice thing to say. Not only is he advocating theft, but his use of "these people" is a clear indicator of his racist attitude in this instance. I suspect he's had some negative experiences. Anyway, the point is his comments make him look like a racist asshole.

Two comments later, another person takes him to task for it:

[Commenter A] you should be sterilized for comments like that. God forbid you are raising children with that attitude and teaching that train of thought. What a waste of life you are. You are more than likely the heavy set idiot running around stealing phones and wallets. I can see how a person might tell another that s/he doesn't want someone to be able to reproduce because of the values they might be teaching their offspring. Again, not nice at all. That I can get behind. But then it goes too far. In addition to accusing Commenter A of being the perpetrator, Commenter B refers to him or her as a "waste of life". Really? How much time did Commenter B waste posting that comment? Neither one showed a lot of character in my book.

This exchange doesn't end anytime soon, folks, and I'm not going to give you the lengthy and vivid detail of every back and forth, as scary and as amusing as it might seem. Other commenters jump into the fray, most of them ganging up on Commenter A and generally expressing a "What is this world coming to?" attitude about the whole thing.

Here's my point: This stuff lives FOREVER, even when you don't want it to, so please at least try to be civil when you write things online. Debates are healthy, but when it degenerates into stereotypes and name calling it's time to stop the nonsense. I mean, do you really want people to see you told someone to "DIE IN A FIRE!" on a social networking status update? Sadly, I have seen it.

I am thrilled we live in a society that we have more freedom of expression than anywhere else in the world. But I'd love it if we could at least try to treat each other with respect, not just in person but in the online world, especially when the other person is making it hard to do so.

Thanks as always for listening! Now back to your regularly scheduled blog. :)

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Book Review: How to Believe in a Sagittarius

How to Believe in a Sagittarius
Mary English
O-Books, 2012

As a professional astrologer, I was amazed to see a book that focuses on just one sun sign. How to Believe in a Sagittarius is the fourth in a series that began with English’s sign, How to Survive a Pisces. She states that she didn’t intend to write 12 books, but that once she finished Pisces, her friends started asking when she was going to write books about their signs.

I tell my own astrology students that the best way to learn astrology is to study, but then go out into the world and observe. English supplements her astrological knowledge with quotes from many different Archers with different moon and rising sign positions, as well as in different houses, which gives the book a “real” feeling that I truly enjoyed.

While the first series of chapters gives the standard information on the general terms of this 9th sign of the Zodiac, as well as the different astrological permutations listed above, English’s writing style is very straightforward and cites many different well-known astrology texts, like Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs. You will find yourself chuckling as she describes your Sag spouse, friend, or co-worker. I especially liked Sag Walt Disney’s quote when English discussed the 3rd house, which rules communication: “Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.”

Chapter Six is entitled simply “The Problems”. Given the title of her first book, perhaps it was complaints about Pisces people that inspired her to write the first book in the series. English explains that for the most part in her astrology practice, she doesn’t have many clients complaining about Sag folks in their lives; rather, it’s the Archers themselves that cause her difficulty. Some standard Sag challenges are laid bare here, but Sag is a sign that wouldn’t have it any other way, anyway. So no worries there.

Thankfully, Chapter Seven follows up with “The Solutions”, and armed with the information in this small but useful book, hopefully you’ll have a much greater chance of success with your chosen Sag person.

Any book written about one sun sign is fraught with danger, in my opinion. It’s a very fine line to walk because you want to give the truth—and especially in Sag’s case this extremely important!—but you want to be careful of painting picture that makes them seem like either the greatest sun sign or the worst. I think English did an excellent job of cataloging the Archer’s strong and weak points and presenting it in a very positive way. You won’t walk away from this book without it changing your perspective on the Sag person or people in your life.

Now that I’m finished reading How to Believe in a Sagittarius, I have a question for Ms. English: When is the Scorpio book coming out? Many, many inquiring Scorpios like myself would like to know.