Friday, September 28, 2012

Welcome to Libra, the Double-Edged Sword

Happy birthday wishes to all my Libra people, especially the Rev. Samantha Harvey. True to Libra form, Sam’s insights and her ability to see things from the perspective of others is a tremendous help to all of us seeking deeper spiritual wisdom. Another Libra trait that she embodies is loyalty; she stands up for people who are close to her.

The other edge of the Libra sword, however, is indecision. When you’re seeing the situation from so many different angles, it’s hard to make a call. So those born under the sign of the Scales need to learn to “balance” the need to be decisive with their uncanny ability to be fair to everyone.

In the tarot, Libra, the cardinal air sign, is represented in the Major Arcana by Justice, who, appropriately enough, is usually shown wielding a sword, the tarot’s air energy suit. This card represents fairness, justice, and the good and bad consequences of our decisions, better known as karma. What you put out into the universe does indeed come back to you eventually. I prefer the more archaic, “As ye reap, so shall ye sow,” or even the modern sentiment of, “What comes around goes around.”

What I find so fascinating about the tarot is that it’s so even-handed, very much like Libras are. It will tell us the straight truth, not just what we’d like to hear. And that’s why it takes courage to consult the tarot; you must be prepared for both the light and the dark, and to “own it”, as Sam would say. In other words, the tarot can be rather painful if you are not ready to take responsibility for your actions.  While I would never want to hurt anyone, I believe that the tarot gives you the message you’re supposed to hear.

In my tarot practice, I have a few standing rules, and they have to do with the ability of the client to accept responsibility for his/her actions. For example, unless I have the permission of a parent or guardian, I don’t read for people under 18. The teenage years are a time of selfishness and irresponsibility, and most minors are not ready for the hard truth that the tarot gives. When I do read for minors, I tread very carefully; they are changing so fast that it's important to be very measured.

A second rule that you might not be aware of is that I don’t read for anyone who says, “Only tell me the good things.” My response is, “Then you don’t want a tarot reading.” This is not to say that you won’t ever have a good tarot reading; that’s ridiculous. But I find that people who start off with a statement like the one above may consider the tarot to be a form of entertainment, a pleasant diversion, and as such may not be ready to hear the message they’re supposed to receive.  

If you read tarot for others, I suggest you follow these two rules. In this way, you’re being fair to the client and fair to yourself as a reader by protecting yourself from potentially upset parents and those adults not ready for the message yet.

I wish you a fair and balanced month in the Libra sun, and I hope to see you across my table soon.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

On Losing a Student

One of my students, a vibrant 23-year-old woman, passed away this past week. My heart goes out to her parents; I can't even begin to imagine what it is like to lose a child. All the love, the promise, the joy, gone in an instant.

Out of respect for her privacy, she will not be named here. I do not know how open she was with others about her spiritual studies with me, and do not want to out her.

This is not the first time I have had to wrestle with losing a student in death. When I taught high school many moons ago, I lost two students in the same day--sisters who were late to school who drove together. They never made it to school.

No matter how it happens, it's never easy to deal with.

As a teacher you see a different side of your students. When the topic is spiritual, you see them take more responsibility for their spirituality, and their beliefs develop a strong, healthy root system that hopefully can sustain them through the difficult times of their lives. You want them to leave your classroom empowered and with a positive attitude that they can handle anything life chooses to throw at them. If you're a good teacher, you care about the well-being of all your students and wish for their success, because when they reach their goals, you witness a miraculous thing.

Having to tell her classmates about her passing was one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do, and as I did so I felt like an old man. But we mourned her as a class, doing a ritual to honor her. We shared our memories and our stories, and even laughed some to take the edge off of our grief. But there's still going to be the emptiness, and that will be the hardest.

I have one less chair to set out on Friday nights. I had to take a graduation pendant that was supposed to be hers and place it in a box of memories, and remove her homework folder from my files. These things seem so little, and yet they take on a huge significance when you know that there will be no more homework, classes, or graduation celebrations.

I hope that all of those who mourn find peace and consolation in the many happy memories they had with her. Now is the time for those who knew this young lady to come together and mourn her, and grieve in whatever way is appropriate for them. 

I was honored to be her teacher, and I learned a lot from her. I hope to honor her memory by teaching others for many, many years to come.

May the Lord and Lady bless you abundantly, today and each day.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mabon Tarot Blog Hop: The Power of Transformation

Greetings and blessed Mabon! You are likely coming from Carla Tate's blog, but if you're not, please stop in and visit it!

Today’s topic is near and dear to my heart as a sun sign Scorpio: Transformation.

To me, there is one tarot card that more than any other speaks of transformation, and that is Death.
Morbid? Perhaps. But totally true. Death is about transformation. Many other tarot cards talk about “change”, but to me there is a difference between “change” and “transformation”.

To me, “change” is less specific and can be nearly immediate, or at least short-term. You can go home after work and change clothes, and it just takes a few minutes. If you want to change your mind or your attitude, you can do that in an instant. 

“Transformation”, however, is more long-term. Much to my chagrin, you don’t just wake up one morning and transform yourself into someone who is in better shape, for example. You spend many mornings transforming yourself into a person who is more healthy by eating better—or actually eating breakfast—going to the gym, or going out for a walk. These steps make the thousands of small changes happen in you so that weeks, months, and years later, you're healthier and more confident. 

Another term I like to use as a synonym for “transformation” is evolution. Now, let’s be honest…not all 
transformations are good ones, so some are likely “devolutions”. But we’re going to go positive here and say evolution.

As human beings, we choose many transformations. We make choices in our life that cause us to transform over time. I know for me one of my biggest transformations was my conversion to Witchcraft, a spiritual transformation that took many years. I went through a period of being content doing nothing spiritually, which lasted from my departure from home to go to college and lasted probably until I got married six years later. I started to dabble in the Craft a little, but the final piece of the puzzle didn’t happen until 2005, when I chose to pursue the path and wore the pentacle for the first time. 

My attitude toward the Craft transformed over time so eventually, I chose to begin my studies. If that hadn’t happened, who knows where I would be? Likely I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

My spiritual transformation continues. I have another year or so of study to go before my training is completed, but my spiritual life has evolved nicely and I have so much knowledge to share with others in my community that I didn’t have when I started.  And spirituality has become a part of my life that I never would have imagined in 1989. It's true that my “transformation” did take a while, but it was worth it.

So many things in our lives “die” so others can replace them: relationships and friendships; our beliefs; and our tastes in everything (music, food, art, books, beliefs, etc.)--they all evolve.  What would you say to an adult who never lost his taste for chicken nuggets and now, as an adult, wanted to eat nothing but chicken nuggets? Likely, it would be something along the lines of “grow up!”.

Some adults have never evolved, and this is something you may have experienced in your own life. I see so many people, for example, who refuse to settle down because they are avoiding commitment. Guess what? Eventually the relationship is going to change whether you want it to or not, and not necessarily for the better.

Refusing to change only means one thing: You are avoiding it for now, but eventually it will catch up with you. If you’ve had an unpleasant conversation with your doctor, then you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The idea of transformation in the tarot is best embodied for me in the Death card. It’s not the abrupt change of the Fool, the “new leaf” change of Judgment, or the “sudden shock and awe” change of the Tower. No…Death is gradual and inevitable for all of us. And so is transformation, which rarely happens overnight unless you’re talking about one of those restaurant rescue shows. But even then, the changes don’t always stick, do they? You can change a restaurant overnight, but you can’t make the people “transform”, can you?

Mabon is the time of the first harvest, and is considered “Thanksgiving” for Wiccans. Personally, I give thanks for my wife, a woman who has been my best friend for more than 20 years, and who has witnessed and encouraged my transformations. I would not be the man I am today without her.

This Mabon, I hope that you will take this time to look back at your transformations in a healthy, positive way, acknowledge how far you have come, and give thanks in your own way for the things and people in your life that have “transformed” you and witnessed your progress.  

May the blessings of transformation be with you throughout the year!

Please head over to Sandie Worthy's blog to continue with the blog hop! You can also find a master list of all the blogs in the hop HERE

Monday, September 17, 2012

Mayhem and Martinis Re-Joins the Blogosphere!

Another one of my friends has a blog that you should go visit! It's called Mayhem and Martinis. The author is a writer and blogger who recently started posting again after a time off the blog circuit. I'm absolutely thrilled she's back!

One of the reasons I'm so excited to see MM back blogging again is because her husband's family became extremely upset when she blogged about stuff going on in her family. Pressure from her husband eventually forced her to stop. Now I'm all for privacy, but these folks were not identified in any way. 

Blogging should be an outlet where you have the freedom to say whatever the fuck you want, whenever you want. There's a balance, of course...I wouldn't tell my entire life story on a blog, but I want to balance giving information with talking about what is going on in my life and sharing information, which is the point of having a blog in the first place. 

It takes a lot of courage to sit down and write what you're feeling and put it up for people to see, read, and comment on. I know bloggers who have faced family members starting shit and writing nasty comments online. There's always a concern with how what you have written will be perceived, and you're likely to offend somebody. But there's a great liberating feeling in putting it out there.

Anyway, I hope you will go over, check it out and say hello! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tarot Card Scammers Alert!

A California woman was recently talked out of $5,000 of her hard-earned money that she was planning on investing in a new business by a tarot card reader. Check out the video interview and article here.

Many of you who read this blog regularly consult metaphysical professionals, which may include tarot card readers, astrologers, psychics of various kinds (like mediums), and energy healers (like Reiki masters). It's become very common for many people to do so, and on the whole, I think that's a good thing.

With that said, it is incredibly important to use good  judgment when selecting such a person. I've blogged before about how many skilled, well-intentioned metaphysical professionals there are out there, and that they get a bad rap. This man, this "Don Luis" who stole this lady's money, is one of the many reasons why people are skeptical of us and routinely question our integrity and ethics.

People who take advantage like this piss me off to no end, but it's even more abhorrent to me when it has a negative impact on my own business, not just financially but personally. It's so hard to earn a good reputation, and for some asshole I don't even know to jeopardize my work just makes me mad.

While I don't want to be too hard on the victim, in the video you'll hear her say that it didn't feel right to her to give this man her money. She should have listened to her gut and said "No, thank you." And while your gut will lead you in the right direction, my beloved said it best: "Don't ignore your intuition, but also use common sense!" I couldn't agree more.

Anyway, it looks like it's time for a reminder of what to look for when selecting a metaphysical services provider:

1) Code of Ethics--Do they have one? Is it posted someplace, either in their shop or online? You can see mine at under "Code of Ethics".

2) Certifications, relevant training, or other qualifications--Does this person belong to any organizations or have any certificates of relevant training? There are organizations for everything. For example, I'm a Certified Tarot Master and if you contact the Tarot Certification Board of America, they'll tell you that. I'm also a member of the American Tarot Association, and as a member I have to abide by their code of ethics, which is the basis for my own.

3) Length of time practicing and testimonials--How long has this person been in business? Are they willing to tell you what others have said about their services? Would they be willing to let you talk to one of their current clients? If they haven't been around long or are leery of talking about satisfied customers, there may be a problem. In my case, I have plenty of people who I would refer you to.

4)  A personal recommendation--This is VERY important to me. I want to patronize metaphysical services providers that I either know personally or know about through someone else. Advertising means nothing in this business; if you have a loyal following, you don't need to advertize. I am automatically way of folks who advertize too much anyway. Ask around; you would be surprised about what you can learn when you open your mouth.

5) Posted services and prices per service--These should be available from the provider or online. Make sure that the provider tells you in advance what you are going to pay, and what you will receive. Don't wait until the end to know how much you're going to pay; the provider should set your expectations accordingly.

6) Words to watch for--The biggest one is "curse". They love to say that you're cursed, or that your home is, your family, whatever. You're not cursed. Walk out the door at that point and don't come back. This is the same if you have someone offering to "cast spells" for you for a price as well. If they do or say anything that puts them in control of you, your time, or your money, then end it. 

The bottom line: If you feel like something is wrong, it probably is. If you want to stop a service in progress, tell the provider--ideally you haven't paid them yet--walk out, don't go back, and if you question this person's practices, call the police and tell your friends. Don't be afraid of hurting someone's feelings if you get a bad vibe off a provider. You need to protect yourself first. 

A number of people who should know better have fallen victims to these crooks, and the only way to beat them is by educating customers. Don't make yourself a victim, no matter how nice they may seem.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Virginia Education Loophole Tied to Religious Freedom

Think it's a requirement for all children to attend school? Apparently not in the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

I just read an interesting article in the Washington Post about families that can keep their children out of school through a law designed to keep the Commonwealth from interfering in the religious preferences of its citizens. According to the article, the principle is that the family ultimately should not be required to send a child to a public school if it violates the tenets of the family's religion.

Home-schooling is not new, folks, and that's not what I'm talking about. Students who are home-schooled must meet the Commonwealth's requirements and reporting structures.

I'm specifically referring to students whose parents choose to not have their children attend Virginia Public Schools by receiving a religious exemption from school altogether. There are no requirements for these families to prove that there is some form of education going on at home, religious or otherwise. Applicants for the exemption do not need to cite a particular faith, but their objections cannot be "political or philosophical in nature." In other words, it can't be because you hate the [INSERT POLITICAL PARTY HERE]. 

But the article states that more and more people are asking for and receiving this exemption for their children. Once the exemption is granted, the Commonwealth has no legal obligation to education the child in the future. 

I'm all for spiritual freedom. I know many students who have been home-schooled for various reasons--some religious and some secular--and have no problem with the practice. What I do have a problem with is what happens to this child if they receive no education whatsoever, since the onus is on the parents. Imagine an 18-year-old who can barely read and write, and who lacks interpersonal skills. Granted, some of you might say, "That's what many high school graduates are like!", but at least teachers that the opportunity to provide an educational foundation to these children. 

I strongly believe that even students who are home-schooled for religious reasons should be required to report into the Commonwealth of what kind of education is occurring for this child. To me, this also has the potential to foster religious extremism in children, and I don't care what religion we're talking about. Zealotry is intolerable in any case.

I would never presume that I know what's best for another's child; it's a very personal decision on the part of the parents. But going this route sets a dangerous precedent, in my humble opinion, to have no accountability whatsoever that this child is ready, from an educational perspective, to join the workforce or attend college at 18. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Welcome to the Blogosphere for Evil Twin!

Just a quick note to recommend a friend's new blog. My friend Evil Twin is half of the dynamic duo known as TheWineTwins. Their blog, This May Cost Me An Appliance, is snarky and funny, and I've enjoyed what I've read so far! So go over and check it out!

For those of you interested in starting your own blog, here are a few pieces of advice:

1) You DO have something unique to contribute! Most people who really should start a blog are the ones who say, "But I don't have anything interesting to say!" Not true. Everyone has a unique perspective, and if you need a creative outlet, a blog is a low-maintenance, no-cost way of tapping into that creative side.

2) Aspiring writers should be blogging! When a publisher looks at you, they'll like it if you have a blog because it represents people who are already interested in what you have to say. These folks can be future customers.

3) Be who you are, and write that way. Write about the topics that interest you. Blogs on particular topics are fantastic--I subscribe to many tarot and astrology blogs--but I also like blogs where you can get to know the PERSON behind the blog. Put your own personality in it, and don't judge your blog by other people's. [Evil Twin, please read that last phrase again several times! :)]

4) You never know who might read your blog, so promote, promote, promote! I am a huge fan of Susan Katz Keating's blog, which talks about military matters and national security stuff. I never set out to find it, but when I did, I was really pleased.

5) JUST DO IT. It will change your life.

Anyway, best of luck to all new bloggers! And welcome to the Blogosphere, Evil Twin; don't forget to save a little wine for me, you hear?? :)

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Chiron, Your Astrological Wound and Healer

I attended the DC Tarot Society meeting today where we did a lot of work with tarot and astrology on Chiron, a planetoid whose irregular orbit lies between Saturn and Uranus. As such, it is often considered the gateway to the outer planets of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. It was discovered in 1977 and astrologers believe that the planet will only be around for another 1000 years or so.

To be honest, Chiron is an astrological entity that I didn't know a lot about before today. But thanks to a fantastic presentation by astrologer Anna White, I learned a whole lot and put it to use in our small group discussions after the talk. I'm glad to have the opportunity to pass it on to you.

Let's start with the myth. Chiron is the son of Saturn (Chronos in Greek mythology), and as you may be aware, Saturn swallowed his children after they were born to make sure they would no longer be a threat to his greatness. His wife, Rhea, hated him for it and would no longer honor him with her favors. Saturn is pretty hard up--deliberate pun--when he meets up with Philyra, the sea nymph, on a beach one day. Saturn can't catch her before she gets away, but sees her again and does catch her by turning into a stallion. Saturn, who at this point is not just the "Old Man" but the "Dirty, Horny Old Man", has his way with Philyra but is caught in the act by his wife, Rhea, and runs away.

Chiron was born nine months later as a centaur (half-man, half-horse), and is rejected by his mother, who asks to be turned into a linden tree. With father Saturn off the grid someplace, little Chiron is orphaned until Apollo takes him in. During his time with Apollo, Chiron becomes an expert in archery and medicine, and the gods send their sons to learn from him, like Achilles (see image below).

One day, Hercules is fooling around with his bow and accidentally shoots Chiron in the--well, some say "leg" but others say the wound was in a "leg" that tends to be much more important to men than the two they walk on. Unfortunately, the wound can never be healed because Hercules had poisoned the arrow with venom from the hydra that he had killed.

Chiron continues to be an inspiring leader, teacher, oracle, and astrologer, but he is immortal and can never get rid of his wound unless he dies. So he arranges to trade places with Prometheus, who is attached to a rock and whose eternal torment is a griffon who comes down every day to eat his liver. When the griffon arrives after the switch, Chiron uses his arrows and shoots the thing right through the heart, killing it. Eventually, Chiron dies.

This is all very interesting, but what does it mean astrologically for each of us? Well...Chiron was the wounded healer, so our Chiron placement allows us to see what our "wound" is and how we can heal ourselves and each other. We didn't do anything to deserve the wound; it happened purely by happenstance at some point in our early lives. It could have been a thoughtless remark by a relative, a traumatic incident in our childhood, or some other tragic circumstance. But there's no karmic penalty to us.

Studying Chiron in our lives is a way to make ourselves stronger because of what has happened to us, and to bond with those people in our lives who share similar "wounds". One of the best things we can do is to embrace this wound and find ways to help make it an advantage and not a detriment.

For those of us who teach and heal others, Chiron is particularly important, and I know that the knowledge I got today will help me heal myself and others as I move forward in my role as a spiritual leader, psychic, and astrologer.

So here's what you should remember about Chiron: Shit happens to all of us, but compared to being shot in the junk with a poisoned arrow that makes a wound that will cause me pain until the end of time, what I have to deal with is minor stuff. Chiron's placement and sign in your chart will help you see how to start healing it yourself and help others in the process.

What I learned truly blew my mind! If you're more interested in Chiron--if you look at your astrological chart, the symbol is below and looks like a key--I'd encourage you to check out several books that are available on the subject.

[As an aside, I'm not sure how Saturn will feel about my telling you that story. I suspect that he might say my description was a little more graphic than he would have liked. We'll have to wait and see how he reacts.]

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Finding a Home vs. Finding a Place

I saw this article recently about a Wiccan group that recently found a home in a building in Memphis, TN. This is, of course, the heart of the Bible belt. 

First of all, CONGRATULATIONS to all of the members of the community. Their courage to practice what they believe in an area that has the potential to be very intolerant of their spiritual path is an example to all of us. 

I'm thrilled they've found a space that they can all their own and worship freely. Can you imagine what it must be like to be an out-of-the-closet Wiccan or Witch in a place like Memphis? I really hope they don't have any trouble with their neighbors, which, according to the article, includes a number of other churches. 

I find it disappointing that religions such as Christianity that teach tolerance seem to have a blind spot when it comes to Wicca or Witchcraft. I understand it, though..."thou shalt not suffer a witch to live" is one of the more common themes raised from the Bible, in addition all kinds of condemnation or astrologers or fortunetellers and "worshiping false idols". Some Christians think of the Bible's word is absolute, so it's hard to make a case for tolerance here.

On our side, we don't do a lot to help ourselves. I've met Witches or Wiccans who go out of their way to antagonize practitioners of other faiths because they have experienced persecution themselves. So they make it a point to bash Christians at every opportunity. Two wrongs don't make a right, folks, no matter how you slice it.

Certainly, not all members of either of these spiritual communities are guilty of bigotry, so I'm not painting with a broad brush. Every faith is going to have those who believe fervently that anyone who doesn't follow what they do is wrong. This is nothing new and it even extends out to our life choices. Think about it: Straight vs. Gay, Pepsi vs. Coke, you name it, there are always those who will malign others for their choices. 

Would you be threatened if a person you cared for very much said, "You know what? I've been a Big Mac eater all my life, but I've found that I love the Whopper so much more"? You'd say, "To each his own," and move on with your life. 

What all spiritual paths need in the United States is to find not just their home where they can worship, but a PLACE in society. Every religion has gone through it at one time or another. Look at Northern Ireland, or countries in the Middle East where Christianity is not considered the norm. Every faith has to carve out their spot, and Wicca and Witchcraft have to do the same. 

It's a true shame that Wiccans and Witches cannot practice openly. Many won't even wear a pentacle or other symbol for fear of being ostracized. Unfortunately, while you can legislate freedom of religion, you cannot legislate respect for a particular religion. To me, you can't go out there and demand that people respect you, because it doesn't work. It needs to become something normal that people are comfortable with. Those who do practice openly need to be excellent ambassadors for our faith, but there are so few of them that it makes it difficult.

Do we as Wiccans and Witches need to be who we are not for acceptance? Absolutely not. But we need to be brave enough to slowly come out of the broom closet and act like normal people to gain the respect of others. Doing charity work is one way to do that, for example, but the best way, in my humble opinion, is by just being good people who are kind and respectful of the spiritual practices of all. What you put out you should receive in return, right? 

For those of you who have come out of the broom closet, you have my respect and gratitude. Understand, however, that perhaps more than any other faith you have an enormous responsibility to pave the way for future generations of Wiccans and Witches so they won't feel the need to practice in mystery and darkness.

I have dealt with religious intolerance many times, and while I don't like it, it's not going to drive me back in the broom closet, nor will it make be so bitter that I hate every member of another faith due to the actions of a few misguided believers. As Gandhi so eloquently put it, "Be the change you wish to see in the world," by being the bigger people. Only then can we take our rightful place in the spiritual fabric of the United States.