I hadn’t intended to write a post about Co-Creation as part of this series. However, when I chanced across an article about Australia National University researchers furthering research into the Observer effect, it occurred to me that this was the perfect place for such a post.

This post builds on the arguments for the ‘non-existence of time apart from motion’ as laid out in Everything is Now and the argument for Free Will laid out in The Double Agent of Change. Certainly they are not a pre-requisite for understanding the ideas in this post, but if you read those afterwards they might help the overall argument make more sense.

Before we get too deep, let me define Co-Creation as I understand and experience it. Co-Creation is the process of influencing energy at a base level to bring about particular outcomes in reality in ‘the future.’ When we live in flow and are connected this happens so naturally that we don’t always stop to think about how amazing it is.

Our ability to influence reality always depends on the momentum and trajectory of energy. One person, or even dozens of people, can’t stop a speeding train. This is why our ability to influence reality one or two steps ahead of us is tremendously limited (see the post The Art of Finding for options in dealing with immediate situations).

However, because the only moment that exists is the now, what we think of as the further future – months or years out – doesn’t exist yet and can therefore be an ‘open space’ for creative influence.

What does this look like in practical application? At the risk of putting myself in the crazy category I’m going to share some very real examples from my own life…

  • In the year 2000 when I graduated from college, I wanted more than anything (do not ask me why!) to work for Leo Burnett in downtown Chicago. That summer, while I was walking around downtown submitting applications, I put my hand on the Leo Burnett building and said “I wish to work here.” Shortly after,[1] I got a call from one of the personnel agencies I submitted a resume to. They were filling openings for a large ad agency downtown – guess where? Needless to say, I got the job. – Every job I’ve gotten since college has a story like this one.

 

  • In the year 2002 when we were visiting San Antonio and walking the Riverwalk I made a wish that someone influential in Chicago’s city planning would see the Riverwalk and do something like it in Chicago. When I visited home just a few years later I stumbled into a building that showed plans for a redesigned walk along the Chicago River.

 

  • In the year 2009 when my husband and I visited Montreal we found an extensive bike infrastructure – including very protected bike lanes and even traffic lights with little bicycles on them. I remember thinking – if Montreal, a place that’s colder that Chicago, can do this, why can’t we? I made a wish that we would put in such a bicycle infrastructure in Chicago and I’ve watched over the last few years as that has started to grow and develop (Chicago was pretty late to this party, admittedly J).

These are three examples out of dozens and dozens from my own experience and I’m quite sure that hundreds of thousands of people across the globe have experienced the “magic” of co-creation for themselves.

Did “I” influence reality to bring about these outcomes? Without ever talking to anyone, writing a letter to the city, or being an activist for a cause? It sounds crazy right? If asked point blank, depending on my mood, I would respond somewhere in the range between of course not! To probably not or unlikely and sometimes simply I don’t know. But, here is where the Trickster lesson of the ‘bait thief’ comes in handy.

To believe that all these events happened only because I wished them to be so is to swallow the bait and the hook – to be delusional. To deny it outright and say it’s impossible that I had any influence at all is to leave the bait and the hook (ie – I don’t become delusional, but I don’t get to eat / transform my life either). I need to take the bait without swallowing the hook – I need to be able to simultaneously accept that these events came into being (partly) because I wished them so and that they could just as easily have had nothing to do with me at all.

There is tension between these two realities, if I can allow that tension to fluctuate in my mind-space, I can let data points accumulate and accumulate and accumulate… I can say, I don’t know for certain whether things are truly happening because of me, but whatever it is I’m doing seems to be working out as I hoped – so I’m going to keep doing it. 🙂 [2] See the post Trickster Makes this Road for more about the Trickster and the Spiritual Path.

Seeing is Believing

So far I’ve explained what I understand Co-Creation to be, and at the risk of sounding quite crazy, I didn’t want to soft-pedal or be evasive about it because it’s huge, amazing, and fascinating – but now we need to talk about how it works from a more scientific perspective since that’s what this post is about.

Let’s start with the Observer effect and the experiments into it thus far. From Wikipedia the Observer Effect “refers to changes that the act of observation will make on a phenomenon being observed.” The long-standing experiment into this involves light acting as either particle or waves and a new experiment by Australian National University has essentially reproduced this experiment with atoms.

What is important about both these experiments has nothing to do with “who” is doing the observing (whether a person or mechanical apparatus), but rather has to do with the very simple conclusion that even something as slight as observation – by anything at all – influences reality. Or, to state it another way; at the smallest, most particulate level – all energy is influenced by interaction, we cannot even watch energy without influencing it.

If merely watching reality can influence reality – imagine how much more actually trying to influence reality can influence reality.

The other piece that’s important, that triggered the writing of this post, is what this latest experiment demonstrates about what I think of as the ‘nebulous reality’ of the unknown.

When I was in grade school I was a bit obsessed by a silly thing that I called “the collision of worlds” which was the idea that when we meet people (not people we know and co-exist with on a regular basis, but random people – like the grocery store cashier in a different city) that it was like a collision of their whole world and my whole world that existed together for just the time of that interaction and then drifted away to a completely separate existence again.

Since then I have been somewhat interested in the idea, even though it seems impossible, that everything outside one’s own sphere of awareness (and even some things within our sphere of awareness) might be a bit nebulous; unset, unformed. I guess how I would explain it is this – where knowledge is connected, reality is ‘set’, but where it isn’t, it isn’t.

This is already a really long post and it would take several hundred more words to explain the experiment. You can read about it here, but the conclusion the scientists drew is this,

“If one chooses to believe that the atom really did take a particular path or paths then one has to accept that a future measurement is affecting the atoms past, said Truscott. // The atoms did not travel from A to B. It was only when they were measured at the end of their journey that their wave-like or particle-like behavior was brought into existence.”

I believe this is a ‘double-sided’ problem to which we’re seeing one side here. Our measurement brings that atom into ‘known’ existence for us – and it’s past becomes set. But at the same time our existence also became known for the atom. Or, to use the earlier concept, our two worlds collided in that moment of existence, so to speak. Even though our existence seems continuous to us, it may in fact be nebulous to the atom (who knows how an atom even perceives us?) until the moment of measurement in the ‘now.’

As argued in Everything is Now, the only moment that exists is ‘now’ which occurs at the cross-roads between the past and future. The ‘now’ has energy leading into it and energy leading out of it, but since it is the only moment of actual existence, it also presents the only opportunity to change the direction and flow of energy.

If thoughts are energy (and the Universe is made up of energy) then thought – or intention, or whatever you want to call it – can influence reality just as physical action can. This may seem ridiculous or unrealistic when we think about trying to “move” a physical object with our minds – but if thoughts are energy and what we’re trying to move is energy (the unformed, nebulous energy of the future) then it becomes a bit easier to fathom.

What we are doing when we co-create is use our energy to move energy in the future. Instead of trying to push the train in a particular direction, we are ‘re-arranging the railroad tracks’. We influence the future trajectory of the energy, not the actual physical matter itself. When we influence the trajectory, things in the present start to line up according to our intention and vision.

How Do We Do It?

There tend to be a few sticking points around this for people that I’d like to address here;

Thoughts are not energy.

If everything in the Universe is made up of some kind of energy, then thoughts must be energy also. If thoughts are not energy, what are they?

Thoughts are stuck inside our head and therefore cannot influence the outside world.

Most people have had at least one occurrence in their lives where there’s a song running in their head and someone else start’s humming it, or they are thinking about someone and suddenly that person calls / contacts them, or someone is searching for a word and we think it only to have them nearly simultaneously come up with the same word we just thought of. Our thoughts are not stuck inside our head – in fact, sometimes I wonder if they’re in our head at all. At the very least, many of our thoughts are in our energy field which not only surrounds us, but through which we are connected to other people and also the Universe.

“My” thoughts and wishes don’t seem to come true.

For many of us most of our thoughts are pretty weak – meaning that we are not truly convicted about them. Weak thoughts don’t influence much of anything.

This gets very tricky, actually, and is one of the reasons walking the spiritual path is so key because sometimes, consciously, we can think we’re very convicted or motivated to go in a particular direction, but subconsciously we have fears that hold us back or sabotage our progress. One of my biggest clues that I’m not as aligned as I think I am is when I can’t get traction on a particular wish or intention.

When we have a subject where there are already lots of conflicting thoughts, influence is much harder (probably impossible for an individual). Take a concept like gun control or abortion or the environment – there are already tons and tons of conflicting ideas around these concepts keeping them in something of an energy quagmire. In order for these topics to ever move anywhere, an idea is going to have ‘come from the side’ so to speak or do something to disrupt the existing tangled energy.

In summary, thoughts have the most opportunity to influence reality when the below three conditions are met;

a.) There is ‘open space’ for the energy to move (for example, new or different ideas) OR thoughts / intentions align with where the energy is already going; situations where there is not already a lot of conflicted energy keeping things stuck.

b.) Our ‘minds’ and hearts (or conscious and subconscious) are aligned, our whole being sends a clear signal – so to speak – versus a mixed signal

c.) We have a strong connection to the Universe (or God or whatever you want to call it) through which we communicate our wish or intention.

A person who has put energy behind a thought or intention where a, b, and c are all true is going to have a very good chance of influencing reality in that direction. More importantly, though, a person who regularly connects to the Universe through meditation or prayer and is more aligned overall is going to experience Co-creation more often – even on small things – because b & c are going to be true ‘by default’ so anytime a is also true, anytime there’s space for the energy to move, BINGO, the Co-Creation process will start.

 

[1] (not the next day, but like maybe a week later – I mean, this was 16 years ago… my memory is not that exact! J)

[2] On the flipside, you might suggest that I’m really just ‘psychic’ and I didn’t “wish” these things into being, I just “knew” that they would come to be. I would counter, though, that I do have a fair bit of experience with psychic knowing[2] and it’s a completely different feeling. To “know” something psychically, at least for me, is to have a sense for how energy is moving and where it’s going. For me, that knowing is like a physical sensation.

In contrast, for cases of co-creation the energy is either nebulous and unformed or it’s going in a different direction and I can feel that resistance when I put out my request. If I have a feeling around these events at the time I make my request it’s uncertainty. Or rather it’s a certainty that any number of future outcomes are possible.

Like so many debates, the one around how we came to exist is a victim of the ‘false dichotomy’ problem between “Intelligent Design” – another way of saying “God did it” or a godless, random process where it’s total chance that we ever ended up existing at all. Even the “Giant Spaghetti Monster” hypothesis is really just another version of Intelligent Design.

We are not limited to these two choices in understanding how life in general and humanity in specific came to exist on Earth.

In college, I used to get in fierce debates with my science-major friends about the non-randomness of evolution; arguing that I strongly believed in evolution, I just didn’t think it was random. This was something they seemed unable to understand. For them, if I didn’t believe in Random Genetic Mutation (RGM) coupled with Sexual Selection, I was a Creationist.

For my part, I thought this was a vast underestimation of the data that gets exchanged at a biochemical and energetic level among organisms in the world we live in. Everything we take into our body – whether breathing, eating, or absorbing through our skin – has an impact on us.

Consider the pheromones given off by many creatures (including humans!) when they seek to mate. Pheromones are a chemical substance that communicates more powerfully then any pick-up line could.

I couldn’t understand why it was so hard to believe that our bodies could take in environmental information at a cellular (or atomic / energetic) level and use it. Granted, maybe not in the current generation, but perhaps in future generations. For me, this meant that it wasn’t a random genetic mutation driving evolution, but a very targeted one.

It seems like the very core of evolution to argue that a species genetic code can be modified based on the data that came in from the environment.

Reflecting back, I can understand a little bit what the resistance of my friends might have been. Targeted genetic modification sounds a lot like ‘someone’ is making a ‘decision,’ and that sounds an awful lot like “Intelligent design.”

However, I associated this behavior on a cellular level as a more fundamental example of what we readily observe on an organism level. For example, when a plant grows in the direction of sunlight – is that a decision? When a tree (or plant) gets too much sunlight and flips it’s leaves over so that the more reflective backside of the leaves slows the absorption of sunlight – is that a decision?

No.

It’s a stimulus and a response.

Missing Pieces

Interestingly enough, it was a college Ecology class that really galvanized my belief that evolution is not random. (And before you ask, I went to college at a large public university). We were discussing the evolution of evolutionary theory; gradualism, random genetic mutation, sexual selection, etc. One thing the professor said really sparked my interest. She said,

“The one big mystery of evolution from a random genetic mutation perspective is that you would think – if it’s random – the fossil record would be littered with bad mutations – ones that didn’t work out, but that’s simply not the case. We don’t have a record of all these failed random mutations.”

We have records of organisms both large and small that have gone extinct, even organisms as old as stromatolites. But we don’t have examples of animals that have mutated in unsuccessful ways. Isn’t that interesting?

Now, one could argue that all those fossils have disappeared into the Earth – or that the fossils we do have aren’t really a representative example of all the iterations of creatures that have existed. Or it could be argued that the fossils we do have may have had failed mutations that aren’t visible in their remains.

The lack of fossil evidence of random genetic mutation is not a smoking gun by any means, but it is a data point that’s worth paying attention to.

A few years later I stumbled on Olivia Judson’s book Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation, a pop-culture evolutionary biology book that bolstered my developing belief that evolution is something less than random. Here is one interesting quote (of which there are quite a few) to illustrate what I mean;

“an experiment with yellow dung flies…has shown that testes size can evolve in response to sperm competition in as few as ten generations.” (pg 23)

So first of all – I hope you weren’t eating. If you were, I apologize 🙂  Secondly, though, ten generations?  That’s not millions of years, that’s evolution happening in weeks and months. Also, worth noting, if we were talking about random mutation in response to an environmental stimulus (here: sperm competition), one expect flies to turn pink maybe or grow extra legs or maybe their wings change size, but that’s not what happened here.

Maybe it’s easy to miss, but here we see (and I did do a quick skim through the source studies for this one) that evolution is happening in a very targeted way for the animal– one that corresponds to the area where adjustment is needed.  That makes perfect logical sense, but it’s definitely not random.

This is not to say that there are no random mutations. That surely happens. My argument is merely that random mutations (even ‘coupled’ with sexual selection) are not the primary driver of evolution.

Of course this may all seem like ‘old news’ now as I know there is a “new-ish” field called Epigenetics that studies modifications to the genetic code based on environmental conditions.  Still – it’s worth considering that evolution may be a bit “smarter” than we thought without needing to imagine a single, high god tinkering with every plant and creature.

Off the Deep End

I’m now going to take a leap in a completely different direction – I think it’s only fair to warn you.

Above we’ve discussed evolution of organisms from the perspective of ‘matter’ – that is, bodily, but we haven’t really touched on the idea of consciousness. Consciousness in general is possessed by most subjects in the Animal Kingdom. We can all tell that there is a difference between the consciousness of a plant and that of a puppy.

But, as an observable phenomenon, there seems to be a categorical difference between the operation of human consciousness and any other known life on this planet. We may talk about dolphins and whales as intelligent animals, but we do not mean by this that dolphins can work with complex mathematical algorithms, nor do we evaluate the complex narrative structure of a whale’s song compared to a work like War and Peace.

The human ability to create and self-reflect, to understand diverse perspectives and craft narratives based on complex emotions and motivations; all of these are representative of the uniqueness of the human condition. Also notable, is the human ability to build on what came before – not just over tens of thousands of years, but year over year. We don’t really see that with any other known species.

Now, some may argue that we simply don’t know enough about the inner life of a whale or dolphin (or ant for that matter) to judge. This is true. We should allow that that’s possible and avoid dismissing the argument outright. However, on the other hand, we should not let that argument stop us from thinking about the difference between human consciousness and that of all other life on Earth as we presently understand it.

It is partly this difference, of course, that sparks our speculation on the human soul. In the face of the human experience from the perspective of this difference, it is perfectly logical and rational to wonder why it is so. Why can fruit flies evolve sexual adaptations in ten generations, but in the 60,000 years of human existence hasn’t another species evolved a consciousness like ours?

Based on the current evolutionary debate it seems like we are at an impasse here – that we must choose between believing in a human soul and believing in evolution. Fortunately, that is actually not true, we are not required to believe that our bodies and our human ‘sense of self’ came about in the same way. People have certainly been wondering over the mind-body connection since Descartes and probably a long time before.

As a person who believes in both evolution and reincarnation, I feel compelled to be open-minded about how these two parts of our existence (both as spirit and as body) might have come into being and changed over time to result in our current experience.

In closing I want to note that I am clearly not a geneticist or an evolutionary biologist. It is not my goal with this post to try to convince you that the ideas in this post are right. What’s most important to me is that you take away this; we don’t have to ‘choose sides’ between a ‘godless’ evolution and a creationist myth that clearly ignores the evidence we do have on record – the more possibilities and options we consider, the better our chances of making a real breakthrough in this area.

I know I said the last installment was the end of our Energy series on the blog. However, I don’t feel right dropping a post series making elaborate claims about the nature of Energy and the Universe without providing at least a little bit of ‘how-to.’ (if you haven’t read any of the other installments in this series it starts <here>)

I’m tempted to write that it’s better to have some meditation practice before you start trying to feel your own energy, but my own history reminds me that my first introduction to energy came without any previous meditation practice. In fact, it was the informal study of my own energy that led me to meditation – not the other way around.

Becoming energy sensitive is an exercise in developing comfort with subtlety. Too often we think something doesn’t exist if it doesn’t hit us over the head. Or my personal favorite, “if you can’t measure it, it doesn’t exist.”

That may be true for commercial purposes or a graduate thesis… but there are plenty of stars and galaxies and all sorts of things in the Universe we can’t measure with current scientific technology that very much do exist.

As I mentioned in the second installment of the Energy series – there are certainly times where I have struggled with my own energy sensitivity; doubting it.

A few months ago, though, as I quietly worked at my desk in the office, all I could hear was the ticking of the clock on the wall. It was so loud I couldn’t concentrate. I actually had to get up and walk away for a few minutes. In a moment of association, it struck me that the clock was always ticking – just that loud, just that way. It had been for years and years, I just didn’t always hear it.

Energy sensitivity is like this. When we’re distracted, when our attention is full of other things, we don’t notice our energy, even if we are familiar with energy-sensitivity. For people who are unaware of their energy, then, it’s fairly easy to ignore. We shouldn’t mistake subtlety with non-existence, however.

Most people actually do have experience with energy sensitivity, they just don’t think of it that way. The pain in our heart from a terrible break-up or loss of a loved one, the tingly feeling that comes with a new romance, gut feelings, some types of anxiety – the physical sensations associated with all of these are expressions of what’s going on in our energy field.

If you’re interested in starting to develop your own energy-sensitivity, I recommend the (fairly standard) exercise below.

Okay, So…. How do I do it?

Allow yourself about fifteen minutes in a quiet place (where you will not be disturbed) to try this exercise. That’s fifteen real minutes not five ‘this-feels-like-forever-surely-it’s-been-fifteen’ minutes.  🙂

If you’re the type of person to be constantly checking the clock or be worried that you should be spending your time doing “more important” things, set a timer on your phone or stove or whatever so that you are able to temporarily release the clock-anxiety.

It is critical to success of this exercise that you be able to ‘get out of your head’ – if you’re worried about how much time you have, all the things you need to do, or re-hashing some event at work, home, school, etc – you are unlikely to be able to do that.

The easiest way I have found to developing initial energy sensitivity is to stand or sit (whatever is going to be less distracting) with your palms about three-to-five inches apart in front of your heart.

Some recommend rubbing your palms together until they get all tingly and warm. This can be very helpful in the beginning as it will get your attention out of your head and into your palms – where it needs to be.

Try to move your palms as close together as you can without actually touching. Hold them there. Does it feel as if the surface of your palms or fingers are pulling together? The initial sensation to ‘feel’ for is an almost magnetic attraction between the palms of your hands.

Now slowly pull them apart… what happens to that magnetic sensation as you pull? Stop at about eight inches apart – keeping your concentration on the insides of your hands only – start moving your hands close together again.

Do you feel any resistance? (Keeping to the magnetic imagery – it may feel like you’ve flipped two magnets so that they are ‘like-to-like’ and are pushing back against each other).

Once you’ve developed some initial ‘magnetic’ sensation¸ slowly move your hands towards and away from each other, as if you were clapping in slow motion. Focus acutely on the sensation between your palms and how it changes. You should start to feel as if the air between your palms develops a ‘taffy-like’ quality.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel anything the first time you try. Spend fifteen minutes really trying this exercise every day for a week and I’m fairly certain you’ll feel something by the end of the seven day period.

The people that I’ve recommended this exercise to usually get so freaked out the first time they feel something that the minute they become cognizant, it’s gone.   If this happens to you, don’t worry. If you’re interested, keep trying. As with anything in life, practicing will help your energy sensitivity to develop. Soon you’ll be able to ‘hold’ the sensation with full cognizance.

Once you’ve developed a high degree of confidence working with the energy between your hands, you can move on to exploring the energy around your full body and in your chakras. I will post some exercises for those a few months down the line.

It’s important for me to disclose that I am not an energy master, by any definition. I have become familiar with my own energy and that of the “Universe” in various ways at varying levels across a number of years of casual observation and lay practice.

Energy-sensitivity is indispensable in walking the spiritual path for a number of reasons, but it is not synonymous with the spiritual path (ie – simply developing your energetic abilities does not equate to ‘walking the Spiritual Path’).

Resources for further study

If you’re looking for some teachers who specialize in energy development, you may want to check out the following resources;

Sonia Choquette – On the surface, Sonia Choquette’s work is about intuition, but get just a bit more in-depth and it’s all based in energy and vibration. I have taken some incredibly helpful, fulfilling online classes with Sonia Choquette. I’ve enjoyed a few of her books and I’ve twice gone to her for personal appointments at key junctures in my life.

Barbara Brennan School of Healing – I have never personally taken any internet or live classes with Barbara Brennan, but her book Hands of Light was the first book I ever read about energy back in 1995.

Deborah King – A well known name in the world of energy healing.  I have taken some online energy classes from her website – fascinating stuff!

Thoughts on Tarot

I came to Tarot on tentative feet. Over the years I have occasionally visited psychics who used Tarot and, although I found their help invaluable, some part of me felt a good amount of discomfort with using the medium myself. The lion’s share of that probably has to do with my Catholic upbringing. But, despite my cringing, I do recognize the importance of challenging these points of resistance within myself.

Periodically in my work on the Spiritual path, when I’ve gotten “stuck”, I have employed various strategies to unblock. One of my favorites is to walk through the library aisles with my eyes half-closed and just “feel” when I should stop and where I should look to find a meaningful book. As you can imagine, I have to be a little judicious in using this tactic to avoid alarming other patrons. 🙂

On one such jaunt in early 2012 I found Sonia Choquette’s book 22 life lessons. I decided to use the book much the way I treat the exercise in the library; flip it open to a random page and see where it takes me.

The page I flipped to happened to be the lesson, “Accept Death.” Immediately this resonated. Nine months prior my husband and I had celebrated the birth of our first child and when I saw this lesson I knew instinctively that it was speaking to the death of our old life.

With the new baby, our lives had transformed. She was extremely sensitive (Actually I’m beginning to think she’s just incredibly intuitive) and needed constant attention. As a result, many staple activities of our prior existence were no longer feasible. To me, this lesson was saying – recognize that that life is over. Stop clinging to pieces and living by half-measures. Cut the cord and embrace this new existence.

I worked with that lesson for about a month until I felt like I “got it” and then went back to the well. This time when I was flipping through the book a voice in my head said “turn to page 32.” I listened and found the lesson “Follow Your Inner Voice.”

It’s difficult to describe what I felt in that moment. There are moments when things come together in such a particular way that it almost forces you to stop and take notice; your whole being goes on alert. In relation, I should note that not every page is a lesson in this book.

There is a ’front page’ to each lesson – like a chapter heading – and then several pages of text explaining the lesson in more depth. It’s interesting that all three times I have done this now my ’random’ opening has always landed on the ’front page’ of a lesson not somewhere in the middle of a chapter.

So, on the one hand, that was clearly a guided moment. The irony that it was in listening to my inner voice that I found the lesson to “Listen to your inner voice” is not lost on me. On the other hand, I have struggled with distinguishing between my inner voice and my ego for years and years.[2] But, as is the case with guidance[3], once given it’s ours to own or abandon and if the choice is ’abandon’ you’re going to be treading water for a while.

Ante Up

I grappled with this lesson for a few months before I made any headway. It’s impossible to pinpoint quite when it “occurred” to me that Tarot might help me bridge this gap. As I mentioned in the beginning, at first I felt significant internal apprehension about going down this road.

I do know that, at the time, I was reading a teeny-bopper pop culture novel that featured characters from Tarot, it’s possible that this provided the initial spark of interest. I think I felt something like – heck, if this is a subject of young adult novels these days what’s the harm in just looking at it?

I may also have been reading Jung’s autobio, Memories, Dreams, and Reflections at the time and, of course, Jung’s work places a high emphasis on the connection between symbols and working with the unconscious mind. It’s difficult to say two years on precisely how my path to Tarot unfolded. I do know that at some point I was curious enough to pick up a few books on Tarot at the library. At the time I told myself I was merely intellectually curious about the subject. I was not ready to accept that I would ever own a deck[5]

Reading the books helped relieve my internal anxiety over using Tarot. After all, on some level, the Tarot is just a deck of cards. Inflated histories aside,[6] it’s the energy and desire that’s brought to it that makes Tarot what it is. Historically, similar practices have been done with things as mundane as tea leaves, sticks, coins, etc.

From such a perspective working with Tarot was really just a different medium for type of work I was already doing. I reasoned that I could always get a deck and see how it felt to use it. If using it made me uncomfortable (in a negative way) I could just stop and get rid of it.

More than one book mentioned that “traditionally” a Tarot deck had to be “gifted.” The chances of that happening within my circle of family, friends, and acquaintances was absolutely nil. This didn’t really bother me though. Having decided on this course, I was excited about the idea of finding my own deck.

 At First Sight

I tried searching online, but quickly realized I wanted to physically hold a deck and feel if it was the right deck for me. I know many people are advanced enough to work with energy and intuition via remote channels such as the internet, but I’m just not there.

At first I thought I was going to have to wait until I could get to an occult bookstore – which would be awhile given my schedule at the time. Then I remembered that I’d been seeing tarot decks in Borders books and music stores for years. Borders is gone, but I knew there was a bookstore walking distance from my work – I decided to check it out.

Sure enough, they had decks! I knew I wanted a Rider-Waite deck. That seemed to be the ’standard’ that all the Tarot books I read went by. I didn’t want one of those “silly” non-traditional decks. One in particular caught my eye, called the Dreaming Way Tarot. The Art on the box looked like something out of a manga. I snorted derisively.

The store had two Rider-Waite decks. I excitedly grabbed the one that seemed most appealing, held it in both hands and closed my eyes. Nothing. Nothing? I tried again. Not a blip. I picked up the other Rider-Waite deck. Nothing. I sighed in frustration and turned the box over and over in my hands. Did I need to open the box and hold the cards to feel a connection?

One of the Rider-Waite boxes opened partially so I could see the art on some of the cards. No. This was not for me. I was so disappointed, I had thought for sure I was going in the right direction. Half-heartedly I picked up some of the other non-traditional decks.

Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Ugh.

Finally I reached for the Dreaming Way deck, the only one left. I turned it over in my hand and on the back was this beautiful picture of The Fool card. Snap. My breath caught. This was it. This was my deck.

Sigh. Of course it was. How could it not be?

When I experience something like this it always completely surprises me and yet makes total sense. I’ve been a closet manga / anime fan for some years. Not so much that I dress up (although, who knows? Maybe one day. At this point there’s not a whole lot I’m ruling out 🙂 ), but enough that I’ve spent more hours of my adult life than I care to admit to consuming products of this genre.

Since, at least in the US, there’s a sense that the audience graphic novels are geared to is younger (and by younger I mean like more than a decade younger than me), I’ve always been a little ashamed of this ’habit.’ The fact that this deck was the right one for me, to me, is a message of reconciliation. The universe saying, don’t even think you can hide; what resonates is what resonates. In a loving and supportive way, of course, but still sometimes it makes you want to yell “Seriously?!”

On the walk back to work my heart chakra was reacting like crazy. It’s a difficult sensation to describe (People experience energy differently, but those of you who also feel energy physically will understand what I mean, I think). It’s not painful, but it’s kind of like being tickled. Being tickled is actually a nice sensation, I mean it makes you laugh, but it’s incredibly, incredibly distracting. You have a hard time concentrating and so, even though it’s not unpleasant there’s a part of you that wants the sensation to stop.

For me, because it’s such a moment of connection and rightness whenever my heart chakra feels like that, I don’t necessarily want it to stop right away – but it is so distracting that it becomes hard for me to do things like carry on a normal conversation. So ultimately I do make an effort to dial it down, just so I can function.

 In The Cards

When I got home that evening, I found some space to meditate and do my first reading. It focused on a particular soul test I was really struggling with. In my heart I knew I needed to get out of my own head for guidance. I had gone to a psychic and a past life regressionist for guidance (over a year apart from each other and that timeframe is only about a third of the time that I struggled with this test) but the answers I received hadn’t really satisfied me because there seemed to be a gap in the guidance given and the magnitude of the experience.

For my first reading I planned a three card draw; current situation, advice, and outcome. Excited, nervous energy coursed through me. I wasn’t even sure how to shuffle. I am horrible at shuffling cards so I settled for a ‘loose’ form of shuffling, going to the place of ‘not-thinking’ and when a particular card stuck ‘up’ out of the deck, I pulled it out and laid it down; eight of cups, five of cups, seven of wands[7]. Before I even looked up the card meanings, my heart stilled just looking at the pictures. I got the guidance without needing to look up a single thing.

On the far left, in the position representative of the ‘current situation,’ the Eight showed a blond haired female walking away from eight cups that were standing on a sandy beach. In my heart I felt these cups were representative of past lives. The card was showing ‘me’ moving on from my past lives. This resonated because the particular situation I was dealing with seemed to have a heavy amount of past life influence. Additionally, I had resolved a previous past life situation several years before, so – interpreted the way I was reading it – it definitely represented a theme of my life.

In the ‘advice’ position, the Five of Cups, showed a brunette facing out of the card – the brunette actually resembled me – I have actually had that haircut – the height, the frame. She’s not a dead ringer, but there was enough similarity to signal that something powerful was going on here. The brunette held two cups in her hand. She was back-to-back with a woman with long blond hair who seemed to be dropping or spilling her three cups.

To put this in a clearer perspective, in the past life regression session I had several months prior, I witnessed myself as a young woman with long blond hair. In that lifetime – as remembered by me – I was somehow separated permanently and irrevocably from my husband and two children either by death or external conflict or something very tragic. It was strongly felt enough that it had me sobbing uncontrollably in the session.

Additionally, in that session, I had a very strong feeling that the separation was somehow my fault or that I had some guilt related to it.

In keeping with the cup / life theme, then, in this depiction of the Five of cups – the woman facing away represents my past life self who somehow was careless with the ‘lives’ (or cups) that she loved. The meaning of the Five of cups in general speaks of grieving that is ‘overlong.’ It’s an acknowledgement of loss, but can be advice to ‘notice’ the two cups you do have. So here, the brunette who resembles me in the current life is holding on to two cups – which I interpreted as my husband and (at the time) baby daughter.

Part of understanding how remarkable this experience was for me, and why it was so deeply personal requires an understanding that the Five of Cups from my deck does not at all resemble the Five of cups in the Rider-Waite deck. If you’re not familiar with it, you can find a picture and the meaning here at Biddy Tarot (a wonderful Tarot site that makes learning the Tarot really accessible).

If I had bought the Rider-Waite deck, this message would not have resonated so powerfully. If you’re unfamiliar with the Pak-Choi Dreaming Way Tarot, the ‘introduction’ card of the deck explains that the images for the cards came to the illustrator in a dream. This is one of those examples where it’s so good to keep the bait-thief lesson in mind (see my post Trickster Makes this Road for more on that). Clearly, the creator did not dream up this card just for me. However, things came together in such a way that his (her?) illustration could deliver just the deep and meaningful message I needed to hear.

Incidentally, although this message was not different from the guidance I had already been given, this delivery mechanism was finally successful because I felt recognition from my higher self / guides / universe that “yes, you are dealing with a past life situation that’s very difficult” and “yes, you suffered a loss in that lifetime through your own carelessness that has been difficult to overcome, but it’s time to move on from that now.”

Sometimes we just want our own struggles acknowledged (No, you are not imagining this is hard, it is hard) and when they are, we are ready to tough it up and keep going.

Over the last two years of owning a deck, I have used it only for myself (except once I did a reading for my husband – with his consent – for fun) and mostly for Spiritual Path related guidance[8]. Perhaps there are still some old vestiges of the Catholic upbringing that make me shy away from a strictly divination aspect, but, even so, the guidance and help I have gotten through Tarot have been invaluable.

It’s difficult to say whether I would ‘recommend’ Tarot to someone outright. Like any other tool in life, it seems most of its value is derived from the way it is used. If a person goes ‘fishing for particular answers’ in a Tarot deck, he or she is not likely to find it very helpful. Likewise, if you get guidance through your deck that you don’t want to hear, and you either ignore it or keep going ‘back to the well’ as I like to call it, the deck may exacerbate some already existing issues versus helping to solve them. If you can approach Tarot from a space of respect and openness, though, and allow[9] yourself to receive and ruminate on the guidance, it could become an indispensable tool for your spiritual path and other life work.

 

Footnotes

[2] At least I thought so at the time, I am coming to realize as I write this that I may not have been as abysmal at this as I believed

[4] Lewis Hyde mentions this in his book on the Trickster, Trickster Makes this World. Talk about finding a Hermaion in a Hermaion 🙂

[5] (footnote about alchemy)

[6] things like aliens transmitting the tarot or tracing Tarot to Hermes Trimegestus, similar to alchemy

[7] I don’t reverse cards in my deck. In fact, I actually make very sure that none of the cards are reversed before I shuffle. Because I go to the place of not-thinking when I draw I don’t even notice how I lay the cards, it just sortof happens, and thus some of the cards do end up reversed. When this happens I take the reversal seriously and treat it as a very intentional message.

 

[8] I did actually use it a couple of times in preparing for the birth of my second daughter – I truly believe that the guidance I received helped me have a much better birth the second time around and avoid a couple of potentially life-threatening (especially for my child) complications. Interestingly enough, I saw on Brigit Esselmont’s website this year (post-birth) that it looks like she actually did something very similar in preparing for the births of her own children several years ago.

[9] More about ‘allowing’ in an upcoming post

Once you have created

you have responsibility, but not control.

Anyone who has ever had children knows exactly what I mean.

but you don’t need to have children to understand this

because it holds true for ALL creation

even ideas

even us

.

.

.

Photo note: I’ve been listening this week to the free broadcast of the live event in Anaheim ‘Co-Creation at it’s Best’  that’s part of the Hay House World Summit.  This morning, I looked out the window at work and ‘happened’ to see a boat floating by – pictured above.  The photo is blurry because I was zooming in to try to capture the boat’s name, but as you can see I didn’t quite get it.  The boat’s name is Intention.

“In my dream the angel smiled and said, if we fail this time it will be a failure of imagination and then she gently placed the world in the palm of my hand.” – Brian Andreas, Imaginary World

Out of Time

Almost a year ago I wrote a post called Everything is Now which has been, by far, my most popular piece to date.  In one of those examples of why the blogosphere can be such a great forum for idea exchange, a comment made by T.K. from Breakfast with Words made me revisit the ideas of that post in a deep new way;

“Suddenly having the entire day disappear in front of me is scary.  But what if time is only a matter of perspective… of relativity”

On the one hand, I had argued in “Everything is Now” (based on genuine belief) against the existence of time as separate from motion.  Simultaneously and ironically I had kept the same old ideas about time present in my own life.  For example, I used to think “I can never find time to write.”

T.K.’s comment flipped that on it’s head for me – suddenly I realized that the question I needed to ask myself was not “Why can’t I find time to write?” but “What needs to MOVE in my life to make space for writing?”

Re:new, Re:use, Re:cycle

As you might imagine, once this internal shift happened my world blew up; I could view my situation with a lens that encompassed more than linear time.  Although I led a busy life with a toddler at home, and a full time, demanding job there were many, many occasions where I found myself searching the internet for random things, or reading “fluff” books, or just sitting while my mind wandered my life away.[1]

I would even think to myself, I should be writing right now.  Why am I not writing? And still I wouldn’t write. There are myriad variations on this theme. I realized that time was not my problem, or at least not my main one. Using the ideas behind the “Everything is Now” post as inspiration, I started thinking about all the elements that needed to come together[2] for me to be able to write.

With this internal shift in perspective from time to motion, it was clear that some of the things that needed to “move” were internal, not external.  Instead of focusing on finding more “time,” I started to explore why I wasn’t writing with the time I did have.

I certainly had enough ideas – I had a topic list of dozens of items, growing all the time.  Was I disappointed that the blog didn’t seem to be attracting many readers?  This seemed to be part of the issue, but when “Everything is Now” was re-blogged by Christian Mihai, the blog saw many hits, likes, and a few more re-blogs of the post and still I couldn’t write.

In fact, I seemed more stuck than ever.  I found myself awash in new doubts – what if I couldn’t follow up with something as good or better than Everything is Now?  Was I a one-hit wonder? I had to take a step back and really look at my expectations for myself and the blog.

I had to face the fact that part of me thought that this would be easy.  I would start a blog and people would come.  When this didn’t happen I began to really doubt myself and what I had to offer. In a way I was hiding from myself. I pretended it didn’t matter that I wasn’t as successful blogger as I’d hoped to be, But it did.

Check Your Emotional Baggage

Although this may seem obvious, it’s not always nice to really face the pieces of ourselves we wish weren’t there.  This was a big one for me to face…. and not the only one.  If realizing this had removed all the obstacles from my path I would have been writing like gangbusters late last year, but some other things still needed to move.

It took the birth of my second child, reading Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen’s wonderful book Thanks for the Feedback, re-reading Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World, and the convergence of many ideas that had been slowly germinating for years to bring about a series of revelations that cleared my path for the blog.  Unsurprisingly, many of these ideas are showing up in my recent posts (like this one).

One of my favorite quotes from Stephen King’s Shawshank Redemption[3] refers to the main character who, “crawl[ed] through a river of sh!t and came out clean on the other side.”  I do not consider it a coincidence that working with excrement, dirt, and other “matter out of place”[4] falls under the Trickster’s purview. I, too, had to crawl through my own dirt for renewal. Now that I’ve come out on the other side, I’m no longer afraid to give this my all and let it be just what it is.[5]

I’ve realized that if I never started this blog I would never have written Everything is Now”, and if I had never written that I wouldn’t have received T.K.’s provocative comment, and if that hadn’t happened this dramatic transformation would never have happened. And, and, and…. and it’s all part of the journey.[6]

For the first time I recognize the value of my writing to me and I have blistering confidence that I’m right where I should be. I don’t have the pressure of fame and I have the freedom to be and figure out just who I am. I can be disappointed that I’m not more successful and I can be proud of and enjoying exactly where I am now.

Now it seems like all I can do is write.

Room With a View

When we focus on “not enough time” as the reason why we are unable to do something, it does not always give us a launching point to discover what is really holding us back.  Conversely, when we ask ourselves “what needs to move?” it allows us to be open to a variety of things – both internal and external – that may need to come together and / or get out of the way for us to reach our goals.  When we’re “done” examining what’s getting in our way, we may, in fact, find that our goals themselves have transformed.

There may be a temptation to turn this into an internal dialogue about priorities, but evaluating priorities is about comparing and ranking thing “x” that we want to do against things “y” and “z” that we also want to (or have to) do.  The activity I am talking about here is much more focused than that, it is about picking one thing (although, hopefully the most important one) you’re not doing and exploring what would need to move to clear a path forward.

I realize I’ve heavily emphasized internal movement in the post. This is because our internal impediments will almost always be bigger obstacles than the external ones; we won’t find workarounds for our subconscious hang-ups, but with faith and conviction we can almost always create innovative solutions for our external blocks.  However, many times external pieces also need to move.  Referring back to my analogy in Everything is Now; many elements need to come together to enable a flower to grow.

As I was laying in bed this morning, for example, I was lamenting that I had this post finished and couldn’t seem to “find time” at home to get it published. (I did not know at the time that I was going to write this section, lol). Reflecting on the subject of this post, I switched to thinking about what needed to move in order for me to publish this post.

I do most of my writing on the train using a word processing app called IA Writer on a four-year-old iPad that was a hand-me-down from a family member.  When I finish the content of a post, I copy it into Word (on my home laptop), configure all the footnotes, copy it into WordPress, configure the heading sizes, block quotes, images, etc… and finally -hit publish

When I started looking at all the pieces between writing and publishing it was easy to see that (once again) “finding” more time at home wasn’t necessarily my problem, I needed to change the way I was “doing business” so to speak. Suddenly I remembered that the week before my husband had pointed out a new Microsoft tablet.  At the time, I had been dismissive of the idea thinking “what I have right now works just fine.” After having thought through my difficulties, however, I realized that the tablet might be just what I needed. Now that I was approaching my problem more openly, I realized that I could also seek out a better word-processing app that would handle my footnote needs directly.

It may take some effort to clear the way completely.  After all, things move at different speeds so some obstacles (both internal and external) will move out of our way quickly and others less so.  The critical first step is a detailed examination of what needs to move.  Then you can decide whether you’re ready to do what it takes to clear the path to your goal.

Footnotes

[1] it’s not that these things are unhealthy activities or that there is no room for them in our lives, it just wasn’t what I wanted to be doing with that time – which is what clued me in that something more was going on

[2] as previously noted, this post and realization are built on the ideas from “Everything is Now” – the part I am specifically referencing here falls under the heading: ‘Some Things are Timeless’

[3] which also happens to be one of my favorite movies – here is the info; Shawshank Redemption (movie), 1994, Castle Rock

[4] From Trickster Makes this World by Lewis Hyde, “The anthropologist Mary Douglas… suggests we go back to an old saying: “Dirt is matter out of place.” Egg on my plate is breakfast, but egg on my face is dirt; shoes in the closet are tidy, but shoes on the table are a mess.” (p 175)

[5] I’m not saying this is all of my dirt – after all, here on Earth, we live in the dirt so we can only ever be temporarily clean

[6] I will talk more about the magical power of AND in two upcoming posts….one on Thanks for the Feedback and another about the new symbol I found that perfectly captures “where I’m at” right now