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Six weeks ago, I wrote this:
"Enough of that. I'm back, and that's what counts. Recently I bought this book , and I may well have found a spiritual home with Anthroposophy after all my years of searching. Time will tell, as I'm definitely looking very closely at Steiner's teachings. "

Bullshit. Just total bullshit. After further reading, I find that Anthroposophy is nothing that I want any part of.
ETA: I was referring to what I wrote above as being bullshit, not Anthroposophy per se... ;)

Then I wrote: "On another front, I've committed to working with the Universal Fantasy Tarot until the Solstice, possibly the Equinox. I was intrigued by the work that elvenstars was doing with it recently, and have decided to do something similar. It's a quirky deck, and while I enjoy the art, I'm don't love it. There is also no book to go with the deck, so you're on your own with the imagery. I've signed up for AT's Intensive Deck Study - but because there's not a book for the deck, it's really more of a One Deck Wonder. :)"

Well, No. I lost steam really quickly, and the UF deck didn't make it for me. As of now I'm committed to using the Baroque Bohemian Cat's Tarot, which is actually working really well for me. I've worked with several of the cards already, and will post here when I get the time later on today or tomorrow. I interviewed several decks for the honor, and the BBC won out with this amazing card. Note: I have the second edition, which doesn't have the gag-worthy frilly borders.

Then this: "I'm also enjoying watching the progress of moonvoice's totem oracle deck - I hope that she plans to publish it, it's so lovely."

Oh, absolutely! Her deck is amazing!!!
More later, about my other summer learning quest... ;) ;)
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It's been a long while since I've posted here...

Let's just say that my life got in the way. It's been hellish, and I'm beginning to think that I might be a wee bit bipolar (like my mom).

Ahem.

Enough of that. I'm back, and that's what counts. Recently I bought this book , and I may well have found a spiritual home with Anthroposophy after all my years of searching. Time will tell, as I'm definitely looking very closely at Steiner's teachings.

On another front, I've committed to working with the Universal Fantasy Tarot until the Solstice, possibly the Equinox. I was intrigued by the work that elvenstars was doing with it recently, and have decided to do something similar. It's a quirky deck, and while I enjoy the art, I'm don't love it. There is also no book to go with the deck, so you're on your own with the imagery. I've signed up for AT's Intensive Deck Study - but because there's not a book for the deck, it's really more of a One Deck Wonder. :)

I'm also enjoying watching the progress of moonvoice's totem oracle deck - I hope that she plans to publish it, it's so lovely.
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Re-shuffling priorities

I'm quite grateful that I have time for myself today - this was to be a whole week off, but I had an extra gig the past 2 days (yay, money!), and got home v. late last night after visiting with some good friends. I slept in until 11am this morning, and am much more rested than I've been in weeks.

I find myself contemplating interior decorating - I was reading some interesting articles on that subject in the NYTimes this morning - and thinking about making this place more comfortable. When I moved here last August I basically unloaded all my boxes and tried to find a place for everything - nevermind that I'd been in a 2-bedroom house a few years previously, and this is an 800 sq. ft. apartment - and then I got rid of the boxes. (oh, I left them out for someone else to recycle for their move, actually). So the kicker is that I have stuff that needs to go to storage, and no boxes to pack them in (or packing materials, either). So my front room is full of clutter, and entertaining is a vague memory.

Re-creating my bedroom is also a priority. I'm going to go to Calico Corners and buy some fabric for a bed covering and some pillows - come June I'll have plenty of time to make fun stuff for that room. I also need to do something about the windows - they aren't dark enough at night, and the miniblinds are so ugly! I find myself drawn to coral with accents of turquoise - something really summery! (However, after browsing CC's website, it doesn't look like that's the place to go for my fabric. sigh)

I have been selling books and tarots on Aeclectic Tarot for some time, but the books weren't moving, so tomorrow I'm heading to half price books to get the requisite 10 cents/book that they usually will give you. It will be worth it to just get them out of the house. I browsed my shelves for more books to get rid of, and will do that one more time tonight. In doing so I discovered that I have absolutely no business buying any more books for at least 18 months, given the vast numbers of unread new ones lying around. Later today I'll make a list of the ones that require reading, and prioritize the list and start reading them.

All this clutter = bad Qi, and it makes it really hard for me to concentrate on what needs doing - too many distractions. There is no way I can meditate with my bedroom in the state it's in, so that's my first priority.
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Delphic

Today I was left out of the loop, and ended up driving 190 miles round trip to Austin for a meeting that didn't happen. I did buy a box of acupuncture needles that I needed, and went on a surprise visit to my Aunt - that was very nice. But the biggest part of the trip was listening to a CD of a recent session that I had with Ken. I heart my "guru" greatly. Listening to the session is interesting, because you can tell that I'm hearing only about 1/2 of what he's saying - he says something quite profound, and I respond with something prosaic, as though either I'm very deep into my own stuff, or clueless (it's the former) - and that's why the CD is such a blessing. The session was 2 months ago, and I'm still hearing new stuff, each go-round.

A large part of the session was in getting me to either feel okay (rather than all the stressful stuff I usually feel), or to accept myself where I am... that it's okay to be a stress monkey right now. I especially noticed Ken referring to my waking up with a racing heart as "just notice that energy, and go back to what you were thinking before, to see what caused that surge". I'm very used to thinking that a racing heart means that I'm ill, or some such, rather than just taking it for what it is: energy that's coming out for some reason. It helps that I've not been waking up in such a panic recently - though several of my mornings have been d.r.a.g.g.i.n.g. I'm going to start looking at my physical symptoms as signs (rather than symptoms of something) - signs to look at and interpret.

The second thing that brought me up short came out of my own mouth: the Delphic Oracle's "KNOW THYSELF". Indeed, that's the beginning and end of it all, isn't it. I've known of that quote for years, but today the bottom suddenly dropped out of it, and instead of "know thyself - just who is Sravana, and what are her likes and dislikes, etc" it became, "just what is it to be 'Sravana-Human-Divine' "?

When that bottom opened up I shut off the CD and started thinking of how to go about Knowing Myself, and what answers I've heard during my years. There's the Christian version: I am a creature, a creation of God Almighty, with one life to live in obedience to His Will, and if I manage that and believe in Jesus as my Savior, then I'll go to Heaven. Then there's (what I understand of) the Vedic version: We are the Divine having a Human Experience, we are the Way that the Divine Experiences Life, and when we've come to Enlightenment, we'll Merge with the Divine and then... something. Then there's the New Age idea that we are Soul, and we incarnate to Learn Life Lessons, and when we've Learned Those Lessons something will Happen, and then... something. The atheist says, You are Nothing More than Hormones and Enzymes and Electricity in your Brain Self-Referencing, when you Die You Won't Even Know that you're Dead. Party now, because there's no Partying to be had later on.

None of that is particularly useful right now. Consciousness in Physical Form is an important part of it, but what is consciousness? And what is form? (particularly given that quantum mechanics indicates that we are mostly, almost completely S P A C E.)

From another POV - with my upbringing, I have been strongly domesticated and diminished. Very deep things have been happening in my treatment room with patients, and show a much larger and shining part of me that I've had intimations of, but never really experienced. I think this is why my TaiChi and Qigong classes were so hard for me - the movement and meditations were opening up that larger part of me that has never had an opportunity to manifest itself, and I had no idea what was going on - it scared me half to death, with energy shooting out of my palms, and lightheadedness, etc. (I had no idea what was happening in the dojo all those months until it came out of my keyboard just now). No-one was able to help me understand what was going on - all they saw was an anxiety-ridden peri-menopausal woman with a Yin Deficiency. And I thought it was pathological, too - today I'm understanding that it was a SIGN.

During my childhood I never thought that I was one of those kids who was dropped into the wrong family - I always thought that something was terribly wrong with me, that they were the normal ones, and I was the one who was crazy, pitiful, lacking. (Ken nailed it: I was taught that I could not trust MYSELF). At the same time, I've always wanted to be famous/well-known - and thought that I would be, eventually. I suppose you could look at that as an effort to find a way to be okay (if I'm famous, I must be enough, right?), but today I feel that urge was acknowledging that I am much bigger and more powerful than my domesticated self would ever imagine.

At holiday gatherings with my extended family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins) I never felt like I belonged - they are either hyper-religious (Dad's side) or superficial (Mom's side), and I couldn't find anything to talk to them about. If there was a dog around, I was happy - I can relate to canines! Now that I think about it, there truly aren't many people in RL that I can talk to on the same level (thank god for the internet and email!!!).

Then there is the Snake. I had a dream in 1990 or so - a dream of a gorgeous green snake which I was afraid to touch. I don't remember the dream, but my then-husband made me a sculpture of a green snake in response to my telling him that dream. While my Vedic Moon's Nakshatra is S(h)ravana, my Ascendant's Nakshatra is Ashlesha - a 'dreadful' sign, which is a serpent. I made a spiraling serpent ring out of wire when I was in elementary school - I kept it for years, until I finally had one made of gold about 12 years ago. When I did a preliminary pendulum dowsing of my primary totem animal a month ago, I was lead to the Cobra (Naja Naja) - though a later dowsing indicated that it was Crow. The Snake is the representative of the kundalini, of the Goddess, of Wisdom; and I've written incredible poems about the Feathered Serpent, Quetzalcoatl. (Feathered Serpent? Crow+Cobra?? holy cow)

And I remember well the night I first learned of Otherkin. Go ahead, read the link - I'm not going to explain it here. I remember turning off the computer at 1:30am with a huge grin on my face. Not that I thought I was Otherkin, not at all. I just thought that it was wonderful.

Where is all this leading me? To the realization that I am much, much, MUCH more potent and powerful than I've ever allowed myself to know. Knowing that explains so much about my life and my experiences - perhaps I'll go into detail another time. And this leads me to a further conclusion: either I am some kind of Elder Soul, Otherkin, or some such... or being human is much much more than anyone lets on. While I'd love for it to be the former (then I'd be Speshul!!), I'd bet it's the latter. Or perhaps being a human with a Cobra Totem (and Scorpio North Node, dammit!) is the gift given to someone who has much to deal with. In retrospect, it occurs to me that it's a good thing that I reached my fifth decade before I realized this. I don't believe that I would've had the integrity to know this before now.
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Think again, cobra

This morning I got out my pendulum again, to see if my work with it from last night continued to make sense. In a word, no. So eventually I got out my other pendulum - a fancy silvery ball with a holder of filagreed leaves - and we worked on stuff again. All of my secondary totems were the same, but instead of the Cobra as the primary totem, we came up with the American Crow... with the Silver Fox as my familial totem.

Crow? Whaa?

Ahem. We'll see what tomorrow brings.
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Further Totem musings

A couple of hours ago I got home from a day in Austin, at the Southwest Symposium. I heard a couple of lectures, and an especially long one by Mikio Sankey, him of Esoteric Acupuncture fame. He was all over the place, and I was left feeling that he was either the most advanced being I'd ever encountered, or totally insane. I reserve judgment for now.

Anyway, he had brought about 50 quartz crystal pendulums to be used for determining the state of a person's chakras, and I brought one home with me. By dowsing with it I realized that I did not need to do the parasite cleanse he'd mentioned (thank heavens), but that the liver/Gall bladder cleanse might be a good idea. (anything to help my poor digestion... but I digress).

After I did this, I continued to sit on the floor and ask about my totem animals, like this:
(but first I have to mention that I got the idea for the way to do this from the podcast where Lupa talks about her upcoming book: DIY Totemism)
Do I have a primary totem animal? yes
Is my primary totem animal a mammal? no
Is my primary totem animal a bird? no
Is my primary totem animal a reptile? yes!
Is my primary totem animal a lizard? no
Is my primary totem animal a turtle? no
Is my primary totem animal a snake? Yes!
Is my primary totem animal a Texas snake? no
Is my primary totem animal a North American snake? no
Is my primary totem animal a South American snake? no
Is my primary totem animal an Asian snake? YES. (very emphatic)
Is my primary totem animal a Chinese snake? no
Is my primary totem animal an Indian snake? YES!!! (even more emphatic)
Is my primary totem animal an Indian Cobra? Yes!!! ding ding ding ding!! We have a winner! (pendulum going C.R.A.Z.Y.)

My primary totem is a COBRA? wow. I'm blown away.
Then I asked about other specific species of snakes: anaconda, diamond-back rattler, boa constrictor, etc.
Nope - the pendulum insisted on an Indian Cobra. (I have some research to do, it seems.) I even asked if it was the snake-charmer's snake, and the pendulum indicated that it was. From wikipedia: "the most common cobra is the Indian or Spectacled cobra Naga, native to the Indian subcontinent and associated with snake charming there."

I started asking about secondary totems, as well - and through the same family (mammal? canine? feline? bird?) I came up with the Ocelot and the Scrub Jay (after looking at it's pic I realized that I was thinking of another Western Jay, so I'll revisit that, too)... and a White Japanese Dragon. Not sure how to research that last one.

Then I got a bee in my bonnet about my familial totems - and got that on one side it was fox, on the other wolf - both European. I need to re-check that last bit - I didn't write it all down as I was doing it, so it could be reversed. I also need to look into species of European wolves and foxes, to be sure of the specific species.

I asked if I had any insect totems, and evidently I don't right now.

All in all it was a fascinating half an hour.

Cobra totem? brrrrr.....
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Totem musings

This vacation time has been so SO lazy for me... I have a list as long as my arm to accomplish, but I've let stuff slide as I dig into interesting stuff on the internet (and sell stuff online).

I'm not sure how I found it, but this page has a link to a quite long podcast with Lupa, in connection with her "DIY Totemism" book/deck set that she has coming out in August (I believe). I've been reading Lupa for quite a while, both in her LJ (link above), her website, and her wordpress blog. That latter bit I've been watching with interest, as she works with shamanism - not that I understand all of it, as I've never journeyed.

All along I've been very curious as to what my "totem" animal might be, but I've had no success in figuring out which animal it might be. As I was walking the dog yesterday I was thinking about what animals caught my interest as a child - before I had any idea that my interests could indicate something. I was very interested in insects - I loved bugs! - especially bees. I went through a stage where I would capture them and (unfortunately) kill them by putting them in a jar with a kleenex soaked in nail polish remover - that way I could really examine them. I had a small collection - and to this day I have a strong memory of a bumblebee that I had treated in that fashion. She was so beautiful, bright yellow and black. Like so many kids, I went through a dinosaur craze (triceratops was a fav), but that continued with a reptilian interest in Carolina anoles, Texas horned lizards, and generalized snakes. In 3rd or 4th grade I made a snake ring out of wire which I kept for years, until I had one made out of gold a few years (8? 10?) ago. I wear it everyday. Chinese dragons were another big fav, along with an interest in the Orient. 

I always watch birds - lately we've had an Olivaceous Cormorant and some Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks here at the lake! - my grandmother loved birds, too. As far as mammals that attracted me in early childhood, I remember being attracted to Reynard the Fox, as well as Chanticleer the Rooster (Fire Rooster is my Chinese sign), and I strongly prefer dogs to cats.

One of the things that I learned from reading Lupa is that while Neopagan Totemism is individually based, most aboriginal/native totemisms are tribe and family-based. i.e. your genealogy determines your totem. While I have rejected a lot that comes from my birth family (mostly religious fundamentalism), I'm very curious about a familial totem. Most of my people come from the area that was called Prussia in the mid-1800s (when they emigrated), culturally German and Wendish. I'm certain that there are wise women and cunning men in my ancestry, though the reason for the emigration was religious persecution. I have no idea how to go about discovering a familial totem, but I'm willing to try if someone clues me in!
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More on Ironwing, and tarot in general

As I said a couple of days ago, I didn't know what to do about the Intensive Deck Study (what deck, etc) - I decided to not do it right now. In fact, I ended up listing 45 of my tarot and oracle decks for sale on an Aeclectic Tarot trading thread. That has kept me really busy the past couple of days. It's an interesting and time-consuming process, coming up with shipping costs etc. I've sold several books and decks so far - one of my close friends on the list bought 7 pounds worth of vedic astrology books, thank heavens for media mail! - and have another trip to the post office today.

I was thinking of selling several of my OOP, HTF (hard to find), valuable decks, including Ironwing. Reading kafox's comments in the previous threads held me back from taking that step, and in the light of day I'm glad that I didn't offer that deck, or my other valuable ones just yet. Today I ended up looking at some reviews of Ironwing, and I found this one by Valerie Sim to be helpful.

She writes: And here is where one must face their comfort zones when it comes to an earthy deck such as this. Is it dark? Is it light? Is it Memorex? Sorry, couldn’t resist that last… And actually “memory” is quite appropriate here, as this deck will open you to ancient/earth memory even if you have never glimpsed such territory before. And, what is “dark”, anyway? To me, dark decks would include the Baphomet, the Solleone and several others. But as I said before, such terms are entirely subjective. There are Tarotists who would find neither of the aforementioned to be dark. And we could argue it until doomsday. But then, what would be the point?

It is true that for most people to be able to relate to this deck they must be able to let go of all previously conceived ideas and to let their mind recede back into that area where “mind” is not a conscious function. Are you willing to try? It doesn’t matter if you call yourself Christian, Jew, Muslim, Witch, Agnostic … or whether you just plain hate labels as much as I do.

Let me try and explain to those not of a shamanic bent why this deck is so important. This deck can take you back to the literal rocks of your beginning. And in case you need a little nudge, the well-written book that accompanies the deck begins not only with a brief history of the deck, but with an informative section on geology, mythology, blacksmithing and shamanism. To say it will fully ground you for further studies with the deck is an understatement.

etc.

I realize that I'm simply not ready for this deck at this time. I may never be - but I'm going to hold on to it, for sure. I'd hate to not have it when I need it, IF I ever need it. Besides, it's an investment (says sravana's rational mind...)  ;)
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To Tarot, or Not to Tarot, that is the question

The Aeclectic Tarot IDS is starting in less than a week, and I'm still undecided about a couple of things. I don't know which deck to use, either Light and Shadow, the Tarocchi Celtici of Laura Tuan, or the Wisdom of the Four Winds oracle. I also don't know if I'm interested in putting that much effort into something that is truly just a hobby. I'm not much of a reader, and I don't plan to become one (at least not publicly); I have a lot on my plate business-wise, and if I'm going to do any studying, it should be of all the stuff that was crammed into me over 4 years of school, which I barely remember!

All that being said, the Tarocchi Celtici is very unique and interesting, and the LB is in French (which I've never studied). I found a bunch of translations of parts of the LB on the web, translations from the Italian version of the LB. It's also obvious to me that to truly understand the deck, I'd have to re-read the Mabigonion - the trumps are all based on Celtic Gods and Goddesses, which are in those tales - not to mention reading up on the tree symbolism of the minor arcana. Sheesh.

I had started coloring the L&S several years ago - not sure why I stopped - and that is an interesting way to study the symbolism of the deck. I actually found all those copies (I'd printed the cards up at a copy shop) that I'd made years ago, and could be persuaded to take that up again. It could actually be fun - but I don't really have the space to set up a painting area, and I'm not in the mood to have my apartment more cluttered than it already is.

My experience with the Ironwing has left a sour taste in my mouth. It was not a good experience for me, and I'm actually rather angry with myself for doing that to myself. I'd gotten a hellacious reading from the deck interview I did, and damned if it wasn't spot-on. In my enthusiasm I ignored it, and I don't want to commit to anything tarot-related right now.

That being said, once I finish my taxes, I'll have a much less cluttered apartment. Maybe then I'll have a better attitude about setting up a painting area...
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Full stop. Reboot. Control-alt-delete.

I began to feel uneasy after working with Ironwing for a couple of days. I'd gotten all the cards under my belt, and was beginning to read up on the major arcana - and then I came to the Strength Card, and proceeded to get rather squicky. Reading her description, I learned that it shows a shamanic initiation, from the inside out. Frankly, it terrified me, and I realized that this deck and what it represents (a particular blacksmith/shaman's experience of both, together) was just NOT going to work for me - healer and musician and quite ungrounded person that I am. To tell you the truth, I went through several hours of considering throwing away countless of my esoteric books after that scare. I guess you could say that I'm easily scared, but it actually meant that the unpleasant reading that I got from the deck was true. It just feels like a really dark deck, and it's springtime now... not a good thing right now.

I think I can take that deck in small doses - but as an IDS (Intensive Deck Study) for 3 months? I'd be a basket case by then.

As I still wanted  to do the IDS at Aeclectic Tarot with my friends, I got out a bunch of decks to see what resonated with me: Maat, Greenwood, Shining Tribe, Haindl, Wheel of Change, Cosmic Tribe, Original Rider-Waite, and Light and Shadow. I set each deck in order (trumps/wands/cups etc) and just paged through each one, looking for the ones that I felt I could deal with in large doses. Of these, Greenwood, Shining Tribe, and Light and Shadow made the cut. So I shuffled and did a deck interview with each one. I was rooting for Greenwood, but in the position "What will our relationship be like?" I got the MOON. I don't think that I want to deal with that kind of energy right now. Next: Shining Tribe. Answer to the same question? The MOON. ...um... okay.

Light and Shadow by default? Well, the first card that came up was the Sun (which brightened my day) and the answer to the above question was the 6 of Cups, a very sweet card.

All that being said, I'm not going to commit to the IDS with this deck, just yet. I also got out some oracles, and was pretty impressed by Wisdom of rhe Four Winds - an oracle deck out of New Zealand. I spent some time with it yesterday, and will spend some more time with it soon. I'm also interested in Spirit of the Wheel  which has imagery by Joan Bergsma, but I'm not convinced that the Native American aspect of this oracle is true to the original. Not that I would have any way of knowing, but still. I found that some of the illustrations didn't seem to fit how I see the animals (ie. is Bear Water, or Earth?). I'm reserving judgment on that one. I also worked a bit with Caroline Smith's Moon Oracle , but like many folks who have tried to use it, it's not particularly user friendly.

So I'm leaning towards L&S, with a side of WotFW or SotW. I'll decide in the next few days