Sunday, December 18, 2016

Light in the Darkness: The Star

Artwork by Thalia Took
And here is The Star. And the darkness. And the maiden. And the winged messenger sent down from above.

It's an old, old story, and we tell it once again during the time of the Winter Solstice. Every year, in the heart of the darkest night, we wait for the Child of Light. We open ourselves to the miracle. We gather in faith and truth and love, and we remember.

We have been here before and will be here again. Such is the way of our universe— nothing is lost and everything returns. And while we might have puzzled out a few equations in the scientific clockwork of it all, the unfolding whole remains a mystery.

I feel its turnings, though, its vast ancient circles within circles. This is Spirit to me, this movement, these rhythms. From my tiny finite standing place, the moon wanes, the sun waxes, and the stars move across the sky in their precise predictable courses.

These are illusions, of course, human perspectives that mark me as part of the cycle and not separate from it. For the moon does not grow or shrink, the sun blazes as steady now as it did at the height of Midsummer, and the stars remain still. It is Earth that tilts and whirls, the same earth that feels so steady beneath me. Another illusion, this steadiness, for the Earth and I are plummeting through space at 66,000 miles an hour. The stars are at the tumbling edge of the expanding universe, and as I gaze at the indigo horizon on this longest of nights, I offer thanksgiving, a wordless circle of gratitude that extends in rings around me.

This Solstice, may gratitude be a force for love in your world, and in all worlds. May your days be filled with wonder and your nights with enough light to guide you home.

Blessed be, y'all. See you in 2017!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Chariot

Ah yes. Our ego comes a-rolling up in the yard yet again, ablaze with glory, brilliant with triumph. It's a four-cornered, starry-curtained, uber-gilded Chariot we see before us, exalted and ostentatious, practically dripping with satisfaction.

But let's not be too hasty in our judgment. There's a lot of substance beneath the fancy surface.

The ego has gotten an unfortunately negative rap in our current thinking. We must not let our egos get in our way, we are told. We must transcend them. After all, who wants to be ego-driven? Egotistical? An ego maniac?

I mean, look at that guy up there. He's practically carrying his own stage with him, demanding that we take a front row seat on his bedazzled victory lap.

But the sphinxes reveal a deeper truth. One does not enter into such company lightly. They are the keepers of mystery, after all. They offer initiation in the form of riddles, and unless you meet their challenge, you shall not pass beyond them. Our Charioteer has. He must have something valuable to offer us.

And this is it to succeed in any creative endeavor, one must develop a strong and healthy ego. The qualities we associate with an big ego bragging, boasting, strutting, and preening are actually signs of a weak ego, one that requires constant exterior fortification.

A strong ego is like a container. It isn't you (which is what those blustery types get wrong over-identifying with the container, not the contents). Like the chalices in the tarot that contain our emotions, our ego contains our sense of self. Our identity. As such, it must be both strong and fluid. Who we are is always changing. Our ego must be just as dynamic.

The Chariot is here to remind you that while you are on the sacred and soulful task of bringing a creative project into the world, be clear about your boundaries. There will always be rejections and acceptances, bad reviews and good. The second you place your work before an audience, you will receive both pans and praise. And yet you must, as Rudyard Kipling reminds us, "treat those two imposters just the same." You must separate you and your work from the swirling chaff of judgment if you want to get anywhere.

Remember who's holding the reins of this particular chariot. Hint: you are. Which means you are not the chariot.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Five of Pentacles

Let's be honest — there's very little appealing about this card. Whenever I see it, I get a pang in my stomach and my chest constricts. It's a touchstone, the Five of Pentacles, and as such, it opens up a world of hurt for me. I remember every sad story I've ever heard, every lost puppy, every broken heart.

There are many interpretations for this card, and there's grief at the heart of every one. There are questions: who are these poor and needy people? Why are they in the cold when the lights of the church are lit and warm and right there? Is this a criticism of the church, rich in stained glass but poor in compassion? Or are we to question the down-trodden, ponder what leads them to prefer the snow over the sanctuary? Do they not recognize it? Have they sought and been rejected?

We do not know. Arthur Waite was clear in his interpretations that this card meant material trouble, although perhaps not as dire as depicted. So what are we to make of it, we who ask the tarot for guidance on creative matters?

I'll take a stab at that. Our creativity is a living thing, and as such, it must be nourished and nurtured, it needs care and tending. Ask yourself: in this season of bright lights and parties and shopping and indulgences, is your creativity being neglected? Are you giving your Muse the attention she deserves? Or have you spent your energy and attention in other areas? Closed the door on your art and left it in the cold?

This week, consider your creative soul. Is it well cared for, warm and safe? Or is it right outside the circle of your everyday, hunched against a rising cold?

Only you know the answer. And only you have the power to open — or close — the door.