Gala Hallelujah Blog

A casual guide for the believer. Sharing love, light and knowledge of how to spiritually succeed in everyday life.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Moment to Moment

A friend recently complimented me by saying that I underestimate my strength. She based this claim on the fact that I am able to commit wholeheartedly to things that have a no immediate pay-off.

The case in point, going back to become qualified as a psychologist, which not only is a commitment of 4+ years of delayed gratification, but one that (I laughed manically) isn’t even guaranteed. At the moment I am impelled furiously by needing to get uncannily high marks if I want to continue beyond this year. Thus, to me at least, this supposed strength seems born of necessity, not any core Herculean tendencies or ability to commit to anything beyond the next five minutes.

I always need a goal, one that is usually long-term and has little to no immediate gratification. It is like my rudder, it keeps me feeling directed and committed to a course of beneficial action. I rely on this rudder wholeheartedly because it somehow compensates for the rest of my behaviour; the spaces in-between that are comprised entirely of spontaneity.

Once an idea enters my mind, it will happen, either immediately or through a more protracted period of obsession while I wait to create the time and the means. I have no internal off switch: the part that says that’s enough! A lot of this spontaneity is inspiring, a lot is hazardous, but either high is kept somehow under control by this greater plan: it balances out my momentary distraction so they remain just that, momentary.

Having a larger goal, then, seems to provide me with a vicarious structure for self-discipline: a way to balance complete freedom and a greater purpose. Is this strength? I’m not so sure. Is it delayed gratification? Not when you have so many other ideas keeping you busy along the road.

Amidst this forward momentum and momentary distraction there is a constancy. It doesn’t come from all my internal inconsistency, but through somehow knowing that spirit is really in charge of it all. Most of my time is spent being grateful that I am on the ride at all. Trusting in the destination, trusting in a future that is yours - but is created out of more than you could ever be alone - is a true measure of strength.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hearing the Call, Heeding the Call

How much personal energy do we invest in denial and avoidance of the need for healing change? How much energy do we use to offset the guilt that develops when we resist these changes time and time again? How much bigger do the emotional elements of our core problems increase when they accumulate this kind of baggage overtime? And worst of all, how much is our spiritual core degraded when we can hear the call to change, but just can’t heed it?

I had the realization earlier this year that I really do spend more energy resisting change – change that is essential and inevitable – than it would to make lasting transformations occur in my life. I think this is true for most people and certainly appears to be reflected in contemporary therapeutic practice which increasingly puts personal insight in the backseat to focus on working through resistances to behavioral change. Somehow, it more startling to see that this was true even for someone like me though, who is, if anything, always stubbornly seeking growth and challenges. So, I am left with questions like those above that swing pendulously between change and stasis without ever really moving forward.

I question the way that I approach spiritual growth. Do I trust that it is it inline with what I can handle at the time, or are such pleasantries some form of meta-resistance; do I seek out the growth that is so
mehow more manageable, and certainly less scary, than the real thing? The latter of course is such an elaborately contentious form of denial: pirouetting around core wounding in the most delicate self-protective dance. Maybe is it possible to heal without direct confrontation and catharsis, but instead through a more measured accumulation of wisdom and strength? Peeling the layers of the onion until reaching a translucent, sweet core? I am unsure and the clumsy metaphors I could use to discuss this confusion are infinite.

What is the way forward? As always, Trust. At the moment, I am thinking trust and a splash of forgiveness. Forgive the limitations of our own fears and humanity, without seeing these limitations as either insurmountable or inevitable. Tangibly, forgive all the times you could have, should have, and would have. Reality is you didn’t, but you still can.
Then work on Will, yours and spirits, move forward together or you can’t move at all.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Metallic Kings and the Mastery of Mind and Money

The answers to most of my questions at the moment present me with déjà-vu as the cards fall to reveal the bearers of steel and gold, The King of Swords and then The King of Pentacles. This is a short reflection of what this may be telling me and a possible way to marry the mastery represented in the two cards.

It is fair to say that my concerns at the moment are bordering on a palpable anxiety and the edges of panic. I’ve suddenly gone from a responsibility free lifestyle to one that is highly structured and demanding: a new course of intensive study, two new jobs and little-to-no downtime.

For whatever reason, maybe because of the abrupt change of everything at once, I feel like these new challenges are bringing up huge insecurities in the areas that these circumstances are meant to empower: increasing financial abundance and mental mastery.

The problem, for me, is one of tension and contradiction. I am stuck in a loop that is happy that I am employed but am concerned that it will take away my ability to succeed in my studies. Of course, the reverse applies, I believe that if I gave up one of my jobs I would be able to get great marks but would end up in serious financial strife. When I am feeling my best I can trust in the scenario as it stands, accepting with grace that god has provided me with everything that I wanted at this time and that I am worthy of the challenge of balance that spirit has provided to me.

When I look to the cards at the moment it is to seek advice surrounding some permutation of this dilemma. What has been uncanny has been the consistency in which the King of Swords and King of Pentacles have appeared in answer (probably because it takes me a little time to listen!).

The King of Swords is the card of mental mastery, the card that indicates a sharp and reasoned mind, one that is able to see past emotions and make rational decisions. It represents the kind of analytical mind that is closest to that of the psychologist, for it is the card of someone who has understood the complexities and irrationalities of their own mind and, in overcoming them, gains the clarity to understand the minds of others. That this card has been prominent at the moment, just as I am beginning a psychology degree, it is a heartening reminder that the energies around me support this undertaking. It would council that I am mentally prepared for this course not only through my previous study, but through my own development of a refined mind, which even in writing this piece is engaged in a constant process of observing and, perhaps, overcoming my own irrationalities.

The King of Pentacles is the master of financial success. It is a slightly hedonistic card, the story of the successful business man who has worked hard to get where he is and is now enjoying the bounty, or spoils of war, that are well deserved. I always have trouble relating to this card because I have a difficult relationship with money, I know that I am very lucky and I can magic it in when in real need, but subsist the rest of the time in that nexus of lower-class student poverty. I work to actively create a sense of abundance in my life by making the money I have go further through creative shopping and being a great affordable cook. So while I know how to survive and do it in style, money always makes me irrationally stressed because it sets me off balance: I have never found a way to not feel money rich/time poor or vice-versa. It would seem at this time that the King wants to tell me that my new found abundance is probably more secure than I feel it is, but also that hard work has its own pay-offs and that the free time I can find in my schedule may come to have a quality of richness that I have not experienced before.

As I mentioned earlier, my concerns seem to be ones of tension between the gratuity of money and the gratification of mind. What the Kings are asking me to do is question:

Money and Mind – How is it possible to master both?

As court cards these Kings are archetypes and represent patterns of energy that are open to all people at different times in their lives. Each court card may be one that speaks to our natural aptitudes or weaknesses, but nevertheless embody potential patterns for human attitudes and behaviors. As I have mentioned, the kings are cards of mastery, ones that relate to the specific elements of the tarot trumps (Sword as mind, reason and thought, Pentacle as money and physical reality). Because the kings are representations of mastery, these cards are uniquely energized with success. While it may be simple to interpret the cards by saying that my worries are unfounded and that I am, consequently, likely to experience success in these areas.

I am interested however, in thinking about how these two forms of mastery can be married together to make the kings can become life partners that support each other. My initial thoughts turned to the properties of the trumps of the cards and the fact that the sword and the pentacle are uniquely metal objects. As metal these would suggest that both these kings are uniquely tough and resilient and that the boons they offer are equally long lasting. The tools of these metallic kings are impervious, they are not insecure. Thus the council the kings offer is one not just of mastery, but one that makes use newly aware to our own quite tangible strength.

Neither of these cards is emotionally driven. One of the King of Swords tendencies, because of his objective orientation, is to repress emotion. Similarly the King of Pentacles is not given to emotional turmoil because he is more concerned with other indulgences (the more fun ones like sex and wine). Rather than a call to indulge my libido, the presence of these Kings tells me that perhaps getting emotionally tied up in my current situation is unnecessary and that my energies would be better placed in not admitting to any insecurity.

There is also a similar orientation of the cards in terms of worldview. While the King of Wands is stuck firmly in the past and the King of Cups looks forward to the future, the King of Pentacles and Swords are interested in dealing with the here and now, which is indicated by their front facing postures. While the gaze of the King of Pentacles lowered, indulging his ego in contemplating his own financial success, he is still as present as the King of Swords who directs his look penetratingly out of the card in a manner that is present and confidently prescient.

The suits of the cards can also be broken down to represent the elements of air (swords) and earth (pentacles). While I would be inclined intuitively to say that these are the least compatible arrangement of the four essential elements, their contrary nature is less apparent when they are mapped onto a medicine wheel. A medicine wheel is a shamanic map that is common to many cosmological systems that features a circle divided by a cross marking the four cardinal directions. It is a tool that is widely used in ceremony and path working and is used to map physical concepts (direction, the seasons, sun and moon phases, races) and more intangible symbolic systems (character, life cycle, mental state, energetic patterns). On the medicine wheel the elemental properties of air and earth are not oppositional but border each other in the positions of North and West respectively.*

What I like about this conjunction is that they breakdown the essential Cartesian dualism that separates the mind and the body, or here the mind and physical reality, and tell me loudly that the aims of mental and financial growth are complimentary. For instance, the north as the place of energy and insight can only be productive if this energy is integrated in the west by being brought down to earth and into physical reality. The council this offers me is the notion that thought or learning is not a state that can be perpetuated indefinitely, it is a peak experience that only becomes something closer to knowledge when it is integrated into a subjective-come-introspective worldview. Perhaps the first insight is that I have to break down my stubbornly dualist notion that separates the endeavors of the mind from those of the body and its physical reality!

To conclude, I will reaffirm the idea that the court cards represent archetypal energetic potentials that are in all of us. What the Kings energize is mastery of the elements, here those of pentacles and swords, that mediate the concerns of money and the mind. The Kings aid us in remembering our own true strengths and our ability to use past achievements and skills in successful ways, insights that are too often lost in the day-to-day experience of emotional tides and pressures.

*The directional attributions do differ between tribes and practitioners. Often the elements of Air and Earth are placed in the North and South respectively, which would support my intuition of the apparently oppositional nature of air and earth. However, the notions that the earth is the place in which high impulses or spiritual insight must be grounded remains relevant.