September 21st, 2014

SEA OF SILENCE

Silence, Oracle of the Triad

 

Today’s reading is slightly different that what is usually posted here. This card did not randomly show up after shuffling and pulling a card off the top of the deck. I purposely chose this card today. I chose it because this morning I woke from a dream where a message had been spoken.

In the dream I had come upon the frame of a boat. There was a sense that, having come upon it, it was now mine. There was a simplicity to this knowing, not a greed nor even joyful gratitude at having been gifted this boat. There was just the knowing that, well, now I had a boat – or at least the frame of one.

The boat wasn’t very big, maybe four or five feet long from bow to stern. As a ‘frame’ it was light weight. There was the sense that not only could I cover this boat frame and have a seaworthy vessel, but that I most certainly would do so. Again, this was a simple knowing – as if it was a given – if you have a boat frame you follow through and turn it into a boat.

A visitor dropped by. He had been a commander, but now appeared just like any civilian. A soft quietness surrounded him as he examined the boat. He picked up this light weight frame and spun it upside down to take a look good look at it. We both looked at the upside down boat frame and he asked: What do you hear?

I heard nothing and said so.

Yes, he said, it’s silent. Silence is stability.

Stability was symbolized by the form of a boat frame that could be moved without producing any sound, no squeeking or chirping sound of wood on wood. No sound, just silence = a stable vessel.

Even during the dream I knew this symbol was profound and that the commander was not talking about the boat.

Today’s reading is a meditation on the stability of silence. Can you feel the stability? When we meditate or pray, there can be much effort or focus on achieving a state of calm centering. We might feel easily distracted or upset if interrupted. Distractions and interruptions can come from others around us, from our environment, from within our own selves in the form of thoughts or emotions. Today’s reading is an invitation: enter the stability of silence.

Witness the stability for yourself. It’s right here. It never goes anywhere.

No detailed card interpretation today. I leave you in silence with the card Silence from the deck Oracle of the Triad.

Silence, Oracle of the Triad

April 23rd, 2014

Exercise of Justice

For this reading we’re using Songs for the Journey Home  tarot deck.  This reading strikes me as very provocative and may demand something, quite a bit actually, from us – trust. But, then again, maybe every reading demands that. balancing act What is Justice? What is Just?

Provocative question, eh?

Justice is the center card, the hinge card, of this reading. Interestingly enough, the author of this deck has very little to say about Justice. In the book that accompanies this deck, most of the major arcana cards are addressed with two or three pages of beautiful revelation. Justice gets only one page. There is only one other major arcana card about which she says as little.

Look at the card Justice: bright sunny sky on one side, dark stormy seas on the other; elemental forms above, wispy formless colors below; pristine environment on one scale, development and city life on the other. Is there Justice beyond our own preferences? How does one come to Justice? What is this balancing act really all about?

Let’s sit with these questions for a moment.

I mentioned that we might need trust when approaching this reading today. Do we trust that there is something more real, more just, than what our personal preferences lead us to believe? Have you ever had experience reveal this to be so? There is a way of trusting, and something trustworthy, that can be seen when we step back from our personal preferences. This step back from what we personally deem “right and just,” or “wrong and unjust,” brings a kind of clarity to what we see as happening in any given situation. This may easier to do when we are not in the midst of experiencing an injustice, real or perceived. It is good place to start if one is inclined to look for themselves. Imagine stepping back from our personal preferences in the midst of real or perceived injustice against us… Most of us cannot. We will see an example of this, though, by the end of the reading.

So, what kind of territory are we entering if we dare to seek Justice?

We are entering the territory of spiritual inquiry. There is a way of asking a question that is not focused on discovering one singular answer. Sounds strange, right? Getting the answer is why we ask the question. But there is a level of questioning, referred to as spiritual inquiry, in which resting with the question itself is the purpose of asking it.

Our common approach to every and any question is to come, rather quickly, to a certain and defendable answer. This is part of our conditioning. Yet immediately answering a question, though satisfying to the analytical mind, actually closes down the potential that the question holds. Resting in the inquiry… reveals a richness and depth of reality… if we allow it.

If we rest with the questions… if we step back from our personal preferences (we, many of us anyway, refer to our “personal” sense of justice as ‘reality’)… if we notice a desire to answer the question what is Justice and notice the immediate answers that might flood the mind… if we keep resting, if we don’t stop at the first, second, even third answer our mind tries to tell us about Justice…. What are the possibilities that are revealed?

How confused or uncertain will we allow ourselves to be? Will we shut down the inquiry with a comforting, and certain answer? Or… will we ride a level of trust… and see what shakes out of an unanswered question?????

Now we’re beginning to understand why the author of this deck said very little about this card. To define Justice is an unjust act.

The anonymous author of Meditations on the Tarot  (MOT) has much to say about Justice. But, don’t be fooled by long-windedness (his or mine). In the twenty-some-odd pages on Justice, much is pointed out yet all is left open as justice itself is an ongoing, open-ended, spiritual exercise (as is each of the major arcana, by the way).

The meditation on Justice, as discussed in MOT, does shine a light on what we’ve been discussing above as stepping back from our “personal preferences,” but it doesn’t beat around the bush about it. From MOT (it’s thick stuff, but stay with it – and reading it out loud might help, you can hear it better that way):

“…[L]et us take the Arcanum ‘Justice’ … First of all, the fact may be stated that it is in the domain of judgment that the reality and truth of justice manifests itself. Because to pronounce judgment with respect to anything whatsoever amounts to an action having as its aim the finding of justice. It is not only the judges at tribunals who judge; everyone judges in the degree to which he thinks. All of us, in so far as we are thinking beings, are judges. Because every problem, every question that we try to resolve, gives way in reality to a session for our inner tribunal, where the ‘pros and cons’ are confronted and weighed before judgment is pronounced. We are all judges, good or bad; we are so, and we exercise the functions of a judge almost unceasingly from morning ’til night. The commandment – ‘Thou shalt not judge’ (Matthew vii, 1) – would therefore amount to the renunciation of thought. For to think is to judge.”

Now this, this is provocative.

How can we understand Justice without judging? How could anyone every know what is just action without thinking? This reading may not satisfy the question, but we still have two cards to look at.

Flame Creating and Wave Innocence move around the center hinge, Justice. If the above image was video instead of a still photograph, these cards would move as if held in the scales of the center image, one moving up in proportion to the other moving down, always in the act of balancing.

In Flame Creating we see an artist at her loom, weaving a powerful image of “Volcano Woman.” Her creativity is unhindered by the cold landscape around her. The embers of her creative vision are not unlike Volcano Woman and in this sense the artist is the same force that erupts from Volcano Woman – the force of becoming.

Wave Innocence, on the other hand, very sweetly and absolutely perfectly, is doing nothing. She depicts being. How innocent, how vulnerable. The author of this deck suggests that the child, floating in a tranquil sea, “reminds us of a time before the natural instincts and reactions are socialized out of the child.”

Being and Becoming, innocent and intuitive. What exists prior to our personal preferences? What faculty must we resort if we are commanded to renounce judgment and thinking? Always being, always becoming, an act of balancing – nothing static here. Again, to define Justice is an unjust act.

Back to the wisdom offered by the anonymous author of MOT: “…[I]ntuition being perception due to sympathy and love never accuses. It always  plays the role of the defense, the advocate. As it perceives the soul of beings, it sees only the image of God in them. Seeing and knowing that the soul of the offender is always the first victim of all sin or crime that he could commit, intuition can play no other role than that of the advocate. The saying ‘to know all is to forgive all’ refers to understanding ‘from within’ – that is to say ‘intuitive’ – and not to external understanding, i.e. phenomenal and discursive understanding. A moving formula for the role of intuition in the exercise of justice is given to us in the prayer of the Master as he was being crucified: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke xxiii, 34)”

Intuition knows innocence, innocence knows intuition. Both are prior to the discursive rational mind. Quite opposite to our conditioned way of seeking justice through judgment… this reading points us to a profound, shattering of thought. The “exercise of justice” is not for the faint of heart. Yet that is where the exercise is asking us to go – the unconditioned heart of innocence and intuition, being and becoming. Not an easy reading here. Any feedback, stories you would like to share, your own sense of innocence, of intuition, of this exercise of Justice… please let me know. We’re all in this together.

 

 

March 18th, 2014

Humble Fool

It has been years since I last posted a reading. I feel humble, like The Fool in the title of this reading. During the time that I wasn’t writing, it turns out you were still reading. Because my posts are rather long and require a bit from the reader just to make it through the whole thing… I never expected many followers. Yet, in these past three years, many people have subscribed and are continuing to do so. My initial surprise has grown into a deep humbling. Thank you for taking the time to read what I have shared. Thank you for valuing it enough to subscribe.

Within the humbleness of witnessing the list of subscribers grow and grow, something started to rise. That “something” has indicated that I, once again, shuffle the deck and throw some cards. Ready? How ’bout some Rider Waite Smith:

humbling

Some of you may recall that I often read cards in sets of three, with the center card being the “hinge.” The hinge informs and supports the other two cards. This four-card spread above still has a hinge – the middle column is the hinge of the whole reading. Take a look at The Tower over Two of Swords, what do you see?

The Tower looks, well, not good at all: blackness surrounds a lightening-struck, burning tower, the inhabitants of which are falling out or have found themselves choosing to jump – either way it is hard to imagine a happy ending for them.

Two of Swords depicts a woman holding two swords perfectly balanced, dressed in a smock the same color as the cement bench she rests upon, the same color of the platform the bench is seated on. She is perfectly still. Everything around her moves, but not her. The sea behind her is slightly choppy and in the clear sky hangs a waxing crescent moon. She sees none of this: she wears a blindfold. And, since no one else is depicted in the card nor are her hands bound, we can assume she wants the blindfold there. She may have even put the blindfold there herself. She strike me as being as open as a cement block – she is the embodiment of cement.

Manic Screaming

We should make all spiritual talk simple today
God is trying sell you something but you don’t want to buy

That is what your suffering is:
your fantastic haggling
your manic screaming
over
price.

–Hafiz

Did that feel like a leap, Tarot cards to Hafiz? I didn’t see the connection at first, but as often is the case when I write these posts many “messages” arise which at first seem unrelated to the cards thrown yet manage to find their way into the story the cards are telling. A companion along the spiritual path introduced me to this poem two weeks ago and today we were talking about it again. The two cards that create the hinge of this reading both touch upon the theme of this poem, a common experience in the human condition (and in some way, defines the human condition or at least the ego): resistance.

The Tower can be scary when it shows up in a personal reading. Nobody really wants to see that card. It might even be more frightening than the Death card. The finality of the Death card makes it easier to swallow – at lease when we’re dead we won’t be suffering any more. Besides, usually the Death card implies a transition in our lives and not the literal death of our body. Transition, even the term, feels more welcoming and gentle than The Tower aflame and crumbling. The Tower is radical change, a jolt to the system where things are burning and crashing and there’s nothing left to hold onto. You can imagine it being loud and terrifying. The Tower means known structures must be razed to the ground. The Tower shows up when the structure of our lives should not and cannot be maintained.

What happens when The Tower shows up in a reading? Honestly… it is often resisted…oh no, not The Tower! But who choses the cards? We’re not in control. Might God be trying to sell you something that you don’t want to buy?

And the Two of Swords. Is it holding up or being crushed by The Tower card? Often, the Two of Swords implies resistance or denial. The woman’s arms are crossed over her heart, closing it off or protecting it. She has blindfolded herself. She refuses to see. It is as if she is saying “no” to everything around her.

What does our resistance actually beckon? What does it point to or teach us? Resistance seen beckons surrender. Seems like simply the balance of opposites – one resists or one surrenders. But surrender is more than just opposite reaction balancing the scales. Surrender shows us an entirely different way of being in the world. Surrender is to live from and in a trust of what is; aka, what God is trying to sell us. When we notice that we’re resisting what is… we have a clear option: we can keep fighting what is or we can open ourselves to the grace of surrender. This reminds me of another post, Days Like This, where it was framed as the grace of no escape.

The reason I claim resistance and surrender are not mere opposites is that surrender entails a level of awareness. Without awareness, the opposite of resistance is “giving up.” Blindfold is on in each case.

Can you feel or intuit the difference between surrender and giving up? What is an example of either of these in your own life? In the way that I’m using them, surrender brings a clarity: oh, yes, now I see that I had been haggling over the price. Whereas giving up doesn’t move us into clarity. It is as certain of its opinion as resistance is: yep, I fought the situation for a long time. Didn’t do any good. Nothing matters. Pointless.

It’s heavy, giving up. Surrender… is liberating.

What about the other two cards? Where is all of this long-winded tale going? Let’s look at the King of Cups. He looks rather stoic, eh? As King, he is the authority, he’s the guy in charge, responsible for structuring and maintaining everything and everyone in the kingdom. He doesn’t look very comfortable, though. Some would say the most natural king is King of Pentacles, Earth element. Earth likes structures. Cups are the element Water. Water relates to the heart, to intuition, to the flow of love and unity. Waves may crash upon the rocks and shore, but are never separate from the sea. Water merges.

The King of Cups rests on a cement thrown, stiffly holds his chalice and scepter out and away from his body, and he is adorn with a symbol of the sea – a golden fish pendent hangs around his neck. He has turn his elemental nature into a static symbol as if he can remain separate from it. Can you detect the note of resistance here? There is a longing, though, in this rigid figure. Notice the tip of his boot. It’s as if this King is hoping no one will notice his desire to touch his essential nature.

There is one card left. Isn’t it interesting how it is the only card in this reading that doesn’t depict any cement structures? The Fool, the beloved Fool… is he immature and careless or is he mature and carefree? The way these cards fall in this moment, our beloved Fool is the King of Cups transubstantiated – radically changed – through answering the call.

Look at The Tower again. The crown has been blasted off.

Have you ever known anyone who resisted the lightening strike of radical change? I’m not making light of it by asking; it truly is heartbreaking to witness. Something happens that they didn’t want to happen and their resistance lingers long after the event. Have you noticed that often, when any of us resist change, we become bitter or guarded. Defended. Self-righteous. Or in some way in perpetual withdrawal.

Resistance, blind resistance, or giving up, blind giving up – very sad states indeed.

The crown is blown off, human authority cannot hold back the storm, people tumble out into the darkness. We fear the end. And sometimes the end is very sad.

How does King of Cups – uncomfortable stifling his true nature – transcend (or descend through, given how the cards seem to move in a downward pattern) into the mature and carefree Fool after lightening strikes? I want to look, one more time, at Two of Swords. Can it really hold up the crumbling structure of The Tower? She may have tried – our King of Cups may have haggled over the price of merging with his true nature. I asked earlier if Two of Swords holds up or is crushed by The Tower. Maybe there is a third way to view Two of Swords.

She sits completely still while everything around her moves. She is consciously blindfolded by her own hand. She is the key to what makes The Fool so humble. Though her motionless stance traditionally is translated as resistance and denial, she may be showing us what it looks like to lay down our preferences (resistance shows up by our clinging to preferences). Her swords, perfectly balanced, stem from her heart. She is, in her contemplative meditation, showing us what it looks like when we pause and say: Your will, not mine.

She is showing us what surrender looks like. And through surrender, King of Cups is liberated. The Humble Fool walks in an authenticity more quiet and subtle than any authority fought for. And he may still be the ruler of the land, who knows? We’ve only been shown this simple part of the story: collapsing structures are not the cause of suffering – our preferences, our resistance to what is, our haggling over price, is what suffering is. Simple, when it is seen.

What is your experience of resistance, giving up, and surrender? Can you notice resistance and be simple about it – what I mean is can you notice a moment of your own resistance without judging it? What is your experience with the shifting meaning of Two of Swords? Tell me. I’d love to hear all about it.

 

June 30th, 2011

HOMECOMING, LIE-LEAVING

We each start with birth. And as birth itself appears to be the theme in the card on the left, we’ll begin this reading there. The card on the left is the first Flame Song of a deck that I will introduce shortly. Look at the card, what do you see? A child’s head crowning from the center of a red lotus while stars and planets whirl in the heavens. These images hint at the birth of the universe and everything in the universe. All of it is the mystery, beauty, and miracle of birth. Out of darkness, the birth of light and love.

The birth of a new star changes the shape of the heavens. The birth of a child changes the shape of the family and family dynamics are transformed as a result. The birth of anything changes everything. In that regard any birth, even a long awaited birth of a child conceived in love or the birth of a project one has devoted time and energy to, is at once welcomed and a bridge to a new way of being. Walking across this bridge may very well make one aware of birth’s natural counterpoint: death. Entering a new way of being signals, by default, the end of the previous and known way of being. According to Catherine Cook and Dwariko von Sommaruga, the authors of the deck we are using today, the card of birth contains this consideration: “In aligning yourself with whatever you most desire, you may need to give up activities, habits and relationships which sap and dilute your sense of purpose.” Are you ready to commit yourself to such a birth? Are you willing to be created anew by what is birthed?

Did you let that question open a space in you? If you didn’t, you’ll have another opportunity before this reading comes to an end. For now we’re taking a look at the card on the right of the hinge: the eighth card of the suit Earth Songs. Take a good look as there is a lot going on.

In this card we see a crazy, though enjoyable, mess of a home! Over the entrance hangs the sign “Alchemists & Artists” and when you walk through the door you notice all the freshly baked loaves of bread. One floor up is the art studio. A model poses, smiling and nude, as art students practice their craft in a circle around her. There is a sewing studio, a garden, a massage room, and one heck of a party on the deck. Down on the first floor off to the right sits an individual drafting plans for a house.

The card suggests a fulfillment through a creative engagement with life. Yet first Flame Songs points out that the birthing of what we most desire may actually requires a willingness to die to the known. In eighth Earth Songs we are shown the love and joy and vitality of “Alchemists & Artists,” but we are not shown what they have given up in order to birth their dream home.

Creative energy leads to birth and birth leads back to creativity. We might plan the birth of a child, the birth of a new business, the birth of a work of art. Or we may enter any scenario unplanned. We cannot predict the outcome or control the unfolding of what is birthed, planned or otherwise. Creativity is being present with what is birthed and participating in what it calls forth from us. And in that way, what we birth will, in turn, give birth to us. It is a two way street. Or, as this reading is suggesting, a two way bridge.

Have you clued in to what the Alchemists and Artists have given up?

Look at the hinge card. Homecoming, the middle card above, is the namesake of this entire deck: Songs for the Journey Home. Homecoming, as the hinge card for this spread, is the essence of this reading: Welcome Home, welcome to what you were born for, welcome to what you were born of.

Look at Homecoming, what do you see? A sea shell – a protective cover for a vulnerable being as well as a home that goes everywhere the creature who lives in it goes. This home is connected by a braid of white and gold to a star in the heavens, a star that is opening its arms in welcome. It is a star amongst the clouds and the clouds are in reciprocal relationship with the sea. Sweeping across the middle of the image is a bridge. Yep, there’s our bridge.

Homecoming, like the suggestion of death within our recognition of any birth, requires willingness to walk across the bridge through the unknown. I asked earlier if you are ready to be created anew by what you birth. Are you? Are you willing to be created anew by what is birthed?

Homecoming isn’t a static object or a final end result. Even just at the level of linguistics, though a noun, homecoming is derived from a verb. Homecoming implies action or movement. Without being willing to change and give up certainty (the illusion of safety), homecoming escapes us and we escape it. The reciprocity is thorough. We long for it, yet unless we risk giving up “activities, habits and relationships which sap and dilute your sense of purpose,” we are not walking across the bridge depicted in Homecoming.

It could be scary to begin walking that bridge connecting to parts unknown. But the illustration of Homecoming offers that other image of connection: the braid of light and gold between the shell and the star. It is a means of connection not unlike our bridge. There is encouragement within this image. This house, a shell of protection, can become home though this innate connection. It shows us that we already have what we need. We don’t need to be any different than who we are, we just have to give up trying so hard to be who we aren’t. In this sense, though we travel great distances across the bridge through the unknown, creating ourselves through what we create as we go, this creation isn’t other than what we truly are. Homecoming is lie-leaving, it is allowing that we are not who we think we are. We may not know the shape in advance, yet as we recognize reciprocity that what we birth also births us, we are participating in just that.  Homecoming is the birth of the Self; it is Heaven incarnate.

Remember that soul in the eighth Earth Song, the one drawing plans for a home? That individual is doing so within an already vital and creative home. Why would someone in a great place be willing at all to change it? Vitality, as opposed to stagnation, allows room for change. There is a Chinese saying: house finished, life over.

There is another saying, “Faith isn’t faith unless it involves a significant risk of failure…”  Faith that we are connected to heaven, to the universe, to true Self ­ – whatever language you use for that sense – is walking in the dark yet trusting inner light. Out of darkness, love and light. But if we’re not willing to enter the uncertainty of darkness what do we create? It is possible that an unwillingness to walk across the bridging presence of the unknown, without any certainties and without knowing the outcome in advance, will create only the shell of protection (otherwise known as ego, or as Eric Gross calls it Fear-Self). Tucked within the shell of protection we forego the guidance that brings us home.

What do you long for and where do you really live? What is your experience of this journey of Homecoming/ Lie-leaving? How do you experience the reciprocity of creativity? I would love to hear all about it.

May 1st, 2011

SIMPLE BUT NOT EASY

The title for this post describes my efforts to deliver the message offered by these cards:

Believe it or not, I have six single spaced typed pages of notes stemming from these three cards. Yet I know, in my gut, that these cards tell us something quiet simple.

The notes are torn up – here it goes, in 100 words or less:

The only thing that tempts us is what lay in the shadow. What shines a light, clearing the shadow? Though I usually ask questions and suggest that we not rush in with an answer arbitrarily filling up the opening that a question can create… I’m going to jump in here. What clears the shadow? How ’bout our middle card: Mercy. More specifically, what clears the shadow is the awareness that mercy stems from.

I’m talking about Compassion.

Seventy seven words. Done. If anyone is interested in a little backstory we’re probably looking at something closer to 1500 words. Anyone game?

We are once again using The Vertical Oracle for our ongoing inquiry. Three cards above are: The Ordinary; Mercy; and Chapel Perilous. They have fallen in a pattern we have used several times in this past year – a three card hinge. Let’s look closely at images at both ends before we look at what they hinge upon.

The Ordinary is a simple enough image: a frame consisting of repeating (maybe retreating, maybe advancing) arched white doorways contrasted by a dark center. The center image shows us a buff-colored hand holding a dark red apple against a black background. There isn’t anything unrecognizable or complicated about it and there may even be an ease within the simplicity of it. Yet it holds a reverberating provocation. It reminds me of Eve.

And Eve… reminds me of… temptation.

Balancing The Ordinary is Chapel Perilous, the house of all things blurred and shadowy. It is a phantasmagorical image. A shrouded figure with glowing green eyes holds a picture of the swirling wilds of outer space. Is this a true devote, a mystic and visionary, a fanatic? There are numbers superimposed over the shroud, a credit card perhaps? Money that really isn’t yours, but is available for a price. Is it a price you can pay – do you know in advance the overall impact that living on credit exacts? A hypodermic needle shoots through the center – is it full of life-saving serum, addictive substance, or deadly poison? A woman dangles from the wings of a butterfly – is she being lifted through healthy transformation or is she just riding out a mind numbing fantasy while she drifts through life? And behind it all is the blurry image of a magnet. What lures you in, what are you drawn by, what pulls you. What is so compelling as to be irresistible? Are you clear about what pulls you in or do you just know you want it?

What do you want? What do you really want? Let’s look at Eve once again.

The story of Eve and Adam is a familiar one, so familiar that it may warrant new eyes. Have you ever heard or looked at something so often that you’re not really hearing or seeing it but only your long held assumptions about it? Or worse, you see and believe only what you’ve been told about it? The comedian Steven Wright used to do a joke where he claims his complete understanding of a situation by saying, “I know that like the back of my hand.” Looking the back of his hand quite naturally as he makes that claim, a look of shock suddenly washes over his face and he utters, “What the hell is that?”

It can be that way when we really take the time to look.

Eve and Adam were perfect. That’s how the story has been told. Two perfect human beings just hanging out in Eden, free to do as they please. Almost. God had a two part imperative for them: don’t eat the fruit of this tree or that one either. The forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge is often depicted as an apple, an ordinary apple.

Our first card, The Ordinary, could contain a message reminding us to appreciate the world in which we live, to pay attention to the beauty that we often overlook. An ordinary apple is beautiful, don’t underestimate that, and perhaps we are even tempted by its allure. But it is possible that there is something even more ordinary, more basic to human nature, going on here.

What was the ordinary thing that tempted Eve? The serpent incited doubt in Eve by asking her why was it, exactly, that God told her not to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. God told Eve and Adam that if they ate fruit from the tree at the center of the garden they would die. But the serpent doubts that and tells Eve that surely she wouldn’t die. The serpent also implied that God was holding out on them. What God wasn’t telling them, according to the voice from the shadows, was that if they ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil they would become like God.

Eve, poor thing, was tempted to become God-like. Can you blame her? We begin to get hints about the hinge card: Mercy. But before we jump there too quickly, one question: What are you tempted by? Get as honest as you can here. What is it, really? Is it the the thing itself that you want? Or might it be what you think that thing will get you?

What was Eve really tempted by? If she ate from the tree of knowledge, she’d become like the gods. Would you be tempted? Honestly, would you? Now you have the advantage of hindsight, as you know how this story goes – or you at least know what others have told you it means. But imagine for a moment that you were given a command – from God, no less – and you have been told the consequences of disobedience would be costly. Yet you’ve been offered an enticement as well. Would you be tempted, even at a high cost, by the potential payoff of becoming like the gods?

The Ordinary might be a card that provokes us to ask if we value the ordinary, things like simple red apples, our hand at the end of our own arm, the doorways we walk through. Are we aware of our surroundings and do we appreciate them? That is a question you might ask yourself. And that isn’t unrelated to questioning what tempts us? Awareness being the common denominator here. It isn’t very likely that we’d appreciate our surroundings if we are not aware of them. Awareness implies that we see, and know clearly, things as they are – not just as we would like them to be.

Eve teaches us about our own humanity. She had an ordinary human desire and so do we: to become like the gods. We want to be in control. Isn’t it ordinary to desire god-like control over life? Just look at our sweet, perfect, Eve. She had absolutely everything she could possibly want. If even she was tempted, what chance do we have?

When I ask would you be tempted if you were Eve, I was being tricky. It isn’t a question of would you. It is much closer than that. Have you picked up on my little trick? What am I really asking you?

Are you tempted, at every turn – right now in your life – to be god-like? Jot down a list of what you desire. Give yourself five minutes right now to actually do it.

Did you write the list? Can you now take everything on your list and sum it up into one overall desire?  What is it, really, that you want? Go deeper – what would the things on your list get you? What would anything you’re tempted by get you? If all of your disappointments and failures were washed away, what would that get you? If what you feared could be eliminated… what would that get you? Here’s another question: how much time do you spend in Chapel Perilous?

Underneath it all it is common to desire control. To become god-like. Have you ever defended what you want? What is that defense, really? Don’t we each want control – total control? But usually the desire for control is hidden, blurred, resting in the shadow. We want to make more money because it would resolve our financial difficulties. We would finally be in control. We want so and so to just love us as we are – we want to control what others do, think, say, feel. Most of us want to control what we ourselves do, say, feel, think! And we want that i-pad – oh, I don’t know why, maybe just because it’s cool. But that want tugs at us – want want want want want it! If I was king of the world, I’d….

We all want control. And when we want it and forever are unable to get it (because even if we got that i-pad, it would be obsolete in no time and we’d have to get a new one!) it causes us grief and suffering, it causes us to dwell in the chapel of our own self-created illusion that everything would be okay if I had control over it all.

Have you seen how thorough your desire for control actually is? What desire could you possibly have that doesn’t have the desire for control within it? Find one. Find one desire that isn’t based on personally owning god-like control. Go ahead, eat fruit from that forbidden tree. Go ahead, have your eyes opened by it.

What happens in the moment you see your desire for control? See it. Let yourself be shocked by it. And notice what happens in that moment when you actually look and see for yourself. What is there?

Mercy? Compassion? They arise simultaneously with awareness, don’t they?

A moment ago I asked if you blamed Eve for being tempted. If you put yourself in her position – if you were offered god-like control, would you be tempted. Compassion isn’t something we have to try to muster. If we see clearly, if we are aware… compassion and mercy are beyond choice. They just are.

You can examine that from the other side as well. Recall a moment when you experienced compassion and mercy toward yourself or another. Was awareness simultaneously present?

Look at the card this reading hinges upon: Mercy.


Her eyes are open. Are you willing to open your eyes and see where you fall into the Chapel Perilous? Can you let go of your desire for control and allow a willingness to see clearly? Can you ask yourself and be willing to ask deeply: what is it that you are tempted by?

Go all the way with it, go as far as you can and then go a little farther. And please, let  me what you find there.