exploring life in all its variety

March 13, 2009

Prop 8 Statistics

Ballotpedia.org has an informative page regarding California Proposition 8.

What struck me, when I examined the statistics, is the small difference between Yes and No vote counts. According to the final count shown at the State website (PDF), the difference was only 599,602 votes out of 13.4 million That’s less than 5 in 100 people. (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 2:16 pm PST, 03/13/09
February 28, 2009

Repeal Prop 8

I just found a beautiful video urging repeal of this horribly wrong proposition. There is so much LOVE in these photos. How can anyone deny it’s place in our world?

Repeal Prop 8

It’s from Spiritcaat.

File: — Barbara @ 10:01 am PST, 02/28/09
February 25, 2009

2009 Tarot Study – I The Magician

The Magician is often shown standing in an outdoor setting with plants growing around him. Before him is a table with objects laid out on it representing the four elements. He prepares to work magic with them. He appears to be conscious of the power implicit in the elements, as well as of his ability to use them, to take purposeful action in the world of form, action that changes things, that is meaningful.

No longer the innocent, naive, or fearful lower manifestation of the Fool (which has a higher manifestation too that we’ll explore when we get to that card), the Magician is now sentient, aware of himself and his individuality. He’s also aware of the world around him and his active role in it. (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 11:41 am PST, 02/25/09
February 17, 2009

2009 Tarot Study – Threes

As I mentioned previously, I’m doing something a little different in each segment of my Tarot Study. Today’s segment is long, but I hope it contains something you’ll find worth your while. I seem to have an awful lot to say about these cards.

I’ll start this time with a glimpse at some precursory artwork for my own Tarot. These images may or may not become part of an entire Tarot deck in the future, and if they do it will likely be for my personal use. (Click on the thumbnail images for larger views.) (Images updated to most recent versions on 03-28-2009.)

Three of Wands Three of Cups

Three of Swords Three of Disks

I’m conceptualizing, at this point, playing with some of my older scanned artwork and digital photographs, (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 6:23 pm PST, 02/17/09
February 2, 2009

2009 Tarot Study – IV The Emperor

It seems that my Tarot Study this year is sinking into my unconscious, becoming a constant voice in the back of my head reminding me of both the study and the week’s current card’s connection to my life in one way or another. It’s even to some extent shaping my dreams. Hopefully the Emperor will prompt me to become more organized and orderly in my personal life as well. One can hope.

More Than A King

The Emperor card in the Tarot’s major arcana connects to life in the form of logic, reasoning, protection, and the kind of encouragement of growth that we don’t associate so much with the Empress, who’s more creative, nurturing, and loving. Not that the Emperor can’t be creative, nurturing, and loving, it’s just that he manifests those qualities in a different way. He’s in some ways more like the inspiring thought that prompts creation, and in other ways like the working hands and energy that do the work of making things. He’s disciplined and practical. He’s a stabilizing, organizing force in our lives. He relates to government and social structures. He’s a provider, and a beneficent force in the lives of all in his domain. In his more negative form he can represent oppressive government or leaders, abuse of power at any level, laws that do more to limit freedom than to protect it, and narcissistic or despotic rule.

Now if some of this sounds a little sexist, please note that a woman can manifest the Emperor’s qualities, just as a man can express the Empress. They both represent archetypal forces that exist in everyone, of either gender. (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 6:24 pm PST, 02/02/09
January 26, 2009

2009 Tarot Study – VIII Justice

Justice — Is There Any?

The subtitle for this section of my post is borrowed from the chapter on Justice in Sallie Nichols’ Jung and Tarot: An Archetypal Journey.

I’ve had a lot of trouble with this particular card in my study, and I’m not sure why. It’s not as if I’ve never given the Justice card a lot of thought before. But during the past week, I’ve been skirting around the Justice card as if it were anathema to me. I thought that didn’t make much sense. It makes even less sense when I consider that as a person with Sun in Libra, I’ve often identified with the Justice card as an archetype representing me to a great degree.

Fairness and Justice have always been important to me, and they’ve been factors in my life at every turn, sometimes as ideals or aspirations, sometimes as great disappointments. And maybe that’s where my difficulty comes in. We search and search for Justice in certain matters, in our world. Yet I’m sure we don’t always find it, and more recently I wonder if we always should. (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 7:35 pm PST, 01/26/09

2009 Tarot Study – Numbers and the Tarot Major Arcana

If you’re new to Tarot, you might wonder why the Justice and Strength cards are numbered differently from one Tarot deck to another.

In the older Tarot de Marseille decks, Justice is VIII and Strength is XI (and the Fool, by the way, has no number at all, while the Death card has a number — XIII — but no title).

In some modern decks, Justice is XI and Strength is VIII.

No one really knows how the original Tarot majors were ordered, or if they were ordered at all. In some of the oldest known Tarot decks the major arcana had no numbers. (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 7:08 pm PST, 01/26/09
January 19, 2009

2009 Tarot Study – V The Hierophant

The Hierophant: Seeking Perfection in the Great Imperfect

The traditional title of The Hierophant is The Pope, and in the Tarot de Marseille this card provides a masculine contrast or polarization with card II The Papess, or female pope. In modern Tarot decks these two cards’ titles have changed to, most commonly, The High Priestess and The Hierophant.

The Hierophant is frequently interpreted as a religious, spiritual, or ethical authority figure or mentor, as the inner voice or conscience, or as form, ritual, and ceremony. He is sometimes seen as a bridge to the divine. In Tarot interpretations that view traditional religion as negative, The Hierophant is often given a more patriarchal or authoritative tone, sometimes quite harshly so, and in some interpretations that attempt to see the more positive aspects of this archetype, religion or spirituality may not be mentioned at all. The reasons for both extremes are probably that so many people have had difficult experiences with religion and that so many people disagree about religion.

In the Tarot of Transformation this card is titled “Spiritual Leaders.” In neo-pagan based decks, it’s sometimes the High Priest.

It is the path of spirit in the earthly plane.

Some have said that about the Tarot as a whole.

One could say The Hierophant represents all the ways in which we endeavor, through known forms, sacred images, ritual, dogma, or ceremony — through structure that is very often a metaphor — to keep ourselves on the correct path toward deity or the unknown. The meaning will vary depending on what the individual considers the correct path. (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 6:27 pm PST, 01/19/09
January 12, 2009

2009 Tarot Study – Kings

How do they rule?

The King cards in the Tarot sometimes represent wisdom or mastery, and at other times a completion or culmination, the state of having achieved a zenith or post-zenith position in some area of life. A King can also mean carrying something to such a point of completion and expertise that one can go to the next level, perhaps go public with it, share one’s expertise, or achieve an expanded status beyond the personal. Whatever the King has achieved or gained, it’s not just for personal use or our own eyes anymore. The King may also be a person who’s considered an authority, or a professional, such as a doctor or lawyer. The King may be venerated as a sage. In relationship to one’s life as a whole they can indicate the past, age, retirement, ancestry, one’s family roots, or the roots of one’s profession or vocation.

I believe it’s important when considering the King cards to think about what a king is literally. Tarot is meant to be a system of symbols, not a literal representation of life, so we have to get to the symbolic meaning of the card in the context of a reading. That can be done with Tarot much the same way we work with dream images, through associations. What better way to begin to understand what the Kings can mean symbolically than to understand what a king is in reality? (more…)

File: — Barbara @ 12:19 pm PST, 01/12/09
January 3, 2009

2009 Tarot Study

I’ve decided to begin an in-depth Tarot study in 2009, not of any particular deck, but of the 22 major arcana and the 14 levels of minor arcana — Aces through 10s, Pages, Knights, Queens, Kings — using several decks. I’ve been using Tarot, mostly for personal insight, for 20 plus years, so this will be a different journey than it would’ve been as a beginner. Tarot is something that one never really finishes learning. It’s as multifaceted as a string of diamonds, and continues to sparkle for me after all these years. I’m nurturing a new interest in Carl Jung and his methods and writings, so that will be a side focus of this study, since Tarot archetypes relate so well to his work.

At first I planned to go through these individual cards and groups of four cards in order, first The Fool through The World, and then the four Aces through the four Kings. But then I thought I could also turn this into a comparative reading for my year ahead. I removed all but one suit and the majors from a deck, shuffled the remaining cards, then drew a card for each one- to two-week period, which may stretch out into longer periods if life interferes. I’m not going to rigidly adhere to a schedule, so interested parties will have to be patient sometimes waiting for the next Tarot Study post.

The four Kings will be the first focus of my study.

My process will be flexible and will include studying the cards from up to about 9 favorite decks. I may change which decks I use in the course of the study. I have some decks that I haven’t yet used very much, such as the Golden Tarot by Kat Black, which I’ve had for a few years but have sadly neglected since purchasing it, and my more recently acquired Haindl Tarot by Hermann Haindl, as well as the Motherpeace Tarot by Karen Vogel and Vicki Noble. I’ll journal sometimes about the cards (in my personal journal, not necessarily to share here), I’ll also read about them, meditate with them, and do a little sketching and painting, since I hope to create my own deck eventually, for my personal use. (I’m not sure how much artwork I’ll share here either.)

Please note that what I share here won’t be everything, and the pattern may vary from post to post, depending on my time and what I get out of the particular card. Some posts will describe cards, others will be more about what I’ve learned from books, from thinking about the concepts involved, and so forth. If there’s something you’d like to see more of, feel free to let me know, but I can make no promises because of the time involved and the fact that I plan to take this as it goes and, again, be as flexible with myself as possible so I’ll keep up the study and not feel too constrained. My goal is to post something every week up to every few weeks regarding this Tarot study. What that something will be, I won’t know until I post it.

I have my new weekly calendar set up to chart my way through this study, in pencil (smile). I plan to blog more about Tarot anyway, whether as a part of this study or not, since Tarot was the main focus of this blog when I started it, and has become a strong focus for me once again.

Post updated March 17, 2009

Copyright © 2009 Barbara W. Klaser. All rights reserved.

2009 Tarot Study Index

File: — Barbara @ 4:01 pm PST, 01/03/09
December 28, 2008

Love deserves our support, in whatever form it takes

I see most people’s negative reaction to same-sex marriage as steeped in their own fear, culture shock, and unconscious projections. I see people follow whatever their religion or culture has taught them instead of thinking this issue through for themselves.

Should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?

This isn’t a question to give a knee-jerk, “ooh, I feel funny about that” response to. It’s bigger than that. Look at the anti-miscegenation laws that kept mixed race couples from marrying in the past. I’m sure a lot of non-racist people back then felt “funny” about mixed race couples, because it was new and different. It threatened the status quo.

But the real question, the important question is, how many people — adults and children — suffered because of that small-minded text written into the law books? This is people’s lives we’re talking about! Just because you or I privately don’t understand the attraction or start visualizing what goes on in someone’s bed and is none of our business, or just because our pastor or priest tells us it’s a sin, doesn’t give us the right to negatively affect others’ lives to that extent by telling them they can’t marry the person they love, when their love harms no one else. In fact, it’s really none of our business.

Would you want anyone telling you that you can’t marry the person you love? That’s the only question we need to ask ourselves in order to come to the right answer. “Do unto others …” The Golden Rule applies here, and I don’t understand when religious people can’t see that.

I’m a romantic, and I’ve seen friends and family members who wanted to find the right partner or struggled in relationships.

When two people find each other and make a relationship work, that’s something to be celebrated, not stymied. If we’re pro-family, why can we not be for every family? Every marriage.

We need to rise above our base emotions and our fears about this, and be more giving, more thoughtful, less judgmental, and ensure above all that we do no harm. In my heart I know it’s the right thing to do.

I urge every straight person who can begin to understand why a same-sex couple wants a lasting relationship to become an activist on their behalf. They are a minority, and that means they can’t get there alone. It takes votes, and writing to representatives. It takes changing people’s minds.

Love deserves our support, in whatever form it takes.

File: — Barbara @ 11:16 am PST, 12/28/08
October 29, 2008

California’s Prop 8 — Religious extremism hard at work

I’m a straight woman, married for 25 years now, and I’m shocked and disgusted by the religious fervor ripping across my home state in favor of Proposition 8, which would pass a state constitutional amendment eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry.

I don’t understand why anyone considers it any of their business whether two other consenting adults decide to marry. I consider marriage a basic right, something we all take for granted from the time we’re small children — that when we grow up we can find someone to love who loves us, and we can marry that person.

I’m not anti-religion, but this stuff is scary! The scariest thing is that it’s happening in my home town:

The Call, California (video link found at: http://www.couragecampaign.org/page/content/thecall)

I don’t know of any gay person who would deny religious people the right to practice their religions as they see fit. Yet these religious people are attempting to tell others who they can marry, as well as, it’s clear to me, telling the rest of us in California what our religious as well as political views about marriage should be. I find that presumption offensive.

A same-sex couple marrying in no way threatens the sanctity of my, or anyone else’s, marriage.

File: — Barbara @ 3:24 pm PST, 10/29/08
July 11, 2008

I have just one thing to say . . .

Sunflower front

Sunflower back

Or is that two?

File: — Barbara @ 8:17 pm PST, 07/11/08
April 28, 2008

How blueberries get there?

BlueberryFairy

“Hanging Blueberries” Copyright © 2008 Barbara W. Klaser
5 x 7 inches
watercolor, color pencil, pen and ink

File: — Barbara @ 12:52 pm PST, 04/28/08
March 22, 2008

On skepticism, religion, and metaphysics

Skepticism rears its head frequently on the Internet, in ways we may not think about very much in our day to day lives off line, and with good reason. There’s a lot of unreliable or questionable information on the Internet. There are no editorial guidelines, no filtering process. Anyone can post anything they want. This is both good and bad. But there are also a lot of people on the Internet that say they’re skeptical when, I think, they don’t really understand what skepticism is, especially when it comes to metaphysics.

I’ve nurtured a lifelong interest in “occult” subjects like astrology and psychic phenomena, as well as the afterlife. I’ve read about various forms of religion and spirituality. Some might say I’m one of those “New Agers” and dismiss me as gullible. By the way, I put “occult” in quotes because very little of this is secret these days, so I wonder why we still use the term so loosely.

While my interests lean in the same direction as the New Age community’s, I don’t use the label “New Age” for myself. First, because I tend to avoid labels. Second, because my interests were such long before I was aware of any identifiable New Age movement. In fact my parents first sparked my interest in metaphysics when I was a child in the sixties — and no, they weren’t hippies, or even close. My mom’s family had an interest in such things long before then. Her maternal grandparents were Spiritualists. Third, the New Age community is sometimes, in my opinion, too accepting and non judging, and has gained its reputation for being flaky in ratio to the number of such people it appears to take under its wings. I don’t mean by that to bash New Agers, not at all. There are many people in the New Age community that I consider my friends, favorite authors and artists, or simply people I like and admire for their tolerance and loving nature or remarkable insights. But I think more questioning is called for, and I find many New Age marketing strategies highly questionable.

I’m happy to have no religion, and no particular label for my spirituality. I’ve been happy with that for many years. I’m a seeker, but I’m not looking for a religion. I choose to seek everywhere, not just in one grouping of writings or beliefs. And while I am seeking, I’m also always finding, so I don’t feel lost at all.

My metaphysical and spiritual leanings, even if kept entirely to myself and not shared within a religious or spiritual community, have continued to remain strong, introducing me to various religious writings, encouraging my interest in astrology, Tarot, intuition, meditation, and the afterlife. I attended lectures at the local astrological society for months, years ago. I read books on religious, mythological, spiritual, and metaphysical subjects, including several by Alice Bailey, the Bible, and a portion of the Nag Hammadi Library. I’ve studied the Tarot, both as an aid to plumbing my own psychological and spiritual depths and as a personal oracle of sorts, for a little over 20 years. I’ve kept a dream journal almost all my adult life, and that led me to discover that, just as Edgar Cayce said of everyone’s dreams, some of my dreams are precognitive.

I suspect everyone is at least a little psychic.

Other dreams simply give me deeper insight into my own psyche and how I’m responding at every level to changes around me and in my life. Soon after retiring from my former career, as a technical writer-editor, and later a technical manuals distribution manager, I had a dream one night in which I always wore beige pants, and I had to crawl through a narrow transom to get where I needed to go each day. I was tired of doing that, in the dream, and on my last day I felt great relief. As I crawled through for the last time, my beige pants split at the seam to reveal that I wore paisley tights underneath.

I think of that dream as my unconscious letting go of a my old technical, cut and dried line of work and my feeling of needing to fit in there. I think that dream initiated me into my new creative path, with the freedom to pursue my more Bohemian interests without any risk of being seen by coworkers or superiors as a “kooky New Ager”. Not that they would’ve been so judgmental, but I’d always been shy of sharing my interests in metaphysics with people in that technical world. I’ve been shy in general about sharing these interests with many people at all, not just there. Nowadays, when I reveal some of my interests that I’ve kept to myself for so long, I sometimes joke to myself that my paisley tights are showing.

I believe in intuition, not as a distinct, reliable source of data, but as a whisper full of potential and possibility, because I’ve experienced it. Is that dangerous? If I believe, based on my intuition, that something is worth looking into or reading about, what is the harm in doing so? If synchronous events seem to lead me in a particular line of study, why not follow for a while?

I don’t rely solely on intuition to tell me whether it’s safe to cross the street. That would be foolish and dangerous. I rely on my sight, hearing, and on the traffic signal if there is one. But if those things all tell me it’s safe to cross and my intuition still says it isn’t, I pause and make sure. When I’m driving, if my intuition nudges me to pay attention to a particular car, and it’s safe to do so, I fall back and keep an eye on it from a safe distance. My intuition has alerted me to dangers I needed to avoid enough times that it’s a part of my safe driver’s tool bag. I’ve had unexplainable things happen that I think saved my life, things that I can’t explain other than through some combination of intuition and, possibly, cosmic intervention — a guardian angel perhaps? Who knows. Such incidents don’t seem likely to be mere coincidences or accidents. For instance, a fleeting dust devil that my mother spotted at the side of the road once saved me from certain injury in a fire. A little voice, not physical and not mental, sometimes whispers a warning, and if I don’t heed it in my rush to get something done, invariably things go wrong and I wind up kicking myself for not listening. Listening to whom? I’m not sure. A Christian might call it the Holy Spirit. Another might call it an Angel or Spirit Guide, or the Higher Self. Perhaps it’s simply an extended sense that science isn’t yet aware of, something like what is accessed in remote viewing.

I believe there are aspects to life and reality that science can’t yet explain, but which are very likely real nonetheless.

I’m still skeptical.

How, you say? How can I call myself skeptical if I fall for that sort of thing — Tarot, astrology, and psychic phenomena?

That depends on what you understand skepticism to be.

What is skepticism? It’s not disbelief. It’s not belief. It’s not bashing every new idea that presents itself, as unproven, unfounded, or as a hoax, just because some accepted authority says so, such as the school system, the media, a leading business, a church leader, an academic, a government official, or a scientist. It’s not rejecting an idea because it doesn’t fit with one’s entrenched worldview. It’s not telling people they’re fools or gullible because their beliefs differ from one’s own. It’s not making up one’s mind about something before one has bothered to consider at least some of the evidence for and against, or considered that although the notion may not be in one’s own experience, it could very well still be true.

To put it in my own simplistic terms, I see skepticism as reserving judgment until all the facts are in. It’s acknowledging that with some ideas the facts are never all in. Skepticism is saying, “I don’t know,” and not committing oneself until one knows. It’s the ability to accept that one may never know the answers, that not all questions require a definite answer. In fact, some of the most worthwhile questions don’t have answers, at least in this lifetime.

For me skepticism means that I believe what I know to be true, as the Buddha, and by some gnostic accounts the Christ, taught. It means I know something is real, or true, either because there’s solid scientific evidence that’s known to me, or because I’ve experienced it for myself and have good reason to know it wasn’t just my imagination. I also merely believe some things without knowing, because they make sense to me, intellectually or emotionally or both, or which I hope are true, such as experiences relayed to me by people I trust. I allow myself to believe some things for now, with full knowledge and comfort that I may not believe them the same way later in life. I believe that my beliefs should change as I learn and grow, not stay stuck in one configuration for life.

While pondering my own take on skepticism and beliefs recently, I came across a collection of articles on the subject at a site called The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

I haven’t read them in their entirety yet. They’re actually rather plodding and academic for my taste; but if, like me, you’re interested in how skepticism differs from belief or disbelief, from cognitive dissonance or outright rejection of new ideas, these articles may interest you as well:

Ethics and Self-Deception

Contemporary Skepticism

Ancient Greek Skepticism

File: — Barbara @ 6:37 pm PST, 03/22/08

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