Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Alice comes upon the White Queen in quite a rumpled state: “The White Queen only looked at her in a helpless, frightened sort of way, and kept repeating something in a whisper to herself that sounded like ‘Bread and butter, bread and butter,’ and Alice felt that, if there was to be any conversation at all, she must manage it herself.” So Alice attempts to engage the queen, only to find she is in a terrible mess. “It would have been all the better, as it seemed to Alice, if she had got someone else to dress her, she was so dreadfully untidy.” Her shawl is pinned all wrong and her hair is such a mess that the brush has been left entangled in the knotted confusion. Alice steps in and deftly straightens things out, putting the White Queen back to a presentable state, for which she seems very grateful.
It is here that we get to see how Alice has grown and matured throughout her adventures in Wonderland. She seems to have learned a new sense of self-confidence, and no longer seems intimidated by her encounters with royalty. Alice asserts herself and demonstrates her own sense of sovereignty as she converses with the White Queen: “Alice couldn’t help laughing, as she said, ‘I don’t want you to hire me- and I don’t care for jam.’”
Alice doesn’t seem to notice her own growth, but she is well on her way to becoming a queen herself. She has also become much less frazzled by the silly creatures she encounters in this altered state down the rabbit hole, and takes it all in stride. Yes, Alice is on her way to becoming a master navigator of this nonsensical sea of make-believe, and it is here that we get to see her in action.
The White Queen has stumbled into this reading with a few possible messages.
You could take this as an opportunity to stop a moment to look at where you are, and where you’ve come from. The circumstances you inquire about may seem unclear and beyond your grasp, but take a moment to recognize new abilities, new perspectives, new skills, new insights you have gained as you have navigated through similar territory. This is merely a marker along the way that gives you the opportunity to stop, turn around, and see how far you have come, so go ahead. Take a moment to really own your accomplishments.
Meditation #1: With eyes closed, call in the current circumstances you are inquiring about. Notice how you see yourself within these circumstances. Are you at the center? Is there a sense of having a handle on things? If not, take a moment to call in who and where you were just a year ago. What knowledge or experience have you gained that is enabling you to handle this circumstance better than you would have not so long ago? Maybe there is a similar circumstance in your past that you can recall. What insight have you gained since then? This is a time to focus on your strengths and recognize the ways in which you are empowered, for it is these qualities that will carry you through this experience and offer you all the sage answers you need. So drop in and ask yourself “What strengths do I have now that will help me navigate these circumstances?” Sometimes we don’t know how far we’ve come until we take a moment to note it, and sometimes it’s hard to really utilize certain strengths if we haven’t acknowledged them as valid tools in our toolbelt. Continue to ask what strengths and resources you have that will help you to demonstrate your own sovereignty in this query until you feel confident to make your next move. It might also be helpful to write down what you have discovered about yourself. Keep reminding yourself what your assets are until you no longer question yourself. You are on your way to true mastery and self-empowerment.
Another way of looking at this card is that there is a role reversal going on here. Alice is just a child, wandering, somewhat lost, in Wonderland. Though she is showing great maturity, she is taking care of not only a grown-up, but the White Queen, someone who is supposed to be capable of ruling a whole kingdom (no matter how preposterous it may be).
There may be circumstances in your query that are out of balance due to a reversal of roles. Take a moment to tune into the players and circumstances in your inquisition. There may be great insight that lies in recognizing the roles being played, and whether they are appropriate for those playing them.
Meditation #2: Take a moment to really look at all of the people and circumstances involved in your query. What are the roles being played? Are they a good match for the players? Is someone taking on more responsibility than they deserve? Is there someone who should or could be stepping into a role of authority, but isn’t? What might be the reasons for this reversal of roles? Is there a power play happening? Is there an avoidance of responsibility? Or does someone genuinely need help to be able to return to their normal functioning level? Try to drop any judgment about the possible “why” involved, and focus on what is throwing things out of sorts. The universe tends towards balance, and when given the opportunity, things will quickly return to a state of equilibrium. Take a deep look at what’s happening. Ask what is needed to engender harmony.
Finally, you may be more a reflection of the White Queen herself, than her handy assistant. In which case, it is time to spruce yourself up. To snap out of it, look in the mirror, and start straightening yourself out a little. It's a great idea to allow something or someone youthful and rejuvenating into your make-over (whether it is physical, emotional, environmental, relational . . .). You need some vibrance and a fresh breath of air in your life. In which case, I suggest the following:
Meditation #3: With eyes closed, sit with a straight spine. Take some nice deep breaths, extending the depth of the breath into the belly each time. When you exhale, allow a little bit of force behind it with the contraction of your stomach muscles. You may even make the sound "ha" as you exhale with strength. Imagine your stomach muscles are what is forcing the air all the way out of your lungs. As you become comfortable with this, see if you can do it in a steady rhythm. With practice, you can increase the rhythm so that you are doing what is known as "breath of fire." Make sure you don't push yourself beyond what your lungs, stomach muscles, and respiratory system can handle. Stop as needed and go back to the deep breath. You can add in a visualization of letting to of anything that is outgrown or worn out, and inviting in revitalization with the inhale.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
The old poem goes . . . “The Lion and the Unicorn were fighting for the crown; The Lion beat the Unicorn all round the town . . .”
Though the White King starts out with great confidence in his ownership of the crown, (“and the best of the joke is, that it’s my crown all the while!”), when confronted with the power of The Lion, he seems to shrink with worry. The alabaster aristocrat doesn’t paws (excuse the pun) for one moment when the king of the jungle orders him to sit down: “ . . . the Lion said, lying down and putting his chin on his paws. ‘And sit down both of you’ (to the King and the Unicorn).”
Having that kind of power must feel really… well… empowering at times. And it works great if you want what you’re given out of intimidation or fear. And it’s a great rush to walk with the strength and pride of a lion, but then of course you couldn’t blame anyone for not wanting to get too close, either.
Maybe that’s the fear. Maybe it is all a show; this fierce veneer is, just maybe, a way of keeping danger at a safe distance. That can be a great tool as well. The only drawback is that it can keep wonderful things out too. So many really delightful things can be quite delicate and quite unable to withstand the tremendous threat that is imposed with the bullying stature of a dominating beast like The Lion.
The Lion, in many myths, symbolizes courage. The word courage comes from the word “coeur” which has French, and even earlier, Latin origins. It means “heart,” and it’s interesting how such an emotionally vulnerable organ can also be the center and catalyst for profound acts of heroism. Maybe it isn’t so paradoxical that the tender heart is the place where one can generate great strengths. My 2 cents addition would be that the most courageous lion is one who is willing to let down that tough exterior and be truly “coeur”-ageous; open-hearted and vulnerable to the emotional food chain like the rest of us. It’s humbling, but it also allows those exquisite and fragile people, creatures, and things to get closer to us.
Whether this is you, or someone in your query, the following meditation may be helpful.
Meditation: Close your eyes, and start to focus on your breath. As you do, imagine your query, and notice if there’s any contractions in your heart. Imagine bringing the breath directly into your heart; right into the place that’s feeling tight and resistant. Imagine that the breath is bringing in something really helpful, like love, understanding, wisdom, or even courage. Keep breathing that quality into the tight places in the heart until it starts to feel a little relaxed. Keep bringing the breath into your heart until there is a sense of expansion within the heart. Notice how the rest of your body feels when the heart is open. Notice how good it feels to breathe that deeply into the heart. If you want to keep the practice going further, you could imagine challenging aspects of your query, and keep breathing into the heart until there is a sense of being able to be in the presence of the challenges and still keeping the heart open and expansive. You could also add in a mantra of the heart: “Yahm” (rhymes with “mom”) is a good one, or simply “My opening heart is the ultimate act of courage.”
Meditation #2: Close your eyes, and after you drop into a deep focus on the breath, allow yourself to connect with your query. Notice any feelings of superiority over those in your query. As you breathe in, allow a sense of equality to come in, and with the exhale, allow yourself a to feel powerful, yet equal to those in your circle. Notice something of value in each person you are connected with. Keep doing this until your heart feels open to the idea that everyone can share the same respect and value. This one can be hard for lions that have seldom faced “worthy” opponents, but sometimes those worthy opponents and friends go unseen and unappreciated until the playing field is even. Being able to see others this way while remaining in one’s own power can offer freedom from chains that were almost invisible before.
Monday, April 19, 2010
The Looking Glass is a very curious sort of object. It appears to reflect a perfect image to us, yet upon closer inspection, things inside are all backwards. Indeed, though the objects reflected back to us have a ring of familiarity, it is difficult to get one’s head around how things are not quite as reflected from the silver and glass in front of us.
As Alice enters into the house on the other side of the Looking Glass, nothing is ordinary. There is a special sort of magic at work, and it takes Alice a great while to figure out how to move around inside this backwards fantasy land.
The Looking Glass has appeared in your reading to offer you a reflection of yourself. It’s not 100% accurate as you currently take in the information, and therein lies the mystery for you to unfold. Things can shift as they switch from left to right, especially if it’s the sides of the brain we are dealing with.
Things may be feeling all backwards and out of sorts, yet something about your circumstances holds an image of truth. Now is the time to take a moment to sit with what is being mirrored for you, and to put things in their proper place so you can make sense of the lot of this swirl of information.
There is nothing that happens in our lives that doesn’t, in some way, reflect a thought process, a fixed lens, or pattern of behavior that we have come to use repeatedly in our lives. We do not control the extraneous events in our lives, but we do control our own behavior, which has infinitely echoing influences on the people and circumstances around us. How we see these situations, as well, is completely controlled by us, whether we put any mindfulness to them or not. Finally, just as Alice’s imagination is the rich soil from which her adventures arise, we too have a powerful influence in the adventures that come our way and those which pass us by.
If you are facing circumstances you’d rather not, then now is the time to really pull out the magnifying glass and give everything the once over twice. If you happen to be enjoying what is being reflected, you can take this opportunity to really take in the details of what’s before you so you can see it with new eyes and new appreciation.
Meditation #1: If you do not have experience with inverting, please use wisdom and find a gentle alternative (like hanging upside down from a swing, or simply letting your head hang from the edge of your bed). Yes, I am suggesting that you stand on your head, or whatever option is safe and healthy for you that allows you to see things upside-down for a while. [If you have high blood pressure, weak blood vessels in your eyes, a recent eye operation, neck injury or any serious illness, please talk with your health care professional first]. You may find this to be absurd. Well, it is, and it is an ancient practice from India and Tibet. The headstand pose has been referred to as “the king of all yoga poses,” in many different texts because of its powerful benefits to the body and the mind.
If the whole headstand thing isn’t going to work, that’s fine. Spend some time reading from a mirror, or doing something that requires eye-hand coordination from the perspective of a mirror. Have you ever faced two mirrors together and seen how the reflections continue almost infinitely? As a child, did you ever try your hardest to see beyond the looking glass? Now is the time to try it out! You can also try doing things with your non-dominant hand that you don’t normally do.
Why all of this madness, you ask? Our brains are amazing tools, but they can get stuck into very rigid patterns of seeing, speaking, moving and processing information. Doing something completely different, in a completely different way opens the mind to new possibilities, and this is always helpful, especially when things have gone pear-shaped.
After you have given yourself time to stretch that brain in new directions, look at your query again and see if there are new ways of organizing things so that it makes more sense. If nothing has changed, try those practices some more, or move on to the second meditation.
Meditation #2: Sit with your query in front of a mirror. Take a moment with your eyes closed or open to really call in all of the feelings, thoughts, facts and fiction of your inquiry. Once you have it, look at yourself in the mirror. What do your eyes tell you? Is it easy to make eye contact with yourself? Do you like what you see? If not, why? How does your body respond to all of this visual presence with yourself? Continue to ask yourself what is being reflected to you in your circumstances. If there is someone treating you with injustice, ask yourself what your sense of justice and injustice is, where it comes from, and does it need a tune-up? If there is chaos in your external world, ask if there is something similar going on inside (mental processes, emotions, or physical health). Are there any reflections that seem really difficult to look at? This may be an important key to your question. The answers will come more easily the more you can open yourself to new information. And, finally, it is usually helpful to look at ourselves when seeking answers to the goings on around us. The most effective change we can make to better what’s happening is usually in ourselves.
Monday, April 12, 2010
Alice is disturbed by the poem of The Walrus and The Carpenter. It is a tale, told by Tweedledee, of a walrus and a carpenter who lure an assemblage of young oysters away from their home and eat them up despite the entreaties of the little bivalves. At first she decides that she likes The Walrus best because he expressed sorrow for eating the oysters he and The Carpenter had tricked into becoming their lunch. But when she finds out that The Walrus ate more than The Carpenter by hiding his enormous intake with a handkerchief, she decides that The Carpenter is more likeable. But then Alice learns that The Carpenter ate as many as he could and finally decides: “Well! They were both very unpleasant characters--”
The Walrus and The Carpenter have noshed their way into your reading to serve up a little humble pie.
Alice is going back and forth, trying to decide which of the two, The Walrus or The Carpenter, is more culpable for the consumption of the helpless sea-snacks. First of all, it seems a bit nit-picky to try to determine which is more reprehensible. They both had the same intentions and colluded in polishing off every last one. But when it comes right down to it, neither of them really did anything other than what was in his nature. The Walrus, certainly, is a creature of the sea and shouldn’t be judged for eating what is only natural for him. The Carpenter, as well, has done nothing particularly out of line, at least as far as Alice should be concerned. During Alice’s own dinner party (the one thrown to celebrate her crowning as queen), she herself cuts a piece out of a talking pudding, and has every intention of digging into a mutton she has just been introduced to. There hardly seems to be any difference between this and the actions of our hungry beachcombers. Once one has had a conversation with something, it breaks a certain moral code in Wonderland to eat it, it seems. But since Alice ends up breaking this same code, who is she to pass judgment?
It is easy to get caught up in the finite details of the offenses of others. both petty and great. This distraction, however, serves absolutely no good. It doesn’t end the delinquent behavior of others, and it only facilitates our myopic ignorance of our own limitations and shortcomings. I actually prefer to call them “growing edges,” because this is the current edge of our growth in a certain area, and instead of seeing them as faults, we can look at them as the places that could use our mindful development. What is acceptable and tolerable in many scenarios is a relative thing, and labeling what we don’t agree with as bad doesn’t engender the motivation to actually cultivate ourselves in these underdeveloped areas. We tend to hide what we feel ashamed of, which only leads to the continued stunting of growth. Keeping an attitude of growth in our less developed areas allows a much easier path to self-improvement.
It is an ironic phenomenon that we are frequently bothered by behaviors that we ourselves are guilty of to some extent. Sometimes we have overcome a particular bad habit and it gets under our skin to see others who haven’t yet learned self-discipline in this area. Either way, what is really called for here is self-examination. It is time to point that accusing finger at yourself. Not for a harsh scolding, as Alice is prone to dish out to herself, but for some compassionate insight.
Meditation: Breathe and let go of tension as it arises in your mind or body. Allow the circumstances you have inquired about to surface. What judgments have you made about others? It’s okay to be real with yourself. It’s okay to have these feelings. They are here to help you understand yourself a little better. So, really allow yourself to see and feel the judgments you have about others in this query. Now, take the “other” out of the image, and just look at the labels you have created. Ask yourself where they may apply to yourself. Is this a recurring experience you find yourself in with others? Why is this a sensitive spot or a place that lacks clarity? Don’t let yourself be distracted by thinking that you are further along the path than those you are judging. Just ask if there are any of these labels that might describe your behavior at times. If you realize that you, too, display these qualities, take a moment to feel into how you can release them and help yourself to grow in this area. If you feel there is absolutely no way you could possibly be any more accomplished in this particular area (which is an astounding and truly rare feat, so do another round of real for yourself). If you truly do not see a place for yourself to grow, then this is your opportunity to cultivate compassion Can you breathe compassion into your heart and any other places that are feeling contracted with this sense of judgment? Maybe it is helpful to cultivate compassion for self for having made similar mistakes in the past, and then forward that compassion on to the “other” who is in your circumstances now. Spending more time on opening up like a book and less time making finalized judgments on people and circumstances keeps you in a state of growth rather than stagnation. With the exhale, let go of any fixed judgments that may be keeping you or others in a stifling box.
Monday, April 5, 2010
As Alice becomes weary of the battle preparations of Tweedledum and Tweedledee, she makes an entreaty: “I wish the monstrous crow would come!” And within moments, the clouds start to darken, and the gigantic crow appears, breaking up the nonsense of the Tweedle brothers, and offering Alice a quick exit from the monotonous hubbub.
The crow has flapped its way into your reading to remind you of how powerful you can be at times. I am not exactly sure how it works or why, but there are times in our lives when we are particularly good at manifesting what we ask for (whether it serves our best interests or not). If we are very wise and very clear about our communication, this can be a glorious gift. If, however, we are not truly honest or wise with what we truly want, and if we do not know how to clearly communicate that to the rest of the many wonderful powers that be, then it can turn into a terrible burden.
In Alice’s case, the crow’s appearance was timely and met her immediate needs. You, as well, may be on to something very helpful. If so, make the most of it. The usually pear-shaped land of wonder has lobbed the ball into your court, and you should play it for all it’s worth. However, if you are finding that things just aren’t going your way, a little bit of contemplation is in order.
I am reminded of an old proverb: “Be careful what you wish for. It just might come true.” Sometimes we ask for things, instant gratification or other compulsive thoughts taking the driver’s seat, only to realize that we’ve ended up with a white elephant. If all of the consequences aren’t taken into account, we could be setting ourselves up for a real misadventure.
Sometimes we send out signals that may easily sound like appeals to the workings of the universe, but are really our worst nightmares . . . these signals are better known as worry. Thoughts that continually generate images of gloom, doom, and worst-case-scenarios end up being heard as constant solicitation for the exact things we don’t want.
This is the time for you to take a moment to pay attention to what it is you really want, where your thoughts tend to wander, and how you can refine your thoughts and words to use this powerful time to manifest that which genuinely serves your best interests.
Meditation: Take a moment to sit in silence, just breathing. Call in the query you have brought to this reading. Imagine what it is you would like to see happen. What reality would you like to manifest? Once you have an image of this, sit with it. Feel it in your body. Does it feel right? Imagine things playing out as you see them. Does it still feel right? If not, ask what needs to be adjusted for things to flow better. Continue to allow the image to change until your whole body can positively resonate with what you are imagining. Then hold that image in your head and just breathe. How do you speak and move when this new reality is in motion? What is your attitude like? Try them on and practice in your mind. Now, allow this image to get smaller and smaller until it is something you can hold in your hand. At this point you can do several things. You can plant this image, like a seed in the ground, and allow it to grow. You can put it in a bottle and cast it out to see. You can tie it to a balloon and let it float out into the ethers. Whatever way makes sense to you for sending out your message to the universe, let it go.
In the days to follow, notice how the elements for this manifestation might show up in your life. If things seem off, or not quite what you expected, do the meditation again, and see if there are any adjustments that need to be made.
Note: Short-sighted, self-serving desires often come loaded with items we don’t want, and it isn’t until we can let go of the self-centeredness that we lose the other unwanted baggage. If you’re not getting what you want. It might be helpful to take a closer look at the integrity of what it is you are asking for. If it serves only you, then it might not actually serve anyone’s best interest (including yours) in the long run. The world (even Wonderland) works on principles of sustainability, and if that isn’t supported, then what we get is seldom satisfying, and never long-lasting.