Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Four of Swords
The Star Tarot Deck, Cathy McClelland
Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood
November 22, 2017

The Swords are the Suit of the Mind and are traditionally associated with the East. The Four of Swords  is when the agitation of cruel and self-punishing thoughts are put to rest. We go to sleep without the hamsters racing on the wheel all night. We have found a mental stability that allows us to re-group, re-organize, and re-establish our thoughts. We reach a state of  mental truce.

I especially love this card which is oriented towards all things of the West, the time of year we are currently enjoying. We have the Bear, the traditional Spirit Guide of the West, who brings protection. Bear is hibernating between the worlds of present and future reminding us we can also go “between” by surrendering our conscious world of thoughts through deep rest and by entering the Dreamtime. Salmon in the Water is also a sign of the West. As this great fish returns home at the end of a long cycle, it surrenders its worn out and expended body to become food for the bears.

Deep within a cave, under the starry sky, a man sleeps with the bears as they watch over him yet share his hibernation.  He is surrounded by the same night sky as we see above the outside ground, showing us he has entered the Dreamtime. The four swords imbedded in the trees offer a sense of peace, of surrendering all thoughts and conflict to allow the space and time to process. His hands crossed over his chest remind us that heartfelt thoughts bring us peace of mind. 

The ability to surrender our thoughts is a course of mastery we work at our entire lives. We are daily exposed to an onslaught of information. We cannot possibly understand or internalize it all and nor should we! What is true? What is false? How does that information apply to me? Whose opinion is this?  Why do I even think what I think?

Depicting this card in a West setting opens us to approach things from a different point of view. By re-orienting our thoughts we discover new worlds within us that call to be explored. We find truths buried beneath layers of unconscious, rote opinions. By going deeper into our subconscious mind we are released from superficial mind clutter that over burdens us.

What Swords could you lay down? What thoughts are you ready to surrender to negotiate for yourself a new way of thinking that brings win-win situations to your life? When was the last time you consciously chose to take a time out, to rest your mind and be quiet?  Does your thinking process tell you that you always have to be right? Is that some kind of control issue? What IS Truth, anyway? Opinions are very polarizing yet they express different sides of the whole. How we sort out our own Truth helps us discover more of the Whole and how we live and function as a part of it.

How do you defend The Truth? Sometimes we have to take up our Sword, draw a line in the sand, and take a stand to be the defenders -  but that is different Tarot card. For now, with the Four of Swords, we allow ourselves to be a peace and regroup our troubled minds.

One of my favorite quotes is from an old Donovan song: “love is hot – truth is molten.”  In its molten-ness, Truth cannot be contained, will burn through everything blocking its advancement, and eventually, like hot lava reaching the ocean, build up new islands of firm ground. Perhaps the molten quality of Truth calls us to a larger thinking to create new pathways in our brain, to expand our capacity of thinking to better allow Truth to burn through us and reform us.

This is what our minds are capable of.  This is what our minds do.  The more we open and expand, the more capacity we gain, and our restricted, constricted thought patterns get burned up in the molten advance of the Truth through us.

We become the Dreamtime. We become the Protectors. We become Truth.

…Kathryn Ravenwood,   November 22, 2017

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Dia de los Muertos

The Day of the Dead


Kathryn Ravenwood as La Calavera Catrina (Dapper Skeleton)

Original Writing by Kathryn Ravenwood

It is Dia de los Muertos – The Day of the Dead.  I live in New Mexico and this is a high, holy holiday for sure.  For those of you not familiar with this tradition, which comes from Mexico, it is hard to do it justice in a short article.  This day is when the Veils between the Worlds are most thin and our Dead are honored. We build altars, or ofrendas, to the dead. Their photos, favorite possessions, food, and drinks are all put out on an altar. Add sugar skulls, mairgolds, Papel picado- which is a Mexican folk art of cut out paper into beautiful designs, and the altars expand into fabulous memorials of the beloved dead. People paint their faces like skulls, wear costumes, march in huge parades, have picnics by grave sites, and generally celebrate their loved ones who have died. It has become my favorite day of the year.

It is more about honoring life than death; a celebration of a person’s life and all they were in this Earth walk. We re-member them by bringing back a physical reminder of the person, making them more tangible for us, even though they are no longer here in body.

Our time on Earth is short. We are here to learn, to celebrate the beauty of Planet Earth, to experience emotions and learn to love and be loved. Each day we are the continuation of our ancestors and their walks before us. We carry their wisdom in our DNA, hold the wisdom passed on by generations of teachers and elders. We are the ones here and now to do all we can to create beauty, love, gratitude.  If you listen to the news it is easy to find ourselves in “bad times” with things getting worse hour by hour;  all the more reason to take a time out to honor the amazing gift of life given to us.

If you were to create an ofrenda today, you might honor a parent or friend, relative, or even a beloved pet (I have had Day of the Dead just for cats…) and that would be wonderful. Build it high and lavish it with candles and tasty snacks and flowers.  But, what if you built an altar to the “you” that has died… the part of you that you mourn. After all, these altars are to celebrate life.  Look inside. What really no longer serves you? What needs to die or has already died that is best laid to rest? Traditionally these ofrendas are only for the deceased but I am thinking ceremony to celebrate the passages of our own lives could bring us closure to a relationship that didn’t work out the way we hoped, or to a dream career that died on the vine, or hopes and dreams dashed on the rocky shores of life’s passage. 

Take some time to honor those parts of you.  Sit with them, have a cup of tea or a glass of wine with that part of you that died however long ago it was.  Offer comfort, love, forgiveness, and understanding.  Bless the efforts, bless the lessons that seemed too hard but turned into teachers. See the beauty of that part of your life and re-member the broken or cast off pieces of yourself back into the Wholeness of Being that YOU ARE.

Physical death is a transition from this earthly, physical body and life passing back into Spirit and unlimited, eternal being.  For the living, death is also a transition, a passage from one day to another, one experience to the next, until we realize our lives are indeed an ofrenda unto themselves.  We are the living altar of Spirit. We are the portal where Spirit becomes physical. We are the embodiment of Goddess/God/All That Is in this moment of time.
Tend your altar well. Celebrate and honor your beautiful self and let your Light shine bright and strong and let your heart be filled with love.

…Kathryn Ravenwood November 1, 2017