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IX Of Wands, Minneapolis, Minnesota, June 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.






point your chariot
in another direction
weary IX of Wands






-posted on red Ravine, Sunday, June 13th, 2010

-related to posts: PRACTICE — Don’t Take Anything Personally — 15min, haiku 2 (one-a-day), WRITING TOPIC — THE FOUR AGREEMENTS

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I pulled the IX of Wands this morning. Holding a single stave in front of me, eight more forming the wall behind, the line drawn in the sand. Mr. Stripeypants jumped from the window to the couch, setting a perimeter around Kiev so he would not have to confront her, threaten her. It’s instinctual for them to know when to retreat. The IX of Wands is about finding an easier way, taking a new direction. Perseverance. I needed more information. So I pulled a Solution Spread. Three cards. One focus: background, problem, solution. Tower reversed, VI of Wands, Knight of Cups.

Ah, things are much more clear now. Whatever is falling from The Tower, let it crumble, let the light in. For the Wands, show humility, point your horse in another direction. And the solution, the Knight of Cups? Be of service to others. Offer forgiveness, make amends. Follow your heart. I started pulling the Tarot again yesterday. An Oracle, a ritual from the past that makes me feel calmer, more stable. There was a period of time in my life, sometime in my early forties, when I consulted Oracles on a daily basis. I learned about the Tarot, the I Ching, the Medicine Cards, the Runes. I studied their structure and found peace in knowing that Divine Providence had been flowing through these symbols for thousands of years.

Don’t take anything personally. The Oracles teach me how to keep the focus on myself. So do meetings, writing practice, community support, friends. The empath in me, the lack of boundaries, can lead me to lose track of where I am going. I can’t be of service to others if I don’t take care of myself. Rain hangs in the heavy Minnesota air. I like rainy days for what they are — a chance to breathe. To read, to sit and listen to frogs and crickets chant in the distance. Water is grounding to a Cancer. I’ve been weary the last few weeks. I need to regroup. Back to center. I started to take things personally, to think I could fix everything that was wrong in the world. It’s arrogant and fraught with problems to believe or feel or think that way. I’m a tiny blip in a giant solar system. The ticking of time will leave me in the dust.

Still, I have so much love for the people in my life. It’s a lasting connection, a giant thread of hope and golden light, wrapped around my heart. The day to day rituals are important, the annual pilgrimages, the care for those immediately present. I stroke Kiev’s shedding Summer fur. Throw the yellow ball for Mr. Stripeypants to go and fetch. I brush my teeth, take a shower, get ready for the day. I might go hear a writer speak at an independent bookstore in the evening, or catch a movie at the local cinema. I still love to go to movies. Sometimes, in order not to take things personally, I need to distract myself from the endless loops of thought that tell me I have no solutions.

Like the pilgrim that stands in front of the IX of Wands, I’m leery of what’s around the corner. But willing to take another direction, to turn my horse down a different path. I will listen to what’s in the Ethers. As above, so below; the Law of Attraction; Synchronicity. All part of the Law of Correspondence, holding the idea that life is interconnected. These are the first three metaphysical laws that make up the foundation, the structure of the Tarot.

In 1909, Pamela Colman Smith encoded these concepts into her illustrations for Arthur Edward Waite. Alfred Stieglitz showed her work in Gallery 291. In the Earthly world, she was an artist who died penniless and virtually unknown. But I have to believe her Spirit is somewhere up there, smiling down. Her work is helping me to separate my angst from the angst of others, to not take things so personally.




-Related to post WRITING TOPIC — THE FOUR AGREEMENTS. Also see ybonesy’s PRACTICE: Don’t Take Anything Personally — 15minPRACTICE: Don’t Make Assumptions — 15mins, and QuoinMonkey’s PRACTICE — Don’t Make Assumptions – 15mins.

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Splash Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Splash Fire (Dreamscape), Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



Winter Solstice is peaking in the Great White North. The darkness of winter reflects off the cold blue snow. Yesterday we had blizzard conditions and the cottage sits behind a wall of white. I wanted to get up and write in the shadows, calling upon dreams I wish to bring into the light.

Mr. StripeyPants sits beside me on the couch, trying to keep warm. Kiev and Liz are still asleep. Chaco, bless his heart, is spending the weekend in an animal hospital. He declined quickly this week and, after two visits to our vet, we had to make the hard decision to put him in emergency care over the weekend.

The doctor called last night to say he is steadily improving. At 12 years old, he is experiencing the beginnings of kidney failure. We are not sure how long we’ll have with him. Quite a few tears were shed this week. Into the fire it all goes. I can release the grief and pain. I don’t have to carry the burden.

Winter Solstice in Minnesota hit her highpoint around 6 a.m CST. From that moment on, each day takes us more into the light. The Universal Time for Winter Solstice in 2008 is 12 21 12:03:34 UT. In the Midwest, we have to subtract 6 hours to arrive at the accurate time zone. (To learn more about Solstices and how to translate time for your part of the world visit the links and comments in Solstice Fire In Winter or Winter Solstice — Making Light Of The Dark.)

Around Noon we will head over to our friends’ home for a Winter Solstice celebration. They usually use the dried and cut Yule tree from last year’s season as kindling to start the fire. On the longest night of the year, we’ll draw on the cave-like energy of Bear, Spirit Guardian of the North.



Bear is feminine reflective energy. She is known across many cultures as a symbol for divinity and healing, and a powerful totem. According to the Animal Spirits cards, illustrated by Susan Seddon Boulet, the Ainu people of the northern islands of Japan believed the Bear was a mountain god. In India, bears are believed to prevent disease and the cave symbolizes the cave of  Brahma. And among the Finno-Ugric peoples, the bear was the god of heaven.

Many Native American peoples regard Bear as a Spirit helper. Here is an excerpt from the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson:


The strength of Bear medicine is the power of introspection. It lies in the West on the great Medicine Wheel of Life. Bear seeks honey, or the sweetness of truth, within the hollow of an old tree. In the winter, when the Ice Queen reigns and the face of death is upon the Earth, Bear enters the womb-cave to hibernate, to digest the year’s experience. It is said that our goals reside in the West also. To accomplish the goals and dreams that we carry, the art of introspection is necessary.

To become like Bear and enter the safety of the womb-like cave, we must attune ourselves to the energies of the Eternal Mother, and receive nourishment from the placenta of the Great Void. The Great Void is the place where all solutions and answers live in harmony with the questions that fill our realities. If we choose to believe that there are many questions to life, we must also believe that the answers to these questions reside within us. Each and every being has the capacity to quiet the mind, enter the silence, and know.

     -from the Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams & David Carson

 

Bear is the West, the intuitive side, the right brain. Bear invites us to calm the chatter and enter the silence. To hibernate, Bear travels to the Cave, seeks answers while dreaming, and is reborn in the Spring. In the Dream World, our Ancestors sit in council and advise us about alternative pathways leading to our goals. They open doors to inner-knowing where “the death of the illusion of physical reality overlays the expansiveness of Eternity.”

My Grandmother Elise’s birthday is on Winter Solstice. And I often think of her this time of year and call her Spirit into the Circle; I can feel her looking down on us. Solstice is a time of release, a time to consider what to leave behind in the dark, what seeds we wish to plant that may mature with the light of Spring.


Happy Winter Solstice to all. The dark New Moon signifies the beginning of a new cycle that will come to fruition at the next Full Moon. May you celebrate with open hearts. Merry meet, Merry part, and Merry meet again.




     Bear Breathing Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.    Bear Breathing Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Bear Breathing Fire, Minneapolis, Minnesota, November 2008, photo © 2008 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.



-posted on red Ravine, Winter Solstice, Sunday, December 21st, 2008

-related to posts: 8 Minutes, and 10 Things I Learned Last Weekend (Solstice x Number)

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Day Of The Dead Birthday Celebration, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Day Of The Dead Birthday Celebration, detail of Halloween bouquet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


We went out to dinner at Mysore Cafe in Uptown to celebrate a friend’s birthday last night. It was All Souls’ Day, day after All Saints’ Day, and both days following the Celtic rooted celebration of Halloween. The Indian vegetarian buffet was hearty and we stayed until closing, laughing, singing, telling stories, and chanting. (Yes, chanting.)

The highlight of the celebration was when we broke into Happy Birthday To You a total of 9 times over the course of the evening. There was the Traditional melody (1) when we picked the birthday girl up at her house. (She slipped into the car, and we slipped into harmony.)

Then there was the celebratory, we-found-a-parking-spot-right-in-front-of-the-restaurant Happy Birthday (2). Followed by the Marilyn Monroe to JFK, soft-puckered-lips Happy Birthday (3) before we got out of the car. We sang the Traditional version again after dinner (4), and (at the special request of the birthday girl), the low toned, Gregorian Chant Happy Birthday (5) filled the room right before we left the restaurant.

We spontaneously broke into Happy Birthday four more times on the drive home. The first was the Beatles Birthday (song) (6) when we got into the car after dinner. Then the Traditional Happy Birthday To You (7) when we pulled up in front of our friend’s house to drop her off.

There was the Johnny Depp pirate version for Halloween (8) when she got out of the car, and, as she stepped around the corner to go up to her apartment, we rolled down the windows and sang one more Traditional Happy Birthday in 4 part harmony (9). Let’s see, yeah, I think that’s 9.

We had a blast. But what I really want to say is that today, November 3rd, is the 1 Year Birthday of our first post for red Ravine. Though our blog didn’t yet have a formal name, ybonesy and I started planning and writing for red Ravine well over a year ago.

Halloween Bouquet, Minneapolis, Minnesota, October 2007, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Our WordPress launch date is April 7th, 2007 (and our stats only go back to April), but we’ve been at this labor-intensive, sometimes crazy, most times supportive, endeavor for well over a year. And though we have those days when it seems like too much, for the most part, after over 50,000 hits, we are going strong!


So Happy Birthday, ybonesy! It’s the one year anniversary of our formal writing for red Ravine. And if you’d like, I can see if my friends would join me across the miles in the Happy Birthday melody of your choice. (Too bad we can’t do a podcast!)


Happy Birthday, red Ravine. Long may you rock!


-posted on red Ravine, Saturday, November 3rd, 2007

-related to posts, Back Of The Napkin & 100 Year Old Bones – The BoneWriters & RE: 100 Year Old Bones

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On Thursday, September 6, the City of Santa Fe, NM, hosted the annual “Burning of Zozobra.” Zozobra is a fifty-foot-tall bogeyman, Old Man Gloom in effigy. Each year he is set before an audience of thousands and burned. (Burn, baby, burn!) Most onlookers are ecstatic to see him go; others feel sorry for him in the end.

The ritual was started by artist William (Will) Howard Shuster, Jr. in 1924 and incorporated into the almost 300-year-old Fiestas de Santa Fe. According to the “Will Shuster’s Zozobra” website, Shuster’s “inspiration for Zozobra came from the Holy Week celebrations of the Yaqui Indians of Mexico; an effigy of Judas, filled with firecrackers, was led around the village on a donkey and later burned. Shuster and E. Dana Johnson, a newspaper editor and friend of Shuster’s came up with the name Zozobra, which was defined as ‘anguish, anxiety, gloom’ or in Spanish for ‘the gloomy one’.”

 

Watch the two-part documentary of the 2005 burning made by producer, director, and writer DL Fitch. You can decide for yourself what you think about the ritual. No matter how you feel, you’ll probably agree that the notion of releasing gloom — letting go of heartache and jealousy, giving up anger — is a powerful intention.

 

Again from the website, there is this quote from A.W. Denninger:

Zozobra is a hideous but harmless fifty-foot bogeyman marionette. He is a toothless, empty-headed facade. He has no guts and doesn’t have a leg to stand on. He is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. He never wins. He moans and groans, rolls his eyes and twists his head. His mouth gapes and chomps. His arms flail about in frustration. Every year we do him in. We string him up and burn him down in ablaze of fireworks. At last, he is gone, taking with him all our troubles for another whole year.

 
For this writing topic, watch the videos. Then do a 15-minute writing practice starting with the words, “I want to let go of… .”

 
Now Go!

 

 

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Holding My Breath, watercolor and ink painting, ybonesy 2007, all rights reserved
Holding My Breath, watercolor and ink painting, © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

  1. Holding my breath when I drive by a cemetery, else spirits of the dead will invade my lungs. (Present. Given to me by my husband. Something he did as a child. Now it belongs to our family.)
  2. Checking all the locks on doors and windows in the house at night before bed. (Present. New, ever since we moved into the big house. Before that we lived for 16 years without ever locking our doors.)
  3. Making a sign of the cross right before my flight takes off. (Present. Limited mostly to international flights.)
  4. Making a sign of the cross any time I drive by a church. (Past. Picked up from my sister who’s six years older than me. She still does it and so do her daughters. The other day I pulled up to a red light at the corner where an old Catholic church sits. A man in a big service truck made the sign of the cross, and it reminded me of my sister.)
  5. Turning all the pennies so Abe Lincoln is staring at the dealer in games of Black Jack or Poker. (Present, although I don’t play much anymore. Given to me by my grandma. We played cards almost every day when we visited. Dealer almost always goes bust when this ritual is used.)
  6. Not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk lest I break my mother’s back. (Present but sporadic. I did catch myself last week doing it on the walk from my car to my work building.)
  7. When putting the girls to bed, saying Good-night (me), sleep tight (them), don’t (me) let (them) the bedbugs (me) bite (them). (Present. We even do it over the phone if I’m traveling.)
  8. Scratching the roof of the car while driving through a yellow light. (Past. Again, my sister. I wonder if she still does it.)
  9. Picking up my feet while driving over railroad tracks. (Past. Her again. I realize her rituals were a big part of why I loved her so much. I should tell her that.)

-from Topic post, Rich In Ritual.

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Santisima, photograph of folk retablo made by Ecuadoran santero Jiminez, ybonesy 2007, all rights reserved
Santisima Virgen Maria con Angeles, photograph of retablo by Ecuadoran santero and folk artist Claudio Jiminez, © 2007 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.


We did a brainstorm on topics for red Ravine in this post and this one and one of our readers (thanks, mimbresman!) proposed we write about rituals. Rituals, like the way he always touches the shell of the airplane as he’s boarding. This spurred a flurry of comments on our rituals when we fly.

What is it about rituals? Why does it comfort us to recite a prayer or wear a particular cross at take-off?

Below is a citation on rituals from reference.com. Take a look. Rituals are everywhere. Rituals can come from our culture or society. Rituals can get passed from one family member to another. I picked up from my older sister the ritual of lifting my feet and scratching the interior ceiling of the car any time we crossed over a railroad track.

What are your rituals? Do a 15-minute writing practice on rituals, and if you have time, shape that practice into a short essay. Or, if you’d prefer, list your favorite ritual, along with the story of how it came to be yours, in the Comments section of this post.

A ritual is a set of actions, performed mainly for their symbolic value, which is prescribed by a religion or by the traditions of a community. A ritual may be performed at regular intervals, or on specific occasions, or at the discretion of individuals or communities. It may be performed by a single individual, by a group, or by the entire community; in arbitrary places, or in places especially reserved for it; either in public, in private, or before specific people. A ritual may be restricted to a certain subset of the community, and may enable or underscore the passage between religious or social states.

The purposes of rituals are varied; they include compliance with religious obligations or ideals, satisfaction of spiritual or emotional needs of the practitioners, strengthening of social bonds, demonstration of respect or submission, stating one’s affiliation, obtaining social acceptance or approval for some event — or, sometimes, just for the pleasure of the ritual itself.

Rituals of various kinds are a feature of almost all known human societies, past or present. They include not only the various worship rites and sacraments of organized religions and cults, but also the rites of passage of certain societies, oaths of allegiance, coronations, and presidential inaugurations, marriages and funerals, school “rush” traditions and graduations, club meetings, sports events, halloween parties and veteran parades, Christmas shopping, and more. Many activities that are ostensibly performed for concrete purposes, such as jury trials, execution of criminals, and scientific symposia, are loaded with purely symbolic actions prescribed by regulations or tradition, and thus partly ritualistic in nature. Even common actions like hand-shaking and saying hello are rituals.

Source: American Psychological Association (APA):
Ritual. (n.d.). Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 01, 2007, from Reference.com website: http://www.reference.com/browse/columbia/X-ritual
Chicago Manual Style (CMS):
Ritual. Reference.com. Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press.
Modern Language Association (MLA):
“Ritual.” Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Columbia University Press. 01 Jun. 2007.

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