Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Book Review: Creative Flowdreaming

I've written over a hundred posts now, most of them book reviews, and if you've been reading those books, you may be asking: "At what point is there some practical benefit to all of this?" Well, I'm glad you asked, because I have the book for you! It's Creative Flowdreaming by Summer McStravick, and has the best practical implementation I've seen of how to live what we're learning.

Flowdreaming is a process of connecting to the universe and offering up intentions to be acted on. Ms. McStravick refers to it as Flow or Source, but it can also be called the Divine Matrix (if you're a Braden fan), or the One Mind if you're an alchemist. The point is that communication with it is done through emotion and imagery. Flowdreaming is kind of like daydreaming with emotion added. The process is rewarding in itself, but I've tried it and it gives practical results.

One thing that sets Creative Flowdreaming apart from other New Age books is its explicit disagreement with the idea that we are here to learn lessons or work out our karma. According to Ms. McStravick, we have one reason for being here: to create experiences for ourself and for the Divine. By this view, if you have had less-than-rewarding experiences up until now, the answer is to learn to create better experiences. I agree with this view, and it also ties into what I was saying about free will in the Meditations on the Tarot postings. By the way, the idea that God is living vicariously through us is also the subject of another excellent book, The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You.

An excellent idea from the book is that you shouldn't focus on the details of what you want. That limits you to that particular vision when there might be something better available. It's better to focus on how achievement of the goal will make you feel. That leaves the door open for alternatives better than you could have imagined yourself. It's for this reason that I recommend the book even to beginners.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Larry's Notes: Meditations on the Tarot - The Lover

This installment of articles on Meditations on the Tarot is about The Lover(s). First, I'd like to talk about the two most common versions of the picture on the card. The oldest is on the Marseilles decks, and depicts a young man standing between an older woman on the left, and a younger woman on the right. There's a Cupid overhead, pointing an arrow at the young man. The newer version is on the Rider-Waite-based decks, and shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, with an angel watching over them, and the infamous serpent wrapped harmlessly around a fruit tree. The first represents a choice; the second, the results of one of the options (see the Devil for the other).

The choice is one we all must make. The first option is materialism: the belief that the physical world as we know it is all (or the most important thing) there is. The result of this option is the Devil card (the Waite version): Adam and Eve chained to a stone block with the Devil holding them captive. But if you have a copy of the card handy, note that the chains around their necks aren't really strong enough to hold them; Adam and Eve stay there partially because they want to. The point is that this option isn't permanent; we'll all eventually wake up and take the chains off. By the way, some of the links in the chains include materialism (of course), a belief in scarcity, and self-righteousness.

The second option is what I like to call recovery from materialism. When we take the chains off, we start to see the physical world differently and explore what's beyond and inside of it, and what's beyond and inside of ourselves. We look into quantum physics and find out that matter isn't really as solid as it seems, and that empty space isn't really empty. We experience coincidences and synchronicities that show us an underlying unity that we're all a part of. We realize that we are more and can do more than we ever imagined. And this new journey becomes the most important thing in our lives.

That leads me to what the book has to say about the Lovers card. The book also says the card is about choice, but a choice between vice and virtue, the virtue in this case being chastity. Since this series is shaping up to be a postmodern restatement of the principles given in the book, I will reinterpret chastity in this context as meaning purity of mind and devotion to the quest. It doesn't mean necessarily that we give up drinking and smoking and join a monastery. It just means that our lives are devoted to recovery.

This choice is not a one-time thing, and the book mentions temptation, specifically the temptations of Christ and the Garden of Eden story. We also have our temptations: the temptation to think we already know it all; the temptation to get sidetracked by day-to-day issues and lose our connection to the Infinite Light; and the temptation to satisfy the goals of what we think is our personality at the expense of growing into our real selves.

Well, that's it for now. Until next time, just remember that just like Adam and Eve on the Rider-Waite Devil card, we can always take the chains off our necks.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Book Review: MythAstrology

My recent discovery that the whole sign house system gives better results has lead me to believe that astrology is more of an art than a science. As such, mythology definitely has a place, and MythAstrology by Raven Kaldera is a good way to start incorporating mythology into your interpretations, or to understand your own chart better.

The book assigns one mythological deity to each combination of the 10 "planets" and 12 Zodiac signs. These deities are from a variety of pantheons, including African and Hindu. Don't worry if some of the names are unfamiliar; when you read the description you should find something to relate to.

As the book says, it's best to start by reading the descriptions corresponding to your planet placements. If you do charts for other people, you can also use the descriptions to help explain things to people who don't know much about astrology.

I plan to start using the descriptions in charts I do for people as soon as I finish reading the book. It's a good book even for beginners, because the myths are archetypes that everyone will be able to related to.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Book Review: Learning Tarot Reversals

If you've read Learning the Tarot: A Tarot Book for Beginners and worked through the exercises and remember at least one keyword for each card, you'll be able to do effective readings. To take your readings to the next level, you can add depth by knowing how to handle reversed cards. This is where Learning Tarot Reversals by Joan Bunning comes in. This book is not for beginners. There's nothing about spreads or even how the cards work, so it's not for you unless you're already comfortable doing readings, at least for yourself.

Unlike some Tarot systems which take reversals to mean the opposite of what the card would mean upright, Ms. Bunning's system keeps the upright meaning, but takes reversals to mean that the energy represented by the card is not fully present. What's unique about her book is the concept of energy phases. The energy of each card starts low, increases, then decreases again, roughly in the form of a sine wave. Reversed cards represent the beginning and ending of the wave. They can also mean that the energy isn't perceived at all (denial).

Every Tarot reader has a different way of using (or ignoring) reversals. Ms. Bunning's system has given me good results, and it should also work for you.