Monday, May 31, 2010

Dealing with a New Deck

Since I had to start using another deck after the theft of my favorite, I decided to try something different. I do have a second copy of my favorite, but it just felt like making a change was the right thing to do. Learning to work with a new deck would stretch me, challenge me.

It is true that if you know how to read tarot, with a strong grounding in the basics of the methodology, that you can read with any deck. Of course, each artist that designs their own deck adds some touches that may offer new insights and new possibilities for interpretation. Some tarot art is simply a refinement of the familiar images, with perhaps more finely drawn pictures, perhaps more crudely drawn images, more intense coloring, more pastel coloring, so in other words, different pictures, but still very familiar imagery and patterns.

Then there are some changes in the art that are philosophical, such as changing the magician from a juggler or slight of hand trickster to a ritual magician or a shaman. Or changing the Pope to the Heirophant, or a Buddha, or a character who looks like a monk or priest. With such changes there are not only changes in art, there are changes in interpretations and meanings.

So I always find that it expands my abilities and opens my mind to new possibilities when I use different decks.

There is also another factor that seems important to mention. The deck that was stolen from me I had been using for more than 10 years. Opening a fresh pack of the same deck just isn't the same as shuffling the deck that has been used in thousands of readings before.

That feeling of connection to your tools or other frequently used items is a tangible one. In the case of an heirloom, there is that sense of connection with the person who gave it to you. In the case of a tool which is very familiar, there is that feeling of familiarity with that tool and how it works. It is the energetic connection between a person and the things they use frequently.

When things like this happen, we just have to recognize the change and move on. The new deck worked well and customers commented on how beautiful it is and how much they enjoyed getting their reading with it.

Although I still feel like I lost an old friend with the disappearance of my old deck I do feel that I was both pleased with and challenged by the new deck. After a long weekend of handling it, I began to feel like this would be a good new tool for me to work with. It is one of those growing experiences that we are all dealt from time to time, whether we want it or not.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Cards on the Table

You have probably heard some strange stories before, but here is a new one.

This weekend, I am doing tarot readings at a big three day festival in Boulder. Booths are very expensive, so I share the tent with two other readers to make the cost reasonable. As we have done in the past, we took what we need to work down there the night before the festival opened and set up the tent. Then we leave it for the night. This is common practice for outdoor festivals.

This morning, when we arrived, we found that someone had gotten into our tent and went through all of our bags. That's odd. All three of us keep very busy schedules and sites like this are usually secure.

Oddly, the only thing they took was the tarot deck which I have been using for years doing public readings. I had it in my bag at the festival site so that I would be all ready to go. In the suitcase with it was a brand new deck still in the shrink wrap that I am offering for sale. It is a very strange perp who would take the deck that is well worn and in a rather simple bag, rather than a brand new deck still in the factory wrap.

So I pulled out a couple of other decks that I have been getting familiar with and did my readings with them. That was no problem, because once you have many years of reading experience, you can read with any deck, with of course, some adjustments for variances different artists create.

I had been so connected to the old deck that I was beginning to feel that I needed to change for a while just to stretch my mind. When you go back and forth with different decks, it helps to sharpen your wits and open to additional insights. But of course, I never would have gotten rid of that deck, just brought out others more often.

So there you have it. Another strange but true story of weird criminals. And another amazing chapter in the life of this tarot deck. This is the same deck that gale force winds blew off my table last year, but a couple of other people helped me get all the cards back. So either the deck is now being used by the person who stole it or it was passed on to someone else. Or perhaps they just threw the cards away and kept the bag. Who knows? If this is the biography of a tarot deck, it is quite a story and quite a journey it is on.

Of course, there is one other possibility. Perhaps the person who stole it will start to think about the fact that it is a very well worn deck and start to feel a strange compulsion to return it. We will see.

Memorial Day Reflections

Memorial Day is a time to remember and honor our military veterans who have died in service to our country. It is important to have a strong military force in place to defend ourselves.

Ironically, this weekend two important milestones relate to this particular holiday. As of this weekend, 1,000 members of the military have died in Iraq, and we have spent one trillion dollars on that war. All of which, in my opinion, was unnecessary. There was no good reason to wage a war in Iraq. What have we actually purchased with those 1,000 lives and one trillion dollars?

How would I define a justifiable war? When Pearl Harbor was attacked, we rose up in self defense. People agreed that we needed to get up and defend ourselves. Private industry mobilized to support the military. Women worked in factories while men went off to fight. People accepted rationing as necessary. Everyone pulled together for a victory, and so there was one.

We did not win a decisive victory in Korea or Vietnam, I think because that unity that existed in World War 2 was missing. There was no unanimous agreement that we should be in those wars. During the Vietnam War, there were major public protests to end the war.

Why were there no such massive protests against the Iraq War? Because there has not been a draft since Vietnam. When we were all likely to be drafted to go and risk our lives in Vietnam, both the young men and many of their friends and families protested. During the Iraq War, there is no draft and all of us are not likely to go there and risk our lives unless we volunteer to do so. That leaves many people to simply ignore it.

With all due respect for the courage and dedicated service of our military men and women, the milestones pose very pertinent questions. Why do something we do not have to do, as individuals or as a country?

When the subject of providing health care coverage for all citizens, one of the objections is that we could not afford to do that. Some people object to increasing unemployment compensation even as many American businesses have moved their operations to countries where they can hire cheaper labor.

Yet, if all that is too much for us to afford, how do we find the money to pay for a Vietnam War or and Iraq War? it seems to me that if we can find a million dollars in our budget to create a war in Iraq, we could find money in our budget to provide health care for everyone, provide educational opportunities for everyone at a reasonable cost, and provide the safety net of unemployment compensation. A trillion dollars could buy a lot more life affirming things.

We should still maintain a military for self defense. For example, why not have them guard our airports and train stations, and public spaces?

In another development this week, more troops were sent to the border areas to try and prevent drug gang violence from becoming as common here as it is in the Mexican border towns. But there is a practical solution there too. If we were to simply legalize drugs, there would be no traffic for the cartels to fight over, and their reason for being would evaporate overnight. We could bring an end to that violence without using force.

I suggest that we reflect on the wiser use of our resources and make decisions which will contribute to peace. I know that some may say that these suggestions are too idealistic, but think about it. Instead of buying a war in Iraq, we could have bought health care, education and a safety net for our neediest people. And we can defuse another war by simply changing one of our laws, swiftly ending a wave of murders, tortures and corruption. Seems like a better buy to me.

So let us honor our military people by bringing them home from unnecessary wars and using our power to take better care of our own people.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Rose Colored Glasses

Rose colored glasses can help us be optimistic about our prospects, or they can give us a distorted view of what is coming, preventing us from seeing clearly. A person who is a visionary or a dreamer has probably had experiences with both views.

Looking forward brings those risks, but so does looking backward.

Some people look back at times past as if it were all wonderful, turning a blind eye to real problems or glossing them over.

It is lovely to have flowers in my life. I place fresh flowers on my table every time I read at a fair, festival or special event. I keep fresh flowers in my apartment. When I lived in a house and had room for a garden, I grew flowers. They add vitality and beauty.

There are all kinds and colors of flowers, so I don't know why the saying refers to rose colored glasses instead of orchid colored glasses, iris colored glasses, daffodil colored glasses, bergamot colored glasses, lavender colored glasses, crepe myrtle colored glasses, tulip colored glasses, lilac colored glasses, black eyed susan colored glasses or echinacea colored glasses. Those are all beautiful colors.

Anyway, there is a truth in this odd expression that people usually overlook.

To have roses grow in your garden, you have to tend those plants, pruning, protecting them from bugs, mulching, fertilizing, watering, and then eventually you enjoy the beautiful flowers. They don't just bloom all year round.

So too, for creating our future. It takes a lot of work to shape the events and relationships in our lives. It takes work to cultivate a career and a career change, which means that just like the rose garden we need to dig in and cultivate before we see flowers.

If we apply the rose colored glasses saying to our memories of the past, it wouldn't be hard to find examples of wonderful, sweet events, but the past also contained difficulties that we would not choose to relive. But there again, it may have been necessary to work our way through those difficulties in order to cherish the sweetness and happiness.

There is nothing so bad about rose colored glasses. We just have to keep the whole picture in mind. We need to be able to be optimistic while getting our hands dirty. That's how we get roses.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Edge Between What Was and What Will Be

The edge between here and there is always a fine line. The naked truth is that the walls going up at my day job sets the fact in concrete that there will not be people coming back into the room to work once the construction is complete.

My naked ambition is about making a living doing something I love. That would be the optimum situation for everyone, wouldn't it?

On this fine edge is simply the question of the jumping off point. When you do not have a big nest egg to carry you, and no one else to pay your way until your new business really starts to fly, when do you make your move?

I have talked to other people who were forced into accelerating the development of their businesses when the corporation they were working for offshored their jobs. They were not planning on going for it at that very moment, but when the choice is to go for it or try and find another job in another corporation, the incentive is very compelling and everything contributes to the momentum.

Creating a new business forces a person outside of their comfort zone in order to create a successful venture that can support them. The exception to this, of course, would be the person who has enough of a financial cushion so that they can live well no matter how the business performs. If a person is so insulated, their drive will be less. When a person must generate enough to not only succeed, but to live well, necessity becomes the mother of invention. The well of creativity is visited and drunk from daily.

Sometimes we seek to have enough of the way smoothed for us or enough of a cushion in case we fall, but sometimes circumstances force us to sink or swim on short notice. Sometimes with that much drive to survive kicking in, people dig deep and find the way to succeed.

Some people get to choose when to jump off the edge, and some get pushed. Either way, once off the edge, you have to hit the ground running.

I take a moment to give thanks for everything I have received so far, and how well things have worked out, and I balance on the edge, sensing the right time to use my skills and get a handle on the art of negotiating the edge once more.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Writing on the Wall

Right now, they have removed desks and are building a wall in the middle of the room where I work. It is not every day that you literally get to see the writing on the wall.

This room is being converted into a server farm. This room where I work used to be filled with hundreds of people talking to customers. Those jobs are now being done by people in India that this company employs.

For a while, people were fooling themselves into thinking that all the jobs that went to India would be replaced with new accounts or new jobs here. Not so. The Americans sell the jobs, then they hire people in India to do them. They can live well in India on $4 an hour, but you can't afford to live in America on $4 an hour.

The fact that this construction is happening is a naked truth.

And all of this brings great profits to the greedy execs at the top who are constantly congratulating themselves on these moves. Naked greed.

Recently they sent a corporate spokesman around to try and indoctrinate us with their propaganda about how wonderful the global economy is, how wonderful that people in places like India, Brazil, Argentina and China can all do the same jobs that we do.

As long as they made me go to the meeting, I decided to say exactly what I thought. The corporate mouthpiece started to stutter as soon as I mentioned what shame it was that the company was offshoring so many American jobs, and hurting the American economy.

She actually said that the new global initiative was not about offshoring. I reminded her that within the last couple months people were laid off in the US and at the same time people were hired in India to take our jobs. She is so full of company happy crap she cannot even see the naked truth. Or perhaps she can.

One of my co-workers just looked at me and said "Can you believe that she gets paid to go around and tell lies like this?"

Corporate ventriloquists get these puppets to say outlandish things. Things that imply that the contracting firms are responsible for all of this naked greed behavior. As if the company whose name is on the building does not pull the strings on the contractors.

Earlier this week I wrote about another interpretation of Naked City. This is a different kind of Naked City. Naked ambition. Naked greed. The emperor of this company has no clothes.

The purveyor of corporate happy crap babbled on about how wonderful it would be that we would all be cross trained so that we could all do multiple jobs at the same time.

The naked truth goes like this: "We will pay you less money to do more work. But that is only a temporary measure because even if you do everything we ask you to, we will still hire somebody halfway around the world who will work cheaper than you as soon as we can arrange it."

Within the last year and a half, we were also given the good corporate news that "due to current economic conditions," we all needed to be happy with pay cuts. The company doesn't see it as dishonest that they promised us one amount of money when they hired us, then after we were here doing the job, they simply paid us less. They even told us that were doing an excellent job and gave us cute little certificates to hang over our desks that told us so. That was just before the second pay cut. The naked truth is that "current economic conditions" did not cause this company to lose money. Their own website revealed that the same quarter they lied and pulled this crappy move on us, they declared record profits.

The writing is on the wall. The wall they are building.

All of my energy is now directed to making the transition to becoming a full time reader, a full time self employed person. When you can read the writing on the wall, it is time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

How the World Began, Begins, Again

Does it really matter how the world began? I don't think so. What matters is that we are here now. What matters is what we do now. That is what matters.

Some of us are making money doing work that we love. Some of us are trying to make that transition into work that we love. Perhaps at present, the best some of us can say is that we have some income from our work. That helps for the moment.

What makes a difference is whether we can get up in the morning with the feeling that there are possibilities for us, that there are ideas we can try, methods we can check out.

Are we thinking of leads to check out? Even ideas that do not work can reveal other potentials. Sometimes new people we meet offer us useful ideas for our business. If we keep our eyes and ears open, we can explore these leads. Where one idea does not bear fruit, if we keep on looking, some other one will.

If we are in a situation where we simply see ourselves trading our labor for some money, there are ways to find pleasure in our every day life. Whether it is the pleasure of a cup of coffee during a break, the pleasure of communicating with friends through email, the pleasure of great sex after work, the pleasure of cooking a meal, the pleasure of reading a book, the pleasure of watching a movie, the pleasure of taking a bath and soaking in it a good long while, the pleasure of sitting by an open window, feeling the breeze and listening to the birds sing.

What does all that have to do with how the world began? Nothing. That is exactly my point. We will never be able to know the answer to that question. The stories from the various cultural folklore and mythologies are simply stories.

Why? At some point people felt a need to make up those stories rather than saying "I don't know" when they were asked how the world began.

But none of them matter. All that matters is that we appreciate each day, and find ways to find pleasure in each day. Stay focused on getting the most out of today.

How the world began is nowhere near as important as how the next moment begins.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Private Eye

One of the detective shows that was popular years ago always opened with the line as an aerial shot swooped over New York: "There are millions of stories in the naked city. This is just one of them."

I always wondered, being young and never having been there, if everybody in New York really walked around naked. It was a stunning thought. I wanted to see that.

All these years later, I still have no idea what that opening meant, but it still is a mesmerizing line.

This was early on, long before I became familiar with Pan and his cohorts. Long before I ever visited what they now call a clothing optional resort. Long before I ever attended one of those come as you are parties where people left their clothing at the door. I am sure that I was not the only one sitting there wide eyed, trying to imagine a naked city.

The jargon from those days was confusing to say the least. When you are in the naked city, how can you have any private dicks?

A detective show, full of naked people? What's there to uncover?

This was one of my early lessons in language and how it is sometimes used to confuse and obscure, and how sometimes, it can reveal.

Actually, if you ever watched that show there was never anybody naked in Naked City. But I am sure that a lot of us kept hoping.

Back in those days, there were a lot of things you could not say or do on TV. I guess they were afraid we might get ideas. Thing is, by the way they didn't say or show many things, made me even more curious.

As I see it now, there were other interpretations of Naked City, things that never would have occurred to me back then. You see, after many years of detective work myself, I have discovered that we are all naked under our clothes.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Petty Tyrants as Great Teachers

Carlos Castaneda once said that petty tyrants can be our greatest teachers. For a lot of us, learning how to use the Internet to develop our business is a constant learning experience.

We buy ads on websites hoping for the best, but not knowing until later whether that brings us new business. The same is true of print publications. Exactly the same. You pay your money and you take your chances. And the same is true of buying a booth or a table at a special event. What is certain is that you will pay the publisher, website owner or event producer. What is not certain is what you will get out of it.

We try using social networking websites to see whether that brings us new business, but they may have their own bizarre ideas of proper behavior, and we still do not know until after investing many hours in them, what works and what doesn't. If they consider you guilty of improper behavior, and you wish to disagree, good luck finding an actual person to talk to about it so that you can straighten it out.

Some of the social networking sites have gone under, and others are starting to charge fees for participation in something that has been free up until now.

Our email services have many efficient features, but they also have limitations. For example, if one day you were to send out emails to everyone you have done business with this year, and that number is more than 200, their robots will consider you a spammer and block you from sending any more emails today,and perhaps for the next couple of days. These robots do not know or care that you have these email addresses because people gave them to you and they do business with you. Try and get in touch with a real person so you can explain that.

Blogs seem to be one of the best methods going, because we can write whatever we want, whenever we want, and anyone who is interested can read it. The challenge with this, as with everything else, is to reach out there and find ways to grab people's attention. You can have a great blog or website, but so do millions of other people. So we have to be creative to get people to visit ours.

These setbacks are always a nuisance, and within them, there is always a lesson to be found, a more efficient way, a loophole.

Right now, I am going through one of those setbacks which I will not detail here, but the upshot of it, is that it may actually clarify and strengthen some connections, and that will probably improve my business. It is not the first time I have had to reinvent one of my wheels.

Sometimes a petty tyrant enforcing their rules will help us to see something we had been overlooking and by kicking dirt around they might uncover some gems for us.

Carlos Castaneda was right because those people who always agree with us can lull us into complacency. Those who present us with obstacles can inspire us to learn how to dig deeper, do things better and find alternate routes to our goals.

Friday, May 21, 2010

What Would Pfizer Do?

Another peculiar twist in the new medical marijuana law in Colorado is that it specifies that caregivers must sell their product at cost, although they are allowed to charge a fee for their caregiving service.

So that prompted me to think of how that fits into the world of medicines. What would Pfizer and the other pharmaceutical companies do if a law was passed ordering them to sell their products at cost? No, we and they believe that they have a right to make a profit on their products.

Obviously, then Colorado HB 1284 was not modeled after any other health care legislation.

It's more similar to liquor laws, in that it allows that cities or counties can opt out and declare themselves a dry county or dry town.

But it differs significantly from the liquor model in that it allows one person to own a chain of stores, where the liquor law says a person can only own one store at a time.

Given the new rules laid out in this law, a person would have to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to open up each dispensary. To own a chain would take millions.

So say goodbye to entrepreneurs becoming small business owners. The green dynamo that was busy creating new jobs here is now grinding to a halt.

By the way, I am not writing this because I am a grower, caregiver or dispensary owner. I am none of these. I am simply an observer of the changes we are going through.

Laws are too frequently fashioned with the help of lobbyists and friends with vested interests.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Bloom Is Off the Bud

You have to ask yourself why Colorado people who voted in favor of medical marijuana suddenly needed House Bill 1284 which effectively kills a lot of small businesses and sets up a system that only favors people with very deep pockets. The bill was signed into law by Governor Ritter recently.

Amendment 20 which made medical marijuana legal in Colorado, did not even mention dispensaries. Originally, it only named caregivers who would raise the plants would provide the medical marijuana to patients.

Obviously, since not everyone who would be a patient for medical marijuana personally knows a grower, storefront dispensaries sprang up, providing a place for these patients to get their stuff.

It was an entrepreneurial boom in Colorado for a couple of years after the passage of Amendment 20. People who have a green thumb decided to grow medical marijuana as a way to make a living. Some of them became caregivers who sold directly to patients, and some growers sold to dispensaries.

Given that so many businesses around here have been having a hard time due to home foreclosures, bankruptcies and such, and with businesses like IBM keeping busy with laying off American workers in Boulder so that they can hire more people in India to take over their jobs, it was a breath of fresh air to see something happen to stimulate new business start ups and create new employment.

Senator Chris Romer suddenly introduced and promoted the bill to regulate all these new businesses. What are the new rules?

Well, it clearly favors big operators.

Bill 1284 limits caregivers to five patients. That will certainly limit a person's ability to be a caregiver.

Growing plants is a full time job. They require constant attention to control temperature, moisture, humidity, nutrients, keeping clean of bugs, pruning, trimming, curing and so on. Being a caregiver is not the kind of thing you can do well as a part time hobby. So it makes sense to let caregivers have more patients and raise more plants, to give them more of a margin to make a living.

The new law also requires dispensaries to grow 79% of their own product and buy what else they need from other dispensaries. Up until now, small dispensaries have been buying product from independent growers.

How much money do you think it would take to set up both a dispensary and a growing operation and pay these fees?

A lot of the independent operators spent their savings and everything they could scrape together to invest in this new legal business opportunity, leasing property, buying equipment, hiring help. And now the playing field is tilted by who? Dispensary licenses could cost $18,000. Add to that the requirement to have a dispensary and growing facility that is properly equipped and has all the licenses, and you are looking at pretty hefty investments.

One aspect of the new law may reveal who is behind the changes to force many small operators out of business. The new law will permit one person to have multiple licenses for multiple locations.

I wonder if Senator Chris Romer, the primary sponsor of the new medical marijuana law, received substantial campaign contributions from individuals who will benefit from this unique aspect of the new law?

Interestingly, in Colorado, one person cannot have more than one retail liquor license. This is the stumbling block that prevents grocery store chains from selling liquor in Colorado.

So the new law says caregivers cannot serve more than 5 people, but one person could own a chain of dispensaries. Does anyone else smell something funny here? And I do not mean the bloom on the bud.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Too Much Efficiency

Being efficient is a good thing, but there can be such a thing as too much efficiency. As we observe some of the changes in our world, going for too much efficiency can backfire on us.

One example is the latest development relative to farming. After years of using their marketing muscle to sell farmers on the idea of using Roundup Ready seeds so that they can saturate their fields with greater quantities of Roundup, their patented weed killer without killing the corn, cotton and soybean crops, mother nature did her usual thing and responded by developing bigger, tougher weeds that are immune to Roundup. So now new poisons are needed.

One of the reasons for such a strategy is so that ever fewer people can farm ever larger tracts of land.

So the observant person will be even more encouraged to support local farmers and organic farmers who grows their crops in healthier ways, and these will probably be relatively smaller farms. Now that the farmers market season is about to begin again, there will be plenty of opportunities to choose healthier foods and support small farmers and ranchers.

The oil spill on the gulf coast is another example. Those people who argue that we should stick with depending on fossil fuels rather than renewable energy sources do not include in their calculations that the dirty byproducts of fossil fuels. Not just the oil spill and how it is spoiling the fisheries and the beaches. Mining coal causes miners to get black lung. And in places where lots of coal is burned to fuel development, more people have emphysema and other diseases of the lung. The amount of oil we burn produces clouds of smog over all our cities. Perhaps it is true that one big oil well or one big coal mine can produce more energy than a bunch of solar panels or windmills. My answer would simply be to build more solar panels and windmills.

Solar, wind and other renewable sources have no such deleterious effects. People don't get sick just from building windmills and solar panels. Nor do they make our air and water dirty. Nor does the building of them ever cause catastrophic accidents.

Another negative aspect of being too efficient is the multitasking that many employers insist on. Creating situations where people are making phone calls and trying to do emails while driving, while eating their meals, while they are vacationing or spending personal time with family and friends is all about trying to get one person to do more than one person's job. Workloads of this type diminish the quality of life in many respects. Keeping a person on an electronic tether just burns them out faster, decreases their ability to focus, intrudes on and interferes with personal relationships.

Our quality of life is often better when we are operating a smaller scale, rather than a bigger one.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Bottled Water

Yes, drinking water is a healthier choice than drinking soda, but even though I have bought bottled water at times, I have always felt it was a frivolous industry. After all, more than half the bottled water sold is not mineral water or spring water, but simply filtered tap water bottled by the big soft drink manufacturers. For them, it was simply a way to expand their product line, so they used their marketing and advertising to get us to buy something which we could already get for free.

Well, OK, we do pay for the water that comes out of the tap at home, but compared to everything else we buy, it is very reasonably priced, and we figure it into our cost of housing, since virtually every residence in this country has running water.

The answer to getting good quality drinking water is not found in buying bottled water. If we really feel like the quality of our tap water needs to be better, we need to see to it that our cities and towns do a good job of providing that service to us.

Now people are also noticing that although plastic water bottles are recyclable, they are not really recycled that much. So in order to get drinking water, we throw away tons of plastic bottles every day that are made from oil, thus in another way, increasing our demand for oil and expanding our dependency on it.

The alternative is very easy. Get bottles that are good quality metal or glass and refill them. I drink tap water all the time. I also cook with it, make coffee and tea with it, drink whisky with it. Oh yes, I also bathe in it, straight from the tap. I don't insist on anything special. And it works just fine.

It's kind of funny how something that is marketed as good for us really is not really much improved over our tap water, while it creates more garbage and uses more oil. Another victory of marketing over substance.

Curious, isn't it? Just another one of the ironies of modern life.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Un-Ascended Masters

I always get a kick out of it when I see postings for people interested in ascension in various forms. I can state for the record I am not. I like being here, now, on this planet. Earthiness feels really good.

There are postings out there claiming that 2012 will be some sort of an ascension. That whole series of apocalyptic novels was about ascension of a sort. Supposedly, all the people of a certain religious persuasion would be floated up to the great beyond, while the rest of us are all Left Behind. That's fine with me. I prefer to think of it as Left Alone.

Seems to be a real mishmosh of ideas these days. One of those card sets using the theme ascended masters contains my old pal Pan, along with Archangel Michael, Parmahansa Yogananda, St. Germain, Christ, Buddha and a whole bunch of other assorted folks. I kind of wonder if Pan would consider himself an ascended master. I kind of think not.

I attach no significance to 2012. I think the old stone carvers just got tired once they got a few thousand years ahead. I see is as just another marketing gizmo for some people.

As far as real changes taking place here on this planet, shifts in consciousness, yes, that is happening, in all aspects of life. But everybody who has a better idea for how to do things can't just float on up out of here, nor do I think they will. We need some un-ascended masters to stay grounded and do what needs to be done here.

I am perfectly content to enjoy life in the here and now, and see what happens after I die, after I die. Un-ascended masters have plenty to do while they are here. The ones who feel a need to float away, let them. Those of us who are left alone will find plenty of ways to enjoy our stay. Right, Pan? I know you are still here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Path of the Apprentice

Even those who are acknowledged by others as masters know that their learning from the path is never done. Learning more about your chosen field does not stop because someone gives you a certificate and others are always complimenting you on your work.

The person who approaches their work with openness, joy, a desire to learn more and perform better is always ready to accept new bits of knowledge and try new techniques. The person with this sort of disposition looks at details of their work and pursues refinements. When someone else in their field does something innovative, they are appreciative and say things like "that's interesting. I hadn't thought of doing it that way before."

On the path of the apprentice, the master does not always call themselves by that title because they know that they enjoy their work and that others have respect for what they do.

The person who is truly the master does not always flaunt their title, sometimes as a counterpoint to those who acquire a title too easily and use it simply as a self promotional gimmick, and sometimes out of a sense of true humility, acknowledging that one who is enjoying their journey on the path is never really finished.

On the path of apprenticeship, masters know that they are never finished with their journey, that there is always something interesting along the way, and that even a person who has achieved excellence and recognition is still an apprentice on the path. And this is not a disappointment. It is a pleasure.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Art of the Apprentice

Once upon a time, the normal process for learning a new skill or trade was for the person who wanted to learn to apprentice with someone who had established a reputation for excellence.

Companies today seem less interested in making any such arrangements. They want people who either are already experts to just jump in as contractors and hit the ground running or hire absolute beginners with very limited skills who possess the virtue of being available for cheap wages.

So it is in our personal endeavors that we will have more of an opportunity to create an apprentice experience.

Although apprenticeship could refer to people learning skills from carpentry to masonry, it would also refer to a person learning how to cook well enough to become a chef or a master brewer. There are those who apprentice to learn how to be master gardeners or herbalists.

The term can also be used relative to a person learning a musical instrument, a sport, and also in learning hobbies like sewing, glasswork, carving, beadwork or pottery.

Apprenticeship also has a long history in esoteric learning, such as those who want to learn witchcraft or shamanism, those who want to learn tarot, astrology, kabbalah, runes, magic and spiritual healing.

Being an apprentice is about a devotion to excellence. The true apprentice desires to learn to perfrom their chosen endeavor as well as it can be done, and are always interested in learning more about it.

A person who is truly an apprentice knows that there is always more to be learned through practice and study,, so that no matter how recognized they are for their abilities, they know that they do not know it all. So there is a certain amount of humility and quiet pride that characterizes the person who apprentices.

At a certain point, such a person will be recognized as having mastery of their chosen skills. That may come in the form of official recognition and it may also come in the form of recognition by those who employ them or appreciate the beauty and excellence they display in their endeavors.

To be an apprentice in any field is a joy and a way that gives focus to a person's energies. Rewards eventually come to those who choose to take up the art of the apprentice. At some point along their path, they savor the satisfaction of a job well done, and the adulation of those who recognize it.

If you are not getting a deep level of satisfaction in life, consider the art of the apprentice as a path to pursue. You can apprentice in absolutely any field you choose. Anything and everything, from sexual pleasure to embroidery, from tarot reading to picture framing, from home building to auto repair, from software design to stand up comedy, from drumming to belly dance and anything else you can imagine can be areas that a person can choose as a vehicle for their apprenticeship.

The art of the apprentice is a vehicle for getting more out of life.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It Is What It Ain't

A common phrase is "It is what it is" but sometimes a thing "is what it ain't."

Often this saying is one of resignation, an assumption that you can't do anything about it. But consider this.

One person may be looking at this thing they consider useless, but another person uses it to create a work of art. I have seen old, discarded, worn out car tires become insulation for a house. What used to be a moving part on a vehicle is now filled with dirt and keeping somebody's house warm. The fact that that old tire is not fit to be on a car again does not mean it can't be useful.

Have you ever seen a mosaic made out of old glass bottles set in concrete? Ever seen a wind chime made out of old bottles?

Next time you go to a costume party, notice how some of the most creative costumes might be creations made from what used to be fashionable clothing.

Sometimes we find ourselves in a day job that is a lot less of everything we ever wanted. But it may just be the place that inspires us to make our move into what we really want to do next. That might be the universe's way of showing us how to take the old flat tire and do something completely different with it.

There are times in our life when we learn what we want by being certain of what we don't want. And there are times when creative people recognize where there is an opening for a new opportunity by recognizing what is not working and then finding something that will work.

When our old jobs, our old careers can no longer go on as they were, creative people look for ways to create different opportunities, or at least be open to the fact that there are other opportunities. Sometimes we find that these offer us an opening that was not there before.

Eyes wide open, ears wide open, sometimes knowing that "it is what it ain't" is the key to joy, creativity. recognition and satisfaction.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Winter's Last Mask

The rain was wonderful this evening, and it will be great if it does not continue to turn into snow. Perhaps by the new moon on Thursday, the snow will just be in the mountains.

Rain sounds encourage softening thoughts, cozy evenings, quiet thoughts. Quiet jazz, a trumpet setting a mood in the background. A quiet book, one that prompts appreciative thoughts. Candles, incense, hot tea.

A card for this evening. A woman in a mask, not showing her face just yet. Like spring still masked by another cold snap. The masked woman is ready to share her gifts, but we have to be willing to accept them while she still wears her mask.

We are eager for the warmth of spring, the colors and scents of flowering plants, but for some reason, she is not ready to reveal herself totally just yet. She is aware of our mood, and she is tantalizing us. But she is not totally unreachable. She is eager to let herself go, ready to shed the winter mask. When spring comes, her energy will burst open and show us all the vitality and energy that has been hidden from our view behind that mask.

Winter wanted to make one last brief appearance before giving way to spring. She is being coy with us to remind us what the world is like without warmth, new growth, and the shaking of the sleep from all that is eager to emerge.

The growth of our seeds requires that the shells be opened, so that we can climb out and take on our new forms. Our businesses, our relationships, our efforts in all aspects are being drawn out of their shells, into the light and heat.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Smoking Hot Over Proposed New Law

You've got to ask yourself why it would be good for the people of Colorado who are users of medical marijuana to have a law in place which is designed to put most small dispensaries out of business, setting up a situation where only the biggest dispensaries will survive, which will most certainly drive up the price of the product.

This week the Colorado House passed HB 1284, which will be voted on by the Colorado Senate within 2 weeks, which would do exactly that. This law is a product of the big operators who have deep pockets who hired lobbyists to help create this HB 1284.

Many small entrepreneurs have sprung up to supply the demand for medical marijuana after the state passed a law making medical marijuana legal.

All those who favor a free market support the efforts of entrepreneurs who are creating new businesses.

Unfortunately, this bill is simply another example of the power of lobbyists to create legislation for clients. It is no different from the big bankers and brokerages getting together to change the laws so that they could all merge. We have seen how well that turned out for all of us. We have also seen what happens when the lobbyists for the health insurance and pharmaceutical companies influence health care legislation.

Those of us who care about medical marijuana should voice our opinions to our representative in the Colorado Senate.

There is nothing good about a bill that is created with the intention of putting all of the small businesses out of business so that the playing field is only open to the largest operators.

Would we allow this to happen in any other category of business? Would we be happy if the auto repair chains got together and passed laws that forced the smaller and independent auto repair shops to close?

Yes, franchising and big business are coming to the medical marijuana industry if this bill is allowed to become the law in Colorado. Real capitalism would allow whoever wants to try their hand in this business to enter it, and let the market decide who succeeds and who fails. Real capitalism does not pass laws to put their competition out of business.

All this law proves is that the people who have the deepest pockets to open the biggest stores and hire the most lawyers are going to try to control the business, and ultimately, this will mean higher prices to consumers than if there were more competition.

The forces behind this power play are no different than the forces who changed the laws so that we could end up having just a few corporations control most of the banking industry, or just a few media conglomerates to control most of our news organizations. It was not the customer who decided that it would be wonderful if a few of corporations owned thousands of radio stations. The same group of lawyers and media spin masters who made these things a reality are doing their best to see to it that consumers of medical marijuana will only have a few big stores where they can buy their product.

Letting this happen is not in the consumers best interest. If you are one of the people who voted in favor of medical marijuana in the state of Colorado, contact your state senator and let them know that you oppose this bill.

If you are a person who is believes that small businesses and competition are good for our economy, contact your state senator and let them know that you oppose this bill.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Cards, Food and Friends

The deck of cards has to be one of the most creative inventions of mankind. It's small, fits in your pocket, yet provides uncountable hours of entertainment, and it is the most economical toy you can buy. What else can you buy for a dollar that you can have fun with for hundreds of hours?

Whereas other games have one set of pieces, one format, one set of rules. For example, how many different games can you play with a chess set, checker set or backgammon set? They are all great games with long histories, but each one can only be played with their own set. By comparison, with a deck of cards, people can choose between playing old games or inventing new ones. Kids can play with grandparents, since the basic elements of suits and numbers are easy to understand and remember. It is the rules of each game that varies.

After family meals, card games were a way to socialize, because you could play a game while talking and joking. Friends use card games the same way. You can get a bunch of people together and old friends can mix with new friends on an equal footing.

Obviously, they are a long time favorite way of gambling. When I go to casinos, I don't want to sit in front of a slot machine. I play card games, because I like the interaction with the dealer and the other players.

If we extend that same sense of socialization into using cards to do readings, there is still the socialization factor. Of course, people have personal questions they want to investigate with a deck of cards, and many people prefer private consultations for their readings.

And there are always people who come for their readings with their mother, sister, friends, lovers and spouses for their readings. They enjoy sitting in on each other's readings and chatting and joking with each other. Sometimes they remain silent until I say something that really registers with them, and then they ask "how did he know that?"

The constant shuffling and dealing of cards allows for an exchange, an interaction. Whether it is a playing card deck or a tarot deck, the cards still trigger interactions among everyone present.

So reading in a festival or expo setting fits into the mood of things that way. People can be enjoying each other's company, eating and drinking and looking around at all of the other sights, and then when they sit down and we shuffle and deal the cards, there is once again that interaction.

People have been enjoying this interaction for centuries because the cards come into play so naturally when people get together. Break the ice, try your luck, take a look ahead, try and win a little bet, cards by their nature suggest both action and strategy.

Even magicians who can do things like disappear people on stage still like to use card tricks are part of their repertoire, because the little things have just as much power to mesmerize as the big things.

So pick a card, any card, and let the action begin!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tarot Symbols and Their Uses

The design of the Rider Waite Smith Tarot deck expressed such a powerful vision that it changed both the way of reading cards and influenced the design of new decks for 100 years now.

Perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of it was that it put a picture on every card in the deck, and every picture unleashes ideas, taps into the subconscious and participates in the telling of a story to the person who is requesting the reading, or through the reader to the person requesting the reading.

In the original design, the author, Arthur Edward Waite, and the artist, Pamela Colman Smith, incorporated many metaphysical symbols to add layers of meaning to the use of the cards. These provide guidance and advice of a spiritual nature and address the essence of issues portrayed in the images. They form part, not the whole of the meanings behind the pictures. Usually the central image will bring some insight or understanding to light all by itself, and it is not always necessary to understand all of the reasons behind various details. That is part of the genius of the design; there are plenty of clues there, and intuition guides us in picking up on them and making a whole and useful narrative.

Many artists, authors and designers have followed the patterns created by Waite and Smith, and so when people are learning about tarot, this deck is still a jumping off point for understanding a deck and how to work with it, providing a valuable frame of reference that aids in understanding the process.

However, in recent years, many excellent artists and designers have proven that a great deck can be made from all kinds of images, from abstract or representational paintings to black and white drawings to photographs to computer enhanced images to reproductions of great art to fantasy stories to great literature. And these can be effective even without incorporating the metaphysical symbology included in the RWS because the choice of imagery can cover a tremendous amount of territory on its own.

Other types of symbols such as numbers and colors are more universal and accessible, and these two elements are found in nearly every deck, except, for example, decks designed in black and white or without numbers.

Even though some concepts may be changed by design, the essence usually remains. Changing Judgment to Karma, Devil to Temptation, Death to Transformation, Fool to Seeker, World to Universe and so on, simply makes the concept more gentle or more palatable to some people.

Any collection of images can make a good deck to read with, including some non-tarot oracle decks, such as the Soul Cards, Psy Cards, Medicine Cards, Angel Cards, Faery Cards, Titania's Fortune Cards or Madame Endora's Fortune Cards, which do not use suits, major and minor arcana, court cards or numbers as methods of organization. Randomness characterizes their design as well as their use.

Tarot is special because there is a progression in the story lines, an organization of the images, a flow between both intuition and logic, or as many people might say, between the right and left hemispheres of the brain, the creativity and chaos and the order and principles.

Images are a rich and nuanced way of addressing consciousness at multiple levels simultaneously. A person can have one of these experiences looking through a bunch of old family photos, or a book of art or photography, although the family photos might be too limiting because there are too many personal references, whereas the universal symbology of a tarot deck is open to everyone, and a book will always present things in the same order, where shuffling a deck can present virtually unlimited juxtapositions of images together, which varies the messages and their impact.

The creation of the tarot deck is one of the most powerful tools we can use, not simply as a fortune telling device, but as a self teaching tool or meditational device in the same way a mandala works.

One old tarot reader always maintained that if a person did not have any other books, and if they were simply locked in a room for a month with nothing to read or look at but a tarot deck, that at the end of that month, they would have keys to all the important life lessons in their hands, and the cards could help them unlock the mysteries of the universe.

True, it takes most people far longer than a month to learn to use a deck of cards, and even those of us who have been using them for years are never done learning from them, as layer after layer reveals new secrets to us. It is amazing how you can look at a picture hundreds of times or thousands of times and still find something you never realized before or never noticed before. They were designed that way, and that is the genius of the deck.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oil and Water

Some people say that we need to continue to depend on gas, oil and coal because solar, wind and other sources do not produce more than a small percentage of our energy use. Yes, that is true so far, but we have to have the will to change that equation. The technology is already here.

Example. If every new home and most older homes were outfitted with solar panels, how much of a percentage of our energy would that produce? If the panels were manufactured in America, and obviously installed by workers in this country, how many jobs would that create?

Here's another little example that could produce big results. Hot water heaters. Systems have been on the market for a while now that can provide hot water without a hot water tank. It simply heats the cold water as it runs through the pipes where the heating element is.

Benefits? You not only never run out of hot water, you also never have to deal with replacing a hot water heater. Most of us have had that experience a few times in our lives, haven't we? You go to take a shower one day and there is no hot water. Then you notice that the carpet is all soggy. You never seem to get a warning when this happens.

A friend of mine was looking at a new house and the agent was telling him how great it was that there was a hot water heater in the upstairs next to the master bathroom as well one downstairs. My friend said "Great. So when the hot water tank breaks, which they all do eventually, I can have a ceiling problem as well as a floor problem."

So he bought the house, but removed the hot water heaters and put in a tankless system. They cost more to install, but you will never have to worry about replacing a broken tank.

Energy wise, think of this. How much natural gas do we burn every year to keep a flame under every hot water heater in every home? So let's just say that a great portion of the hot water heaters were replaced with tankless systems, how much less natural gas would we need?

Once again, if more buildings were fitted with this technology, how many people would this employ? How many people would be employed manufacturing these systems?

Just a thought. We could save materials by using tankless systems. And we could save energy using tankless systems. And for the homeowner or property owner, over time, not replacing tanks and not keeping a flame lit under it 365 days a year will balance out the cost of installing the new system. So why not do this?

We have made transitions like this before. There was a time when everyone bought black and white TVs, but over time, everyone bought color TVs. Why? It was better, so people bought the better product. Now everybody wants big flat screens, and they are getting rid of their old sets.

Perhaps more people are not aware that such things exist. If the technology is already developed, then it is simply a matter of will to go ahead with it.

This is just one example. How many other examples are there? We could decrease the need to drill more wells while still enjoying the same standard of creature comforts. Actually, a higher standard if you consider that you never run out of hot water when you have guests, and never again have to deal with a broken hot water heater and you don't have to have a gas bill just to keep it warm.

While the invention I am mainly referring to here uses gas, not oil, there are other inventions that would also decrease the need for oil. Part of our vision has to take us from getting our energy from below the ground to getting more energy from above the ground.

Just back in the 90s when cell phones were as big as a suitcase, only some people wanted to lug them around. When they got to be pocket sized, almost every one got one, to the point where a lot of us no longer bother having a land line. How many of us now use laptop computers with wireless connections rather than big desktop setups?

If we were to take a look at how to use technology to achieve energy savings, there are many inventions that could improve the quality of our life while using clean, renewable energy.

Since more efficient technologies already exist, why not use them to live a greener life? If we can see a better future, why not use our will to act on that vision?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Another Plus for Alternative Energy

I don't think that the oil spill in the Gulf is a decisive sign that we should not drill for oil any more, nor would I jump to any conclusion that it was anything other than an accident.

Here is one simple perspective to consider. The risk factor.

When was the last time that we heard about some tragic consequence from using solar panels or windmills? Why not build state of the art furnaces to burn our garbage to generate electricity?

We will probably need to keep some oil in the mix since we have so many different mechanisms that use it, so I think that it is impossible to get away from, but we can replace it with other means of generating power.

The question about nuclear power is the same one that has existed since the beginning. What do you do with all that radioactive waste? I don't think that many people really believe that just burying it somewhere is really a solution.

Yes, my suggestion is simple. But if we simply ask ourselves the question about what are the risks of using any of these technologies, then the alternatives certainly are more positive in nature.

Alternative energy is simply more sensible.