Monday, September 20, 2021

Tarot Card of the Week: The High Priestess

THE HIGH PRIESTESS

SEPTEMBER 20, 2021

THOTH TAROT DECK



This is a good time to turn your attention within, and attend to your inner world. A time for meditation and cultivating the inner aspect of your spiritual life. This is reinforced by today's full moon in Pisces, as Pisces rules the tools we apply in spiritual practice.

When The Priestess appears, we are being asked to pay close attention to our intuition and let it guide us. Practices like meditation and prayer help us quiet the mind's usual noise, align our intentions with a higher purpose, and become better able to hear the still, small voices of conscience and intuition.

This is a time when we receive messages from the unconscious, but the unconscious does not communicate in words or in rational thoughts. It communicates in mysterious ways through feelings, through symbols and signs, through the images and situations that come to us in dreams, through sudden moments of clarity.

Keep a dream journal this week. Set an intention before falling asleep that you will remember your dreams, and write them down as soon as you wake up. The best way to do this is with old-fashioned paper and pen, as it engages the brain in a different way than screens, keyboards, and devices.

Set aside quiet time during the day for reflection and contemplation. For those in 12-step programs, this means engaging in the 11th-step practices of prayer and meditation, seeking to improve your conscious contact with a higher power of your understanding.

The flip side of this card — which comes into play when your inner and outer worlds are out of sync — is being caught up in superficial things, being out of touch with your conscience and intuition, being disconnected from your higher self. If you never slow down enough to tune into your inner world, how can you expect to receive and understand the messages of your unconscious? The Priestess calls on us to look at the places where we may be in denial, repressing something, ignoring something, and indulging in behavioral patterns that take us away from our highest purpose.

Now, more than ever, you need to hear and listen to the wisdom of your inner High Priestess.

_______

To schedule a personal Tarot reading, get in touch with me through my page.

Thursday, September 2, 2021

An Oracle and Tarot Message: "It's Time"

The theme of this Oracle and Tarot reading is time. How much time do you have? Are you spending it wisely, or you wasting it? Are you stuck in the past? Is it time to move on? 

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping into the future....






Saturday, August 21, 2021

Tarot Case Study: Love + Relationships

QUESTION FROM A CLIENT: "I’m struggling in my relationship and would like insight on how to proceed. To end the relationship or if it’s salvageable."

CARDS: Three cards: Six of Swords (reversed), Two of Swords, and Three of Wands (reversed).



MY INTERPRETATION: “This relationship has been full of conflict, and even though it felt for a while like things were turning around and moving in a positive direction, lately it feels like a regression. You stand right now at a decision point, a turning point, holding one sword towards the past and one sword towards the future. But you're feeling confused and indecisive, and not seeing the situation clearly. Your heart is obscuring your mind’s clarity, and vice versa. The indications for the future of this relationship are not great, but deep inside you know that already. Listen to your intuition. You've been staying because of your fear of being alone, or your fear that if you give up this relationship you might regret it afterwards. Plans and relationships don't always work out, even with the best of intentions, and it's detrimental for you to stay in a relationship that isn't nourishing you and bringing out your better qualities. At a minimum, if you decide to stay in the relationship, you need to find a way of changing your expectations so that the relationship isn't an ongoing source of disappointment for you. Disappointment is meant to be a transitional experience, not the place where we live.”

CLIENT RESPONSE: “I am absolutely amazed by this reading Hunter! It’s very spot on. Thank you, this will help me immensely to process where to go from here. 🙏”

DECK: Golden Thread Tarot from Labyrinthos.

Email me to set up an appointment for your own in-depth Tarot consultation.

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Tarot Card of the Week: Six of Wands

SIX OF WANDS

AUGUST 14, 2021

THOTH TAROT DECK



The Six of Wands shows your visions brought to life, your projects and ideas coming to fruition, and the resolution of inner and outer conflicts that have previously hindered your progress. It's the bringer of recognition, validation, and success. The title of the card is Victory.

But it can also serve as a warning. Is your victory a Pyrrhic one? At what cost was victory gained, and was it worth it? 

The astrological symbols on this card depict Jupiter in Leo, and as it happens we are in Leo season. Jupiter is the planet of expansion and growth, so the Leo qualities here (both positive and negative) are inflated and amplified. Leos crave compliments and validation, and have a hard time accepting criticism of any kind. Whether or not you're a Leo, it feels NICE to be recognized, to receive praise and validation for your good qualities and your accomplishments. But sometimes a craving for external validation masks an inner lack of confidence. Are you depending on other people's recognition or on public praise to prop up your own self-esteem? Are you trying too hard to prove something?

Through an arcane astrological formula, each card in the Thoth Tarot deck rules a particular time period in the Gregorian calendar year. The Six of Wands rules the period of August 2 to August 11, which happens to be earlier this week and the previous week.

Reflect back on the past two weeks. Have you noticed the escalation in people fighting to assert their points of view and claim petty rhetorical victories over strangers? Have you been participating in this?

On the other hand, we are approaching the second of TWO back to back full moons in Aquarius in the coming week. This is a time for intense personal transformation and growth. A time to release stagnant, dysfunctional behavior patterns and self-limiting beliefs. What would victory look like for you on the most personal level, independent of anyone else's recognition or approval?

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Tarot Card of the Week: The Chariot

THE CHARIOT

AUGUST 7, 2021

THOTH TAROT DECK

The Chariot in Tarot decks often symbolizes forward momentum, determination, and a strong sense of purpose. In the Thoth deck, the charioteer in his suit of golden armor is pulled forward by four mythic winged beasts, and he carries in his hands the Holy Grail. A chariot only rolls in one direction (forward) and there's a feeling in this card of being on an unstoppable mission.



A detail that has not been described in any written texts I've seen is the fact that the knight is seated with his legs crossed comfortably beneath him. His entire posture, in fact — even the way he rests the Holy Grail in his open palms — resembles a monk seated in meditation.

Another unremarked detail is that the four mythic beasts are not charging forward and pulling the chariot behind them. They too are seated, as if in contemplation, awaiting the knight's command to spring into action. The knight seems locked in meditation on the task that is before him, preparing himself internally for the road ahead.

I'm also feeling some strong "reverse" energy from this card, at this time, which complicates the picture. Some of us are feeling clouded, unmotivated, distracted, disconnected from our divinely inspired purpose. Others among us are caught up in narrow-mindedness and fixation, seeing things only how we want to see them. In either case, a heavy-handed, overly serious energy clouds our capacity to feel joy in living.

Spend some time, like the knight, getting clear about your purpose and what you want to accomplish.

Ask yourself if there are places where you are being stubborn or closed-minded. You can't see all the options in front of you when have tunnel vision. 

If you're feeling stuck and unmotivated, consider how your seemingly small role in the grand scheme of life is actually a necessary and integral part of the divine order of things. Also recall that life is short. The more time you sit spinning wheels in your mind, the less time you will have for accomplishing your vision.

You are here on earth for a reason. What is it? And what are you waiting for?


___________


If you would like a private online Tarot consultation, get in touch.

Thursday, August 5, 2021

The Uncanny Accuracy of Tarot Readings

Sometimes people ask very specific questions in Tarot readings and get very specific answers.

Example: a woman in Europe asked: "How will it go with the man I feel a very strong soul connection with but who totally pulled back? And how does he really feel?"




I drew three cards for her, in a Past-Present-Future layout. Three of Pentacles, Nine of Swords, and The Star. Here is the intuitive reading of the cards I offered:

"There has been a third person involved that you don't know about, or didn't know about previously. Someone from his past. A lingering entanglement that still weighs on him.

He's also very focused on his career and juggling work obligations, and isn't really thinking much about love and relationships at present. He's not ready to get serious with anyone. He *thinks* he is, and he makes attempts to attract love energy — but he isn't ready to fully reciprocate.

There's a fresh start ahead for you. But you will only be able to stand in your own power and healing after you let go of a situation that isn't working anymore. You have all that you need to experience fulfillment, contentment, and peace within yourself. That doesn't come from a man, or from anywhere outside. It's an inside job."

The client confirmed after I offered this interpretation that there has, in fact, been another woman, someone she didn't know about when she got involved with the man.

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Tarot Card of the Week: The Empress

THE EMPRESS

JULY 31, 2021

THOTH TAROT DECK



The Empress is one of the most visually soothing images in the Thoth deck, and this is not coincidental. The color palette of cooling blues and greens and pinks, with a heart center of passionate red, evoke the Great Mother.

This is Mother Nature in the fullest sense of those two words: the mother of all nature and the nature of all mothers. Her royal scepter is a lotus flower, a symbol of compassion and kindness in Tibetan Buddhism. Her throne emerges from a window in the wild grasses, and a pelican rests at her feet, suckling its young chicks.

She is the bringer of new life, fertile and caring. She is creativity embodied, the divine feminine energy that brings abundance. Her gaze is expressionless, but directed at the future, towards the next generation — that which is growing within her and is yet to be born but is already under her care.

The Empress also reminds us that Mother Nature is to be cherished, held as sacred and respected for her power. The Empress appearing for us at this moment is a reminder that the Mother can be wrathful when she needs to be. Mother Earth, Gaia, is a unified and intelligent organism with incomprehensible powers, and she is growing tired of the human species' disrespect, selfishness, and destruction of the environment she has provided.

We would do well to remember that her allegiance is towards Life itself, not towards any particular form of life. Humans have pushed her patience to its breaking point and we are now beginning to feel her fury. As in Tibetan Buddhism, compassion can be warm and soft or it can be wrathful and fiery. If we continue in this direction, she will destroy us, without mercy, and allow another form of life to take center stage.

Her allegiance is to all of her children, not to just one. She will do whatever it takes to protect and care for the entire family.

The Empress appearing for us this week poses an existential question: What can we do — each of us — to heal our broken relationship with the Great Mother and restore her trust in us?

Monday, July 26, 2021

Tarot Card of the Week: Five of Cups

FIVE OF CUPS

SUNDAY JULY 25, 2021

GOLDEN THREAD TAROT DECK



The suit of Cups in Tarot decks governs matters of the heart: intimacy, relationships, trust, and the bonds that are formed between people. The Five of Cups is about that inevitable moment in relationships when our hopes are dashed and our illusions are shattered. It's a moment of grief and loss, but it is also a moment of truth. Sometimes the truth hurts. Relationships, like all things, move through stages and cycles. People change, and relationships must change as well.

The Buddha identified change as one of the primary forms of human suffering, because we resist it. We wish that people and relationships would remain as they were when they made us very happy — but nothing stays the same for long in this world. A lot of our suffering doesn't come from the simple fact that things change — it comes from our clinging to how things used to be and how we think they should be.

There's an aspect in this card, too, of realizing that "fools rush in." Maybe we took things too fast, fell too blindly in love, and didn't see the other person accurately because we viewed them through our own rose-colored glasses. But as the old song goes: "I beg your pardon? I never promised you a rose garden."

The good news with the Five of Cups is that it clears the slate for a fresh start. After we navigate through the grief and despair of disappointment and loss, we find a chance to practice forgiveness, to discover our own resilience, and to move on. And we move on with more clarity, more life experience, and more compassion. Out of the trauma of disappointment comes post-traumatic growth.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Get Out of Your Head and Into Your Heart

This weekend I met with several clients for private 75-minute Tarot consultations. One of the things I’ve noticed when I do Tarot readings for numerous clients in a short period of time is the appearance of common themes shared across readings and across the lives of the individuals inquiring with the cards.

At times, we are guided to recognize messages that are relevant for many of us at a given moment in our collective evolution. This takes the meaning of a Tarot consultation beyond the individual and into a sense of community — into the world.

A month or two ago, the theme that kept coming up was about the importance of dealing with our shadow material — the hidden or perhaps suppressed parts of ourselves that we’d prefer not to face. In the Tarot deck, this shadow material is sometimes represented by The Devil. 

This weekend, the message that came through again and again was about love. 

But not in a general way. This message came through for several women who share a common tendency to relate to life’s opportunities and challenges from the divine masculine perspective — that is to say, from a perspective that is centered in the intellectual, rational, logical, analytical, reasoning part of our being. The prefrontal cortex, if you want to think about it in terms of neuroscience.




We are all a mix of both energies — divine masculine and divine feminine. Problems can arise from placing too much emphasis on one or the other of these polarities of our energetic being.

You are probably familiar with the Yin/Yang symbol from Chinese and Taoist philosophy that depicts these seemingly opposing but actually complementary energies in the form of two aspects that encircle one another in a constantly turning wheel. 

Although the specific lives and circumstances of the women receiving messages from this weekend’s readings are wildly different, each was being guided to adopt a more heart-centered way of relating to their life experience. A way that centers love — not intellect — as the primary guiding force for action and decision-making.

How would your experience change if you shifted out of your masculine brain for a little while and into your heart-centered feminine and intuitive nature? 

How would your life and your relationships look different if your loving heart and your intuition guided your conduct and decisions, rather than your masculine, rational, thinking brain?

Get out of your head and into your heart! Center love and intuition as your guiding principles. Let your heart and your unconscious steer your decisions rather than the conscious, rational brain. That’s the message the cards have for all of us right now.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

Tarot Card of the Week: Princess of Disks

PRINCESS OF DISKS

SAT JULY 17, 2021

THOTH TAROT DECK


 

The Princess of Disks is one of the most striking visual images in the Thoth Tarot Deck created by Aleister Crowley and Lady Frieda Harris. It corresponds to the Queen of Pentacles in other traditional Tarot decks, but in the Thoth deck the Princess is the final (and in some ways most powerful) card in each suit. Disks represent the material realm and the earth element: shelter, food, money, work, prosperity.

She manifests the awesome creative power of the Divine Feminine. She stands in a barren and dying forest, which will be brought back to new life through her fertility. Her downcast gaze is intense, for she has the vision to see that beneath the surface, the roots of the barren forest are still green. With the feminine gaze of intuition, she sees into the depths of the unconscious mind and knows that even in our most desolate and emotionally barren moments, we still hold the fertile possibilities of resurrection, redemption, and renewal.

In one hand she holds a scepter, descending into the earth, tipped by a light-emitting diamond. In the other she holds a magical seed that she will plant, in whose center is the Chinese Yin/Yang symbol representing the balance and synergy of complementary forces that give rise to all creation. Masculine and feminine. Sun and moon. Consciousness and embodiment. Intellect and intuition.

She is adorned with the horns of the ram, relating to Aries, the first astrological sign that sets the wheel of the zodiac in motion. She also heralds the natural cycle of the seasons, specifically the transition from winter to spring, and all that spring implies in terms of freshness and new beginnings.

As Bette Midler sang:

Just remember in the winter

Far beneath the bitter snow

Lies the seed that with the sun's love

In the spring becomes the rose.

When this card appears in a reading, it suggests the possibility of new life, fertility, abundance, a fresh start. Trust in the power of nature to bring life and growth. Always. Even to unexpected places. If things feel stagnant or barren at the moment, look at the bigger picture and remember that life is cyclical in nature. This too shall pass.

Reflection: The seeds you plant now will come to fruition in a future moment of your life. Are you planting the correct seeds to bring about the desired outcome? Apple trees don't grow from chili pepper seeds. Carefully examine your thoughts, words, and actions, and choose the seeds you plant with intention and purpose. Karma can be a b*tch or your best friend. Up to you.

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Here's to Freedom (Well, Sort Of)




Happy 4th of July! Celebrate independence!

While honoring this day, let's also take a moment to reflect on where we came from, and the people we exploited and murdered to get here.

July 4th is a bitter pill for the Native American/Indigenous people who had all of their land and resources stolen and were virtually wiped off the face of the earth in a long, intentional campaign of genocide.

July 4th is also a bitter pill for the descendants of enslaved Africans in America, whose backs were broken to build our economic prosperity. A prosperity they still don't fully share in.

As a country that asserts itself as a moral authority in the world, let's start with a searching and fearless moral inventory of our own history, which is bloody and cruel beyond imagination.

We owe apologies and reparations to those whom we've hurt. We all know it. Some of us just don't want to admit it.

And when I say reparations, I do mean money. Because money talks in America. It's one of the only things that does. Our blood is green from placing the value of money above all other things. From Day One.

Why reparations, so long after the fact? Because they are still hurting. Black and Indigenous People of Color in America — the descendants of those who were slaughtered and enslaved — still suffer from mass incarceration, police brutality, restricted access to employment, healthcare, and educational opportunities, economic disparity, and just plain old bigotry.

Let's start using July 4th as an occasion to celebrate all of what we are as a nation, and not to whitewash the past away. Because it's still haunting us. And until we do right by it, it will always haunt us. That's what ghosts do.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

I'm Out of the Closet Now

37 years ago I first met one of the great loves of my life: Tarot cards. I've been studying and working with Tarot ever since. In Tarot and oracle cards, I have discovered one of my truest gifts and one of my life's deepest callings.

But for most of these 37 years, I kept this love hidden. I read Tarot cards mostly for myself, and occasionally for friends. I kept it on the down low. I didn't talk openly about it or present myself as a Tarot reader to people outside of my immediate circle.

I didn't dare.

I doubted myself, my intuition, and my ability to interpret the cards. I felt like an impostor.

And I feared what people might think. After all, the Tarot is mysterious and widely misunderstood, and people tend to fear and mock what they don't understand. Would I be mocked? Would I be rejected?

My own fears and insecurities led me to keep my gift to myself, hiding it from others for fear of how I might be judged. All along the way, I felt a persistent urge to express this part of myself and to share this gift with others. But I suppressed it.

No longer.

This year, in the wake of the pandemic lockdown and some precipitous life events, something shifted within me, and I knew it was time to come out of the Tarot closet. 37 years inside was enough. So I put it out there.

(This reminds me of another chapter in my life, and another kind of closet I had to come out of in order to be my authentic self. But that's a story for another time.)

What has happened since I came out of the Tarot closet has been nothing short of amazing.

I've done more than 100 readings for people in the past several months. A few for friends; most for strangers. Some that lasted 90 minutes; many that were shorter. Some in person; many online. Time and time again I've been astonished by the deep connections made during even short readings, and how the messages that people need to hear keep coming through.

Some people come out of curiosity, for a general reading. Others come seeking guidance for navigating a difficult or uncertain chapter in their lives, or for insights on how to deal with challenges in love, work, or family. Some are struggling with addiction, anxiety, or depression. Some are looking to turn a new page in life and wondering in which direction they should go next.

The woman whose husband passed in his sleep three months ago, and she's having troubles with his kids, relieved to hear from the cards that she is exactly where she is supposed to be right now in her journey with grief and healing.

The musician who wondered about love and relationships, and received a message about childhood trauma and how attachment styles formed in early childhood have shaped her adult relationship experiences.

The Tarot reader who came for a reading, and broke down in tears as she gained insights into some past relationship difficulties.

The CEO of a thriving startup company in finance, constantly taking care of his employees, hearing that he needs to make more time for himself to journey within and do his own soul work.

A woman who lost her twin brother, receiving a card depicting a pair of twins, male and female.

Some people get messages they already knew, but needed to hear confirmed. Others get messages they were not expecting, bringing them to tears of sadness or tears of laughter and joy, or some combination of the two.

And occasionally, someone gets the rug lovingly pulled out from under them, like the New Age person who wants to be all about love and light, good vibes and ascension, hearing from the cards that they need to descend into the dark depths of the psyche and reckon with their own hidden pain and shadow material. Not what they wanted to hear!

You never know what's going to come up in the cards until you lay them out, and look, and listen to the silent, wordless voice of intuition.

And so, I'm out now. All the way out.

Hello, I'm Hunter, and I'm a Tarot reader.

Friday, June 11, 2021

Let Go or Be Dragged

A conversation I had today prompted me to reflect back on one of my previous relationships. It was a really short-lived relationship, only a few months in actual "time" (whatever "actual" time is). But it occupied much more space than that in my heart and my mind. When it ended, I found it very difficult to let go. In fact, I didn't let go. I held on to the idea of it inside, even after it was gone, and that was really painful.

"Let go or be dragged." Some poorly informed sources on the Internet and social media have attributed this quote to the Buddha. He didn't say it, but he might as well have. It's very Buddhist in a quippy sort of way. < Oh, snap! >


Attachment is the cause of suffering. When we attach to things in a fixed way, we create suffering for ourselves, because guess what? Things change. When asked to summarize the Buddha's teachings in a single phrase, Zen master Suzuki Roshi simply replied: "Everything changes." 

And so he changed. He announced he was moving to a different state. And, abruptly, any fantasies I was harboring about our future together were suffocated. But because I wasn't willing or able to let go in my heart, I got dragged. And the dragging actually went on for longer than the relationship did. True story!

"You can have my gun when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers," says a pro-gun bumper sticker in some red states like the one where I grew up. For me, just substitute "relationship" for "gun" and the same was true. I wasn't willing to let go of my fixed idea of a relationship that was, in reality, bound to the laws of change.

There's a teaching story in Buddhism about hunters who trap monkeys by hiding a sweet inside an empty shell with a small hole. The monkeys reach inside and grasp the sweet, but then they can't withdraw their clasped fist from the shell. They're not trapped by anyone else. They are trapped by themselves. Because they don't let go.

That relationship was many years ago now, and one of the things that came through to me today when I reflected on it was how perspective changes everything. Looking back now on that relationship, there were so many red flags that I chose to ignore. And I actually can't imagine being attached to that person anymore, or who I thought he was. Hindsight is 20/20.

A certain moment came, as a result of meditation and introspective practices, when I finally (and rather suddenly) let go of any attachment to the ghost of that old relationship. And when I did, I experienced freedom and a renewed lightness of being. But I didn't get that freedom from him. I got it from myself.

I was no longer behaving like the monkey who traps itself by refusing to let go of the sweet.

Nobody else is holding the key to your inner freedom. Only you can hold that key. And only you can unlock the door.

And here's the thing: your capacity for joy and happiness in this life depends on your inner sense of freedom. So what do you want? Do you want to be trapped, or do you want to be free? It's really up to you.

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Contemplate This


Contemplate the way LIQUIDS move through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Contemplate the way SOLIDS move through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Contemplate the way GASES move through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Contemplate the way GENES move through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Contemplate the way MEMES move through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Contemplate the way RELATIONSHIPS move through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Contemplate the way TRAUMA moves through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Contemplate the way HEALING moves through you. From the outside world, back into the outside world.


Stop pretending that you are a separate and unique being. You are a CONDUIT for the flow of the universe.




Friday, May 28, 2021

Violence and Non-Violence in Yoga and Buddhism

One of my yoga students approached me with an interesting question today. Here's how the Q&A unfolded....


QUESTION:

"What does “violence” mean in the Yama (Yogic ethical precept) about practicing non-violence? Is violence never justified?" 



RESPONSE:

I’m not fond of translating that particular Yama with the English term "non-violence." It evokes certain things that are not germane to the ethical principle we're talking about. The Sanskrit word for this Yama (which, by the way, is also the foundation of Buddhist ethics, using the same Sanskrit word) is “Ahimsa”. "Himsa" means “harm” and "a-" is a negating prefix, so a more literal translation of "Ahimsa" is simply "non-harming." It’s the ethical commitment to try to avoid creating harm, and to reduce harm as much as possible.

Some people say “violence is never justified," but I believe that (while well-intentioned) this is something of a empty platitude. I mean, look. Reducing harm in World War II meant annihilating Hitler and the Nazis with violence and destruction. This is not up for debate. At a certain point, violence towards Nazis became the moral imperative. Their unchecked aggression and their murderous, genocidal actions were spreading like wildfire, and needed to be destroyed with an equal or greater show of violent force, for the sake of all humanity. Period. Full stop. 🛑  

So while it may not be often, I do believe violence is sometimes justified, in order to protect the greater good and eradicate very harmful situations.

In the Jataka Tales — which are moral stories or fables about the Buddha's previous lives — there's a story about him being on a boat with many, many other people, and knowing that one wicked man on the boat was planning to sink the boat and drown everyone. So he killed that man in order to save the lives of the many other people on the boat. In doing so, he took on the negative karma of killing, but it was in the greater interest of protecting so many other lives from being destroyed. That could be another example of reducing harm.

If you were on a crowded plane and the person in the row in front of you stood up with a gun and a hijacking threat, and you knew (okay, let's chalk it up to your extensive martial arts training and your lightning reflexes) that you had a very brief but viable window of opportunity to take him down through a swift and unexpected attack from behind, what would be the right and ethical thing to do? Would you choose to respect the life and safety of the terrorist over the lives and safety of the other 300 passengers and crew on the plane? Think about this.

In Tibetan Buddhism there are many "deities" or spirits and some are depicted as "protectors" of the teachings and of those who practice the teachings. There are peaceful deities and there are wrathful deities. Most of the "protector" spirits manifest as wrathful energies. They are depicted iconographically as angry, scary, demonic-looking figures who brandish fierce weapons and often hold severed heads in their hands or dance on corpses (which represent the ego and all its bullsh*t). They cut through what needs to be cut through, they restrain what needs to be restrained, and in some cases they destroy what needs to be destroyed.

An example of wrathful protector energy manifesting in everyday life might be the moment when you're about to go into the other room to yell at your spouse or your coworker, but as you're closing the door behind you, you slam your fingers in the door. BOOM! Suddenly you're stopped dead in your tracks, and there's this moment of shock. You didn't want it, but there it is. You've just received a sharp, painful reminder to pay attention to what you're doing.



I have a fair amount of wrathful protector energy in me. People often perceive me as being very gentle and soft-spoken and perhaps a "Yes" man, but in doing so they're only seeing one side of my nature. I can also be very cutting and direct and manifest a strong "No!" energy. In my understanding, it is part of the path of awakening to learn how to experience ALL of our energies, and learn how to utilize them skillfully. Sometimes, skillfully channeling our wisdom energies may look like a peaceful, smiling Buddha or an angel, but other times it may look like a scary demon or a wrathful protector who cuts through what needs to be cut through, without hesitation.

Like, BOOM! Stop it with this harmful bullsh*t, right now! And if you don't, then you're going to face the consequences. And I have a box in my hand, full of those consequences, and it's wrapped up with a bow and it has your name on it. You want to open this box? Are you feeling lucky? It's that kind of energy. 

Wise compassion isn't always syrupy sweet and gentle and passive, being a doormat and letting every harmful situation play itself out endlessly. We have a term for that in Buddhism: it's called "idiot compassion."


QUESTION:

"Thank you. This is good food for thought. I was thinking of this in relation to sports or shows. Lots of what you could consider violence going on."


RESPONSE:

Yes. It’s important to be mindful of the images of violence you consume, and be aware of how they affect your mind and your nervous system. As Ben Okri wrote, "Beware of the stories you read or tell; subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world."

I really enjoy some violent movies like Kill Bill, where the violence is cartoonish, and mixed with dark humor, and it's sort of all in good fun. And each viewer, each consumer of images, is unique; I'm simply describing my own tolerance and proclivities here. "Kill Bill" does not negatively impact my mind-stream or leave me feeling nauseated afterwards. In fact, it makes me laugh and I can identify a lot with Uma Thurman's character: her ability to be 100% befuddled and vulnerable in one moment, seemingly hopeless, and then to bounce back in the next moment with a fierceness and a furious commitment to what she perceives as justice.




I DO NOT enjoy movies like the “Hostel” or “Saw" franchises or any of their ilk, which are basically fictionalized snuff films where the violence is pornographic, and you just watch psychopathic people killing and torturing other people because they enjoy watching them suffer and die (we're sort of back to talking about Nazis again) and there’s no point in the depiction of violence other than to indulge in images of graphic violence and killing for their own sake, to derive some very morbid and sociopathic kind of titillation. Those kinds of violent films leave me feeling deeply, spiritually nauseated.  

Likewise, whenever the 45th President of the United States (and voilà! for the third time in this Q&A we are talking about Nazis who needed to be stopped) used to come on the TV screen — and thank God that doesn't happen much anymore these days — I would have to turn it off or leave the room. Or if I'm in a public space and they set the TV to Fox News — same thing. What slithers off the TV screen and into your mind from Fox News is so painfully grotesque and spiritually violent that it nauseates me. 

I boycott these violent images and discourses. They do not have permission to enter or occupy my mind-space. For me, that's part of practicing self-care, reducing the harm that would potentially be done to my mind and my heart by absorbing such hateful and belligerently ignorant rhetoric and images. It's not burying my head in the sand. It's fierce and compassionate self-protection. Ahimsa.


WHAT ABOUT YOU?