What's in your toolbox? Part 3
On February 8, 2014, in a blog post long ago and far away, I “came out” of the erotica closet. I announced that yes, I read and wrote that stuff. While I felt emboldened and relieved to no longer be hiding my true self, it’s likely that most everyone else yawned and went on with their day.
Almost ten years before, in the fall of 1995, I attended a sales seminar led by Brian Tracy. At the time, I was an advertising rep for homeowner’s magazine, and based on the sales I had made the previous month, I qualified to have my company pay for half the conference fee. I went with two other reps, both of whom had more sales and qualified to get their entire fee paid by our company. Two memorable things came about as a result of my attendance.
First, I remember Tracy saying not to worry what other people thought of you as long as you were acting with integrity. Though probably not his exact words, this message has stayed with me all these years:
Don’t worry about what others think of you. The truth is that they’re probably not thinking about you at all. Most people are thinking about themselves 95 percent of the time.—Brian Tracy
Remembering that advice takes the pressure off and puts things in perspective, doesn’t it?
The second important takeaway from this seminar is that I was the only one of the three of us to buy Brian Tracy’s audio cassette programs at the end of the seminar. I remember there was some silent exchange of looks between my coworkers and I sensed “judgment” from them that I was wasting my money. Six months later, after listening to those cassettes every day while I drove to appointments, I was promoted to sales manager, replacing one of the two “top” performers who qualified for a free ride to the conference and the other one now reported to me.
You would think that I’d learned a good lesson in 1995 about trusting my own judgment and again in 2014 when I was once more shown the “nobody really thinks about what you do all that much” lesson. Yet for probably close to 15 years now, I’ve been tiptoeing around being completely open about my spiritual leanings.
Moving to Asheville, NC, (also known for being “woo-woo central”) gave me lots of leeway where I lived, but I kept my professional and public presence more mainstream, so I wouldn’t “offend” or risk being ridiculed.
Just as I reached a point in my publishing life where I had to fully embrace what I was doing, the time has come that I can no longer straddle the line in the middle of the spiritual road.
So I’m coming out of the spiritual closet, full tilt.
Wait, no gasps? No guffaws? (Well, maybe, but I can’t hear them.) More than likely, you’re yawning, but perhaps a bit interested to find out what comes next. (If you hang on until the end, you’ll find a fun and exciting free offer. No peeking ahead! It won’t even make sense at this point.)
Now that I’ve made my not-so-groundbreaking announcement, and since this blog series is about tools, I want to share the concept of divination and the tools I use to feel, enhance, and strengthen my intuition in daily life.
What is divination? I just love the sound of the word, but there’s also an intriguing history attached to it.
In Western cultures, divination is often associated with fortune telling or predicting the future via unworldly means, i.e., quackery, supernatural, and untrustworthy devices. From a biblical or religious perspective, any attempt to consult powers other than the accepted God was interpreted as being in conflict with or challenging religious doctrine and therefore not to be trusted or permitted. Divination practices were outlawed and usage was often cruelly punished in many cultures for centuries.
Yet if we go waaay back In history before the patriarchy and rise of the church, or study any indigenous culture worldwide, we learn that divination practices were the methods used to connect to the Divine for guidance, not necessarily to predict the future. And seeking this connection was no more supernatural than assigning the Divine role to God, as is done in all religions today.
So what is the true meaning of divination? Merriman-Webster gives this: 1: the art or practice that seeks to foresee or foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge usually by the interpretation of omens or by the aid of supernatural powers; 2: unusual insight; intuitive perception.
To me, that’s a bow in both directions, but if I were the editor, I’d reverse the order of the meanings.
Divination is being inspired by the Divine. To see beyond the veil, going deeper into the present for clues. Divination is the art of interpreting events and looking for symbols in your life.
If that sounds scary, spooky, frivolous, or nonsensical, it’s still worth the time to explore what the divination tools are and how you can benefit from using them in your life every day.
And guess what? You are already using at least one of them in many cases without realizing it! And if you haven’t yet tried using some of these tools, you might find them not only fun, but incredibly accurate in gauging the energy you’re projecting.
Tools I use
My body. You use yours too. Pay attention to your body movements. When you lean in, you’re interested or drawn to the speaker or subject. When you lean back, you’re repelled or sensing danger. When we trip or sustain an injury, it is often because we were in a hurry or not paying attention. What’s that telling you? Slow down. Get a bad or negative feeling about a new location, person, or event? Trust it!
There are so many other signs, if you pay attention: If you feel a choking sensation or have a frequent need to clear your throat, perhaps you’re feeling restricted about speaking your truth. Feel sick to your stomach? Maybe you read or heard news you can't digest. Have a headache? Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed with information or responsibility.
None of this is to suggest that you should ignore treating physical symptoms, especially if sustained over time. But if you truly want to resolve physical ailments, part of your treatment should be getting to the cause of the problem. These types of stressors are often where chronic disease has its roots.
The following tools played an integral role in my decision to write this post and come out of the spiritual closet. I’ll explain more at the end of the post.
Pendulum. I discovered this fun tool years ago at an Omega Institute conference held in Fort Lauderdale. I was attending as a journalist with the publisher of Balance Magazine. We were seated and waiting for the keynote speaker, Maya Angelou, when my publisher pulled out a pendulum from her purse. She closed her eyes while holding it and then let the pointed stone drop. When the pendulum started to revolve to the right, she immediately took out a pad and wrote some notes.
She explained to my inquiry that she used it as a tool to help her make yes-or-no decisions. By holding the pendulum in her hand, closing her eyes and focusing intently on the question, her energy then propelled the stone in one direction or another.
I bought one immediately after Maya Angelou’s inspiring keynote at one of the metaphysical vendors’ displays at the conference and have used it successfully many times. My pendulum plays an important role in the story I tell at the end of this post.
I Ching. This and the following tools listed are relatively new for me but gaining significance in my life every day. According to Divination.com, the I Ching is the oldest of all the classical divination systems. It is also one of the oldest books in the world. Its first interpretive text was composed around 1000 B.C. Although I received the rather thick text as a gift from a dear friend earlier this year, I found it daunting to use, and more than a bit archaic in language.
A few weeks ago I discovered a digital version that has rocked my life. In addition to being very easy to use, the content was intentionally updated to reflect more modern language and the removal of sexist terminology. Think about it, life in the Chinese dynasties of 1000 B.C. didn’t have much to offer to women as far as advice for decision making since they weren’t even allowed to make them. But this new version is accurate to the interpretation of the “throws” of the coins and the hexagram results that provide the insight.
The creator of the digital system was a devoted student of I Ching for many years and focused on creating a version that was friendlier for all to use but is still true and accurate to the original. It’s called Visionary I Ching and is available for phone and tablet. There’s a free app with an upgrade to a paid version ($6.99) for full usage of all features. (I am not an affiliate of the product. I just like the tool!) It is a bit clunky in design as the app originated in the early 2000’s, but it's very usable and lots of fun! Once again, this tool contributed to my writing this post, as you will read in just a few more paragraphs.
One important feature to note for any digital divination tool: For it to accurately reflect your energy, it must allow you to choose the cards, toss the coins, or whatever is relative to that tool. If the computer selects for you, it’s a game only and not a projection of your energy.
Tarot and Oracle Card Decks. Tarot has a long history, although not nearly as far back as I Ching. Tarot did not start as a divination tool, but as a card game for recreation in 14th century Europe. Once it began being used for divination, it became widely popular and drew attention from governments and organizations that felt it was a threat to their own authority. Despite repression, tarot was practiced in private and in secrecy.
The first “recognized” deck with a standardized number of cards, meanings, artwork, and symbols was created in 1910 by Arthur Waite, a popular mystic and poet and published by the Rider Company (now a division of Penguin Random House). The artwork was created by Pamela Colman Smith, and the deck is sometimes referred to as the Rider-Waite-Smith deck or even Waite-Smith. Some suggest that Ms. Smith was the true creator of both the text and artwork of the deck that has come to be considered the forerunner of modern tarot. Some say that as a woman, she was restricted or unlikely to be published in her name and so she approached Waite to front the project for her.
Today many versions of the deck are available, but true Tarot is a standardized system of 78 cards, with 22 Major Arcana (secrets) cards and 56 Minor Arcana cards of four suits. Each card has a significance based on its position in a spread and if it appears upright or reversed. It’s a fairly complex system to learn, but with practice and use, card players can become “readers” of the meanings or can consult a reader for interpretation.
Oracle decks are newer as far as use as a divination tool and less structured. In fact, their appeal is their beauty and fluidity that come from being unstructured. They generally focus on themes such as angels, goddesses, energy, spirit animals, and many more topics. The lexicon of each oracle deck is established by the author, who is sometimes also the artist, but more often the cards are illustrated in collaboration with an artist.
Using tarot and oracle cards is relatively new for me, but once I began to dabble, I was hooked. Not only fun, the readings are undeniably and sometimes almost eerily accurate and on-point.
As I used them more and more often, I realized that the appeal was not a mystery for me. I am a reader and a writer. Reading the cards and “seeing” or “receiving” the story was but a short hop from reading a book and being able to discern meaning by intuiting the story between the lines. I’ve gotten pretty good at it and feel that card reading is something I’ve done before… a déjà vu to a past life perhaps?
Whatever your feelings about using divination tools to gauge your feelings and sharpen your intuitive nudges, I have a story to tell you about how I used these tools to create this post and where it’s taken me.
What Divination Tools have revealed to me
Before I began Part 1 of this series, it wasn’t a series. I had made a note on a scrap of paper with the headline “What’s in your toolbox?” and a few notes about the Home Depot story and how we need some sort of special toolbox to repair the world. I probably jotted down those ideas a few months ago, intending to expand it for a blog post one day, and then promptly forgot about it.
I came across the scrap paper two weeks ago in a pile of notes I keep as reference for ideas. I had already begun my card reading and just started with I Ching, but initially I had no intention of expanding the scope of the post—until I started writing. It evolved to be a Part 1 because more information kept unraveling as I wrote, and it certainly was longer than one post. Two posts, I thought, would do it.
Then as Part 2 unfolded, it was evident to me that I wanted to include the information on divination but once again it turned out for reasons of length to be better to create a Part 3.
Truthfully, I’m seeing here (and you are too) that this post could have ended earlier, and I could have continued with Part 4, but something told me to keep going and get on with it. So, thank you for staying with me.
I have to admit that including the part about divination tools scared me, but what I’m going to reveal next is the truly terrifying part for me…as is typical for authentically pivotal life choices. This is a long story, but I’m going to make it as short as I possibly can.
Several weeks ago I signed up for a free card reading course from Hay House because of my present interest. I knew there would be a “offer” at the end, but I had no intention of going any further than the free classes.
About a week later, I received another email from Hay House about their yearly Writer’s Workshop. Typically, I wouldn’t be interested. Although I know I can always learn something new, most of the writer’s workshops are for beginners and basic in nature. However, participants in this workshop are invited to submit book proposals within six months of taking the class to be reviewed for publication by Hay House. Now, that was worth the workshop for me! So I sat down with my credit card and clicked on the Register Now link, which took me to a sales page.
I tried to proceed to the payment section, but I could not get the page to advance on my computer. I tried several browsers but kept getting stuck with an unresponsive “Pay Now” button. So I engaged with the online chat help box and communicated with Esteban, who could not seem to understand my issue. This went back and forth for almost 20 minutes when I finally asked him to send me a direct link to the payment page. Ah, sweet success!
I proceeded to fill out the form. There was a timer on the page, and I completed filling in all the boxes with over one minute left on the timer. I hit “Submit.” Once again, the page did not advance and I got a message that I had timed out. “What do mean ‘timed out?’" I shouted at my screen. “I’m looking at the clock that says I still have 45 seconds!!”
Sighing loudly, I closed out and once again used the link Esteban had sent me to get to the payment page. As I started to complete the application again, I felt my hands being held down, like something heavy was resting on them. I pulled them back sharply and sat for a few minutes in awe. Something was telling me not to do this. But why?
I had a few more days to enroll and still get the early bird bonuses, so I decided to let things rest for a while. Later that day, I tried my pendulum. “Should I enroll in the Hay House Writer’s Workshop?” I asked, holding the pendulum in my hands. When I let the stone drop, it stood absolutely still, with no movement to the right or left. That has never happened to me before. Huh.
The next day I put the query to the I Ching and got the results that said, “Temporary Obstacles.” Yeah, no kidding. Once again I decided to wait a day and then ask my oracle cards.
Before I had a chance to consult the cards about the Writer’s Workshop, I watched the last class of the card reading course and surprise, surprise, they were offering an in-depth certification course with 10 well-known, internationally respected card readers and spiritual authors. I had no intention of even listening to the pitch, but something distracted me from the computer and I left the screen open on my laptop while I turned my attention elsewhere.
When I returned to the computer and went to close out the window, “by accident” I instead hit Play and it caught my attention long enough for me to wonder if I should consider this course after all.
I have a limited budget and cannot make large purchases without deep reflection and consideration of the value. So, here was my quandary—on two levels. First, my logical brain said, Um, you’re a writer, silly. Take the freakin’ workshop and submit your book proposal. But still, something was making me hesitant. Second, I was intuitively guided and leaning toward the card-reading course, but my logical brain taunted me. “Really, do you want people to think you’ve gone off the deep end?”
What’s a girl to do??
I decided not to take the Writer’s Workshop. They offer it every year so I’ll have another opportunity, and perhaps that’s what is meant to be.
I wanted to take the card course. I dove deep into the description of the material and discovered that to receive certification, I would need to provide evidence of a certain number of readings, both for myself and others. That meant going public with not only my request for volunteers, but an explanation of what I was doing.
As of one week ago, this was my dilemma. I’d have to come out of the closet. Sure I could talk about divination, but to explain why I was asking my readers and perhaps friends on social media to volunteer for readings meant telling them why I was taking the course in the first place.
So here we are at the climax of the story. I used several divination tools to help me determine whether my fear was substantiated or my inclination to proceed was correct.
First I asked the pendulum, “Should I take the course and reveal myself to my readers, friends, and family?” I dropped the stone and it swung hard to the right, my selected direction for yes.
Next the oracle cards. I pulled two cards, one from each of two different decks.
Response from Card 1: You are being called to follow what lights you up. If you are dimming your light to fit in, it’s time to embrace your unique light that you came to share.
Response from Card 2: YES. Don’t overthink it. Just say YES.
Though highly encouraged, I decided to consult Patricia Hurley, an expert in divination, and not just rely on myself, a novice. I went on Sunday to the Psychic and Healing Fair held at the Blue Ridge Community College for a consultation with a woman well known for her practice of “…the ancient art of divination. She uses shells, rocks, crystals, coins, and bones on a cloth that displays the five elements of the Dagara tradition (water, fire, earth, mineral, and nature)."
I had tried to book sessions with her at previous fairs, but her slate was always full. Showing up when the fair opened, I was able to secure her seventh spot, the only one still available. In awe of her presence, I haltingly expressed my dilemma and wanted to know if I should go ahead with my plans.
Patricia asked me a few questions and instructed me to sweep the collection of stones, shells, and other things in the center of the table counter-clockwise. I did and she took some time to review where things had landed on the cloth. There was much evidence of things in the water, meaning I was in the flow. There were also some stones in the mineral section and the type of stones and position indicated that this was just the first step for me. Much more is to come. I got a definitive go-ahead from her at the end of the session.
So I’ve now begun my course in card reading and I’m almost done with this revelatory post. One final section to add…
Request for volunteers to have a Tarot or Oracle card reading
Friends, to qualify for certification, I need to do a minimum of 44 readings with at least 10 different people. The readings will fall into a variety of formats, from 16 basic readings of one-, two-, and three-card spreads, to 20 advanced spreads with more cards and complex formations, and 8 self-created spreads that reflect my own style.
The completion of these requirements will take some time. I’m not ready yet for the advanced or self-created spreads, so there will be lots of opportunity to have a reading more than once or later rather than sooner.
I have set up a registration form here, where you can indicate your availability (whether you prefer a one-time reading or several as I progress through the requirements). If you know what you want to ask, you can indicate it, but it’s not necessary at this time. I’ll conduct the readings via Zoom, and all the details will be provided once we establish the reading appointment.
WIN A FREE ORACLE DECK! Everyone who volunteers for a reading will be entered into a drawing for a brand new “Starseed Oracle Deck” from Rebecca Campbell. This is one of the decks I use and it’s amazing in both beauty and insight. Again, there’s plenty of time and opportunity to volunteer, and of course, there is no charge for the readings. I do think the spots will fill quickly, so if you have any inclination to have a complimentary reading, sign up now as volunteer and we’ll work out the details of dates and time later.
Thanks so much!
I no longer write erotica.
More interesting to note, after my success with the Brian Tracy tapes, I began to order programs by other authors from the catalog (remember those?). That's how I first found Louise Hay and her teachings, which led me later to explore other authors from Hay House, the publishing company she founded. So, the Brian Tracy connection is significant in my life for yet another reason.
Image: The Storyteller ©Gemignani.
Text ©Shelley Lieber
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