Elfcon – DONE!

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The cure for holiday stress is to celebrate YOUR holiday, not other people’s.

Christmas cards – CHECK!

Gifts mailed to out of state family (which is everybody except the hubster and the padawan) – CHECK!

Cookies – batch one, devoured – CHECK!

More cookies coming? You betcha.

All that is left is a grocery store run for the big meal itself.

This has been the lowest key, biggest Zen, fewest fucks given Christmas ever. I probably forgot something really big and embarrassing. But then there is the part about fewest….well, you know.

Here we are over a year on, and I’m still niggled about the name change. I think the big niggles come from the big symbolism. Rebranding to the TaoCraft Tarot name is both a stage of life evolution and a giant step out of several self imposed closets. This year and this holiday season is filled with more authenticity than ever. TaoCraft is starting to feel lived-in and cozy.

It never fails to amaze me how there seems to be a Tarot card for everything…even the long slow process of sweeping Christmas out my psyche. It is one of the hardest things to let go, but still necessary to release. When it comes to tradition wrangling, the High Priest is just the thing. Or, from the opposite side of the same coin, rejecting the pope / hierophant is just the thing.

For a recovering fundamentalist, there can be a lot of mixed feelings and internal conflicts this time of year. Not only do you have to come to some sort of terms with  family relationships (or the lack of them for those who ‘come out’ and are rejected) but you also have to come to terms with your feelings about the extant holiday itself. What do you do about pleasant childhood memories or a desire for all of the things about Christmas that are, after all, truly enjoyable? How do you celebrate the good stuff while letting go of the toxic stuff? In spite of the feelings at the time, looking back, all the things I cherish most about ‘Christmas’ has zero to do with the religious parts of the holiday.  By letting go of christian christmas, I lose nothing.

My ethos has always been to make some pro forma gestures and try to keep the peace with religious family members. After all, evangelicals and fundamentalist respond well to sweeping things like that under the rug. With visions of the Ghost of Christmas Present dancing in my head, I’d remind myself that a simple little card was a small thing to do to reach out to my fellow humans, and honor whatever thread of relationship may persist. Still, it felt like *I* was putting a lot of time and effort and postage into *their* holiday. Right or wrong, that is a recipe for stress and resentment. We who have “left the faith” are thought to have left the holidays too. We have been so ‘othered’ that it takes a deliberate effort to find some sort of  common ground with Christmas much less see a new path through the holiday season. It is hard to see a current spiritual or secular path through all the haze of Christmases past. It is conflicting to want to engage with the larger, more spiritual symbolism of the season but not the narrow christian-only aspects.

This year, for once, feels different. By scaling everything way back, enough evangelical energy is drained away that I can finally claim this as a holiday of my own. Call it Yule. Call it Solstice. Call it Festivus. Yes, there will still be a tree (no star on top) cookies, egg nog, gingerbread, lights, that plastic garland that I love despite it’s vintage cheesiness, and the whole holly jolly thing. But this year it’s MY holly jolly secular pagan thing. It a small and happy thing to mail gifts and write cards and bake and do when it all done in celebration of MY holiday instead of as a conciliatory gesture toward theirs. If it has some surface appearances in common with *their* holiday, so be it. But Christmas is not me. Not anymore.

When you were raised in the evangelical fundamentalist sub-culture, it is easy to forget that acting FOR something is vastly different than acting in compliance WITH something. You have every right to YOUR holiday traditions even if they are shiny new self-created ones. You have every right to celebrate nothing at all.

The moment we stop celebrating other people’s holidays all of the seasonal stress vanishes.

I give no energy to Christmas. Pumpkin soup to roasted chestnuts, Thanksgiving to New Year,  I am celebrating Yule, Solstice, Festivus, all things cinnamon, cookies, egg nog and the light of the human spirit.

You may not be celebrating those things. Jesus may be the one and only reason for your season, which is just fine. But that is not why I send these wishes. From a place of holiday spirit, from a place of those things deeply meaningful to me….I wish you all a season of love, happiness, health, safety and prosperity.

Wishing you all the best throughout the holidays and the New Year

hollycandle


 

Speaking of the holidays…I’ll be available for email Tarot readings throughout the entire month of December. There may be some delays in delivery while I get the cookies out of the oven, watch Christmas Vacation for the third time or baste the ham, but be patient. I will get your reading to you. Email readings do not need an appointment, order HERE any time.

In-person and party tarot will be closed Dec 20, 2019 through Jan. 2, 2020.

But did I mention email Tarot is open? It’s my specialty, you know. 

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The Niggles: Hippocrates, Socrates, Cellphones and Hammers.

Benebel Wen recently discussed the ethics of health questions in Tarot readings. Like everything Benebel does, it was brilliantly detailed, meticulous and methodical. (https://youtu.be/EQOwLiTn1Rg) She makes some crucially important points, but on other points, I disagree and it’s been niggling at me. This post isn’t a pedantic point by point response. This is a different conclusion from different point of view. I leave it to you to decide which approach resonates with you.

I may not be the definitive authority on health questions in Tarot, but I do claim expertise. I have been reading Tarot for 25 years, reading professionally for over 15 years, hold a Bachelor of Science in Medical Science, have 14 years of clinical experience as a physician assistant in psychiatry and interventional cardiology plus a Ph.D. in Natural Health. I’ve been a Reiki master-practitioner for almost 20 years. I’ve been on the giving end of bad medical news and, thanks to a rare-ish genetic disorder, I was told that I had almost died from a stroke. I’ve given and received both mainstream and holistic medical care. I know Tarot and I know health care.

And I don’t take medical or pregnancy questions in Tarot sessions.

I didn’t make that choice based on some fancy pants “Tarot Ethics” or boilerplate liability disclaimer. I made that choice based on fundamental medical principle.

And Socrates.

And cellphones.

From the time of Hippocrates and before, healers have first and foremost sought to do no harm. Doing intuitive readings for a health question is not necessarily harmless. A doctor will weigh the risks of a medication, procedure or test versus the benefits of the action. Across the landscape of all of the Tarot readings being done, there is significant risk of harm by means of misinformation, creating false hope or delaying medical diagnosis and treatment. Yes, Tarot has emotional and spiritual benefits. It can even have some broad physical benefit by way of stress reduction. However, those benefits are not sufficient to outweigh the risks. None of us know how a client will react to what we say or what they might selectively hear and retain from a reading. If a client brings up the psychic/spiritual information to a mainstream doctor, it could impact the doctor-patient relationship. It’s a harsh reality. Doctors may take them less seriously or, worst case, write their symptoms off as psychosomatic. I know – I know. It shouldn’t be that way, but it often is. Regional culture may be a factor in the medical community’s openness to complimentary care and “psychics.” Our attempt to “empower” the client could backfire. I don’t take medical questions because the potential unintended consequences out weigh the potential benefits. The best way to do no harm is to do no medical Tarot.

Allopathy (mainstream scientific health care) in America treats the physical without the spiritual. Tarot readings for medical questions address the spiritual without the physical. It isn’t fully holistic. You don’t pound nails with a cell phone and you can’t make a phone call with a hammer. Some things work well together, others don’t. Using Tarot for a healthcare questions is a little like pounding nails with a cellphone. It might work, but it’s not your best option – by a lot. Not when there are so many good hammers out there. Understanding the spiritual genesis of illness can indeed help long term health and healing. “Magic,” “talismans” and “amulets” can indeed engage the mind-body connection and be a useful adjunct to mainstream health care. Still, Tarot/magic/psychic readings pale in comparison to Reiki, aromatherapy, Western herbalism, traditional Chinese medicine, ayervedic medicine and other truly holistic techniques. These disciplines consider mind AND body AND spirit all in one go, and they are arguably effective with or without complimentary allopathic care. Psychic work can not heal the body without complimentary physical care of some sort.

The video made one critically important point. I wholeheartedly agree and can not emphasize enough: Not everyone has physical or financial access to mainstream medical care. There are places in this nation hours away from the nearest obstetrician. My mother has to drive over 90 minutes on back country roads to the nearest MRI machine. Health care access should never be taken lightly or assumed in the name of “Tarot ethics.”

Benebel suggests re-framing the client’s medical question into a form that Tarot can handle and proceed. I would agree but ONLY if you are an experienced intuitive AND take the additional step of re-framing the clients expectations. Benebel mentions this, but I think it warrants more emphasis. To do the right thing for our client, it is necessary to be unambiguously clear that Tarot can not make specific predictions about lab results, end outcomes, etc. Continuing with a Tarot reading after re-framing the question, context and expectations serves some good purposes. It is kind, soothing and addresses the immediate, short-term emotional need. But we can do more. It is possible to borrow a page from mainstream health care with referrals.

If a heart patient needs a big toe bunion fixed, the cardiologist doesn’t do the foot surgery. The heart doctor sends the patient to the foot doctor for specialty care. There is nothing wrong with referring a Tarot client to a health professional who has skills that you do not have. Gathering information to share with clients, such as a phone number for a local free clinic, the health department, local holistic practitioners or even the new 211.org service is one strategy. Steering a client toward resources outside of a reading pays attention to their needs without any of the potential drawbacks.

Socrates is attributed with saying “Know Thyself.” Another reason I will not accept medical or pregnancy questions is that I know myself. We’ve met. Say something medical and boom! Intuition goes out the window and right into clinical mode we go. Not only is Tarot a poor tool for health questions, not every Tarot reader is cut out to deal with medical questions, re-framed or otherwise. In order to give my clients the best of my intuitive work, I choose to defer medical questions. Not everyone can be the second coming of Edgar Cayce. It isn’t a matter of “picking and choosing” the “easy questions.” Unless you have medical training or you are a practicing health-specific intuitive, then it would be better to err on the side of caution and stay away from reading for health questions altogether in my opinion.

You are not a bad or inadequate energy worker if you choose to refuse medical questions. Like Hippocrates, you are choosing to do no harm. You are not being egotistical or flaunting your “ethics” if you refuse medical questions. Knowing your limits and not crossing them is another way of doing no harm. Knowing yourself and the boundaries of your skill is the exact opposite of ego, especially if you go that step further and encourage the client to place their question into more skilled hands. Presuming to read every question, easy or hard, sounds egoistic to me.

As with everything, compassion is the ultimate measure. It seems less important whether you take medical questions or not and more important HOW you decline them if you choose to do so. In all these years, every time I get a medical question, I simply explain to the client the readings I do are not very good at helping health questions and, because of my clinical background, my intuition just doesn’t work well with medical concerns. If I have something else to offer, I will. Usuall y I say something the lines of “you might want to learn more about Reiki” or “so-and-so is in your area and is a wonderful herbalist, but something like that would need to be coordinated with your doctor” or some such thing like that. I’ve never had a client become angry or distressed over that sort of response. Yes, people in physical and emotional distress need our help. Yes, they need us to hold a compassionate healing space for them, but no, we should not always fill that space with a Tarot reading. I agree that we should never dismiss a medical question harshly or judgementally from a place of high and mighty “Tarot ethics.” Tarot clients do come to indeed us out of spiritual and emotional need. But in the case of medical questions, they don’t necessarily need us.

The Niggles: What’s in a Name?

A lot.

Sometimes, a whole lot.

“Re-branding” seems to be a thing lately. “Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop” is becoming “Balefire Apothocary” (fingers crossed she’ll still carry my very most favorite hand cream) and ” Hearts Peace Healing” is becoming “Hygge Lightwork”.  One personal trainer is becoming a Tarot reader, while a musician is becoming a personal trainer and a martial artist is shifting to being a musician and life coach. Of course, Modern Oracle Tarot is now TaoCraft Tarot.

My sense is this is growth, evolution, and expansion is a very good thing for all of us. The new name isn’t just a marketing ploy. There is no ill will or negative feeling about our old names or identities at all. Shedding our old “brand” is like a snake shedding its skin: It’s necessary for growth. We are re-naming, re-imagining, and re-building in order to embrace more things and to become more fully ourselves. I can’t speak for the other folks, of course, but after brief chats on social media, I get the feeling we are all very much on on the same page.

Expansion and deeper authenticity is certainly my aim in abandoned Modern Oracle and building TaoCraft. As I write this, Modern Oracle feels like something that happened ages ago to someone else. Time passes. I’m not the same person who started Modern Oracle. TaoCraft is me, now.

That doesn’t mean I have to abandon EVERY single little thing. “The Niggles” are still here. Those posts are about ideas that camp out in my head, and niggle there until I write about them. Yeah, I know. That sounds more like a brain parasite than creative inspiration. Some ideas are like that.

Since the very beginning of this re-branding process, I’ve felt pushed to talk about TaoCraft as a name. I have no earthly idea why, or even what to say, so I’ll follow that spirit, inspiration, call of the muses, or brain idea-parasite such as the case may be.

Let’s start with the obvious. “TaoCraft” is a made up word, and I’ve stuck a capital in the middle. Why? I like it. As two words, it is a description. As one word it is a NAME. I threw the capital in because 1. it works as a humpback web address and 2. “Craft” is an integral part of the concept with a dollop of double meaning.

Tao, as many of you know, is from Chinese philosophy; Taoist, Taoism, Tao Te Ching. Just to be pedantic, Tao and Dao are the same thing. Tao is Pinyan westernization of the Mandarin word, while Dao is from the Wade-Giles system. The few minutes I studied Mandarin back in the 90s, I was taught using Pinyan, so there you are. Tao it is. Tao is usually translated as “way” as in a “way of life” or a “way of doing things.”

What does Taoism have to do with Tarot? A surprising lot, actually.  “Magical Tarot, Mystical Tao” by Diane Morgan explains it best. It was an enormous influence in the early days of my Tarot career because it connected two great loves. Time and time and time again, Tao and Tarot were philosophies, a way of looking at the world, that I could rely on. I could lean on them in turbulent times without them crumbling to dust and nothing as religion and other philosophies always, always did. When your life puts your beliefs to the test, they shouldn’t fall apart. Taoism and Tarot never did. No matter what I would learn or explore, I always circled back to them and found them reliable, trustworthy. Tao and Tarot belong here in this new mental and spiritual living place. They are very much authentic me. This re-branding is, as is highly valued within Taoism, an exercise in deep authenticity.

Craft is also a bridge. As Tao and Tarot bridge east and west, craft bridges old and new. When I see the word, “arts and crafts” spring to mind. My grandmother taught me to embroidery when I was 6. Embroidery, cross stitch, knitting, beading have been a part of me since then. I like to create and make. That embraces the meditation mala and assorted stuff I make and put in the TaoCraft Tarot shop on Etsy. Craft connects to a fond memory of a cherished Grandmother – a wise woman whom I swear was magic. Which brings me to the new craft. THAT craft. THE craft. Not the movie, although it is one of my favorites. TaoCraft expands my Tarot cyber-world to include, mala, meditation, Reiki, and my own brand of magical craft. It took half a century to even flirt with the notion of associating with magic or witchcraft, but dammit, I’m claiming it now. And I’m defining it on my own terms. This is my own non-diestic, non-ritualistic, natural, energy reading WAY of engaging with a solitary sort of witchCRAFT. I’ve finally found words for what I’ve been doing all along in Laura Zakroff’s excellent book “Sigil Witchery”. A “modern traditional witch” is one who “does what needs doing when it needs done using whatever is at hand.” That. So that.

There you have it. That is what is in THIS name. Welcome to TaoCraft Tarot.