Tarot with Feathered Familiars

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I let my new little conure select a tarot card for me yesterday. They selected the Star from the Nature Spirit Tarot. I’d like to think of this card as representative of what this new bird will bring into my life in the same way that I considered the Ace of Cups from the Happy Tarot to be representative of Happy’s contribution to my life.

The Ace of Cups was one of two cards I drew for contemplation the day before I met Happy at the pet store. I had decided to carry it and the other card (the Queen of Wands) through two days of contemplation rather than the customary one because I felt like I needed more time with them.  

The Ace of Cups inspired me to name my late green-cheeked conure Happy. It seemed to me the happiest-looking card in the entire deck. Even the Queen of Wands, which I drew from the standard RW deck, came across to me that day as more upbeat than other cards in its own deck. I had been struggling to dig myself out of a period of depression for several weeks prior and was just beginning to feel the positive effects of my will-power when I drew these cards. My state of mind certainly enhanced the effect of these already-positive cards.

I was in an especially optimistic mood as I drove to the pet store for dog food after my morning jog. I always stopped to look at the conures when I was there, hoping to spot a yellow-sided green-cheek. And there he was. A goofy yellow-sided green-cheek, clowning around and hanging upside down from a red rubber ball… I named him Happy right then and there, resolving to get him before I had even consulted with my husband. I called him, of course, to let him know my intention, but I wouldn’t have taken no for an answer. 

Happy was a living reminder of what I was aiming for. His presence in my life was no insignificant aid to that goal. The void left behind after his death seemed unbearable at first, but I have been slowly building up the strength to bear it. I still miss him. I will always miss him. He will always have a place in my heart. But I must remain strong in his memory. The journey that lies ahead of me now is one of healing. My new feathered friend couldn’t have picked a better card.

(update: My new conure is a DNA-confirmed female and I’ve named her Tilly)

 

Life After Loss

I lost my beloved green-cheeked conure, Happy, on the 5th of October this year to aspirational pneumonia. I had taken him to an after hours vet on the evening of the 3rd, where he was diagnosed with a bacterial infection. The vet told me I could expect significant improvement within the next day or two on the antibiotics he was prescribed. I went to bed on the night of the 4th fully expecting to wake up to a healthier bird, thinking a good night’s rest after a full day on the antibiotics was all he needed to feel better. I did not know he aspirated on his vomit and developed pneumonia at some time between his vet visit and that night. I didn’t even know pneumonia could kill that quickly. Maybe he had already developed it before I took him to the vet, but the vet didn’t  notice. Maybe (insert here a plethora of situations and sources to blame), but it doesn’t change that he is gone now, and I am still here.

Ironically, the morning of the same day he first displayed signs of illness, before I noticed anything amiss, I decided to do a complete overhaul of his diet. There were a lot of foul rumors going around about the brand of food that comprised a majority of his diet. The food seemed fine to me. Other’s had reported spiders, obvious spoilage, etc. Everything I received appeared to be fresh. He had been eating this brand for about 6 months with no issue. Nevertheless, I figured it better to be safe than sorry and made him a fresh chop that morning before going to my computer to order new treats and pellets from well-established and respected brands.

I am not naming the brand Happy had been eating because I don’t want to be another source of hearsay. I have no proof that their food was bad, never mind that bad food can come from even the most reputable brands. My only real complaint with this brand was with occasional inaccuracies in orders and false promises to send extras or replacements for missing items. But I am a forgiving person, possibly to a fault. This is a new company, struggling to get up and running and taking on more than they can handle in order to keep up with the competition.

The source of Happy’s infection was most likely food. Maybe it was the brand I had been feeding him, maybe it was something I offered him from my own plate, or something I made fresh just for him. Regardless, I can’t get over how tragically synchronistic the overlap of my sudden worry over his diet was with his illness. It’s as if a 6th sense kicked in to warn me something was wrong before it was obvious. But a lot of good that 6th sense did in the end! 💔

I thought it would be a long time, if ever, before I would be ready for a new bird. I was offended that people were already asking me about it not even a day after Happy’s death.  Did they think he was “just a bird?” How could they so casually suggest that I get another?

As I recovered from the initial grief and shock, I began to consider the possibility of a new bird in my life. I went to a bird shop downtown just to visit the birds, not to get one. I still thought it would be a while before I was truly ready for that next step, but I thought I could at least find some comfort in visiting the free-flight room of the shop from time to time until I was ready. While at the shop, I played with an adorable cinnamon green-cheeked conure. The staff told me they had never seen this ostensibly feisty and cage aggressive bird come out so willingly for anyone before.

That night, I couldn’t stop thinking about this bird and how they seemed to have chosen me. I tried to reason with myself that it was just my compromised state-of-mind making more out of the situation than it really was. I returned the next day to see if this bird would behave the same with me. They did, and again, the staff was as amazed. I was conflicted. It was way too soon for a new bird.

When I went to the store for the third time, this same little cinnamon green-cheek was bouncing excitedly as soon as they saw me. I had previously decided I would pay for a dna-sexing of the bird and take them if they were male, because Happy was male and the emotionally unstable side of me wanted to increase the likelihood that this one would be like him. The rational side of me knew it doesn’t work like that. There are territorial females and cuddly males. Males who don’t learn any words and females that learn several. Even the most verbose, clownish, and territorial male wouldn’t be Happy, despite superficial similarities. I went to that store the third time to purchase the cinnamon green-cheek, their enthusiasm at seeing me fueling my I confidence in the decision to do so.

I hope to develop a new relationship with this bird as unique as the one I had with Happy:

 

Here is one of what will soon develop into arguably too-many snap-chat/facebook filtered selfies taken with my new friend:

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nb. I have picked out a couple of names for this bird, but I am waiting for the results of the dna-sexing before announcing the name.

Update: Her name is Tilly! ❤

 

A New Spirit Guide?

I have been drawn to white-stag imagery ever since I came across a winter-solstice-stag Webkinz in 2012. I adopted the Webkinz, but have rejected the idea of a stag spirit-guide ever since. Today, I was reminded once again about this strong pull towards the stag by the following tarot card:

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This is from a deck still in the works, for which a kickstarter hasn’t even launched yet. I will definitely be supporting it when it does!

I don’t know why, but this image was finally the tipping point. I finally feel ready to see where this feeling goes. I rejected it before because I just couldn’t believe it was really meant for me. A stag? All that grace and masculine energy? Associated with heroes, huntress deities, and Sagittarius…  

I am on the cusp of Sagittarius and Scorpio. I’ve always felt Sagittarius is the more exciting of the two – the one I would rather be – but that’s probably only because I technically land just barely on the Scorpio side. I have a tendency to think the grass is greener elsewhere. I like to try on new identities and fantasize about being more adventurous. (Disclaimer – as a naturalist, I don’t buy into astrology, but it’s still good fun when arbitrary labels match up with my preference). 

I don’t feel that I am good enough for the stag, much less a white one. The white stag, I tell myself, is for the ones who really matter, the ones who are going places and becoming legend. 

Additionally, I have felt drawn to the Queen of Wands among tarot archetypes. I keep wanting to associate myself with her, but rejecting that too. Because “lol, Shelley, you aren’t her. Wouldn’t it be great if you were, but you are not.” 

But you know what? So what if I am not? Perhaps if I was already worthy of the stag, if I was already the Queen, I wouldn’t require their guidance. I wouldn’t feel this pull towards them. Or perhaps better put: if I already “felt” worthy. I have a lot of growing left to do. This is not the end. This could be the beginning of the adventure I have been craving.

These words about the Fool in another tarot deck I love and came across just yesterday seem fitting: 

It begins with a whispered voice. Serpentine, the song threads through her days and her thoughts, beckoning. Come…come…come…. “Where?” she asks, curious, but there is no response.

She ignores the summons, until one day that siren song unexpectedly explodes and fills her to the brim. Its pulse is undeniable. “Where?” she asks again, and this time the steady beat of her heart is the response.

The Fool has come a long way, traveled from far beyond to come to this pinnacle that rises up upon the edge of the world; and yet her journey is just about to begin. She senses this with instinctive perceptions as she rises up upon her toes, caught up in the breathless embrace of the wind in the moment before the plunge. Her heart pounds and flutters in her chest with the force of a hundred beating wings struggling to break free of the cage of her being; until she feels she must be sprouting wings from her shoulders to glide forth from that place, transformed.

Wait! Don’t! cries a thin trailing voice from within. Caution! Fear! it rails. Hold back!

Unheeding, she steps forward, and….

-Stephanie Pui-Mun Law, Shadowscapes Tarot

My Cognitive Type Analysis

Late last year, I submitted a video for analysis to the team at CognitiveType.com. I would have shared the results of my analysis sooner, but I didn’t want to attract too much attention to the site until video submissions were open again to the public. The founder of Cognitive Type (CT) was quite accommodating of the occasional wanderer who found their way into the forum or discord server, even offering the occasional complimentary analysis, but he wasn’t quite ready for the entire world ;p I also needed some time to process the results of my analysis on my own, to be sure I understood and was comfortable with my type. Having previously tried on nearly every possible Jungian-based type, sometimes changing my mind only weeks later, I needed to be relatively confident before making an announcement lest I come across as fickle yet again. lol.

It turns out, I am NeFi! Not to be confused with mbti ENFP, though it’s the same set of functions. Many of the NeFi’s in CT type as INFP in MBTI, while many FiNe’s type as INFJs (see this forum thread for an explanation). Also differentiating CT from other Jungian-based systems is development level, which refers to which functions in the stack are fully conscious. My full CT type is NeFi lll-, which means that I have the first three functions of an NeFi, Ne-Fi-Te, developed and explains why I typed variably as both T and F in MBTI. In CT, it is also possible to be polarized, having both first and last functions conscious and making a direct mapping over to MBTI even more impossible. The development level is not static, and can change over time, but it takes a significant change in one’s life to prompt a function to come or go from consciousness.

Because I was analyzed as a test subject before the site went fully public, I didn’t receive the extra-detailed report that currently comes with a CT analysis. I’ll probably make a couple of new videos and submit them just for that report sometime in the future. For now, I’ve already spent too much money sending in videos to get most of my family typed XD

For anyone interested, there is currently a promotional price of $29.99 for an analysis. I don’t know for how much longer this will be. This price is for the first 100 submissions and I know there have already been several since it went public.

UPDATE: I have submitted new videos and received my full typing report. I am still NeFi lll-

My Typing Report and corresponding Tally Sheet

New Year, New Spiritual Practice

After leaving polytheism last summer, I’ve been in spiritual limbo. I have been busy re-building my practice, as is evident from previous posts, but I’ve been missing the actual doing of it. I haven’t done any rituals since last summer and I was finally feeling the lack. In the spirit of my New Year’s theme (progress, not perfection), I took what I have created so far and made a simple New-Year ritual out of it.

I’m pretty satisfied with what I came up with. I keep thinking it needs more, and I may add more from time to time, but I also appreciate the simplicity of it. The longer and more fancy my rituals become, the less motivated I am to do them. For now, I intend to keep this format, more or less, for regular bi-monthly rituals.

Heart of Winter Ritual

[Fill Well
Light Candle]

I have come here to recognize and celebrate the beginning of a new year, a new quarter, and a new season; and to calibrate my compass for my journey into the first season of the year. The Year is 2019 and the Season is The Heart of Winter.

I begin this rite by calling for grith,
that in grith, I may receive the voice of the universe
and it may receive mine.

At this time, I set aside my woes
which I am want to blame on all but myself
that I may take responsibility for my future
and express nought but gratitude
for the freedom and opportunities I have to do so.

As I sit before my altar,
I feel the waters support and surround me
delivering me to myself.
I feel the land extend about me
anchoring me to the physical world.
I feel the sky stretch above me
calling me to a higher purpose.

I have arrived at the sacred center,
before Fire, Well, and Tree,
where all that was is and may be meet in sacred union.
From here, I prepare myself for the work ahead of me.

I warm my heart before the sacred fire
that all I do be in love and kindness.

I cleanse my mind with water of the sacred well
that it be ever open, curious, and discerning.

I grow the sacred tree within myself,
that I might live in harmony with nature.

By Fire, Well, and Tree have I prepared myself
For the journey ahead of me, into the first quarter of the new year

As I step boldly into my future,
May the phrase “Progress, not Perfection” be my guide this year
May piano practice be my focus this quarter
And may the mini-challenges I am about to propose keep me from stagnation this season.

This Heart of Winter Season, I challenge myself to:
Try a new recipe
Enjoy a day without social media
Replace negative thoughts with positive thoughts
and last but not least, slow down and appreciate the season before it is over

Before I close this rite, I would like to express my gratitude for (all things I am grateful for atm)

(Include prayers, condolences, etc. as desired)

And now, I must take my leave from Sacred Time, that I may proceed on my journey

May the Tree become once again a figurine; the Well, water, and the Fire, a flame

That I may return to the mundane, having been nourished by the sacred, its magic within me, showing me the way.

Love and Peace to All Beings!
As it was, as it is, as it evermore shall be
With the Ebb, With the Flow
Blessed Be*

nb. Rather than breaking up my year according to lunar or solar markers, I follow the Gregorian calendar, breaking it into 24 bi-monthly seasons, named according to my personal reckoning. I have found this method to feel more harmonious than attempting to juggle multiple calendars, spiritual and secular. I still keep track of the moon, and even give my own names to the lunar months (according to the term in which the full moon lands), but my primary spiritual calendar is Gregorian.

I have made a few adjustments since I last shared my 24-season calendar. Here is the updated version:

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* Closing words inspired by the Carmina Gadelica as modified by Ozark Pagan Mamma

A Ritual Opener

Although no longer a member of the druidic church, Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF), I still appreciate much of ADF’s liturgy. The following is a ritual opener I have adapted from some of my older ADF rituals. Besides removing theistic references, I also replaced passive voice with active to emphasize my active role in the world.

I begin this rite by calling for grith,
that in grith, I may receive the voice of the universe
and it may receive mine.

At this time, I set aside my woes
which I am want to blame on all but myself
that I may take responsibility for my future
and express nought but gratitude
for the freedom and opportunities I have to do so.

As I sit before my altar,
I feel the waters support and surround me
delivering me to myself.
I feel the land extend about me
anchoring me to the physical world.
I feel the sky stretch above me
calling me to a higher purpose.

I have arrived at the sacred center,
before Fire, Well, and Tree,
where all that was, is, and may be meet in sacred union.
From here, I prepare myself for the day/work ahead of me.

I warm my heart before the sacred fire
that all I do be in love and kindness.

I cleanse my mind with water of the sacred well
that it be ever open, curious, and discerning.

I grow the sacred tree within myself,
that I might live in harmony with nature.

By Fire, Well, and Tree, have I prepared to (set my intentions, face my demons, face the day, celebrate, other working as desired..)

My Existential Spirituality

I’ve been deep in thought lately, deliberating over the details of my spirituality and worldview. 

Is there a natural order to the universe? a purpose? free will? fate? mind and/or body?

I do not know. I may never know. All I know is that I exist. I am an existentialist. I give meaning to my own life and experiences.

I explore all sources of potential knowledge and wisdom. I meditate to access the potential knowledge within. I explore the material world to access the knowledge without. I ponder various philosophies and their implications. I tarry a while with those that catch my fancy, but am careful not to deceive myself into accepting them as absolute truths.

I prefer to believe there is a shared objective reality, but since no one has a bird’s eye view of the universe, I can only presume that there is one based on corroborated human experience. I can transcend this presumed reality within the boundaries of my individual mind, but I have observed that getting too comfortable in the subjective leads to alienation and madness. So while I can’t be certain of what is real, I ground myself in humanity’s ostensibly objective reality for my own sanity. My mind is a playground wherein I can explore and manipulate alternate realities without fear that I will upset the external world. In so doing, I hope to come out of it better prepared to tackle problems in the external world. 

I do not believe in magic at a distance, but I do believe I can change consciousness at will. I may not have free will, but I live as though I do. Or rather, I perceive that I do. If I don’t have free will, it makes no difference what I believe so I may as well believe what I want (since this would be my belief regardless). If I do have free will, and I choose to believe that I don’t, there would be repercussions. 

I accept unexplained synchronicities at face-value, indulging in the awe of the moment without attributing to it arbitrary and unnecessary explanation – deity, fate, the power of my mind, etc. 

At the heart of my spirituality is gratitude. I may not always know to whom or what I ought to direct it, but I express it all the same. The universe is an awesome place with or without supernatural interference. I am grateful to be a part of it. I am grateful to be having this human experience. I am grateful for all the events, coincidence or otherwise, to which I attribute meaning.