4 Directions Spread: Cosmic Snapshot Part 1

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Happy Tuesday y’all – did you know we welcome submissions to Tarot Tuesday?

A reader wrote in, “I don’t really know how to interpret a directional spread,” but she’s playing with it – and she included a photo of a beautiful full moon spread she did while camping in the Cascadian forests.

4 Direction spreads have been my bread and butter for years – I love their flexibility and use them way more than the other common small spread, PPF or “past, present, future.”

(PS, “Spread” is what us tarot folk call the particular design guiding the cards’ layout after you draw them. It’s like laying out a feast. What a spread!)

Here’s what I love about the 4 Direction spread: It creates a little cosmos, giving you lots of room to explore aspects of relationships. That little cosmos is both circular and linear. Take a look:

Reader-Submitted "4 Directions Spread," using the Marseilles Tarot deck
Reader-Submitted “4 Directions Spread,” using the Marseilles Tarot deck

You see the circle clearly – the wheel created as your attention moves around the perimeter of the spread. It moves in both directions.

The linear is in the axes it sets up – I find myself using the word “axis” a lot when I read cards. These are the axles, the load-bearing places of support between cards: they give strength, seal connection, channel energy, and create oppositional movement.

Taken together, the two form an ancient and deeply archetypal symbol that has as many interpretations as we could throw at it, and then some.

The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.
The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.

Sometimes I’ll put a card in the center: a hub. This spread doesn’t have one. That’s okay. That’s part of the flexibility of this spread, and I often don’t include a central card when I’m just asking for a general picture of things (cosmic snapshot). Or, I’ll do the spread and then pull a card for the center about how to deal with all the lessons the outer cards have presented. To ground me as I move back into the mundane world. Anyway, this spread clearly has some beautiful ritual & magic going on in the center and that will have its own power in this reading for Our Dear Reader.

Some positions have more than one card: that’s cool too. Sometimes you need a little extra for certain positions – you have a question, it sparks another question, or you just don’t know what to do with the first card (the wtf factor). I am a big fan of just drawing another clarification card, even if you’re not sure why yet.

Another thing I love about this spread is that it is deeply orienting. Imagine me, or you, the querent, or the issue in the center – and then the spread encourages us to ground into that center, and then to take a minute to look in each direction, and then to really be with what’s there. Before I start playing with axes, I go around the circle and be with the card/s in each position. It has the effect of making a place, giving some ground from which to consider whatever the issue is, and understanding that issue not as a thing but as an ecosystem.

One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics :)
One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics 🙂

Part of sitting with each direction will include bringing your associations and meanings for each direction to bear on that image. This kind of practice (associations with directions) shows up in a lot of cultures, and we tend to take it for granted (especially in pagan communities) as something that belongs to us, just something we do. One of the places it comes from is Medicine Wheel, which belongs very specifically to various indigenous American tribal traditions. This is not something we can just take wholesale and plop into: East means this, West means this, according to the Great Indian Shaman, case closed. Especially for those of us practicing on this land, I feel very strongly that awareness of this history and our capacity to participate in its legacy of violence via cultural appropriation is a part of right relationship. Many Western pagan traditions do have their own sets of directional correspondence: great – use what works for you. But if you’re copying lists of meanings from (books about) indigenous cultures to whom you do not belong and with whom you have no relationship outside of your consumption of them, this paragraph is especially for you.

And so this is not to say we can’t practice directional spreads, or some form of Medicine Wheel meditation. It is to remember the importance of doing our own work, and to remember that personal spiritual practices are part of the web of collective life and history. To remember that the 4 directions are not lists of meanings but experiences of aspects of the ecosystem we live in.

That said, you probably have a blend of associations and meanings that belong to the different directions for you – a mix of personal experiences, things you’ve read, practices you’ve studied, and sheer intuition. I can’t encourage you enough to start practicing bringing your awareness to the different directions, and thus building your own library of associations to those directions for you. Maybe you regularly encounter a certain animal, or color, or goddess, or feeling when attuning to a direction: these are associations full of potential exploration.

Our dear reader, chillin' in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East <3
Our Dear Reader, chillin’ in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East ❤

Bringing them to bear on a spread might look like: “The East is where the sun rises, a place of light and hope and restoration and newness. I associate it with qualities of Air, and stillness, thoughtful practice, and a refreshed heart. How might the Page of Wands embody those qualities, or what would she have to say about them?” Look how, in the actual spread, she even faces the East, and perhaps the coming dawn. I might close my eyes and connect with the East, visualize a landscape or setting there, and then allow the Page of Wands to wander on stage. What happens next?

Or: “The West is where the sun sets – where the darkness grows, the home of night, the gateway to dreams. I associate it with qualities of Water, especially ocean, because I live on the west coast; also I link it with change, and moving between worlds.” Look at how, in the spread itself, the two queens in the West regard each other; what kind of tone does their interaction have for you? How might this go down in the wild West I described? What kinds of power are at play?

Then, I might think about the axis. This horizontal axis I often associate with time. The West may reflect what is passing away from the present, where the sun is setting, what has come before – while the East reflects what is on the horizon.

It may also reflect different choices or influences: on the one hand, on the other, a kind of weighing. It may speak to fears (the growing darkness of West) and hopes (the rising sun of East). It may talk about where your emotions are at (the Watery West) vs. what your head is doing (the Airy East). Western Moon speaks with Eastern Sun?

You can see how deep a spread like this can go. And we haven’t even really gotten into more magical directional correspondances, or specific meanings of cards outside our immediate reactions to them. We haven’t even touched the cards of the vertical axis, or gone around the wheel. I’m telling you, 4 positions + your central attention is all you need to explore your mini cosmos, to get a snapshot of your psychic ecosystem.

Another "4 Directions" spread, using The Collective Tarot deck - and another way to trace relationships in a reading!
Another “4 Directions” spread, using The Collective Tarot deck – and another way to trace relationships in a reading!

Clearly we could go on (and on) with this one, but that’s about all the time and space we have for today. Next week we will look at the vertical axis, and dig a little deeper into this particular spread. I hope this little intro has sparked some ideas and excitement about using this spread for you though! I know Our Dear Reader who submitted this lovely query would enjoy any of your thoughts, for anyone who wants to jump into the comments and practice interpreting, or share their 4 directions stories. I encourage you to send in other questions, spreads, or ideas for us to play with too!

Be well!

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

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COM|PASSionate Inspiration: Good Animals

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You know that phrase “world weary traveler?”

Well, traveling this world can be a weary task. The world doesn’t always (read: very rarely) makes space for the way we would like to travel: intentionally, safely, vulnerably, with open (and often wounded) hearts and minds.

On days when life is demanding and busy and not setup for your heart to do it’s greatest healing work we invite you to be gentle with yourself, good animals. Take breaks and deep breaths. Remember that REVOLUTION can be accessed through PASSIONATE COMPASSION for yourself and others.

Look into the eyes of the animals you pass in your travels– the ones you love and interact with, the ones who challenge you, the ones that may not see “goodness” in themselves and even the ones that pass swiftly through your peripheral vision. Send them love and light and wish for them nothing more/less than what we wish for you dear community,

“to be a good animal today.”

With pure good animal love,

COM|PASSionate REVOLT

Bibliotherapy: Welcome to the Jungle

Hilary Smith’s book Welcome to the Jungle starts with the buy in, “Everything you ever wanted to know about bipolar but were too freaked out to ask!” and ends with a metaphor about finding your “own unique strategy, philosophy, and game wisdom” for making it through the ever rule/round changing video game of life. Final closing statement: “Live large. Think big. Go for walks.” A statement that the previous reader of the copy I just finished reading noted in the margins as “Sound advice.”

I’d agree.

Smith’s book is part rant, part reference and part how to but it is all supportive, non-judgmental and non-pathologizing. WIN. Plus, it takes you through a pretty expansive journey: from starting to notice (or having others notice) that you might be in need of a little extra support, to navigating diagnoses, disclosure to partners, figuring out what treatments are the best for you and, once finding the rhythm of life that best supports you, how to interact with aid/organizations/institutions/doctors/insurance in a way that can keep you in that positive rhythm cycle. DOUBLE PLUS, there’s a chapter entitled: “Hippie shit that actually works: Herbs, wilderness time, and other ways to help you keep your shit together.”

You had me at “Hippie shit.”

The one caveat to my overwhelming thumbs up is that it did seem a little biased to the side that medication will likely always be part of the life story of someone living with bipolar. I think in many cases this is true and also the overwhelming belief of most folks living or working with the challenge of bipolar. Even here, Smith is very clear that every journey is different. I would just echo this… loudly. Smith also offers some ways to explore how to set up safety when figuring out if medication needs to be part of your journey. This exploration (not whether or not one takes medication) is really what’s important to me. I think consciousness and honoring around our internal meter for what is right for our bodies, hearts and spirits is an invaluable part of any healing adventure. I’m also open to the explanation of the light nature of these asides being more about Smith’s casual, accessible and very humorous tone than any pro-med rhetoric.

All in all I would highly recommend this book for anyone living with bipolar, loving someone with bipolar, working with folks who are working with their bipolar or really anyone that wants to feel less crazy in this sometimes crazy world. With the holidays looming ahead I can’t help but appreciate the way that Smith sets up bipolar like the awkward, inevitable, bio-family get together. Meeting your bipolar head on (with self-care measures in place to help you stay calm in the chaos and a surefire exit strategy for when shit really hits the fan) allows you to see it for what it is, gain insight about who you are, where you came from, what you like and what serves as a reflection for things you want to look different in your unique journey.

Happy reading! You can also listen to a podcast interview with Smith here (we haven’t yet but are putting it on our roadtrip listening list) or visit Smith’s website here.

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Traci is a fan of useful reflections as healing tools whether they be therapy, film therapy, bibliotherapy, art therapy, the list goes on. She also appreciates a well placed expletive, especially when utilized in the accurate way that Smith uses them to describe the beautiful and ridiculous chaos of life.

That Tricky 7 of Swords

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I’ve used tarot for a lot of things over the years. And I know I’m excited to have some space to write about tarot and share some of those stories here. But I find myself wondering: how to start?

This is actually how I use tarot most these days. These are not my days of fancy spreads that take over the table, or deep extended esoteric study piling up across the living room floor. Moving through my day, in the flow of it, coming across a random question and doing a quick draw to address it – to shift the energy, to take a breath, to bring some playfulness and perspective in – this is the bones of my practice lately. The cards are like neighbors who drop in for a spot of tea and gossip, sharing their view from just around the corner. They have familiar personalities and penchants, but sometimes pop over in unexpected ways.

So, how to begin? What are we up to here with Tarot Tuesdays?

7 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith deck.
7 of Swords from the Rider Waite Smith deck.

Oof! Talk about unexpected. This fellow is the neighbor who just shows up, at the back door, with odd timing and who you can’t quite say you like, and who can sometimes be quite demanding to deal with, yet who just as often brings such rare gifts, ideas, assistance or laughs that you’re glad he’s around – and glad when you seem to be on his good side, too.

I think of this card as how Trickster shows up in everyday life – particularly in our life of the mind, how we think. When your thoughts run crafty or cunning. When you need to get out of a spot. When a little sleight of hand goes a long way. When you see the flaw in the matrix, the gap in the armor, the way around the impasse. When you use reason and logic as tools, and can see the world beyond them, rather than being caught in their blinders. When you flirt with deceit. These are 7 of Swords moments.

I have heard this guy described not just as a trickster, but as a shape-shifter. In the RWS deck, he’s the only one with those fancy fur-trimmed cap-n-boots. Sneaking around on the outskirts of the camp, on the border between wild and civilized life, he’s in some other kind of relationship with The Animal. But also with the thinking mind – these are swords being put to some other use than battle. That outfit might also mark him as himself other, from another the tribe.

This speaks a lot to me about my relationship with tarot. It brings something in from the outside, another perspective, something that feels wild and other while at the same time familiar and thoughtful – which is always kind of a gamble, where you may not get what you’re looking for at all. We all have those experiences of drawing a card and going “WTF no, lemme pull another.” In fact, this touches how I believe tarot even “works:” by giving our usual daily-ego-minds a way to step aside and get in touch with the random – with chaos, synchronicity, and the wyrd. To practice not giving into that “wtf, no” but sitting with what’s on the other side of that reaction and listening for its perspective. Letting that perspective inform our own. Looking for reflections.

What an excellent place to begin – with this unexpected encounter with the tricky edges of ourselves and our usual campsites. And with the reminder to examine our thoughts once in a while, to sneak outside their usual flow and not be so ruled by what seems like the cold, hard steel of civilized logic. And a lovely anchor for our explorations here – let’s continue to expect the unexpected!

Cheers,

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

 

 

 

 

Intentional Space: Setting the Framework

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Dear COM|PASSionate Community,

The yoga studio that I teach at is an amazing collaboration of owner intention and community investment. It holds the sweat, tears, laughter, music, insight, movement and light of years worth of practice. It is also situated in between a boot camp, a crossfit and some train tracks- all of which seem to have impeccable timing. I’ll encourage folks to let their bodies tell them when to release a pose and a nearby instructor will command “20 MORE SECONDS EVERYBODY!” We’ll be dimming lights, settling into savasana and as our body scan reaches our toes and we take our final breaths into “stillness” a train will rumble by.

Such is life. And, while a bit tongue in cheek, I’ll reference this conflict as it happens because I think it is a really powerful practice cultivate. It’s a lot easier (although can still be a challenge for folks) to find peace, stillness, mindfulness, enter wellness buzz word here, etc when you’re on a retreat at spa in some tropical location with raw food prepped by a chef and yoga at your retreat center twice a day (BTW: Any revolutionaries out there that just won the lotto and want to take us on a com|passionate think tank retreat.. we’re open to that) than it is to find those same buzz words in the rush, struggle and micro/macro aggressions (Yes, Microaggressions Project, YES!) of every day life.

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So how do we find, create, manifest space that supports our safety and healing?

INTENTIONAL SPACE.

All of our needs and resources are different. Some of us need quiet and some of us might need noise. Some of us may want to find ways for the world to traipse through our space so that we can practice healing through interaction while some of us may need to make sure the world doesn’t bother us before 10am. Some of us may need our spaces simplified and cleared out to model clarity for the way our thoughts stack up and rush by and some of us may want to fill our spaces with reminders and symbols. While environment isn’t everything (or completely controllable) it’s important and powerful. There’s a reason why those retreat centers are located in beautiful natural settings a long drive from the main road and a reason why yoga studios have sprouted up like wild fire in urban settings. Our brains, hearts and spirits could use a little structure for slowing down.

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Even if we don’t have a tropical retreat center, or even a yoga studio we can afford to frequent, we can put intention into making the spaces that we have SAFE for OUR most effective modality of healing. For me this means spaces that hold the physical medicine I use most (teas, tinctures, oils) out where they are easily accessible. It also means carving out some clean and clear space for quiet whether it be for sitting, reading, writing, music or movement (little altars easily available for aroma and intention therapy in every room.) I’ve also found that I’m the happiest and healthiest when I have intentional and mood lifting reminders visible as well as space that invites me to process externally what makes me feel crowded, discombobulated and frenetic internally. This means that along with photos, clippings and love notes framed on walls or pinned to cork board, colored pencils and paint are left out so spurts of creativity aren’t slowed by the need for preparation and chalkboard painted walls and cement are always designated canvases for visual and tactile exploration.

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With a little intention we can all carve out a little safe space for healing. Do you have intentional space ideas, sacred spots that you’ve manifested or favorite often visited public space recommendations? We would love to hear from you!

With intention,

Traci

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Traci is a therapist, yoga teacher and an aspiring intentional space architect in the Orange County area. She uses a lot of her conscious space identifying and deconstructing gender inequity, intersectional marginality and daily micro/macro aggressions/oppressions and seeks to engage her subconscious in rest, renewal and healing.

Ancestral Dreaming

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Coming through Halloween or Samhain time, ancestral dreaming has been in my thoughts quite a bit. Now, I know that’s a big phrase: ancestral dreaming. It could mean a million billion things – and does mean many things to me. For here and now, I want to hold it lightly and curiously, with a heart full of possibility.

I created my first ancestor altar this Halloween. It was (and continues to be) a powerful experience. I have had many experiences of what might be called ancestral dreaming, but one of my goals with this new practice was to reach a little bit further back…back into dreaming as a way to connect with older generations whose physical presence I may know little or nothing about, but whose spirits feel sometimes present and about whom I am very curious.

 

Ancestor Altar Corner
Ancestor Altar Corner

Dreaming becomes twofold: waking, I dream of making contact with heritage, with inherent parts of me that don’t belong only to me. I remember wisps of dreams from recent years: the ancestral male council, the indigenous grandmothers; grandparents who physically knew and cared for me. I feel a need to relate to them. Sleeping, I receive visitors who bring clear and simple messages.

One is my great-grandmother, who I knew and loved until she died in 2001. She showed up in dreams last week. She felt solid and present. Not like in other dreams, where various feelings and characters have worn her form, but as if really her, as if I could get a good look at her for the first time in many years. Look her in the eyes. She let me know about one of her favorite herbs for upset stomachs, which a quick google search validated, and which happens to grow abundantly in my garden. Thanks Grammie!

Cheers!
Cheers!

Sometimes dreaming is like this: getting in touch with guidance that is both you and not-you, beyond-you. You put yourself out there, you ask. You are visited and you receive. Sometimes these gift-bearing visitors are folks you know and love. Sometimes they are like energy-forms, a message wearing a mask. Sometimes they are, plainly put, just themselves. I don’t pretend to know where they are when they’re not visiting, but they do visit. From a place of doing so many other kinds of dreamwork, and having prepared to do a lot of writing about those other kinds of dreams here, it feels good to begin by remembering this fact, and honoring that dreams are sometimes bridges to the beloved dead. They are very real.

Mystery Ancesstress
Mystery Ancesstress

No matter what kind of guidance or connection you are seeking, play with this dance of asking and receiving. Think of asking and receiving as stances, postures to be practiced and held. The practice of putting your intent out there – what can you do in waking life to physically symbolize that intent? The practice of listening to whatever comes as a response – even if it “makes no sense” or is not borne by the expected messenger. Explore writing about any and all of this in your trusty dream journal. Share your stories and thoughts with us here!

Til Next Time,

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.

Healing Journals

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Ahoy dreamers!

Today I found myself going through old dream journals, making another dent in my ongoing project of typing up years’ worth of dreams into my own intricate (and searchable) catalogue. I found myself full of gratitude and wonder at what this practice has yielded now — not just the fruits of the day-to-day practice, nor even the season-to-season, but the long arc of adventure and transformation available for me to lovingly leaf through, from here, offering new lessons and perspectives still.

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From here, I envision this blog as an experiment in and companion to my deep love and respect for dreams, the development of local dream circles, the growth of COM|PASSionate REVOLT, this ongoing personal catalogue project, and the interweaving of my therapeutic and community projects. So, getting ready for this first blog, I thought: what better place to begin than with the container itself, the dream journal!

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Act, practice, ritual, scrawling ground — psychic dump and minefield, laboratory and garden, switchboard and library, a dream journal is many things. A dedicated place to record one’s dreams, it need not be even be a journal. A dream journal can be a notebook, a ream of loose papers, a file of voice recordings, a series of canvasses, a shelf of figures and sculptures, a collection of music, a choreography of movement — anything physical and creative that houses both your dedication to engaging consciously with your dreams and your regular practice of that art. It can be as fancy and decorative or as simple and easy as you wish. Likewise, it need not engage only night dreams — daydreams, fantasies, waking visions, synchronicities, meditations, musings, all are welcome. The dream realms are vast and various. Your journal is your personal dreamboat, the craft you ride along in as you explore whatever psychic territory you find yourself in today.

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And as all kinds of sailors know, it can certainly help to keep track of the rhythms at play in each territory — there are ways to navigate and orient, to chart one’s course. Practicing mindfulness of these rhythms is complementary to the dream journal, and can be a powerful addition to the journal itself. Rhythms to note might include cycles of the moon, menstruation, work, sleep, mood, eating, drinking, medicines, drugs, relationships, travels, anniversaries, times of transitional life changes, themes of the day, synchronicities, omens, or divinations, to name a few. Tracking any of these rhythms along with our dreams evokes a powerful awareness of how our psychic rhythms intersect with those of our bodies, of our neighborhoods, of the earth and the cosmos, the present and the past and even the future.

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Using your journal can be as quick and disciplined as switching on the light in the middle of the night to scribble something down while it’s fresh — or as languid and elaborate as a comforting ritual with a special place, a special brew, a special pen. Or any other million ways to do it. Reading and rereading your entries, you may begin to recognize a particular voice, a particular way of reporting your dream adventures. You may notice a kaleidoscopic strangeness, with gleaming flashes of voices and images you know you wrote and yet don’t quite recognize. We’ll have time to explore a lot of these scenarios, but first it’s time to start journaling

Do you have a dream journal already? We’d love to hear about it — how do you use yours? Do you like color? Pen? Pencil? Do you record by voice? Do you use words, pictures, or both? What is your favorite part of dream journaling? If you’ve never recorded your dreams before, what’s drawing you to start now?

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Til next time,

Kaeti

Kaeti Gugiu is a Revolutionary Friend, Dreamworker, Magick Woman and Healer. Visit Kaeti’s practice website: here and find journal creations: here.

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