by Camelia Elias
As so many others, on the last day of the year, I woke up with the determination to do at least two things, and close the book on them, as they have been neglected in the past months: update my publications list for the university I work for, and thus align myself with the new values, ideals, and requirements for ‘visibility and impact’, and handle some email work pertaining to the planning of a new look and design of the journal I’m editor-in-chief of, PsyArt: Psychology and the Arts.
Love and Wickedness
I had my coffee, and while going through the regular emails, I got a series of questions from friend, teacher, poet, entrepreneur, and bad witch, Carolyn Elliott. ‘What is this wickedness?,’ I asked myself while looking at the way Carolyn signed her newsletter sent out to all magical folks in her orbit: ‘Love and wickedness’.
‘What are all these questions disturbing my plans today?’But as with all good enchantments, you find that you absolutely have to abide by ‘love and wickedness’ and do the magical work required of you the subtle way.
This simply meant that my academic work got postponed to the New Year, making the required visibility and impact somewhat less than urgent.
Now, what did Carolyn say, and what did I do? I take the liberty to quote her three questions here, as they were made public, after all, and suggest how we can all answer them, in the loving and wicked way intended.
Carolyn was talking about her year, and how she made a few crucial realizations after some heavy-duty shadow work, which basically amounted to incorporating on the conscious level all the stuff that has been frustrating her. She wrote about this in one of her essays on shadow work, which I recommend, as I do all her other work.
The Dark in a Coffee Cup
Back to my coffee: As I was staring into the darkness of my cup, I had the idea to answer the questions she ended her new year’s greeting letter with by reading my cards.
Carolyn is into asking the big questions, and I have to admit that I fall for it all the time. I absolutely adore big questions, and the nastier they are, the better. The more disturbing and destabilizing they are, the better.
I don’t always like asking the big questions, but just as a Sadist approaches her work, relishing every bit of pleasure in the pain that goes into busting the status quo, so I throw myself at the possibility to uncover my own blind spots, render myself vulnerable, and exclaim: ‘Damn, I know this, but…’
See, it is precisely this ‘but’ that gets me going.
Butbutbutbutbut… Here’s a new magic word for you.
Carolyn’s three questions made me draw a card for each. Even though I hardly ever do positional readings with the cards – as I find those reductive and not always conducive to observing the rhyming visual patterns on the cards and how they translate and transform the narrative that I might come up with – this time around I indulged, though I have to say that I still had the functional value of each card in mind, as I went about decoding what the string was saying – function in cards, and not symbol, being my pet project and the very thing that renders me popular with some and totally unpopular with others.
Cool division, now that I think of it, as not all of us are into nondualism – another one of my pet projects.
What pisses you off, basically?
1. What frustrating patterns are operating in your life right now?
2. How might they shift if you started giving fullest approval to the dark pleasures that drive those patterns?
3. What fundamental, terrifying shift in your identity would come with that?
‘Good questions,’ I thought. ‘Yay,’ as Carolyn would say. Let me surprise myself, I then said, and found myself exclaiming, ‘fuck,’ after each card fell on the table, representing each of the three questions.
Ok, this existential and epistemological fuck acquired some nuance, as each card progressed from 1 to 3, but it was still a fuck nonetheless, and thus quite aligned with what Carolyn was all about, dem fundamentals.
The Pope, the Star, the Devil
Let’s start again with a contemplation of each card connected to each of the three questions, before I attempt a synthesizing and overall message:
“What frustrating patterns are operating in your life right now?”
I know this. I AM this. I teach all the time, in my work at the university and in my cartomancy classes. But do I know that this Pope frustrates me as well? Yes. I do.
Why? Hmm, I actually also know why. This has to do with my work of acquiring teaching competence and then some, which I like to associate with some life wisdom.
I like that. As I said, since I’m all about the big questions, there’s hardly ever any teaching that I do that will not address some universal wisdom which I hope to have incorporated myself. I did liken myself to a Sadist, did I not? Yes, I happen to believe quite religiously in this universal truth: ‘No pain, no gain’.
I’m attracted to pain for its promise of wisdom. ‘Are you dumb, or something?’, some may ask, and the only answer I’d have to that is to say, ‘yes, alas.’
The frustrating part is related to this painful work. After the pain, I can get quite fixated on the values I’ve come to hold. If I don’t pay attention, I end up imposing these values on others. In other words, I keep forgetting that not everyone repeats my mantras, and not everyone values the gain from pain that I do.
What frustrates me often is my own lack of patience in relation to how others acquire values in their lives. Oh, the Pope.
Sometimes I want to tell myself to go screw myself as a teacher of any values – spiritual and otherwise – if only, I weren’t reminded that I once got a reading of my cards and palm by none other than a Swami, former pupil of Osho, who said this to me: ‘However much you will resist this, you are and will forever be a teacher.’ Fuck, indeed.
“How might they shift [the frustrating patterns, that is] if you started giving fullest approval to the dark pleasures that drive those patterns?”
Fuck me. Oh, la la.
A different tone here than in the plain ‘fuck’ above, don’t you think? But of course.
Imagine this, while looking at this card. Isn’t it as logical as plain sight to say that, indeed, if I stopped worrying about my values vis-à-vis other folks’ values, and how I might pass them on to them the ever so diplomatic way, I’d be as free as a bird, or at least as naked as a nymph? Why, yes, and of course.
‘Just give off yourself’, this card says, from your nakedness. You incorporate your frustrations not by donning the stiff costume, but rather by putting it off.
Who cares about your consecrations, or about what’s ‘proper’? The very idea of appropriateness is a cultural convention, so why waste time on that? The Star woman has no shame – not that there are any people in this picture to judge you and worry about, but still.
If I give fullest approval to the ‘dark’ side of what frustrates me about my teachings, it looks like I can turn those disciples at my feet into chalices from which I pour the gift of water into the earth. Now, surely this is a gift in itself.
Oh, la la, indeed. This one fucks me softly.
“What fundamental, terrifying shift in your identity would come with that, [with the approval of the dark pleasures, that is]?”
I’m back to the imposing of values thing that I was trying to diplomatically find a way around, drawing on help from the ever so inspiring celestial and natural force, the Star.
What’s this? If binding and bonding frustrates me – The Pope delivers what he must as he feels inspired by grace, while at the same time submitting to his audience – the Devil submits to no one.
Man, oh man. Here is the teacher with the balls. ‘Come ye, and listen, and if you won’t listen, I’ll make you listen.’ Or what?I have a feeling Carolyn is going to love this wickedness. Bloody hell.
Well, it’s the end of the year, about to get me into new thinking and new behavioral patterns, one more shameless than the other – so mote it be.
I’ll stop here, wishing you all a Happy New Year.
I’ll be off kissing my shadow, and celebrating it with a blast of bubbles and sparkling light and artifice. Cheers to you all.
About the Author:
CAMELIA ELIAS, PhD, Dr. Phil., is a professor, writer, and cartomancer. Her research interests are in esoteric movements, occult, and folk practices of reading and producing spiritual texts. She blogs at Taroflexions, she is a columnist in cartomancy at Agora/Patheos (since July 22, 2015), and she is the author of a book on divination with the Marseille cards, Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading. A new book on principles of magic with cards is due to appear in August 2015.
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