Judgment

Taking a cue from a good friend, I decided to start the day by drawing a Tarot card — something I’ve not done in ages, but that’s another discussion.

I was hoping for something light and airy, inspirational. A card that would stimulate my creativity and help me launch into a particularly productive and joyful week. But that’s not the card I drew. Instead, the card that came into my hands was Judgement (20).

Yeah, I never have been one to start with the easy stuff.

The Judgment card is about a day of reckoning. It speaks to self-judgment, and how our own real freedom comes from the choice we make to forgive ourselves. This is a card about making difficult choices, about how we meet the challenges and opportunities that come our way, and about the Final Judgment of our lives as a whole — how we have chosen to use our time here on Earth.

So what does a Tarot card have to do with living a sustainable life?

There are times that I don’t know how to start a project and so I end up wasting a lot of time considering each possible approach from every angle — not actually trying any of these, but just examining them. I’ve spent too much of my life being afraid of “doing it wrong” or making a mistake or unintentionally offending someone, and I’ve often missed out on real living. This includes my efforts to bring myself into greater harmony and better symbiosis with the planet I’m living on.

I get overwhelmed with choices. If I sign up for renewable energy through Portland General Electric, what does that really mean? Aren’t they still burning coal to generate most of their electricity? Is it a scam, or does it make a positive difference? Or should I build a small electric generator with an exercise bike, and then run my laptop computer and printer off a car battery that I can charge up? Am I really using the best power strips to help conserve electrical usage? Mine are kind of old, but should I replace something that still works, even if a better model exists?

And so on. I spend way too much time worrying about making the wrong choice, both in environmental terms and in life in general. With so many questions and concerns competing for attention, it’s easy to get exhausted just considering the possibilities, and then not have any energy left over to actually do anything about them. The result is that I don’t make as many changes or as much progress as I can, and then I judge myself — often rather harshly — for not doing better.

The Jewish High Holidays are fast approaching. Last year, I wrote about making Yom Kippur a day of “green atonement,” of recognizing where I’d failed the environment during the previous year, and deciding how I could do better over the next twelve months. I’ve not completely failed in my efforts to be a better “eco citizen,” but I don’t know that I’m a shining example of hope and inspiration either.

The good news is that each new year — and every new day — brings another opportunity to try again, not only to try to do better in my relationship with and my impact on the environment, but also to lighten up on the self-judgment so I don’t end up paralyzing myself into inaction and futility.

And if I decide to take another shot at drawing a morning Tarot card tomorrow, maybe I’ll get one that’s a bit gentler and more cheerful.

Gemini moon and reclaiming the mind

Yesterday’s new moon — 8:11 a.m. EDT / 5:11 a.m. PDT — is in the sign of Gemini.

As an air sign, Gemini is concerned with all things intellectual. Symbolized by the twins, Gemini is associated with dualities and pairs of opposites. The Gemini moon is a time of sociability and curiosity but can also be marked by distracted superficiality and nervousness.

Any New Moon is a time for new beginnings. Productive magic — building toward an intended goal — is worked during the waxing moon, and this New Moon in Gemini offers an opportunity to let go of rigid thinking that may have us stuck in bad or stressful habits. This is when we can get out from under the influence and admonitions of others and come back to the heart of our own ideas.

This has me thinking about the media barrage of “green.” It used to be that environmental issues were considered part of the kooky or radical fringe of Western society, but now “eco-consciousness” is fashionable and looks to be establishing itself at the other extreme of the spectrum. I prefer this level of attention to having environmental concerns ignored, but I know a lot of people who are frankly quite confused by so much eco-friendly advice, climate change warnings and vague “green” labeling on products at the store.

Eventually, the hype will diminish and we’ll come to a more balanced understanding of what it means to live in harmony with our planet, and to truly do no harm to our home. In the meantime, however, maybe we each need to take a time-out from what everyone else is telling us to do, and to sit with our own thoughts and ideas instead.

In other words: What does living in balance with your planet look like to you? When you think of nature, what comes to mind? What makes sense to you — where you are, right now, in your life and your world — in terms of living a more conscious life?

With the onslaught of “green this!” and “eco-friendly that!” so prevalent on television, in newspapers and even on the sides of city buses, it can sometimes be difficult to see the trees for the forest. It’s not a bad idea every so often to take a break from the big picture and to focus in instead on our own ideas. What feels right to you may not be the next big green thing to revolutionize environmental protection worldwide, but if it makes a difference in your immediate space, that’s pretty huge, too.

For more information about the New Moon in Gemini, swing by the About.com: Astrology page.

Intentional Weather

We had some unusual weather here in the metro Portland area this past weekend. Some friends of mine were holding a Beltane potluck party on Sunday, the day after a freak windstorm blew through town. This morning, I received an e-mail from the host:

There were a lot of people “praying” for good weather for the gathering.  If, “pray-tell” those prayers worked, the result of holding off the bad weather predicted, may have lead to the current weather extremes.  But even more interesting, what about the weird, violent, and untypical weather phenomena that occurred the day before?  This was a kind of Microburst, a type of tornado that does not twist—it is more like a (high-tidal) wave-front.  Such are extremely rare and even caught our weather bureaus off-guard.  We and 30,000 other nearby residents lost power, one person was killed and property damage was high.  Could this have been a result of the prayed-for weather modification PRIOR to the needed good weather and therefore outside the expected linear time progression?

I do believe that we are all part of the system in which we live and exist. Whether we like it or not, we absolutely impact the world around us, both intentionally and unintentionally.

Rather than using this space to debate the effectiveness of “weather magick,” I’d like to instead explore this idea of having an impact.

There is no action without reaction. I’ve often shied away from working magick, simply because I’ve been afraid of messing with karma, other people’s intentions, and so forth. I was raised not to interfere. Indeed, I’ve been so focused lately on reducing my environmental footprint — so as not to have any impact at all (or a very minimal one) — that I’ve lost sight of what being a part of the system is all about.

If I live my life being so careful not to have any kind of an impact, I’ll get my wish: I’ll have no impact on my world whatsoever. I will not leave my mark on the earth — for better or for worse — nor on society or the people I love. Is that the life I want?

As the story goes, I can spend a year lying in bed doing nothing, or I can spend that same year showing up every day for what I want and for what I want to create in this world. Either way, a year has passed. It’s up to me at the end of that year to decide whether or not I’ve spent my time wisely.

Every action we take, every breath — just the fact that we EXIST — is like throwing pebbles into the pond. We cannot know in those moments what kind of waves we might be creating farther out. But if we weren’t making waves, we wouldn’t be living.

Human beings have no choice but to have an impact on the environment in which we live. There’s just no way around that — taking ourselves out of the game entirely is simply not an option. But that impact doesn’t have to be a negative or destructive one. By becoming more conscious of our choices and actively crafting the intentions behind our actions, the impact that we have can be very positive.

We will stumble. We will make mistakes. That’s all part of nature’s imperfect perfection.

Sometimes what we want to create or change immediately in front of us can have far-reaching consequences — good or bad — that we could not have foreseen. Whether it’s in prayer, ritual or just day-to-day living, I like to include the phrase “for the highest good of all” and/or “this or something better” — so that the Universal forces at work (which have a broader view than I do) can make adjustments as needed.

What kind of intentional magick have you been working?