Last year I spent two glorious weeks in Britain and Scotland. I spent my days wending my way through castles both restored and crumbling, traipsing through field, hedge and moor; I expected to see some ghosties on my way through. I mean, aren't the British isles known for their ghostly activity?
As an intuitive, I can usually feel if there is some spiritual activity happening in the area around me. I think most of us can. From the inexplicable feeling of unease, to the sense of being watched in an empty room, most of us have had an odd feeling we couldn't put our finger on from time to time. But what takes a casual observer to a full on believer of spiritual activity is when those poltergeists are about, the noisy spirit that is able to make changes in our physical world that we cannot explain. You never quite believe it, until it happens to you.
I have had several of these poltergeist experiences in my past so when they happen now, my kneejerk reaction isn't to run, but to investigate. I stay in the room, I ask questions, I talk to the spirit and see if there is anything I can do or help with.
While I do that, the sweat down your sides feeling of terror can sometimes be hard to fight off and it was that feeling I was left with as I hung out in the Doll Room at the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh, right on the Royal Mile. It was not a place I expected to have an encounter and honestly I was just curious about the toys and excited that the entrance was free!
The Museum of Childhood is 5 stories of games, hobbies, dolls, books and various toys throughout the centuries. It is a wonderful little museum and when I arrived it was fairly quiet being about an hour before closing. I started on the 5th floor and worked my way down before finding myself on the 3rd floor, the floor of Dolls. Imagine that, a whole floor of them, case after case of dolls.
The room of dolls has an instant creep vibe. It has cases upon cases of dolls from the renaissance to modern times and from every region of the globe. At first glance, you might think these are just dolls that little girls play with. But the selection also includes collectibles, fascinating mechanicals from the early 1800's, on up to modern Bernstein Bears and the like.
I decided to stay in the room despite feeling creepy and noticed that the few people who did cycle through did not stay long. They breezed in and out, probably picking up on the same creepy vibe I did. But when I encounter that feeling, I investigate.
I lingered in a certain corner because I noticed that some of the dolls were the exact same ones my Mother had. My Mother lived in Scotland in the 60's, so I do not know if it was just what was popular locally at the time, or coincidence. But I was feeling nostalgic and touched.
In that corner there was also this Shirley Temple doll. I was also reminiscing about how my Mother liked Shirley Temple and when she was a little girl, people often remarked about how she looked like her with her curly hair. I was standing in this corner for about 10 minutes reading all the info and reminiscing about my Mom when all the sudden, right before my very open, alert, sober eyes... Shirley Temple's eyes opened... okay, will you. just. look. at. that. doll?!?! Naw, girl... nope to the nope degree.
Shirley Temple had one of those eyes that, when you lay her down, her eyes close and when she sits up, her eyes open. However, her eyes were closed the entire 10 minutes or so while I was standing there. And then, all of the sudden, they popped open! I didn't move, we are not talking about some latent vibration from the floor, no one else (of course, right?) was in the room but myself. My eyes could not unsee what they saw, and I knew deep within my soul that this was no coincidence.
Now, my first instinct was to hightail it out of there. I got clammy from fright and my inner deer was like, "GTFO of there, girl!" But, I am no noob when it comes to spiritual investigations so I stayed.
I called out, "Hello. I saw you, will you come out to play?" Making a guess as to who, or what, might be there. Has to be a child, right?
I lingered a long time but I did not see anything more except feel a presence. I took my time, I pulled up a chair and more closely examined the cases in the room. One case was called, 'Dolls Around the World' and it was here that I found very interesting things...
No children's dolls were these, but powerful dolls, dark dolls, dolls that should not be kept here...
The label calls this a voodoo doll from the West Indies, and that may be true, but the paper attached to it, is in Nordic runic script, and points to a more local use. My eye was drawn to this doll first out of familiarity, but it was not, I suspect, the cause of trouble.
Now this one was interesting. A Peruvian 'painted figure' found in a child's grave. Was it a doll? Did it have some other purpose? It was not until writing this post that I googled this museum. I found several articles that claim that people have heard the sound of children crying from this very room! Alright, so I have established a history of poltergeist activity.
The stories attribute the crying to children who died but left their dolls behind, but perhaps there is more to that story than originally revealed.
A second google search reveals that these are, more correctly, Chancay (named for the people who lived on the Peruvian coast before the Incas) people and these Burial dolls have an unknown function. Child's toy, companion to the after world; we do not know, and neither does this museum. What we do know is that it was grave robbed.
But we are not hardly done, and I had not yet found the 'culprit' of the activity. This doll, a Sudanese maternity doll 'bought from witches, magicked with fertility spells is no plain effigy.
There is power in these dolls, no children's playthings are these... and while these are all certifiably alarming as to the possible origin of my disturbance... They all pale in comparison this last doll.
This doll below, I believe and felt, was the source of suffering...
Just look at the doll first and tell me you don't feel...something very dark. I know I did.
My eye went to this guy in the case and i felt electricity shoot through me
. This dark and very mysterious thing.
According to the plaque above, this is a "spirit doll' whose skirt hides the box which contains the spirit of a dead chief of the "Achewa' tribe. I say again, a trapped soul.
The moment I placed my eyes on this Chief. I understood that this was the home of disturbance. I do not know the story, the cause, the why or how it got into this museum but I know he or she doesn't belong there.
It feels so incredibly sad.
He or she belongs back with the Chewa where they may put his or her soul to rest--There is no 'achewa tribe' but there is a Chewa tribe--Even in this, the cultural ignorance is hard to miss.
It has to be one of the creepiest things (and I have had many) I have experienced. But mostly, it made me depressed.
As colonizers, many developed nations own and imprison artifacts that are not their right to have. This guy needs to go home, and there will be ongoing problems with that room and that museum until they do. Perhaps this is what I have been asked to do.
This little lady has teeth! Isn't she special? Apparently back in the 1800s they went for realism, but why are her teeth pointed?
I know you want to leave, Pumpkin, and I wish I could take you.
Usually there is a reason for poltergeist activity. Often, that reason is suffering. Find the source of suffering, and you free a soul. Next time something spooky happens to you, don't run, face it and ask, "How can I help"
Happy April Fools' Day!
April Fools has deep historical origins, as anything of Archetype does, replaying, recycling, and rebirthing throughout human society, cultures and migration for as long as we can find evidence for them. The Fool is particularly powerful in its archetype on human consciousness, so much so that our Fool gets his very own day each April first.
April Fool's day can be reasonably found in historical articles from the middle ages throughout Europe, the day has shifted from late March to April first but the sentiment is similar, Here is what we know for sure:
In 1508, French poet Eloy d'Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally "April fish"), a possible reference to the holiday. In 1539, Flemish poet Eduard de Dene wrote of a nobleman who sent his servants on foolish errands on 1 April. In 1686, John Aubrey referred to the holiday as "Fooles holy day", the first British reference. On 1 April 1698, several people were tricked into going to the Tower of London to "see the Lions washed". (Wiki)
Even earlier, ancient Greeks and Romans celebrated the feast of Hilaria (doesn't that sound like so much fun?!) Celebrated on March 25th, possibly along with the start of spring to honor Cybel, So it seems that what was once a joyful noise of people acting probably pretty silly, filled with frisky spring fever eventually morphed into the April's Fools day pranking that exists today.
In tarot, the Fool's meaning has shifted over the centuries. Originally, the Fool was literally a fool, a silly or dumb man or a man acting stupid for the comedic enjoyment of others. Today, the Fool denotes more of a letting go of control, self-consciousness and embracing everything that life has to offer. The fool's appearance in a reading is a serious call to let go of the reigns and let the Universe provide. Being mindless and spirit-full.
Less in the western cultures anymore, but in many others, the Fool does act as a spiritual Clown. A silly shaman that through laughter of himself and others, making that joyful noise we get closer to God. I think it is deeply sad that our modern life has only one little tiny april fools prank vestige of what is a very powerful and wise archetype, the Fool.
For example, in Hopi tradition, there is the Heyoka, the sacred clown is still very much activated in this culture:
Principally, the heyókȟa functions both as a mirror and a teacher, using extreme behaviors to mirror others, thereby forcing them to examine their own doubts, fears, hatreds, and weaknesses. heyókȟa also have the power to heal emotional pain; such power comes from the experience of shame — they sing of shameful events in their lives, beg for food, and live as clowns.
They provoke laughter in distressing situations of despair and provoke fear and chaos when people feel complacent and overly secure, to keep them from taking themselves too seriously or believing they are more powerful than they are. (wiki)
So how can you embrace the call of the Fool today?
Here are some ideas:
*Go to a Comedy show,
*Sign up for Laughter Yoga (truly, the Fool is alive and well among this merry troupe!)
*When was the last time you really laughed at yourself?
*Do something silly, meaningless, joyful, even 'dumb', who cares whose watching?
*Turn off your GPS, and guess a new route home today from work, remember what it feels like 'not to know' be comfortable with that ambiguity, look at a beautiful new place you've never seen before in the process.
*Eat ice cream for lunch.
*Sing loudly with the windows down
*Wear mismatching socks or a T shirt inside out or backwards
*Stop taking yourself so seriously, darlin, the Sacred Fool has come to play today!
There, I said it, Tarot does not tell the future.
Revoke my cards, burn me at the stake, embroil me in a 3 day op ed;
I stand by my statement.
To clarify, I believe that our definition of 'future' is off. How can we measure for something that does not exactly exist, or at least exist in the way we perceive it?
First, let's look at the standard definition:
“To Tell the Future” by popular culture usually means:
So understandably, many people come to a tarot reading with the above underlying assumptions and those assumptions frame their expectations“When will Mr. Right come? When will I find a bag of money? When does little Johnny get a sibling?” When. When. When.
When is the wrong question. 'When' is based on an assumption on the effect time has on our lives.
First, there is the scientific model:
The idea of time being a linear aspect: past, present, and future is largely a construct; a perception based on our biological ability to sense it as well as our cultural framework around it. In fact, science actually has a hard time measuring it. In some ways, time is seen to move backwards, or, from a quantum perspective, time and space are interlinked in ways that confound our senses AND our best scientific instruments. So if we cannot accurately perceive what time is... what makes us think we can use tarot to measure the things that happen within it?
Second, consider that our perception of time is cultural in origin:
Western Perception of time:
2. Strict starting and ending points.
3. As one moves across this timeline, events and milestones are passed.
4. Once an event is passed, it is complete and cannot be revisited.
5. In this perception of time, life is organized by creating a schedule.
6. Value and importance is communicated by keeping and honoring the schedule.
7. E.g. If I make plans to meet someone for lunch at 12 PM and do not show up until 12:30, then I owe that person an apology because my tardiness is offensive. I did not honor our schedule and did not value their time (source).
But even if we decide that the linear aspect of time is standard, there are variations within that.
Third, our own 'standard' western model of time varies:
Perception of time is a cultural construct and among those cultures who do believe in a western perception of time there are variations.
(Excellent article I recommend giving it a read!)
As an American living in other countries, I noticed that time felt different, it always felt like there was more time, I thought perhaps I was going crazy but once I returned to America I would talk to foreign nationals who also noticed the phenomenon of perception of time shifting along with culture.
We would shake our heads and say, “Why do I feel so busy when I had all the time I needed before?” Everyone gets the same 24 hours, don’t they? From my own perceptions and in conversations with others I learned that: Group consciousness on time impacts the whole. So if time was so very static, why would it feel so different? What's going on with time?
With Practice, a Different Model Emerges
Over conducting thousands of readings a different understanding of how tarot (and time) operate has emerged for me, and that operation feels closer to an interdynamic model. To illustrate, I have included the standard definition of “Navajo time”. Though by no means is this time-structure the aegis of the Navajo culture alone.
Navajo Perception of Time:
2. If an event is passed or missed, then there is not as much reason for concern. The understanding is that the event will usually come back around again.
3. In this perception of time, life is organized by completing tasks or events.
4. Value and importance is communicated not by starting/arriving on time, but by staying until the interaction is over or the task is complete.
5. E.g. If I make plans to meet someone here on our reservation at noon and do not show up until 1 pm, there is usually no need for me to apologize. But, once we are talking, if I am constantly looking at my watch or suddenly announce that I need to leave, I have committed an offense. I did not allow the interaction to come to its natural completion. (source)
Time from an Inter-relational Perspective
Tarot seems to follow rules that are causal in nature.. A reading will be less about "when" something will happen but rather in the "how" a thing emerges.
A closer question, a far more helpful question to ask tarot is, 'how?' rather than 'when'.
If we take into account a non-linear agreement for time, a different assumption about how tarot actually works begins to emerge:
A Reframed, inter-relational, causal dynamic creates a new probability-telling definition for what a tarot reading includes:
Like trying to predict the weather, a weather scientist must enact highly technical algorithms to measure a massive amount of data which produces a “most likely outcome” but that probable outcome is predicated on current conditions; how the ‘wind is blowing’.
So in this new understanding of time and how tarot works, we paint a picture not of “when” but of “how”.
Not, “When will I meet Mr. Right?” but rather, “What do I need to do, pay attention to, or avoid to create the most likely narrative in finding Mr. Right?”.
I find this view of tarot to be very complete, it creates a narrative that is interactive and helpful in the most practical sense. There is far more beauty and flexibility in a system that hands over creative control to us rather than a train speeding towards some pre-ordained destiny. to one Shifting our thoughts on time and personal power clearly illustrates our links to the great Divine (including one another) which is a powerful shift. A shift that places the power squarely within our own so very capable hands.
"As above, so below" goes the adage and it is no less true for each and every one of us. It is less about being a particle moving along a track as it is that we are one thin-slice of a living, breathing Grand Conciousness, interconntected and always influencing and being influenced by others. I like to think in terms of interdimensionality (depth) rather than distance. To me, the tarot seems to meet this model, too.
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