Ship of Fools: An Environmental Self-Analysis

This is a long blog post, but one with important ideas to share. Forgive me if it seems meandering-ish.

 

There were several news items last week for which to be truly thankful: The Supreme Court has dealt a Tower-card-type ruling that will affect forevermore the lives of gay and lesbian people. Gay marriage is now the law of the land in all fifty states of the Unites States of America. Landmark. Stupefying. Dizzying elation. It’s hard to fathom the weight of such a thing—especially for someone who has worked in the LGBT human rights advocacy arena for over two decades. This changes everything. The over-one-thousand federal legal biases that were denied to gay and lesbian citizens before this week are now abolished. Equality reigns. Justice.

 

The Supreme Court also upheld the approbation of the Affordable Care Act and health insurance for all citizens. Republicans are once again nonplussed. Their repeal rallying nonsense is rebuked again. The minimal security of freedom from the fear of sickness and the fear from bankruptcy due to medical emergencies or overinflated medical billing is reaffirmed. Make no mistake—this country still has a long way to go in providing essential human care in the area of health reform and medical care—socialized medical care and single-payer healthcare should be the right of a first-world citizenry—but at least the Court’s decision this past week minimally is a step in the right direction.

 

But there were other events that equally failed mankind—of the hope and aspirations of peace and brotherhood that encompasses the globe. Several public terrorist attacks by Islamist extremists left over 70 people dead. A radical, immature, racist punk-kid succeeded in slaughtering nine worshippers during a Bible study inside a church in South Carolina after sitting in their company through the entire hour-long Bible study session. And while dialogue is finally—FINALLY—progressing about the removal of symbols of hate and segregation due to the massacre (the confederate flag that still flies on the grounds of the South Carolina general Assembly and several other southern states), there is still no talk or discussion happening at all about the greater core problem of guns in America. How is that possible? How is it possible that similar horrific incidents have happened over and over and over and over and over and over (ad nauseum) and yet there is still nothing actively being spoken to change the culture of violence and the access to the medium for such violence?

The Ship of Fools

The Ship of Fools - is one passenger overboard a sacrifice of circumstance or folly?

There is nothing advantageous to be garnered by admitting my distain and distaste for gun ownership on a public forum like this blog. It opens myself up to anger and hatred from a very distinct body of gun-ownership advocates. Ironically polls show that the majority of Americans are in favor of gun restriction legislation; so how is it that a greater advancement of gun regulation and reform does not—cannot—take place in this country?

 

I get that the Second Amendment exists. But I also get that the country has evolved on other issues and made amendments to benefit the human rights of its countrymen. If the 13th Amendment ratifying the abolition of slavery was an amendment worthy of providing human rights to a segment of the population, why is gun reform not an amendment worthy of providing the retention of human life to an at-risk, terrorized population?

 

I don’t understand, and I think a lot of people don’t understand. It’s another one of those areas where many of us feel utterly and hopelessly helpless. How are we bullied into simply allowing ourselves to be terrorized, and victimized,… and killed? As believers and advocates of non-violence, escalating armament and defensive returned violence is not the answer (as so many gun advocates would recommend). Gun violence only begets more gun violence (which the gun advocates would have you disbelieve, but which empiric evidence proves is true). Where are our advocates? Where are our elected officials that are supposed to stand up for citizens’ safety and well-being? Even when we do say something, there is a defeatist attitude that responds—this is saddening more than many other things about the issue—to simply accept the preventable death and destruction of human lives.

 

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.” (The Gospel of John 15:18-19)

 

This isn’t my favorite passage from John. It sounds like a very helpless statement, particularly when quoted by persons who feel persecuted. But the Bible is full of lamentations by the persecuted, and Jesus arrived to advocate for the persecuted; it is a core tenant of the literature. There has to be a promise that Justice will prevail.

 

“There are different forms of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit. To one is given through the Spirit the expression of wisdom; to another the expression of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit; to another mighty deeds; to another prophesy; to another discernment of spirits; to another varieties of tongues; to another interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes.” (I Corinthians 12:4-11)

 

I had on my mind to quote a passage about false prophets; that would have been all too easy…and accusatory…and inflammatory. Instead, what I found while flipping through my Bible what this passage about the special gifts of the Spirit, about the various talents of men (and women). I still seem to be having a somewhat difficult time conveying to people the focus of my studies and the basis for my philosophy of tarot reading. And that dismay was heightened recently at a local business where I regularly do walk-in public readings.

 

The venue is a place known (and promoted) as a "holistic wellness center," and it's where I have for several week now been making myself available for readings at the same time that I've been assessing and evaluating the propriety of associating my talents as an independent businessperson in collaboration with the establishment. I would like to say that my concern is with my own discrimination and premature discernment of where I might fit in the world of this business. I think my first reaction is usually to place blame (if blame exists) upon myself.

Foolish Consultations?

Foolish consultations?

But the other day, there was a rather busy slate of out-of-town “guest” mediums and readers scheduled to be available to the public, and while I pretty much enjoy meeting any and all new people and characters that come across my journey, some meetings are not without their challenges…

 

In the course of introducing myself to one such guest reader and literally under 60 seconds of exchanging names, I was explaining—as a matter of background—how I had moved from the Pacific Northwest within the last year, when she interrupted me to say that I’d be returning to the west coast…

 

“Um… sorry, what?”

 

“It’s a place that you’ll be returning to—I can see that about you.”

 

“Er…um… yeah, I’m not so sure that I likely will. I mean, I have a brother and sister-in-law with two young children who still live in Oregon, whom I will very likely visit at some point, but…”

 

“Yes,… yes… that must be what I am reading about you…”

 

Um, okay, well, thanks for thinking that you needed to try to “read” me with your special fortune-telling powers, but I didn’t really need you to try to prove yourself or your abilities to me for any special reason… Nor was I particularly concerned about where my living situation might someday lead (I had not asked). But if it makes you feel better, honey, to try to impress brand-spanking new acquaintances with your mystical abilities—as if that were your only way of self-affirming your value—then mission accomplished for you, I guess.

 

Still, she was sweet, and introduced me to her husband who had accompanied her on the trip. She made a point of informing me that he was a very special person in her life because “he was fully willing to believe and support all the crazy messages I was always receiving from above.” Great—you found somebody else in the world who was willing to entertain your inferiority complex. That’s nice.

 

I wasn’t chatting with them for more than a couple minutes when another of the guest readers came around the corner and stood nearby our group, and in a very authoritative manner and voice descended his gaze upon the first medium and said, “You need to pay attention to the imbalance that is going on with your body. You need to start taking the right supplements to alleviate this imbalance. You haven’t found the right supplements yet. Does this make sense to you? Do you understand what I’m saying to you?”

 

The first reader meekly replied, “I don’t know what supplements I’m supposed to be taking.”

 

To which the second, baritone-reverberating reader momentarily pulpit-frenzied assured her, “You will… you will!” as he swiftly turned around and made his exit towards his next riveting client bedazzlement somewhere in a back room. At which point the first reader, squealed with delight and stated, “He just did his reading thing at me!... He just did what he does!!”

 

“Ooooh…,” I attempt to feign. “Very impressive indeed.”

 

I guess…

A celebration among fools

A celebration among fools

So what is it about these “magickal mediums” that they so insatiably feel the need to be constantly, personally provided with affirmation about their special “abilities?” Is there really such a grand inferiority complex going on in the “medium” community that it’s necessary to interject one’s pretend authorship of the future into every interaction that one has with people? It was a rather depressing observation that might have confirmed any skeptic’s trope. Are these people trying their damnest to actually set themselves above and apart from the norm (while here I am constantly distressed that I can somehow never seem to be part of the normative group?) This is totally messed up!!

 

My own insecurities derive from the self-invented theory that I often don’t “fit” very well into the world. I have recently had conversations with friends about the realization that—somehow—I am always falling into a minority spectrum: as a minority gay person in a heterosexist world; as a religious-clerical class minority within a non-religiously affiliated LGBT community; as a tarot-enthusiast minority within a community of religious-clerical class that is skeptical of esoterically-affiliated material; as a non-psychic/non-medium minority within an esoteric community adamant about psychic and medium-ship abilities and promotion. And let me tell you… it’s exhausting being a minority all the time to that degree. It’s also alienating and lonely at times.

 

But I really don’t see any reason to pretend to have an affinity with those larger majorities if I truly don’t possess the criteria for membership. It’s not honest. And I certainly don’t see any reason to encourage the false claims, the pretentions of needing to belong for the sake of belonging, or the illogical anti-wisdom projected by any of the larger majority classes either. Dishonesty is dishonesty.

 

The truth is, it has been a challenging experience being thrown in amongst a throng of individuals exercising their “talents” who are constantly “expressing their knowledge” from a psychic and medium framework, while I am trying to “express my wisdom” through the literature of virtue ethics and historical philosophy research and biblical exegesis. The rest of the world seems to know that these two camps diverge like opposing magnetic charges. Why do I fight so hard to challenge those opposing schools of gnosis?

 

 

A few minutes later a really cute hippie couple walks into the venue with their adorable 2-and-1/2-week-old infant daughter. They are obviously friends with the front desk employee. This employee is a regular staffer on weekend days, and she immediately breaks into conversation with the couple—to the extent that she ignores the business’s phone ringing incipiently behind her. The front desk employee is a mother also, and the conversation falls into the complications each of them experienced during their labor, and the miracles of newborn growth spurts, and such…

 

And I’m standing there and beaming a smile because frankly, this little newborn bundle is simply precious, and her mom looks exhausted and bedraggled like she’s been up sleepless nights with a newborn, and she’s finally got some relaxation time now, talking new-mom talk with a friend, and the dad—the dad!—is almost as cute as his baby daughter, and from the conversation you get the sense that it’s not his first child, and he is holding his newborn with pride and tenderness and CONFIDENCE while the mom looks around and talks with the front desk girl. And he lifts his daughter into the air with strong hands and looks directly in her eyes and talks like a grownup to her without all the mushy goo-goo warble-talk that most parents use when talking to their babies, and it’s a beautiful thing. And then he turns around with his 2-and-1/2-week-old daughter in his arms to look at something along the back wall of the shop… and THERE. IT. IS…

 

Tucked into the back of his pants—not even in a holster—is the huge black glock-style gun that is his God-given right to bear according to the Constitution of the United States of America.

 

And I’m floored.

 

The irony and the paradox of his holding his 9-pound tiny wide-eyed baby and an implement of death and killing tucked nonchalantly into his backside waistband… in a public storefront meant to induce an aura of peace, esoteric discovery, health, and non-violence…is more than my brain can comprehend. I think my jaw literally dropped open—right before I reflexively clenched my fists indignant at the folly of such a thing.

 

And as a prophet, I just said nothing

Ignoring the fire burning down one's house

Ignoring the fire that is burning down one's house

But guest reader number one and guest reader number two seemed to have plenty to say to other roaming patrons of the venue—not about gun violence, mind you. Instead, reader one, in her bubbly effervescence was still finding new people upon whom to interject her random, non-sensical, self-inflating “messages”: when a customer mentioned in passing that his grandmother had in her day amassed a large collection of menagerie dragonflies, she immediately informed him that every time a dragonfly zoomed by him outdoors, that was his grandmother tying to communicate with him.

 

Great.

 

Reader two was busy trying his best to sound like James Earl Jones and “sensing” that a young woman patron needed to look through some “papers” that she had at home.

 

Super. And very specific… thanks so much.

 

But oddly—although both guest readers were standing less than three feet away from the gun-wielding young father holding his infant daughter—neither of them seemed to “sense” any impending catastrophe in the fate of the young new-to-this-world infant girl. Guest reader number one didn’t seem to receive any “messages” from above telling her to inform the father to make sure to lock his gun in a safety box where his daughter couldn’t reach it. Guest reader number two didn’t seem to “sense” a deficiency of vitamin nutrition—much less a loss of life—for the infant girl riding astride her father’s crooked arm, her miniature leg and foot dangling precipitously near the butt end of her dad’s black-tone handgun—the ultimate equalizer of men.

 

And I stood there, and though I had all sorts of prophesying to recommend to those gathered in front of me—the statistical probabilities of harm to which the black object subjected the man’s children (the Tower); the impending heartbreak of losing a child to preventable harm (Three of Swords); the never-ending guilt of being the cause of the death of one’s own child (Nine of Swords); vigilance against a pretend enemy where anyone might get hurt because of misunderstanding (Nine of Wands; Five of Wands); of a cataclysmic change that is wholly unforeseeable because of blind ignorance and unpredictable because of the curiosity of young children (The Fool; Death; Wheel of Fortune).

 

…and I kept my prophesies to myself.

 

 

The prophets of the Bible weren’t afraid to speak the truth—to challenge citizens to return to the laws of the covenant and the rules of Prudence. Those prophets weren’t afraid to face ostracism, or condemnation, or ridicule, or prison. But were they speaking to someone with a big black gun? Prudence therefore held my prophesying tongue.

 

So who do I think I am in my fearfulness to speak, when surrounding me is a throng of readily espousing “psychics” and “mediums” exercising their “talents” to any passerby who will listen to them?

 

Here is the difference between my philosophy of prophesy and the random "messages" of my fellow venue psychic esotericists… (This is an example I read once by another tarot professional—possibly Benebell Wen?—in regards to the ethics of fortunetelling.) If I light a candle and ask my client to put his or her hand in the flame, can they tell me what will happen even before they perform the deed? If so, congratulations… the client has just predicted the future! What a tarot reader—or any ethical consultant—is capable of is no more and no less than this same method of fortunetelling. The question and scenario might be somewhat more complex, but the answer won't ever be any more "mystical" than being able to determine that you're gonna burn your hand over that flame. If someone is telling you that your grandma has the body of a caddis fly and is buzzing around you in the garden, you can pretty much look around for a different consultant. …Unless, of course, you wanna think about your grandmother as an insect, which is your absolute right.

 

In the case of this young couple and their newborn infant daughter, we all failed in our prophesying mission that day… some through errancy, and me through fear. (In my defense, I wasn't asked for a reading of the situation… and much like in the case of myself having no taste for guest reader number one's indulgence in predicting my future geographic habitation, it's likely that the gun-toting father would have distained my prophesying "opinion.")

 

 

Previously I noted that the rest of the world seems to know that our two camps—their mystical knowledge and my brand of virtue wisdom—diverge like opposing magnetic charges. So why is it that I struggle about challenging those opposing schools of gnosis?

 

Common ground… that’s why. Though it might not sound like it, I have some sort of insane concern that there has to be a connecting platform, that there has to be common ground upon which we can all find enlightenment… where we can all strive for and place our hopes and aspirations of peace and brotherhood that can encompass the globe.

 

…And just like how I think the methods of some mediums and psychics are completely nuts and irrational—yet I get that they and I, despite our different methods, are just trying our best, the best way we know how, to try to make people feel better, to give others some comfort or solace, to help boost their creative minds in order to see things in another way, and find solutions that might otherwise remain hidden.

 

…Just like how, despite my harsh words and judgments, I know their hearts and my heart are in the right place—which is really one and the same place.

 

…Just like how the right-to-bear-arms advocates think I am a left-wing nut-job-pansy ready to surrender my rights away to tyrants—yet I get that they and I, despite our different methods, are just trying our best, the best way we know how, to try to protect the ones we love, and make the spirit of this country be the best that it possibly can be.

 

…Just like how, despite the fact that I will continue to spew statistics and prophesy the consequences of gun armament, and won't neglect to point out by means of example that every other first-world country that regulates and requires gun registry has a relatively minimal gun death or accident rate and that law enforcement in those places have a much easier time connecting gun violence to a specific registered firearm,…that gun advocates have to know that my heart is in the right place—which is really one and the same place…I hope. This is the Temperance that I believe in and feel to be true.

 

 

And in this instance of joining forces with this holistic center, I think I believed that the tarot—the things that I had joyously discovered about the tarot—could be that common platform, that the wisdom and talents that I had to offer to the collaborative conversation would add to the complexity and understanding and illumination that this venue establishment could provide to a wide audience. I guess I thought that this venue establishment could be a wonderful canvas upon which the public could view and be inspired by a magnificently colorful array of brushstrokes. …But that has turned out to be less the case.

 

When we said goodbye, she…said, ‘Don't worry. It'll all work out.’ The truth is, I don't know how it will play but life and her many gifts will certainly envelop the seeker if we are wise enough to receive them.

 

It's a hard road at times, but I think we'll make it.”

--Raven Mardirosian, seeker, writer, tarot reader, female powerhouse, beloved by her friends near and far (I know because her friends just can’t shut up about how much they adore her!)

 

And it’s not a bad thing. It’s wonderful that the venue has been willing to broaden its scope of gnosis and offerings to the public by offering me room to share my insights. (Kudos to that!) But I think I need to be reasonable and better focus my wisdom-dispensation to places where the audience is more amenable to my brand of gnosis. If that means continuing to dispense that wisdom in an online forum (like this blog) where my audience can fill its own seats, then that’s great. That’s what the web community is about—reaching out and sharing ideas and finding a disparate and widely geographic community that can find common interests. The internet can make those minority classifications seem much less lonely.

 

And there are other ways to build clientele—which I am doing slowly—and other venues that may attract participants on the same or similar trails of gnosis as my particular brand of gnosis. I can be at ease and peace about that.

 

I’m also glad—joyous—to have the gift of literature and reading and even the tarot, which in a magickal way assures me that I am not alone in my curving, twisting, angst-ridden, awe-struck, grateful journey of discovering what the world and God have to offer.

Self portrait as the Fool

Self-portrait as the Fool in a Fool's hood that I designed and knit myself based on the woodcut designs of Das Narrenschiffen (Brant's 15th-century book "Ship of Fools")

 

 

Posted in Close to My Heart, Tarot Business, Tarot Philosophy, Tarot Reading, Virtue Philosophy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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