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2012 --- 2013
Tuesday October 22nd 2013

Ruth and Charque standing with bikes by  Longdon BridgeYesterday Charque and I did a bike ride in Washington County (just south of Pittsburgh). It was ostensibly to experience the fall colours and to see some of the covered bridges in that area. (There are at least thirty covered bridges in Washington and Greene Counties.) We had mapped out a route by car the week before and ultimately came to just four covered bridges, trying to avoid too many long, steep hills and gravel roads. Ultimately, however, you cannot avoid long, steep hills and gravel roads, because they are as much a part of that countryside as are the covered bridges and the old one-room schoolhouses and small churches. The ride was planned for a group but either it was too slow for more avid riders, mostly male (we'd planned for the bulk of the day at a leisurely pace), or too hilly and gravelly for more relaxed riders, mostly female. So we did the trip alone. But when we got home, we found that someone had indeed tried to come but hadn't been able to find it or us at our launching point of East Finley Park. She had followed Google directions instead of Charque's, which we all three found quite telling. Thinking about it this morning, I find myself saying: be careful of trusting authority over experience! Authority is often too sure of itself to check in with reality. We had mapped out the ride pretty carefully in the car the week before, with directions, mileage and landmarks all laid out in the instructions on how to get to East Finley Park. Google directions are often if not mostly quite reliable. But they are not absolute.

Picture of Marianne WilliamsonLast night I learned from a friend on Face Book (thanks Jenn) that Marianne Williamson is planning on running for Congress. She is probably THE one who actually put A Course in Miracles on the map and made it not only more popular, but also more doable. How did she achieve this? I think it was because she applied personal experience to the teachings and lessons of ACIM, instead of just philosophy. A lot of ACIMers that I’ve encountered quote the Course and its teachings much like Christians often quote the Bible, but have trouble actually applying it to the nitty-gritty of their lives. It becomes more about following an authority and less about following guidance. I find this particularly disturbing in relation to the Course, because one of its fundamental “truths” if you will is to listen to the guidance of the Holy Spirit which each A troll congressand every one of you has within. Believe me, we all have “nitty-gritty” in our lives and we all need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to aid us in a very personal and pragmatic way. Talking about “nitty-gritty” takes me back to the gravel roads of yesterday! I must say, biking on gravel roads is a walk in the park compared to running for and working in Congress right now. Think rather of the battles along the way of the Fellowship of the Ring or of Frodo and Sam journeying through Mordor than of riding the scenic byways of Washington County on gravel roads!

Fool card from the Ryder Waite deckI have recently been mulling over and writing about three cards in Tarot: the Fool, the Star, and the World. The Fool is all about journeying and launching. He is the first card, actually numbered zero, of the major arcana, and his ultimate goal is the World, the final card of the major arcana (before the cycle starts all over again). So the Fool is the first mover, the "primum mobile" that sets everything in motion. At the deepest level, "he" or "it" is that which brings each one of us into life and into each and every incarnation. Like the child that he or we become, as we take on life, the Fool is open, trusting and more excited about the prospects of the journey than fear of it. He does not hamper his journey with too many demands and expectations. He trusts that he will gain the necessary experience as he travels through life. By the time he gets to the World card, he will have the knowledge and wisdom under his belt, so to speak, gained from his experiences around the other twenty major arcana cards. Ideally he will have learned strength, wisdom and integrity along the way.

Diana blocking a paperazzi's cameraThe Star Card Ryder Waite DeckThe Fool’s navigating tool and way-shower is the Star. The Star points the way in many collective archetypes and symbols: for example, the Christmas Star; or the North Star that sailors used to navigate by before GPS. The Star offers direction, promise and hope when you need a light to follow. (This light or Star is also pictured in the Hermit’s lantern.) The Star stands out in the night sky and, like the Fool, is unafraid of exposure or ridicule. If you Herone in the Scarlest Letterthink about "stars" in our world, you think of high-profile people where there is much exposure and much potential vulnerability. Think of Princess Diana. Think of being hounded by the paparazzi. Think of the pluses and minuses of Internet exposure and possible fame and recognition, but also of potential notoriety and a reputation that you didn't want. Think also of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s "The Scarlet Letter". Remember the Star of David that Jewish people were branded with and identified by in Nazi Germany. Think of people like Jesus that stood out, or Ghandi or Martin Luther King. You will find an underlying collective fear and challenge around such exposure. But you will also find Star of David branded on jes in Nazi Germanyhumanity’s highest ideals, teachers and leaders who need courage and strength to stand up, stand out and face the world. The Star card in Tarot is also and very importantly about inner focus and finding inner guidance and direction. In the Osho Zen Tarot Deck, the Star has become "Silence", the silence and mystery of the night sky. You need the quiet focus of meditation to find your directions, as well as some sound spiritual principles and tools to navigate by.
Spiritual Leaders, Gandi, Jesus, Martin Luther King.
Tarot card The World from The ryder Waite DeckTwo of Wands Ryder Waite DeckThen, when you come finally to the World card, you will not feel trapped or intimidated. You will have the tools and experience to deal with it all. The World is not just a place of high ideals and glorious, utopian goals. It is also the place of pragmatic application and self-realization. The World offers you a platform of opportunity, self-expression and personal growth. You need to feel free to take this up. You will need the wisdom and guidance that come from within to deal with this opportunity. You will also need experience, and an ability to focus this inner compass on your experiences and on what is happening in the World around you. Without this inner/outer focus, you will tend to follow the conditioned patterns, ideas and authority of the collective. This is not to undermine collective wisdom and authority. However, there are also the collective limitations of ignorance, prejudice, greed and power. So you will need to be discriminating. Like the Hermit in Tarot, you will need to carve out and follow your own path. Ultimately, the World is for you to experience personally and express yourself in and through it. It is your oyster. Good luck Marianne!

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signature of Ruth and Charque
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High Priestess
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Zen Tarot deck star called Silence