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JOURNEY OF THE TAROT: HOW MAJOR ARCANA MEANINGS MIRROR THE SOUL

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Cloaked in mystery and magic, the Tarot is more than a mere card game or parlor trick. In fact, the symbolism of this mysterious set of cards dives deeply into the realm of human consciousness and experience, revealing patterns of both the past, present, and probable future. The Major Arcana meanings in particular echo important aspects of the human experience, shedding light onto the many stages of spiritual development.

Divided into two separate Arcana, the Tarot tells the story of human experience using archetypal symbolism, numerology, and elemental meanings. The Major Arcana in particular speaks to what Carl Jung termed “the universal subconscious.” Each of the 22 cards symbolizes a different portion of the psyche, leading the querent on a spiritual journey from division to wholeness. On the path of the Major Arcana the seeker faces various trials and tribulations, which eventually lead to understanding and individuation.

THE STORY AND MEANING OF THE MAJOR ARCANA

Many beginning Tarot enthusiasts are overwhelmed by the imagery and seemingly mysterious nature of the symbolism of the Major Arcana. Each of the 22 cards is packed with angelic figures, glyphs and characters that can both inspire and unsettle the reader. Yet if one approaches the Tarot as a storyline with the Fool as the central character, the mystery begins to reveal itself.

THE FOOL’S JOURNEY: THE MAJOR ARCANA EXPLAINED

Beginning with the number zero, the first character we will meet and follow throughout the Major Arcana is the carefree Fool. He appears in many decks clothed in a white tunic, flower in hand and feet dangerously close to a precipice. On the surface, The Fool appears unaware and dim, but in the Tarot, his actions and personality take on a different light.

With the Fool we have the point between points, the power of the present moment. He is unaware and thusly unafraid to face the perilous journey before him. It is the Fool’s innocence and openness that make the adventure possible.

The first two characters he encounters are the Magician and the High Priestess. The Magician represents pure dynamic masculine energy, and a willingness to project oneself out into the world. This is a card of harnessing one’s abilities towards the alchemical transformation of self or experience.

The High Priestess on the other hand, represents the pure feminine energy of incubation and arcane knowledge. She sits patiently at the gates of Solomon’s Temple, guarding the secrets of divine power. The High Priestess embodies the mysterious element of femininity and intuition, the intangible yet powerful forces that explore the realms of magic.

Now that The Fool has met his own personal masculine and feminine aspects, he meets the external embodiment of these characters. The Empress and The Emperor can be approached as the parents of The Fool, the earthly counterparts of The Magician and The High Priestess. As the mother of The Fool, The Empress is loving, abundant and giving. She is the feminine provider who feeds and nurtures her subjects.

The Emperor holds the energy of the father, creating firm foundations and boundaries in the external world. He protects his realm, building walls to encase the softness of the Empress. These parental figures instill their knowledge on the young Fool, defining his ideas of boundaries and security.

But the Fool must leave the safety of home, so next he encounters the dogma and structured world of The Hierophant. Here knowledge is passed down from heaven to Earth through the lens of hierarchy and teaching with a strong emphasis on religious institutions. Next the Fool learns the power of choice, symbolized by The Lovers card. It is the first instance where the Fool begins to realize that his future is in his own hands, and that his decisions will shape his path.

Now that The Fool has been educated, he must take this knowledge and apply it to the real world. The Chariot is his graduation, a sign that he has the necessary knowledge to embark upon the adventure. From here, he meets his first challenge: Strength. The Fool must overcome his base qualities by realizing that “mind over matter” is at times the best solution to a problem.

From the trial of Strength, the Fool is thrown into the introspective world of the Hermit. Alone with his own thoughts and removed from the world, the Fool realizes that life is in some ways a game to be played. The Wheel of Fortune appears next, as if the knowledge acquired by the Hermit is suddenly manifest. Life is a series of riddles and twisting turns, moved by both fate and choice, where one day things are up and the next day they are down.

The Fool comes to terms with this wild ride through the assumptions of the Justice card, where decisions are measured and enacted through a fair trial. But often enough, life is not so black and white. Soon the Fool finds himself in the quandary of the Hanged Man, suspended between two worlds in order to find a new perspective.

It is from this discomfort that he realizes that what he once took as blind truth is in fact the beliefs and ideas of his former teachers. The Death card appears to free him from these falsehoods, clearing away the words of the Emperor, Empress, Hierophant, and even the child the Fool once was.

The Fool is forever changed by this experience, and his new understanding is embodied by the angel of the Temperance card. Here we have a deeper spiritual understanding, where emotion is regulated and a middle path is forged between extremes. But with this new found clarity the hidden blind spots within the Fool himself are revealed, taking shape as the Devil.

Emerging from the darkness, the Devil speaks to the unconscious urges of the psyche which manifest as addiction and attachment. Luckily, this level of tension and manipulation is short lived, released by the shock and awe of the Tower. With a lightning bolt from heaven, the walls of the Fool’s inner world crumble, allowing for the growth and renewal of the Star.

The Star is one of the most magical and hopeful moments on the Fool’s journey, where healthy new ideas are planted and divine assistance flows freely from heaven. Yet this level of transcendence still has its own shadow. The profound and psychic Moon appears, reminding the Fool of all that is uncontrollable and mysterious. The Moon moves the tides of the ocean and the cycles of women, causing both the wild wolf and the tame dog to howl.

But night does not last forever, and the Fool’s journey is also nearing its end. The Sun rises once more and with it comes the promise of homecoming and return. The Fool finds himself at the gates of his ancestral castle, ready to reveal all that he has learned during his travels. The Judgement card is that revelation, where anything left unsaid is dealt with and the final inner work is completed.

The World represents the end of this journey, while also hinting at the cycle that is yet to come. This is one of the deepest aspects of the wisdom that the Tarot holds: life is an endless circle, a chance to learn and grow through experience. As long as we inhabit bodies on the Earth plane, there will be lessons to discover and conquer. Luckily there are tools such as the Tarot to help us understand ourselves, the world around us, and how best to thrive on our own archetypal journey.

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THICH NHAT HANH: BUDDHIST MASTER OF MINDFULNESS, MIRACLES & PEACE

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Known as “Thay” in the western hemisphere, Thich Nhat Hanh is a poet, scholar, Zen Master, and lovely human being. He is also the father of “Engaged Buddhism,” a movement that brings together practical Buddhist wisdom, social activism, and mindfulness.

Thay is a global phenomenon, and a gentle, inspirational friend to all. His tireless efforts as a teacher of Buddhadharma have alleviated the pain and suffering of millions of people across the globe. His beautiful lectures, meditations, and bestselling books have inspired countless followers to seek the light within, and find peace.

Thay was born as Nguyen Xuan Bao, in the city of Quang Ngai, Vietnam, in 1926. By age 16, he was a novice monk at Từ Hiếu Temple, in Hue City, which is where he was given his name, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thay was the first monk to be seen regularly riding a bicycle in public and one of a handful of monks who saw serving humanity to be a form of meditation.

“THERE IS NO WAY TO HAPPINESS. HAPPINESS IS THE WAY.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

Thay graduated from Báo Quốc Buddhist Academy and received extensive training in Mahayana Buddhism and (Vietnamese) Thiền “Zen” Buddhism. Soon after, he became a Bhikkhu, a fully ordained male, monastic, Buddhist monk.

To Thay, everything is a meditation: eating, walking, seeing, speaking, breathing, and relating. With each step and each breath, we can either inch away from the depth of ourselves or be fully present to our peacefulness. In every moment, we have an opportunity to decide the fate of the next.

Thich Nhat Hanh has been continually involved in the peace and nonviolence movements since his early days at Từ Hiếu. He believes veganism is vital to saving the planet and that nonviolence toward animals will inspire a more profound peace and improve the natures of our souls.

“Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

PLUM VILLAGE MONASTERY

Thay founded a lovely, Buddhist community known as “Sweet Potato” near Paris in the 1970s, shortly after he left Vietnam. In 1982, it was time to expand into Plum Village, which began as a small, rustic farm and developed into what is now the largest Buddhist monastery in Europe.

The official name of the monastery is Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism. It’s here that Thich Nhat Hanh established his monastic order, which consists of around 600 monks and nuns in 9 monasteries across the globe. The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation is the charitable arm of Plum Village.

Thousands of Buddhists and other visitors journey to Plum Village every year, where each is nourished by the hundreds of resident monks and nuns who practice and teach Buddhism for the benefit of humankind.

The primary purpose of this lovely community is to live mindfully throughout every activity. This includes eating, walking, working, relating, laughing, or sharing a cup of tea with fellow visitors from other countries.

The monastery’s environment is peaceful and nourishing. In addition to serving the global, monastic Buddhist community, PlumVillage.org states that they hold many programs and retreats for lay people, teenagers, veterans, the entertainment industry, members of Congress, law enforcement agencies, and people of color.

All meals are vegetarian and delicious.

“WHEN YOU TOUCH ONE THING WITH DEEP AWARENESS, YOU TOUCH EVERYTHING.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

THAY’S REMARKABLE ACCOMPLISHMENTS

Thay was very busy in his youth, which continued throughout his life.

In the early 1960s, he founded Lá Bối Press, Van Hanh Buddhist University, The Order of Interbeing (Tiep Hien Order), The Unified Buddhist Church, and the School of Youth for Social Service. The latter provided immeasurable value to Vietnam by sending young Buddhist workers to rural areas to build schools and clinics, and to help rebuild infrastructure in towns and villages.

Thay studied comparative religion at Princeton University, taught Buddhist psychology and other courses at his Van Hanh Buddhist University, taught comparative religion and Buddhism at Columbia University, led symposiums in Vietnamese Buddhism at Cornell University, and was a lecturer and researcher in Buddhism at the University of Sorbonne, in Paris. In short, Thay is a rock star.

 

In 1966, he became a Dharmacharya, or “one who becomes the dharma,” from Zen Master Chân Thật. He became the head of The Từ Hiếu Pagoda and a long list of monasteries. Later, he would chair the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delegation.

Thich Nhat Hanh has a long list of celebrity and religious followers, including Martin Luther King and Thomas Merton. After nominating Thay for a Nobel Peace Prize, King said, “I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of this prize.”

When Thay visited the United States to inspire efforts toward peace in Vietnam, both North and South Vietnam denied him entry. This exile lasted 39 years. The CIA labeled Thay a political dissident. By all accounts, Thay was an unrelenting and powerful force during these years. He led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks in 1969.

His monasteries and Dharma centers include:

  • Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY
  • Community of Mindful Living in Berkeley, CA
  • Deer Park Monastery (Tu Viện Lộc Uyển) in Escondido, CA
  • Magnolia Grove (Đạo Tràng Mộc Lan) in Batesville, MS
  • European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany
  • Từ Hiếu Temple in Vietnam
  • Prajna Temple in Vietnam
  • Additional monasteries can be found in Paris, Hong Kong, and Australia

More recently, Thich Nhat Hanh founded “Wake Up”, a global movement of young people training in mindfulness, and related education centers in Europe, America, and Asia, known as “Wake Up Schools,” where teachers are trained to teach mindfulness.

Thay has been invited to teach at some of the most prestigious companies and organizations in the world, including Google, The World Bank, and The Harvard School of Medicine.

His mindfulness calligraphy has been exhibited in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Germany, France, and New York. Thay’s artfully crafted phrases are spiritually inspiring and nurturing.

In addition to his native tongue of Vietnamese, Thay is fluent in English, Chinese, French, Sanskrit, Pali, and Japanese.

THICH NHAT HANH QUOTES

Thay’s sweet and touching sentiments penetrate every heart who hears them.

Enjoy these simple, yet profound thoughts from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh:

  • “Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”
  • “The real power of the Buddha was that he had so much love. He saw people trapped in their notions of small separate self, feeling guilty or proud of that self, and he offered revolutionary teachings that resounded like a lion’s roar, like a great rising tide, helping people to wake up and break free from the prison of ignorance.”
  • “Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited, you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”
  • “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
  • “It’s very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying; it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”
  • “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
  • “Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity.”

THICH NHAT HANH BOOKS

Thay wrote over 100 books on mindfulness, peace, fear, death, communication, and Buddhism. Over 70% of his books are written in English.

Here is a sampling from his authored works:

  • Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire
  • Being Peace
  • The Sun My Heart
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness
  • Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
  • Zen Keys: A Guide to Zen Practice
  • The Heart Of Understanding: Commentaries on the Prajnaparamita Heart Sutra
  • Living Buddha, Living Christ
  • True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart
  • The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
  • The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation
  • The Path of Emancipation: Talks from a 21-Day Mindfulness Retreat
  • Be Free Where You Are
  • No Death, No Fear

LIVING AND DYING IN PEACE

In 2014, Thay suffered a severe stroke which left him paralyzed on his right side, and without the ability to speak. Fortunately, he can write, and often uses hand, head, and body gestures to answer questions.

In 2017, Thay was given an honorary doctorate from The Education University of Hong Kong for his “life-long contributions to the promotion of mindfulness, peace, and happiness across the world.”

In November 2018, Thay returned to the Vietnam temple where his initiation into monkhood took place, Từ Hiếu. Imagine those early days when the young Thay eagerly learned about meditation, mindfulness, and Buddhadharma from his Zen Master, Thanh Quý Chân Thật. Thay has chosen to spend his remaining days here.

Throughout the years, media outlets have called Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Father of Mindfulness,” “The Other Dalai Lama” and “The Zen Master Who Fills Stadiums.” Martin Luther King Jr. said Thay was, “an apostle of peace and nonviolence.”

“If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy.”

— Thich Nhat Hanh

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HEALING ENERGY TOOLS: SUPPORTING WELLNESS INSIDE AND OUT

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According to energy healer and author Donna Eden, our bodies are “lattice works of force fields,” in which “energy is the infrastructure.” But what happens when that infrastructure is stressed, exhausted, depressed, and filled with anxious thoughts, resulting in illness? To support wellness inside and out, healing energy tools can help foster physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Thankfully, we have an abundance of healing energy tools, from pyramids to crystals, to energy healing stones to tuning forks. Whichever modality you or your energy healing professional work with, all are designed to optimize our wellness and heal what ails us.

Energy healing, or energy medicine, can be defined as any healing work designed to balance and restore our energetic channels. Similar to our circulatory system, which can have negative impacts on our health if not running smoothly, our energetic field also has a flow. If that flow is blocked, our energy fields can lead to emotional, spiritual, and soul pain.

Also similar to our physical body, energy carries its own anatomy — aura, meridians, and chakras. The balance for optimum energetic functioning leads to a sense of calm, equilibrium, and peace. To help achieve this balance, energy healers have a veritable energy healing toolkit at their fingertips. These range from ones steeped in ancient healing traditions, the natural world, and those derived from modern technology.

MOTHER EARTH AND HEALING ENERGY TOOLS

As old as the earth itself, energy healing stones, or gemstones and crystals, facilitate healing on different levels, from boosting the immune system, to clearing negative energy that is trapped in the energetic system, to creating a sense of balance and well-being.

Many believe the healing properties associated with energy healing stones can be traced to Asian concepts of interconnected mind, body, and spirit through a strong qi (life-force) or chakras. Healing stones and crystals are placed along locations, or meridians, on the body to help increase positive energy flow and support for specific health concerns. Out of the hundreds used in this practice, below are a few of the more commonly used energy healing stones and their healing properties:

  • Amethyst: Beneficial for the intestines, calm, and decision-making
  • Agate: Grounding, stability, and increases confidence
  • Lapis Lazuli: Wisdom, self-awareness, and spiritual enlightenment
  • Turquoise: Bridge between heaven and earth; highest spiritual potential
  • Carnelian: Creativity and vitality
  • Jasper: Joy and release from stress

Energy healing professionals also incorporated tools such as massage wands and heated massage stones into their practice. Massage wands are made of rounded, smooth crystals which are applied at various pressure points throughout the body. Massage stones, heated and placed along both sides of the spine, are normally made of basalt, a kind of lava rock believed to dissipate anger, as well as strengthen courage, stability, and ignite one’s inner fire.

In addition to healing stones, the natural world offers many other energetic tools, such as sage, grasses, feathers, the elements, light, and color:

    • Sage: A purifying herb, sage is commonly burned or turned into a smudging tool for a variety of healing purposes, from spatial cleansing, to spiritual, emotional, and in Native American rituals. White sage is considered to be the purest form of sage and used for spiritual purification. Desert sage is valued for its medicinal properties including antioxidants, anti-fungal, antiseptic, and astringent.

 

    • Cedar: Mostly used in the Pacific Northwest, red cedar is burned as a prayer offering, as well as a purification tool. Referred to as a “tree of life,” indigenous people incorporated it into many aspects of their lives, from building, to medicine, to sweat lodges and baths designed to cleanse the entire energetic system.

 

    • Sweetgrass: Dried and braided before burning, sweetgrass makes the healing process a sweet one with its vanilla scent. The aromatic essence is thought to attract positive energy, people, and as a purification tool.

 

    • Feathers or Feather Fans: Used in conjunction with smudging of incense, sage, herbs, or grasses, feathers represent duality and balance. According to Professor Tom Bacig, Morse Alumni Distinguished Teaching Professor of Cultural Studies Emeritus at the University of Minnesota Duluth, “the color of the tail feather is divided into two parts, light and dark…[i]t is said that the dualism is needed along with the symbol of the eagle to keep balance in the circle of life.”

 

    • Five Elements: Phylameana Ilsa Desy, energy healing practitioner and author of The Everything Guide to Reiki, writes that understanding the healing aspects of the five elements — fire, water, air, wood, metal — can serve to guide one toward the best energy healing path. For example, if you are struggling with trusting your inner voice, water or air energy treatments can support those needs. Or if being grounded is a struggle, working with soil, or wood, can assist to feel more connected to self and the planet.

 

    • Light and ColorThe use of light and color therapies in energy healing tools is wide-ranging and diverse, from colorpuncture or Samasati Color therapy, Color Silks therapy, to Hydro Color and Light therapy, and more. Color and light are thought to be able to enter the skin, as well as the respiratory system, and used to treat everything from hormonal imbalance, to mild depression, to brain disorders.

SOUND AND OTHER HEALING TOOLS

One of the earliest forms of healing, sound healing techniques and tools use sound resonance to increase vibrational health and well-being. One of the most popular sound healing tools are tuning forks. Based on the acoustic resonance tools musicians use to create a harmonic and unified tone, tuning fork therapy applies heated metal tuning forks to different parts of the body, to promote healing, emotional wellness, and to relieve pain, anxiety, and stress.

The placement of the tuning forks is often compared to acupuncture, substituting sound frequencies to stimulate the meridians instead of needles. Recent research has suggested that tuning fork therapy is beneficial in the treatment of muscle and bone discomfort.

Singing Bowls: Whether made from copper alloy or crystal, singing bowls create different healing sounds either through by a mallet gently stroked on the inside of the bowl, or with the use of water inside. Used to evoke tones associated with chakra centers and in meditation, recent medical research has also shown the healing power of singing bowls for those suffering from chronic pain, as well as mood disorders, stress, and anxiety..

Pendulums:  Made from natural materials including crystal, metal, glass, and wood, pendulums can be beneficial in setting intentions, pondering difficult life choices, and for creating more balance in the energetic field, or chakras. Similar to dowsing, pendulums are used to uncover and heal blocks in energy, as well as to receive guidance, and develop one’s intuition and sense of reflection.

Essential Oils: Derived from plants, flowers, roots, seeds, and other environmental elements, essential oils are used to balance and clear energies, help relieve stress, improve concentration, and assist in integrated health. According to the Center for Energy Healing, “essential oils work primarily on an energetic level — especially when they are used as a scent only, rather than applied directly to the skin. They clear out the “auric debris” (congested energy), thus making way for the field to shift into balance-back into a harmonious whole.”

Pyramid Therapy: Often referred to as an energetic, or cosmic antenna, pyramid energy tools are thought to activate the pineal gland, third eye chakra, or the geometric center of the brain which produces the calming hormone called melatonin, which regulates the body’s natural rhythm. “Pyramid,” comes from the Greek words pyra, fire, and mid, middle, translating into “fire in the middle.” Energy healers who incorporate pyramid therapy in their practice believe that these tools can assist with stress reduction, improved sleep, concentration, and an overall higher vibrational energy.

HEALING ENERGY TOOL KIT

Our energetic infrastructure is a living, breathing entity that requires care and attention. Working with a qualified and experienced energy healing professional is important and as well, understanding which tools are right for one’s healing is also critical. With the richness of energy healing tools, the paths to wellness are abundant and the potential for putting together your own healing energy toolkit is endless so you can live your best and healthiest life.

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BRAIN WAVES STUDY SHOWS HUMANS CAN SENSE EARTH’S MAGNETIC FIELD

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In a recent CalTech study, scientists determined that human brains do in fact have a sixth sense many have long suspected; magneto-reception. Much like the various animals that use the planet’s magnetism for navigation, the study showed that humans are subconsciously affected by Earth’s ever-shifting magnetic field.

By placing participants inside of an electromagnetic-shielding Faraday Cage wrapped with powerful square “Merritt coils,” researchers were able to recreate a magnetic field on par with the planet’s, which they were able to manipulate. They then measured subjects’ brainwaves using EEG caps while moving the magnetic field clockwise, counterclockwise or not at all.

But others have long suspected that humans are far more sensitive to shifts in the Earth’s magnetic field than we’re even aware of. This is largely due to the fact that it’s been well-documented that human brains, like other animals, contain large amounts of magnetite – a magnetic mineral believed to act as a receptor to the Earth’s magnetic field.

Scientific studies on magnetite and their reaction to extremely low frequency (ELF) waves have shown that certain fequencies can impact mood and cause physical ailments such as depression, anxiety, nausea and headaches. But magnetic fields at slightly higher frequencies can have complete opposite effect, resulting in anxiety relief and stress reduction.

When it comes to large scale effects of the Earth’s magnetic field on the population at large, similar types of consistent behavior correlated with magnetic fluctuations have been observed. During geomagnetic storms and periods of drastic magnetic change, such disparate actions as increased suicide, fluctuations in the stock market, and upswings in birth rates have been recorded.

And now, some studies are starting to observe even more bizarre behavior related to our newly discovered magneto-reception: telepathy.