Thursday, January 17, 2019

The Divination Project: Part 18: Ten of Cups

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. -1 Corinthians 13:4

Sunday, Alice finally gets to see her family! It is so wonderful, and totally worth waiting for. They goof around and laugh much of the time. They all agree that in the future they will wait until a week or so after the holidays to get together, because since both Alice and her sister married into larger families, and Alice's family in Denver does a lot of activities around the Advent season, they appreciate the time together and the energy a lot more if it is not in the middle of the other holiday chaos.

That works out pretty well, because it offers them a chance to kick off "Birthday Season" (this is not a new term - they have been using it for years). Alice's father is a Capricorn (and so they celebrated his birthday a few days late), and Alice and her sister are both Aquarians, and her mom is a Pisces/Aries cusper.

Because Alice publishes Part 17 right before going to Denver, her family does't have a chance to read it before she sees them. So, she gets to tell them her experience with the Akashic Records, which of course is interesting because the non-meditating, non-physics-studying members of her family have a hard time wrapping their minds around it. But, they've known Alice her whole life, so they all know not to be surprised when she starts something new out of left field.

Apparently Alice still isn't quite grounded, because on the way home, she misses the exit for her town and drives all the way to the Wyoming border while talking with the kids. The time passes quickly, but they don't make it home until close to 1:30 in the morning.

So. Yeah. Apparently Alice needs to look more into how to ground herself.

Note to concerned parties - she finally set a bunch of mousetraps today with Nolan's help, and is taking care of Pentacle-y things. He is so very helpful.

***

Before Carl leaves for Asia, Alice draws an Osho Zen Tarot Card, The King of Rainbows (part of the Mastery of the Physical), which contains this message:

"In the East people have condemned the body, condemned matter, called matter 'illusory,' maya - it does not really exist, it only appears to exist; it is made of the same stuff as dreams are made of. They denied the world, and that is the reason for the East remaining poor, sick, in starvation. Half of humanity has been accepting the inner world but denying the outer world. The other half of humanity has been accepting the material world and denying the inner world. Both are half, and no man who is half can be contented."

So yeah, go ground yourself, Alice. :)

***

On the way down to Denver, Alice stops at a drive-thru to get the kids and herself some food. While there she has a moment to look at her Instagram and sees another "message." She's decided to stop calling it a smoke signal, because that's not really appropriate. It's potentially a lot more significant than a smoke signal, and she's simultaneously delighted and confused when she sees it. With these messages more recently, her typical course of action has been to let it sit with her for a while, and see if the Universe gives her any messages to help her process it. Ultimately, what ends up happening is she learns a whole bunch of wonderful things that she feels compelled to share with others because they help her grow in the intervening time, because the Universe throws synchronicities at her. So, that is going to be her course of action this week, in large part because school is restarting a week earlier than she thought it would, and she's still processing all the happenings from the weekend.

Plus, the supermoon full lunar eclipse in Leo is coming up, and she's feeling some Hermit/Hanged Man energy. Oh, also Lilith in Aquarius. That seems potentially, um, possible of bringing up some impulsive feelings, and because of everything that has h... crap. Right as she is typing this, the message is, "Yes, you are going to have some feelings, but you can't stop living your life!"

When do you know to "ride it out?" Alice wonders.

She has learned that this process is called "condensation" - where one sits with everything and waits for information to combine and see what truths settle out. She has always felt like acting in a hurried manner has the tendency to generate actions based on an attitude of scarcity. Anything truly meaningful should be contemplated carefully.

This has actually been the process she has used with both astrology and the Tarot. She thinks this from early on, actually, when she notices that her horoscope "always comes true," that when she reads it, it plants seeds in her subconscious for how she might react in certain situations. We're often processing things even when we're not actively processing them. Sometimes we just need some time for another piece of awareness to fall into place to know what action to take.

The best example she can think of is when she participated in a student/teacher art show last Spring and became ill before the opening. As she's mentioned before, she tries to stay home when she is ill, sometimes way longer than necessary. But this particular time, she had to drive Nolan and Sally to campus for class, anyway. That day, her horoscope recommended that she wear the color red and behave like a cat at an event that she was reticent to attend. She thought all day about how she would possibly behave like a cat, since she was having trouble with coughing, and she felt more like a moose. But it so happened that she wasn't able to keep it together very well (meaning, she had a difficult time stifling her cough), so she quietly snuck off to the lounge area to nap. In her memory, she was pleasantly surprised that someone special specifically sought her out to chat afterward. That was very sweet. And she realized, after the fact, that she had totally behaved like a cat, quietly slinking off to a corner to be alone.

***

On Monday, she is triggered. A person in her family with whom she recently tried, for a millionth time, to establish boundaries, and to whom she had shown unconditional love over and over again, texts her for information in a very entitled manner, and when she offers what little information she knows on the subject, is not even thanked for her effort. It's so confusing with this person. Alice knows the person wants to be a good person. Alice understands that until souls experience unconditional love intimately, either through spirituality or healthy relationship, they often don't know how to act in a loving way toward themselves, because they are split psychologically into two, the dark and the light, and those sides do not commune with each other. It is love that helps integration. Alice believes that learning to love is the challenge of being human, so not one of us is perfect.

Alice feels badly even making this observation, because it sounds like Alice knows more about love than this other person. And she has no way of knowing if that is the case or not, because she will never really know this person's soul. And it's not her job to know it. Her job is to trust that the all loving Universe will help that other person reach their highest potential. That the person will someday awaken to all the ways the Universe has shown love for their soul - a validation of their inherent goodness. Then the work can be done to save one's own soul, through forgiveness of self and other.

This process takes time, but is critical for the ability to love. Without the time to tend and mend our fragile hearts, we default to the impatient, harsh, jealous, bragging, prideful versions of ourselves. So what does this mean, in a society where children are dragged out of bed at ridiculous hours to sit still in front of a chalkboard, measured and tested for the majority of the day, and then return to caregivers who have been serving the master of money with their souls and have little left to share?

Without sufficient time to reflect - to come to terms with our hidden demons, we cannot be the best version of ourselves.

So, what is love, then, besides patient and kind? It trusts and it is humble.

Alice knows that she has played some role in the toxicity of this relationship, and that because it is a family relationship, mindful avoidance has its pitfalls, but because being triggered by boundary violations is a threat to her mental health, she needs as much personal space as possible. In the early years, she just tried to come and go as her energy needs dictated, but the relationship slipped well into the realm of codependency, and affected her relationship with Carl in the most painful way.

It has been a painful lesson in holding on to uneven relationships, and she is letting it go for good. Carl understands. He does not like to see Alice hurting. They are on the same team again, finally, dreaming together to change the world. Their family members are certainly intelligent enough to figure out their own problems by now.

***

A sculpture. Is it new? It is called "Desire." Is it an offer of sex? I don't understand. Alice thinks. Her mind is swimming, swimming with all the possible meanings. When she took Art History with Jeff's friend Frida, Frida had lent Alice her copy of Ways of Seeing by John Berger, which is about how the viewer perceives meaning in art.

When she was in high school, she often didn't understand the meanings behind the novels others loved so much. She just couldn't see.

The last two years have been something of an awakening in Alice's consciousness, in her understanding of the nature of existence. Much of it, she understands now, happened around her ability to see meaning in works of art, writing and film. Which one caused the other, or whether they happened in concert with something else is unknown to her at this time.

She is confused, still. But she knows that her Muse understands that unconditional love is about supporting your beloved in their quest to be the best version of her/himself. And that means giving your beloved the time and space to do that, and trusting that's what's happening.

It's the foundation of her parenting approach. Trust. She knows how to do this. How to let her loved ones grow in their own time, without getting overly enmeshed. She has only slipped up a handful of times with her kids.

***

What is the point of life, anyway? She and Jeff had talked about this a lot.

"Is it all about sex and babies?" he asked her one day by Lolita's coffee cart.

Alice remembers vividly, twice, once after reading The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo (her sister and Lolita's favorite author), standing by the vending machines at school, desperately trying to tell him that we are here to love each other.

"But you almost never receive love back," he said.

She wrote about how painful it was to hear he felt that way. How could he not love himself? He is the embodiment of love. She doesn't know which moment it happened for sure, when she fell in love, but this is at least a very significant one.

He goes through life planting seeds of love, just by being who he is, with no expectation for return on investment. Understanding that every act of love opens a door for learning.

It's true - reciprocated, requited love is an elusive thing, probably because the current generation did not learn it from our parents. They were too busy chasing a dream where "Who dies with the most toys wins," the ego-soothing mechanism for souls still healing from the generational trauma of the Second World War. If not consciously present, that cancer is almost always present in the subconscious.

And people keep themselves conveniently too busy chasing external validation as to recognize the demons keeping them repeating endless loveless soulless choices.

Ignorance really is a choice.

So is enlightenment.

***

On Monday morning, she and Nolan are standing in the kitchen, discussing the presence of mice. Nolan is explaining how he is not sure if he really saw one or not. Alice had felt the same way - and says that they almost seem like apparitions. They remind her of the dust bunnies in Miyazaki's classic animated film, Totoro. In her discussions with Carl, he had stated a concern that "It was like a horror movie." This is, truthfully, why Alice sets the traps. It's the thing that pushes her over the edge, ready to confront her fear of the material nature of dead rodents. If she catches them in a trap, then they really exist. Of course, the mouse droppings are another clue.

The next day, she drives him to school in the next town. He has to be there most of the day, and so she decides initially that for the semester she will drive out and back twice so she can have time with Sally and to herself. She will split the driving with Carl, they decide. But the night before, she reads her horoscope or Oracle cards or something (how she gets the messages is starting to get muddy, as she's relying less on trying to prove anything) and it says to go out and interact with the world, looking for signs and synchronicities. After she drops Nolan off on the north side of campus, she drives to the south side by the computer science and art building, looking for a parking lot. It's the second class period of the day, and the cars are swarming. She should have just parked on the northernmost side of campus and walked. She could use the steps anyway. She's thinking about turning around when suddenly she notices the tail lights on the car in the closest spot to the entry way to the sculpture and jewelry studio opens up.

Is this a sign? Alice wonders.

She heads into the building toward Lolita's coffee cart, which has a line of three or four people. At the microwave, Edward the math teacher, with whom Alice spent the last semester, is heating up a cup of tea. She greets him happily, and asks him if he was given any course sections to teach. He says he has two, but that one of them is at a campus far south of where they are in a farming community. Edward is in his 70's and expresses concern about driving in the dead of winter at night to the other campus. Plus, there are not enough students enrolled for him to make full pay, so they will only pay him 67% of his normal earnings for the class.

Alice thinks of Jeff and the time she went to get some limestone from him, and he had lost his appeal for fuel reimbursement for driving to the same campus. And that of course makes her think of the articles she read about the plight of instructors in higher education. She had read about graduate students at Stanford University, who were working as Teaching Associates, and living on the street. She read an article talking about how one adjunct faculty member at three community colleges in the South was kept in dire poverty. These are the people who largely bear the burden of raising the consciousness of the country, and they are so undervalued by society.

Eventually Lolita's line dies down and Lolita can go on a smoke break. Alice follows her outside and Lolita doesn't seem to be doing very well. Alice is so excited to share with her all her new understanding, and does so, and Lolita is delighted. They talk about how like souls are supposed to come together, because it creates healing power.

And that's why they are connected. In every social situation, there is a person who repeatedly shows up as "the glue." One of Alice's very successful plein air artist friends once told her that she was the "glue" that kept their long figure study going after the death of two of the founding members. Alice always ended up being the glue.

They go back in and someone new to Alice is putting handprints with quotes in a basket by the syrup. Lolita had give Alice two last semester, and they said "Be who you needed when you were younger," and "Are you doing what you love? Or just what's expected of you? - Anthony Peters." The new woman turns to Alice and says, "Want one?"

"Of course!" Alice says, smiling.

"No one is sent by accident to anyone."

Wow. This is it. This is the reply, she thinks. Or maybe it is just one part of the message the Universe wants her to send. This is true. She has always known this. She has learned something about herself from every person she has ever known. Sometimes the lessons are very difficult - particularly the ones where she chose head over heart over and over again. Now she knows the right thing to do is have the head bow to the heart. That is the pathway of bliss, according to Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell.

It is said that to know what your heart wants, flip a coin in the air and whatever you're hoping the answer will be when it is at the top of its journey is what the heart wants. When she sees the message and knows its truth, that we are sent people as lessons in love for ourselves and others, she knows she did not meet Jeff by accident. Transformation this profound, transformation of the variety that is healing the people around Alice, is a clue to what the Universe wants.

Another young woman comes along, and Lolita remarks that "She is one of us, too," and Alice knows what Lolita means. She means people whose heads bow to their hearts. This woman is a curvy model and actress, working mostly locally, but recently did a modeling shoot in Los Angeles. She is interested in genetic genealogy and is studying art. Alice gives her her card.

The young woman and Lolita talk about their experiences with seeing ghosts and apparitions. Alice has heard Lolita talk this way before, and sometimes feels the presence of bad things, but can usually center herself and steel herself from the fear. She can do this because when she was little, her bedroom was in the partially-finished basement. Just beyond the laundry room door were piles and piles of dirt, the smell of Earth and continual spider webs a comforting thing. Alice has been in Lolita's basement - in a farmhouse built before 1920 in Eastern Colorado, much like the 1920's bungalow Alice's family lived in in Denver. Alice has never been afraid of spiders. When Lolita showed her where a particular spirit lived in her basement, Alice thought that did look like the creepiest place in the basement, but mentally steeled herself against the negative entity. "He's not here right now," Lolita had said.

"Oh... I get it," says Alice. "You guys are stuck in the Bardot Space. Do you know how to ground yourselves?"

They both shake their heads, No.

She realizes most people are stuck in the Bardot Space, and so she Googles it, but finds nothing. Was it a figment of her own imagination?

***

Lolita takes her to the information table and introduces her to her friend Gwen. Gwen also used to be a barista at the school but now works in the administrative offices. As they are introducing themselves, a man comes up, causing Lolita and Gwen to light up. This man is Johann. He is studying in the music department and works on the campus, and has been there for a long time. Somehow Alice gets pulled off talking with Johann and she navigates the discussions of classical music with ease. He says he came from a musical family, and she doesn't want to overwhelm him, but her father plays tuba, she learned the entire repertoire for the French Conservatory of Music in Flute, and played piano for a decade, even doing some accompaniment. She also had extensive choral instruction, and was debating learning to sing jazz. She learned how to play a few other woodwind instruments and the trumpet, too, but not very well. Like intermediate level.

He gets it.

She took music theory and has even done some composition in Midi.

She can, she realizes suddenly - not a new awareness, but a deeper one - talk to anyone about anything.

"Wow. That was amazing. We should pay you to be in here," Gwen remarks.

Frida had introduced her as "a fixture around here" last semester, and Alice struggled trying not to read anything into the comment, because she didn't know how much Frida and Jeff talked, but suspected it was quite a lot, Frida being the person who recommended Jeff for employment at the college.

Nolan's computer science teacher, Ginny, walks by.

"Oooooh! I am so sorry I didn't get to see you over the break!" Alice starts.

"Yes," she replies. "Me too! I had the flu the whole time!"

"Me too!" Alice responds, thinking that is a strange coincidence. Every few days, she would think of how they had figured out they both love crystals and are interested in astrology, and how Ginny organizes a group of white hat hackers who are interested in the app Alice wants to make to connect people with like interests. This is an important part of her Meow Wolf submission, and her mission to help humanity.

It turns out Ginny is organizing some upcoming meetings for the hacker group, so Alice agrees that the family will come. Alice was one class away from a minor in computer science, so she can understand a lot of the broader topics. Also, she has a lot of ideas for applications to help promote societal wellness. Sometimes the people with the talent just need some good ideas to implement.

***

The first time she consulted the Tarot for advice on how to respond to the sculpture, she was mostly concerned that her intentions weren't pure. She had a lot of selfish reasons for pursuing a relationship with Jeff outside her marriage. She had an agreement with Carl that it was okay, and that had pretty much been in place for a year or so, but Alice and Carl's relationship still wasn't healthy enough at that point to stand polyamory. And polyamory, while totally supported by Siggy, was something Alice was worried would be something that would hurt her children.

She has a significant worry about this because there is a history of its practices in whatever forms in her family, in a manner that perpetuated generational trauma, and she's not even Mormon.

It turns out that polyamorous couples tend to be highly educated. So, what's four Master's degrees, one of them actually falling just short of a PhD between three people? It means, potentially, the ability to have important discussions like rational adults.

When polyamory comes up on Charlotte's radar, her therapist says that she sees couples for whom it works quite well, but there is a ton of transparency involved. This means excellent communication.

And, as Alice learned through twenty-two and a half years of marriage, good communication can save relationships. She and Carl have always communicated well, about everything they were aware of. There's the rub. So much of our hurt is stored subconsciously. So without being willing to take the time to visit the subconscious through rest, meditation, or altered states of consciousness, toxic behavior patterns can persist. Alice wonders how many people understand the importance of the subconscious in wellness and wholeness.

***

The first time Alice consults the Tarot on how to respond to Jeff, she pulls an Osho Zen Tarot card, asking for general advice. She is really worried about what the right response is. She wants to do what is right. She wants to do what is best for the greater good, in everything she does. Ultimately, over the course of her love lessons, she learns that the relationships which make us want to be the best versions of ourselves because they do not pose a challenge to our love for self are in the interest of the Greater Good. And that is how she would define her relationship with Jeff.

Her only misgivings are how much time she spends worrying about the relationship because she is learning to trust herself. This is no fault of his. He has been patient, reliable and persistent. And for that, she is grateful.

"Ten of Rainbows: We Are the World (and yes, the song pops into her head)

"This card card represents a time of communication, of sharing the riches that each of us brings to the whole. There is no clinging here, no grasping. It is a circle without fear of feelings of inferiority and superiority. When we recognize the common source of our humanity, the common origins of our dreams and longings, our hopes and fears, we are able to see that we are all joined together in the great miracle of existence. When we can combine our tremendous inner wealth to create a treasure of love and wisdom that is available to all, we are linked together in the exquisite pattern of eternal creation."

Well, um, that seems like the Greater Good to Alice.

***

Carl asks if Alice had finished answering the family member's question.

"No," Alice says. "I am going to disengage from that situation. I helped a decade ago, way too much, and there's not a day that goes by that I regret it, because of the pain it has brought me, and the way it has put a wedge between Sally and you and I." Or is it the way she let it put a wedge between them? But she tried. She tried to communicate and was constantly shut down or blamed for her own feelings. She was blamed for her own depression over and over.

This is precisely why Siggy advised Alice to leave Carl. She was in a self-destructive soul-sucking pattern of depression and self-hatred from having been marginalized in her own family.

So when Carl stood up for the family member over Alice, yet again, Alice lost it.

It added another layer onto the whole issue of how to respond to Jeff. She had to consider that responding positively to him was due to selfish motivation in feeling so alone, because that is the feeling she constantly lived with due to this family member.

Lou happens to text her about her sorrow regarding her aging dog. Alice had an English Bulldog who lived to be 11 years old, and whose ending resembles Lou's dog's ending. The dog is incapable of controlling his bowels, and cannot go up and down stairs anymore. When this happened to Alice's dog, Alice was incredibly sorrowful. The last night of her dog's life, her dog was in too much pain to be carried, so they all slept outside under the stars together. Carl, the dog, and her. In the morning, she called the veterinary euthanasia service, which was busy but could be there by 11 am. In the hours of waiting, Alice read a pocket version of the Tao de Ching to her first child, her dog. She cried and cried, and when the vet came, she quickly determined that the dog had a very low chance of improvement and that prolonging her suffering was unnecessary.

The amount of compassion with which the veterinarian handled the situation was tremendous. Yes, Alice misses this dog greatly. But also, because she knows the dog had the most peaceful end of life, surrounded in love, that the dog at least got to experience heaven on earth, and Alice's guilt regarding the quality of the dog's existence is minimal.

These are things she wants to tell Lou, but instead, she sends her a virtual hug with the Bitmoji app.

She tells her she is having a hard time, too, that her mind is going to lots of really sad places. She communicates to Lou her actual fears.

"You're still ungrounded," Lou tells her.

"Oh, you're right!" Alice says. "How do you ground yourself, usually?"

"I learned with Sarah many years ago. So it's just the way we did it in class this weekend," Lou informs Alice.

Lou and Alice had talked about meditation when Jeff had brought it up, and Lou explained she wasn't a fan. So now, Lou explains that it makes her too ungrounded for the field she is working in - fitness. Alice is so ungrounded she can't imagine having to deal with people all the time, or move her body through the 3D. But if grounding is the key...

She imagines a red light in her abdomen, and then the energy from the red light travels down her legs through her feet and into the ground. All of a sudden she feels the energy move from the earth back up into her body, and the ache drains right out of her heart.

"Whoa. That is weird. I did the grounding exercise and the ache drained right out of my heart!" she texts Lou.

"Cool!" says Lou, and another message comes through that Lou has liked her comment.

***

At the coffee cart on Tuesday, Alice's friends from Sculpture and Art History who know Frida very well, have gathered. The last time they all saw each other in the end of the Fall semester, they discovered they all enjoy astrology and the tarot. Artemis, who was in Jeff's class with Alice, is a Gemini. Her girlfriend is quiet and is an Aquarius. Tommy is her friend from Art History who also did figure modeling, and it turns out he is a Libra. "Go, Air signs!" Alice says. "Do you guys dissociate a lot?"

"Oh yeah," Tommy offers. They all laugh.

They belong to a club, LGBTQ+, on campus, and Artemis talks of the newspaper coverage they got for a recent event, because the white nationalists and fundamentalists came to protest.

She's still figuring herself out, but she is an ally, at the very least. She feels that sexuality is a spectrum (a message she first heard at her aunt and uncle's house, right after writing about the subject herself). She also knows that she is capable of loving unconditionally more than one person. How does she know this? She is a mother. She doesn't love one child more than another. She doesn't love one of her parents more than the other. She loves them uniquely. Differently. Because they are different individuals.

She doesn't tell this to her lesbian, bisexual, gay, or trans friends (of whom there are plenty). She just makes a little joke about how she's trying to decide whether to go to a freakshow or a Bob Marley tribute concert for her birthday.

"Duh. Bob Marley," Lolita says.

Later, Stan comes by. Stan is a guy who couldn't look her in the eye for a whole semester. Alice didn't understand what this was about until after Part 1, when she realized it was because she was putting out a sexual energy. After that point, she made a point to be really kind to him and look him in the eye, and compliment him a lot. She saw his confidence shift quite a bit in this time.

Stan is a filmmaker, and he has a dream. He wants to go to Los Angeles with his film, but he is stuck at 91% completion because people who promised to help him are busy. He has made connections through an industry conference, which the college paid for him to attend.

Alice opens up about her flexible marriage, because she is trying to show him how healing openness is. He tells her that he once had a female friend who he was honest about his attraction to - and that although the friendship didn't move into that territory, a much deeper emotional connection manifested through the vulnerability.

Alice nods. She understands this because of the vulnerability she, Carl and Charlotte have shared. She explains that she wrote about it in this book, and gives him her business card, encouraging him to read it.

Stan raises an eyebrow. "But, ultimately I came to the conclusion that I am not sure I have time for unnecessary drama in my life. I have important things to do."

He remarks at how heavy the conversation has gotten. They talk about body image and attachment problems, atheism and astrology.

"I talk like this with everyone. I mean, this conversation IS special, for sure. But the point is, what you're feeling, I get it with lots of people. I am thinking of having a YouTube channel or something like that," she explains, and his face changes, almost imperceptibly.

"There are tarot readers on YouTube who have only had their channels for a year and are making $7,000 a month," she says. She explains her interest in having a channel talking about healing and altered states of consciousness, using real life stories.

He appears transfixed.

"Okay, but here's the thing. This seems important. But I am not sure if it is a distraction from what I am supposed to be doing, or if it is what I am supposed to be doing," he says.

"Me either," she says. "I figure if it is supposed to happen, the Universe will send us lots of messages." She knows several people who are in the film industry, has been in a PBS documentary, "Is School Enough?" on self-directed education, and was asked to be in a documentary about groundbreaking thinking on health and metabolism, which she declined, because she could not handle the attention on top of the stress of her marriage at the time. She figures if he's not interested, someone else may come along if it is supposed to happen. She wants him to be certain. She does not want to be a distraction from his purpose, either.

"Yeah," he says.

***

After Alice grounds herself, she's feeling net neutral, energy-wise. She is amazed by earth energy's ability to heal. Maybe this is why she always felt so calm around Jeff. But she wants to feel terrific again. So, she decides to go read some oracle cards. First, she pulls the "Protection" card, which talks about going into The Bardot Space, to look for fears and self-limiting beliefs. This is where they live. "Wow, this is what I JUST DID," she realizes.

It explains that one should be mindful of how long one spends in the Bardot Space, that the Universe would protect her in her exploration of it, and that upon exit, the chakras will have to be rebalanced. It then said to put the card on the chakra that needed balancing and to read a quick healing message.

What chakra needs balancing? How am I supposed to know? she wonders to herself. Then, she instantly gets a message to mindfully work through them and see which one feels weak compared to the others. She can move the energy around her body when she is in a state of wholeness. When she was with Jeff, this was her default state. She was worried she would never feel it again, but she knows how to find it. She has to work at it, though, whereas it was automatic when she was with Jeff. Lolita had noted that when she observed Alice and Jeff, the part of the Lounge they were in filled up with a white light. Upon running through her chakras now, she realizes nearly instantly that she is not connected to source. She places the card on her head, feeling a little silly, and then deciding that precisely because she feels silly it will work. Because it feels like loving playfulness. Her crown opens up and instantly, she is reconnected to the Collective.

"Be patient. I am putting together my response for your birthday. I love you," she says to herself. 

Jeff's birthday is the seventeenth. Alice would really like to get her reply together in the perfect way so she can surprise him. She thinks it's possible, maybe, that he might be feeling a little disappointed that she hasn't responded yet, but he is super patient, and hopefully by now he knows she is giving herself time to rid herself of all sources of self doubt in relation to her response.

If he is patient, he is the one. She believes he is patient.

***

On Instagram, there is a new challenge to post a picture of yourself ten years ago, and also today. Alice thinks back to 2009, another year of tremendous change, also the end of an eclipse cycle in her and Carls' signs. She looks back at the photos on her computer to a year when she had lost a tremendous amount of weight and as her thinnest since high school. Again, she has done this. It was not done sustainably, before, though, because she did not handle the underlying problem - her self-doubt. Her inability to know for herself what she needed - to be her own authority.

She finds a photo of herself on her birthday in early February, on the eve of her 34th birthday. This is one of her favorite pictures of herself - joyful. Carl, at this time, is negotiating an opportunity with a company in Asia, and it has the possibility of changing their lives significantly.

It does. It makes them a whole family, mostly. They know each other. They don't have to catch up daily on the mundane. Their relationships with each other are so deep that they are all empowered to grow. They don't learn to live, they live to learn, and share their journeys with each other.

Alice focuses as much as possible on helping the children feel loved unconditionally, but is human and has some slip ups, usually when she hasn't taken care of herself.

In the last two years, Alice has experienced the most change, she decides.

She remembers giving her copy of Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey to Jeff. She gave it to him because she felt like it more clearly described what Coehlo did in The Alchemist. It drew a clearer picture. But for Alice, who doesn't get caught up in literal meanings, who believes everything is a metaphor, both books have exactly the same message: "We are here to love each other."

"Yes!!!!!" she writes in the margin. "Yes, yes, yes!" and right after she writes this, she realizes it sounds like she is having an orgasm like Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally, and realizes that every sexual encounter is a little of a Hero's Journey, too, so oh well. She gives the book to him anyway, with a note about wanting to talk sometime. He thanks her. At this point, her subconscious mind is still at the wheel, ego dragging behind along a bumpy path.

***

Capricorn, it turns out, is looking for the Ten of Cups. That's what one psychic says on YouTube.

She sends Charlotte a picture of the sculpture, Desire. A broken cup extending upward toward the heavens along a shaky arm emerging from a well. Plenty of area below to catch any water that might fall from the heavens and fill the cup. "I think it is a trick to see if I can see," she says. "Don't you think this looks like the Ace of Cups?"

Charlotte doesn't know what the Ace of Cups looks like. Alice sends her a photo, and Charlotte agrees. Galaxy Tarot app has the following description:

"Ace of Cups: new feelings, new love, awakening intuition, flowing emotions, imagination. When this card appears look for new opportunities for love, friendship, or spiritual growth. This is an opportunity for intimacy and pleasure. It could be an invitation to a social gathering, a romantic getaway, a marriage, a letter from a dear friend, or a chance to indulge yourself with that which makes you feel truly happy. You may receive a heart-felt gift. This is a chance to make a fresh start emotionally. It may indicate a need to let your feelings flow freely, whether this is expressing your love for another or letting your tears out. The Ace of Cups can indicate conception, a pregnancy, or a birth."

Alice remembers the symbology Joseph Campbell used when describing the Call to Adventure, and the descriptions she and her sculptor friend Campbell had used to describe the creative process. This is the business of musing, Alice had thought, because that's what had been going on for her whenever she was with or around Jeff. It was like she was on fire with inspiration. Like her cup was full and overflowing. She wondered if she inspired him, too. Was he burning as brightly as she was? Was he overflowing as she was? It seemed like he was. Like he was coming out of his shell and baring his beautiful soul to the world.

"The Ace of Cups also indicates an opening of intuition - a chance to tune into your higher self. When this card appears pay attention to your dreams and be receptive to the subtle signs around you."

How do I respond to the Ace of Cups? she wonders. What could possibly be an equal or better offer? She wants to let him know she loves him, too, even though she feels like this should be fairly fucking obvious by now.

Literally, she's retrieved her soul several times, changed her shampoo, smoked tons of pot and debated a lobotomy to get him out of her head. But this is all ego telling her that her feelings are wrong. There is no harm in continuing to love him and let him approach as his trust in her love builds. She is not aware of a limit she would have with him yet. How do you convey that with imagery?

How does he make me feel? She thinks.

He makes her feel like a damn magician. She hopes he feels the same way, because this is what she thinks he is. Love should make both people feel like magicians, she realizes.

Should she just pick the Ten of Cups, take a picture, and text it to him? Baby steps. Not too much. If she goes too fast, he balks. Clearly, he has been hurt a lot. Funny, she called him her White Rabbit, and he behaves in love with Alice just like a white rabbit. Always in a hurry. Always running off. When she tells Siggy this last Spring, Siggy giggles in agreement.

Is she supposed to choose something willfully? Or is she supposed to let the Universe do it for her? Is there even such thing as Free Will?

In bed, she sits down with the Alice in Wonderland Tarot deck and asks the cards, "What message should I send to Jeff?"

These cards are very slippery and jumpy. The first card that jumps out is the Page of Cups.

"What?! I can't make this stuff up. You're funny, Universe!" Alice smirks, orients the card nicely and lovingly upright, cocks her head a little, and then continues shuffling. Six cards come out, including the Five and Seven of Wands.

In her January Monthly read in the Many Moons book, she had done a spread asking what she needed to give up, what she needed to embody for the highest good, and what she would gain by embodying the middle card. The Five of Wands was what needed to be given up. Fighting. Self defense. Then, she drew the Ten of Cups. So, she was supposed to embody unconditional love. The result if she is successful? The Magician.

What a lesson, and she sees it manifesting right before her on the bedspread. In the spooge of jumped cards with the Five and Seven of Wands are the Six and Ten of Cups. Those are the other two cards, she decides. The Universe encouraged her to make the choice of her own Free Will, and it is obvious to her heart, which has now thoroughly convinced her stubborn ego. They were the cards she hoped would come up, and there they were, right in front of her saying "Pick me! Pick me!!!!"



She lines them up in order, Page, Six, Ten of Cups. Numerologically totalling seventeen, the day of Jeff's birthday. In the Barbara Moore Tarot in Wonderland deck, the Page of Cups is depicted by Alice holding a goblet, arms outstretched, with a carp inside. The Six of Cups shows Alice and the Rabbit having what looks like lattes, with a flying elephant in the background. The stuff of dreams. The Ten of Cups depicts a celebration of the White King and the White Queen from Carroll's book. Our Alice opens the book that came with the cards to look further into the reading, but to her, it looks like the story of the evolution of her relationship with Jeff.

"Page of Cups: Through the Looking Glass
"Given Alice's Intense curiosity, logical mind, and practical nature, she could easily be any and even all of the pages. This image draws from the scene in Wonderland when Alice (along with many other creatures) swims in the pool of tears she cried when she was nine feet tall. Although Alice is scared, she draws on her past experience to make sense of her current experience and imagines she is at the English seaside. When she realizes that this place is very different, she reaches out to the other creatures, trying to establish connections and form relationships. The little fish in the cup is holding a scroll, which we imagine is an invitation to adventure.
"Down the Rabbit Hole
"In a reading, the Page of Cups could be someone who is young or they could be someone who is emotionally immature or simply inexperienced in relationships. Inexperience doesn't stop them, though, from diving into the deep end. If someone offers them the opportunity to connect, the page is all in. They have soft hearts and might be overly sensitive, needy, or clingy, but they are also loving and sweet. Treat them with kindness and gently nurture their dreams and they will be a true and loyal friend."

This certainly describes Alice in her love relationships most of her life, until the last two years.

"Six of Cups: Through the Looking Glass

"Alice and the White Rabbit share a private moment. Well, except for that flying elephant. They don't notice the elephant because they are lost in a moment of kindness, generosity, and transitory delights. Normally anxious and in a hurry, the White Rabbit is calm, happy to be right where he is. Alice, often defensive and judgy (albeit often with good reason), is open and accepting, willing to receive the gift without criticism. In this colorful, sweet bubble of time, normal behaviors melt away.

"Just as memories change every time we bring them to consciousness, when we dwell in memory or live in the past, we are changed. We react and respond to things that might not be real and may lead us to behave in ways that we normally wouldn't. A couple who has split up for good and healthy reasons may find themselves in bed together when all they really meant to do was return each others' books. An adult child returns 'home' and falls into old, destructive functions. Memories were activated and the people in these examples reacted with old behaviors, even though they knew better.

"While Alice and the White Rabbit make themselves giddy by indulging in all those cupcakes [okay, not lattes], when they wake from their sugar comas they may have a whole swarm of flying elephants to contend with. Or perhaps they used discretion and only partook of a reasonable amount of sweets. Everyone's life is made brighter with a touch of sweetness.

"Down the Rabbit Hole

"In a reading, this card invites us to look for romantic or nostalgic memories that are influencing our behavior. We may not be seeing things as they really are but rather are blinded by an illusion, a hope, a wish, a dream. Or worse, we could be using past connections to manipulate someone or allowing others to manipulate us. On the other hand, we could be acting out of gratitude for past kindnesses. When in doubt, do something honest, authentic, and kind."

Wow, this is what Alice felt and had tried to do when everything felt like it went wrong. Now she is beginning to think the sequence is describing her relationship with Jeff.

"Ten of Cups: Through the Looking Glass

"The White King and Queen have a rather sweet relationship. When Alice first goes through the mirror and into the Looking Glass world, she sees the chess pieces moving around. The King and Queen sat together until the Queen heard her pawn, Lily, crying. The Queen rushes to reach her child, knocking the King over. Since the Queen was far from Lily, Alice (always trying to be helpful) picks the Queen up and moves her next to Lily.

"'The Queen gasped, and sat down: the rapid journey through the air had quite taken away her breath, and for a minute or two she could do nothing but hug the little Lily in silence. As soon as she had recovered her breath a little, she called out to the White King, who was sitting sulkily among the ashes, "Mind the volcano!"'

"The volcano is Alice, who is invisible and inaudible to the beings in the room. Alice  picked up the King and moved him next to his wife, frightening him half to death. He says that he will never forget the horror of the moment. His wife says, 'You will, though, if you don't make a memorandum of it.' Later in the story, he admits that he cannot help his wife when an enemy is chasing her because she moves so fast, but he says that he will make a memorandum about her because "she's a dear good creature." These little homely moments, more than large gestures or planned events, are the heart and blood of intimate relationships. Like the King and Queen, families know each other's worst and best qualities. True love and deep affection smooth away rough edges and polish us to become our best selves, just like water on stone.

"Down the Rabbit Hole

"In a reading, this card is very like 'and they lived happily ever after.' Of course, we know there isn't really a static, unchanging 'ever after' and that most of the time the 'ever after' is really just the beginning of a new chapter or story. You are at the point in a relationship where stability and shared vision prevail. The relationship is not necessarily personal or romantic, although that is certainly likely. Regardless of the details, as far as the big picture, you are both sharing the same dream and are very happy to do so. Joy, optimism, and sweetness prevail as you face the future with confidence and determined goodwill."

And now, she realizes that the Ten of Cups not only represents the evolution of her relationship with Jeff, and her understanding of True Love, but also both the end of this story and the beginning of the next. Jeff, it's your turn to take the wheel of the airplane. I will follow. I am honored to accept your beautiful Cup.

With all my LOVE,

Alice

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