Sunday, August 30, 2020
Bridge Over Troubled Water
A lot of our understanding of human behavior came from experiments where people or animals were studied, against their will, specifically to cause fear in them or see how they would behave when under stress. All the things we have come to learn about the human psyche come with the dark shadow of the psychology field, something I got to witness from the inside. I worked in a field where picking people apart was the goal; I learned so many ways to identify what is wrong with people, and never to see what is right. Luckily, that is a skill most of us are born with, and I haven't lost it. That will be the day when I die!
Why did the American Psychological Association’s DSM (Diagnostic and Statistic Manual) arise? Was it in response to a need to characterize ways in which people fell outside of some perceived psychological norm in order to medicate them into docility? Because of my own struggle, these are things I often wonder. I have written before about how I struggle with "mental illness." But anyone who actually knows me will tell you that my reactions are normal reactions to often unfair circumstances. Sometimes I wonder if I am not the reincarnation of Betty Friedan (whose birthday is within a few days of mine), here to remind everyone that psychological ableism is a real poison on society, particularly women and children. Most people do it, because it has been normalized through the pace of our daily lives, which has been enabled by governmental, corporate, educational, religious and medical systems placing value on productivity over being and money over empathy. Consequently, there is simply no time for patience in the minds of most Americans. Psychological research has been an important tool of the wealthy to control the "less intelligent," and much of it highlights how permeable the mind is to fear-based control mechanisms which induce states of perceived immediate needs.
Those of us who are "less intelligent" are those who were from stock less able to aggregate resources in earlier history, which means we are seen as "takers" or weaker, and this is exactly what the wealthy desire to exploit in us. Dynasties of resource hoarders have been camped out controlling this reality and our perception of it since sometime after the dawn of agriculture. In modern times, since we all became more intelligent and resourceful, in order to continue to do that, they needed to understand us really well, and luckily for them, along came the field of psychology. Originally, the field of psychology was born out of Freud's interest in his own neuroses, but the information he gathered from exploring his own depths inspired study of human motivation and consciousness in a way that could be harnessed by power structures.
This of course was necessary for the dynasties to continue because we bred like rabbits and spread disease to which they are also vulnerable, having not developed the capacity to help ourselves. Setting up a system to handle us and domesticate us made it into a situation that worked better for them. This was a way they could keep wars off their doorstep, too, because they were and still are surrounded by a moat of minions.
There has never been a greater threat to their power than now, because once enough of us realize we don't need them, and become more conscious of how we spend our money, their stranglehold on our daily attention will diminish, if not cease. We can simply opt to become extremely discerning with how we spend our money, so the companies that are wasting Earth's resources purely for profit just starve.
Before this global crisis, it was easy for most people to use busyness as an excuse for not making more mindful choices, and now that we are all having to operate more independently, we are collectively realizing how the game was rigged.
In the 1970s, Calhoun devised an experiment to create utopia with rats. The rats ended up self-segregating after the population reached a certain size, with the more intelligent choosing seclusion over socialization. The rest of the animals ended up suffering from lack of food. It was a crucial study demonstrating how reproduction without consideration for the long-term commitment it entails is at the heart of human suffering, and it is one that conservatives don't understand. I don't remember learning about it when I took Social Psychology. I do, however, remember the study of the murder of Kitty Genovese which led to the idea of the bystander effect, where people are supposedly reluctant to report dangerous situations, but that has since been disproven, and perhaps it is moot since we live in a police state.
Much of Betty Friedan's writing is concerned with what it is like to go crazy as an educated housewife. I have known a lot of mothers over the years, and working or not, we tend to "go crazy" in the same ways as our lives are engulfed in the minutiae of the modern world, much of it fallout from the way the corporate, educational, religious and medical systems govern our time through bureaucracy.
Don't get me wrong; I am thankful for these systems. But if I were to write a user review for my experiences in these systems, it would elucidate why I worked so hard to find answers elsewhere, because those systems were not designed for people like me. They are not designed for most people; not the people who work within them, not the people who invented them, and not for the people they supposedly serve. They have evolved into corporately-controlled entities that transformed our human services into profit centers, and unfortunately, that is the bottom line.
And that's where we keep going wrong.
I saw an argument that responsible capitalism is empathic capitalism. That struck a chord with me because I have noticed that the corporate notion of planned obsolescence is one of the major evils that consumes my time as a citizen, and I think if corporations were held responsible for wasting time and resources, all of our lives would be much easier. One of our college buddies got a big bonus for designing a part for a consumer product that would fail after a specific period of use. The fact that this particular product is an important tool for dissemination of information and self-expression is not lost on me. Anything they can do to make our lives harder makes theirs easier, and now our technocrat "savior" Musk wants to enable them to control us directly.
My kids were re-enrolling in the online classes provided by their colleges this fall (spoiler: one decided it wasn’t worth it, and the other decided just to take one math class), and they both had to spend unnecessary amounts of time filling out forms that should be on file from last year. What a waste of their time! But it is not an option to skip because there are jobs that depend on that paperwork, and overhead for each one of those jobs, creating massive need for personal privacy and attention intrusion by government entities. If they can't know what we are doing at all times through surveillance, they will know through invisible control mechanisms, like Musk is developing. It is pretty easy to tell how a population spends its time now. Why would we need any more surveillance or control? I got to implant things into brains, too; it’s cruel with or without the surveillance and control.
One of the important ways to control a populace is to make them fear self-expression, and that is quite easy to do when one's meal ticket is dependent on those in control, and one feels like one is always being watched. Anyone who has been a parent or a child knows this. There is so much that can be done with mind control, just by controlling access to food. Many social neuroses have been birthed by well-intentioned but controlling mothers with respect to food.
I am reminded of my mother's insistence that I eat a banana lest she lodge it in my nasal cavity when I was in elementary school. I never really cared for them; if they weren't ripe enough, they made my stomach upset (of course!), and the time they are "just right" is such a small window. I like something more reliable like a carrot. This was a standoff that lasted for hours, her will against mine. She actually let me win in the end, but I still don't like bananas.
I often think about how attachment wounds revolve around the inability to find a secure point when we are emotionally dysregulated because of not having had a 100% reliable nurturing presence in our childhood. In a society where it is a struggle to feed oneself, it can be difficult to be that emotional stable point for the next generation. And thus, ashes to ashes, we all fall down.
Much of what is wrong is this false belief that we should "Suck it up, Buttercup" and that we are "too sensitive" because we cannot exist on a corporate timeline, and this pressure on our parents dribbles down to us as children in the form of needing us to be seen and not heard.
Religion is unfortunately complicit, propagating the idea that blind martyrdom is the path to heaven. Focus on mindless and parroted "morality" which says to love one’s neighbor as oneself, but never shows a savior who struggled with self-care is a destructive lie. Yes, there is a magical force that can save us, but the big lie is that someone else can find it for us.
I figured out how to find it, and I did it in a really unconventional way, because I was at a low point with my health and felt like I didn't have anything to lose. The Tarot helped me find this magic. I have written about my religious beliefs before. I was a believer as a child because of being taught in church and a near death experience I had when I was 14. But then as I got older and had negative experiences with Christian family members, I became agnostic. I was agnostic when I began using the Tarot. My beliefs have changed a lot because of what I saw with my scientist's eye while using the Tarot. I have been unsure of how to share this, because I am surrounded by skeptics, but I also have met a lot of people with science backgrounds who are energy medicine practitioners, and have experienced my own such miracles of healing.
Assuming the Tarot was just like flipping a coin, governed by the rules of probability, I figured a "safe" way to try it out would be to read chakras with it, if one is familiar with that energy. I have an app I use which happens to have a 7-chakra spread, but just concentrating on each chakra and pulling a card should work, I figured, and it did for me. A simple body awareness meditation practice helped me become aware of these energy centers in my body.
Then, I progressed to simple decision-making which is a low risk activity to build confidence in one’s readings. For instance, when I have been bored, I have used it to help me decide what to wear. A past-present-future spread was useful to me, because it helped anchor my awareness of my feelings in time to the cards, but one could certainly invent their own spreads to become fluent. I simply asked what the outcome would be of wearing a certain garment. The outcome is an energy that I end up feeling or manifesting. Apps have the spreads already built in with various meanings, but any meaning can be attributed to any card in any position by the querent. For instance, besides looking at time variables, one can look at conscious and subconscious motivations. What I wanted to know of course, early in my exploration, was the outcome to a particular action, but I had more faith in what it said if I felt the past and present cards were accurate (hint: they always were or I wouldn't be sharing this).
As tempting as it is to have someone else read for me, I like to do my own readings now, and I do them a lot. It would freak most people out. No, I haven’t seen the last season of Westworld, and I am aware of the similarity. When I first started learning, I had two professional readings from different readers, and they were highly accurate. The first time, I went because my sister-in-law wanted to see a psychic, and asked me if I knew of any. What’s especially funny about this is I discovered that I knew two professional psychics from support groups I was in for art and homeschooling, and one of them I had even connected with over homeschooling in the past. We decided to go to the one I knew better because I thought it would be fun to see what she does for a living. It was trippy. I have been able to channel for some time, now, so the novelty has worn off a bit, but the first time I saw my friend channel my dead grandmother was pretty weird. She got her accent and everything, and even predicted details about my unknown grandfather that I was hung up on in my genealogical research.
The second reading I felt compelled to do while visiting a friend who studied the occult in her teens (as so many people did). There was an eclipse that day, and I had discovered through my cursory look into astrology that I have had several very important life events happen during eclipses. I saw a random psychic at the metaphysical supply store in the city where she lives, just before the store closed, as a walk-in. In hindsight, I think I may have been subconsciously motivated to see someone who had no time to check up on my past and who didn’t know me, to see if I could experience what I had in the other reading, sort of as a control. The reading was of a different nature. I got called in right away and was asked to shuffle the cards myself. The reader had been working for 30 years as a psychic. She picked up on odd details about my family, including my children’s giftedness and my artistic background, but did not channel or make any predictions beyond saying that I could use my art in my healing or to make a living (which made me feel dubious). At that point, I was still early in my learning of the Tarot and had not channeled, nor discovered my clairaudience (getting “messages” through one’s ‘inner ear’ often confused with auditory hallucinations and pathologized as schizophrenia), clairsentience (feeling of energy, pathologized as being “too sensitive”), or clairvoyance (inner sight or third eye, the only one considered acceptable in western civilization).
I went into the whole thing as a neurotic skeptic, originally intending to document it, but then decided it wasn’t necessary because it was clearly working.
My theory is that it works because the number of card combinations is close enough to be pseudorandom, and that the “intelligence” of the universe really is a chaotic mathematical process, which is reflected in the cards. I think this is related to electromagnetism and metabolism, because card readings are reflective of my own metabolic state, as I learned through doing the chakra readings and paying attention to my health. I have been told that I have a crazy level of body awareness, but it does fluctuate over the course of my menstrual cycle. I absolutely see how the Tarot has been an important occult healing modality. Some people talk about “the 4D” and “lower energies and spirits” but I believe this is simply a reflection of one’s own ailing energy which greatly affects perspective, as I have discovered through hacking my metabolism. Certainly a lot of fear has been generated over it by religious authorities because our understanding has been so poor. The elevated consciousness is like a Christ Consciousness, and can be found within oneself through use of the Tarot. No theological seminary is necessary, nor are any residencies in psych wards.
It is a powerful tool for self-analysis and growth in consciousness and intuition. I think it can be misused and it has been. I think, however, it has largely been out of the hands of the bourgeoisie, and that good-hearted people of this class can use it to leverage community connections to bring fast change so we are no longer hungry as a society.
I say this because I need to say it; we are on the brink of something either incredibly awful or incredibly beautiful, and as long as the wealthy are using it to concentrate wealth, we’re going to be headed further down the path of world destruction. Harvard is now offering classes in prediction on EdX. Everyone can now learn Tarot and astrology free online and become an oracle. Do we want only the really rich and the really poor going to Hogwarts when we have a golden ticket, too? We need more members of Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw just about now.
After using the Tarot and paying attention to my own energy for a while, I started to awaken more to my dreams and my own stream of consciousness, which is how I discovered my clairsentience, clairaudience and clairvoyance. I had been noticing synchronicities before that, but then started learning what they mean, and that also helped give me direction, because I knew I was in the right place at the right time. I don’t know how else to say it except that it feels magical. I have heard people talking about being able to generate synchronicities, but that has never been a concern for me; mostly it would be nice if they slowed down a bit, because it’s a bit like the owls coming into the Dursley’s house over here.
This process can be used to heal oneself and thus reduce one's reliance on others. That is what I have used it for. I also use it to help me edit writing and consider creative ideas. I am cautious about using it for parenting stuff, because I want my kids to make their own decisions. Plus, it just doesn’t seem to work as well when I use it that way. A good way to understand the potential pitfalls of its use is to watch the show Locke & Key on Netflix. Always remember you have free will. I always choose the path of love.
I feel like the Baby Boomer generation didn't really liberate me from my gender role in society, but some of that was on me for misusing my energy and having confused values with respect to materialism, which the Tarot has helped me reconcile. Beyond that, though, I found liberation from my gender role to require a lot more community interdependence than currently exists.
Unfortunately, because most people don’t understand how to not control others and just let them be, interdependence can feel elusive. I personally don’t like feeling like I have to defend a way of life that I feel is more conscious because it is an attempt to fight oppression. And all the dogma out there which persists in peoples’ subconscious minds through indiscriminate use of social media and failure to acknowledge the power of controlling one’s own attention keeps it from happening.
Here's a great example from kindergarten. One of my very first friends was another girl from my kindergarten class who also liked to eat the Play-Doh. One of the only times I got in trouble in class was eating Play-Doh with her. She couldn't keep quiet and often got in trouble for talking in class, and I had wanted my teacher's respect, but I also wanted to eat the Play-Doh, and it wasn’t hurting anyone. It was that salty homemade kind, so it didn’t make sense for anyone to get into trouble over it. Somehow, I have found that keeping my head down and finding small ways to have enjoyment kept me out of most trouble with authority.
Over the years, though, I suppose I got a little feisty from having to deal with arbitrary rules. I could recognize them easily because I had an experience where my sister wanted to learn how to use the swing in the backyard, and asked me to teach her. My younger sister could sometimes feel like a bit of a pest to me (as younger siblings can), and because she tried so hard to dominate my time and attention, I decided to give her some random bizarro rules for swinging which involved different arm and leg movements that wouldn’t really help her, and watch her struggle as a sort of revenge! As soon as I saw her try to implement my directions, I felt terrible watching her flail. It felt icky to boss her around for my own entertainment, and I try to avoid situations which produce guilt. Sometimes I wonder about the things that authorities recommend and require, because so often the motivation is not pure and meant purely as control.
My first major retaliation against authority because of this reasoning was in 7th grade science. Maybe I got put in a mainstream science class, but it was so remedial that I was conscious of the waste of my cognition that being in the class was. I don't know what the other students were thinking, but I was being asked to do coloring packets to learn about amphibians while being asked to read Alexander Dumas in my English class! It was like my parents had sacrificed me to this system to turn me into some sort of employable widget, but the system didn't actually know how to do that, either, because it didn't care how to help me reach my full potential. It only cared about me or my teachers inasmuch as we were there to justify its existence. So, I didn’t do the stupid coloring packet, and got my first D. But later I redeemed myself by going over the top on a report about gems:
My teacher graciously responded, and this rebel was born.
And that is the piece people really don't get. It is the rare system leader who is capable of putting the needs of the user over the needs of the system, especially if that leader benefits from the system disproportionately. That's because they know the secret that they have to take care of themselves first and foremost. They stay ahead by keeping us too busy to care for ourselves.
The most revolutionary act a person can do in this lifetime is take care of oneself. We need to be honest about how much we can handle. Frankly, after everything I have been through, about all I want to do is chill.
I have sort of a tortured relationship with moral authoritarianism. Our family had a lot of doctor and psychologist friends around when I was growing up, and so some of my trauma is related to this in the context of a religious background. It almost seemed like there was a contest to see who could be most right about how to be, because everyone considered themselves moral experts from their advanced education. We also knew a few social and environmental justice attorneys and politicians and my parents were Republican. Don't worry, I am not concerned with impressing anyone, only trying to present the truth as I see it, or as it is being shown to me, I should say. And I am registered Independent, but have been registered Republican and Democrat. There is a fair amount of moral authoritarianism in the community I live in, too, probably because it is one of the most highly educated areas in the United States. What that means is that many people around here probably feel pretty confident they know right from wrong. But what if our whole concept of morality has been polluted by greed at such an insidious level that it is invisible to most people?
What if we had a way to see the outcome of our actions and make our lives simpler? The Tarot is a way to see this and steer our relationships toward more loving in life by illuminating potential energy losses. Yes, it can be used to find sexual relationships, but it can also just be used to cultivate peace. Everyone I know is really conscientious and so it is tempting to want to compare oneself. A lot of us were held to unrealistic standards of behavior for children because the system just doesn't know how to deal with that kind of chaos (magic). Tarot can help with finding self forgiveness and navigating chaos. It makes it so one sees oneself much more like a player in a game, rather than a victim of circumstance.
One of my favorite uses for the Tarot is time travel. Going backwards can be just as useful as going forward, as it can be a memory aid. It is possible to “see” what is in the future, which is what is so freaking weird about it! That is the most dangerous part of it, because the details and time elements can be way off if one isn’t careful. For instance, I had very clear visions of having a car crash. I knew it was probably going to happen on a Tuesday and so I forbade my husband for a while from driving on Tuesdays because I was so sure. So eventually I forgot my rule and decided we absolutely had to head out to get pumpkins during a snowstorm for Halloween (not my typical modus operandi - I generally don’t care for rituals), and low and behold, we had a tiny accident leaving our neighborhood on a Tuesday. We weren’t hurt except minor head injuries for my daughter and I who were sitting on the side of the car that hit the curb. We were able to get our car home so it could be towed, but the front and rear right wheels were thoroughly out of alignment. For this reason, I don't do a lot of prognostication because it feels like Oppenheimer to me, especially with my particular knowledge.
I have been really worried about sharing this information, but the Tarot is telling me it is time.
I may be a witch, but I try to be the good kind. More intimate details of how this works for me are shared in my fiction writing, the ongoing novels The Divination Project and A Life of Illusion, which will be published on this blog in the future.