sword of words

*ouch. change can hurt*

A notice on the door tugs on a corner of my subconscious, but my ambition (as ambitions do) to complete the mission with which I set forth speaks over the whispering omen. No worry, for this omen (as omens do) will present itself again…

Having not found the book on digital photography that I was looking for (and probably never was) I pass the woman who left the notice on the door. The snippet of intuition I feel suddenly snaps perfectly together with the puzzle piece I so briefly noticed when I hesitated at the door to read the notice. Recognizing an opportunity for a glimpse of the divine picture — this time — I pay attention.

I turn around and approach the woman. She’s sitting down and, as a matter of personal policy when speaking to anyone with whom I recognize as either a teacher or student, I lower myself below her eye level. (This, by the way, is a fun game when speaking to someone who abides the same personal policy; I once descended an entire case of stairs, in turns, with such a person.)

“You read cards?” I ask.

There is an eagerness in her sigh and smile by which I read the fact that today has been slow in business, “Yes! Please sit down!”

The truth is that I play with tarot cards as well, just as I delight in experimenting with any other tools utilized for understanding the subconscious (dream interpretation, symbolism, archetypes, astrology, aura reading, etc.) and I am only interested in seeing the artistic nature of the symbols on her deck and wondering what one charges for such a service. She tells me her price and I politely explain to her that I am in a period of savings and apologize for misrepresenting my interest, if I have done so.

But she motions me to the seat anyway, “You must sit down. I insist. The reading is free. I do that you know; when I feel inclined. Stop, stop, declining. You should feel no obligation. You can return the favor to anyone you meet in this town later, agreed? Now sit.”

Left with no options not to, I sit.

“Choose three cards.”

I close my eyes for just long enough to ask that what I draw may be truly representative and offer me an appropriate learning.

As she turns the three over, I read their interpretations in my head as I have learned them from my own experience:

X Swords…. “Major change on the way, resistance is futile.”
IX Swords…. “Darkest hour before the dawn.”
VI Swords… “Relief will come after a struggle. Sea voyage possible.”

“All swords and matters of intellect!” I exclaim and recognize that, given that (I feel) my intellect is my greatest weakness, it is no wonder that I am indeed struggling these days.

It takes me a minute to become conscious of the fact that while I am analyzing the cards, she is analyzing me. I suddenly realize that the cards mean nothing to her; only a single petty medium, one of many, through which she can read. She’s not looking at the cards; she’s looking at me, and seeing.

Now, and only because I have mentioned them, she looks at the cards. But they are bothersome details. Offhandedly she comments, “Yes. Strong on swords. It’s definitely a time of great change and reflection for you.”

And then she continues with the story she read behind my eyes, “A traveller. With extreme drive. Compassion is the lesson of this lifetime. But you will not learn it from motherhood, will you? No. Through service. Through something that you will dedicate the rest of your life to — when you find it. You won’t be here long. You’re a seeker, and continue you will. And this work you do right now, it is good. But it is not enough. Maybe 10 years you will share your inspiration through this channel. But then, then you give your entire life to spiritual practice. And I see a book. Writing is important to you isn’t it? You must keep practicing; keep writing. It will have a strategic place in your life.”

You’d think that this kind of information, given to you by a complete stranger, would be shocking. But when it happens it isn’t; the conversation has the familiarity of a conversation with self. I’ve had readings from teachers/gurus/mentors from Guatemala to India, and what they tell me never surprises me because the fact that it’s true meant that I already knew it. Or the fact that I knew it, meant that it was already true.

“What are you afraid of?” she asks.

I answer out of alignment with truth and against that which I know will never be; “That I will grow comfortable here. Everything is so pleasant and easy. I’m afraid that when the time comes, I will no longer want to leave.”

To this she actually throws her head back and laughs out loud. It is the first time we have broken an eye-to-eye contact that burrowed into realms beyond vision, and this release makes for the most perfect red curtain in closure on this session. I AM laughable, I realize. And I join in with celebrating the humor of the incredibility of self-perception.

The lull of relief at the end of our shared life laugh motions for a movement towards our separate ways.

“Not a chance,” she puts the period on her laugh and says with a smile. “Now go on.”

I put my hands together, bow and offer her the South Asian sacred salute of, “namaste” (“recognizing the divine in you”), to which she with instant recognition, and naturally, returns.


(I should take this moment to make mention of “Osho,” a great Indian guru who the Dalai Lama recognized as enlightened, under whom the woman I just wrote of was a disciple, and who has 576 book listings on Amazon, five of which I’ve read and loved. If you’re interested in sampling, the Apple Online Music Store has a free “Osho Podcast” so you can download a 1-hour discourse and hear him speak of how to live a creative and holi-life.)


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  1. Dusty January 24, 2006 at 5:51 pm

    I have been reading your articles on Bootsnall, and happened to browse your website today. Yep, comfort. It is something that makes us not do the things we want to do. Sometimes, strange encounters bring us closest to the truth. Happy journeying. – Dustyshoes (BNA)

  2. amy koolaid January 16, 2006 at 1:17 am

    awesome. awesome!

    a time of change may also be a time to try your hand at a new avenue of creative expression.
    may it be video?

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