Some time ago I was meditating on relationship and boundary-setting — specifically with a friend who threw a bit of a fit at me. She asked me to do her a big favor, trying to downplay the size of the favor in the asking. I refused (reasonably, I thought); and so she got snippy.
Alison advised me not to answer or argue again: I was in the right, and I should simply let it go. I agreed with Alison — at least, my mind did. But my heart found it hard to accept disappointing my friend.
In meditation, I thought about what I really wanted from friendships in the future. My guides and my gut agree that, in the past, I have been too accommodating, too willing to put the needs of others before myself. How could I fix this?
To inspire my meditation, I used my favorite deck, the Buddha Tarot by Robert Place. I drew these:
- The Animal of Double Vajras (Garuda). The Garuda is a magical animal guide of healing, destroyer of evil monsters and corrupting powers. The Double Vajras correspond roughly to Water, but the Garuda is a creature of the air.
- 10 of Jewels (Greed) The 10 of Jewels is about material satiety, and the greed that engenders.
- 9 of Lotuses (Sacrifice) The Sacrifice is cutting away something that is valued.
In meditation, I felt drawn to the Forest of the Horned God. At the base of the World Tree, a spiral of wooden steps rose around the trunk, carrying me up above the treetops, so that I could see the white-capped Mountains of the Earth in the distance. They ended at a sort of tree house perched right above the tallest branches of the surrounding forest.
The house — which I understood to be the eyrie of the Garuda — was semicircular, jutting from the trunk rather like a shelf fungus. Structurally it was, in essence, a great half-circle of porch, with an elegantly architectured wooden house nested in the center of it. I didn’t see much of the house (though I got an impression of ash-wood and glass and brass, elegance and comfort, airiness). The porch, on which I stood blinking in the late afternoon sunlight, was of some kind of stone, decorated with precious metals and jewels in an astrological pattern, like a birth-chart carved into the floor.
The Garuda was man-shaped, tall, and dressed elegantly in red; his face was vaguely animal — a beaklike nose, deep eyes, and an expression of profound comfort in his own skin. He offered me tea (a nod to the watery associations of the Double Vajra, he said), and I gratefully accepted.
I asked him about relationships and boundary-setting. He said that as I get closer to my ideals of life and profession (10 Jewels), my relationships will change profoundly; and I’m going to have to give some of them up (9 Lotus).
“If people are used to you being accommodating, they will be upset when you change,” he said. “And you will continue to be uncertain about the right thing to do; because you’re in the midst of the change — you’re on shifting ground.”
“But,” he contined, “there is always a source of guidance: the Earth. Do you remember, when you first got the request from your friend, immediately you felt like it would be wrong to say yes?”
“Yes,” I said. “I wanted to help her, but I had a strong feeling that I shouldn’t. I wasn’t sure where the intuition came from, and I didn’t want to be unfair to her, so I pushed it away.”
“You pushed it away because you wanted to subordinate your own needs to someone else,” he said. “To gain approval, to be liked. But that intuition is your rock, your connection with the Earth. Listen to it. It will lead you right.”
Just before the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, realized enlightenment, it is said the demon Mara attacked him with armies of monsters to frighten Siddhartha from his seat under the bodhi tree. But the about-to-be Buddha did not move. Then Mara claimed the seat of enlightenment for himself, saying his spiritual accomplishments were greater than Siddhartha’s. Mara’s monstrous soldiers cried out together, “I am his witness!” Mara challenged Siddhartha–who will speak for you?
Then Siddhartha reached out his right hand to touch the earth, and the earth itself roared, “I bear you witness!” Mara disappeared. And as the morning star rose in the sky, Siddhartha Gautama realized enlightenment and became a Buddha. — Barbara O’Brien
In the same way, if I keep one hand on the Earth, I will not go wrong, even if my universe of friends is upended. I do not need their approval, if the Earth is my foundation.
- A tremendous manifesto from Ali — one of the best things she’s written all year. “Ritual is not for our sake alone… our religious communities are not only human.”
- Would you kill an elephant? The complex tangle of justice woven between an internet tycoon and an angry young bull.
- Subscribe to my flickr photostream, and get updates whenever I create a new landscape like the one below.
- This deck… O my friends, this deck I must have. Steampunk Tarot.
- Get Into the Grove: new druid blog from OBOD bard, Moncha.
- Books are good company… for books are people – people who have managed to stay alive by hiding between the covers of a book. – EB White
- Weather means more when you have a garden. There’s nothing like listening to a shower… soaking in around your green beans. – Marcelene Cox
- Sun-bleached bones are most wonderful against the blue, that blue that will always be there after all man’s destruction is finished. O’Keefe
- The night pleases us because it suppresses idle details, just as our memory does. – Borges
- We all have our blind spots. To what extent do we *choose* those blind spots — subconsciously — in order to have the life we want?
- The investigation of nature is an infinite pasture, where the more bite, the longer the grass grows, and the more it nourishes. – Huxley