The Gift of Talking to Trees: Follow-up

 

I must say that I’m so pleased with the response to my original post The Gift of Talking to Trees. It’s good to hear about others with the gift and how it plays into their lives. My thanks to Grandmother Margaret for convincing me to write it.

I’ve had many great experiences with my trees since I wrote the original post. Aside from just enjoying spending time with them, I’ve learned so much from their wise council. There were a number of lessons that I apparently needed to learn from them, and, according to an elder tree, I’ve “graduated” for now. There are certain things for which I no longer need their guidance because I can take care of them myself. I’m also going down the right path (for me, at least) and doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this point in my life.

I’ve asked them if there is anything else that I need to learn from them (because I certainly don’t want to stop learning), but they’ve been consistent in their replies for the past year. “No, we’ve helped you as Creator has directed us, and you must walk your path fully. For now. More lessons will come later, but you must practice what you’ve learned and work on enjoying your life to the fullest.” It was the “For now.” that got me. <vbg> So I’m going about my life as they’ve directed, absolutely enjoying myself with the things I do.

I always find peace and happiness with my trees, and I know they are always with me. And that’s quite a comforting feeling.

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End of 2013 Update – It’s Me Again!

It’s me again! Surprised to hear from me? I would think so given that I haven’t posted much of anything here this year. I just occurred to me that tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve (I actually meant to send this out on Monday) and I thought this would be a good time to let you know why you haven’t heard much from me. There’s a lot that’s transpired since I made my one and only post in January.

Here’s the executive summary of what has happened this year:

  • My health became my number one priority and it’s become significantly better since January 30th.

  • I’ve now added acting to my broad resume, and I’m doing commercial, TV and film work. I’m told by people I highly respect that I’m doing quite well for a “newbie”.

  • Music is taking a larger role in my life. The funk band is (hopefully) going to get off the ground soon, I did guitar session work on a fellow actor’s music CD, and I’ve taken up the ukulele.

  • My Tarot work is now more focused on doing private readings and readings at major psychic fairs, private parties and company events. I’m no longer doing readings at any metaphysical stores.

The first two points are what really consumed most of my time throughout the year, and they are the main reasons why I did not write anything for the blog.

NOTE: I’m going to present the abridged versions of my stories. The more detailed versions are longer and a bit more complex; taken together, they might actually qualify as a short story.

My Health – A Crisis Averted

My health was pretty bad at the beginning of the year. I weighed a little over 260 lbs, my blood pressure was sky high, I was constantly hot and perspired easily, I couldn’t take a deep breath, I had very little stamina (I could barely walk up a short flight of stairs), I was being treated for Sleep Apnea, my fingers would sometimes go numb, and I was having various lower back problems. I was eating a lot and exercising very little. (Well, ok, not at all.) My shirt size was XL on the verge of going to XXL, and my pant size was 44 and starting to fit very snugly, to say the least. And I remember a time in the middle of January when I was beginning to accept the idea that this was my lot in life at this age and that I should just make the best of it. I was actually contemplating buying a cool cane so that I could walk a little more easily. In short, I was a mess.

Then one evening I made a decision that would significantly change my life.

Before I reveal what happened, I should state that my personal physician and the physician’s assistant that is seeing me for my Sleep Apnea have long tried to get me to lose weight and to take medication for my high blood pressure. I would always dance around the subject of weight loss and I flat refused to take any blood pressure medication. Why the resistance? Well, I had two very good friends who were on BP medication and both of them had difficulties with it. That’s all I’ll say on the subject, but suffice it to say that the experience turned me keenly against blood pressure medication.

As I was watching a movie at home one evening, it occurred to me that I could hear my heart pulsing in my head – it was quite noticeable. All of the associated side-effects of a stroke or heart attack and the various health issues that were present at the time came racing to mind for some reason. All this had never occurred to me before and I couldn’t figure out why it was happening now. I mulled it around in my mind for a bit and then made a fateful decision: at age 58, my current state of health was not in my best interests, undesirable and certainly not sustainable, so I decided it was high-time to do something about it and turn my life around. I had seen my most likely future in my head and I just didn’t want to go there.

In early February, I went to see my PA (physician’s assistant) for my annual Sleep Apnea checkup. He also happens to be a cardiologist, so I told him of my decision and asked his advice on blood pressure medications. He was delighted to hear the news and quickly came up with a possible plan. He proposed to have my physician put me on absolute minimal blood pressure medication for one year, two years max, so that we could manage my blood pressure enough for me to be able to work on lowering my weight. He said that if I could significantly lower my weight, my problems with blood pressure, back pain, joint aches and, most likely, the Sleep Apnea would all go away. He also thought I could do this in two years, or possibly al little over a year if I put my mind to it.

So I agreed to his proposal and started taking two blood pressure medications. Now I had to take care of my diet and exercise.

On February 19th, I happened to be walking around a local mall taking care of some errands, and I walked past a Weight Watchers store. I had heard a lot about them, how successful people have been by following their program, and how they’re constantly rated as the best diet program. So I thought, what the heck, I’ll go in and see what they have to say. I don’t remember the exact hour-long conversation I had with Donna, the representative I met that afternoon, but it was just the right motivation I needed to decide to join Weight Watchers and give it a try. It was the best decision I’ve made in a very long time! I knew this was the program for me because I eventually learned that this is not a diet, but rather a lifestyle. The lifestyle aspect is the key to my success. There was a particular lifestyle before Weight Watchers, and now there’s a new lifestyle with Weight Watchers. I’ve embraced it fully and it’s worked just beautifully so far! (You’ll see my results in a moment.)

Blood pressure meds, check. Diet management, check. Now I needed to take care of exercise.

I decided walking would be my best bet, so later that week I started walking around a local park for 15 minutes a day and I’ve gradually increased the distance and time since then. I now walk around a large regional mall for 40 minutes a day, six days a week. I love it! I cover approximately two miles during those forty minutes. In the past three weeks, I’ve also begun a mini-exercise regimen right before I go to bed consisting alternately of sit-ups/ push-ups/squats and leg lifts/bicep curls/standing leg lifts. I found that doing this really helps clear my nasal passages and helps my breathing while I’m sleeping. The fact that I’m even doing these exercises at all is very significant: at the beginning of the year, I could barely do five push-ups, three sit-ups (maybe), and zero squats.

Now, there’s something my PA and personal physician didn’t know about me at the time I started all of this: once I make a decision to do something, I do it 110%, both feet forward and to the best of my ability. I mention this because they have both been absolutely amazed at my progress. Here’s what I’ve accomplished in just 10 short months:

  • I’ve lost 57 pounds, 8 on my own and 49 with Weight Watchers (WW). And I’m still going down. I’m currently at 210 and my goal is to hit 195 by my first anniversary at WW. I’ll then shoot for 180-185 and call it good. (My PA said he has a record of me weighing as high as 271 lbs a couple of years ago.)

  • My blood pressure is down significantly. At the end of February, it was at a peak high of 203/119! I managed to get my blood pressure down to an average of 133/87, which literally shocked my physician and led him to discontinue one of my blood pressure medications. It’s gone up a little bit and is now consistently at an average of 148/94. I seem to still be doing well, though.

  • The issues I had with constantly being hot and perspiring, taking deep breaths, my fingers going numb, aches and pains in my joints, and various lower back problems have all disappeared. I kid you not. My Sleep Apnea has greatly decreased, and I may actually be rid of it by the end of next year.

  • My shirt and pant sizes have gone down. My shirt size went from almost having to wear an XXL to a nice regular fit Large. My pant size has gone down from a 44 waist to a 36 waist. (I should hit a size 34 when I reach 195 lbs.)

  • I’ve greatly increased my stamina. Along with my 40 minute daily walks, I’ve managed to work in stair climbing using the stairs at the mall. Every other day, I walk (well, now trot) up and down 30 steps three times. On the workout I do before going to bed, I do each of the exercises for three sets of ten reps.

Suffice it to say that I’ve made distinct progress much faster than either my PA or personal physician expected, and they are greatly impressed. My physician says at the rate I’m going, he may well decide to take me off the final blood pressure medication before the end of next year, perhaps even earlier.

I feel great, I love my new appearance and I’m enjoying life a lot more!

Lights! Camera! Action! – Now I’m an Actor!

You know, I’ve rarely ever planned anything in terms of the various careers I’ve had in my adult life. Things have always just seemed to fall into my lap or appear right in the middle of my path. And the fact that I’m the type of person who doesn’t mind taking risks or walking through a slightly opened door has been a great asset in this regard. Many of my friends and people who haven’t minded bending an ear my way have heard me tell stories of how I started in this career or managed to get into that kind of work. So it wouldn’t surprise them that this has happened yet again and is exactly how I got into acting.

Back in the end of March, my friend Akiyo and I were discussing the possibility of conducting our own psychic fair. I mentioned that we knew enough people in the metaphysical community to create the fair, but we just needed an appropriately sized venue. Akiyo mentioned that she knew a lady who had a business and who just moved into a larger building. She said her friend was interested metaphysical stuff and might be open to hosting our psychic fair. I thought that was great, so I told Akiyo to set up a meeting so that we could speak to hear about our idea.

On April 5th, I met Akiyo at the appointed time and location, and we walked upstairs to meet with her friend. As we walked into the room, a lady shouted “Mike!”, ran towards me, and gave me a big warm hug. Now at this point, I’m thinking, “Ok, who is this? Who is this?” She then grabbed me by the shoulders and said, “I’ve wanted to speak to you for over a year now! You gave me such a great tarot reading at the Emerald Spiral Expo last year! I was impressed with your presence, your energy, your warm smile, your passion, and your good looks. What I want to talk to you about concerns joining our talent agency as one of our talent!” I was completely shocked, to say the least. Very flattered, but shocked nonetheless.

So I put my business consultant hat on and told her and her partner, who joined us by that time, to give me their pitch. What was it that interested them about me? What types of work did they think I could reasonably do? What was the realistic potential for me actually working? What were the up-front costs for getting started? (It’s been my experience that there are always startup costs to any new career or job area you wish to pursue, so I didn’t think this would be any different.) To my pleasant surprise, we spent the next hour discussing these and other issues in a completely honest, clear and lucid manner. At the end of the conversation, I came to the conclusion that everything they told me and the costs they mentioned for me to start were completely reasonable. No red flags came to mind whatsoever. So I said, “Ok – I’m in!” Thus started my career as an actor and my wonderful partnership with Tanya Tiffany and Bob Tomazic at Tiffany Talent.

I’m now an actor working in commercials, film and television. In the nine short months I’ve been with the agency, I’ve had 17 auditions and booked 10 jobs. I’ve been in a major fundraising video, a fotonovela, a promotional video, two regional commercials, an episode in a TV series, pilots for two potentially new TV series, and an independent short film. (You can see a few more details on all of these items in my resume on the Tiffany Talent site.) I’ve been told by people in the business whom I really respect that I’m doing very well “for a newbie”, especially given the fact that I’ve never been in this business and I have no prior acting experience. “Here’s the good news: if this is where you are now, given your background, think of where you’ll be this time next year!” That’s what I’m keeping in mind!

From a more spiritual and metaphysical level, I’m still trying to figure out why this all came about. I wasn’t looking for a new career. I certainly had no aspirations of becoming an actor. A comedian, maybe. But becoming a legitimate actor is something I would never have thought of doing prior to April 5th. But I know I’m supposed to be doing this now. Everything has fallen into place so easily. I’m taking to it like a fish to water. I’m getting jobs. I’m humbled by the fact that I’m getting compliments on my work from people who have been at this for many years. It’s so amazing.

“Music, Sweet Music – You’re the Queen of My Soul!”
From “Queen of My Soul” by Average White Band”

I mentioned last year that I had joined a funk band that plays ‘70’s style funk. (Tower of Power; Average White Band; Earth, Wind & Fire; etc.) We actually managed to play a gig at the Bite of Seattle earlier this year, and that was a ton of fun. Since then, however, we’ve been going through some personnel changes. With any kind of luck, we’ll have a new keyboard player and lead singer by the end of January. Then we’ll work on expanding our repertoire as we might have a chance at playing in one of the night clubs at a local casino. That’ll be fun!

In the meantime, I did some studio guitar work for fellow actor and singer/songwriter Marc Silber. I got the gig almost by accident. He was working on his new Techno-Pop CD earlier this year and was in need of a guitarist. I told him that I play guitar and have been a guitarist for 40+ years. Enthused, but slightly reserved, he invited me over to his house to jam a little bit. Unbeknownst to me at the time, he was auditioning me. We played together for about an hour, after which he turned and said, “I’d love to have you play guitar on my CD.” I agreed and I ended up playing on eight tracks of his CD. It’s called “World of Wonder” and you can find out more about it on Marc’s website. It was fun to be able to be really creative and I had a blast during the recording sessions. I’d never played Techno-Pop before, but now I can add it to the list of different styles that I can play.

Last but not least, I decided to pick up the ukulele about three weeks ago. I had been wanting to learn how to play one for some time, especially after hearing The Seattle Castaways ukulele band a few times. They’re just awesome and Pete, the drummer, is a really good friend of mine. Anyway, I hemmed and hawed about it for the longest time until I got a call from my acting agent. “Hey Mike, can you play ukulele? If so, I can submit you to audition for a part that will require some ukulele playing.” “Absolutely!” I said.

So he submitted me for the audition and I promptly went to Dusty Strings in Seattle and purchased a Kala KA-C concert ukulele. It’s a beautiful little mahogany body uke with, I must say, a surprisingly nice sound. It stays in tune, is easy to play and the finish work is nice (for what it is). And at $120.00, it’s absolutely a great value. (Having purchased guitars for 40+ years, I know a good deal when I see one.

The little Kala and I hit it off beautifully. In short order (meaning roughly 2 1/2 hours), I taught myself to play the old-timey tune “Ain’t She Sweet”, “Long Train Running” by the Doobie Brothers, “Let It Ride” by Bachman Tuner Overdrive, “El Condor Pasa” by Simon & Garfunkel, and “Oil in the Ground” by Tower of Power. Yes, I know, an eclectic variety of tunes right off the bat. But you know me – I don’t like to play just one style of music.

This is the very first time I’ve ever played a ukulele and I LOVE IT! So now I play three stringed instruments: the guitar, the mandolin and the ukulele.

My Tarot Work – The Tower, Death, The Fool & The Chariot

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These cards definitely illustrate what I’ve been through during this year. I had a serious revelation that made me make significant changes to my life, and I took on a new career that seems to be proceeding down a successful and fulfilling path. It seems odd to me that I didn’t choose any cards to represent what’s been going on regarding my music and my Tarot. But I just realized that they are both a core part of my being and will forever be a part of me, no matter what I do or what new directions I pursue.

As I got busy taking care of my health and working on my new acting career, I had to discontinue doing readings at metaphysical stores – I just didn’t have the time to keep my slots going. As such, I thought the Tarot would be on the back burner for a while, but I was wrong. If anything, my Tarot work is now more focused. I’m still doing readings at the major psychic fairs in this area, private readings, and readings for private parties and corporate events. In fact, I’ve recently noticed a slight increase in work along these lines. I’ve also noticed that my readings seem to be clearer and even more accurate than before, although I don’t know why that is the case. I’ve gladly accepted this fact, however, and I still have an absolutely great time doing readings.

I think my involvement in the acting community will open up a whole new set of opportunities for a broader clientele. I’ve already done readings for a few actors, and more are becoming interested in what I do. It’ll be interesting to see how this situation evolves.

End Notes

Given all that has transpired this year, you can see why I didn’t post much on my blog. You can expect to hear more from me, though. I have some plans for major changes in the way I market myself and all the things I do now. Changes are on the way, so keep an eye on my website, my Facebook page and this blog. I will give you a two-word hint of what is to come: Renaissance Man.

I wish you all the very best for 2014. May you be happy, healthy, prosperous and safe, and may the year exceed your current expectations.

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The Gift of Talking to Trees

Back in May of 2011, I had the distinct pleasure and great honor of meeting Grandmother Margaret Behan, one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers, at an event at the Vashon Intuitive Arts center on Vashon Island, WA. I told her the story I’m about to tell you, and she asked me to promise her that I would write about it on my blog; she said there were possibly others who had the same gift but may have been afraid to use it because they simply thought they might be going crazy. It’s taken me a while to get around to doing this, but I believe that things happen when they’re supposed to happen. Now is the time for me to keep my promise to Grandmother Margaret. She is someone I certainly wouldn’t want to disappoint.

A few years ago, a couple of Tarot colleagues did readings for me (separately, of course) and I was intrigued by one point that each of them made to me during the readings. They said that my gift for reading the Tarot was just one of several gifts I have in me. They both indicated that more of my gifts would expose themselves over time and that I should embrace them fully. “But all I really want to do is read the Tarot.” “Well, Mike, Spirit and the Universe have other plans for you. You’ll be doing more than just reading cards; in fact, you’ll get to the point that you won’t really need them anymore.” I was shocked by the last statement because I really love my cards! “Well,” I said, “I’m keeping my cards despite any other gifts that may pop up.” I’m still reading my beloved cards, but a wonderful gift did reveal itself soon after those readings.

A Spiritual Gift Appears When You Least Expect ItMy Trees for Blog 012913 v2

This is really true, isn’t it? People seem to think that spiritual gifts appear via things such as visions, whispered angelic voices, mystical symbolic signs, or some great metaphysical fanfare. The reality is that they appear at the most unlikely times and in the most unlikely places and circumstances. That was most certainly true in my case.

So what gift, then, appeared to me in such a fashion?

I discovered I can speak to trees.

This happened absolutely unexpectedly, in the most unlikely location under the most unlikely circumstances. (See? Just like I said.) It’s probably a good thing that my new gift revealed itself as it did because I might not have believed it had it happened under a more metaphysical or mystical set of circumstances. Had it happened in the latter case, I might have thought it was just all in my mind. Here’s what happened.

A few years ago, I was working at Microsoft and was on a team that helped manage and run TechEd, Microsoft’s premiere developer conference. We were holding the conference at the Orlando Convention Center that year, and our staff was staying at the Rosen Centre Hotel. The hotel is located just across the street, immediately east of the conference center and it’s a short ten minute walk from the hotel entrance to the east entrance of the conference center. There was a short grove of trees along the sidewalk between the hotel driveway entrance and the street between the hotel and the conference center, and I passed them every day on my way to and from the conference.

The grove had a beautiful mix of young and old shade trees, and I especially enjoyed walking by them every morning. I’m not very fond of heat (meaning anything over 63 degrees) and the trees provided a cool shade that made me feel good and helped me wake up enough mentally to prepare myself for the day’s work ahead. Little did I know that one of these trees would change my life forever in a very major way.

The conference was a week long and our team arrived a few days ahead of time so that we could make last minute preparations and ensure that we were ready to welcome our speakers and conference attendees. I noticed the trees on the very first day that I had to walk from the hotel to the conference center. Needless to say, I was very happy that they were there to provide shade on my morning walks to the conference. On the second day, though, I noticed that there was a construction crew with a few backhoes working behind a fenced area located in front of the trees. (It’s odd that I didn’t initially notice that the trees were behind a fence.) They were busily working on breaking apart what looked to be an old parking lot or concrete foundation of a building that used to be there. “Perhaps they’re going to build a new wing or maybe a multi-level parking lot” I thought to myself. I took one last look and proceeded on the conference center ready to join my first meeting of the day.

Here’s the part of the story that I remember very vividly to this day, as if this all happened only yesterday.

On Monday morning, the very first day of the conference, I made it a point to wake up early. I wanted to make sure that I was completely awake and fresh so that I could start the day’s work and help kickoff the conference itself with as much focus and enthusiasm as I could bring to bear. I went down to the restaurant and had a great breakfast (I ordered off the menu and avoided the buffet) and a hot, tasty espresso. I went back upstairs to my room, grabbed my water bottle and backpack, and headed back downstairs to make the short walk to the conference center. As I walked outside from the lobby, I noticed that the day was clear and sunny and that there was a nice, fresh, crisp feel in the air. “This is going to be a great day” I thought to myself.

As I walked down the sidewalk toward the grove of trees, I happened to glance to my left. To my horror, I saw one of the backhoes knocking and whacking the trees with its long arm, apparently in an attempt to knock them down and clear them from the area. I was stunned. I was speechless. I was horrified. I couldn’t figure out why I was feeling this way as I had seen trees being cleared from an area before and I never reacted in this manner. Without even thinking about it, I immediately felt compelled to run to the grove of trees and stand in front of the larger, older tree. I looked straight up into the tree and said, “Oh my god! Why are they doing this? Why are they trying to tear you down? What’s going on here?!” I was just about in tears.

In a voice that was crystal clear and quite audible in my head, the tree said, “Fear not, my son. There’s nothing to worry about. This is the way of the Universe. This is part of our lives. Do not mourn – be happy instead.” “But they’re tearing you down! Why are they doing that? Oh, no!” I said. At that point I wanted to burst out crying. But the elder tree wouldn’t let me! “Do not cry, my son. This is merely part of our lives as death is certainly a part of yours. Rejoice that we are moving on. Be happy for your life. Be happy that Creator has blessed you. Do not cry, just laugh. Just laugh.” From that point forward, I couldn’t cry regardless of how much I felt like doing so. All I could do was laugh.

Then something occurred to me. I was talking to the tree! I was talking to the tree!

“How is it that I’m talking to you? Why does your voice sound like mine? Am I going crazy? What’s going on here?” Then the tree said, “This is but one of the many hidden gifts you have that is now ready to reveal itself to you. You have had this gift in a few of your past lives, and you’re now ready at this age and this point in time to use it once again. You will speak to many more trees and have a council of trees that will help you in various aspects of your life from this point on. You will hear them in your own voice so that you can understand what they’re saying to you. You will surely know when a tree is speaking to you.” As he said that, I could feel a very specific tingling sensation and emotion in my mind and in the middle of my chest. To this day, I know when I’m truly speaking to a tree because I get this same exact feeling.

I was so stricken by this experience that I forgot all about the time. “You should go now. You have responsibilities and things you must do. You and I can continue to speak while I am here. The Universe will put you on the path to the other trees that will become a part of your life.” I certainly didn’t want to leave, but the tree was right. As I was leaving, I still wanted to cry because I was sad about what was happening to the trees. So I went to a quiet area by the sidewalk and thought, “I’d better have myself a good cry so that I can get this out of my system and so I can clear my eyes before anyone sees me. Then I heard him say, “Don’t cry, do not be sad. Be happy. Just laugh.” At that point, I burst out laughing, almost uncontrollably. No matter how hard I tried, I just could not cry! I could squeeze out a few tears of joy, but I could not cry tears of sadness at all. I spent the next five minutes just laughing, with tears of happiness streaming down my eyes. “More will be revealed soon. Just assimilate what has happened to you today,” the tree said. So I finished laughing, regained my composure, and went about my business for the day.

To say that I couldn’t believe what had just happened to me is a gross understatement. I felt changed. I felt like a different person. Like a truly blessed person. Elder Native Americans say that you can talk to Nature, to animals and to “the winged” ones if you will only open your mind to do so. They are so right. This brings to mind a quote I read from Walking Buffalo of the Nakoda first nation (circa early 1960’s):

“Do you know that trees talk? Well, they do. They talk to each other, and they’ll talk to you, if you will listen. Trouble is, white people don’t listen. They never listened to the Indians, and so I don’t suppose they’ll listen to the other voices in nature. But I have learned a lot from trees, sometimes about the weather, sometimes about animals, sometimes about the Great Spirit.”

This Sacred Gift Is Now Part of My Life

I have indeed encountered other trees that will speak to me, just as the elder tree indicated would happen. A few of them have become my counselors and advisors. They’ve helped me when I was transitioning from the corporate tech industry to my metaphysical work, and they’ve provided me with valuable guidance regarding my path in life. They’ve helped keep me on track and helped me ensure that I continue to do the work I was literally called to do. I’ve also gained great insight from them regarding personal matters. I’ve learned so much from them and continue to do so.

I visit my trees often, sometimes to get guidance from them and other times just to say hello. I like visiting them in person, although I can speak to them from afar. All I have to do is plant my feet flat on the floor, imagine them reaching down into Mother Earth, and then touching the tree’s roots. I found that this really works no matter where I am. I’ve done this everywhere, from the middle of an open field to the 78th floor of a skyscraper in Manhattan. I’m so happy that I can contact them anytime, anywhere.

A Few Last Words…

If you’ve ever had a feeling or notion that you can understand or speak to trees, birds, animals or any other of Nature’s creatures, don’t immediately think you’re going crazy or that something is wrong. Think about it in a different way. See it from the perspective that Creator has endowed you with a wonderful gift, and it is now your task to determine how you can use it for your greater good and the good of others. Always keep an open mind and an open heart.

I’ve now kept my promise to Grandmother Margaret, and I hope this will be helpful to those of you who have had a similar experience.

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2012 Bay Area Tarot Symposium (BATS)

(It’s funny how a lot of stuff piles up in your inbox and to-do list when you’re gone for a few days. I just now got the chance to write about my trip to BATS! So here goes…)

BATS 2012 LogoWell, I’m back from BATS! I had a great time and I was so happy to see many of my Tarot friends and colleagues. I had some great conversations and spent some quality time with friends such as Barbara Oliver, Jaymi Elford, Georgianna Boehnke, Theresa Reed, Carrie Paris, Gina Theise, Katrina Wynne, Melissa Hill, Paul Nagy, Dan Pelletier, and James Wanless. It’s so great to see them other than in Facebook.

And I attended some great sessions from speakers such as Carrie Paris, Gina Theise, Melissa Hill and Mary Greer. There was so much to learn and so much to take in, but that’s the whole point. I attend BATS and other Tarot conferences because I want to continue growing and developing my skills as a reader.

I was especially intrigued by Mary Greer’s and Melissa Hill’s sessions on the LenormMlle Lenormand Oracle Cards - AGM Mullerand oracle cards. I had taken only a cursory look at this deck before, but it’s something I’m definitely going to investigate further and learn how to use now that I’ve attended these sessions. Yet another divination tool to add to my toolbox!

I definitely had fun, as you can see by the pictures below. I certainly look forward to next year’s conference!

 

Me and Fred West      Carrie Paris and Katrina Wynne

               With Fred West                                                             Carrie Paris & Katrina Wynne

Mike Hernandez and James Wanless - photo by Katrina Wynne           Mike Hernandez and James Wanless Looking Up at Something

                                                                With the inimitable James Wanless…

The Men of Tarot

                                                                               The Men of Tarot

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Where the Heck is Mike? An Update…

Does it seem as if I’ve dropped off the radar a bit this year? If that’s what you’ve sensed, you’re pretty close to being correct. I’ve just been flying a bit below the radar, actually. I thought I’d write a brief post explaining why I’ve been doing this, especially for those of you who’ve been wondering where the heck I’ve been hiding.

 

2012 is apparently going to be a year of great, positive change for me, and one in which I’ll be pretty busy. My Guides and my trees started giving me the heads up about this starting last September. It’s also been one of the main themes of my personal readings over the last quarter of 2011, and was brought clearly to my attention by Theresa Reed during her opening reading for me this past April at the 2012 Reader’s Studio. The predictions seem to be holding true, so far.

 

For example, two significant situations have come up since the very beginning of this year. First, I was asked to write another edition of my book, “Database Design for Mere Mortals”, and then I was invited to be the guitarist for a funk band. I said yes to both and, obviously, they will occupy a good amount of my time.

 

Getting Back Into Information Technology Mode

 

(Note: I mentioned this in my last post (in March), but I mention it again here to show how it now relates to my current situation.)

At the beginning of the year, I get a call from my editor and she asks me if I’d be interested in doing a new edition of my book. We’d been talking about this for a couple of years, but we never got anything off the ground. She said she really had to get a new edition out this year and wanted to know if I had the time to do it. I finally had to admit that now is time for another edition of my book, and that it was an opportunity I just couldn’t turn down. So, I said “Yes”. She was actually surprised when I agreed, as she thought I wouldn’t be interested anymore due to the fact that I’m now so involved in the metaphysical arena.

 

Now I’m in major writing mode. I don’t have to do a complete revision, fortunately, but the work I need to do will still take up a good amount of my time. I’m happy to do it, though, as I really love to write. It was interesting putting my technical hat back on, but it felt natural again relatively quickly. In any case, I’ve had my head down working on the book and with any kind of luck I’ll finish my part of the work by the end of September. Then my editor will take over and the book should be ready for sale by winter. Hopefully.

 

At Heart, I’m Just a Guitarist

 

The most surprising thing that’s happened to date is getting the invitation to participate in a funk band. Now, I’m talking real funk here, the music that was popular in the late sixties and early to mid-seventies. This would include music from groups such as Average White Band; Blood, Sweat & Tears; Chicago; Earth, Wind and Fire; James Brown; Sly and the Family Stone and Tower of Power.

 

My good friend Pete is a drummer (and a really good one at that) that I’ve known for quite a few years now. We’ve been tossing around the idea of forming a funk band, but we just never seemed to be able to get the idea off the ground. So he calls me one day in early April to let me know that his friend Mark, a trumpet player he works with in a local big band, has been trying to do the same thing for two years now. Mark asked Pete if he knew any guitarists who might fit the bill, and Pete immediately mentioned my name. “Don’t look for a guitar player anymore, because you have to hire Mike. He’s great. Trust me, you’ll like him.”

 

Mark then contacted me and we set up a lunch meeting to discuss what he’s looking for in a guitarist. To make a long story short, a meeting that was supposed to take only an hour ended up three hours long. It was great because Mark and I were on the same page on just about everything; I think it helped that we are the same age. By the end of the meeting, he offered me the position. “Pete says you’re good, and that’s good enough for me. I’m not going to look for guitarists anymore because I hope you’ll join us.” We shook hands and it was a done deal.

 

I’m now the guitarist for a band that has a six-piece horn section, keyboards, bass, drums and two vocalists. To my absolute pleasant surprise, everyone is really good. This is my dream band! We’ve had a few rehearsals now, and I have to say that this is the best funk band I’ve been in since my time with the Navy Band Funk Band back in 1977. And that’s saying a lot because the Navy Funk Band I was in was totally awesome. I have to say that I’m fantastically happy with my music life just now.

 

What About the Tarot?

 

I’m still doing readings at psychic fairs, although some of my other Tarot-related work has subsided a bit. I was quite concerned about this, but my Guides and my trees reassured me that there is nothing to worry about. In fact, the way they explained it makes the situation seem quite logical and reasonable.

 

They said that the Tarot work has been put on the back burner so that I can concentrate on the book. I have to keep my focus on my writing so that I can meet my deadlines and get my part of it done by the September delivery date. That seemed reasonable to me. And practical. Knowing myself as I do, I probably would be inclined to focus more on the Tarot than my writing. There’s still so much for me to learn about the Tarot and I just love working with it. But I digress. The point is that I need to focus on my writing.

 

But what about the band? My Guides and trees explained that the band was put in my path to keep me from going stir-crazy sitting behind my laptop all day. Good focus is one thing, but over-focus is another. The band is supposed to help me have some fun while I’m working and provide a means for me to decompress and empty my mind every so often. I wouldn’t do this with the Tarot because I’d just be exchanging one area of metal focus to another. Not so with the music.

 

I was finally told that my Tarot work would pick up once again after I completed my work on the book. “So don’t worry.” I’ve learned to trust my Guides and trees without reservations over the years, so I’m not going to concern myself with this one bit.

 

The Timing Is Interesting

 

I mentioned earlier that my deadline for my part of the book is the end of September. I’m personally shooting for the end of August so that I can have some wiggle room in case something unanticipated comes up. Mark, the funk band leader, says he’s thinking about booking gigs for the band starting either in late August or the beginning of September; that means that we’ll be rehearsing from now until then. It occurs to me that I’ll mainly be writing and playing music all summer and possibly into the beginning of the fall. The Tarot will be in the background throughout this period.

 

Last summer, our condo complex was going through a complete refurbish project. My Tarot work was in the background back then, too. It’s odd that I’m not doing much Tarot-wise through two summers in a row. I’m certainly not complaining because it all makes sense in the big picture, especially this year. But I do still find it rather odd.

 

A Few Final Thoughts…

 

If you’ve read this far, I certainly admire your perseverance and patience! I hope this helps to explain why you haven’t seen me around much or participating in Facebook as often as I have in the past. I will still pop in from time to time whenever I take breaks from my writing, and I will definitely be back when all my work is done. I’ll also post where the band is playing so that those of you in the general Seattle/Bellevue/Redmond area can come and see us perform.

 

Thank you for sticking with me – I really appreciate it. I’ll still continue to try to post some of my random Tarot-related thoughts here on my blog throughout the summer. In the meantime, I hope you have a great, fun, relaxing and safe summer.

 

Ciao for now…

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2012: It’s Rushing By!

I knew this was going to be a busy year, and I said as much in my blog post of February 1st. I didn’t anticipate, however, that it would be flying by!

 

Life is certainly not boring – I have more than enough to do. I think the time seems to be slipping so fast because I need to be a little better at prioritizing my projects and managing the time I devote to them. An unfortunate consequence of this, though, is that I will be unable to participate in Facebook, LinkedIn and the RS NING as much as I’d like. But I’m taking this all in stride because I know things are unfolding as they should.

 

I’m working on two distinct projects over the next few weeks: moving my website from Office Small Business to Office 365 and assembling the materials for the Professional Presentation Skills 101 evening session that I’m presenting at the Reader’s Studio next month.  The first project will probably take more time than I’m anticipating, but I hope it will go relatively smoothly. The bulk of the work will be moving the pages from the old site to the new site and ensuring I successfully transfer all my images. The second project will be far easier and much more fun!  I’m not anticipating any problems with this at all. (I say that now, of course!)

 

I’ve got a third project that will span the next four or five months: I’m going to do a third edition of my technical book, Database Design for Mere Mortals.  This is a book I originally wrote back in 1996, and it has been a widely popular book on the subject since then. My editor was actually surprised when I said I’d do the third edition, as she thought I wouldn’t be interested anymore due to the fact that I’m now so involved in the metaphysical arena. I’ve done a lot of other technical writing that includes books, articles, white papers, etc., but I’m particularly connected to this book because it was the first major work I produced. I have to write the third edition!

 

This will likely be my last endeavor in the technical field, though, as I plan to focus all my writing on Tarot and metaphysical-related subjects. As you know, I’ve written articles for my blog and for Tarosophist International Magazine. I also have a Tarot book in the works (believe it or not), and I’ll resume writing and finishing it after I’m done with the database book.

 

Later in the year I hope to start providing Tarot-related workshops, seminars and classes. Everything is still in the planning stages, but I will make announcements about them both here and on Facebook.

 

I certainly hope you’ll keep my blog bookmarked so that you’ll get notices of new entries when I’m finally able to devote more time to my writing. In the meantime, I wish you all a great Spring and hope that the new year is unfolding smoothly and positively for you!

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Interpreting Body Language and Facial Expressions in the Tarot

Isn’t it amazing how much body language and facial expressions play a part in numerous aspects of our daily lives? I thought about that at the mall the other day, while I was walking around just watching people and meandering in and out of various stores. At one point I realized this is also true of people that appear in the Tarot. It made immediate sense to me, given that the cards reflect all the aspects of our lives.

 

In this article I’ll demonstrate how body language and facial expressions of the people in the cards expose nuances and subtleties that can add an extra layer of meaning to your readings.

 

Exposing your true self

Body language can say a lot about your true state of being at any given moment. Although you may think you’re portraying yourself in a positive (or, perhaps, even neutral) manner, your body might be indicating otherwise. Have you ever been in a situation where say something to someone or some group of people, they take what you say at face value, and then begin doubting what you’ve said soon after for some unknown reason? It could most likely be your body language.

 

For example, suppose you’re about to have a meeting with a few people regarding a mutual project. You’re somewhat apprehensive of the meeting because there are issues you believe to be high-priority at this point, and you’re not particularly inclined to change your mind just now. You get to the meeting, exchange the usual pleasantries, and then get down to business. Sure enough, they want to discuss reducing the priorities of some of your issues. Hoping to give yourself time to think of how you’re going to defend your position, you tell them that you’d be interested in listening to their perspectives and be open to the possibility of making some changes.

 

You sit and listen to them for a few minutes, and then you lean back in your chair in an apparent attempt to be in a more relaxing position. You extend your legs, cross one foot over the other, and nonchalantly cross your arms over your chest. It’s about at that point when they can tell that you really have no interest in what they’re saying and it’s probably unlikely that you’ll reprioritize any of your issues. How did they come to this realization? Your body language. You’ve just assumed a very defensive physical position, indicated by your crossed arms and legs. (From an energetic standpoint, you’ve essentially created a barrier; you are not allowing any of your energy to flow outwards, and you’re keeping yourself from receiving any energy, bad or good.) The meeting is likely to come to an abrupt halt, now that they’ve discovered your true intentions.

 

The face is interesting because it can reflect your thoughts and emotions. It’s most fascinating in that it can show the thoughts and emotions you want it to express, or it can show your true thoughts and emotions in unguarded moments, such as when you think no one is paying attention to you.

 

Let’s use another meeting as an example. Suppose that you’re meeting some friends at a coffee shop. You have a situation at home that is distressing you emotionally just now, but you want people to think everything is all right. You grab a table with your friends, exchange opening pleasantries, place your orders with the waiter, and get down to having your chat. One of your friends asks you how things are going and you smile broadly and say that things are going smoothly and that your current project at work is getting interesting. After you provide a few more details, someone else picks up the conversation. Unbeknownst to you, one of your friends is beginning to doubt what you said about things going smoothly – she thinks you’re worried about something. Once you were no longer the focus of attention, she noticed your smile faded into a far-away, blank look, seeming to indicate that your mind was elsewhere. Now she thinks that a private chat with you later in the evening might be helpful.

 

Did you note the subtly of the underlying messages conveyed by the body language and facial expressions in the examples above? It is those subtleties that can also appear in certain cards during a reading.

 

Is there more to the message than meets the eye?

There are quite a few cards where body language and facial expressions can come into play during a reading. I believe that there are four basic ways in which you’ll see this:

 

1.       Confidence and Determination

2.      Defensiveness

3.       Ambiguity

4.      Focus and Distraction

 

Confidence and Determination

 

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As strong stance – whether sitting or standing – can convey a sense of confidence, determination, will power, and determination. In the four cards above, notice how each figure is sitting squarely and facing front. There’s a sense of confidence and authority, and a seeming determination to stand firm on whatever situation is before them. Now note how each face is staring straight at you, eyes fixed, with no apparent emotion; none of them will tell you any of their secrets and will not divulge any more information than what they think you need to know.

 

Now think of how this may influence a reading. How does the High Priestess’ seemingly blank stare play into the message you’re seeing? Is she lost in thought? Is she in a quasi-meditative state? Is she attempting to look into your soul? How does her posture play into this? She’s sitting in a relaxed state, despite the look on her face. Might that mean that you need to relax more in order to tap into your intuition effectively?

 

What might the strong stance of the rider in The Chariot card imply? He seems quite confident, despite the fact that he knows that the road ahead might be difficult. He’s determined to drive through the path ahead of him successfully, regardless of the risks.  What do you see in his facial expression that might convey how he feels or what he’s thinking? How does that affect the message you might get from this card?

 

Defensiveness

 

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As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, crossing your arms and legs can be a subtle sign of defensiveness, regardless of what you’re trying to convey via your facial expressions. I don’t believe defensiveness is inherently a bad thing, especially given that you can assume a defensive posture even when you’re quite happy and content. The three cards above demonstrate this quite clearly; note how each person has his arms crossed.

 

For example, the figure in the 4 our Pentacles is not only crossing his arms, but he’s also holding something that he considers quite valuable.  In this case, without saying a word, he shows you what he considers most valuable, that he’s prepared to keep it secure, and that he has no interest in sharing what he has.  (Pop quiz: How does his facial expression support this notion?)  How might this all figure into a reading? Should you be holding on to what you hold dear? Are you stretching your resources more than necessary or reasonable?

 

On the opposite side (in a manner of speaking) is the figure in the 10 of Cups. He’s obviously a happy person and very content with his life and relationships, but his arms are crossed, too. He’s sitting squarely in front of his cups, has his arms across his chest, and a smile on his face. The subtle message here seems to be that he’s completely happy with where he is and has no interest in discussing the possibility of going outside of his comfort zone. The smile on his face seems twofold; it expresses his happiness but also belies the stubborn determination he has to stand his ground. Additionally, he’s possibly sending subtle mixed messages by having his legs spread apart and his arms crossed. How would this play into a reading? Could this possibly mean that you’ve perhaps gotten a bit self-absorbed in your own happiness? (Extra bonus points: Is the figure in the card sitting toward the edge of the bench? That could imply something…)

 

Ambiguity

 

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Sometimes it’s hard to determine what a person’s body language is saying – certain postures can be a bit ambiguous. This seems to be especially true when there is no direct interaction between you and the individual in the ambiguous posture. The three cards above seem to demonstrate this quite well.

 

I’ve always thought the 9 of Swords as a great example of this. In my view, the woman is covering her face for one of two reasons: she’s in complete despair over the stressful issues the swords represent or she’s at the end of her rope and is praying for comfort and guidance on what to do next. The cards surrounding this card will help you determine what she’s actually doing.

 

The 5 of Cups is another good example. The man in the card is looking down at the fallen cups in front of him. These cups (to me) seem to represent emotional ties or relationships that have ended. His stance shows that he’s obviously sorry that this is the case, but what are his true feelings here? Does he have regrets or is he relieved? Again, the cards surrounding this card will help you determine what feelings he might be hiding inside.

 

Sometimes life is ambiguous during difficult times and we can’t tell what we need to do or if we need to do anything at all. How might the ambiguity you see in these cards weave into your reading? Does it mean that you must take a more active role in a given situation, despite the fact that there is no clear path or resolution?

 

Focus and Distraction

 

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A lot of people think it’s harder to stay focused and much easier to get distracted in our day and age. I think it might actually be that we have more to distract us than in the past. Focus and distraction, however, have been with us for ages and are a constant source of frustration.  As with other facets of life, the Tarot is good about showing this part of our lives. The four cards above are good examples of this.

 

The Queen of Pentacles and the Queen of Cups are both very focused women, and their body language and facial expressions show this. Both are squarely seated in their thrones and are firmly holding the object of their attention, and their facial expressions show their deep concentration. You can almost tell that they would rather not be disturbed unless it is a matter of great importance.

 

The Queen of Wands and the Queen of Swords, on the other hand, seem to be distracted by things or people outside of our view. They both sit squarely I their thrones, but facial expressions and gestures belie their inattentiveness to you. Although the Queen of Wands was in the process of speaking to you (as evidenced by the cat that is looking straight at you), she seems to be distracted by something going on off to her left-hand side. Though you might have had the ear of the Queen of Swords for a moment, it seems that she’s now motioning for someone to come forward. (So much for trying to grab 10 minutes of her time!)

 

How do you think this perception of focus and distraction might affect your reading? Could the appearance of the Queen of Pentacles or the Queen of Cups imply that you need to be more focused on the issue at hand or on what either queen represents at that moment? Might you infer that you should not allow yourself to be easily distracted? Could the appearance of the Queen of Wands or the Queen of Swords mean that you need to pay attention to other things and people around you? Is it time to move away from being single-minded about the issue at hand?

 

Parting Thoughts

It’s interesting how body language and facial expressions can add subtleties to a reading. It’s certainly added certain nuances to my readings that have turned out to be quite beneficial for my clients. I don’t necessarily look at body language during each reading, but it’s amazing what I see when my intuition says I should pay attention to it.

 

I’ve really just scratched the surface of this topic, and you can probably tell by now that we could easily spend a lot of time reviewing other cards and digging deeper into these techniques. For those of you who may have noticed, I did indeed avoid discussing some of the cards in my examples. I wanted to give you a chance to try these techniques on your own after you read the entire article. Go back and review them now and see what subtle information they reveal to you.

 

 

Good luck and enjoy!

 

Mike Hernandez

 

 

All card images in this article are from the Radiant-Waite Tarot deck, Copyright © U.S. Games Systems.

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