Inspiring Enchantment & Illumination with Tarot & Intuitive Guidance

Banishing the Monsters

The fair-weather gardener, who will do nothing except when wind and weather and everything else are favorable, is never a master of his craft.
— Canon Ellacombe

In today’s installment, we are encouraged to select one of our monster stories, and write it down in detail. You may have already started this, the way Thalia’s utterly despicable experience in first grade came to mind for her.

It needn’t be overly long, but make it as specific as you can remember. Julia advises, “Do jot down whatever details come back to you – the room you were in, the way people looked at you, the way you felt, what your parent said or didn’t say when you told them about it. Include whatever rankles you about the incident: ‘And then I remember she gave me this real fakey smile and patted my head…’ ”

Seen now as adults with some distance and experience behind us, some of these memories are outrageous. Go ahead. Feel that rage. Feel the grief, if that’s what is triggered. Allow those feelings to come right up, because they are the stirrings of your POWER. The adversities imposed on us by our monsters can give us the traction that will launch us towards even more brilliant future fulfillment!

One exercise that works wonders, even for those of us who are not visual artists, is to sketch, paint, sculpt, or even make a collage of your old monster. Or you could draw a picture of what happened on the worst particular day. Then cartoon TRASH it! At least draw a big fat X over it!

I have included the Queen of Clouds (Swords) from the Osho Zen Tarot twice in this discussion, because in my readings, she comes up all the time for creatives in recovery. She is such a powerful image of the bitter, idealism-busting cynic whose judging attitude can shame us and poison our dreams.

(In all fairness, I really don’t think of the Queen of Swords in the Tarot as being at all as horrifying as this deck portrays her. Some of my best friends are Queens of Swords, and I am frequently irritated with the whole Clouds suit in that deck. But that’s a whole other subject!).

Another technique that Julia recommends for putting these monsters in their place, is to write a letter to the editor or the President, or some other Important Personage on your behalf. Then, mail it to yourself. She tells us, with obvious relish, “It is great fun to write this letter in the voice of your wounded artist child: ‘To whom it may concern: Sister Ann Rita is a jerk and has pig eyes and I can too spell!’

Or write a venomous, brilliant diatribe addressing your monster directly. Be Ambrose Bierce, Oscar Wilde and Dorothy Parker rolled into one. Say everything you could not say at the time because you were small, powerless, mortified, vulnerable, or devastated. Now, in hindsight, with your magic powers of adulthood, discernment and understanding, you can see how ruinous their words and actions were. So go crazy!

But do NOT actually mail it or send it anywhere! Except here, where we will cheer for you, if you’d like. You might also create a special ritual and set it on fire (safely, please). Now that we are in the Waning Moon, the timing is very good for this sort of work.

Allowing your grief and anger to awaken will help to cleanse the lingering, silent poisons that may still be in your system. Let your tears wash you clean. Let yourself be angry – anger can be a friend who shows us where our boundaries have been violated, and energizes us to take action.

Once you’ve been working with your Hall of Shame monsters, and told them all off in no uncertain terms, breathe deep your new freedom. Do something especially good for yourself.

Then, it’s time to shift gears. We’ll be doing some more time-traveling tomorrow!

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  • March 12, 2009, 12:09 pm joanna brightbrook

    I took Suzuki violin lessons beginning at age 5. (Telling this story is making my energy rise — my heart is beating faster and I can feel the blood rushing. More than twenty years later I remain profoundly affected.) At ten years old I was taking lessons from a young woman. She had long straight hair like me. I saw her perform with a symphony, and she played with such passion that she stripped the hairs from her bow and they whipped around as she played. I admired her.

    Her music studio was beautiful, with huge windows and sun streaming in. One day I went to my lesson and she had a new rug, a lovely oriental rug with delicious complex red and blue and cream patterns. It looked amazing with the sunlight splashing on it.

    “Oh, you have a new rug!” I said.

    The rest of the story becomes a bit hazy . . . I know she told my parents that I might do better with art lessons, because I seemed to pay more attention to visual cues than audio ones . . . and I wasn’t progressing with my music.

    At ten years old I was given the “choice” by my parents to stop playing violin and at my violin teacher’s reccomendation, take art lessons instead. I was completely devastated. It wasn’t much of a choice, because if my teacher no longer believed in me, what point was there in continuing?

    I took the art lessons. I really liked them. But it wasn’t the same as practicing music on an instrument I’d been using since I learned to read. I’d always colored and drew and been visually creative on my own. The art lessons felt like a continuation of that kind of play. The violin, though, had been truely challenging.

    The woman wasn’t monstrously cruel to me on purpose. But it was as if she lopped me off at the knees, without hardly realizing it. I had been practicing violin for half my life! Maybe I was no virtuoso, but you don’t have to be to enjoy yourself! Or for the work to have value!

    It was another ten years before I could listen to stringed instruments without wanting to cry.

  • March 12, 2009, 12:45 pm Beth Owl's Daughter

    Oh, Joanna.. I have no words…
    – Beth

  • March 12, 2009, 4:27 pm meggins

    Oh, Joanna, what a shame. Reading this, I recalled that my last piano teacher said something along the lines that I wasn’t dedicated enough. I think he meant not dedicated enough to become a concert pianist, and that was certainly true. The difference is that, while I stopped lessons, I still plunked around on the piano when I felt like it, perfectly happy to only play the right hand melody if that’s all I could manage.

    Perhaps professional musicians shouldn’t teach anyone who isn’t also aspiring to be a professional musician. I never had any problems with my first piano teacher, who was just a nice woman who knew how to play and was earning a little extra income. (Well, she did have her students perform at a recital each year. ick ick)

    I’m so sorry your love of playing the violin was spoiled for you.

  • March 12, 2009, 9:41 pm Thalia

    I am angry for you, Joanna. Ten years old and ‘not progressing’? What is wrong with people?

    I’m sorry too.

    Are you interested in playing now?

  • March 12, 2009, 9:50 pm Thalia

    I did the exercise today and wrote my former college teacher a nasty letter. I’d share it here but it’s mostly unprintable.

    I made a little collage to represent him, too. He was a chain-smoker (this in a 150+ year old building with wooden floors soaked with that many years’ worth of turpentine and linseed oil–not a fire hazard at all, no!), so I painted a piece of cardboard bright red (for my anger), then cut out pictures of cigarettes and collaged them on. Then I burned them both.

    The metaphor of second-hand smoke kept coming to me; the sort of poison in the atmosphere he and people like him put out, and which the rest of us can’t help breathing, though it harms us. That helped when I wanted to blame myself for having a part in it, like why didn’t I speak up for myself? That kind of thing.

    I am wondering, though. Doing this I was very, very angry. To the point where I found myself wishing nastiness on him. I couldn’t help it; those were just the thoughts I had in my anger. But this was a spell, and I don’t believe in cursing. I mean, I think what I think and I can’t help it; still, I was pouring that anger into it. So I’m a little ethically conflicted, I guess. 🙂

  • March 13, 2009, 12:51 am Catherine BTW

    First, I thank everyone. I learn so much from and have found myself catalyzed by your sharing. Second, I send a hug and thanks to Joanna’s younger self. Her description of her parent’s support of the message that art is about achievement rather than joy is what helped me recognize one of my monsters. Even though I consciously resist the social message that women’s priority is the caretaking of others, I honestly acknowledge my deepest childhood longings for love and approval still respond to it. If I use my creativity energies in service to others, then I am GOOD. Directing them toward what brings me joy is not only “selfish”—heck, it can even be detrimental to others! I have felt helpless as I watch this same message win out over any encouragements I offer to my mother and my nieces. It is a sad family tradition that any artistic aspirations and gifts must be sacrificed to prioritize the caretaking of others. So I’ve been using part of Beth’s quote at the top of her webpage (Thanks Beth) as my affirmation:“Tending and spreading the flames of Creativity, we ourselves become creators and healers.” I feel a little behind the group—but want to share that I DID start a project this past weekend.

  • March 13, 2009, 8:18 am Anonymous

    Thank you again for your kind words and the magic you help os create from our own source. I had quite a fight yesterday-Dragons are not easily slayed. I even have exema coming out from my skin as i write, the pain are leaving my heart and processing trough the fysical part of my body. It hurts, but it is coming out.
    I will choose this memory, it is a really terrible one and I beg you not to close your heart and your eyes as you read. This memory of mine is far more common than any of us want it to be. I see it as a symbol for the “rapist” culture created. Abnormalities are seen as common things, not as the terrible things that they are. But I know in my heart that this is also changing. Men will no longer try to “master” their inner female as they have done before. As I write this, all of my heart and compassion reaches out to the women and children of countries in war, it is everyday for so many.
    This is my meory:

    My first love was like a fire inside me, I was 15 years old. I remember how I innocently thought I was sick or going insane (for real) because of the strong feelings suddenly erupting inside me. I could not eat, sleep or be still for a week before I knew what was happening to me.
    When I suddenly realised what it was, I was afraid, love was not honoured in my family and I instictively felt that something in this feeling was going to take away my freedom and a part of myself. I struggled a long time, but in the end calling from inside took me entirely. I did not want to have sex, not because I was moraly blaming the act of love, but because I was not ready, to childish and immature still.
    At a new years eve party at my boyfriends parents home my fighting came to an end. He got me so drunk that I today still do not drink more than the occasional glas of wine. My body still reacts with disgust, as if I drank poison.
    I remember the cosy kitchen with an old stove we had dinner in, and the long corridor I went through to find somewhere to lay down as I went violently ill and dizzy. The soft singel bed in the guestrooom, how I tried to lock the door. The dizzyness and my growing panic together with my very rational way of behaving. Trying so desperartely to be “grown up”, to save myself. How the differnet boys of the party came to “kiss me goodnight” and in the end how my boyfriend got them out and we were alone. The smell of the bedlinen, the gray cealing, a painting of a landscape on the wall. Orange courtains, a white longhaired rug on the floor. His mothers exellent taste showing. How ill I felt when he layed himself on me, the persuasive voice, his breath smelling ugly. The mix between begging and commanding. How my mind drifted away as he finally entered my body. The sharp pain, as bein stabbed with a knife in my most private parts. The feeling of loss, anger and utterly despair. Of being robbed, not for the sex itself, but for not respecting me and my will, my feelings. That everything, his courting, the long walks, the many cups of te, had been for this short/endless moment of violence.
    When i came home the next day, ill from the alcohol, trembling and swetting from my excessive vomiting I went straight to my mother. To be comforted, because she was the only source I could reach for. I remeber standing in the cold summer kitchen, just inside the door, a grey afternoon outside. She wore an apron, busy prepaing the dinner. How she looked at me, slightly disguised. I leaned a little foreward (my mother i mutch shorter than me) and said “Mother, I have something to tell you”, feeling so much as a small child, hurting, wanting her just to soothe me, take care of me, heal me. And she responded, a little irritated,blame in her voice “you dont have to” I know what you have done”.

    This have hounted me until today. Not only my crushed heart, my hurt feelings, my loss. The rape itself. But my mothers rejection, her subtile “blame yorself”. That I was not her child, her responsibility, that she did not care.
    I have not cared for myself for so long, giving myself away, throwing things, love, energy on people and at the same time feeing from friends, love, opportunities because I could not trust. My personality have been shadowed for so many years from this. Creating a personae that had to be ill, strange, had to flee, leave friends, jobs. Always on the run because I did not deserve god things. My roots in a coup beside me, never tending my garden. Feeing my wounded heart.
    This is my story. Thank you for letting it out in the open.
    May it evaporate in the light of LOVE Christina.

  • March 13, 2009, 9:06 am Beth Owl's Daughter

    May it evaporate in the light of Love, indeed, Christina..
    – Beth

  • March 13, 2009, 11:13 am joanna brightbrook

    in response to Thalia–

    I could totally see myself learning again, probably in the folky fiddle kind of style rather than the classical, and I bet what I learned when I was young would resurface (I can’t consciously remember any of it at this point.)

    But the honest truth is that I am doing so many exciting things in other artistic areas, I don’t want to make space for going back to violin. And that actually makes me very happy, because in spite of the squelching, I AM blossoming artisically.

  • March 15, 2009, 10:04 am Anonymous

    My Dear Christina, I hurt for your dear one. As an adult, I hope you know that bad things happen to good people. In no way are you to blame for any of what you’ve been through. Also in Mom’s defence, I must add that she may have seen you standing there, sick from drinking, and may not have been aware of anything else that mey have happened to you. Kind of, it you dont acknowledge it, it didnt happen sort of thing. My sdvice is, if Mom is still alive, go to her and tell her. Give her the chance to rectify her actions as well as maybe healing the void this has caused between lil Christina and big Christina, as well as help you go on from here. You have the rest of your life to live baby, dont let anybody take your power away to have a life that is filled with love and enjoyment. Bless you dear one, and I pray God takes all your pain away.