Monthly Archives: October 2013

Maneki Neko: The Meaning Behind the Waving Cats

Written by Mimosa
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The story of the Lucky Cat is based on a 9th century Chinese proverb: If a cat washes its face and ears, it will rain. A cat washes its face with its paw to ease its anxiety. However, people have long believed that when a cat lifts its paw it is actually a beckoning gesture.

Lucky cats often go by their Japanese name, Maneki Neko, which means “beckoning” or “welcoming cat.” They’re traditionally stationed near doors and windows of shops and other public places, to welcome customers and bring good fortune. While the ones with the moving arm are a lot of fun, Maneki Neko predates double-A batteries by several centuries. Non-moving ceramic models are the most traditional, often with a slot in the top for coins.

The cat has one paw up, while the other holds an ancient coin called a koban, inscribed with the characters “10,000,000 ryo” — basically, a lot of money. Some cats have the right paw raised to beckon people, while others lift their left paw to beckon money and general good luck. Cats of various colors and have specific symbolism, with the blessings on their coins chosen to match. The color correspondences come from the Chinese Feng Shui tradition:

RED:  Love
BLUE:  Health
GREEN:  Good Luck
YELLOW:  Wealth
BROWN:  Stability/Earth
PURPLE:  Fulfill wishes

There are many stories about who the first Maneki Neko may have been. One, from Edo-era Japan, goes like this: At a time when the capitol was plagued by intrigue, there was a loyal courtier who did his best to go about his honest business and fulfill his duties to the emperor. One day, he was summoned to the offices of a certain nobleman. On his way there, he noticed a cat that seemed to be beckoning to him. Curious, he turned off the road to go and see what the cat wanted, stopping for a moment to scratch its ears. Some noise made him turn back toward the road, and he noticed that he had been about to walk into a trap that the evil nobleman had set to kill him; had he not stepped off the path, he would have been killed. The wise courtier saw that the cat had saved him–and probably saved the emperor too, by revealing the nobleman’s treachery. So he ordered the first Maneki Neko statue to be made, and it brought him luck for the rest of his life.

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“How to Read Cards–Any Kind of Cards” by Mari Powers

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Category: Tarot & Oracle
Written by Mimosa
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Reading Tarot or Oracle Cards is an art and a science. Both work with archetypal pictures, words and structures. Different layouts, and even decks work better with different kind of questions, concerns or situations. For both tarot and oracle cards, intention is critical, and placement in a layout is as important as any individual card. simple

The invisible universe speaks to us, and readers need to be able to channel those messages in an unbiased way, as free from ego-based “advice giving” as possible. Readers need to let the cards and the layout “speak” through them. In order to do so, we still need a good foundation on understanding the archetypes we are using.

A reader’s intention is to get the most information from a reading as possible in order to answer a question, help solve a problem, show possible solutions and probable outcomes based on the client’s situation.

A client’s intention is to really want honest answers, a “heads up” on their concerns. There needs to be a belief that they have access to information not acquired by rational or logical means. And finally, they need to be willing to use the answers they receive in the most positive way they can. The client has to want healing and positive change, and be willing to do what needs to be done in the face of adversity. He or she needs to accept the gifts and good news given to them in a reading in order to make the most of that information. Many times, a reading will confirm what is already known, and just give a bit more information on how best to address a situation or concern.

All readings are transitory. The client changes the present and future simply by getting a reading. What is less understood is that people can change the past as well, simply by changing perspective.

It is important to set a “shelf life” on a reading; the more a client takes a reading to heart and acts on information given, the more the past, present and future can change, sometimes at an accelerated rate. Some readings point the way to a change in perception, others prescribe specific actions in the material world. Some point out gifts to be nurtured, emotional healing needed, or a passion to be cultivated or renewed. The cards in their layouts point out how to make suggested changes as well. Sometimes it is as simple as turning a reversed card around to see the remedy or course of action. Other times the whole layout is a map for body, mind, heart and soul.

Generally, it’s better to use a smaller number of cards in Oracle deck readings. Tarot card readings seem work as well with a small or larger number of cards. An exception to this might be a spiritual path reading or a chakra layout reading. The more complex the cards, the more layers of meaning they contain. So the deck you choose for a reading is always a consideration. When I read in a public setting, I limit myself to 7 or 8 layouts and six to ten decks of about equal complexity.

For friends, students, myself or group readings, I can use more complex cards, and larger numbers of them. These kind of readings lend themselves well to a ceremonial ritual reading, where the “shelf life” of the reading can be longer than 60 to 90 days.

Responsible reading includes having the client write down the cards, placements and the key parts of the reading. It also includes time for questions and immediate follow-up clarification and feedback. People may say they will remember, yet is unlikely they will remember as completely as when they take notes and/or take a photo of the spread.

All readings need time and the energy of the client to be of maximum benefit. When you, or someone else, keeps asking the same question(s) over and over in a short period of time when nothing significant has changed, the universe may refuse to give comprehensible answers after the first couple of times. Also, the universe does have a sense of humor, and may start answering the questions you have not asked. I have even seen this happen the first time if in a reading someone asks a question that is not the primary concern they really want or need to address.

Learning the meanings of each card in a deck is important. With most tarot decks there is a built in system for doing this, as the numerology, structure of the four suits and the traditional meanings of the trump, or Major Arcana cards are similar between decks.

Oracle decks can be quite simple, including words and universally accepted symbols that are fairly obvious. They can also be extremely complex, with many layers of meanings, depending on the artist. One of the most complex Oracle decks I have used is Brian Froud’s Faery Oracle. When you then take into consideration several cards in relationship to one another, the meaning can be even more difficult to divine unless you are really open. Or, sometimes the Fae are immediately helpful, and the answer you seek literally jumps right out in front of you, simple and unmistakable.

In all spreads, the relationship of the cards to one another is important. As a reader, you also need to look at the big picture. How many fire cards, and where? Are there any element cards missing? Does the present contain more water and the future more earth? How many trump cards are there in relationship to the total number of cards and where are they? Are there multiple cards with the same number from different suits in a reading? Is there an abundance of court cards? If so, who do you think they represent–the client, or someone else in their life? Are there multiple people on a majority of cards, or do all of the cards have just one person on them?

These questions help us see the forest instead of just the individual trees. We get an overall map with embedded direction and strength of energy in a reading by noting the patterns. Even Oracle cards form patterns. If you have a Goddess Oracle, did you pull all water Goddesses, or all Maidens or Crones? If you have an Animal Card Oracle, do you have all predator or prey animals? Or perhaps the animals are all nocturnal or transformational animals. Though many oracle cards, if numbered, seem to be numbered randomly, still a run of numbers in a reading may be useful information. So take a deep breath, and at the beginning and end of a reading, look for the patterns.

Above all, learn to trust the feelings you have–the visual cues that jump out at you or pop into your head not related to any images on the cards. I have learned to listen to the voices in my head, and often repeat them word for word for a client to write down, even when I don’t know what I am talking about at the time. Never underestimate the powers in the invisible universe to get you the messages you need to help yourself or others in doing divination work.

Click Here to Visit Mari Powers’ Website.

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“Your Own Personal Buddha” by Cathy Douglas

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Category: Buddhism
Written by Mimosa
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When you see the variety of statuary available in a store like ours, it’s only natural to wonder:  Why do they call him “The” Buddha, when it seems like there are dozens of different Buddhas?  And not all are necessarily “him”; some representations of Buddha are female.  Even within the two main types of male Buddhas–the chubby bald ones and the slender meditative ones–we see a variety of symbolic items, hand and body positions.

Buddhism is a highly abstract belief system.  At the center of Buddhism we don’t find the worship of any person or deity, but rather teachings, such as  the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.  The purpose of the symbolic representations of many Buddhas is not to create a pantheon, such as we know from Greek mythology, but rather to lend a physical representation to the abstract teachings.  Statues give a memorable form to the qualities one must develop in order to achieve enlightenment.

Gautama Buddha himself discouraged his followers from depicting him in artwork, saying each person should be his or her own “lamp.”  Nevertheless, about 150 years after his death people started making images of him anyway.  Perhaps it’s simply easier for the human to soul fasten onto something physical, when abstractions feel distant and hard to follow.  Besides, statues remind us of the humanity behind abstract teachings.  Symbolism of the asanas (postures), mudras (hand gestures) and sacred items remind us to pay attention to the details along the path to enlightenment.

In Buddhism, statues are objects of reverence, not worship.  One doesn’t pray to them or consider the statues themselves to be gods.  Therefore, Buddhists don’t go to a statue in hoping some distant “god” will be nice to them, but rather to remind themselves to create the compassion and other good qualities they hope to find in the world.

Some characteristics are common among most images of the Buddha.  Many have a bump in the middle of the forehead, indicating a large “third eye” gained through enlightenment.  Most also have long earlobes, signifying wisdom.  Except for Hotei, most Buddhas wear their hair in a topknot, an emblem of wisdom adopted by wandering ascetics.  Seated Buddhas are often on a single or double lotus throne.  The lotus has many meanings, the main one being purity.

Here’s a list of some common types of Buddha representations you may see.  Some of the common Buddha statues are depictions of Gautama Buddha himself, while others are Bodhisattvas–others who have attained buddhahood.

Name Identity Position & Symbols Significance
Amitabha Pure Land Buddha A simple meditating figure, hands in dhyana mudra (folded in lap with fingertips outstretched) Balance & meditation. He is the incarnation of intuitive consciousness.
Avalokiteshvara Buddha of Compassion Four arms, two hands held in prayer, one holding a lotus and one holding a mala. May be male or female. Compassion. The name means “the Lord Who Looks Down.”
Bhaisajya/ Bhaisajyaguru Master of Healing or Medicine Buddha Seated with bowl in one hand, and the five-lobed healing plant myrobalan in either the other hand or the bowl. Healing, both in the physical sense, and also healing from the damage of illusion
Dhyani Transcendental Buddha shown in sexual embrace with female partner in lap Philosophical aspects of buddhahood; elimination of duality & merging of opposites
Dipankara, Vipasyin, Sikhin, Visvabhuja, Krakucchanda, Kanakamuni, Kasyapa Human Buddhas All have the same external features as Gautama: topknot, mark on forehead, long earlobes. They hold their hands in various positions. Buddhas who came before Gautama
Hotei/Hotai (or Budai) Buddha
(See * below for specific meaning of his many props.)
Laughing Buddha, sometimes considered a form of Maitreya Buddha Bald and cheerful guy in a robe, which is usually left open to expose a prodigious belly. Often shown with a sack, prayer beads, or a golden ingot. His long earlobes signify wisdom. Represents luck in the face of external troubles. This buddha blesses us with longevity and prosperity. Rub Buddha’s belly for luck!
Kwan Yin Female Buddha of Compassion A serene female figure depicted in a variety of positions. Helps with childbirth, travel, protection of women and children, and any sort of hard times. Reminds us to be selfless.
Maitreya Future Buddha Seated on throne with feet on lotus stool and hands in teaching position (usually with both hands in front of him, forefingers and thumbs forming circles.) He will come 5000 years after the death of Gautama, to reveal teachings to the world.
Manjusri Oldest of the Boddhisatvas, or enlightened ones. Seated, with a flaming sword in one hand, and a book in the other. The book is often held in a lotus flower. Lord of wisdom, banisher of darkness
Protection Buddha Hand raised in abhaya mudra, the gesture of fearlessness, hand held up as if to say “stop.” Legend says that Gautama Buddha once halted a stampeding elephant with this gesture. The upraised hand signifies more than protection. Its extended significance is the absence of any need for fear.
Shakyamuni The Historical Buddha Holds one hand in the “earth witness” gesture, fingers touching the ground. In the other hand he holds a begging bowl, a symbol of both emptiness and (within Buddhism) authority. Touching the ground with his fingers invokes the Earth’s witness to the truth of his teachings. Reminds of the reality that an ordinary human being can achieve enlightenment.
Sukhothai Walking Buddha Standing, with right foot in front as if he is about to take a step. His right hand is raised. Grace and beauty
Tara (Green) Buddha of Enlightened Activity Carries a half-open lotus, or sometimes two. These may appear to be growing from her arms. Protection, and the banishment of fears
Tara (White) Female Buddha of Compassion Seven eyes in head, feet, and palms of hands. Holding a lotus. The eyes help her see those in need of help. The lotus symbolizes purity. Health, strength, longevity & beauty.
Vajradhara Primordial Buddha Holds ghanta (bell) in one hand and vajra (ringer) in the other Mystical unity of one being who represents the totality of creation.
Vajrapani Gautama’s companion A muscular man depicted standing Protection

* Hotei Buddha may carry various symbolic props, each of which carries a different significance:

Happy home Sits under a parasol on a pile of gold, holding out a smaller piece of gold as a blessing.
Love wealth ball
Safe Travel Carries a bag of protection..
Long Life Sitting on bag of blessings, holding wealth ball & Ru-Yi pot
Spiritual Journey Gourd of enlightenment hanging from stick, fan in one hand, necklace of beads.
Abundance Hands above head holding Ru-Yi pot (bowl of plenty) to collect wealth from the Universe.

For more information like this, consider signing up for Mimosa’s newsletter. It’s free, and you’ll even receive a free ebook too! You can check it out here: Free ebook & newsletter

“The Difference Between Astrology and the Astrological” by Shelley Jordan

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Category: Astrology
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There is a difference between astrology and the astrological that remains unrecognized. The astrological, or the astral, is the mental-emotional-spiritual phenomenon that resonates within the interior realm of personal consciousness. These psychic states occur as a result of the subtle vibratory interactions of the planets as they travel around their orbits in our solar system. Think of the effect you get when you gently slide your moistened finger along the rim of a crystal goblet. A singing tone is created and perceived as your finger circles the edge of the glass. In a somewhat similar way, each of the planets generates its own discrete, singing tones as it circles the Sun in its orbit. Together the planets produce a subtle celestial opera as their tonal frequencies interact in the heavens. This astral phenomenon – the music of the spheres – is quietly received both in the psyches of individuals and in the collective. Somewhat like murmuring background music – playing so softly you may not be aware of it – this heavenly hum sets the mood and ambiance of the moment. Zodiac signs in circle.

Astrology, on the other hand, is humanity’s ancient, symbolic and collective attempt to describe and understand the astrological phenomenon. Astrology as it is known and practiced in its many forms is an invention, an artificial, ornate and meaningful mental construct. The astral is an exquisite aspect of Nature, part of the holistic energetic environment in which we live. Astrology in its many forms is a constructed system, a symbolic representation that is a consequence of a given culture’s world view. While capable of allowing us to discuss this phenomenon of Nature, astrology remains in most of its arenas a rigid, dogmatic system of thought, overloaded with rules and cautionary warnings – a musty, fear inducing parody of itself as it attempts to elucidate the astral. With its preoccupation with prediction and fate, astrology is a topic that is easy to dismiss.

The numerous forms in which astrology appears, such as humanistic, vedic, or cosmobiology, are products of the Weltanschauung (world view) of the many environments in which it arises. There is no one true astrology, just like there is no one religion or language that is superior to all others. The techniques used to describe and access the astral should not be confused with the astral phenomenon itself. People are typically attracted to that brand of astrology which most resonates with their personal beliefs and attitudes in combination with the expectations they bring to the astrological experience. In general, the more powerless an individual feels, the more he or she is attracted to a predictive, fatalistic form of astrology.

Click Here to visit Shelley Jordan’s Website.