The Spiritual Power of Empathy (Review)

In my other life, I read and review a LOT of books, which means I’m a member of NetGalley. When I saw this book come up in my radar, I knew that it was something I needed to read, so I sent in a request and it was granted! Thanks again to Llewelyn Worldwide for providing this galley free of charge and allowing me to review an early copy of the book.

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The Spiritual Power of Empathy by Cyndi DaleThe Spiritual Power of Empathy: Develop Your Intuitive Gifts for Compassionate Connection
by Cyndi Dale
Coming: October 8, 2014

My Rating: ★★★★

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For some the empathic gift provides insight and inspiration, but for others empathy creates feelings of confusion and panic. The Spiritual Power of Empathy is a hands-on training course for empaths, showing you how to comfortably use this often-unrecognized ability for better relationships, career advancement, raising children, and healing the self and others.

Join popular author Cyndi Dale as she shares ways to develop the six empathic types, techniques for screening and filtering information, and tips for opening up to a new world of deeper connections with the loved ones in your life. Also includes important information for dealing with the difficulties empaths often face, such as being overwhelmed in a crowd.

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This book really called out to me because for a long time I have been struggling with the overwhelming feelings I get from empathic data on a daily basis. I’ve found it difficult to distance myself from the emotions emanating from strangers nearby, and even harder to differentiate between my feelings and those of people close to me. I sought out this book, hoping to gain some wisdom and guidance for creating boundaries and learning to better interpret the empathic information I receive.

My expectations were met — and exceeded.

Cyndi Dale clearly knows her stuff when it comes to recognizing, processing, and dealing with empathic data. This book goes into detail about the six different types of empathy, and how they might affect us in our daily lives — whether it be in our own personal issues, in relationships, or at work. The book includes charts and worksheets to help you determine the strength of your own empathic gifts, and then provides a series of practical and very helpful exercises that can help you use, strengthen, and recognize these gifts in your everyday life.

Though some of what this book talks about goes a bit too deep into the spiritual realm for me, I still find most of the advice within very applicable to my situations. It has helped me recognize my gifts, the ways in which I’ve been having trouble with them, and I’ve already begun to use the tools and exercises provided in this book to build boundaries and help recognize which feelings are mine and which are not.

This is one book that I will definitely want to add to my physical shelves, because I know I will want to refer back to it time and again. I’m really grateful to have found a book like this, especially during a point in my life when I really needed some guidance in the area of empathy. I’d recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about empathy, understanding others, and/or understand their own feelings.

 

The Tarot Memory Palace

Lately, my husband has been somewhat passionate about improving his memory, and has been working on practicing some different memory techniques. We learned about this method called the memory palace from a TED talk by Joshua Foer (and I even found a random article on the topic in a copy of National Geographic I was browsing for collage images, so I ripped it out and brought it home to him). He’s been building various memory palaces and trying to find valuable lists of information to memorize.

So, what is a memory palace?

“…imagine you’re walking through a place you know well and make a connection between the point you want to make and the items you see. He gives the example of a presentation on technology.

Say, you first want to talk about Apple. You may imagine stepping inside your house and seeing a bowl of apples on the table. If the next thing you want to talk about is rapid change, perhaps you imagine a clock above the bowl of apples that’s spinning fast. When you begin your speech, you step back into your memory palace and visualize these cues, allowing them to guide you through your presentation.”

-Dan Roam, author of Show and Tell

A month or so ago, my husband been working on improving his main memory palace and was asking if I had any suggestions for things to memorize. I asked how many spots he had, and he said 22. So, naturally, I suggested that he learn the Major Arcana of the tarot, and he agreed! I listed out each card, and he stored them in his memory palace one by one. Then he immediately repeated all 22 of them back to me. This was impressive enough, considering it’s taken me a long time to remember which card is which number, and I have some friends who’ve been reading for over a decade and still can’t remember.

But that’s just the beginning!

I then suggested we go back and have him remember simple meanings/keywords with the Major Arcana, so we did, and he remembered them easily (!!!). And since we were on such a roll, he wanted to go ahead and do all of the Minor Arcana, too. We went through each suit, had him repeat them back to me, then went on the to next.

By the end of it, I had him list out every single card, along with its “traditional” meaning, which he did with only one or two cards that tripped him up. YOU GUYS, this all happened in a stretch of about two hours. For the next couple of weeks, I would randomly ask him to list them for me, and he always did it with very minor trouble (if any)!

I was astounded.

Since then, I’ve been having fun talking about tarot with him. Sometimes he’ll ask me about a specific card and its reversed meaning, or want clarification about a card’s meaning. (Previously, he was curious-to-moderately-interested in my tarot adventures, but never really wanted to interact with the cards — as a reader or a querent; so this is an exciting development for me.)

What I find really encouraging is that his intuition is playing a larger role in the whole thing than I think he realizes. Some cards he repeatedly intuits as a different meaning than the “traditional” one, but it’s still RIGHT ON, and I love it (this frustrates him, but I keep trying to explain to him that we each may have our own relationships with the cards and our own intuitive meanings… I think he’s coming around to this idea).

He is so good at it, that it continues to impress me. I plan to blog about this in my next post, but the other night I did a personal reading, and asked him for his impressions after I’d written down my own. Here’s a snippet:

"Things will improve with practical, steady application." | The Star, Cheimonette Tarot | Queen of Keys, The New Tarot

“Things will improve with practical, steady application.” (The Star, Cheimonette Tarot | Queen of Keys, The New Tarot)

And a bonus? All of this practice has helped ME improve my intuitions and meanings of the cards!

Tarot Beyond the Basics (Review)

In my other life, I read and review a LOT of books, which means I’m a member of NetGalley. When I saw this book come up in my radar, I couldn’t resist, and I requested a copy of this book. Thanks again to Llewelyn Worldwide for providing this galley free of charge, in exchange for my honest review.

I am so glad that I did.

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Tarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards by Anthony LouisTarot Beyond the Basics: Gain a Deeper Understanding of the Meanings Behind the Cards
by Anthony Louis
Coming: April 8, 2014

My Rating: ★★★★★

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Most tarot books are for beginners. Here, Anthony Louis, famous for Tarot Plain & Simple, shares decades of insights and information that can help you become an advanced practitioner. Not merely “more of the same,” Louis provides real world examples of how to use your intuition to improve your readings, how to understand tarot reversals and how to include the meanings of numbers, the elements, and the tarot’s court cards.

Louis reveals the common background of astrology and tarot, explaining astrology for tarot readers clearly and in a way that makes sense. Then he shows how to use the tarot with astrological concepts to give advanced readings that change people’s lives.

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I had intended to write this review a month before the book’s release date, and here it is almost two months AFTER. Partially, this is due to my overstuffed schedule and ridiculously hectic life, but partially this is because Tarot Beyond the Basics was way more intense than I had expected it to be!

Research, organization, and information collecting are some of my favorite things, so when I saw how comprehensive and complete this book was, I just fell in love. Certainly, this means that there were some chapters I couldn’t delve very deeply into (I don’t know enough about astrology to get much out of those chapters — yet), but the rest of the book was just a joy to read.

As tarot readers we use the cards intuitively to trigger associations derived from our life history, the metaphorical meanings of our native language and culture, our own study and theoretical understanding of the cards, and our personal as well as the collective unconscious.

One thing I appreciate most about this book is that Louis doesn’t just go with what he knows — he references information, history, techniques, and anecdotes from all kinds of tarot (and other esoteric) authorities. His personal accounts, anecdotes, metaphors, and interpretations made this book so much fun to read.

There are whole chapters on different aspects of the tarot, including: astrology, numerology, intuition, shuffling, how different decks can affect a reading, the elements, sarcasm, and more! I can’t tell you how many passages I highlighted throughout this book — either because I just liked the quote, or I wanted to remember the techniques/information for later. I gained a much deeper and more complete understanding of the cards and I feel like I have a thick resource to refer to now!

…what if a tarot divination is valid only if the querent shuffles the deck with the sincere intent to receive a valid answer from the cards?

To date, Tarot Beyond the Basics is probably my favorite resource for tarot. You can bet I will be adding a physical copy to my shelves as soon as possible!

New Collage Cards!

I know…

I’ve been WAY too absent, but life has been so hectic I barely been able to keep myself together. I’ve even had a few things I’ve wanted to to readings about but right now I can’t even remember what they are — only that I know they are still unresolved. Ouch.

In any case…

I’ve been in a bit of an artistic groove lately, which as been quite satisfying. I’ve got some new ideas for backs and additional textures for my collage cards. We’re starting a whole new round soon, beginning with The Fool! I’m excited to get a whole new start on a new deck, now that I’ve had over a year to practice!

On that note…

I’ve finally gotten off my arse and added a BUNCH of new cards to my collage page. When studying the pips, instead of focusing on one card each night, we studied each number and attempted to make all four of that particular pip in one night. The first few were easy — I got all four aces and all four twos in one night, but as things continued, that got harder and harder to maintain.

I also missed a few nights, so I didn’t get to make the fives or tens (even though I had some ideas for a few of those already), but I’ve added the ones I did make for the threes, fours, sixes, sevens, eights, and nines!

So without further ado…

You can see them all on my collage-my-own-tarot page, but here are a few of my favorites.

Six of Pentacles - 02/21/14 Seven of Cups - 02/28/14 Nine of Swords - 03/14/14

Five Months Later

Last September, my longtime friend and tarot mentor gave me the ultimate birthday gift: a tarot reading. It was full of all kinds of advice and wisdom that I knew I needed to take to heart. She made some fantastic observations and some great suggestions, so in an effort to be mindful of this, I set the spread image as my computer’s desktop wallpaper.

…Five months later, I still haven’t acted on it.

Sigh.

So today I decided to read back through her email again (I do this periodically, to remind myself of all the richness within), and discovered that I’ve been making some strides toward these things in any case, without even realizing it!

It feels like there is the strong possibility that you could really come into your own this year, however: the Actress needs to remove her mask first and let herself be her self.

The Actress - Journey Oracle

The Actress – Journey Oracle

And right at this moment of typing that, I’m reminded of the connection you felt to the sigil for desire -Is there something you’ve buried, or hidden? Something you’ve neglected because it wasn’t “important” enough? It might be time to grab a shovel or a dust cloth and re-examine those things to see what latent potential they might have, even if the only purpose is to bring you joy.

The thing is, when you starve one area, the rest suffer too – much like the Actress who hides her true self behind her mask, denying who she really is in order to play a role. How soon before she forgets who she really is? I get the sense, though, from the overall tone of the rest of the reading, that this is a card of change (as all 5s are). I think the situation here is one that is about to change, or _can_ be changed.

There a few key things that stuck out to me this time:

  1. The idea hiding my true self behind a mask, and needing to change this.
  2. Starving in one area of my life (due to focusing heavily on another one).
  3. Pursuing passions that I may have neglected or dismissed as not important enough.

All three of these themes have been moving toward the front-and-center area of my life lately, mostly all due to the same project! This year, I teamed up with two of my best friends and started a whole new online project, which has yielded a variety of interesting results.

1. I started using a real-photo-of-me avatar on the website and various social media sites tied to it.
This is something I hadn’t really wanted to do, but felt it was appropriate and almost necessary, because of the goals of the project (and to maintain a sense of cohesion, since both of my partners use real-photo avatars). Though the avatar I had been using for a long time was an artistic representation of my actual face, using a real photo is quite different.

The avatar I switched to was also a deliberate choice. It shows me in my natural state: dorky. (Honestly, I think it’s impossible for me to make a normal face in photos — I just can’t do it!) My husband doesn’t like it because he says it doesn’t represent the real me, but I argued him down. This shows me as I am, in a very candid way. While it would have been easier to choose a photo that just makes me look attractive and nice and pretty (which is certainly what my husband would have preferred), I knew that just wasn’t the route I wanted or needed to go.

(After a few weeks of using this new avatar, I have to admit that I am getting tired of seeing my goofy face, but I think this is important because it’s almost forcing me to become comfortable with the essence of who I am — and showing that to the people I encounter.)

2. I realized that I had been severely starved in the creative area of my life, and now that its being fed, I feel better in the other areas of my life, too.
The project I embarked on pretty much fell into my lap from the universe, like it was this gift from my muse, all packaged and ready-to-use. It has served as a conduit for many of the things I used to enjoy doing: web design, programming, graphic design, and personal expression. Working on it — and with two people who understand and motivate me in just the right ways — has been fulfilling and satisfying in a way that I haven’t felt in many years.

Thanks to this, I might spend a bit less time with my husband, but it feels like a necessary compromise. I realized I was spending too much time focusing on Work and Husband and not enough time on Creative Me. It’s amazing how much better I feel when I get to express my creative side on a regular basis — and how much it feeds me with even more creative juices!

3. I’ve begun (or have made plans to begin) pursuing other neglected passions.
Working on this project with these two friends has not only fueled my creative passions in that particular area, but each of these women has individually inspired me to get off my duff and start working on other things I’ve been wanting to do as well!

One of them keeps bombarding me with her mixed media art projects (pictures and descriptions of her processes) and it just makes me anxious with the desire to get back into that as well — and to try out new media that I’ve been daydreaming about for YEARS!

The other continues to hint at creative writing ideas that both of us have. We often tell each other about how we want to write stories/novels, but we don’t work on them for various reasons. We have now made it a goal to encourage each other to do this and share our writing with each other as a means of accountability and motivation.

Tarot amazes me.

You’d think by now that I’d be used to the cards being accurate and telling it like it is. But every time, I’m still just blown away by how complete and deep their messages are. I am grateful for every single reading I get, and I love the way that the cards’ advice just works its way into my spirit and helps me grow.

Irmata, if you’re reading this: thank you, so much.