Hi friends. I hope you all had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend!
I got to spend mine cooking for my dad who always cooks so well for me. It was such a delight to share a special day with him and make him feel a little spoiled.
Spending time with my dad got me thinking about the maternal and paternal influences in our lives and how, no matter how much we do to grow, change and evolve, they still remain important core parts of our hearts, minds and values.
That train of thought led me back to City Mystic • Paris in an odd way. Thus far I’ve told you about the very personal influences that have guided me through the process of creating City Mystic • New York, and further into Paris. They were a combination of circumstances and personal disposition. But there is another, major side of my motivation to make these decks which is at once socially inspired, totally impersonal yet paradoxically deeply personal. It comes back to my father.
My dad has always taught me to look deeper at social trends and values. He has always taught me to question the status quo and challenged me to create my own ideas and social rules based on my own sense of integrity. I am incredibly fortunate to have the dad I do. None of me would be what I am without his tremendous influence on my life.
And it is that influence, in a round-about way, which inspired me to share City Mystic with folks the world over. I grew up in the San Francisco bay area. I spent much of my childhood by my dad’s side volunteering in various capacities helping those less fortunate than myself. I grew up marching down Market Street in a myriad of protests over things like worker’s rights, fair pay, peace marches and the like. My dad taught me to not just notice social injustice and incongruence, he taught me to speak up, loudly, about it.
As I grew and healed over the years through various forms of therapy, counseling, holistic healing modalities and continued education, I also worked in the healing arts professionally. This afforded me the opportunity to work with others also committed to creating more authentically lived lives. In that work I noticed many times that certain blockages in people’s healing developments, my own included, had directly to do with their social programming. Its very difficult to help someone live their dreams if they fundamentally believe that they don’t deserve to because they don’t have enough money, aren’t beautiful enough or any other “reason”.
At first I equated this set of blockages to a deep lack of self-trust or confidence. As I continued to learn and grow, however, I noticed that something much greater was at work. There is a set of social codes which often keep a person stuck- relationships, communities, governments… all of these can combine to create a web of blockages which is complicated to untangle; of course we love our families, friends and communities. They bring meaning, joy and love to our lives. But when those hold harmful rules and value systems that block us from being our genuine selves and embracing our authentic strengths and gifts the painful tangles can be enough to stop progress altogether. I wondered for a long time, what can really be done with this? Where do the harmful core values come from?
I ruminated on this observation for a few years, unsure what to do with it. I struggled to find a way to even communicate with clients and colleagues about it in meaningful ways reaching beyond the often frustrating “yeah, this is such an issue, but its everyone’s responsibility to create new beliefs about themselves” rhetoric that many face over this subject. Of course that’s true, but its very difficult to re-build your internal mental framework if you don’t even know what’s there informing it. One can do affirmations until they’re blue in the face to accept new beliefs such as, “I am an unlimited being in an unlimited world.” and be held back for years from progress when this new belief challenges core subconscious programming about how you’re “supposed” to behave socially and what our society says about our sexual expressions, our professional actions and our intimate relationship styles. Its hard to reprogram a part of ones self that is impossible to see and we have no language or common framework for even understanding or perceiving. It was during this confusing time that I visited Paris for the first time, and that was when the I began to understand that the framework for such limiting beliefs is hugely reinforced by the highly visible yet utterly invisible social spells cast upon the masses by way of story telling and mythology which are passed on to us through public spaces, public art and mass media, among other mediums.
I began to research and noticed ways in which certain core myths are subconsciously and consciously reinforced in our human culture the world over about who we are and what we should really be allowed to become. I found that some of those myths are incredibly helpful and create lasting, meaningful benefits in our lives, such as the constant reinforcement of the significance of family and humanitarian care. Others, however, are detrimental to the emergence of the authentic self, often directly tied into those same helpful myths and culturally acceptable stories– such as the core belief that mothers in society should utterly give up their lives and enjoyment for their families. We may think of such ideas as antiquated, but when we look into popular stories in media, public art in major cities around the world, and commonly reinforced values, we see that both the helpful and harmful aspects of this particular cultural value still very much inform our daily lives and the social codes we subconsciously feel we must agree to and also hold each other to.
Finding a way to hold this conversation in meaningful, thought-provoking ways was extremely challenging. It wasn’t until I realized that I could do away with the conversation altogether that I really started to feel inspired to continue exploring this material. Taking the golden-rule concept of writing, “show not tell” into account, the idea of making photographic Tarot decks exhibiting the cultural tales, lore and programs of our most beloved places in the modern western world just felt like it could communicate so much more than any words I might use ever could.
I did tremendous research about social programming, public art, massive cultural upheavals and turning points in history to begin to understand just how powerful and meaningful in direct ways these social programs truly are. What I learned was absolutely astounding. I studied the French Revolution in depth and learned that the Jackabens, the party that eventually overthrew the entire French Monarchy in the late 1700’s, had a firm understanding of the power of public spell-casting. They understood it so well, in fact, that they embarked on a raging campaign to undo all Monochratic programming from the common French experience, up to and including the destruction of public monuments celebrating members of the royal family from centuries past, illegalizing certain manners of addressing one another in every day conversation, certain words and phrases, destroying certain markers of class identification on buildings and housing, and even re-creating their own calendar and striking down the 7-day week in an attempt to erase all religious programming. In my research I found this amazing video and knew I was really onto something with this train of thought.
That time in history marks a potent exchange of understanding and utilization of influence. For the first time in nearly 1700 years at least, a whole new league of social leaders and taste makers had a firm understanding of the almost mystical power of story and social lore which for much time only truly belonged to the extremely wealthy and powerful. This new class of non-royal citizens used that understanding to influence their piers and fellow citizens into a massive, bloody revolution that changed the face of civilization and democracy for ever.
Taking all of this into account I thought, “My best shot at making these unspoken, powerful social codes of conduct conscious and apparent is to make my own intentional art of them and to name them as they strike me.” During the creation of City Mystic • New York I was often surprised by how much my personal impression of specific monuments or public art installations perfectly matched the artist or architects initial intentions without my ever knowing. I made the images first, and then did the research for the companion book. Time and again it happened that the intent of the piece was very closely aligned to what I “read” or received from it. This led me to a long series of questions; “How often does it happen that our subconscious mind has a whole series of internal messages kicked up by visiting our favorite places? How does this series of internalized messages create an energetic buzz or vibration in certain world cities? How do things like geomancy, intentional monument crafting and hidden agendas belonging to certain groups of powerful elite members of society influence our ability to truly pursue our personal sense of potential and purpose in our lives?” To say that this work provoked massive internal questions for me is an underwhelming statement.
Everything looks different to me now that I’ve completed New York and have embarked on Paris. For me, the making of City Mystic decks encompasses so many important facets of empowerment to share with as many people as care to receive them: City Mystic gives me the chance to provide a modern view of Tarot. It gives me the chance to show our real lives in Tarot. It gives me the chance to reveal the core cultural mythos generating our current global culture. It gives those who wish to see it the chance to re-write diseased or distorted social codes, archetypes and stories. It puts the power of influence and art into our own hands and offers people the chance to work with them from a higher perspective, and in some cases, even choose when and where those myths are damaging or hurtful. Think of the power we hold in our finger tips when we engage with something like City Mystic • New York or in the future, City Mystic • Paris. I personally love to think of what these decks say about ourselves, about our social programs, about who we think we are allowed to be at the maximum when we look at the intentional images and commissioned art pieces in these decks. Try it the next time you read for yourself with CMNY. It’ll likely blow your mind!
Where New York was a case of clear-cut intentional influence springing from the center of an interesting melting pot of ideas, capitalistic pursuits and spiritualist endeavors, Paris is a whole new level of social programming spanning two-thousand years-worth of influence, social guidance and, dare I say, cultural control. Its entirely another animal, and one which has inspired me to look more contextually at our stories, codes and shared city vibrations.
So tonight if you happen to read for yourself with the City Mystic • New York deck, or happen to find yourself looking it over, I invite you to challenge yourself to view the images and give them a “social read”. Beyond your personal readings or understanding of Tarot, what do these images and archetypes mean to you, your loved ones and maybe even your clients? What roles do they play in your invisible “ceilings” and limitations as well as your open roads and opportunities? Take it a step further and journal your thoughts. Coming back to them at some later date could well reveal a heap of useful information stored in that precious subconscious mind of yours.
I’ll see you next time for a continued step-by-step re-cap of my time getting to Paris. For now, hopefully, there is plenty to chew on 😉
Thanks so much for reading and joining me here on this wild journey!