In this age of GPS and Google, it’s easy to forget the mysterious interludes of wonder stirring in the folds of a well-worn map. Some of my fondest vacation memories include casting the magic carpet of a crinkled chart across my lap and running my fingers along the mythic lines beckoning me and my travel companions on towards our next road adventure. Even more alluring where the names of towns and sites that had faded away in the creases of miles and time, folded and refolded memories in that beloved chaperon made of paper.
Maps are guides that take us not only from point A to point B and back again, but can bring us to places far beyond our perspective of what may lie ahead. What is missing in the digital efficiency of getting us from here to there are the omitted options to take a different road, a detour, to discover places tucked just beyond the edge of our screens and our well planned itineraries, places beckoning our imaginations to step off the brink of the known and fall into the unknown, uncharted destinations that are calling to us in whispers of “where next”?
Last fall I initiated the creation of my own Map of Guidance, a practice both intuitive and strategic, based in large part on the centuries old wisdom and mystical direction of the Tarot. I was mentored in the charting of my map by Oriane Lee Johnston, a woman with vast experience as an integral educator, a contemplative explorer and guide, and a purveyor of horse wisdom for humans.
The Map of Guidance is a two-part journey that began with a compass bearing of my current life and direction. In our first Skype session we talked about the roadblocks I’d been encountering, where I wanted to go, the struggles and questions that begged for exploration in the next six to nine months. A few days later we convened again on Skype for a recorded session and Oriane Lee shared with me the assignments and outcomes that would lie before me.
Step by step we charted my course in that conversation, not in the language of the Tarot cards, but in the principles of alchemy and change; how my worldly situations, inner experience and personal power interweave and link with each other, in the past, the present and the future. Oriane Lee’s intuitive wisdom melded into the map reading as well, bringing insights, signposts to note and farsighted visions along the road of my life.
Personal themes arose that wove themselves into quandaries and contemplations. My attachment to striving, to perfection, my addictive tendencies towards food and an always/never polarity that at times could paralyze me in my work and my day-to-day place in the world. I felt as if I was walking a tightrope on my spiritual journey, afraid of falling off, of being tempted by the material and the false desire to fit into a world that often felt alien. In the midst of everyday busyness and errands, it was as if I’d lost my country, my language, my customs and my culture.
The Map of Guidance revealed instead, a journey of firm direction, of gifts within myself that I had yet to discover. It foretold that I would step away from a barren landscape into a brand new neighbourhood, a new way of being. I’d discover that the life I had set up for myself wasn’t actually nourishing to my spirit or my writing and creativity; that was why the hunger and the cravings would arise for they hid in the spaces of desolation that I had been unable to see.
I was being called to honour how far I had come and to acknowledge that the life lessons I thought were unfinished had in truth been completed. It was time to see my spiritual life as not separate from life-in-the-world, but as my identity, my way of being. The phase of my meditation practice was moving into the realm of the Magician, the four elements, new openings between the invisible and visible worlds, expanding like the ever-blooming petals of the lotus. This journey of immanence was the underpinning for everything, a treasure asking me to fall apart so I could fall into wholeness.
The map concluded with a promise of new life being conceived in spring 2014, a time where the embryo of my as-yet-unborn work on this plane would come through the archetypal world. My writing would shift from personal exploration to an expanding awareness of the human condition. It would be a time of emotional stability centred in the loving heart, opened fully, just like the lotus.
These signposts sketched on the map seemed at the time abstract and beyond my comprehension, much like a road beyond the horizon, paved in questions and uncertainty. There weren’t clearly defined stops along the way or the promise of comfort by a certain date. The reading seemed at the time to be as vague and hard to make out as those worn names lost in the folds of the map I held onto so many years ago.
Over the next nine months, I listened to the recording of my session with Oriane Lee perhaps a half dozen times. Each encounter unearthed a subtle deepening of the message, yet I had my doubts. The changes that were foretold spoke to patterns ingrained in my being for years, if not decades, of my life. I struggled to see how those shifts had come to pass over the expanse of time since my reading.
It was in early summer this year as I listened to the recording once again that the pathways and caravans of wisdom illuminated themselves into a grand brilliance. An etched clarity arose as I heard the words again, a clarity that seemed to ignite the guiding beacons of the map and brought light to the faded edges and vistas in my life.
I recognized that my attachments and addictions to food have waned in these passing months, not by anything I have consciously done, but of their own falling away. The black and white demarcation lines between my spiritual cocoon and the outer world have faded as well. My writing has shifted in subtle ways too, as I embrace a broader expanse of care for all beings and sense for the first time the deep presence that binds us all. And most gratifying of all I feel a resolute spiritual practice in the everyday world and not just on my meditation cushion. The contemplative life I projected for myself two years from now is already alive within me today; that is the embodiment of the Magician and the lotus; my life feels in full bloom.
Just one degree right or left can change the destination of any journey. From where I started last fall to where I am today feels like the difference between a toe lifting from the earth and the sighting of home after circumnavigating the globe. That’s how much my perspective has shifted, has travelled, has reached beyond what I could have imagined.
As for the promise of a fresh life in the spring, these changes of perspective and direction in the landscape of my life feel tantamount to a newborn way of being. There is, for example, one long journey that began nine years ago and came to fruition this spring. At the end of May I became a Canadian citizen. The road I set out upon so long ago to reach that destination held many hidden turns and detours, yet always the glimmer of an oasis kept me moving forward. Now that a new map stretches out across my mind I see how far I have come and how the folds and faint lights of passages yet to arise are calling me forth. Just as all good maps are meant to do.
For your own Map of Guidance or to learn more, contact Oriane Lee Johnston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ll go to the paper towns and you’ll never come back by Camilla Soares via Flickr Creative Commons.
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