Pentacle & Cross explores the intersection and overlap of Christian mysticism with pagan ideology and practices.

Tarot Cards Judgment, Justice, Tower and the #MeToo Movement

Both Christianity and Paganism have a concept of Karma--and we're now seeing this archetypal pattern played out in the media with the #MeToo movement that's exposing sexual predation in movies, theater, radio, comedy and politics. 

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In the New Testament, Galatians 6:7 states: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. Whatever a man sows, he will reap in return. (Berean Study Bible)

Many Pagans/Wiccans follow the Rule of Three aka Three-Fold Law of Return: For good or for ill, shall be returned to us threefold.(Note: Some Gardnerian purists dismiss this "law" as misinterpretation of a fictional tome by the father of modern Wicca, Gerald Gardner. Yeah, there are polemicists even in Paganism!).  

The New Age Law of Attraction sorta/kinda relates to Karma in that it's believed that whatever you focus on--or which level you "vibrate" at--will attract more of the same. You vibrate negative shit, you'll reap more of the same. You keep your feel-good energy up, you'll stay a happy camper. (I have some major problems with the LoA and it's Pentecostal/Charismatic equivalent known as the Prosperity Gospel aka "Name It and Claim It" or, as I like to refer to it, "Blab It and Grab It".). More on that topic another time...

My point is that many religious traditions have variations on the comeuppance theme (with some consequences more deadly than others--like, eternal damnation in the case of fundamentalism).

We see the same archetypal pattern of punishment (or getting what's deserved or harvesting what's been planted--whatever you want to call it) in Tarot. 

Two cards in Tarot that deal with this pattern (and are often confused) are Judgement and Justice. Here's the difference: 

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The Judgement Tarot card is "Karma Calling". It's the dreaded email, the phone call, the besiegement of reporters at the door asking "Is it true? Did you fondle a underage girl?" Or, "We have five woman claiming that you masturbated in front of them. Did it happen?"

It's the crows finally coming home to roost--when someone else besides predator and prey find about the abuse...and takes it public. 

Of course, fundamentalist Christianity will say that no only does the predator get public humiliation--but also a free ticket to a major ass-roast that lasts...forever. Unless, of course, the predator says "Sorry, Jesus" (extra points if it's done on TV ala Jimmy Swaggart). Then, everything disappears on a magic dry-erase board using the blood of Christ.

Many Pagans, though, believe that the full brunt of the suffering of the prey will be visited onto the predator--and nothing will ameliorate the process, because the Universe is always in balance.

Which brings us to the Justice Tarot card:

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This is the legal aspect of Karma--the earthly laws affecting predator and prey (which isn't always "just", because this is the fallible human realm we're talking about now). This would range from small-time punishments like Roy Moore being banned by mall cops from a shopping mall in the 1970s for calling an underage girl in High School (getting her out of Trig class, no less) to larger punishments like jail time.

Then there's the "OMG, this can't be happening!" Tower card that can affect both the predator and the public at large:

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For example, Bill O'Reilly apparently had a Tower experience when Karma came calling--saying that he was "mad at God" for getting busted. In fact, he said this in his podcast No Spin News:

Am I mad at God? Yeah, I'm mad at him. I wish I had more protection. I wish this stuff didn't happen. I can't explain it to you. If I die tomorrow and I get the opportunity, I’ll say, ‘Why did you guys work me over like that?' Didn't you know my children are going to be punished and they're innocent?’

Sound ridiculous? Actually, this is how most devout Christians think: if I'm "good"--or promote Jesus, morality or charitable acts--then I not only get a pass on human suffering (including disease, poverty and loss), but I also receive a "Get Out of Jail Free" card when my sins finally grow into an undesirable harvest.

Notice that O'Reilly also bemoans the fall-out of his predatory behavior on his innocent children? Apparently, the devout Catholic didn't consider this universal truth from the Old Testament:

Exodus 34:6-7 The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.

Does God "punish" children for the sins of the father? Of course not. However, the simple fact is that sin (Greek: hamartia ἁμαρτία--an archery term of "missing the mark", and each spiritual path has different measurements for what that "mark" consists of) can and will effect others. Usually, the ones closest to the predator is affected (wife, children, parents, siblings)--but others also suffer. It's a ripple effect.

The Tower not only gobsmacks the self-righteous who think they're above Karma or the law, but also those who couldn't imagine that so-and-so did that heinous act: "Hey! He's a good guy! What are you talking about?" Jon Stewart says he was shocked when his pal, fellow comedian Louis C.K., admitted to sexual predation. 

And frankly? I was super-surprised at the fall of Kevin Spacey. I always pegged him as a rather asexual theater geek (likely gay, but that's irrelevant) who lived above seedy Hollywood behavior. ::sigh:: Wrongo! 

Here's the thing about The Tower: it usually takes the metaphorical roof blowing off before you can witness and experience the next card in the Tarot: the illuminating, cleansing, healing Star.

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More allegations of sexual predators surface daily. It looks like it will continue for quite awhile. Many are getting their reckoning as Karma comes calling.

Hopefully, after faulty, harmful and dangerous institutions are razed in this current Tower experience, The Star will shine the way for rebuilding on a more solid, equitable, respectful and considerate foundation.

-- Janet


Who (and What) is God? (And Does She Need Defended?)

Philosophers, mystics, seekers and theologians have pondered this question for millennia.The most basic box to tick is "Creator".

Creator of the universe, the earth, humanity, atoms and so on. 

But we can't really know who or what a Creator (or Creators) are except for a story. Some call this story (or series of stories) the Bible or another sacred text. 

Others call these stories mythology, legend, folktale or oral tradition.

Ultimately, these stories are passed down via parchment, clay, paper or other physical method. Or, they're passed down vocally, transmitted within spiritual circles, groves, caves, family dwellings or informal pulpits. 

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The more rigid a belief or dogma, the narrower the interpretation: the story becomes definitive, carved in stone from high atop a mountain. Thinking tends to black and white, all or nothing, for me or against me. It's a line drawn in the sand. It is literal, and it leads to legalism. It's fundamentalism.

The more flexible a spiritual system, the wider the interpretation: the story becomes symbolic, metaphorical, adaptable. Thinking tends to a rainbow of color--with black and white acknowledged as part of that continuum. It is a circle that can be broken...to allow more to come within, or, join hands and make it wider. 

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When I was in Bible college, we studied apologetics (Greek: ἀπολογία, meaning "speaking in defense of"). This was defending doctrine to "outsiders" (non-Christians). We also studied polemics, a word is derived from Greek πολεμικός (polemikos), meaning warlike and hostile. And let me tell you--theological arguments in a Bible college could get very hostile! 

Those who practice polemics are basically the self-appointed troublemakers who stir up controversy (in fact, they seem to always be embroiled in some cause or issue), aggressively interrogating people about their beliefs and practices. They're the heads of witch hunts, handing out pitchforks to ferret out heretics or "sinners". 

And they didn't fade out with ancient Greek civilization. 

Oh no. They're all over the web, as I'm sure you recognized. They're the ones that regularly call for boycotts, nitpick apart a particular teacher's sermons, make a line-by-line critique of an author's book (Facebook posts, Tweets, blog posts)...

Thing is, polemics isn't a stance married to Christian theology or Greek philosophy. It can be found in paganism, the New Age or even Tarot groups. That is, anywhere there's a precious dogma--a decree that legislates a "wrong" or "right" way of doing things.

This Pentacle & Cross blog falls into the circle camp; I look forward to sharing stories about my experience with deities, saints and spirits--including Jesus--and hope to widen the circle to learn about your sacred stories, too.

-- Janet


Welcome to Pentacle & Cross!

I have an unusual religious background: I was raised Pentecostal (Assemblies of God), and felt "called" to be a minister when I was young child. Our pastor was a woman,so it didn't seem an unusual aspiration in the least.

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When I was 15, a new guy started attending our church--a defector from the Roman Catholic faith. He, too, felt called into ministry.A year or so later, we began dating.

After I graduated High School, we enrolled in Valley Forge Christian College (now, Valley Forge University) and were married after our first semester there. 

Five years later, we became pastors of a small, rural, independent Pentecostal church for a year. Then, my husband contracted leukemia and passed away 13 months later.

I'll spare you the difficult details, but suffice to say it was a hellish experience.

And trying to get work as a single female pastor was almost as bad. The sexism among A/G and Pentecostal churches was rampant (despite paying lip-service to equality and supporting the ordination of women).

I was teaching a post-High School Sunday School class and one of my students (also raised Pentecostal) became a fast friend (we bonded over his art). Ron and I just celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, and we have a 19-year-old shiny-soul son. 

Early in our marriage, we encountered a visiting minister at another church who preached the "gospel of inclusion" and "universal salvation"--a "Jesus welcomes all" message that dismissed the idea of a literal hell.

I was more than intrigued; I was floored.

I delved back into my college texts on theology, hermeneutics, church history, Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. And I began reading publications from Tentmaker. Lo and behold, the early church didn't believe in a literal hell, either!

I felt like I went to a spiritual chiropractor--but my former faith began to crumble.

After months of drifting, I began to quilt together a spiritual framework for understanding the world and my place in it. Gone was fear-based condemnation and legalism. Now, I explored other religions and spiritual paths that reflected universal wisdom--especially ones that appealed to my love of Mystery and mysticism. I began to favor personal experience over any external dogma or sacred text.

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Already having experienced the "gift of prophecy" and "word of wisdom" on a regular basis, I felt to learn Tarot. Not having much success with what was on the market or the web 10+ years ago, I created my own method for learning the cards (the subject of my first book, Back in time Tarot).

Since then, I've written three Tarot books (with another under contract)--and co-created two decks with my artist husband: The Snowland Deck and our newly released Coffee Tarot.

I'm happier than I've ever been, and my life is filled with creativity, love and harmony. 

I still love Jesus and think the New Testament is full of awesome perennial wisdom (that largely goes untapped, especially by fundamentalists and those who've been hurt by Christian churches). But I also embrace the energy and archetypes of various saints, gods and goddesses--believing that they, too, have much to offer us on this often-confusing and sometimes painful human journey. Some call this melding ChristoPaganism.

My old blog still exists, but I just don't have the heart to blog there anymore. Instead, I'll be focusing my blogging energy (when I'm not writing books, creating decks or performing intuitive readings, that is!) on this new Pentacle & Cross blog. 

I'll be exploring the intersection and overlap of biblical mysticism, universal wisdom and pagan ideology, which will include:

  • Musings on current events
  • Our search for meaning
  • The importance of creative expression
  • Personal responsiblity
  • Fascinating books, decks or other tools that enlighten and inspire
  • A fresh (sometimes, irreverent) take on biblical texts
  • Spiritual practices

If you love the idea of this blog, please let me know in the comment section below. I look forward to talking with you!

-- Janet