Church and Charity

RWS Hierophant Tarot CardI grew up as a member of the United Methodist Church.  Some of my earliest memories are from dusty, damp church basements.  Churches always have a distinct smell that now, to me, smells like home.

When my mother married the Methodist minister from the next town, no one was surprised.  He was a good catch for her, and turned out to be a good father for me.

One of the values instilled in me during my Methodist upbringing was the importance of doing good works and deeds.  Giving freely of one’s time and talents was not optional in my household; it was a spiritual imperative. 

When I grew older and found a spiritual path that was not, in the strictest definition, Christian, my parents were relatively supportive.  The lack of support from other Christian friends and family often disheartened me.  From some, praying that I would cease and desist my pernicious behavior was the most support they could muster.

Back in the beginning of my career as a professional psychic I was turned down as many times as I was appreciated when offering to perform free readings at events, or donate gift certificates to charity auctions.

But I am nothing if not persistent.  Over the years, I have donated my time and talents to numerous worthy charities, including Relay for Life, no-kill animal shelters, teachers’ organizations, Rotary, AIDS projects, Cherish Our Children, libraries, ARC, Feeding South Florida, Gemma Moran Food Center, Access Agency, Leukemia Lymphoma Society, and many others.

During an interview on a Blog Talk Radio show recently I related my commitment  to do at least one charitable event each month.  My tarot-reading host was surprised on two counts.  She thought the once-a-month commitment might be taxing, but at the same time couldn’t believe there were enough charities willing to utilize a tarot reader.  She’s right that it ain’t easy, but it’s worth it.

Yesterday I did readings in support of Unity Church in the Gardens at their “Healing Day.”  I was proud so many members of our local tarot community were there as well, offering readings and Reiki sessions.

I do an increasing amount of work at Unity in Jupiter.  Tarot Circle and Psychic Circle both meet there.  I do gallery presentations from time to time as well.  Even though I am not a participant in Sunday worship, I am welcomed as a loving member of a vibrant spiritual community.

That I am not only allowed, but also welcomed and encouraged, to read tarot in the sanctuary offers me an incredible amount of healing. 

The new campus of Unity in the Gardens at 550 Bush Road in Jupiter does not have the prerequisite musty dusty church smell.  It does have a truly welcoming attitude that puts many other churches to shame.

When I volunteer my time and talent at Unity, I walk away feeling that the healing I’ve received makes me the lucky beneficiary of the exchange.  Good charity, and good healing, works like that.

By contrast, before leaving for Healing Day yesterday, I added to my 78 Poems Project.  The card choice was literally random.  In the happy way tarot works, I pulled The Hierophant as the card to write about before going to the church.

For the uninitiated, the Hierophant represents spiritual dogma and traditions.  Originally, the Hierophant was “The Pope.”

I really try not to let my dislike of the Hierophant leak into my teaching and writing, but it does.  I don’t like finite authority, and I certainly don’t like religious oppression, which is what the Hierophant tends to mean for me.

When I wrote about the Hierophant, I wrote about the hurt I have felt at the hands of many Christians, and many churches.

The healing I received, and always receive, at Unity reminds me that the problem does not reside in the concept of a church, or a spiritual community.  The problem resides in adherence to dogma when dogma no longer supports healing.

For what it’s worth, here’s the poem.

The Hierophant

Dogma, tradition, law and rule
Ancient word and secret rite.
Headmaster of the sacred school
Chose by myth and God's own might.

More influence than royalty
Holy hand may bless or curse
And bound by fear and loyalty
Trusting masses fill the purse.

While you hold the keys of learning
And the power of the priest
You can't stop their hearts from yearning
For knowledge and release.

You represent the Deity
Acolytes fall on their knees
Unaware, in piety
That they, too, hold the keys.