Friday, January 30, 2015

Strength of a Mambo: Courage to "Be"

One of the main focus cards I pulled for my year ahead (2015) was the Devil.

I like this card.

First of all, as a Capricorn this is the card that is astrologically associated with me. This means that 2015 will be a year of coming into myself more fully, of coming to terms with my fears and shadows.

I'm ready for it.

I've always been a person who loves and values peace, harmony, kindness, and understanding. I've never functioned well in heavy conflict, and I've always sought common ground with others; I figure that no matter how different we are, there must be somewhere that we connect.

Wildwood Tarot; Ryan/Matthews/Worthington

Part of my growth area this year is in the ability to be myself, have (and share) my own thoughts and feelings, express my perspectives and worldview, without being afraid of how others will perceive me, how others might react, without being afraid of being misunderstood, or disliked. I have to be me. I have to embrace and develop my personal power through having the strength to shine my light, to be where I'm at, without insisting on harmony all the time (which also means allowing others to be where they're at). Risky business!

I had a really difficult experience a couple of days ago in an online forum, where I was misunderstood, harshly judged, and then a group that prides itself on being a safe, supportive, and nonjudgmental haven, no less. I only found out that my comment (about the importance of honoring the unique histories behind diasporic religions) caused ill feelings for others when I noticed that my comment had been deleted, quietly and without any notification. At first I was pretty surprised, and I reached out to the moderator to understand what had happened. It turned out that a couple of people had messaged her privately to let her know that they didn't like my point of view, and in an attempt to avoid any conflict, the decision had been made to simply get rid of the "offending" comment (without contacting me for clarification, mind you). I was totally taken aback, and to be honest, really hurt. I certainly wasn't offending any one, my comment had been (I thought) really affirming, and very heartfelt. I was hurt, confused, and I was pretty angry. They didn't like my point of view?! (Even if that were true, what happened to healthy, respectful discourse?)

My first feeling was almost a sense of illness at having been misunderstood, and then robbed of the ability to clarify my perspective or intentions. The second feeling I had was deep sorrow coupled with an admittedly-pathetic desire to remain mute the rest of my life so as to avoid any potential dilemmas in the future. But I knew there was a lesson buried somewhere in there. I decided to pull a card from my New Orleans Voodoo Tarot to help me better understand how to have the strength to speak my own truth in the face of this very apparent danger of being misunderstood and....not liked!

New Orleans Voodoo Tarot
S. Glassman

I drew the Rada Mambo (Queen of Swords). Ah hah. If there was ever a master of speaking truth, it is this strong woman. I sat with her image for a while. She looks fierce, totally unafraid of anyone or anything. She knows herself, and she is willing to say what needs to be said time and time again, no matter if others approve of her words or not. She has a head in one hand and a knife in the other: she doesn't abide false masks; she is ever in search of truth. And she doesn't hide herself from others, because knows that truth, and the search for it, is the only thing worth engaging in. The book Vodou Visions (2007), by Sallie Ann Glassman, states:

Look into the eyes of the Rada Manbo and see that her power, mastery, and place in the world give her pleasure and satisfaction. She is radiant with life. Her intelligence is based on what the primordial waters of the body know. The serpent is her ally. The deep waters of her psyche contain deep knowledge, which is uncontaminated by intellectual deceit. She cuts off the lie with her sword. (pg. 191)

I've often said that of all the Queens in the Tarot deck, the Queen of Swords is the one least like me. In my quest for fullness and balance, she has important gifts to teach me about being strong, clear, and true with my words and purpose. 

Then yesterday I came across an article by Lori Deschene (from, called "10 Reasons to Be Okay with Being Disliked." 

As my husband would say, me vino como anillo al dedo (the article was a perfect fit for the moment). Number 5 on the list read: 

You can freely express your thoughts: One of the kindest things you can do for someone else is listen without judging. You deserve that same kindness, but you won’t always get it. People will form opinions as you speak. Talk anyway. Let your words be kind but fearless.

Kind, but fearless. That sounds like my dear teacher, the Rada Mambo. She's got my back as I develop the courage to "be." 


  1. I think you are a brave woman. Although I do identify with this queen, speaking my own truth is hard for me too. Maybe that is why I admire her so much.
    Censoring this time and age is pretty petty! :) I am glad you have the courage rise above it. I love The Guardian. He will protect you inner core when you speak your mind

    1. <3 Thanks, Ellen, and thanks for the nice words about the protection of the Guardian :) Yeah, I was shocked, too, about being silenced, it was quite a strange and off-putting experience. I think I will put the Queen of Swords out where I can see her...... Hugs to you!

  2. Being willing to speak your truth though it may garner criticism is definitely tough. Still, you've shown in the past that you're up to the task, with some of your posts here. And I hope those have also shown that many people will listen respectfully and also try to find the common ground. When they don't, that's their loss!

    1. Yes, that's true, Chloe! That's funny, actually, because while I've definitely broached some topics that can be controversial, I think I've always still felt a bit ill at doing it! But I've still done it. I'm hoping to get to the point where I post freely without the ill part, haha ;-) Thanks for your words.

    2. Or maybe it's just always one of those "feel the fear and do it anyway" kind of things... :D

    3. Yes, I think that having the courage to speak freely (but kindly) doesn't preclude the presence of fear - it's a necessary process, no doubt! Hopefully with practice the fear will be less noticeable, at any rate :)