Spirit Leaves: In Touch with Joy


At age 18, I acquired the Waite Tarot deck, with its compelling drawings by Pamela Coleman Smith. I fell instantly in love with its lush symbols, clever archetypes and rich psychological associations. This month’s prompt, “Tools to Remember Our Joyful Nature,” brought to mind the three of cups card, the image of three women — the Three Fates, Three Goddesses or Three Muses — dancing with raised cups in the air symbolizing joy, feasting and merriment.

The Three of Cups, from the Rider Waite tarot deck

We humans wish for the kind of joy depicted in the card, because it embraces so much more than celebration or sensory gratification. Joy is a very high vibrational state, one that catapults us from our limited energy dimension into a higher vibratory plane of existence.

Sensory satiation may be the most familiar way people experience joy. Whose heart has not skipped a beat over a Rocky Road sundae dusted with chocolate malt? Who has not approached the zenith of joy over the drooping extension of mozzarella, slipping in an endless strand from a well-made pepperoni pizza? Is it not bliss, stepping into a Jacuzzi to let go of the day’s stresses, totally pampered and adored? Even the happy fulfillment of love following its delay or denial in a Jane Austin novel may qualify for the canon of things joy inducing.

Beyond the mundane, though, is a more refined, ethereal level of joy. What I am suggesting is a notion gleaned from my long association with Cedric Red Feather, who observes, “Nothing compares with the joys of the spiritual realm.” I feel this way now, as well. My joy resides in a complete identification with and connection to the love that pervades the universe. By whatever name we give the Great Tao, an ability to feel part of a larger, loving, benevolent, beatific energy renders any human preoccupations obsolete and illusory. The three women of the Tarot lift their chalices, joyfully toasting each other and the Great Mystery, Great Abundance of the Universe simultaneously. The bounty of the harvest lies at their feet. A solid connection to the spiritual assures nothing will be lacking in the material.

It is we, ourselves, who make the path to bliss complicated or accessible. Conditions in life need not be “perfect” for us to happy; quite often, joy springs simply from a focused awareness. This morning, I awakened with my share of annoying “chronic” conditions and obsessive worries. Upon arrival at school, I found ample spaces available and parked with ease. When I got out of the car, I looked up and saw the most resplendent sky show ever. A line of storms left its more ferocious part north of here, allowing just enough cloud wall to sweep over Bloomington, Minn. In its wake were the most gorgeous, eye-pleasing folded panorama of fluffy cumulous clouds layered over deep, august, slate-gray nimbus clouds. A small chevron of geese seemed to arc out from the center of a cloud wall that contained so many pleasing shapes, depths and textures. The air seemed newly freshened by its intense saturation. A gentle wind gathered momentum and made the leaves sway, dropping a few dry crusty ones on the pavement in a delicate salute to very early autumn. I felt privileged to have witnessed this display, and joyful at the awareness of my deep connection to and love for Earth and sky.

Like any altered state, there is more than one way to approach the pinnacle of the happiness we call joy. The way to joy in all of its manifestations is to love and celebrate ourselves and our connection with Gaia, the energy of the Earth. Open to the fact that we deserve beauty, truth, understanding, pleasure and love. What we focus on increases; so, imagine how a continual focus upon the attributes just named would exponentially increase our joy!

To experience joy is to feel at once freedom from intrusive thoughts that constrictively shackle us and weigh us down. Transmute all limiting thoughts; let go of them. Simultaneous with this release will be the delightful sense that we are loved and happy, lacking nothing and recognizing that life is good.

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Janet Michele Red Feather, J.D., M.A., is a ceremonial singer who has learned over 60 traditional songs in Mandan and Lakota and sings in nine different languages. Janet was a full-time defense litigator in California for nearly eight years. Her life changed significantly after she traveled to North Dakota in 1993 to fast and pray for a way of life. A regular columnist for The Edge, she has also appeared in Psychic Guidepost, FATE Magazine and Species Link. Her book, Song of the Wind (2014, Galde Press), dealt with her experiences as an empath, and her journey through Mandan spiritual culture. She is currently a full-time, tenured English faculty member at Normandale Community College, having taught Composition and Literature for a span of 20 years.


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