Archive for Got My Geek On!

Further Work on the Hypnos Painting

Brian is continuing work on a painting of Hypnos for me, as I reported on in an earlier segment.  He seems very excited by the progress and so am I.

Here are pictures of a study version of the painting, and the initial drawing on wood for the final painting.  Click on the picture to see the larger version:


BLUEWAVE Light Therapy Units from Philips/Apollo

This is supposedly my “Pagan Therapy Blog”, and it is, but my interests lately have been with easy-to-use gadgets that can help my clients with stress and depression.

I recently scooped up 10 little portable light therapy units in a cheap eBay auction!  I now have 10  goLite P1 “BLUEWAVE” light therapy units for use with seasonal depression and sleep disorders.

The nice feature about these units is that they are very small and portable.  They can run on battery — so clients can move them around from place to place and carry them from work to home.  Recent research seems to show that only certain bluelight spectrums of sunlight are required for benefits — and so smaller LED portable units like these have been developed.

More on BLUEWAVE and it’s research claims can be found here and here.

I suppose if I really stretch I could make a link to Paganism… these units were originally manufactured by Apollo Health before Philips bought them… Apollo is the Greek God of the Sun and Healing… his son is the Greek God of healing Asklepios… his daughter is Hygeia — the goddess my counseling practice is named after…

I’m very good at stretching things.


Therapy Decks and High-Speed Coaching

A few weeks ago I participated at a holistic health fair at Mystickal Voyage Holistic Center. I figured I’d run my usual information booth, hand out flyers, etc.

So I got there and — during my 4-hour shift anyway — every single other booth was staffed by a Tarot reader or a psychic. Meanwhile the organizers were assuming that everyone was doing 15 minute readings and had already started a sign-up sheet for me!

Those used to Tarot reading are likely reading this and saying “so what?”, and therapists reading this are cringing…

Anyway, I got a speed lesson in intense 15 minute coaching sessions. No divination. Just tell me your problem, tap into your creativity, and brainstorm next steps. It was fun and seemed to work quite well. Clients seemed happy. Of course, I made far less in tips than the Tarot readers and psychics — so that should be a clue to any students out there as to what profession to get into. (I donated tips to the Stepping Stones Nigeria orphanage for “witch” children.)

15 minute coaching sessions require a focus — something to pull the client right to the problem, tap their creativity, and immediately get them looking at the problem from a new angle instead of the stuck spot they came in occuping. This is where card decks become critical. There is ALOT we can learn from Tarot readers.

I have a whole workshop on using cards in counseling, but basically the story is that they can facilitate answers whether or not you believe divination is going on. The story used in psychotherapy anyway is that the mind is a meaning making engine and that a part of your mind will always try to make a meaning out of any information put in front of it. So if you think of a problem and pick a card, 9 out of 10 times your mind will supply a useful link between the card and the problem. In so doing your unconscious creativity surfaces.

I thought maybe I’d take this opportunity to list out some card decks that I use in therapy that I find very useful. Depending upon the need, I was pulling these decks out during the holistic fair:

Soul Coaching Oracle Cards — Have a simple picture and words such as Strength, Gratitude, Faith, Commitment, etc. Obviously usually used in divination but also great for the therapy situation described above where you ask the client to make a connection between the card message and their issue. I’ve also used these in “Resiliency” class at my psych rehabilitation program with a room full of folks with schizophrenia. The central lesson was that we all have resources to be strong with even if we have limitations or little money. By the time everyone drew a card and discussed their “love”, “freedom”, “grace”, etc. the room was much more upbeat and positive.

Dreaming in Color Deck — Emotional and spiritual states linked to artwork. Good for pulling emotions out of people stuck in their head. I’ve written about these before — click here.

Planning on Purpose Deck — A boring-looking, badly-printed deck by a career counseling center that is absolutely the best informal tool around for figuring out what your life priorities are. It’s supposedly geared towards career but the conversation can quickly become existential as the client figures out what matters in life. Using them is deceptively simple — clients sort the cards (with phrases such as “Nesting, creating a home”, “Sports, sports”, and “Leaving the World a Better Place”) into piles of low and high interest. Then they rank order the most important pile. Then you discuss how to bring their life into accordance with their top rank-ordered values. Good for helping break depression.
Healing the Mind and Spirit Cards — Advice for living with positive affirmations to change your thoughts. Good for when someone needs an “answer” and hope.

Hudes Tarot Deck — I almost never use Tarot cards. If I do, its in the context of architypal work. Along the lines of “find the cards that remind you of parts of yourself”. Useful in this way for helping people come to appreciate and be aware of all of the parts inside them. Usually the client is already familiar with Tarot or I find another way to work. This is one of my favorite decks.




Jesus, Archetypes, Orishas and Five-Factor Model Personality Theory

I seem to be on a Christian counseling kick right now. So be it — this one will be shorter, I promise. I’m reading an intriging book by James R. Beck entitled “Jesus & Personality Theory”. I’m on page 36, so I reserve the right to be wrong or change opinions as I find out more while moving through the book.

The book has two theses:

1. “Jesus is a counseling model for Christian counselors in that his teaching speak directly to the five major structural components of human personality”

2. “These teachings (Jesus’ counseling) are indeed wonderful because they speak so perfectly to the composition of the human personality.”

Now I have not read enough yet to form an opinion on the above said theses — that is, if Christian counselors should counsel like Jesus and if Jesus’ methods as portrayed in the Bible speak perfectly to the human personality.

However the background set-up in the first few chapters really has me thinking how this all impacts us Pagans.

The Five-Factor Model of personality theory is a very, very well-tested theory that says there are (you guessed it) five traits that are common to all personalities:

  • Openness to Experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extraversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

I won’t bore you with all the research studies backing this up — read this or one of many other books and studies if you are interested.

Keep in mind that according to Beck (backed again with his cited research) a HUGE percentage of the variance in these factors (33% to 65%) is GENETIC and only 0% to 11% is ENVIRONMENTAL (and the rest — who knows…). Furthermore, according to Beck (and cited research) these five factors change barely at all throughout adulthood…

Here’s where the difficulty for me comes in. You are supposed to try and behave like Jesus would behave, even if you have a very different five factor trait profile than Jesus did! You don’t have to have Jesus’ personality, but you should act like Him as the perfect rolemodel.

So, let’s say you are cursed by genetics to be very introverted (is it really a curse?). Is it fair to have to strive to be at least as outgoing as Jesus was? Jesus is judged to be about average on the extroversion trait. What if you are extremely extroverted? Is it fair to have to reign in your tendencies?

Furthermore (according to what I’m reading), these traits don’t change much in adulthood. So you are going to be fighting against your natural tendencies your whole life.

Now don’t get me wrong. By and large I think Jesus is a great rolemodel. He was loving, peaceful, forgiving, and a host of other worthy traits.

It’s just that I think here is where Paganism can really shine. I think there can be MULTIPLE rolemodels. Given a genetic predisposition towards certain traits (and behaviors), why not pick rolemodels that are reasonable and attainable for the person exhibiting that given trait set?

Why not work towards a balanced society or balanced workgroup of different types of people rather than asking for perfect balance within each individual?

Granted some people need stretch goals — to work on behaviors that are difficult to attain for their own good and the good of those around them. But it seems to me that having only one perfect model, Jesus, sets up people with the wrong genetics for failure. Of course, this fits in well with the Christian doctrine that people are inherently flawed and sinful. I tend to think that in the infinite wonder of the Divine, there can be many types of perfect jewels.

So, why not have clients pick patron deities that help them develop into the best version of their particular trait pattern? Why not search the earth for deity pantheons, archetypes, heroes out of mythology, etc. who present a balanced catalogue of the various trait combinations likely to be found in people?

I think that this has in fact been going on in one form or another for eons. Frankly the African diasphora religions like Santeria, Umbanda, Candomble, Voudun, etc. are suddenly looking much wiser to me. In these religions, followers are generally assumed to have an “orisha of their head” — that is, an orisha that they most resemble that they are  trying to be like as much as possible as they mature. There is also a sort of balancing of the personality (that I don’t understand fully) that is supposed to occur as the follower goes through a series of initiations to accept other orishas and powers into themselves. IMHO this all bears much further psychological study.

For Christians who follow one perfect rolemodel, Beck’s approach makes sense and I honor the book he has written. I am thinking, however, that matching the various Powers to five-factor personality theory is an exercise to be taken on by Pagan counseling theorists enthusiastically.

I look forward to the rest of the book.