Friday, July 29, 2016

How to Stop the Racist in You

By Jeremy Adam Smith, Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton

The new science of bias suggests that we all carry prejudices within ourselves—and we all have the tools to keep them in check.



In the wake of racially charged bloodshed in Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, and Dallas, the city of Cleveland hosted the Republican National Convention.
There Iowa Rep. Steve King argued that only whites had made contributions to civilization, while other “sub-groups” did not. Asked to clarify his remarks, King—who keeps a Confederate flag on his desk—did not back down. “The Western civilization and the American civilization are a superior culture,” he said, deliberately associating “Western” and “American” with white. No leader at the convention publicly disavowed King’s assertion.
Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) with confederate flag, lower left.Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) with confederate flag, lower left.Still from Sioux City’s KCAU TV.
This is just the latest example of what seems to be a rise in polarizing public language that meets the dictionary definition of “racist”—“having or showing the belief that a particular race is superior to another.” King’s argument is an example of explicit, conscious prejudice, when someone outwardly expresses, through words or behavior, a view denigrating a particular group.
But what explains the fact that police departments are more likely to use force against black suspects than white ones, at a time when so many departments are consciously trying to reduce these discrepancies? What could explain why companies explicitly committed to diversity show racial bias in hiring decisions? Why would caring teachers be more likely to punish black students more harshly than white students?
In these cases, and many others, scientific evidence suggests that we’re seeing the effects not of explicit prejudice but of implicit bias—the unconscious, often knee-jerk prejudices that subtly guide our behavior. 

The distinction between explicit and implicit bias is important, because it changes how we address prejudice in every corner of society, from police departments to schools to homes. If the problem is with racists—individuals like Steve King—then the solution is to identify them and limit their influence. That does need to happen; indeed, after Chief David Brown took over the Dallas police department in 2010, he fired over 70 officers from his force—and excessive-force complaints dropped by 64 percent.
But the new science of implicit bias suggests that the problem is not only with bad apples. Instead, prejudice is a conflict that plays out within each and every one of us.
Since we published the book Are We Born Racist? in 2010—which explores racial prejudice as a neurological and psychological process—we’ve seen more and more research into the automatic and measurable associations that people have about others, and the subtle and unconscious behaviors that these associations influence. In many daily circumstances, automatic associations are natural and harmless. Not so when a police officer pulls a car over for a broken tail light, and the negative associations he has with the face of the driver can produce deadly results; or when a black defendant’s facial features can make a jury more likely to give him the death penalty.
Last summer, Greater Good published a series of articles by researchers and law enforcement officials about how to reduce the negative influences of implicit bias in the criminal justice system. But this research isn’t just for cops and judges—it can help all of us to understand how our brains work and why we are not as different as we might like to think from a police officer who shoots an unarmed suspect.
Indeed, the fact that implicit bias occurs outside of our awareness but affects explicit behaviors—from whether we pull a trigger to how we judge a resume to how we discipline young children—can deeply threaten our self-image. If I have implicit bias, does that mean I’m not really committed to fairness and equality? Am I, at a deep and unconscious level, actually a racist?
The answer is both yes and no. We all carry prejudices within ourselves—and we all have the tools to keep them in check.

From explicit to implicit bias

When we think of “racists,” our minds conjure up people like the San Francisco police officers who were recently caught using racially derogatory words in text messages, or perhaps politicians like King. Their pronouncements shock many of us with their old-fashioned racism, in which people’s out-group attitudes are conscious, explicit, and openly endorsed. This type of racism was characteristic of majority group members’ attitudes up until around the 1950s—and today it does indeed appear to be undergoing a vocal revival in public life.
What current discussions about implicit bias recognize, however, is that a great deal of contemporary racism comes from people who say they don’t want to be racist.
Evidence of this tendency emerged when negative attitudes or stereotypes became publicly frowned upon in the 1960s and 70s, and many people felt social pressure to not get “caught” saying something that sounded racist—an extrinsic motivation that many have labeled “political correctness.”
This formulation implies that egalitarian behavior is not real or truly felt, but rather, a social grace to mask an unacceptable attitude. As many supporters have said about GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, he “says what nearly everybody thinks, but is too fearful or polite to say.” This conception makes someone like Trump sound “honest,” but by implication, suggests that those who speak up for egalitarianism are being somehow “dishonest.”
Things become even more complicated when a person (or institution) sincerely values egalitarianism yet engages in some kind of behavior that nonetheless betrays bias. Many studies find evidence of anti-black bias in pain-killer prescription and other kinds of medical treatment. One study found that job applicants with stereotypically African-American names were less likely to be invited to be interviewed. And, despite the avowed commitment of the courts to “justice for all,” the connection between criminal sentencing and race is well documented. 

For many people, the very possibility that they too might get caught saying one thing but doing another is extremely threatening and aversive. That threat, in fact, has a name: aversive racism. It refers to the type of racism in which a person’s implicit biases are so out of line with their conscious values that social situations where they experience this conflict—such as interracial interactions—are something to fear and avoid.
In a 2008 study, for example, white participants who were about to discuss racial profiling with a fellow study participant who was black literally sat further away from them, and this distance was not predicted by their level of racial bias. Instead, it was predicted by their fear of being perceived as racist. In these kinds of situations, we create a self-fulfilling cycle of negative racial interactions—and to avoid them we may avoid contact with different kinds of people altogether.
This dynamic, ironically, can deepen racial segregation and inequality.

Did we evolve to be racist?

These behavioral findings have counterparts in neuroscience.
We often hear descriptions of the brain’s limbic system as our “reptilian brain” that responds to environmental cues with the same level of sophistication as an alligator. Lightning quick and outside of our control, the limbic system has been called the seat of our fight-or-flight responses, perfectly adapted to the eat-or-be eaten environment of our early ancestors. A central player in this prehistoric narrative is the amygdala, a pair of almond-like structures that form part of the limbic system. Early findings that the amygdala responds strongly to fear conditioning led to the view that the amygdala is the structure that sets in motion the fight-or-flight response.
Researchers like Elizabeth Phelps and Mahzarin Banaji wrote a significant chapter in our understanding of implicit bias when they found that faces of different races trigger different amygdala activation in the brain, and that there’s a relationship between levels of implicit bias and amygdala activity. These findings have fueled a conception of implicit bias as not only unconscious and automatic, but also as biologically determined—part of our ancestral heritage. The implication there is that our only hope is to contain it, but never realistically to overcome it.
Newer research—often by the same people—is beginning to challenge the core assumptions of this narrative. Once again, the amygdala plays a central role. Scientists are beginning to recognize that the amygdala, rather than responding exclusively to negative or fear-inducing stimuli, instead seems to be exquisitely sensitive to emotionally important information in the environment. This is a subtle but important difference, and suggests that depending on the task or the situation at hand, the amygdala may be able to respond differentially.
In one study, researchers found that the amygdalae of participants activated at levels consistent with how negatively they rated a set of faces, in line with prior findings. However, amygdala activity was also related to their judgments of the positivity of faces. And when they judged faces using a scale that was anchored by both positive and negative endpoints, the amygdala tracked the overall intensity of the responses. In other words, the amygdala is more than just a “fear” center, and its activation doesn’t necessarily indicate prejudice.
In another study, researchers had participants engage in a face-sorting task in one of two different conditions—either by race, or by membership in teams that included people of different races. Interestingly, the amygdala did not only track race information—it tracked the socially relevant membership (team or race) depending on the social task in front of participants. This tells us that the amygdala is not necessarily pre-wired to detect race information, but rather, to track and respond to the category or social grouping that is most relevant at a given time.
Rather than contradicting an evolutionary narrative, however, these findings merely challenges us to think a little more broadly about the usefulness of categorization even in early times—we may have had to quickly recognize a member of an “out-group” on the basis of race, but it would have been just as helpful to quickly track whether an individual of the same race as us was part of a nearby enemy tribe. When we consider that “in-group” versus “out-group” distinctions don’t neatly fall along racial categories, we can begin to consider that race is not a biological inevitability, but a social construction with social significance that our amygdala tracks.
In other words, if the brain adjusts to quickly process information that is deemed as socially relevant, it may be within our power to redefine what is socially relevant. And, rather than needing to squash or cover up our base biases, perpetually caught in a Freudian tug-of-war between Id and Superego, the current view opens the possibility of redefining our social environment so that it doesn’t need to track race as a socially significant marker.

Six ways to stop the racist in you

What are the implications of this new way of thinking and conceptualizing brain function for our understanding of prejudice—and of how can we use it to limit our own biases?
At its most basic level, this new understanding of the brain reveals it not as a layered organ showing the layers of our evolution, as might layers of sediment in a canyon. Rather than thinking in terms of dualistic structures—primitive/evolved, emotion/thought, limbic system/neocortex—we are coming to understand that the brain is much more interconnected than previously thought.
But beyond this understanding, these new findings show that our automatic processes (including our implicit biases) are not unchangeable, and that we can learn new behaviors that can become second nature.
An everyday example shows how this is possible. Consider that not one of us is born learning how to drive, and yet by the time many people are adults, we find ourselves not even thinking about it even as we expertly maneuver the car. One day, with practice, egalitarianism might be like driving a car: a skill learned over time but eventually so automatic as to be second nature.
So what are the tricks that you can use to stop the racist in you? There are many, of course, but here are six to consider that follow from the scientific insights we describe.
  • Consciously commit yourself to egalitarianism.
  • But recognize that unconscious bias is no more “the real you” than your conscious values. You are both the unconscious and the conscious.
  • Acknowledge differences, rather than pretend that you are ignoring them.
  • Seek out friendship with people from different groups, in order to increase your brain’s familiarity with different people and expand your point of view.
  • It’s natural to focus on how people are different from you, but try to consciously identify what qualities and goals you might have in common.
  • When you encounter examples of unambiguous bias, speak out against them. Why? Because that helps create and reinforce a standard for yourself and the people around you, in addition to providing some help to those who are the targets of explicit and implicit prejudice.
Those are steps you can take right now, without waiting for the world to change.
But this research has implications that go well beyond the personal. The split-second reaction of a police officer who shoots an unarmed black man might not be very different from your own. Instead of asking the question of whether a person is or is not racist—because we’re all a mix—we can turn to thinking of the ways in which we might engineer our social environment to address racism and its worst effects, without believing that any one step will be a blanket fix.
Knowing that bias is part of the structure of our minds we can ask, for example, how can we change policing so that the results of bias are less deadly? How can we address economic inequality between different groups so as to reduce the stress on communities that are historically the targets of racism? What can school districts do to make sure teachers come in daily positive contact with different kinds of people, and receive training in techniques to help them consciously reduce unconscious bias?
There are many fronts in the campaign against bias, both implicit and explicit, but they all have one thing in common: us. We are all potentially part of the problem—and we can all become a part of the solution.
This essay was revised and updated by Smith from a piece by Mendoza-Denton and Amanda Perez in the journal Othering & Belonging, published by the UC Berkeley Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

Why Can’t We Remember Our Early Childhood?

By Jeanne Shinskey

Research into "childhood amnesia" sheds light on how memories are formed and maintained.



Most of us don’t have any memories from the first three to four years of our lives.
In fact, we tend to remember very little of life before the age of seven. And when we do try to think back to our earliest memories, it is often unclear whether they are the real thing or just recollections based on photos or stories told to us by others.
The phenomenon, known as “childhood amnesia,” has been puzzling psychologists for more than a century—and we still don’t fully understand it. But research is starting to suggest an answer: Autobiographical memory might begin with the stories we tell each other.

The journey into language

Denis Omelchenko / Shutterstock
At first glance, it may seem that the reason we don’t remember being babies is because infants and toddlers don’t have a fully developed memory.
But babies as young as six months can form both short-term memories that last for minutes, and long-term memories that last weeks, if not months. In one study, six-month-olds who learned how to press a lever to operate a toy train remembered how to perform this action for two to three weeks after they had last seen the toy. Preschoolers, on the other hand, can remember events that go years back. It’s debatable whether long-term memories at this early age are truly autobiographical, though—that is, personally relevant events that occurred in a specific time and place.
Of course, memory capabilities at these ages are not adult-like—they continue to mature until adolescence. In fact, developmental changes in basic memory processes have been put forward as an explanation for childhood amnesia, and it’s one of the best theories we’ve got so far.
These basic processes involve several brain regions and include forming, maintaining, and then later retrieving the memory. For example, the hippocampus, thought to be responsible for forming memories, continues developing until at least the age of seven. We know that the typical boundary for the offset of childhood amnesia—three and a half years—shifts with age. Children and teenagers have earlier memories than adults do. This suggests that the problem may be less with forming memories than with maintaining them.
However, this does not seem to be the whole story. Language also plays a role. From the ages of one to six, children progress from the one-word stage of speaking to becoming fluent in their native language(s), so there are major changes in their verbal ability that overlap with the childhood amnesia period. This includes using the past tense, memory-related words such as “remember” and “forget,” and personal pronouns, a favorite being “mine.”
It is true to some extent that a child’s ability to verbalize about an event at the time that it happened predicts how well they remember it months or years later. One lab group conducted this work by interviewing toddlers brought to accident and emergency departments for common childhood injuries. Toddlers over 26 months, who could talk about the event at the time, recalled it up to five years later—whereas those under 26 months, who could not talk about it, recalled little or nothing. This suggests that preverbal memories are lost if they are not translated into language.

How stories make memories

However, most research on the role of language focuses on a particular form of expression called narrative, and its social function. When parents reminisce with very young children about past events, they implicitly teach them narrative skills—what kinds of events are important to remember and how to structure talking about them in a way that others can understand.
Unlike simply recounting information for factual purposes, reminiscing revolves around the social function of sharing experiences with others. In this way, family stories maintain the memory’s accessibility over time, and also increase the coherence of the narrative, including the chronology of events, their theme, and their degree of emotion. More coherent stories are remembered better. Maori adults have the earliest childhood memories (age 2.5) of any society studied so far, thanks to Maori parents’ highly elaborative style of telling family stories.
Reminiscing has different social functions in different cultures, which contribute to cultural variations in the quantity, quality, and timing of early autobiographical memories. Adults in cultures that value autonomy (North America, Western Europe) tend to report earlier and more childhood memories than adults in cultures that value relatedness (Asia, Africa).
This is predicted by cultural differences in parental reminiscing style. In cultures that promote more autonomous self-concepts, parental reminiscing focuses more on children’s individual experiences, preferences, and feelings, and less on their relationships with others, social routines, and behavioral standards. For example, an American child might remember getting a gold star in preschool whereas a Chinese child might remember the class learning a particular song at preschool.
While there are still things we don’t understand about childhood amnesia, researchers are making progress. For example, there are more prospective longitudinal studies that follow individuals from childhood into the future. This helps give accurate accounts of events, which is better than retrospectively asking teens or adults to remember past events which are not documented. Also, as neuroscience progresses, there will undoubtedly be more studies relating brain development to memory development. This should help us develop other measures of memory besides verbal reports.
In the meantime, it’s important to remember that, even if we can’t explicitly remember specific events from when we were very young, their accumulation nevertheless leaves lasting traces that influence our behavior. The first few years of life are paradoxically forgettable and yet powerful in shaping the adults that we become.

Daily Inspirational Quote for July 29, 2016

“To be alive, to be able to see, to walk….it’s all a miracle.”

I must admit I have been guilty, many times in my life, to have taken for granted the blessings I have, in just being able to see, hear, walk, touch etc. It’s so easy sometimes just to feel sorry for ourselves over something trivial. Perhaps bemoaning the fact that we haven’t got as much money as we’d like, or are as successful as we’d hoped, etc. etc. It isn’t until we read something in a newspaper, hear a comment on the radio, or view a program on the television, about an individual or a group of people who can’t see, hear, walk or are suffering some catastrophe or hardship, that we realize that actually, you know what, we are truly blessed with the gifts we have and should take the time more often just to give thanks for what we do have. I do now.

by CathiBew.co.uk

Street Poets: The Community Cure for a Violent Culture

For twenty years, Chris Henrikson has been using the power of poetry to reach and transform at-risk youths and students in classrooms and on the streets. What started as a writing workshop in a juvenile detention camp with six kids has grown to a program serving over 600 young people a year. At its core, Street Poets offers kids a safe space to open up, tell their stories, and discover and share their gifts. It has also been a way for some to purge difficult emotions and demons so they don't have to resort to violence anymore. The end effect has been felt both in individuals and the community. Henrikson shares stories of transformation and triumph over tragedy in this interview.

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1347/chris-henrikson-the-community-cure-for-a-violent-culture-leslee-goodman/

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Using the Animal Totem Tarot to Achieve Your Goals

Once upon a time, we were all part of the earth. The birds, the animals, the plants, the dirt, and us. We were one family, related, bonded, and each holding a thread to the same ancestral story that is life on earth. During this time we talked to the animals, we looked to them for guidance. We followed in their tracks, both literally and metaphorically. We traveled together, we dreamed together, and we prayed together. Our story was one and the same. But then it all changed. Instead of feeling connected to the world in which we live, many humans disengaged and removed themselves from everything that had once shared their story—including the animals.
 
Not all humans allowed themselves to be disengaged with the natural world. In fact, a handful of them continued in the steps of their ancestors and stayed at one with the natural world, collecting data and telling stories. This body of knowledge has been handed down from generation to generation as a reminder of the way we used to live. As a reminder of our guardianship to the earth. A reminder of our relationship with the plants and animals that we share a home with. The Animal Totem Tarot is merely another chapter in this story once told by the ancestors. Just another chapter in the larger body of knowledge. It is not meant to be different or new or revolutionary; it is meant to extend and expand the reminders of all of those who have come before.
 
The Animal Totem Tarot assists in connecting us back to the life we once lived. It is a reminder that we come from the dirt, that we once talked to the plants. And that the animals, insects, and birds of our world were once much more than just food on our plate. This deck is another story of the past, of a time when we walked with the animals as brother, sister, mother, father, guardian, teacher, companion, spirit, and divine.
 
The natural world beyond the human is so vast and expansive that no singular work could possibly contain it, which is why this deck is merely another chapter in a greater story that will continue to build. More and more people are feeling the need to once again walk in the footsteps of the world in which they once knew as intimately as the body that houses their soul.
 
The Animal Totem Tarot contributes to this field of study in a number of ways, the first being the marriage between animal totem teaching with that of the tarot. This was not the easiest thing to do, especially considering it was crucial to stay true to the medicine of the animal and the meaning of the tarot card itself. As you flip through this deck you will see that we have some special and unique animals in our Animal Totem Tarot kingdom. How many of you are familiar with the energy of the honey pot ant, or the raccoon dog?
 
As you flip through the pages of the companion book you will notice that the information for each card is broken up into a couple of sections. You could say I have created a bit of a hybrid deck. You have the initial oracle message from the animal, then the message as it pertains to the tarot itself. This was deliberate on my part, as I wanted those who have only worked with animal medicine or animal oracle cards to feel at home and comfortable with this deck. I also wanted avid tarot users to feel that they did not get left out when it came time to pick up the cards and do a traditional tarot reading. This hybrid platform allowed me to bring my love of both tarot and animal medicine to the reader in an easy and intuitive way.
 
Let me give you a few examples. For those of you coming to Animal Totems or even tarot for the first time, try pulling just one card a week. In my tarot courses I have my students do this on a Monday morning, for it sets the tone and energy for the week. I make the same recommendation here.
 
Let's say that today is Monday morning. You gather up your Animal Totem Tarot in your hands, shuffle it a few times, and then hold it to your heart and ask this simple question: "Which energy will serve me this week?" Now go ahead and select your card.
 
Some do this by spreading or fanning the cards out and scanning the face down cards until one particular card heats up or causes some sort of sensation in the palms of the scanner's hand. Some merely take the card at the top of the deck. However you select your card is personal, and there is no wrong or right way to do so.
 
Six of Pentacles

For the purpose of this example I am going to say we pulled The Chicken/Six of Pentacles card. InThe Animal Totem Tarot we start with the animal itself. Chickens have fabulous medicine energies to share with us, one of which is about working for the greater good of all—not a bad message for the start of the week. This sets the tone of the next seven days, for you will now be on the lookout for ways that you can be of service so all involved in your world are benefiting, including yourself. For, as chicken lets us know, martyrs end up as dinner!
 
Now let's take a look at the tarot component of this card, the Six of Pentacles. In the companion book for The Animal Totem Tarot you will notice that the card meaning itself is broken up into three categories:
  • Business and Career
  • Family and Relationships
  • Health and Wellbeing
It will be up to you to decide which of these you wish to focus on for the next seven days; I strongly recommend only focusing on one aspect. Let's say you have decided you want to focus on health and well being. The Six of Pentacles is somewhat of a reward card. It lets you know that giving is in the air, and that things are aligning for your greater good. So are you ready for things to fall into place and do you have a support team in place to help you keep track of your personal health and wellbeing wins? Chickens and the Six of Pentacles both offer up solid support, but it is up to you to make sure you harness the energy that this card offers you.
 
To wrap up your one card reading, you can then move onto the journal prompts for this card. These prompts can be done over the course of the next seven days or as part of your Monday morning ritual. You can even use the journal prompts for the cards as mediation triggers.
 
If, however, you are more advanced in the world of animal totems and tarot, I know you will be itching to test this deck on a much larger scale. Here is a spread that you can use both for yourself and your clients if you are already a professional reader. This spread is called the WOOP Spread, and it was designed from the content of Gabriele Oettingen's book Rethinking Positive Thinking and inspired by Brian Johnson's Philosopher's Note on Gabriele's book.
 
WOOP (Wish+Outcome+Obstacle+Plan) is a scientifically studied and proven system to increase motivation and achieve one's goals. In fact, it is considered the most effective way to achieve your goals, dreams, or wishes, regardless of their size. Pretty cool, huh?! I could not think of a better system to turn into a tarot spread. The extra power of the animal totems just puts this idea into overdrive.
 
So, let's get our WOOP on!
 
Now if you want to, you can use the Star Card in this spread as a central significator or intention spot in the reading. I have done this spread with and without the Star, and it doesn't seem to alter the spread at all; I just personally like to have the Star there. It is totally up to you whether or not you include its energy in the reading.
 
Card One: If you are using the Star, this card goes on top of the Star. This card represents the wish, dream, or goal you know is both challenging and feasible for you to achieve in your required time frame. It is vitally important to set a time frame for any and all goals, dreams, and wishes; this form of urgency drives action.
 
Card Two: The is the outcome card, which is actually the benefit card. This card illustrates the benefit of achieving the goal, dream, or wish in card one. This card is actually very important, as the benefit might not be what you expected.
 
Card Three: The obstacle. Now, just so we are clear, this is an inner obstacle, not something outside of yourself. This is a point of resistance, a mental block, or some inner beliefs that you will need to overcome in order to bring said goal, wish, or dream into your experience.
 
Card Four: The if, then plan. This card lets you know how to get around the obstacle. In other words, IF this trigger comes up and the obstacle seems overwhelming, THEN we do this, whatever is in the card. Like the outcome card, this last card can actually alert you to just how well you deal with your inner obstacles.
 
Here is an example WOOP spread using The Animal Totem Tarot.
WOOP Tarot Spread
As you can see, I have the Star card underneath the wish card, but again, you really don't need to add that card if you don't want to. This spread shows the wish has the Eight of Pentacles with the Animal Totem of Mountain Goat. Here in this position we can see that the wish is to be more confident and skilled in one's endeavors. The mountain goat is a master at being surefooted, as this is a skill he has been practicing everyday since his birth. Before long this skill becomes part of the mountain goat's muscle memory, just as the skills you are building will become apart of yours. Confidence and the ability to get things done are attractive qualities, and the Eight of Pentacles lets you know that this wish is all about being in demand and being seen as the "go-to person."
 
The Outcome card lets us know the benefit of achieving this wish, dream, or goal. Here we see the Knight Of Swords with the Animal Totem of the Rook. Rooks, like their cousins crows and ravens, are very clever birds. They are super resourceful and will never come across a task that they cannot complete. The Rook is the improv genius of his family, making do with what is at his disposal. Clever and quick on his feet, this Knight will always be able to deal with whatever challenge is thrown his way with a clear head and a set outcome in mind.
 
The Obstacle card is the Five of Pentacles with the Raccoon Dog as its totem. This is a very interesting card in relation to the Eight of Pentacles. Where the Eight of Pentacles longs to be in demand, the Five of Pentacles feels left out, used, and taken advantage of. This is a big neon sign regarding a huge inner block that needs to be cleared and healed in order to bring this dream into physical manifestation.
 
Lucky for us we have card four, the Six of Swords with the Animal Totem of the Sugar Glider. So the plan is to, when the trigger comes up around the Five of Pentacles, just spread your arms and jump! The Six of Swords is all about the journey. It has no interest in where you came from or where you are headed. It is only interested in where you are right now, in this moment, with your arms spread as you catch some serious air time. This is a great If-Then card. If the trigger becomes overwhelming, remember that it is all about the journey. Move back into journey mode and march yourself back to the bottom of the mountain and take it one step at a time with your trusty Mountain Goat.
 
I just love this spread mixed with the Animal Totem energy, and I really hope you do as well.
 
I would love to hear how you are using the Animal Totem Tarot, so go ahead and join my page onFacebook and drop me a message. Share your pics with me on the page or tag me via Twitter. Let me know exactly how the Animals are sharing their stories, wisdom, and magic with you. As I previously mentioned, this deck is just another chapter in a much larger book—a book to which each and everyone of us is contributing. So, speak up and add your voice to the wild world of Animal Totems and Animal medicine.

Leeza Robertson
Leeza Robertson deepened her tarot practice many years ago after a temporary blindness induced intuitive visions of cards and spreads in her mind's eye. She is a member of the American Tarot Association and runs a monthly group called Tarot and High Tea...  Read more