It’s been a long time since I’ve written a lengthy piece, so please bare with me as I’m a bit rusty and am recently recovered from an injury. This post might be a long one as it’s going to pull from a variety of directions to help get my point across. First click on the images above and read the text. You might even find it resonates with your own life.
I pulled these cards from The Wild Unknown tarot and archetype decks by Kim Krans, on October 21, 2019 and in order to explain them, I need to go back in time. This isn’t the first time my card pulls have strongly aligned with my life. About a year and a half ago, I did an extensive Celtic Cross reading from my Mayan tarot that pointed out some startling alignments about my then health condition and provided strong advice for getting through it. The most poignant message was the revelation of the ancient Maya Ceiba tree being my divine spirit, and that I would be protected even though I would be met with exhaustion from the battle I faced. I was directed towards continuing my creative path and to be of service to others. It also warned of blood, which had to do with a treatment I was contemplating prior to surgery to prevent hemorrhaging. I took notes, photos and proceeded with the message I received. My life has been filled with mystery and unexplained phenomenon so, really, these kinds of messages don’t come as a surprise but are regarded as key indicators of my destiny.
My Jedi (hands-on) training (of continued and relentless derailment)
Two years ago during the fall of 2017, I started this project with a vision to create a healing arts career after leaving a digital design career of 20 years. I changed directions due to spinal compression. Little did I know, that I would be slammed down with a series of health obstacles that immediately threatened this dream; how can one be a healing arts practitioner when ill? In early 2018, I landed in the ER and underwent a minor surgery that took a month recovery. That would lead to a major health obstacle that would land me in the hospital for major surgery in November of 2018 where I would have a tumour and several organs removed. 2018 was all about dealing with pain and suffering and so during that summer, I sought a healing art modality that I could use on myself immediately to help me through the challenge. I chose Reiki and experienced surprising results; you can read about that journey here. I also adopted a forest bathing practice and combined it with Reiki. You can read about it here. After a two month recovery (Feb 2019) and adjustments to major changes in my life, I quickly jumped back on my feet with new found inspiration and launched a handmade resin jewellery line featuring honey bees in resin orbs. Somewhere along the lines I over did it and ended up with an injury; rotary cuff tendonitis. This resulted in a useless and painful shoulder, arm and hand. This also ironically was the result of digital device over use and incorrect posturing (stemming from a past neck/back injury from a kayaking incident in 2002). This is a bit ironic considering my interest and advocacy in digital use implications and went as far as to transcribe a presentation about it. You can read that here. This injury started in April of 2019 and 7 months later, is still an issue for me today. In the last month or two, I managed to resolve the pain so that I can slowly start rehabilitating my arm. I have been warned by healthcare practitioners however that I may not get it back to 100%. We shall see.
Denmark: When things changed
During the summer of 2019, I was invited to go to Europe and see my Italian and Danish heritage. With a crippled arm in tow, I set off for what would become an eye opening and life changing trip.
I arrived to Italy with a virus that I caught on our 14 hour flight and this would plague my trip on and off. The first two weeks were hell and I felt so incredibly resentful considering the amount of money and time that was flushed down the drain. We had waited years for this trip only to be met with THIS. I was however able to form some beautiful memories with my husband on our trip to Italy and Switzerland all the while battling a relentless virus. The trip was met with many other challenges that would later help us to make better life choices, so not all was lost. This trip pushed my physical and mental limits and forced me to quickly shake the anxiety that had taken ahold of me prior to leaving. I was pushed so hard, that it almost felt like I was being tested by something bigger. But, I remembered to warrior up; I have been through a lot in my life and know I am strong.
I spent a month in Denmark more so recovered from the virus, while getting to know the country and meeting my relatives. I saw where my grandparents came from in northern Denmark and where their ashes were spread in the North Sea. My second cousin, Sanne, runs a Reflexology and Qi Gong clinic. She did a reflexology treatment on my feet and put her intention into pain control and healing for my shoulder, arm and hand. My feet and lower legs immediately felt like they were hugged by clouds, it felt amazing. In short, reflexology is a holistic treatment that helps to relieve pain, stress and improve circulation within the body.
This was my first reflexology session, although I had looked into it a year earlier when I was researching Reiki. It felt absolutely amazing. She found sensitive spots and honed in on them. I remember noticing my stomach grumbling during the session, triggered by the points on my feet corresponding to the stomach. She placed small magnetic stickers on the outer rim of my ear – where the reflexology points are located for the shoulder. She also gave me a box of these magnetic stickers to use wherever I needed. I placed them on reflexology points on my hand. I started to learn about reflexology and acupressure on my own while I was in Denmark so that I could better heal myself from pain.
The pain I was dealing with extended from behind my shoulder blade all the way down to my thumb. Physiotherapy didn’t seem to help my pain either. For months, I couldn’t type, hold my phone, write, open cans, chop food or operate much with my right – dominant hand. It was a huge wake up call. So, along with Tiger Balm, these little stickers became my pain arsenal and were permanently stuck to my hand and now, the pain in my hand is gone and the pain in my arm and shoulder has diminished to almost nothing. It took about a month of applied pressure, but don’t forget prior to that, it had been half a year of constant pain with no relief. And so this caught my attention.
While I was in Denmark, I found that I could eat any food without sensitivity reactions like those I had to food in Canada (mostly dairy and gluten). I also started to look and feel better over all. The people in Denmark are amazing and so kind. You have to experience it firsthand to understand, but comparing it to life in Canada is completely different. My anxiety disappeared, I didn’t feel claustrophobic on public transit, on highways or stressed within the cities. Copenhagen was incredible and everyone bikes! And well, I live to ride my bike. What I took away from my time in Denmark is a lesson of thriving. I also learned that there isn’t anything wrong with me or the food I ate there. As it turns out, Denmark is an epicentre for reflexology and I believe it has huge potential in wellness tourism.
I’ve included this quote from the introduction to a scientific paper from the mid 90’s
Reflexology is the most frequently used alternative therapy in Denmark. A descriptive study of 480 trained reflexologists was carried out in Denmark in 1992; of this number, 380 (79%) practised reflexology… The client study indicates that the most frequent health problems addressed to the reflexologists are pain in muscles/body; stomach pain/digestive problems; asthma/bronchitis/allergy; headache/migraine and hormonal problems (Launs, 1995).
Wikipedia indicates that “reflexology is one of the most used alternative therapies in Denmark. A national survey from 2005 showed that 21.4% of the Danish population had used reflexology at some point in life and 6.1% had used reflexology within the previous year” (Wikipedia, n.d., para. 4). Even other wellness companies are noticing Denmark’s success with reflexology. Anupa Wellness states on their website “according to several studies, this practice in Denmark has resulted in reduced sick leave and absenteeism (and significant economic savings for the employers). Employees have consistently reported complete or partial improvement in conditions where they sought reflexologists’ help and even relief for additional problems related to stress. In one municipal district, almost one-third of the employees reported greater satisfaction with their jobs after completing six sessions with a reflexologist” (Foot Reflexology, n.d., para. 7).
My husband being a postal worker here in Canada, means that he is threatened by injury and wage loss from his job. Significant studies were conducted in Denmark and found the following supporting evidence of reflexology on workers in the postal system. “The Odense Postal District employed a reflexologist for 3 years to deal with employee stress. Two hundred and thirty five employees participated resulting in a 25% fall in sick leave, saving £110,000 and 170 employees reported a good impact on their health” (Bennett, 2007, p. 3). Imagine what this could mean for Canada Post workers?! This goes without saying that my husband will benefit from this.
Here’s the thing. I had previously looked into reflexology but didn’t have any first hand experience with it and so I didn’t really value it. After I received a treatment and learned more about it on my own, my perspective changed. I gained my trust in it in Denmark, with a practitioner and family member whom I trust. What I know is that reflexology feels absolutely amazing, and is said to help reduce stress and pain. For example, the conclusion of one 2018 peer reviewed paper states “the study indicates that reflexology can be an effective method for reducing fatigue severity and anxiety in patients with MS” (Ozdelikara, 2018). Studies are also finding that self-treatment of reflexology is a success; “results suggest that a self-foot reflexology massage could be utilized as an effective nursing intervention to reduce depression and stress responses, and to strengthen immune systems in middle-aged women” (Lee, 2006) and “the results showed that self-foot reflexology was effective in reducing perceived stress and fatigue, and raised skin temperature in female undergraduate students” (Lee, 2011). A quick synthesis of scientific articles on Google Scholar commonly suggests the integration of reflexology into various healthcare settings for pain and anxiety management. This mirrors my personal experience and why I continue to use it on myself, and this brings me to the main point, no pun intended.
Before my trip, I felt completely defeated by physical pain and had temporarily given up. I had to surrender, what else could I do. I spent 20 years working as a digital entrepreneur and obtained my MA to better my career. I felt plagued and pressured by inner guilt not to flush it all down the drain. But now, it has become clear what path I am meant to take. Just after arriving back on Vancouver Island, I held my hand up to defeat and said ‘no more’. And with that, I turned my attention to the newly opened door of reflexology and I haven’t looked back. My vision is to create a spa treatment that helps to reduce stress and anxiety and relieve the pain of digital use injuries amongst others. Essentially, I want to use my direct experience with anxiety and pain, to help others. After so much time spent confused and bound by physical pain, I now feel motivated and ready to embark on this path and help others.
Back to the cards. I was drawn to the archetype card of the Dead End. It resonated with me and the write up felt like I was looking into the mirror reflecting the journey I just described. What’s more, I pulled the 6 of wands randomly and is the exact link and continuation to the archetype card I chose. The symbol of the butterfly emerged from the dark branches is me; I am rising up. I had to face these obstacles in order to know and test my healing modalities on myself first hand. I now realize that I had to over come, purge, rid, let go of and to heal from a lifetime of anxiety. Healing is a commitment.
The point of no return
I have reached the point of no return. The ‘point’ can also refer to the reflexology point along with the no return of ill health. But it is also the point at which I have come so far even unknowingly and there is no turning back; a butterfly cannot retreat back into the chrysalis. The gravity of faith will pull me through this, provide me with the courage and strength that I have earned and gathered through my challenges. All of what I have done, studied, and endured will now come together for this. For a time I was at a cross roads contemplating my path; continue studying the implications of digital technology at the PhD level or jump into the healing arts field to help others. The truth is that my body cannot sustain a PhD at this point; I cannot endure the long hours of computer work anymore. My body needs continuous healing, and so the answer is clear. I remember having this conversation with my relatives in Denmark and knew then that I was close to knowing. My goal is to become a healing arts practitioner. I am committed and will do what it takes to achieve this, including returning to Denmark to refine my practice as it is so strongly upheld and practiced there. I will work ethically and in balance with my own health. Ultimately, I will learn from my mistakes, anxieties and pain; they have all been critical teachers on my healing journey. I begin my reflexology training on November 8, exactly one year after my life changing surgery.
Confronting fear is the destiny of a Jedi – Luke Skywalker
Side note: The feature photo is of me holding a wild monarch butterfly while I was in Toronto Sept 2019. I arrived just when they started their long departure to Mexico.
Bennett, S. (2007). Published Research into Reflexology. An abridged collection of published research from Denmark, Germany, Britain, China, Switzerland and the USA. Retrieved October 24, 2019, from https://www.holibrium.com/reflexology_published_research.pdf
Foot Reflexology Anupa Wellness. (n.d.). Retrieved October 23, 2019, from https://anupawellness.com/foot-massage-reflexology
Launs, L. (1995). A description of reflexology practice and clientele in Denmark. Retrieved October 23, 2019, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0965229995800735.
Lee, Y. (2011). Effects of Self-Foot Reflexology on Stress, Fatigue, Skin Temperature and Immune Response in Female Undergraduate Students. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing(2011),41(1):110. http://dx.doi.org/10.4040/jkan.2011.41.1.110
Lee, Y. (2006). Effect of Self-Foot Reflexology massage on Depression, Stress Responses and Immune Functions of Middle Aged Women. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 36(179). doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4040/jkan.2006.36.1.179
Ozdelik, A. (2018). The Effects of Reflexology on Fatigue and Anxiety in Patients With Multiple Sclerosis. Alternative therapies in health and medicine, 24(4). Retrieved October 23, 2019, from https://web.a.ebscohost.com/abstract?
Reflexology (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved October 23, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reflexology