Photo courtesy Oriane Lee

Folk U: Creating a Compass for 2021

January 22, 2021 Folk U Radio 101 Show:  Creating a Compass for 2021 with Oriane Lee Johnston. 

Oriane Lee explains these elements for creating the compass and her process. Listen to the podcast to learn more or read her notes below. 
Wayfinding tools meditation, Tarot, horses; plus the Emerging Future process

Buddhist Meditation – The Brahma Viharas.  The Four Heavenly Abodes of The Heart 

  • Lovingkindness (Unconditional friendliness)
  • Compassion (True caring in the face of suffering)
  • Joy (Inner happiness or sweetness)
  • Equanimity (Composure, calm-abiding)

These correspond to the four directions and the four elements, the four aspects of a human, and the Tarot suits:

  • Lovingkindness            West Water Heart Cups
  • Compassion North Earth Body Pentacles
  • Joy South Fire Spirit Wands
  • Equanimity  East Air Mind Swords

How to begin to practice using these qualities?

One way is to notice when the opposite arises in us, both toward ourselves and toward others: Lovingkindness –– Unfriendliness / coldness / rejection.  Compassion –– Judgement / cruelty.Joy –– Depression / despair / hopelessness. Equanimity –– Drama  / reactivity (being triggered).

A simple approach is to breathe into the heart, and allow the discomfort of these “negative” states. Then imagine the “antidotes” (the Brahma Viharas). This, of course, is not easy, and a life-long practice. The real point of meditation is not feeling better in that particular moment, but in the accumulation of practicing over time that cultivates these divine qualities of the heart.

I have found that this meditation has, indeed, changed the neural pathways in my brain, for example:From the experience of isolation to connection.From left-out-ness to belonging.From anxiety to love.
Two more qualities arise from this practice:  Gratitude, which then leads to Generosity. 


Tarot Archetypes that appeared in most readings from this time last year, 2020:

TOWER –– crumbling of what is outdated and no longer relevant, both personally and in society. The chaos and loss that always precede wholeness and coherence.  Time of purification. DEVIL ––liberation from the oppression of power hierarchies and systemic prejudice. Dismantling of old conditioned patterns of thinking and behaving; a new paradigm of values and ethics. DEATH –– leaving past forms, with new ones emerging. Snake shedding its skin.

These three archetypes reflect the seismic shift from instability, chaos, uncertainty, loss, letting go––to––renewal, freedom, unity, wholeness.

For 2021. When I shuffled the cards this month, to reflect the year ahead, three cards popped out:

The path ahead: JUSTICE / ADJUSTMENT – a time of re-orientation and recalibration inside ourselves to changes in the world. 

The landscape, our community and beyond: SIX OF CUPS – Heart-centered. Whole-hearted reciprocity. Sharing.

Mobilizing energy needed: PRINCE OF DISKS (KNIGHT OF PENTACLES in some decks.)  Put our principles into practice, day-to-day. Do the practical work of moving forward in accordance with our true values and sense of purpose.  “Walk that talk”. 

Manda chooses a card, right now, for FolkU this year:  THE HANGED MAN. Surrender and resurrection. Surrendering to more-than-human-wisdom. Realizing it’s not all up to you, the human person. Not being a martyr for a cause, but allowing the coalescing and emergence of new forms, and ways of being, through, FolkU.

During the break, musical interlude, several people phoned in with a private question for the tarot cards.


The Brahma Viharas are a valuable practice because the energy field of the human heart is 60 times stronger than the brain. So these heart meditations can, indeed, change your brain in a positive way. 
Now consider this––the energy field of a horse’s heart extends five times further than the human heart.  So when a person gets close to a horse, the energy fields of their own heart and brain come into a state of coherence––that’s why being around horses feels so good. Omar and Raven have been my “stable” (pun intended) and devoted friends through this pandemic and dark winter time.