11/7/2022 0 Comments
Pondering at the Precipice
I hear tell, and it feels like it too, how many folks are saying we're (humanity) right up to a grand denouement. Doesn't matter the context or perspective, they all are saying the same thing. The piper's gotta be paid, he's been playing for a really long time and he's not cheap. In other words, big changes afoot now. I have my sets of changes in my little personal circle; who doesn't? Perhaps my own cautionary tale can illuminate yours. Word to the wise: take illumination where you find it!
You may have noticed I'm doing a lot with Tarot lately. Even though I must have first picked it up about 50 years ago, it's just this year my engagement with it has deepened significantly as I understand the power is not within the cards themselves but they serve to bring up our deeper stories (and please include Jung's Collective Unconscious and Joseph Campbell's reminder of mythic and cultural ancient tales). To borrow and adapt astrologer Steve Judd's phrase, the cards don't compel, they impel. Here's how I impelled myself this morning after waking to the remarkable rainbow above. Here's the cards I drew.
Here's the set up, a two-card spread from Sheilaa Hite called I AM.
Left-hand card is "Who I Think I Am," right-hand card is "Who I Really Am."
I'm using the Waite Smith Rider deck as I can freely put the images here. I also have a fondness for it.
My question is "how can I reframe my self-narrative to be my truest self as I evolve through age?
Following is how I tell the story the cards bring up for me.
I think I am “done for.” Old narrative, in place for many years: the world becomes real for me through my hands. Many years. Truth is, my hands no longer function in the ways I'd become so accustomed to and certainly relied on (meaning took for granted). That “truth” increasingly an irritant provoking anger at my poor hands as the problem wasn't me. Of course.
So now what, is it all finished and over? Of course not. The rest of me says it's too late to stop as “we're just getting started!” Clearly, whoever the person was, in this 10 of Swords image, is done, finished and quite over. If you don't catch that from the main image itself (swords along the spine from stem to stern), the number 10 and the primordial black cloud under which nothing moves give big hints. Swords bring the energy of discernment and judgement, understanding what is and what isn't true. Clearly this is the mindset I'd been using, Who I Think I Am.
But guess, what, here's the answer to the question in the 2 of Wands and Who I Really Am. A person (ok, me) stands in between two poles of living wood. Isn't this the very nature of transition, to move from one pole to another? I stand on the precipice, gazing out over what's to come, holding on with one hand to the past. And what's in the other hand? Oh, simply the Whole World! And look, ready to be grabbed is another pole of “arbor vitae,1” ready to lend support in the future. Numerology reminds us 2 is the beginning of movement as we start to move beyond the self. Wands evoke new ideas and growth, initiating change. Gazing out over a grand vista, where land and sea meet with the world in hand, well, there's a lot of potential!
You may ask why the sky here in the 2 of Wands is not a pleasant uplifting blue if this is such a nice scene evoking hope? I think that's because it's still early days here and nothing's decided. Grey is the middle ground, neither light nor dark. It's up to the individual to carry on and discover how the sky lights up over time. I personally find a sense of comfort and security in the warm brown of the poles and the clothing. That's where I see hope in this card in this moment. Remember, not compelling but impelling, we all have a big say in what and how we do our lives.
So the answer is, it's literally and figuratively in my hands how I move into what's to come. It will be different, that's for sure. One of the nice things about the “A-word” (Ageing) is the wealth of wisdom won through experience (no matter where you are on your trajectory). Once we've figured out some things about how life works for us, we put that knowledge in place as guiding navigation. And if we're somewhat smart and a bit lucky, this program holds us in good stead for many miles, recalibrating as we learn. And isn't that a trap we can easily fall into? We're so invested in that original program script we lose suppleness of response to sudden plot twists. Eventually a big enough storm comes along to seriously challenge our equipment and operating systems. How easily can you bend, crouch and stretch mind and body to compose that new story?
I'm working on mine!
1 Clearly not species Thuja, I'm using the phrase for its “tree of life” meaning.
Looking at the 9 of Water: Manifestation, from The Body Tarot by Emma McArthur
Current and popular use of “manifestation” seems to be within the context of abundantly geeting what you want, especially without really having to work for it. Or it could simply be wishing for something other than what one has/is at the moment, and please let it be here now! Manifestation, from the Latin manifestus: palpable, clear (etc). So yes, bringing or coming into existence, as in I want to manifest more dollars in my bank account. Nothing wrong with that, but let's look a little deeper and see what else is under the surface.
Ms McArthur's suit cards are illustrated with pips rather than evocative images. No pictures worth a thousand words but each card does in fact have a prompting keyword. Decks of yore bore pips, does that mean our Tarot forebears ascribed simple, un-complex significance to the minor arcana? I personally doubt it, although that is the way in which I choose to imagine the answer. Tarot historians and scholars may have something quite different to contribute and I do welcome continued conversation on the way to discovery. Nevertheless, in the here and now, individual subjective response to cards is more the fashion, especially as I assume most of us use decks fully illustrated. Here's what I've got.
The Body Tarot1 is an ambitious work, integrating Tarot with Traditional Chinese Medicine precepts. Suits are transformed from four elements to five, leaving out court individuals to avoid an unwieldy number of cards (again, my assumumption). Chinese cosmology names five fundamental elements, Wood Fire Earth Metal Water. Pairing up Cups and Water is a no-brainer, right? So how does Manifestation fit in? We have the old adages You Are What You Eat and You Are What You Think. What an easy slide into You Are What You Feel. Ooh, and just ahead is Be Careful What You Wish For! Manifestation, in its most powerful aspect, comes from within. And what is within? Why, simply the sum of who we are: acting, eating, thinking and feeling humans. Manifestation is truly a reflection of ourselves, much truer than any mirror.
Why is Manifestation linked with the nine of pips here? Humans' primary relationship with numbers is with the base ten scheme as in two hands, five fingers each. It's how we're built. Our ancestors, premier storytellers they were, originated narratives of progression through numbers, describing human spiritual experience and development. Nine, in the penultimate place, is the stage wherein all has been experienced and it's the moment of truth. One has hopefully learned enough to sufficiently and successfully navigate this threshold in order to graduate to the next cycle.
Nine of Water, Manifestation, then is about what comes forth from the totality of yourself. What have you wrought and is that indeed your Truth? Make it a good one, make it your Best!
1 Published 2022 by CICO Books of Ryland Peters & Small Ltd, London and New York. Website accessed 10/28/2022
Here's the Nine of Cups from the Smith Waite Rider deck. The Body Tarot is copyrighted and I don't have permission and it's simply the pips anyway. This individual here is quite all set in the quantity manifestation category, isn't he?
10/19/2022 0 Comments
A-Mused by The Fool
Understanding, Knowing, even Owning the Tarot's Wisdom comes through all our senses and deepens through time experience. It's less intellectual nimbleness and more immersive experience of an otherworldly realm. As my own Tarot experience ripens, I pulled one card from the Majors to help me along in the journey. And as it so often happens, who's surprised at what card shows? I take Fool's hand and we head toward what's to come.
Many believe what is going to happen will happen anyway. There are some who say we are all victims of ourselves (and yes, what was once a clever quip eventually came home to roost, believe me). You might gather I allow for both determinism and free will. I'd say one of the major arts of life is wending your way among both, much like Fool. To what degree are any of us able to effectively oversee ourselves? How broad, wide and dispassionate are our perceptions? How clearly can we tune into our wholistic story?
It's said history belongs to the victors; they're the ones who get to tell the story. If we understand anything about the Tarot, we get that it accommodates multiple congruent stories and universes. By tradition, Fool starts and/or ends the Major Arcana group, essentially bookending his or her (or your!) own story. That makes sense, doesn't it? We're there when we come to life and when we depart. Fool is assigned the number “0,” a symbol worth a thousand words if there ever was one. “0” contains All, all we ever know, ever do, ever believe, ever experience.
MJ Cullaine's Guardian of the Night deck brings us the Fool's scene as a tableau set in the natural world. A wolf intently approaches a rabbit on a frozen pond. The ice is beginning to give under wolf's weight, rabbit is well-supported for the moment. Wolf's attention is on rabbit, not really on personal safety. Rabbit, as they so often appear to me, is at once impassively quiet yet intensely present to the moment. So which represents Fool here? Wolf ventures into potential danger, awareness otherwise directed. Rabbit has let danger come close in an exposed environment, no refuge in sight. Yes, rabbits are extremely adept at bounding away in a flash, but in the moment we're shown, that flash is not nigh. There is no hint of clear victor, no definitive outcome clearly sussed to be set in the stone of history's story. And isn't that the point? “0” never ends, it has no real shape, it encompasses All. More about personal safety later.
But isn't “0” empty? You may well ask. Here's how some of our smarty-pants ancient ancestors thought about it (we know this from the Old Ways of thinking and creation explanations). Preceding existence there is a state of all potential, albeit totally undifferentiated. Think of a miasma without any substance that contains all the raw materials and plans for Everything that could possibly Be. Anything could happen, no holds barred, and by golly, something does happen. Something Becomes. Let's leave the conversation about whose, if indeed there is even a whose, intention drives Becoming for another time. I think I'd need to go into training for that one and I'll need some lead time. Anyway, a world, a universe, a multiverse, a whatever precipitates out from this emptiness, this apparently empty state of all potential. So, yes, if you're talking beans to be counted, an absense of beans is zero and “0” serves. But if you're talking Tarot, “0” is the Fool stepping out into that vast undifferentiated place of all possibility. It only seems empty to our human senses (seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching – more later on this). Smith Waite Rider's Fool is classically at the precipice in mid-stride. Ciro Marchetti's (Tarot Grand Luxe) Fool steps out into an empty flat expanse. Coincidently Marchetti's Fool looks down from the heavens upon him/herself, adding an interdimensionality I just love.
This same Tarot Grand Luxe Fool wears an elaborate headdress. That got me looking at what was happening regarding Fool's heads in the other decks, wondering about symbolism pointing to extra sensory perceptions. Sure enough, SWR's Fool sports a jaunty red plume and there are Little Red Riding Hood-worthy ears in Guardian of the Night's Fool (especially rabbit's ears, of course). ESP, all the “-clairs” (clairvoyant, clairaudient, claircognizent, etc) help us humble humans a bit more deeply sense the true nature of “0.”
And this image of gazing down upon oneself, overseeing how and who we are from a different perspective. Illuminating, isn't it, like catching a glimpse of yourself reflected in a window across the way. At once embodied and en-spirited, here and there. The Rider deck's Fool has an air of simultaneous self and not-self. Even the great Tai Ji symbol (yin/yang) presents unity and duality. We assume we know what's going to happen and sometimes we do get lucky, riding on the Wheel of Fortune. How often are we surprised at the turn of the wheel (and so events)? Many ask: is there not an ever-shifting entire new universe born each moment as the old one passes away, all within the span of a breath, a heartbeat? Think about what stories humans tell about evolution, how changes come about through generations of DNA and of humans, even the simple party game Telephone. How those stories ride changing tides of human beings! Some stories update frequently, some hold steady through time.
Before I forget, a few words about personal safety, one of our deepest primal instincts. Something (we may or may not understand what) draws The Fool ever onward, even beyond the cognizant thought of keeping life and limb intact. Fool at the precipice, Wolf on thin ice. Whenever I've been at the edge of a vast space, there's been an unexpected draw, a quiet but steady idea of how nice it would be to join the vast power within the apparent emptiness. Niagara Falls, Kilauea caldera, an out-cropping near Whiteface Mountain. Clearly I declined the invitation, but they were compelling moments wherein a conscious choice was needed. Is it the attunement to a beckoning call from power spots that is The Fool? Ulysses never stood a chance with the Sirens.
Change and same, they interact more intimately than yin and yang. The persistence of morphologies and memories. The rhythms of Gaia's spin. Is the Grand Canyon but a toddler or an ancient crone? By what measure? The Fool glides eternally through change as the same, yes? So each succeeding moment, thought, action is creation in action (another concept well-known to the Ancestors, no new news here), doesn't that mean we need to bring our own creativity in kind? You are your own performance artist after all.
And this is how the Fool A-Mused me for a while.
Linda S Davis
Sometimes I have fun pushing thoughts and words around.