Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Exploring New Spaces and New Skin

I often feel like the incredibly fortunate pawn of an unusual force-more than benevolent, this one's a softy. Each new life stage and one-up seems to fall into my lap with just the slightest effort from me.

It occurs to me though, that each easy-out had directly followed a traumatic shove straight out of a comfy nest. So, maybe hyper-benevolence is in the eye of the beholder.

It's hard to grow when you're comfortable. Or maybe the cause and effect are backward-like a snake getting itchy in too-tight skin, or the rosebud getting desperate to burst open. If you're comfortable you aren't growing. Which isn't to say that putting sandpaper in your bra is going to automatically mean dramatic epiphanies. Although there was, and still is, a whole school of thought revolving around physical discomfort, bodily mortification, leading to heightened spiritual states, I think I pray better in my comfy jeans...and meditate better in less.

I think the difference between feeling like the universe is a harsh teacher, inclined to put you on the rack to force the issue of growth, and feeling unreasonably lucky at the way new opportunities drop out of the sky has more to do with what end of the equation you're focusing on. If you believe that the end of one thing automatically means the beginning of the next, and physics does seem to back that up, then why stare back at the shut door? You might miss your next stop on the cosmic train.

But isn't this the same old question: Who's more realistic, an optimist or a pessimist? Moot point if you ask me. I'm concerned with who's happier and more successful, particularly in terms of what matters most, in the long term. Does anyone really think gloom and doom win that race?

Those moments of free fall, of wriggling out of your skin with it all wrinkled up around your face so you can't see the beautiful new one emerging, that's the scary time. What kid doesn't remember the horror of feeling trapped in a shirt? Those are the times that I reach for my tarot deck.

In that light, it may seem like a security blanket, and it is, if you can equate squinting desperately in pea soup fog to try to figure out where you're going to a security blanket. Because that's what it's about: wanting to know where I'm going next as soon as possible! And accepting that the universe doesn't always want me to know is part of the territory. The tarot is like a metaphysical GPS: a map and a phrase book all-in-one to the sometimes-skeevy neighborhood that is my subconscious. And like any good guide, a lot of the advice applies to any place. Except instead of warning me to carry my money in my front pocket and be aware of my surroundings, the message is always, think positive, trust the Universe.

People who make use of the tarot rarely concern themselves with what makes it work. What do you think makes it work? Evil voodoo spirits? I'm pretty sure I'm the one shuffling the cards, laying them out, and then feeling my way around a vast array of symbolic, archetypal connections, synthesizing dozens of interpretive approaches, most of which don't speak simple English, down to a few choice sentences about what would best behoove me at the moment. What I'm getting at is, if there's any magic in these beautiful decks of cards, I'm it. And I'm not at all hesitant to say that there is magic. In the cards, in me, in the ocean, in the sunset, in a heavy cleansing rain or a dry, crisp afternoon.

We all know more than we know that we know, which may be why we get so hung up on pretending to know things that we don't know. Or perhaps we do know those things, and on some level we know that we know, so even though we can't get to that knowing, we insist that we know, because we know that we do. The tarot is the key to the back door of your mind, and though coming in through the dark cellar is a sure way to trip over some long-forgotten memorabilia and scare yourself silly with odd sounds and shadows, you're ultimately a lot more likely to find what you seek there then in the well-lit, better-curated rooms of your mind that have been carefully trained since the age of five to fit and function in the well-greased niche society has for it.

I'm pro-tarot, pro-crystals, pro-Reiki, pro-dream interpretation, pro-anything that helps you know who you are better, because ultimately the search for who you really are will lead you to the divine. We of Judeo-Christian descent, belief-wise, say this is because we are made in God[dess]'s image. Those of a Hindu/traditional yogi/Buddhist bent will say it is because we ARE God, because ultimately reality is all One, all Divine. Take your pick. Isn't it all the same?

With that said, I'll pick one card from my goddess tarot deck (I'll do Waite-Smith next time), offer my interpretations, and leave the question open-ended. What do these images say to you? Don't blame me if you end up further down the rabbit hole than you intended! And don't worry; you'll have a guide.

And here she is! The lovely Nine of Coins, or Pentacles, if you prefer.
The nine of coins is traditionally a card of prosperity and success: if your goals aren't already accomplished, they are well on their way there, and any obstacles that have arisen, or may arise, are, or will be, well in hand. In that spirit, another traditional meaning associated with this card is a well-earned vacation or other deserved recreation. The woman in the card has worked hard to bring her crop of coins to fruition, and now the branches behind her are heavy with fruit. She lays a casual hand on one, perhaps plucking it for her own enjoyment, and perhaps merely testing it for ripeness: if not today, soon. Her gaze is lifted to the white bird descending to her hand. She is not concerned with her earthly garden anymore. She has put in all the hard work necessary, and now she can turn her gaze to higher, more pleasant, or perhaps as the white color suggests, more pure pursuits, instead of the tawdry day-to-day affairs of getting by.

I'm applying these things to mean that I've done a fine job explaining what the tarot is, and defending it from the more common attacks made against it without alienating or judging anyone in the process. I don't assume that everyone is convinced; but everyone who was ready to be convinced is. I can safely turn to the more fun job of exploring the cards, just like we're doing now! I can also end this post soon and give myself some well-earned recreation and sleep! The card may also be referring to the fact that I've got that old skin all but sloughed off, and though things may look uncertain, I can relax. The Universe will do the rest of the work, bringing the fruit I worked so hard to grow to full, sweet ripeness. The time has come to turn again to my spiritual development.

Yay for me! You can have all sorts of fun figuring how those traditional meanings apply to your life, but don't neglect the most powerful interpretation method of all: forget everything I said, and just look at the card. What strikes you about it? A color? Single tiny detail? What about the girl and the bird? How are they feeling? What are they thinking? Take your time. Have a conversation with these characters. Fully explore without reservation any possibility. That is when your subconscious speaks.

Let me know how it goes!

Live Omily,
~em

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