Monday, October 24, 2011

Nine of Pentacles

This is a beautiful card depicting a woman standing in what looks like a garden of contentment. Abundance radiates from every aspect of the imagery. She is wearing rich robes, and a falcon is perched on her hand. The vineyards are bearing an abundance of ripe grapes. In the distance is her castle flanked by lush gardens. In the foreground a snail slowly makes his way across the card.

It was the nobility who indulged in falconry. To train a falcon took plenty of time, money and space. They were not in “survivor” mode like the working class, and had the means to dedicate themselves to the finer things in life. Things like wine-making and falconry. As the image in the card depicts, the nobility had the luxury of leisurely pleasures that such activities would bring them. With a slower paced life they could enjoy the fruits of their labour.

However, the snail in the card also reminds us that this did not manifest overnight. It took great planning, patience and dedication to plant and nurture the vineyards to the point where they were heavy with ripe grapes, ready to be barrelled in preparation of a good wine harvest. It takes approximately 5 years from planting to nurture a vineyard to this point, and another 3-4 years in the barrel where the grapes ferment and slowly become a really good wine to enjoy later on. About 9 years in total before that first glass of delicious wine can be enjoyed.

The number 9 on the card implies that the manifestation is almost complete, that this which has been worked for has almost reached the point of manifestation. However, there is still a bit to be done before the lady in the garden can enjoy the first wines from her vineyards.

Herein lies today’s lesson. In order to reap the rewards of our efforts to manifest what we work for, we need to put a great deal of planning, time and dedication into it. Space to grow, just as the grapes on these vineyards grow. Patience that time alone teaches us, planning so that we can visualize the desired outcome long before it manifests, and dedication towards working at what we desire to manifest.

Contentment too comes slowly, often when we have slowed the pace down enough to see opportunities and to appreciate the blessings that we have in our lives. It takes appreciation for what we have and who we are before we can taste the good wine of contentment. Nature is abundant to the point of waste, but unless we are able to slow down for long enough to appreciate and notice the abundance already present in our lives much of it goes by wasted and unnoticed.

So, we need to take the time to appreciate our abundance and good fortune in life, we need to slow down as the snail does to see these, but to get there requires good planning, discipline and patience so that we too can all drink from the good life harvest.

The proverbs that comes to mind is: “Good things come to those who wait” and “take time to smell the roses.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Nine of Swords

A figure sits upright in bed, her face covered with her hands. Above her, in the dark, hovers nine swords. Her legs are covered with a quilt that is decorated with red roses as well as the zodiac & other planetary symbols. The wooden bed has a carving of two figures, one on the attack and another on the defence.

This is a card that conjures images of nightmares and fears. However, the swords that are suspended in the air above the figure suggests that these fears are all still “up in the air” nothing is concrete or solid yet. Perhaps many of the fears that cause her sleepless nights are conjured and not quite based in reality. However, be that as it may, fear itself is a very real thing, as most of us are only too aware.

The roses motif on the quilt as well as the planetary and zodiac symbols speaks of secrets, and in this case the secret lies in knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are, for in doing so we learn about who we are. Once we understand our weaknesses we are better equipped to take practical steps to address these, and in some cases we are even able to turn a former weakness into a strength.

In the card the fearful figure sits in darkness, as she imagines all these swords above her. It is therefore necessary for us to move from the darkness of the unknown by admitting our weaknesses so that we are able to turn them into strengths or at least so that we are better prepared when faced with challenges. An honest self-examination is needed where aspects of ourselves that were formerly in the dark or a “secret” can be revealed and dealt with appropriately. Once we know ourselves we can cast a light on things that were previously in the dark, and gain clarity and understanding. In the light things seem a lot less threatening than what they can seem to be in the dark.

The two figures carved into the bed further reinforce the need for us to choose whether we will allow our fears to dominate us, or whether we will dominate our fears instead. If we allow our fears to rule us while we are shrouded in darkness we will surely succumb to our nightmares. Instead, we could be the other figure in the carving that is proactive and dominant, the figure that represents having overcome his fears and faced his weaknesses along with his strengths by throwing the cover of secrets off and closely examining himself with honesty and courage.

The astrological symbols on the quilt shows us that there are many aspects to ourselves that we still need to discover and understand. But, in understanding these lies the comfort of self-knowledge and preparedness. Just like a warm quilt offers comfort and shelter on a cold evening, self-knowledge offers clarity and the comfort of confidence in our abilities to face challenges that may come our way. But most importantly, by learning who we are, we dispel illusions that can create darkness around us so that we are always surrounded by the light of knowledge. It is then less likely that we will have sleepless nights, conjuring fears based on the unknown that can torment us and cause us to become fearful and weak.

Once we have eliminated the dark and seen that there are no swords hanging above our heads,  we can relax and get a good night’s rest knowing that we are well equipped with self-knowledge of our strengths and weaknesses. It is then that we can draw the quilt of comfort over us as we prepare to rest.

“Men soon the faults of others learn

A few their virtues, too, find out;

But is there one—I have a doubt— 

Who can his own defects discern?”

Sanskrit Proverb

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Four of Pentacles

We are living in such interesting times as we observe the civil protests of Americans against the policies of greed on Wall Street and in other locations across America. The relevance of today’s card in light of the greed that threatens to consume us is only too obvious.

This card depicts a man clutching a pentacle to his chest in a greedy gesture, in doing so he holds his heart at ransom. Another pentacle hovers above his head indicating that his focus and attention is on nothing other than his wealth, it drives his every motivation and thought. He has stacked a pile of coins beneath his feet on which they stand, elevating him “above the masses” as it were, almost as if his money renders him higher than the citizens of the city that lies in the distance behind him and from which he has turned his back and removed himself. It also implies that he is in bondage to his wealth as he dares not lift his foot in the event that he will no longer have control of the money that he holds.

What a terribly fearful way to live… Greed. Greed serves no-one but itself. It is an all-consuming monster that lurks within each of us and can easily consume us if left unchecked.

Mythology tells us the story of a man who paid a dear price for allowing his greed to control him. This man was known as Midas. He was a good man, a kind man who took pity on an elderly satyr asleep in his garden. Midas let him go without punishment. As a reward for his good deed the god Dionysus granted him one wish. Midas did not take time to consider what to wish for, had he done that he might have chosen something different… Instead he immediately asked for everything he touched to turn to gold. And so it was.

His beautiful garden turned ridged as it turned to gold, he could not eat or drink as that too solidified and turned to gold. And finally his beloved daughter who ran to him in loving embrace turned into a golden statue. Midas was grief stricken and begged the god Dionysus to relieve him of his curse. The god took pity on him and once again granted his wish. Thereafter Midas became poorer than he had ever been but so much happier.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with wealth, money in itself is not the root of all evil. It is in fact a wonderful instrument that – when used generously and wisely – can contribute to the happiness and fulfilment of many lives. It is greed, the uncontrolled urge to accumulate riches at the expense of others for no reason other than self-centred superiority that is the root of so many problems. It is when our greed becomes our motivating force that we put profits before people as the elite few on Wall Street have done to the average 99% of Americans today. This is evil and this is what we need to guard against.

Generosity of spirit is what we want to develop within ourselves instead, not only generosity with our worldly possessions, but with our time and our attention too.

I was watching a lecture about the Mayan Calender this weekend, in which it was stated that the age we live in now is the age in which ethics must and will overthrow the structures of power. I think we are seeing the manifestation of that now as we look around us at the current affairs of the world today. Greed mongers are being named and shamed by the masses who are no longer afraid to protest against unethical practices. The world is increasingly becoming outspoken against the illegal and greed-driven practices of the elite few trampling the rights of the average many. We see this too as humanitarians take matters into their own hands and demonstrate this in their actions while they speak out against countries like Israel in their treatment of the suppressed people of Palestine.

The time is now to re-evaluate and redefine what represents wealth in our world. Is it the unchecked accumulation of ill-gotten gains at the expense of others? Or is true wealth better defined by how we share ourselves and lend our support to those less fortunate than us to create a more ethical world to live in, for all.

Mahatma Gandhi said it best when he said: “There is enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The Chariot

Standing high on his chariot being pulled by two sphinxes, this man radiates power, success and accomplishment. He is “on top of his game” as it were. In preparation of this instalment of Tarotelic we decided that he reminds us a lot of Ramesses II of Egypt, and here is why.

Ramesses fought the Hittites in the battle of Kadesh. Both the Hittites and Egyptians extensively used chariots in their battles. Chariots at the time were the best weapons, and only the best of the best became charioteers, much like today’s special forces. Both sides claimed victory but it was in fact a stalemate, resulting in a very clear definition of their borders and balance being restored once again. When this stalemate was reached in their battles an agreement was reached about where the borders of Egypt would be. This resulted in a situation where it was no longer necessary to fight or challenge one another any more. The black and white sphinxes depicted in the card symbolize the balance and equal victory that was achieved by both in the signing of the world’s fist official peace treaty.

Ramesses expanded Egypt to the strongest it had ever been and was also renowned for being a great builder. Many monuments were built and erected under his reign. In the Chariot card we notice many tall buildings in the background, behind a high wall that could represent a defined border.

Imagine if the two opposing sides did not concede that an impasse had been reached but pushed ahead instead in an attempt to defeat one another. This would most likely have led to defeat and ruin for both. In this lies today’s lesson that The Chariot card brings us.

To be victorious in our pursuits in life we need to acknowledge our limitations and then we need all our “horses” to be pulling us into the same direction. If we are instead pulled into different directions in pursuit of success we will soon find that we are getting nowhere very fast. This would lead to self-defeat and non-accomplishment. In order to ensure that we are well on our way towards claiming victory we need to know what direction we are going to be pursuing, and we need to make the necessary compromises or concessions to enable us to travel forward in our chosen direction. Pride and bullheadedness instead may very well trip us up when what is required is for us to know our limitations and to respect our boundaries so that we can conquer new territory within these in our personal pursuits. Because there are certain things in life that do limit us that we do need to accept rather than oppose at our own peril. Once we move beyond pride to see the bigger picture we can recognize that victory can be claimed within the limits that we have set or accepted for ourselves. It is then within these safe boundaries that we can build our proverbial empires and monuments, to become as successful as what we are willing and able to.

When we know that all our resources, abilities and instincts are working together to steer us in a common direction towards achieving our goals, we can surely be fearless as we stand aloft in our own self-driven chariots on a path towards glorious success.

I’d like to share with you an old occult riddle called the Riddle of the Sphinx:

What creature goes on four legs in the morning, two at midday and three in the evening? The more legs it has the weaker it is.

The answer of course is the human! Man who crawls as a newborn on all fours, walks upright on two legs as an adult and requires a cane in old age when his legs are weak.

There is a season for all things in the average lifespan of mankind. To know our strengths and to know our limitations will greatly assist us as we move from stage to stage in the unfolding of this glorious journey on earth.