Monday, April 16, 2012

Ten of Wands


The most striking thing about this image in the Universal Waite deck is the heavy burden that the central figure is struggling to carry, it seems almost too heavy to bear. In the background we see a village, symbolizing the community that he is serving, and the ploughed fields that testify to the progress of his labours.

The historical figure that came to mind when we started discussing this card at first seems like a very unlikely match to the card, but the more we discussed this the more it seemed to fit her so well. Today we will focus on the story of Mother Theresa.

Mother Theresa chose to serve the poor people in India. A country where Catholicism didn’t have a large following, compared to the two major religions there of Islam and Hinduism. She must have often felt completely over burdened by the difficult task ahead of caring for the poor in a country where so many people are poor. She was already at a disadvantage, being Catholic, not to mention the realities of every day life under the caste system. The injustices and inequalities that she witnessed on a daily basis must have often caused her to feel as if she was fighting a loosing battle.

As if her task wasn’t overwhelming enough, she admitted towards the end of her life during an interview with TIME magazine that she had sought in vain for the presence of God, she looked for any evidence of God in the desperation that she encountered every day in India. She continued this search for the last 40 years of her life, in vain. For 4 decades she had secretly lost her faith in the God she served, yet she persisted to do what she believed to be God’s work. She worked tirelessly amongst the poor to care for them and to give them a sense of belonging, something that many of them had not had before.

She uplifted the poor in her continued compassion for them, and by giving them an identity. Finally they too ‘belonged.’ Bearing in mind the inequality of the caste system, she empowered the poor by giving them a sense of self-worth in the knowledge that they mattered very much to her. Even though they were impoverished for life, many of them were deeply and personally touched by her compassion for them and became spiritually wealthy as a result.

Through her hard work, despite often being overburdened and possibly overwhelmed, Mother Theresa uplifted her community through service and unconditional love.

Recognition came in the form of a Nobel Peace prize, but perhaps more importantly, her name has become synonymous with compassion.

Re-examining the Ten of Wands card one can only hope that this figure too reaps some reward for his tireless efforts as he too serves his community in what appears to be an overwhelming task.

Many beautiful quotes have been attributed to Mother Theresa, but the two I wish to share with you today is this:

If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one, for love begins at home, and it is not how much we do... but how much love we put in that action.

Five of Swords


This card speaks of dishonourable gains, and thus the story of Helen of Troy and the Trojan Horse comes to mind.

According to Myth Helen, queen of a Greek king, left him for someone named Paris of Troy. Helen was the most beautiful woman ever created, and her husband the king was enraged! The Greeks got together under the leadership of Agamemnon and laid siege on Troy to recover Helen from her lover, Paris. It is however widely believed by historians that this was an excuse to invade Troy motivated by greed for this was a very wealthy city indeed. Wealth that the Greeks coveted for themselves.

After 10 years the Greeks had still not conquered Troy, so in an act of deception, they decided to leave a wooden horse outside the city as a ‘gift’ from the gods. The Greeks disappeared in their ships leaving the horse behind. The Trojans, firmly believing that this was indeed a gift from the gods, brought the horse inside the fortified city, not realizing that it concealed Greek soldiers inside its belly. Once inside the city of Troy the Greek soldiers snuck out and opened the city gates, a signal for the other Greek soldiers to storm the city from the outside. The result was that Troy was conquered.

It was such a bold and cleverly deceptive strategy that in today’s modern world some computer viruses are named after this false gift, the Trojan. These viruses will apparently sit in-waiting on our hard-drive, undetected, sometimes for months before crashing our system.

The lesson that today’s card brings warns us to be wary of false gifts, of people who give with one hand but take with the other. Such people may have the ability to make us feel ‘important’  by appealing to our ego or vanity, but the danger is that they often have ulterior motives and will ultimately betray us. We would be wise to be more discerning about whom or what we invite into our lives, as none of us want to be visited by a Trojan horse!

While there is great wisdom and truth in the words of Eleanor Roosevelt who said: You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with courage and with the best that you have to give, we each have been blessed with the gift of discernment, a gift that we should remember to use when the little voice within cautions us that all is not as it seems. We most certainly do not walk through life in a state of perpetual paranoia, afraid that everything and everyone is ‘out to get us’, no, but we act wisely in the selection of our friends and energies that we invite into our lives.

If nothing else, today’s card impresses upon us the importance to heed that little voice within, and to trust our intuition, even when – by all outer appearances – the gift we are offered may seem sincere and genuine. No harm can come from discernment, if anything we have been given this ability to protect what we hold dear from those who come bearing false gifts.

In closing I’d like to share a quote by Jonathan Lockwood Huie who said:

Smile at the riddles of life, knowing that life's only true lessons are writ small in the margin.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

King of Cups


When Napoleon Bonaparte arrived in France in his early childhood, the French Revolution was in full swing. Peasants had wrestled control away from the nobility, and everyone was addressed as ‘citizen.’ The former hierarchy was no longer recognized. In fact, if former nobility referred to themselves by their noble titles such as Baron or Judge instead of merely ‘citizens’, they were sent to the guillotine. Anyone who thought themselves better than the ruling class were executed. The problem with that was that this began a sort of witch-hunt, people were being round-up and executed based on rumours and corridor-whispers, often as the result of envy or malice. This led to the execution of many innocent civilians during this period. Even Maximilien Robespierre, one of the founders of the revolution, had his head chopped off for not towing the line! In short, anarchy ruled.

Someone needed to step-up and take control of this downwardly spiralling situation. That person was Napoleon. He brought back law and order and was very charismatic, gaining a huge following in the military as well as in the civilian population.

The French Revolution was a very emotional issue for many, and Napoleon brought this back into normality, creating stability where before people were reacting from an emotional basis in their ruthless executions of so many who were perceived to consider themselves ‘better than’ the masses.

It was under Napoleon’s influence that France became a dominant world power in Europe.

The Kings in tarot are generally indicative of having achieved a certain control of the element in question. King of Cups is a solid individual who has gained control of his emotions through experience and wisdom. Today’s card therefore focuses on the realm of emotions, and prods us to examine whether we have become the ruler of our emotions yet, or whether they still rule us.

In support of this in today’s Tarotelic segment I’d like to read an important poem by Rudyard Kipling, called “If.”

IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;

If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings 

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: 'Hold on!'

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

' Or walk with Kings - nor lose the common touch,

if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,

And - which is more - you'll be a Man, my son!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Six of Cups

There is a playful element to this card, but there is also a slightly sinister aspect too; an issue from the past that we thought we had dealt with can present itself when this card appears.

Every now and then something from the past revisits us, sometimes turning our world upside down and sometimes forcing us to re-examine things in a whole new way.

This is the astounding tale of a fish known as coelacanth (seel-uh-kanth) that was thought to have gone extinct with the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago. Unexpectedly one such fish made its appearance in fishing nets off the coast of South Africa in 1938, and it was very much alive! Fondly referred to as ‘Old Four Legs’ and the ‘Living Fossil’ the coelacanth quickly became the continuing obsession of journalists, biologists, scientist, explorers, aquariums and divers.

The coelacanth fascinated the world and ignited a debate about how the bizarre lobe-finned fish fits into the evolution of land animals.

According to National Geographics, Many scientists believe that the unique characteristics of the coelacanth represent an early step in the evolution of fish to terrestrial four-legged animals like amphibians.
The most striking feature of this "living fossil" is its paired lobe fins that extend away from its body like legs and move in an alternating pattern, like a trotting horse.
Despite initial reactions that this was a hoax or a once-off wonder, a community of these coelacanths was discovered near the Comoros Islands near South Africa and another in the waters off Sulawesi, Indonesia. Studies in the Comoros suggest that only about a thousand remain there, and are today considered an endangered species.

Here’s the thing that we have to ask ourselves though, did evolution stand still? This fish should have evolved onto land many millions of years ago. Why didn’t the coelacanth evolve? But more importantly, based on these findings we have to ask ourselves whether there are other prehistoric dinosaurs or ‘monsters’  like the Loch Ness for example around today? For all we know there are living, fire-breathing dragons lurking deep beneath, just waiting to be discovered. Yes, there is the playful element of the card rearing it’s head again, but in light of these findings it is not all that inconceivable any more, is it?

Sometimes things come back from our past. Things that we have forgotten about or that we thought we had dealt with, often these turn our world upside down, or forces us to look at things in a whole different way.

This card reminds us to allow playfulness into our lives, but it also prompts us to ponder whether those issues we thought were dealt with for once and for all have really been laid to rest. There are times, as Carl Sagan said, that we have to know the past to understand the present.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Tarot Taxi

Come join me on my new blog! Tarot Taxi covers all tarot-related topics, including techniques to improve our tarot readings, news from the world of tarot, and so much more.

'Passengers' are welcome, just follow the blog! :)

Tarot Taxi - A hitchhiker's guide through the Tarot (and other tit-bits)

Monday, March 19, 2012

Death


The Black Death, or Bubonic Plague, swept through Europe like a wildfire. It originated in the east, and was carried to Europe on the trade routes where infected sailors arriving on ships brought the plague to European ports. From there is spread into Europe killing about a third of the population. Entire villages were completely annihilated by the plague.

 As gloomy a tale as this is, there was also a positive aspect to the plague. After the plague disappeared Europe entered an era of economic boom. Due to the shortage of labour – many of whom had been killed by the plague – peasants could charge for their labour, and were compensated, whereas before they worked for next-to-nothing. With the new boom, new ideas started blossoming and this introduced new perspectives into their world.

The plague was indiscriminate. It did not target specific groups, and nobody was immune to the long, black fingers of death. Almost everybody lost someone to the plague. Endings came to all, nobility and peasants alike, regardless of how prepared they were. However, in the end Europe came out stronger than it was before.

The plague also caused many peasants to question their religion for the first time, they became untrusting of their religion when ‘God’ had failed to protect them or come to their aid as the Black Plague swept through their villages, killing off a third of the population. The church suddenly no longer enjoyed subservience and obedience from the peasantry, and thus had to have a heavier hand in the suppression of its people. As a result of the questioning of their faith, movements and sects started to form and the church saw large flocks of members moving away from the church to towards these different sects as people were looking for more than the church could offer.

It does not matter how well prepared we are, sooner or later tragedy strikes us all. It is how we deal with it when it happens that is important, so that we can emerge stronger on the other side. When tragedy strikes we react, which is very normal. It is however wise to keep some measure of check on our reactions, we need to know when to stop grieving so that we can open the next door presented to us and step through it to into a new phase of our lives. Because with endings come new beginnings too, and this is in essence what the Death card addresses. Endings of all sorts, be it the ending of our current employment, our relationship or the physical death of a loved one. We should not stop living because we have lost someone or something, we should take the time we need to grieve this loss, yes, but then we should focus on lifting ourselves again to step over the next threshold to embrace the new things that life has in store for us.

As gloomy as the imagery on the Death card appears to be with bodies lying everywhere, a priest begging in vain for mercy while Death rides through on his steed; on the horizon the sun is rising. A bright golden orb of warmth and hope starts to dominate the sky again. Signalling new beginnings in the aftermath of the endings that Death brings.

Growth almost always comes from death and endings. Some things are forever changed, cures are found, prayers refined and people forge on towards the next chapter in their lives.

In closing I’d like to share a wise quote by Joan Borysenko, who said:


“The question is not whether we will die, but how we will live.”  

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Knight of Wands


When this card appears in a reading it can mean that relocation is imminent. With relocation comes change and challenges, but there is much that is positive about this too.

Ibn (pronounced Iben) Battuta, born in 1304, was a Muslim from Morocco. He wanted to travel to Mecca, a pilgrimage that is required in the Islamic faith. This was long before steam trains and many other means of transport was available. Ibn’s only mode of transport at the time was by foot, on camel or horse back, or by sea on one of the explorer vessels.

He travelled a distance of about 75,000 miles, lasting 29 years. A journey that he started at the age of 21.

His travels took him from Morocco, up and down the coast of Africa, to Egypt, Arabia, Russia, India and finally to China before he made his way back to Morocco again. During his travels he dined with nobility and peasants, he became super wealthy and lost it all again, he had encounters with pirates, kings and everything in between. He even managed to evade the black plague.

In short, he led a full life in the act of relocating from one area to the next. Doing what was unheard of for the time, and never pausing for long enough to allow the fear of the unknown to thwart his efforts. If Frank Sinatra knew him he would surely have dedicated his son ‘My Way’ to Ibn Battuta.

Many of us are intimidated by change. Relocating from our familiar surroundings, be that our home or our job, our state or even our country can be a frightening and intimidating experience for most of us. However, we could take a page out of Ibn’s book and LIVE the experience instead of shying away from it. We will collect gems along the way, and we will lose some along our travels. We’ll meet people from all walks of life, many of whom will add riches to our experience. By welcoming change and the occasional prospect of relocating when the opportunity arises we effectively are welcoming the act of momentum into our lives rather than the inaction of stagnation. This movement can come in many forms, breathing new life into our relationships for example, by taking action together and welcoming change can be one such way. Imagine taking our relationships to another level where we allow ourselves to embrace the possibilities that placing one step in front of the other on a sometimes-rocky road. This can give us joint purpose and a meaningful shared experience. Instead of shying away from the ‘rough patches’ in relationships, holding onto one another’s hands and trusting that our partner will pick us up when we fall, dust us off when we eat dirt, and that we will do the same for them. For, the road isn’t always rocky or perilous, there will be times that we will share a sunrise together and bask in its glow, happy that we have someone to share the moment with. Other times when we feel joyfully overwhelmed by the sheer richness and beauty of the journey.

When the Knight of Wands appears for us as it has done today, we might want to ask ourselves what aspects of our lives we could inject a bit of momentum into, banish stagnation from, and even welcome the challenge and change that the motion of action promises us.

In closing, I’d like to share a quote by George Meredith:

“A human act once set in motion flows on forever to the great account. Our deathlessness is in what we do, not in what we are. “

Or, in the words of Richard E. Byrd:

“A static hero is a public liability. Progress grows out of motion.”

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Two of Cups


Upon initial examination of the Two of Cups it seems to be a love story, a story of partnership and equality that appears to be protected and embraced by a blessing from above. This inspires me to link the card to one of the greatest love stories ever told.

The Taj Mahal meaning ‘crown of palaces’ is a white marble mausoleum located in Agra, India. It was built by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

In 1631, Shah Jahan was grief-stricken when his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal, died during the birth of their 14th child. He so loved his wife that he built her the most beautiful tomb ever erected, to honour her even in death. The emperor’s grief illustrates the love story traditionally held as an inspiration for Taj Mahal. Mumtaz Mahal’s tomb is the central focus of the entire complex of the Taj Mahal. The principal mausoleum was completed in 1648 and the surrounding buildings and garden were finished five years later. Emperor Shah Jahan himself described the Taj in these words

Should guilty seek asylum here,

Like one pardoned, he becomes free from sin.

Should a sinner make his way to this mansion,

All his past sins are to be washed away.

The sight of this mansion creates sorrowing sighs;

And the sun and the moon shed tears from their eyes.

In this world this edifice has been made;

To display thereby the creator's glory.

A longstanding myth holds that Shah Jahan planned a mausoleum to be built in black marble across the Yamuna river. It was suggested that he was overthrown by his son before he could build it. Ruins of blackened marble across the river in Moonlight Garden seemed to support this legend. However, excavations carried out in the 1990s found that they were discolored white stones that had turned black.  A more credible theory for the origins of the black mausoleum was demonstrated in 2006 by archaeologists who reconstructed part of the pool in the Moonlight Garden. A dark reflection of the white mausoleum could clearly be seen, befitting Shah Jahan's obsession with symmetry and the positioning of the pool itself. This black pool and the reflection of the white Taj Mahal in it would have perfectly demonstrated the duality in this love story. The living and the dead, the light and the dark, the masculine and the feminine, the yin and the yang. The physical and the spiritual. One could almost be forgiven for relating this reflection of partnership back onto the card in which two large wings hover above the couple, as if blessing their union in this world and beyond. This echoes a verse in the Bible that says: What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.

Soon after the Taj Mahal's completion, Shah Jahan was disposed of by his son and put under house arrest at nearby Agra Fort. He spent the last 14 years of his life imprisoned there, but with a view of the Taj Mahal from his window. Upon his death he was buried in the mausoleum next to his wife. They were together again, even in death.

The Two of Cups. A card that tells us the story of perfect balance, equal partnership, and speaks of honour in relationships that can transcend even the physical. 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Queen of Pentacles

Queens in the tarot, get things done.

Toady I’d like to speak about a woman of great power and influence who had a good head on her for finances, health and many other matters. A woman who got things done.

Catherine The Great of Russia inherited a mess when her husband, the emperor, died. Russia was a poor and struggling country. A smallpox epidemic in Siberia wiped out some 20,000 people, and Catherine came to believe that reducing its terror would be a great step forward for her people. So at considerable expense she recruited the services of Dr. Thomas Dimsdale of England, the most famous inoculator of the day.

Catherine wanted herself and her son to be the first inoculated, to prove to the people that this was a safe and effective procedure. Dimsdale wanted to try his skills with some commoners first, since he was not fully certain that Russian smallpox would behave like the English versions. His attempts were not successful, and Catherine felt that she must take matters into her own hands to establish the credibility of Dimsdale and his work. So on Oct. 12, 1768, she was inoculated. She developed a light case of smallpox but was fully recovered by Oct. 28. And to disprove the popular idea that taking pus from a donor patient would kill that patient, she herself donated pus for inoculation of several members of her court. She and they all survived and inoculation quickly became widely accepted.

In taking these steps Catherine The Great did wonders for public health. She enforced inoculations and oversaw the creation of hospital and health care that previously had been reserved only for the nobility. It was under her reign that the common people too could begin to benefit from these systems.

She was also very instrumental in creating education for the masses. She felt that her subjects were rather backward at the time, much of it as a result of poor education. Here too she uplifted her people as she enabled them to receive an education that was previously unavailable to them.

It is said that Catherine The Great had a great many lovers, and that she was sexually manipulative. Her bed-partners were keen to remain in her favour and therefore made themselves available to further her ambitions towards change for the people. In return, she generously rewarded former lovers for their favours, often maintaining this even after dismissing them.

In the period that she ruled, she made changes and really managed to get things done. A great many improvements were made to benefit her subjects, nobility and commoners alike, due to her vision of improvement and even her strategies in achieving these.

Today this card brings us the following lesson: While there is no harm in enriching ourselves we should always try to find ways to share and help our fellow mankind too. We sometimes make the mistake – however nobly - of donating monies to far-away-charities like feeding children in Africa, for example; however we often fail to notice that our own neighbour, our own people or someone close to us, is starving.

I’d like to end today’s segment with a quote by Sam Levenson:

“For Attractive lips, speak words of kindness.
For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.
For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.
For beautiful hair, let a child run their fingers through it once a day.
For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone.
People, more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed. Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of each of your arms.
As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”  


Source: http://www.heraldextra.com/lifestyles/article_52f0024b-e7e6-526f-9b10-04fdc159b3c1.html

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Eight of Swords


This card depicts a woman loosely bound, her hands behind her back. She is blindfolded and is flanked by 8 swords pegged into the ground. It speaks to us of restrictions, but also of the ability to break free from restrictions.

Spartacus was a Roman slave who was sold for a gladiator. A grim fate indeed. Yet, he refused to remain captive and broke free. This encouraged other slaves to break free and to join him in the largest slave revolt in Roman history. The Roman threw everything they had at him yet he remain undefeated and in fact defeated his enemy in battle for a year. He was finally defeated through trickery and superior Roman forces.

Spartacus could have remained a slave, instead he chose to break free. In the process, he provided inspiration to many other slaves, some of whom joined him. Approximately 70 gladiators managed to free themselves when Spartacus broke free.

As he started defeating the Roman forces who were sent after them, he so inspired other enslaved men that approximately 100,000 slaves also broke free to join him in this defiant act. Spartacus somehow managed to feed and shelter his men as he led them into one battle after the next.

Although Spartacus was eventually defeated by the Roman Crassus, history remembers Spartacus, not Crassus, for the inspiration that he gave to so many slaves.

Sometimes when we break free from bad habits, or a corrupted system we inspire other people to do the same. If we can stop ourselves from accepting defeat when we are faced with restrictions that we have the ability to free ourselves from, others become inspired, reasoning if we could do it so can they!

The woman in the card who has her hands bound behind her back and who has been blindfolded can free herself. She need only want to. Sometimes we find it easier to wallow in self-pity or despair instead of taking a stand and releasing ourselves from the restrictions. When this card appears we might want to ask ourselves whether there is some aspect of our lives in which we feel bound or restricted. If so, now is the time to consider liberating ourselves instead of accepting our lot or misery. It is within our power to do so.

In closing I share with you a quote by C. JoyBell, on breaking free:

“When I was little and running on the race track at school, I always stopped and waited for all the other kids so we could run together even though I knew (and everybody else knew) that I could run much faster than all of them! I pretended to read slowly so I could "wait" for everyone else who couldn't read as fast as I could! When my friends were short I pretended that I was short too and if my friend was sad I pretended to be unhappy. I could go on and on about all the ways I have limited myself, my whole life, by "waiting" for people. And the only thing that I've ever received in return is people thinking that they are faster than me, people thinking that they can make me feel bad about myself just because I let them and people thinking that I have to do whatever they say I should do. My mother used to teach me "Cinderella is a perfect example to be" but I have learned that Cinderella can go fuck herself, I'm not waiting for anybody, anymore! I'm going to run as fast as I can, fly as high as I can, I am going to soar and if you want you can come with me! But I'm not waiting for you anymore.” 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Two of Swords


A long time ago, when it was still believed that the world was flat, there lived a man named Ferdinand Magellan. Like the figure on the two of Swords card, Magellan needed to make a choice – blindfolded in a sense – with no guaranteed outcome. A choice that would require a huge leap of faith, given the times he lived in.

Magellan decided to sail around the world, without any knowledge of what may await him or his crew. To not do so, I imagine, would have been to choose an almost certain fate in mediocrity.

Against all odds this man Magellan convinced a crew to join him as he set off to become the first person to circumnavigate the earth.

He and his crew were met with many challenges. Most of his crew did not survive this dangerous mission, and yet, they chose to face the dangers of the high seas, and the possibility that they might fall off the end of the world, in order to challenge themselves and change the world as they knew it.

All choices have consequences, and today’s card reminds us of this. When faced with a choice we seldom have guarantees regarding the outcome, but we do know that all choices have consequences.

The consequences for Magellan and his crew was that many of them would not make it, many would die in the attempt. But, Magellan made it, he succeeded in being the first person to circumnavigate the world, a victory that would not have been possible without a huge leap of faith on his part, and a willingness to face whatever consequences arose from his choice.

Our daily choices may not necessarily be as dramatic as Magellan’s was, but we occasionally find ourselves in positions where we really do not know what the outcome of our choices might lead to. It is at times like these that a leap of faith is needed as well as a healthy understanding that we need to be prepared to live with the consequences of our choices.

The figure in the card is blindfolded, she is flanked by two swords, a decision or choice must be made and she cannot begin to see the outcome of either. Yet, the only way out of breaking this deadlock is to take the plunge and chose one or the other. Even the wrong choice is better than no choice.

If we think that we do not really have choices to make every day, consider this:

After we choose to get out of bed in the mornings, we choose to either approach our day with dread or desire. How do we choose to project ourselves onto our world today? Do we tackle the less-desirable or difficult tasks that we have left for last, or do we get them out of the way first? Do we choose to live in appreciation of the beauty that surrounds us, even on the subway or in the concrete jungle of our cities? Do we choose to frown or smile at strangers. Have you ever noticed how much better that first cup of coffee tastes in the morning when you sip it with a song in your heart rather than a black mood stifling your thoughts?

If nothing else, today’s card reminds us to make conscious choices though our day, without guarantee of reward or outcome. One never knows what a difference even a small positive gesture can make to someone who crosses our path, however briefly. Like Magellan’s it may even change someone’s world for the better.

In closing we could do as William Blake suggested in Auguries of Innocence: We could choose to:

To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Empress


The Empress is the archetypal mother. She who nurtures, feeds, embraces and loves us. She who honours the interconnectedness of All.

Metis was a goddess of wisdom, a divinity worshipped long before Zeus and the Olympians. She was Zeus’ first consort and it was predicted that she would have two children, a daughter with courage and clarity equal to any man, and a son, ‘a boy of all-conquering heart, who would become king of gods and men.’ When Metis became pregnant, Zeus feared that the child she was carrying was the predicted son who would unseat him. He therefore tricked her into becoming small and then swallowed her.

As it turned out the child she was carrying was not the son, but the daughter, Athena, who emerged out of Zeus’s head, as a full-grown woman. Athena had no memory of her mother, and considered Zeus her sole parent.

Metis, as divine feminine wisdom, was indeed swallowed by the patriarchy, and disappeared from the Western world. The myth reflects what happened historically as successive waves of Indo-European invaders, with their warrior gods and father-based theologies, subjugated the people of old Europe, who for 25,000 years had followed mother-based religions and developed peaceful, culturally advanced civilizations that were unstratified, agricultural and egalitarian. Because their cities were unfortified and exposed and because they lacked military skills, they were conquered by the horse-riding, sky god-worshiping invaders who imposed their patriarchal culture and religion on the defeated people.

The Goddess became the subservient consort of the invader gods, and her attributes and powers were absorbed or came under the domination of a male deity. Even the power of giving birth or creating life, which had been the natural realm of women and the Goddess, became co-opted, and the sky gods now created life through their words and will, or gave birth through the head.

Women forgot her, thus resembling Athena, who was born as a fully grown woman out of Zeus’s head, with no recollection of her mother Metis. Like Athena, most women are daughters of the patriarchy, who have recognized the divinity only of God the Father. Women have not (until recently) remembered a time ‘when God was a woman.’ Lost to memory was the existence of God the Mother, the Goddess, the feminine face of God. In the last few decades, ‘Metis’ is re-emerging and being remembered In a contemporary women’s journal, Women of Power, this renaissance is described:

The ancient spiritual voice of woman now speaks its long-hidden wisdom and becomes an active force for the conscious evolution of the interconnectedness of all life; the awareness that everything has consciousness and is sacred; the re-membering of our selves as sacred beings, and the loving of our psyches, bodies and emotions; the empowerment of women and all oppressed peoples; the creation of world peace, social justice, and environmental harmony; the activation of spiritual and psychic powers; the honouring of women’s divinity; and reverence for the earth, and the celebration of her seasons and cycles, and those of our lives.

Thus The Empress card today serves to remind us to recollect and to honour our connection to spirit, to the earth and to one another. As the great mother nurtures all, we too – men and women alike – should reaffirm our commitment to these feminine qualities, our intuition, our natural urge to birth and nurture life in our projects, work and relationships so that this archetypal goddess of wisdom may once again find a home within each of us.

 From: Gods in Everyman, by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Tower

The Tower card often evokes fear, simply because it warns of a sudden, often destructive, change.

In biblical times mankind built the tower of Babel in an attempt to reach God. God did not approve and devised a plan to stop them. Overnight He changed the language that they communicated in, making it impossible for them to understand one another, all attempts at communication were wrought with misunderstanding and frustrations. They were therefore unable to complete the task. Thus the Tower of Babel became symbolic of man’s fall from grace during that biblical period.

A modern-day example would be the destruction of the Twin Towers in New York on September the 11th 2001. This too was in-a-sense a fall from grace in that the aftermath of 911 saw controversial laws being pushed through and passed, for good or for bad. Laws that would otherwise have taken years to go through the senate. The passing of some of these laws has caused moral points to be raised.

In a personal sense The Tower could mean a sudden change of events for which we are not at all prepared. With the tower of Babel example miscommunication and frustration followed when friends and family suddenly became strangers in their failure to communicate with one another. When The Tower visits us it is therefore necessary to step back and to accept that what has happened has happened. It is too late to over-analyse the situation. We are urged to look at the bigger picture instead of being swept up by the confusion, panic, fears, and frustrations; and to ask ourselves whether we want to be part of the problem or the solution.

There are ways that we can make even these frightening situations work for us. If necessary, we can find other ways in which to communicate or we can work at developing the resolve and attitude to adapt to the new situation. We are cautioned against becoming aroused by the chaos that often follows the falling of our tower, guarding against allowing the sudden change to overwhelm us. Now is the time to calmly re-evaluate our position and to find a different approach or solution to the new circumstances or events.

It is often true that when we are forced onto our knees we somehow find ways to shine brightest. It takes courage and bravery but as the saying goes: “If you aren’t scared your actions can't be brave.”

A lot of good and positivity can come from the falling of the tower. The civil unrest present in many countries in current times is indicative of a power shift in the making. Ordinary civilians no longer want to stand by feeling powerless as their countries and large corporations rob them and lie to them. In such cases it is as if these civilians are rocking the tower, willing it to fall, so that irrevocable change may follow. It is probably no coincidence that The Tower card depicts the toppling of a crown as the tower starts to fall, possibly symbolizing the demise of those who abuse their power.

On a personal level, facing life’s challenges takes courage but also teaches us a great deal about ourselves. For it is not possible to find our life’s purpose without first wrestling with our life lessons – the very challenges that steer us towards purpose fulfilment once we embrace these lessons and make allies of our nemesis.