I think when people say things like “you have to love yourself first,” what they really mean is that healthy relationships are more plausible when both parties have developed a solid sense of self.
Not all of us grew up with adults who had the skills to grow a child’s budding sense of self from seed—which involves making space for things like boundaries, personal preferences, needs and the ability to advocate for them.
For those who spent their childhoods absorbed by the needs of others or unable to experience a sense of agency, resuscitating and nursing the self back to health may well be the work of adulthood. (We’ll dig into this a bit more below.)
As important as the work of self is, Three of Cups reminds us of the necessity of others. It is a reminder that social connection is medicine, even when it is bitter to the taste. Because as much as developing a sense of self is personal work, it is also inherently social. It is through relationship that we negotiate our place in the world, and that we become practiced and skilled at self-ing.
If individualism is capitalist mythology, social connection is medicine.
Six of Wands wants to know what we’ve learned from the things we’ve been through that will help us serve the greater good. How will the more treacherous aspects of our journeys inform the work we’re here to do, make us better artists, healers, and lovers? And how will using what we’ve learned in service reveal deeper layers of personal and collective healing that we hadn’t thought possible?
Every time we go through something, we earn a pair of wings that are uniquely suited to exploring a certain kind of new terrain. What will you do with the wings you’ve earned? Where will you fly to?
The Eight of Wands depicts the balance of willpower and allowing. Of knowing when to push for the things you care about, and when to let things ride. Of doing your part in whatever you’re manifesting, and not more. Because God. Because Universe. Because the greatness and unknowability of Spirit.
What will be isn’t for you to always know. Because you deserve cosmic divine surprises, you should do your part and then let go. Let yourself have the gift of magic and miracles.
Though you may have been blessed with many interests, Page of Wands wants you to pick one or two and clear space for massaging and coaxing out the complexity and depth in each.
Let your commitment to these things be known to those around you. Speak of them in bold and boisterous, never hushed or bashful tones. This work is how your Soul speaks. Honor it, and in return for your loyalty it will feed and nourish you.
The Hermit relates to the process of individuation and self-differentiation. That is, learning to discern the difference between what we want versus what others expect of us. What is real as opposed to what is conditioned. Separating what the ego requires to maintain status quo, from what the Soul longs for. This demands that we have a sense of self to work from.
Individuation and the development of a distinct self takes time and dedication. To untangle other people’s stuff from our own. To lean into guilt about forsaking the needs of others in favor of what the Soul requires. To insist that we are capable of and deserve a self-directed life. There is usually some amount of fear involved in this process. And a moving forward anyway, as we see in the Six of Swords.
We do not have to be without fear to move forward toward intentional and authoritative living. We can have doubt and even terror, and we can bring them along for the ride.
A part of us will always be resistant to change, and a willingness to carry some amount of inner conflict might just be required of us to live a life that is fulfilling and meaningful. Mixed feelings around change may mean many things, but they are not a signal that we should stay the same.
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