February 2020 Tarot Offering

February 2020 Tarot Offering

I see the idea of healing conflated with the act of getting rid of a lot.

The medical model, which is dominant in western healthcare, treats human conditions through a process of assessing, diagnosing and treating, so maybe that’s why we think healing means locating, targeting, and making go away.

Sure we assume our lives will be better for it, but to an extent we still treat the process of healing as something that necessarily involves rejection and destruction. There is a problem, we want it gone. Even as we say words like acceptance and surrender and compassion, the energy with which we speak them exposes an undercurrent of will, dominance and control.

Mystic law states that to truly understand a thing, we must also understand its opposite (Two fo Pentacles). At the other end of the spectrum there is an option to think about healing as generative, constructive and life-giving.

So rather than seeking to impose our will over the things we struggle with in ourselves and others, we aim for a kind of intentional participation with those things. Change happens in relationship between two or more forces, and so the change we’re seeking lies in the way we relate to and engage with any and every aspect of our experience, including:

  • things we hate about ourselves
  • things we love about ourselves
  • things in our environment that vex and perturb us
  • things around us that are so unbelievably sweet but that we can’t draw closer, because we’re so fixated on pushing the stuff we don’t like away

In Meditations on the Tarot: A Journey into Christian Hermeticism, the Anonymous author writes:

The philosophy of sacred magic…wants to purify, illumine and change the will and nature of man in order to bring them into harmony with the creative principle of Nature and to render them capable of receiving its willingly bestowed revelation. 

In other words, Nature will provide us with what we need to live, heal, die and transform but only under one condition: That we learn to listen and receive. The “great work,” he says—which is the path outlined in tarot’s major arcana, of becoming One with the Divine and doing magic—is about moving toward “peace, alliance, harmony and collaboration” with life.

In the Bible, the Tree of Life (Ten of Pentacles) was said to be planted in the East end of the Garden of Eden, where it was guarded by a Cherubim with a flaming sword. The sword was not meant to keep everyone from eating off the tree, merely to protect it from those who only sought to take what they wanted, rather than what the Tree wished to give.

This is a metaphor, of course, that teaches a way of relating with Nature and what is. Rather than seeking to bend the world to our will (The Chariot) we should approach life from a stance of curiosity. Rather than exclaiming, “I expect life to be xyz, and will absolutely raise hell if it isn’t,” we ask, “what’s being offered, here?”

It teaches that instead of trying to manipulate the parts of our personalities that have sprouted and grown in whatever way and for whatever reason, we are to listen, first and foremost. We are to take the proper time to understand what is happening. To receive what these things are meant to teach us, what lessons they wish to give. It is only after we have listened hard and listened good that we can adequately determine what they need from us in return.

Anonymous writes (and this is breathtaking language for the Queen of Swords, by the way):

The flaming sword of the Guardian of Eden is a weapon of divine magic. This means to say that it is essentially a “yes” and not a “no.” It is essentially constructive and not destructive. In other words, it invites, encourages and directs all those who are worthy, all that which is worthy in each person, to the benefits of the Tree of Life; and it forbids, discourages and sends away all those who are unworthy, and also all that which is unworthy in each person. 

Because the duality of good and bad is man made, when we speak about worthiness in terms of natural law it means something that goes beyond that. I’ve written a lot about worthiness in terms of being fundamentally good and deserving. But worthiness to eat from the “Tree of Life” deals more with our ability to open our hearts and minds and to be receptive to what Nature provides. The good. The bad. The deeply delightful, the hideously grotesque. All of it in ourselves, in others, in the world.

You’re probably thinking, be receptive to the bad, hideous and grotesque? No thank you. I mean, what kind of world would it be if we all received the fruits of hatred, violence and oppression with arms outstretched? If we smiled lovingly at our hearts when we were greedy or petty or controlling, when we moved in fear and not love, when we were harsh or critical or downright mean. Would we not just be reinforcing destructive, antisocial and all around bad behavior?

Those concerns are legit if receptivity is synonymous with passivity and resignation, but it isn’t. Not here. Here, receptivity is the state from which acceptance is possible.

Life is dialogue, not monologue. That means that part of it is speaking, but part is also listening (High Priestess). If you are not listening, you are not able to receive. If you’re not able to receive, you’re not able to accept. If you cannot accept, and you cannot receive, then you cannot do your part right. Your capability to speak and act appropriately is compromised.

An actor knows when it’s her time to talk, which lines to recite and what energy to speak with by paying attention to what’s happening around her. The other players, the set, the props, the lighting. She listens to the words and actions of others and takes cues from them. She knows what she’s there to do, but she depends on that interplay to move forward.

It’s unlikely that any actor who couldn’t do these things would be cast in any production that wasn’t a one-man show. Such a person would probably bomb their auditions, confuse everyone and get no call backs.

Life is not that different. How many times do we refuse to listen to what’s really going on around us, take zero cues, and then grow indignant when we’re not cast in the roles we want. Like, what exactly do we think this is?

In his book Winning Through Enlighenment, physician Ron Smotherman writes:

Acceptance is observation of life and suspension of judgments about whether what is happening in life is good or bad, right or wrong…It’s not what you do or don’t do that reflects acceptance. It is the context in which you do what you do and don’t do…

Reality has to be the context in which you do what you do. If it isn’t, it’s because you haven’t accepted what you’ve been given. Psychologist Marsha Linehan said that when we’re not accepting, we’re often feeling threatened in some way (Seven of Wands). We can ask, “What am I afraid I will lose if I accept this?” or “What bad thing might happen if I accept this?”

Remember that accepting doesn’t mean liking or agreeing with. It means giving yourself permission to move forward properly, which is a lot more likely to happen when you have accurate information.

Smotherman continues:

“Because you refuse to experience an event, it becomes stuck for you. It becomes lodged in your mind and months or years later you are still stuck with it…Acceptance allows you to have the experiences so that you are up to date with your experience. When you are up to date with your experience, you are living right now. In other words, you are a full participant of what is going on in your life at the moment it is happening.”

Participation means that you get to take part in this life. It means that you have access to forces that are ripe for the taking, that you can claim them and start doing miracles and magic anytime you’re ready. What a blessing.

You get to take part, you do not get to take whole. Other forces exist. And a really amazing thing is that you can work magic and miracles with all the forces around you, too. But you have to be willing to listen, and able to accept what you hear.

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