2016 was a harsh and violent year, and still, it left us with a gift. A rare opportunity for significant and large-scale catharsis, made possible by the emergence of dark, grotesque, and unconscious matter that has been embedded and burrowing ever-deeper into the collective consciousness.
And it was a year of intellectualization. Big ideas emerged and were explored. Wounds were triggered and talked of. Solutions were crafted and criticized. This year kicks off with the Ace of Wands, a signifier with the quality of fire. The coming year will be one of channeling intellectual thought and the spark of inspiration into action.
When the Ace of Wands appears, it signifies stepping into newness. If you follow the western calendar, this likely resonates; it is a new year. Perhaps this finds you contemplating how to make meaningful change in the year to come.
The Eight of Swords first warns of the paralysis that can occur if we stay too much in the head and not enough in the body. In challenging times, intellectual understanding is a way of coping with the unfathomable. But excessive reliance on language can imprison us. It creates imbalance that detracts from intuitive knowing, and can diminish the instinct to act in the presence of intolerable situations. Too much thinking and talking saps energy that could otherwise be put toward behavior change and action.
And the dilemma pictured in the Eight of Swords does not always signify stuckness in the literal sense. It doesn’t necessarily imply that the danger is only in sitting still and doing nothing. It can also refer to being stuck in a particular thought pattern, delusion, or behavior. For instnace, stuckness happens when we repetitively avoid the things that we fear. There are many, many methods we have developed as a species to stay stuck in habitual avoidance and escape.
If you’ve ever pushed yourself to do something that you really valued but were nervous about or challenged by, you’ve probably noticed the urge to turn back or suspend action altogether. Indeed, taking meaningful action often involves moving forward, in spite of fear.
Anxiety symptoms are what happen when we leave the body and enter into a world made up entirely of cognitive constructions of the past or future. The sensations that occur when we are anxious are simply messages from our higher Self, calling us back to the body, and back to the present.
The present moment is a space from which we can effectively work with the things that scare us. It is a space we can only inhabit when we are not running away or resisting. Being in the body is a practical way to experience this kind of surrender. It makes the abstract concept of the present moment concrete. After all, the physical body is the only portion of your being that cannot be anywhere else but the present.
The Knight of Pentacles here represents the antidote to the stagnation of the Eight of Swords, which is caused by preoccupation with the contents of the mind. He represents practical choices that are dependent on the ability to occupy the body and the physical present. When you feel afraid, come back to the body. When you’re in the body, you are present. When you are in the body, you cannot be in the past or future. You can only be here, now.
This year, you will continue to develop the technique of dropping out of the mind and into the body when you are afraid. If you are not in your body because you are distracted by the verbal world you’ve built inside of your mind, you will miss out on receiving the subtle cues that can help you get to where you need to go. It is from inside the body that we can access wisdom and inspiration we need to take right action.
Every step of the way, ground in reality. When the mind wanders, bring it back. When you are afraid, come back and ask yourself whether or not you are truly in danger. You will inevitably have fears as you move forward. Come back to the body when you see or hear them, like a child to her mother when she is startled. Ask if you might be willing to have those fears and move forward anyway.
You are moving into a time period of great personal change, and so sticking to the new path you have chosen for yourself will absolutely involve fear. This work is not about abolishing fear entirely. It is about staying true to the higher self when fear is present. Being in the body is one simple, practical way to learn. It won’t be easy, but remember the Ace of Wands: You have been adequately prepared for this stage of learning.
Many go entire lives without ever challenging fear. It is an accomplishment to even be here, now, ready to learn more workable, healthy ways of relating to the things that scare us. Working with fear brings the potential for fantastic and transformational growth. Let us give thanks for the opportunity, and for having made it this far. For those of us who have chosen to accept this mission, we are on the threshold of a new way of being.
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