Tarot Tuesday: Tribe + The True Self

Tarot Tuesday: Tribe + The True Self

Some of the great mindfulness teachers say that when we are truly present, we can access the joy that is inherent in each moment. And yet when we are present—when we meditate, when we really take the time to slow down and listen—we so often bump up against the opposite of joy; unpleasant feelings, discomfort, and pain.

I guess what the great teachers are suggesting is that only when we are brave enough to face what pain may be living there in the present moment, do we gain access to the joy that emerges through liberation from the urge to constantly escape from it.

That space of freedom and joy is where the Six of Wands finds you this week. There’s a feeling of elevation, and of seeing the world from a broad and expansive vantage point. You are free from the trappings of insignificant minutiae and pettiness. And because you’re operating from the emotional space that is associated with safety and calm*, you’re able to act flexibly, which means that your actions are rooted in love and courage, not fear and the urge to avoid.

At this time, the acquisition of survival-oriented materials like money, houses, transportation, or mating partners is not what’s driving your day-to-day behavior. You either have all you need, or you’re not particularly worried about getting there. You’re not in a state of feeling threatened, defensive, or overly vigilant. You are in somewhat of a resting state. You’re glowed up and chilling.

As I’ve written about before, The Lovers represent dichotomy, and also choice.

Classically interpreted as a representation of love versus fear, The Lovers are interestingly placed between two tarot cards with competing energies in this week’s spread. The Six of Wands is repping for peace, joy, calm, and triumph after a period of difficulty or challenge, while the Five of Wands is about stimulation and the coming together of diverse energies. With the latter, there is action present, and even the potential for competition and threat.

The Lovers are about choice, but they are also about how you go about making that choice. Which force drives you; love or fear? There are two distinctly different directions you can go, depending on how you answer that question.

What do you truly love, and do you love it enough to face the things that scare you?

Since the Lovers are sandwiched between to wands cards, you’re dealing with a choice that is specifically related to creativity, passion, art, a career change, or anything that involves bringing ideas from the conceptual stage to materialization. Wands in the tarot deck are like antennas that pick up on energy from the heavens, and funnel them down to creation on earth. These can be sparks of creativity, things that appear in dreams, bursts of brilliant ideas that show up at the table when you’re breaking bread with friends, and so on.

Now, the Five of Wands here means two things:

The first and more traditional interpretation is about a loss of control. Making the choice to move toward what deeply matters to you will require that you move into a situation that involves a certain level of unpredictability. This card says that the things that scare you—namely, not being able to maintain control over your inner experience if you are to enter into an external situation that contains any level of uncertainty—will need to be faced. These wands are simply reminding you that some discomfort will inevitably be involved in the pursuit of what truly excites and promises to fulfill you. Fear and surrender are normal parts of the process of living a life that is rich and vital. The Five of Wands asks that you begin preparing yourself to embrace them.

The second thing this card represents is tribe. Because this choice is about acting in accordance with your soul purpose and the unique gifts that you have to offer the world, the decision you’re being asked to make is one that will either reveal you to the world, or keep you in hiding. When you make choices that are aligned with who you truly are, your real people—your tribe—can find you. Remember that.

On the other side of the choice you must make, there is a sense of community, belonging, and a feeling of finding your place in this world. You have established for yourself the sense of inner security that is required to feel safe enough to speak your truth, and to let your choices reflect it. Once you begin to make decisions based on a version of yourself that does not fear judgment, criticism, abandonment, or being cast out to die (thanks, reptilian brain) you invite your true tribe to come find you. The experience of true belonging is one of the hidden benefits of being who you truly are.

Keep in mind that the safe and victorious energy of the Six of Wands is a temporary state, as all states are. So while you do have the option of choosing to stay there, if you attempt to cling to it for too long, you will suffer. Your choices now are asking you to take risks, to publicly embrace the fringey shit you’ve obsessed over privately for years, and to come out of the closet once and for all so that your people can start to find you.

And of course life is rarely so cut and dry. Somewhere in the midst of this choice, there is a sacred balance to be struck; a perfectly-tempered synthesis between what calms and soothes you, and what stimulates and excites you. You’re being asked to find that precise place between ease and effort—to maintain for yourself a safe space to operate from, even when the energies of the external world become overwhelming, prodding, and loud.

Over and over throughout the course of our lives we are asked to declare who we are through the expression of the decisions we make. Every minute, hour, day, week, month, and year, we do this. We don’t always make the rightest, truest, most authentic choices for ourselves, but it’s plain to see that when our actions are motivated by true love for what matters—rather  than fear of discomfort or uncertainty—we find connection, fulfillment, and belonging.

*Emotions have an evolutionary function without which we would not exist as our ancestors would have been eaten by predators, swallowed by dangerous river rapids, or hurled off of cliffs. The systems of emotions in which we operate have functioned to ensure our ancestors’ survival, and even though we are living in modern times, we carry their patterns of  cognition and behavior along with us. In other words, our intense emotions are not our fault.

Recommended reading:

Mindful Compassion: How the Science of Compassion Can Help You Understand Your Emotions, Live in the Present, and Connect Deeply with Others

The Power of Self-Compassion: Using Compassion-Focused Therapy to End Self-Criticism and Build Self-Confidence 

The Untethered Soul: The Journey Beyond Yourself

The Places That Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

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