When the big moon arrives each month, it’s customary to ask what it is that we’re seeking to release or needing assistance in letting go of during the next cycle. With the appearance of the Six of Wands, it is likely that your release process is well underway. You’ve gathered the courage to cut something that wasn’t serving your higher purpose, and taken the first steps toward freedom.
But the release itself is only the beginning of this particular journey. It’s common for conflict—be it internal or external—to emerge after the initial expulsion. This conflict may come in the form of experiencing doubts, fears, withdrawals, even downright regrets about letting go of what you lost—whether it were a person, job, dream, living space, relationship, or otherwise. Left unchecked, unanticipated, or avoided entirely, these fear-based cognitions have the potential to lead you astray into destructive patterns that facilitate you playing small and relinquishing your personal sovereignty.
Often, letting go begets a grieving process. Grounding yourself in acceptance that whatever it is that you’re letting go of was important to you is an important part of experiencing a healthy level of grief.
At one time, the released represented a hope for something that you deeply valued and held dear. This is why when you release, patterns of attachment or addiction are often left to be reconciled. Honor the challenge of these times, just as you might honor the loss of a loved one. You may be raring to go, eager to leave the past behind and to make new moves toward hope, but try to allow space for grief.
Consider Elizabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Notice the distinct nature of each of these five stages; at times they may even conflict with one another. Take into account also that the stages don’t necessarily occur in any particular order; depression may come first, followed by denial then anger, then back to depression again. Any given phase may last five minutes, or it may last five months. Grief does not occur on a linear trajectory but rather, in cycles.
Before you go rushing to arrive at that prized acceptance stage, the Five of Wands advises that the other stages, too, must be seen and honored. With the presence of the Devil, you’re warned that attempting to skip over any part of this process has the potential to lead you either right back to where you started from, or worse. Buckle up and get ready to feel. Use the opportunity to strengthen your tolerance of and willingness to feel discomfort. Distress-tolerance will serve you well in every other realm of life. (Science proves it.)
The Five of Wands speaks to the diverse and generally unpleasant cacophony of emotional content that your mind may generate in response to the loss of what you’ve let go of. Be aware that an initial feeling of relief and acceptance (six of wands) will likely give way eventually to the emergence of the other less pleasant phases. To the extent that you’re able to honor them when they arise, they won’t likely overstay their welcome.
The Devil card is never pleasant to see, but in this case he’s preventative. If you heed the prediction of the Five of Wands and prepare yourself to feel confusing and uncomfortable things for a while, The Devil will be powerless over you. If, on the other hand, you allow the stages of grief and the associated thought content of each to dictate your behavior, you run the risk of winding up trapped in the depression, or the anger, or the bargaining phases. Your mind will suggest that the thing you cut didn’t really need to be cut, for example. It will ask if you’re sure you weren’t too harsh. It will doubt the accuracy of your intuition and suggest that perhaps your fears make you push good things away. And so on.
When you let go of something, especially something that held inside of it the potential for a deep hope fulfilled, please believe your mind is going to generate all kinds of thoughts that will challenge your decision. The human mind gives us a competitive edge over other species but that doesn’t mean it’s always our ally; The Devil lives and reigns in the temptation to believe too deeply in the content of our thoughts.
As you release with this moon, prepare your self for the parade of thoughts backed by fear, anxiety, self-doubt, and the potentially constant urge to turn back. From your wise mind, consider what turning back means in relation to your values, your freedom, and your authority to choose according to your highest aspirations.