The winged lion above this Prince symbolizes his Air of Fire elemental nature. Not only is he smart with a keen sense of ethics, he is also full of passion and energy. He meets every aspect of his life with enthusiasm and relishes challenges as puzzles to be solved. His biggest obstacles however are found within himself: restlessness, boredom and impatience. The Nova card refers to an eruption on an unstable star that has a companion star nearby (the companion's gravity pulls away matter from the nova star). When a nova occurs, the star flares and appears brighter for a few days. Stopworth gives this card the keyword 'growth,' explaining that life often requires us to evolve beyond our comfort zone in order to meet the challenges presented to us. When we are pressed beyond our normal daily stresses, it is easy to become impatient and frustrated with ourselves and others. Yet this is exactly the yeast that can help us grow spiritually beyond our present state.
No matter how far out on the sea of suffering we've sailed,
all that is required is to turn toward awakening.
It's never too late, but it takes that turning, and no one can do that for us.
This week I'll be using the Tabula Mundi Tarot (Nox et Lux edition) with its companion book Book M: Liber Mundi; both were self-published by M.M. Meleen. I'll pair with it the Universe Cards, a set created by Kay Stopforth and published by Thorsons. Today's draws are the Seven of Wands and Neutron Star:
In the history of Chinese culture, the dragon represented the emperor and the tiger stood for those who did not want to be held hostage by his rule. The pair symbolize a struggle to re-balance power rather than let only one hold the reins. No matter what we try to do, if it is out of bounds from what is considered normal or average, there will be push-back. The keyword for this card is 'valor' and Meleen offers the advice to "take courage amidst opposition." The Neutron Star is created when a giant star (much bigger than our Sun) explodes. The core collapses to form a small but extremely dense center made up of neutrons. One handful of its matter would weigh as much as a fleet of ships. It's no wonder Stopworth has assigned this star the keyword 'intensity.' Intensity is useful, but must be carefully balanced. As an example, consider the difference between a specified, military missile strike and carpet bombing. When trying to hold my ground and do things the way I intend, I need to make sure I don't set fire to everything - the project, my relationships and the trust of my backers.
From the Artist's Inner Vision Tarot, the Nine of Coins; from the Art of Collage Cards, a work by Eugenia Loli:
Keep your hand on the plow, hold on.
~ Mahalia Jackson
There is a verse in Luke where Jesus exhorts his followers not to look back once their hand is on the plow. I think the woman in the Nine of Coins card would agree; it is discipline and dedication that has gotten her to a place of independence and self-sufficiency, not second guessing and wishy-washy thinking. Those kind of thoughts can distract us, suck the energy right out of our efforts and waste our time. 'Stinkin' Thinking' is the title I've given Eugenia Loli's collage. In 12 Step groups, this describes people who have reverted back to destructive thinking patterns ("I could just take a few pills to help me relax, then I'll flush the rest.") Action follows thought; if we dwell on an idea long enough, we will likely act on it. But detrimental thoughts can be replaced with healthier ones if we are aware of them. The mind can't be flipped on and off like a light switch, but we can pick up the reins and guide it in a new direction.
From the Artist's Inner Vision Tarot, the Ten of Swords; from the Art of Collage Cards, a work by Marcos Martinez:
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.
― Pema Chödrön
Everyone carries around their own thimble-full of ideas and opinions about how the world works and their place in it. But what happens when the rug is pulled out from beneath our feet, and that framework of beliefs comes crashing down? It can be frightening to lose what we felt gave us a sense of control and security, to be in limbo with no mental anchor. But like the starry sky behind the swords in this card, it can also be liberating to go from thimble-size to space-size. Consider all the possibilities and potential now available that comes with such freedom of thought. Martinez's collage is given the title "Making lemonade," from the well-known phrase "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade." What does it mean to have a positive attitude? For me it means to look for what is good and beautiful in my life and taking time for appreciation even even amid pain or worry. I can look for ways to change what is wrong, yet if I find none, I can realize that all things will eventually change on their own. With an open perspective created by the Ten of Swords, I can look at situations from a much wider viewpoint without all my opinions and preferences getting in the way.
The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen:
room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ― Pema Chödrön
From the Artist's Inner Vision Tarot, the Hermit; from the Art of Collage Cards, a work by Catrin Arno:
The Hermit uses solitude to troll deep waters. The companion book states, "Under the environment of self-exploration and contemplation, answers rise to the surface of consciousness, and our knowledge of them makes it easier for us to change negative patterns and live our lives in a life-affirming manner." I recently challenged the ladies I sponsor to take an inventory of what's in their spiritual toolbox.* In mine, there were several discarded or dusty practices; most of what I do consistently are those that bring me pleasure. But a complete toolbox includes practices that challenge me and help me to grow. Its purpose is not to keep me in a state of bliss, but to aid me in becoming more compassionate and less self-centered. Arno's work is one I call "What is hidden." The woman's modest but opulent gown seems to cover up a lot of her, until you peek at what is underneath. There is a world of passion and creativity behind all those layers! I am reminded that doing the hard work of spiritual training doesn't just result in sweat and tears, but a flowering of something beautiful too.
*Our challenge for the month includes dusting off a practice we haven't used in a while (or learned about and never used) and begin working with it. Also, we are to investigate new practices and choose one to test drive for a month. For anyone interested, some suggestions can be found here.
From the Artist's Inner Vision Tarot, the Queen of Wands; from the Art of Collage Cards, a work by Deger Bakir:
This woman reminds me of a Southerner because of her dramatic expression. I can just hear her say, "Oh my lawd! Well bless her heart!" She likes to be in groups and is always welcome; people like her attention, energy and charisma. What they might not be aware of is that she uses these opportunities to sign people up for the next bake sale, get them involved in social justice movements, and collect donations for the new homeless shelter being built. She can get your mouth to say 'yes' before your brain has too much time to think about reasons to say 'no.' But even if you later regret signing up for her latest cause, she'll help you rally with her own support and encouragement. I've given Bakir's collage the title "Go your own way" (cue Fleetwood Mac). The interesting thing about the Queen of Swords is that she knows her strengths as well as her weaknesses. She may not be able to bake a cake, but she can organize the bake sale. She might not know the first thing about how to run a shelter, but she knows who to hit up for donations to keep it running. She uses her personality traits and talents in ways that benefit both herself and others. Don't let her Southern drawl and mannerisms fool you - she is sharp as a switchblade when it comes to getting things done.
From the Artist's Inner Vision Tarot, the Queen of Coins; from the Art of Collage Cards, a work by Ayham Jabr:
Why does this Queen look like the Hindu goddess Durga with all her extra arms? The arms represent her many attributes: hard-working, practical, generous, nurturing and resourceful. The circle around her symbolizes her connection to the rhythms of nature. She's not going to expect a seed planted today to be producing fruit or flowers by next week. Jabr is an artist from Syria, and I've given his work the title "The New Normal." We don't have to deal with an ongoing, stateside war or Godzilla, but we do have Donald Trump in the White House. His actions that previously shocked us barely even register on the Richter scale now. There are days when I feel like a survivalist and days when I am numb from wondering what my country will look like in four years. Yet even in this insanity, the Queen would suggest that I not lose my common sense, altruism or efficient creativity. She might also remind me that four years to a mountain or giant sequoia is just a drop of water in the ocean.