A couple weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting with a small group of people in Montpelier, Vermont for a tarot gathering—a group of people some of whom were experienced with tarot as well as some who were interested in learning more about tarot. Such a lovely group of people sharing ideas…
At one point I interjected that one of the multitudinous ways to utilize the tarot was just to leaf through the deck, face up, looking at the pictures until you happened to come across one that explicitly expressed your mood, or how your were feeling that day, or reflected some issue going on in your head… In other words, sometimes we can use the tarot in reverse—instead of randomly drawing a card and discovering how its various parts say something about an emotional or mental or physical or other facet of our being in the moment… we can first identify the facet of our being in a particular moment and then find the card that best reflects what we’re feeling. Sometimes knowing what you’re feeling, and then seeing or discovering what additional things the relational card has to say can be just as revelatory as drawing cards randomly.
Today, I pinpointed my cards without needing to draw anything. So I riffled through the deck furiously trying to find the cards that I wanted to reflect back at me…
Today I am having a merger of a “Five-of-Cups-Six-of-Cups” kind of day… Except that that is not precise enough…
The kind of day I’m having is, rather, a “Six-of-Cups-Five-of-Cups” kind of day. Somehow the order is important.
The 78 images of the tarot deck take great pride in themselves in their sequentiality. Is that a word? …It is now. I just made it a real word! Because the sequentiality that the tarot deck wants to show me is a prescription for bringing the world to come into alignment…well, that particular sequence just isn’t working precisely for me today.
…WHICH IS COMPLETELY OKAY.
The tarot, in its consecutive sequentiality wants to tell me that when we’re feeling down in the dumps, or when things have gone awry, or when the world looks bleak and hopeless (like it is visually represented in the Five of Cups card)…that there is an antidote. The tarot in its consecutive sequentiality says that remembrances of things past, and remembering your grounded-ness, and simple acts of charity, compassion, and goodwill (as visually depicted in the Six of Cups card) can turn those spilled cups from the Five of Cups into useful containers for bouquets of cheerful flowers in the Six of Cups.
In the deck I chose to use today—the amazing Collective Tarot—the necessity of an umbrella to ward off the rain and gloom and broken bottle shards falling from the sky and ripped and torn hearts crashing down in the Five of Bottles card (equivalent to the Five of Cups in traditional decks)… is placated by a soothing cups of tea in the Six of Bottle card using the very rainwater that might’ve fallen into the rain barrel during the storm, and any on-setting cold symptoms will be tempered with homemade medicinal tinctures created using remembered recipes from grandmother’s wisdom teachings. Traditionally, comfort comes from the Six of Bottles to assuage the sorrows of the Five of Bottles.
And that’s really good wisdom!
…But it’s not really reflecting my predicament and situation precisely today. However, if I tweak it a little bit, these cards still work just right in speaking for what I seem to be going through…
Perhaps I’m in a time warp. Or perhaps I’m not living in the right space-time continuum. But I need to reverse these cards… Maybe I am just ass-backwards all the time… But this is how the cards work for me today.
I’d like to be moving forward. But sometimes it’s simply necessary to take a step (or two) back.
Within the last few days I’ve had the great joy of meeting some new friends at a knitting circle, and also had the great joy to receive some correspondence from friends that I haven’t heard from in a while—friends who live back in Seattle, Washington, three-thousand miles away.
Meeting new friends is one of the great joys of life. But it can also entail the risk of exposing oneself and revealing oneself and one’s past stories. Which is exactly what happened. One of these lovely new friends happened to know another common friend to both of us who had told her about a religious novice she knew…me. So when she realized I was the same person, and the rest of the group heard that I was a former monk…they were all quite curious to hear about that part of my life. …Which of course necessitated that I tell the story of why I was no longer a novice monk …which always becomes awkward, and brings up all sorts of feelings for me—not just the aching sadness (which for sure is there), but also the embarrassment at failure, and embarrassment at having to admit defeat because of prejudice against my sexual orientation (which, alone, can be a humiliating topic of public discussion, but becomes a Sisyphean obligation because minorities always end-up having to defend themselves in a non-normative social context).
So often it is friends, and spending time in the company of others, and small words of kindness that help us get through rough patches…I wish I more often remembered such potent sources of wisdom magic like that.. And so it was with absolute joy that I recently heard from close friends with whom significant parts of my life’s journey were shared… But this, too, was also transformed by having to reiterate (again) the whole story of failure as a religious contemplative and trying to express the absolute void that remains and has neglected to refill itself with anything but sorrow.
In both these instances, the ecstatic pleasures of friendship, a source of renewal, rejuvenation, and comfort (the Six of Cups/Bottles)…have been the catalyst for forcing the remembrance of sorrows (the Five of Cups/Bottles).
Being forced to re-live and face these sorrows—and the tangential emotions that they aggravate—is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes we need to face the most painful things from our past in order to confront them and eventually learn how to overcome them with new understanding and self-compassion. I feel like I’ve spent a long time already trying to get to a place of forgiveness and new empowerment…but admittedly I’m really not there yet. I’m still just at a place of devastation and loss. I’m still dashing around trying to avoid the falling bottles from the sky, cowering under my measly umbrella to keep the downpour from dampening my spirits any further. I feel like I’m miles away from that toasty kitchen with its cup of steaming tea, and I have to trudge through miles and miles of muddy roads in my wet clothes and suffering the blisters on my feet before I’ll ever get to peel off all those sopping clothes, wrap myself in a blanket, and be able to let that mug of elixir warm my innards.
And what I’m REALLY waiting for is that day when the rain and bottle-shards-storm ends and the next weather pattern moves through my soul… and I can get to the Eight of Bottles, where all that rainwater has saturated the rivers of experience, and all that maturity and wisdom flows into its proper channels, providing sustenance for the mental reservoirs and the emotional fields of crops and I can bottle it and tap it like it was a magic potion that I can use to thwart future abominations of discrimination and exclusion… When I can start on the journey to my next life’s adventure with determination and direction. I… can’t… wait.