Reinterpreting Tarot in Contemporary times:
The Suit of Coins: Needs and Wants in a consumerist society
With thanks to
Wald and Ruth Ann Amberstone for sparking the idea
Professor Yuval Harari for setting the stage
While the earliest known Tarot decks may reflect the European Renaissance, we, in the twenty first century are living in a very different world. Authority has shifted from what the ‘gods on high’ decree, we, liberal humanists are taught that art is in the eye of the beholder, governments in the hand of the electorate who vote their feelings, and behavior based on what we feel is right rather than doctrine decreed by an outside authority.
As contemporary seekers, re-interpreting the Tarot for the times in which we find ourselves is always possible and fruitful, and the reason the Tarot, an organic oracle, thrives. Today, the Suit of Wands becomes an invitation to equate the significance and validity of intuition with intellect; the Sword, doubled-edged symbol of thought, invites us to balance thinking and be-ing, recognizing we can do both — just not at the same time; Cups represent emotions that result from our thoughts and color every action we take, while the Suit of Coins reflects the physical plane in which we, spiritual beings on a human journey, get to play.
We manifest what we believe in the physical realm— the most visible to our dimensions for ourselves and others. This material plane draws together not only our beliefs (composed of a blend of what we think and what we intuit) but also our emotions that color our inner landscape. Our resulting actions reveal how we manifest what we believe and desire in the world of nature— and all is reflected and symbolized by in the suit of Coins.
After hearing the Amberstone’s presentation, “Lordy, Lordy . . .’ for The Spiritual Path of Tarot Teleseminar 4 sponsored by Kim Wilborn, it seems timely to revisit the traditional understandings of the suit of Coins. The Sacred Mandala Tarot, used in this article, illustrates an ethnically diverse society in which Knights ride motorcycles instead of horses, some characters are non-gender specific and the character in the 4 of Coins included here, has a tattoo. This card, as interpreted by the Amberstones in their presentation, started this train of thought.
Explaining each of the cards with their earlier subtitles— this one ‘Lord of Earthly Power’ we were offered the chance to interpret the additional lines of text for each card. For those of us who are feminist by inclination, and used to translating ‘Lord’ into non-gendered names and images for an awareness being in the presence of the numinous, can look at the second part of each phrase and consider a contemporary interpretation of each card.
Prof. Yuval Harari, in his explosive book, Homo Deus, reminds us that the present global consumerist society whose ‘religion’ is based on the power of the dollar (fill in the name of any currency that fits) it is decrees that we as consumers, we should ‘buy, buy, buy,’ keeping production lines going and economies growing. As the accumulation of waste increases and Nature’s resources are depleted, our polluted natural world is reaching a crisis. How does this effect the way we read the cards in the Suit of Coins regarding our relationship with nature and our actions, in the work we do, the vocations we love and the money we handle— by saving, sharing or spending.
Just as the Suit of Swords asks us to find balance between thinking and being, perhaps the Suit of Coins invites us to consider differentiating between our needs and our wants. Harari shows that the line starts to blur— take the smartphone for example. 10 years ago it fell into the category of ‘want’ and now, all over the world, has become a ‘need.’
If we consider the Ace of Coin as the gift of manifestation that is gifted to us, perhaps we start by asking how do I use this gift for the highest good of all concerned?
Card 2 show a young woman weighing her options, determining her needs v. her wants.
Card 3 describes the ideal cooperative venture that allows each one to participate and give the best of all they have, for the joy of giving and for the benefit of the whole. Working well in a group also demands we receive with appreciation what each one in the group brings to the table.
Card 4 (the card that started this train of thought and is shown above) shows a young person who has so much to give— rather than passively holding on it all that they have, this can be seen as a pause— a time of appreciation for all that has been garnered and the moment of deciding where best to give of the largesse that has been successfully accumulated. Interesting that this card, on The Tree of Life, is placed in the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Compassion while the next card is opposite in the sefirah of Strength.
Card 5, as mentioned above, is in many ways the opposite of the 4— it indicates there are times in our lives when we feel bereft, and in need of assistance. For those who are much better at giving than receiving, how graciously can we ask for and receive help? We learn to be strong when things are challenging and in learning to ask for help and willing to receive it, we step into our own power.
Card 6, like all cards in the Minors is a card of balance— a celebration of our ability to give and receive. In this suit, balancing wants and needs for self and others presents opportunities for generosity and wholeness— for both parties, in the giving and the receiving.
Card 7 again is a moment of reflection— as the garden we manifest is growing, how content do we feel? Do we find purpose in our actions that continue to satisfy our own creative needs and the wellbeing of others around us? Is it time to alter the course of our actions or buckle down and bring this to its natural conclusion? This may the most important question of our times— when do we realize that ‘things’ do not fill us— meaning does. Is the work we are doing meaningful? How do we understand meaning and purpose in a material world?
Card 8 is an indication of a decision to enjoy the fruits of our labor by continuing to take care of the details necessary — all that has brought us success and still require our time and attention.
Card 9 is the moment of fulfillment of all that has been accomplished and the joy experienced in a task well done.
The most important figure in Card 10 is the older woman in the left corner, who encourages us— at the moment of celebrating our material success— and asks: And now? In enjoying the benefits of our efforts, what do we have to share with the larger society? Where will we put our efforts now that we are empowered to know what we can achieve?
Reading nuanced and contemporary meaning into the Tarot is what breathes life into static images and make the dance with the intuitive sense fun, meaningful and vital for a full appreciation of the gift of life.
Our newsletter is born!
Welcome to the first newsletter from ‘Conscious Transformation Matters’ where ancient wisdom traditions and evolving consciousness embrace, deepening and restoring our connection with the intuitive. Believing as I do that the future is not prescribed, but rather is being created by the beliefs we hold and the thoughts we think, each newsletter will bring a chance to consider the changes and choices we make to align our actions with the creation of future we envisge. Like a nourishing meal for the spirit, each email will include a taste of mystical wisdom to spark the intuition and a Tarot reading offering food for thought regarding our priorities for the week ahead, as we set our affirmations and intentions to live a little more consciously each day; we will end with something sweet— a touch of artistic beauty to delight the heart.
The inner face of Judaism, kabbalah, offers the mystic a way of life that is based on the understanding that we are all deeply connected to a whole that is greater than its parts. Mysticism is an honoring of the mystery out of which we were born and to which we will return. Its teachings are many.
The Tree of Life is a diagram of oneness and interconnection, comprising 10 sefirot (cosmic chakras) and 22 pathways. Each sefirah has a specific energetic vibration that is reflected in you and me, according to the soul qualities we own, enhance and share with the world.
This week’s teaching: All is one, interconnected and whole.
Cards: Becoming The Blessing:
By reconnecting with the intuitive, we slip into an awareness of the present moment and all it has to offer. Drawing three cards from the Tarot deck each week motivates our consideration. In the Jewish tradition, words must lead to action if they are to be meaningful. Instead of uttering a blessing when so moved ( we are told we should be doing 100 a day), as consciousness evolves, we understand we must ‘become the blessing’ and in so doing, initiate the changes we wish to see. Where do we start? Right here, right now.
This week’s cards:
King of Wands, The Lovers, The High Priestess
The King of Wands is the consumate wizard; even while making manifest his magic, he does not take himself seriously, reminding us that Divinity has a sense of humor.At the same time, he is goal-driven, knowing a strategy is important for manifesting our spiritual goals.
The Lovers is the ultimate experience of seeing and being seen. It speaks of the recognition of our oneness. As the outer world is a reflection of our inner beliefs, this card speaks of a wholeness within— the sacred marriage in which our own masculine and feminine interweave, igniting and harmonizing both our intuition and our ‘can-do’ practicality.
The High Priestess is the symbol of Intuitive wisdom. She calls us back to the present moment— away from the nostalgic reminiscences of the past and possible promises of the future. She gifts us with patience, allowing things to ripen in their own season. She is our connection with the mystical.
Becoming The Blessing: This week’s cards remind us as we move out of Mercury retrograde, the summer in the northern hemisphere blooms and winter in the south approaches, now is the time to envision what we want, spend time on creating a step-by-step plan as to how we wish to move forward, dreaming big and acknowledging we have the creative ability to make manifest what we can visualize. In honoring our intutive wisdom, and committing to making the necessary changes to align our physical reality with our vision, we step into our own authenticity and become a shining example for those around us.
What are you going to do to bring this creative blessing into your life? Committing our intentions to paper by journalling helps keep us on track and mindful of what we wish to accomplish this week.
Mandala Magic: Ola Joseph teaches: Diversity is not about how we differ but rather about embracing one another’s uniqueness.
The Tree of Life, the kabbalah’s model and teaching tool, is a map for evolving consciousness. It is an overview of the interconnected energy pathways we walk on the human journey of spiritual beings.
In the language of metaphor, from No-thing-ness (Ein Sof) the Oneness that was, is and shall be, without beginning or end, without time or place, appears a spark of light that expands into a beam (Ein Sof Or) that cleaves the veils of chaotic darkness, as a structure and order are introduced in ten consecutive and simultaneous stages. This cosmic design provides pods of ‘cosmic chakras’ and paths that connect them, providing the possibility of diversity in unity and the polarities which makes choice possible, as well as the central path of balance that harmonizes the opposites. We ponder the mysteries of life— where we are, why we are here and where we are headed. Formed in the image of a creative Divinity, we are creative beings with magical powers.
The Tree of Life can be applied to many fields of study. Here, we consider the creative process involved in an author bringing a book into being. The same process can be seen in any creative field. Seemingly from nowhere comes the inspiration to create something new. Is it a feeling? A knowingness? On the canvas, the painter brings light to contrast with the dark and the dancer offers movement to disturb the stillness. The process begins, the final product unknown.
The Creative Process
1 Spark/Crown (Keter)
Seemingly from nowhere comes the spark of a fleeting thought/image. It is magical and mysterious and we do not have the vocabulary to describe these early stages this more clearly.
2 Wisdom (Chochmah)
Becoming aware of this fleeting impression and its potential, the spark expands in the mind and many ideas are generated.
3 Understanding (Binah)
In the pregnant pause that follows, a design/plan takes shape — what is possible? A plan starts to form?
4 Compassion (Chesed)
The author simultaneous examines how he/she feels about the possible characters and scenarios that will be experienced as many iterations are considered and sense of excitement and enthusiasm is generated in the author.
5 Strength/Severity (Gevurah)
Not everything can be contained in a single work— some relationships, some characters need to be eliminated to bring clarity to the significant story that will be told.
6 Harmony/Beauty (Tiferet)
As ideas and images converge, as possibilities are refined and a structure that feels right emerges, there is a sense of well-being as an exciting structure starts to form.
7 Innovation/Victory (Netzach)
The actual work beings as the author starts to write— new ideas, new words and sentences expressing the images and relationships he/she had in mind begin to ‘write themselves’ sharing this personal expression of creativity.
8 Tradition/Splendor (Hod)
The work is passed into the sphere of production where editing and re-editing is done to refine the story and its expression, making the work understandable for others in the best way possible.
9 Imagery/Foundation (Yesod)
The manuscript now flows into a galley, forming the book, physical (or electronic) that will not only be interesting to read, but in physical form, will feel good in the hands and bring visual pleasure to the readers, enhancing the storytelling ability of the writer.
10 Physicality/Kingdom (Malchut)
The publication arrives in the hands of the writer and the public and a personal vision is shared with the world.
The 22 Pathways and Tarot’s Major Arcana
There are 22 pathways that connect the ten sefirot or ‘cosmic chakras’ on The Tree of Life which we can imagine emerging in a lightening flash pattern from Keter (Spark) pictured at the top of the tree, and descending to The Pillar of Expansion on the right and then across to The Pillar of Reception on the left, down through seven levels and concluding at Malchut (Physicality).
Each of the pathways has a unique energy. As spiritual beings on a human journey we are ‘earth born and heaven sent. At one and the same time we are both infinite and temporal. The infinite aspect of ourselves is our essence, the vertical, inner dimension of the Eternal now, unfettered by limitation, without beginning or ending. It is symbolized the Central Pillar of Balance.
Our temporal nature is represented by the two outer pillars. Our ego-driven temporality are ruled by clocks and calendars of our own creation. The ancient Greeks symbolized the eternal dimension of time as Kairos and the temporal dimensions of time as Chronos. Between the two, we seek our balance.
The numbering of the pathways offered here is an arbitrary one, referring us the spectrum of possibility that exists on each path. The diagram and numbering system evolved for me as I worked on The Syzygy Oracle, where each of the pathways are seen as steps on a cyclical route that returns to where it began. The first 11 pathways lead down the Tree and final 11 return the sojourner to the place of beginnings.
This circular route differs from more traditional numbering that takes us on a linear journey from start to finish — from top to bottom. Each card (including the cards of the Minor Arcana) will reflect in a different way on each path, affected as it is by the ‘cosmic chakras’ on either end of the path.
For example, The Empress on Path 15 that runs between Harmony and Tradition may wish to honor the traditions of love that are familiar to the group— perhaps traditional views of marriage; if she is placed on Path 7, between Harmony and Innovation, she may encourage new ways of honoring love by validating same-sex relationships.
As we place each card on a pathway, we sense where we personally feel most closely connected at that moment— to one end of the spectrum or the other, as we attempt to find our balance between the two extremes. This will change from day to day.
The Downward Journey Into Experience
Between Spark and Wisdom we have the opportunity to open to that inner knowing, beyond anything we have learned. On this pathway we intuit an inner connection between Source and awareness. The impulse to create is as a mysterious flash that sparks into the darkness of our own unknowing. Wisdom to Spark is the path of recognizing the flask and inspiration with gratitude for the miraculous.
The central harmonizing path from Spark to Harmony represents Kairos, magical, mythic and mystical— ‘once-upon-a-time and faraway.’ On this pathway, we are in ‘the zone’ where everything is perfectly aligned and we know, without doubt, that the Universe is unfolding as it should. These moments of consciousness are brief and illuminating, giving the us opportunity to experience our true joy, connection and one-ness. An energy of well-being runs both ways on this pathway.
This spectrum is pathway to service-over-self, a place of recognition of beauty and resonance, within and without. It is other-directed, unlimited and joyful and is our birthright. It aligns us with beauty, synchronicity and symmetry.
Compassion is the ‘cosmic chakra’ that engages our highest ideal— our goodness and our gratitude. Wisdom offers the innate path to recognizing the underlying patterns of commonality we all share— our oneness and our similitude. This is a pathway of wholeness and completion and the goal of the spiritual seeker. To base all of our decisions on a balance between these two dimensions would ensure that we create a world worthy of our children whom we raise to be ready for a wise and compassionate world.
Compassion to Harmony offers the celebration of a spiritual community that celebrates diversity and so honors life. This vibration increases the well-being of the human family living in balance with one another and the natural world, simultaneously and equally honoring the individuality and commonality that enriches life’s experiences for all.
This is an exciting path that invites us to discover new ways of expressing the essence of who we are. Just as all traditions are expression of a particular time, place and consciousness, here we experiment with what is exactly right for here and now. In this moment of conscious evolution, we are learning to move towards inclusivity and group consciousness and away from isolated exclusivity.
This pathway keeps our new ways of expression in keeping with the good of the whole. As Harmony blends individual needs in balance, the greater plan is reflected in the elements that compose it.
Here we find limitless opportunities to express ourselves in the archetypal roles we play as we discover who we are. Like all other paths to and from Harmony, the bigger picture is in the foreground into which all details must harmonize.
This pathway brings creativity down into a denser vibration as new and exciting images are sorted, categorized and compared to the familiar imagery of myth, story, projection and dreams that we each individually amass during our sojourn on the earth. It is the bridge where creativity meets imagination and reflects the level of our own spiritual maturity.
This is the pathway and process of manifestation— using the abilities we have, we create a tangible new form of our own belief system. It offers a path to continually revise how we express ourselves. At the same time, physicality informs our imaginative life, and just as on all of the paths, we seek a sense of balance that will differ from day to day.
Physicality to Imagery is the mechanism of bringing belief into manifestation. As we believe, so we imagine, as we imagine so we create.
The journey down the Tree is fulfilled— our challenge is to return to where we started, with the awareness and experience gained in physical vibration and reality. Now the return commences.
The Return Journey To Meaning and Maturation
This pathway dictates so much of our normative behavior. It is a limiting pathway because it offers they way things have always been done. We honor all that has already been experienced and learned and build on the learned behaviors of those who have gone before us.
This pathway is ignited by imagination. As we believe, so we imagine, as we imagine so we create. In looking to heroes of the present and past, we set our goals that will allow us to be remembered as we would wish; we make our mark by standing appreciatively on the shoulders of those who came before. Here we balance our ingenuity with potential limits to our creativity and authenticity in terms of the spiritual development and mores of the community in which we find ourselves.
Innovation to Tradition provides the balance between expressing a new, personal authenticity and honoring the traditions on which the family and culture have relied in the past. A satisfying and creative life is found in balancing the gifts of both. Our consciousness is now calling on us to build on inclusivity in all that we do and expand the limits and boundaries of earlier experiences.
Tradition to Harmony is the pathway that is tried and true. It gives us the opportunity to make peace in our world through methods that have been tested and found reliable in bringing people and ideas together for the common good.
This is a pathway of discernment. We honor those on whose shoulders we stand, and discover who we are from the family and culture out of which we emerge; at the same time at this point in the evolution of consciousness, we assess where our traditional values express inclusivity and strengthen those beliefs; where they teach any form of exclusivity— an ‘ us/them’ ideology — we need to remodel and reform our identities into a celebration of our oneness— not sameness, oneness.
This pathway is the one we walk as we find the power of our own voices— our individual strength that allows us to express who we are as we add our unique gifts to the creation a community of respect. It takes courage to not only stand up for all in which we believe, but to recognize that we need to take on the responsibility of also speaking up for the voiceless among us.
This spans the emotional realm that many spiritual teachers suggest is the reason we incarnate. To experience and know the full range of emotions and to find balance between Compassion and Strength is the first step to transforming humankind to humane-kind.
Understanding to Harmony offers a pathway be celebrate our unity and commonality. In appreciating the Oneness that underlies our experience, we recognize who we are and our purpose in incarnating.
This pathway calls our commonality to the fore. We remember that we judge no-one till we have walked a mile in their moccasins. Understanding requires stepping into our own strength and authenticity and consciously choosing the best course of action (rather than reaction) that is most appropriate in any given circumstance.
This pathway spans the intellectual realm. Whereas Wisdom is the receptacle for unexpected insights and inspiration, Understanding represents the gestating of our perceptions and inklings of something new and novel that is ready to unfold. Such processing makes the new insight usable.
This pathway offers us the opportunity to expand the wisdom we have processed. Here is the chance to appreciate the power of intuition and intention that enriches our lives.
Just as illustrated symbols open our inner worlds, so do numbers— symbols with which we are all very familiar in our day-to-day lives. Numerology is a study of the symbolic importance of numbers and how they pertain to us, as individuals and as a human family. As astrologers read the skies, and tarot enthusiasts the cards, numerologist Joan Scannell sees added layers of meaning not only in our birthdates, but how that date plays out as each year changes from one to another. I have taken the liberty of adding my own cards to Joan’s text as she applies this to the cards.
As 2016 gives way to 2017 this issue of the newsletter seems the perfect time to introduce Joan and her speciality. She believes 2017 will be a year of new opportunities and fresh starts, resonating as it does with the energy of ‘1’ (2+0+1+7=10/1)
The “1” year is all about new, healthy and natural beginnings. It’s also got a ‘take charge’ sense to it. We will definitely have the urge to start new things, improve our connection with others, and feel a deeper purpose to our lives. To quote Dr. Phil, these urgings will compel us to “put some verbs in our sentences.”
This means we may decide to start that new business we have been thinking about for a while. We may expand our social networks and connect with new associates. We might feel the itch to travel and check off some of those items on our bucket list. We may begin a new career path or work to really showcase a special talent we have.
Where ever we choose to make our fresh starts, know that the Universe naturally conspires to help us achieve these desires as long as they are aligned with our higher good and cause no intentional harm to another.
Magician – (Major Arcana 1) The Magician encourages us to be creative, individualistic, confident, and self-empowered. His message for the year tells us to take control of the resources around us and make the most of the opportunities presented to us. The Magician works his magic to manifest the things he desires. He does not just expect them to appear. That said, he warns us not to become too arrogant, selfish or deceptive in our practices as those energies are repellent to others, and ultimately plant bad seeds for a tainted future crop.
Wheel of Fortune – (Major Arcana 10) – The Wheel of Fortune reminds us that our destiny is a fine combination of our concerted efforts toward a goal and the fickle hand of fate. Some times the wheel turns in our favor. Other times it doesn’t. The energy of the Wheel of Fortunes tells us not to worry about the hand of fate as there is little we can do to control it. Instead, it’s best if we pursue our path according to what feels right for us, and trust that things will fall into place as they should. This card tells us not to worry ourselves with things over which we have no control and to trust in the process of life.
Ace of Cups, Pentacles, Wands, Swords – (The Four Elements) This year, we can expect to have new opportunities in the areas governed by the four elements – water/love, earth/finance, air/ideas, fire/passions and opportunities. The Aces of each suit suggest new chances, opportunities or “gifts” from the Universe. What we choose to do with them will be the deciding factor with how they develop.
For instance, the element of water tells us there may be a chance to improve/grow an existing relationship, the opportunity to begin a new one or the potential for a baby to be born.
The element of earth suggests we will have new opportunities that makes life on the earth plane better – an investment will pay off, a raise will come, a new job will be offered, an engagement may occur, or a big problem will be solved.
The element of air suggests a fresher mindset and more mental acuity. Burdens, anguish, disappointment and frustrations will be released. More productive and healthier ways of thinking will manifest. Attention will shift away from problems and our focus will be on solutions and brighter futures.
The element of fire indicates we will feel motivated to make our deepest desires come to life. We will feel passion in our bellies and there will be confidence in our action. We will also feel more motivation and energy in our daily life. Those opportunities that are seized and appreciated will produce great success.
In closing, it’s important to note that that while this New Year will present many amazing opportunities, it is up to us to take advantage of them. Without purposeful action nothing will manifest productively. So with that in mind, commit right now to make 2017 a year for which your future self will thank you!
Experienced, knowledgeable and professional, Joan Scannell is an Authentic Life Mentor who uses Tarot and numerology to help individuals maximize their potential and develop the courage to live their best lives on a daily basis. Joan has been guiding people in the process for more than 25 years. As an experienced Tarot card reader, numerologist and astrologer, Joan’s mission in life is to “make the world a more peaceful place one healed soul at a time.” Joan is a regular reader at the Magic Moon, Saratoga’s oldest and most beloved Metaphysical Shop. Visit www.joanscannell.com. Other ways to connect include: Facebook – Joan Scannell Live Your Authentic Life, Twitter -@scannelljoan, and email – email@example.com.
Introduction to Kabbalah’s Tree of Life:
This article was presented in 11 consecutive editions of the newsletter to introduce beginners, in small steps, to The Tree of Life. To start to get a feel of the profound wisdom offered by this wisdom tradition, it is recommened that you proceed slowly, one sefirah or ‘cosmic chakra’ at a time. Use the diagram as a map to familiarize yourself with the journey. When the multi-layered Tree is more comprehensible, it can be applied to any field of study that is seeking to celebrate diversity in unity.
The Tree of Life
And now. . . ? Kabbalah, cards and Consciousness, the newsletter from fb’s group, Conscious Transformation offers an introduction to the mystical Tree of life as a basic tool used by mystics to comprehend Divinity and the creation, as well as our place in it. The inner face of Judaism offers the mystic a way of life that is based on the understanding that we are all deeply connected to a whole that is greater than its parts. Mysticism is an honoring of the mystery out of which we were born and to which we will return. Its teachings are many.
Kabbalah’s Tree of Life is a diagram of oneness and interconnection, comprising ten sefirot or, as I like to think of them, ‘cosmic chakras’ and the 22 pathways that join them. Each sefirah has a specific energetic vibration that is reflected in you and me, according to the soul qualities we own, enhance and share with the world. Perhaps we should start by defining what I mean by mystic, which for me is a term to describe one who accepts an underlying connection in all things, who believes that there is more to Life that we can access through our five senses, and who celebrates our diversity and seeks unity in plurality.
Jewish mysticism teaches that as we are formed in the image of a creative Divinity, we too, are creative beings. By connecting with our own intuition, we create our reality as a mirror of our beliefs about our own possibilities and potential. Like Tarot’s Magician, we bridge heaven and earth.
Kabbalah’s Tree of Life can be seen as an interconnected diagram of pathways and energy centers — portals that lead us into the Oneness of which we are all part. These ‘cosmic chakras’ are called sefirot (pronounced s’feerot) a Hebrew plural word while s’firah (pronounced s’feerah) is singular. In trying to understand The Tree of Life in ways that are accessible, I introduce each of the sefirot with an English term that makes the essence of each ‘cosmic chakra’ understandable.
1. Keter – Portal to intuition, intention and inspiration
Keter, the first s’firah is translated here as Spark— appearing as that bright, intuitive flash of light that seemingly comes from no-where, from the NO-THING-NESS of the Unmanifest. Suddenly there it is — and life changes. Perhaps the key to opening our connection to this mysterious realm is through intention— the stronger it is, the more likely we are to ignite that spark or flash of inspiration, intuition and insight— empowering our spiritual energy field to respond to something new, original and pertinent.
Aligned with intention, we feel the joy and enthusiasm of knowing that we are in the right time and place. In order to become conscious of the process, we need to step out of our story— the narrative that plays continuously as an inner voice that comments on everything we are doing. This s’firah reminds us that when we intend, intuit and manifest, anything is possible. We can see that Spark connects to Wisdom, Understanding and Harmony. It is from this point, the The Initiate/Fool starts each journey in trust, curiosity and joy.
2. Chochmah— Portal to Wisdom
The second s’firah is Chochmah the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Wisdom. How does creative energy expresess itself within us? Wisdom is alive in our lives when insight, feeling and an unexplained knowingness merge and we suddenly become aware. A new dimension opens in which unexpected insights and perceptions start to flow, eddying around us and waiting our attention. As we allow this new knowledge the time to ripen, thoughts start to take form.
‘Kabbalah‘ means ‘to receive’— Spark ignites the flow and energizes the Pillar of Expansion with the seeds of Wisdom. To really get a handle on these still unformed impressions, the energy flows across the Tree into the complimentary pod of Understanding where, with time, they gestate into the thoughts we comprehend and a new creative process begins. What is waiting to be born in your creative life? Become present to it and allow your imagination to soar into impossible realms. As you think of any project that you have brought to fruition, you recall it may well have started with an unexpected idea that was taken through various stages into manifestation.
3. Binah— Portal to Understanding
The third s’firah is Binah, the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Understanding. Comprehending how creative energy expresess itself within us, we may be better able to understand the concepts behind the Tree of Life. Completing the first triad, Understanding is the womb in which we gestate the information received from Wisdom, seeded by Spark. On the book Miraculous Living, Rabbi Labowitz states that thoughts are patterned and organized into a tapestry, becoming available, practical and usable. “In wisdom a thought is received, in understanding it is born.” Once this happens, we can claim the comprehension as our own. As Wisdom and Understanding are bridged, knowledge opens one portal to consciousness, while intuition opens another. Some mystics describe the mysterious s’firah of Da’at on the central pillar between Wisdom and Understanding as the orb of Knowledge. These three ‘cosmic chakras’ connect with the triad of emotion — Compassion, Strength and Harmony
4. Chesed— Portal to Compassion
The fourth s’firah is Chesed, the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Compassion. Visualizing how creative energy expresess itself within us, we may be better able to understand the concepts behind the Tree of Life. Many ancient wisdom traditions teach that one of the main reasons we incarnate in human form is to experience and master the emotional realm— balancing compassion with strength and creating harmony. Compassion is the portal of nurturance for body, mind and soul, for ourselves and for others; it encourages us to stay open, empty and receptive, letting go of thought and its story that repeats endlessly within us, an ongoing cycle and commentary of past mistakes, guilt, regrets. When we still the mind and become present, we are fully alive in each moment. The ‘cosmic chakra’ of Compassion (Chesed) is directly connected to Wisdom, Strength, Harmony and Innovation. It holds center position on the Pillar of Expansion.
Eternal or infinite love is unconditional and inclusive, inviting us to serve selflessly. Free of expectations, and without preconceived notions, we suffer no disappointment. With an open heart, we are able to accept what is, rather than focusing on what is not, or what could be. For every negative encounter, there is positive potential. Compassion allows us to offer our presence to one another — our full and undivided attention which is the greatest gift we have to give.
5. Gevurah— Portal to Strength
The fifth s’firah is Gevurah is the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Strength. Situated in the center of the Receptive Pillar on In the traditional Tree of Life, Gevurah is translated as Severity which is a heavily loaded word. The word ‘Strength’ seems less so. Compassion and Strength are the terminal points on the spectrum of possibility in the emotional arena. It is from a position of Strength that we pause, in the midts of the emotional flow that may seem overwhelming and draw on our ability to plan how best to respond rather than react, deciding when to step forward and lead with humility and when we follow with dignity for the greatest good of all concerned. Self-discipline sets boundaries and structures that allow us to achieve the goals we set, forming workable schedules that are not overtaxing. This ‘cosmic chakra’ connects to Understanding, Harmony and Tradition as well as to Compassion.
Strength reminds us to practice discernment rather than judgment because we never have the full picture. It gives us courage to speak up for the voiceless and stand firm in the face of injustice. It is a grounded holding-place from which to find balance on the pathway from love to fear and back. When not coming as a response to physical danger, fear emerges from a belief in paucity. As the Universe is abundant, this is an illusion. Strength is an expansive and courageous quality that frees the soul to overcome challenges that limit, and encourages us to move forward. Transcending the ‘shadow’ elements that prevent our fully expressing our own authenticity, we are able to persevere.
In the I Ching: a guide to life’s turning points, Brian Browne Walker teaches: “True joy is experienced by those who are strong within and gentle without.”
6. Tiferet— Portal to Harmony
The sixth s’firah— Tiferet— is the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Harmony which encapsulates beauty and resonance, and is in direct contact with every other sefirah on the Tree. In the traditional Tree of Life, Tiferet is translated as Beauty. On the middle path, it is halfway between the mysterious and the known. Inspired by insight from Spark, Wisdom and Knowledge, it is in the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Harmony we understand the bigger picture. From the lovingkindness and courage of Compassion and Strength we enjoy the potential to experience and express the unconditional love that we are; from Innovation and Tradition, our actions interpret our history with originality and authenticity, standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before us; from Imagery and Physicality we manifest the magic of who we are as we bridge heaven and earth, the sacred and the secular.
Harmony is found in the present moment. In beauty there is resonance. In the silence of profound beauty we hear the still small voice as we are moved in ways we cannot name, as we are called forward, awakening the courage to hold fast to our dreams even when the goal is unclear. Divinity is with us, even in the darkness of a moonless night. We listen from the heart, opening all our senses to the beauty that exists within and without, known and unrecognized, even in the mystical coincidences and synchronicites that remind us of where we find Divinity and in the Mystery, find ourselves.
7. Netzach— Portal to Innovation
The seventh s’firah, Netzach, is the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Innovation. In the traditional Tree of Life, this ‘cosmic chakra’ is named Victory. Just as Wisdom and Understanding provide the spectrum for thought, and Compassion and Strength for the emotions, this level is where we consider action. Here on the column of the expressive, rather than the receptive side of the Tree, we see how we use our skills in creative manifestation. This is the place that we are invited to play, for the sheer joy of experimentation, where intution, thought and feeling are expressed in our own unique way— for the author, the book is in progress, the painter is hard at work at the easel, the gardener is planting, pruning, watering and weeding after visualizing what the garden will look like. This ‘cosmic chakra’ is connected Compassion, Harmony, Tradition, Imagery and Physicality.
Taking inspiration for the ideas you have, start to experiment, lose yourself in the creative process of expressing yourself— go back to the child you were, playing with sand and water to see what these materials can do. Give yourself time without distractions. Keep your focus. Lost in the process of doing, hear the inner voice. Dance with no-one watching, sing aloud with no-one listening. Feel motivated by the sheer joy of doing. Exercise your free will, take time to rest and nurture your body which is the physical vehicle through which you express your soul. Stay vigilant for the coincidences, serendipities and synchronicities that remind us we are part of something so much bigger than we know.
from Brian Brown Walker: The I Ching: “Activity grounded in truth brings progress and good fortune… great progress can be made through the effort of will. It is essential that all of your activity be characterized by humility, conscientiousness and adaptability. If fear or doubts intrude, remain quietly focused on the activity at hand.” Hexagram 46
8. Hod— Portal to Tradition
The eighth s’firah, Hod, is the ‘cosmic chakra’ of Tradition. In the traditional Tree of Life, this ‘cosmic chakra’ is named Splendor. Just as Wisdom and Understanding provide the spectrum for thought, and Compassion and Strength for the emotions, this level is where we consider polarities in the realm of action— expressive and receptive. Here on the column of the receptive, Tradition holds collective memory, both personal amd universal, for the accumulation of humanity’s actions and reactions, stories and beliefs. It is the voice of parents, culture and ancestors and is connected to Strength, Harmony, Innovation, Imagery and Physicality.
In living a creative life, there is time to step aside from the canvas you are creating and look at the art. In the pause, we step out of our own way and consider how inspiration and creation have come together. Against the back drop of the eons of traditional perspectives out of which we find our own authenticity, we take time to stop, let go and ‘be.’ It gives us an opportunity to reconnect with the divine spark within. In letting go of any expectations that we have taken into ourselves, we open to our own creative and non-judgmental genius. Tradition is a compendium of fairy tales, archetypes and myths (which according to Jean Houston, are ‘stories that never were and always are’) from which we learn to discern the helpful from the hurtful. As we live out the hero’s journey we choose, we learn from the past and move forward by adding our own experiences into the Akashic record of all that was, is and shall be.
From Alice Kane, in The Dreamer Awakes:
The dreamer awakes, the shadow goes by
When I tell you a tale, the tale is a lie
But ponder it well, fair maiden, good youth
The tale is a lie, what it tells is the truth.
9. Yesod— Portal to Imagery, imagination and dreams
In the traditional Tree of Life, this ‘cosmic chakra’ is named Foundation. On the central path, and just above Physicality, we all visualize our longings, our dreams— our possibilities and potential, constantly forming, shaped and limited only by our own beliefs. This is the realm of creative imagination, archetypes, dreams and images. It is here we step out of the boundaries of the five-sense reality we experience and open to our soul’s yearning and to our spiritual essence. What we can imagine, we can become. As energy vibrates here at a higher level, we are not bound by the physics that limit our possibilities— we can go anywhere, do anything, become anyone.
Through this portal to our creativity, our inner vision opens in wonder to the limitless potential that exists— of the freedom that creative imagining releases. We start to think beyond the concrete and enter the world of paradox, beginning to comprehend that the spark of Divinity that resides within, renders us all identical and at the same time, in the way that we express ourselves, all totally unique. Identical or unique? The answer is YES. From this vantage point, we long to answer the question ‘who am I’— beyond the gender, beliefs and roles we play? We see and acknowlegde one another with the greeting ‘Namaste.’ Our goal in each lifetime is to expand the spark of Divinity that is ours, and recongize our Oneness. This is reflected in the way we respond to others, to Nature and the world around us. Philosopher Martin Buber suggested we can choose to approach all relationships in an ‘I:Thou’ manner. Intention (‘kavannah’) opens us to our creative potential of expressing the sacred in the secular and allowing us to celebrate our diversity as we sanctifiy LIfe.
10. Malchut— Portal to Physicality and Manifestation
In the traditional Tree of Life, this ‘cosmic chakra’ is named Kingdom. On the central path, below Imagery, Harmony and Spark, as the energetic vibration becomes denser with each stage, is the tangible, physical world of our five senses. This is the realm in which we see the results of our beliefs.
As we shape, mold and form our lives we constantly begin anew, releasing what is complete. We learn the magic of both the possibilities and limitations of the spiritual being on a human journey; it is here that our plans are set into motion, accomplishments evaluated and completed or cast aside. By celebrating our diversity and remaining in awe of the wondrous multiplicity of living forms on our planet, we sanctify Life. In closely observing nature, we revel in the cycles of birth, death and rebirth and come to understand that nothing stays the same, nothing is as it appears in the vast and unified field in which we live. Physical forms are time-constrained as they begin and end, but spiritual essence and energy is timeless.
In this ‘cosmic chakra’ of Physicality we expand our awareness, becoming present in equal to measure to all that we are, as we gain experience by thinking, feeling and being. We learn to discern the differences in these three modes of learning about who we are in this time and place. With these three harmonized, we gain access to fulfilling our soul’s purpose of experiencing the physical. We find ways to heal the brokeness that is part of the system— waiting to be healed as we heal ourselve. In Hebrew this is called ‘tikkun olam.’ We find our own authentic way of living as unique individuals in a blended community, honoring both the differences and similtudes we all share. As awareness opens, we shatter the illusion of being alone in a meaningless world. We learn the difference between independence and interdependence. By just being who we are— for me, by ‘Heather-ing’ for example, we forge our unique path of connection and consciousness.
We recognize that we each play a significant part in the game of life, and without us, being who we are, the puzzle is never complete. Harmonizing thinking, feeling and being, we attempt to fulfill our soul’s purpose of healing the brokeness of a perfectable rather than a perfected system of living consciously on Planet Earth.
Rabbi Shoni Labowitz teaches: “In kneading, sculpting and molding your life you will culminate the old and begin the new. . . . . and you learn that letting go is liberating, endings are beginnings and death is not final.”
Who are you? This is a question that seems so simple. Is it? We introduce ourselves with our names and go on to describe our gender identification, roles, vocations and avocations- for example, if asked today, I am a woman on a spiritual quest, wife, mother and grandmother, artist, author, tarot enthusiast, lover of birds and flowers, fascinated with sacred geometry and the mystery of the unknown. How many terms can you use to answer the question? Would they be the answers you gave 25 years ago or will still apply 25 years from now? Does any of this really answer the question – who are you?
No matter how many roles we play, beliefs we have about ourselves, communities with whom we identify, as we dig deeper, we realize all of these layers are temporary and yet me know there is something eternal about each of us. When you really look at yourself in the mirror, who looks back at you? When you hear the ongoing voice in your head that keeps an ongoing commentary about what you are doing, and ‘shoulda, coulda woulda’ who is actually listening? Read more . . . .
Perhaps the best answer I have found to the question was given by Rabbi Rami Shapiro, whose book, Minyan is a must for any spiritual library. After much deliberation no peeling away of layers, the answer may be: “I am an individual spark in the totality of The Divine, a temporary manifestation of Divine Externality, present in this incarnation with an opportunity to recognize unity in diversity.”
As a mystic, one who seeks the underlying mystery that connects us all in time and space, I take Rabbi Rami’s words to heart. Let’s dissect what he says:
As an individual spark, my consciousness is mine to awaken and strengthen the blaze of awareness on our planet. As a spark, the totality of The Divine is the sacred spark of which I am a part rather than apart; while Divinity is eternal, I manifest, spark, shine, glow and return to the light as my soul determines. In each incarnation, I strive to recognize unity in diversity and marvel in the Oneness of which we are all part.
With such an understanding,’namaste’ seems the perfect greeting for us to use as we meet and greet in a world that celebrates diversity as it sanctifies Life.
One of the gifts of entering the world of Tarot is meeting with the conscious cultural creatives who enrich our lives with their ideas.
Dr Art Rosengarten is one of those teachers who has enriched my life. I have pleasure in offering his article:TAROT: NOT A RELIGION BUT A SACRED TOOL
“The intuitive and spiritual vision gained from Tarot divination, I Ching, and other such methods remains, even to this day, outright suspect to the spiritual establishment. Established religion asks: Why is there need for these methods when we have already spelled out everything so clearly? Who can be sure that people channeling their own spiritual insight won’t go their own way? As Brother David Steindl-Rast, author, Ph.D., and monk of the Mount Savior Monastery observes:
One way or the other, the same plot is acted out repeatedly on the stage of history: every religion seems to begin with mysticism and end up in politics… Fortunately, I have not yet come across a religion where the system didn’t work at all. Unfortunately, however, deterioration begins on the day the system is installed…. Our social structures have a tendency to perpetuate themselves. Religious institutions are less likely than seed pods to yield to the new life stirring within. And although life (over and over again) creates structures, structures do not create life. (The Mystical Core of Organized Religion, p. 2, 1989)
While the merits of extending good will and warm regard for individuals of differing faiths have grown to a hopeful point at this juncture of planetary change, such progress in the religious and spiritual sectors is usually constrained and offset by the perennially insular practical needs of a particular organization for its own survival. Spreading (or at least keeping) its own faith is a simple matter of endurance, though often, unfortunately, it bleeds away energies which might otherwise enliven the creative furthering of an organization’s own vision. Sure adherence to tradition has an important function, but a tradition needs to continually renew and develop. The same tendencies, it should be noted, apply to psychological movements and consciousness-raising programs as well. For all their intelligence and good works, they tend still to calcify within the business of their businesses and the doctrine of their doctrines.
Although most spiritual entities and wisdom enterprises may entertain certain unspoken desires for dominance (hush!) — for becoming that preferred “superbridge” to the world’s great spiritual superhighway — I’m afraid each group in practice would be at best hesitant, if not a tad snarly, in its support of the hypothetical “top honor” were it given to a rival group (“OK boys and girls, pack your things — Quakerism is now the universal world practice”), especially if in so doing it meant cementing the quick and painful surcease of their own orders and schools. Human nature being what it is, the politics of organized spirituality as seen on the “world stage” by the end of the 20th century is indeed a curious display.
As case in point, in late August of 1993 I had the good fortune to travel to Chicago to attend the five-day Parliament of World Religions. This by all measures was an extraordinary spiritual bonanza, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the great Indian saint, Swami Vivekananda, and his epic journey to America in August of 1893 for the express purpose of initiating the first major “interfaith conference” in recorded history. The centennial celebration was truly a marvelous event to behold, with every emanation of guru, spiritual ambassador, captain of consciousness, priest and priestess imaginable. The colorful opening ceremony was a procession of Hindus, Buddhists, Native Americans, Sikhs, Jains, Moslems, Rastafarians, B’hais, Yorubans, and Zoroastrians, with women participating on a par with men, and, in all, creating a truly overwhelming feeling of global spiritual diversity and community.
With more than five thousand attendees filling the luxurious ballrooms of the Palmer Hotel in downtown Chicago, we all were free to pick and choose various talks and instructions given by a virtual smorgasbord of “spiritual bridgemakers” at any given hour. Spiritual vision was offered up, from the renowned Korean Zen taskmaster Seung Sahn to the gentle Vietnamese Zen poet Thich Nat Hanh, from an elegant leader of European Jewry in Sir Sigmund Sternberg to a feisty and controversial leader of African-American Muslims in Louis Farrakhan (replete with his small army of bodyguards). There were outstanding Christian monks, mystics, and clergy, as well as delegations from three of the largest Pagan organizations in North America. The Joseph Campbell Society was represented, Dr. Jean Houston was there, Arlo Guthrie along with his Brooklyn-born guru was there, and the late Harvard professor John Mack, M.D. gave a chilling discussion of his UFO abduction research and theories regarding the interdependence of all beings, earthborn or otherwise.
But for all this impressive mandala of spiritual diversity, I don’t believe any speaker once mentioned throughout the entire affair (with the possible exception of the Joseph Campbell group) the incomparable deck of human spiritual possibility, that is, the Tarot. There is an important reason for this: the Tarot is not a religion, but a sacred tool. Nor is the Tarot a spiritual movement or a school of consciousness, but a catalyst of imagination and a creator (some may prefer inventor) of consciousness.
A Transpersonal Thermometer
With its insertion into one of several small physical openings, the thermometer is a diagnostic instrument designed to measure body temperature. Its feedback alerts one to a preliminary and non-specific assessment of multiple, simultaneous, and interrelated systems operating within the physical organism. Its predecessors, its mechanics, its internal structure are secondary if not irrelevant to its function. The thermometer’s utility nonetheless remains unrivalled in common medical practice. It is a measuring stick of somatic ailment and wellness. Proper placement and correct interpretation are its sole challenges in application and these too for most users are easily achieved. Historically, change and controversy have come mainly in the technology of its construction—though its purpose and validity have remained largely unquestioned, at least within the parameters of modern Western medicine.
So too, we might say, is the Tarot. Its insertion likewise is placed into one of several small metaphysical openings—a context of exhausted rationality, the invocation of a higher power, or perhaps, a moment of compelling uncertainty that calls out for guidance. Its feedback alerts one to a non-specific, generalized assessment of structures operating within the whole personality, but unlike the thermometer, the Tarot can also be directed to specific systems and subsystems throughout multiple psychological levels. A user my seek to determine, for instance, “ Why am I not making spiritual progress after so many years of meditation?” Or, “Is it time to rethink who I really am and where I’m really going?” Invariably, the cards will point to a unique, multi-layered, simultaneous set of inter-relationships supplying a complex web of psychospiritual feedback for introspection.
As a scion of symbolism, Tarot operates multidimensionally from a purely non-affiliated platform in the truest sense. As such it is ‘foundationless’ with respect to strict adherence and fealty to the embedded biases of any particular tradition. In the political arena, for instance, liberals and conservatives alike may claim its arcane workings put to the service of their own partisan agendas. Its own “vote” however always remains within the structure of its apolitical governance. If it has a bias, it is always to think more deeply and universally, and to return to the underlying spiritual implications of the matter consdidered. As simply an instrument, or as I prefer, a sacred tool, the Tarot functions we might say as transpersonal thermometer—a measuring stick of psychospiritual health.
Yet, I daresay, once past the psychotheocratic resistance (if such a thing exists and were possible) known to tatter the woven seams of many (all) religious and psychological mantles, Tarot’s tremendous versatility and universality would serve nonetheless as a natural and creative aid to each and every embodied school of spirituality.
Are tools of imagination no longer needed by such groups? I certainly hope not. Unless any philosophic, religious, or psychological school grows irreparably stale or stultified within its own dogma and tradition, it, they like all organisms must continue to adapt and evolve to the changing demands of each age. As a simple matter of common sense, the closer an organization is to the lived heartbeat of its constituents, the more likely its survival. And neither should this fact be lost on Tarot itself; to the contrary, Tarot must continue to creatively use its own wisdom and method upon itself in order to accommodate to the changing demands of this age and the next.
Unlike the movements represented at the Parliament of World Religions back in the late 20th century, Tarot’s potential utility is equally relevant to the corporate manager, the research scientist, the professional athlete, the abstract artist, the elementary school teacher, the single mother, the politician, and the mental health worker, to name a few. This is because Tarot is verily an ingenious instrument, like the tried and true thermometer: its markings, however, point us to a direction of inner vision, a hidden side of events, the perennial wisdom, or to an interdependency of relationship. Extremely handy things, I should think, for all and any who wish to expand and deepen perspective and awareness.
Specific applications are secondary in Tarot, though, personally, I would find no difficulty envisioning at the Parliament’s next 100 year anniversary, come 2093, a religious and spiritual assemblage where the praises of Tarot, and other sacred tools like it, are commonly acknowledged for their creative catalyzing effects, which have served immeasurably their own organization’s philosophical and practical expansion and development.
Arthur Rosengarten, Ph.D.
Adapted from Tarot And Psychology: Spectrums of Possibility
“Getting to know Justice took me some time. I would see her standing there with her sword and scales, and wondered how the hell I could relate to someone so austere. I remember how Justice first revealed herself to me in very a powerful way on an Autumnal day back in 2009, in the form of a homeless woman. I used to ride my bicycle from the Inner West to Eastern Sydney on a weekly basis to volunteer at a hospice. On this commute I would often pass this woman in her various haunts around Darlinghurst.
She broke the ice one day by yelling at me from across the street, “Hey! You read the tarot, don’t you?!” I pedaled over and our conversations began. At the end of our first meeting she put three 50c coins in my bike basket. When I protested she waved her hand and said “Nah, what do I need it for?!” After that day I would get off my bike wherever I saw her, and stop for a catch up. We talked about many things, from the tarot, to Anne Frank, to how she kept in shape (she would demonstrate how she could touch her toes) to why she always referred to herself by her full name rather than just her first name. I once saw her walking up the street pausing and smiling at people who walked by, muttering “Welcome. Welcome.” Sharing that with a friend one day, she commented that it made sense that she would welcome people, seeing she lived on the street. We were all walking through her home every day.
On my Justice Education Day, I had laid my bicycle on the stone steps of an old gothic building on Cleveland Street, previously a church, and now owned by a local dominatrix. My friend was sitting with her back to the massive ornate door, telling me I should read The Magus (I still haven’t, but I bought it as a result of her instruction), and regaling me with poems by Omar Khayyam. All of a sudden there was a disruption behind me: a homeless man walked past shouting disparagingly, “do you think you’re f***king psychic?!” (my bicycle is covered in flowers and tarot cards and says ‘Tarot Readings with Psychic Sarah’ on it. So it’s kind of obvious to anyone who cares to look, what I do for a living).
My friend, suddenly assuming the mantle of Lady Justice, leapt up and started hurling verbal abuse at this man and told him to go move on. She wouldn’t stop until he moved. As he walked away, muttering “bloody psychics” under his breath, my friend turned to me, and with ferocity still in her voice she said, “Don’t take shit from anyone Sarah, don’t take shit from anyone.”I was fascinated as I watched her leaping into action – it was such a sudden shift from serenely quoting the Rubáiyát to the fiery protection of our sacred space. I was learning that Justice is always at the ready. Justice can be cool, calm and collected, yet will be fierce and commanding if there is foolishness in the ranks.
Wide-eyed, I nodded, and took it all in, knowing that what she had told me was exactly what I needed to hear at that point in my life. From that day forward I started strengthening boundaries where I had previously allowed them to loosen out of timidity, and I broached subjects with people that I had needed to bring up for a long time, instead of suffocating through my silence.
I felt the power of the sword and scales of Justice, and I did my best to stay in balance, to look around me and inside of me to see what was really going on. I spoke of the things that came from my heart; the things that needed to be heard outside of my own body for a change, rather than keeping them internalised. On that day, my friend presented the Justice archetype in a strong and strident way, but that was because the situation demanded it. And the way she directly delivered her wisdom to me came from such a heartfelt space. She didn’t need to say anything to him or anything to me. But by choosing to act she helped me change the course of my life.
When I first gazed upon the Justice card in the Relative Tarot by Carrie Paris (carrieparis.com) another layer of understanding came through. Never before had I seen the Justice card as totally hot and sensual! Not only can we be clear and concise with what we perceive, we can be fully in our bodies as we do so. When we approach situations from an intellectual point of view alone, we can miss out on so much. When we feel our way and totally inhabit the body we are destined to stay in until our bones fall apart, there are so many more layers of experience to tap into.
I look at this Justice and am reminded of how powerful it is to be comfortable in one’s own skin, and what a radical act this can be in a society that tries to keep us easily placated by teaching us inherent self-discomfort. I imagine myself as this Justice card and I can feel the power that awakens when we aren’t shocked by difference, and instead seek common ground. When we look at what’s not working and seek to change it. A true Justice connection starts with trusting in our capacity to see things as they really are, aiming for perception that isn’t clouded by conditionings or twisted by corruption. Justice in the truest sense of the word.
Sarah Barry (“Psychic Sarah”) has been a full-time tarot reader since 2003. She runs her business from her private tarot office in Newtown, Sydney, Australia where she does face-to-face readings, as well as readings via Skype and email. She feels fortunate to have the opportunity to sit with such a huge cross-section of society, and enjoys being a catalyst for transformation in her clients’ lives.
Outside of tarot she maintains a daily Vipassana meditation practice, writes, makes and sells chai tea, and rides a highly decorated flowery-tarot-art bicycle through the streets of Sydney.
You can find out more about her work at sarahthepsychic.com and follow her on Instagram @sarahthepsychic
Katrina Wynn asks: “Is Tarot only for answers? There is an assumption of many that working with Tarot is always based on a question-answer dynamic.”
She offers this thoughtful perspective:
“I would like to pose an alternative point-of-view. What if working with Tarot was taken out of the context of reading for answers to questions—moving away from the anticipated predictive or informative hunt for the who-what-why-when-where answers of this contractual agreement? To do this, we need to bring our focus into the present, the Now, instead of forecasting the future based on events from the past. Basically, asking a question is a call and the answer or reading is a response….call and response…action and reaction…cause and effect.
Someone is reading this and already going into the thought that a desire for self-enrichment is still an inquiry into the cards, such as “How can the cards enhance some aspect of myself or my life?” So let’s simplify this exploration more, moving further from expecting satisfaction of our inquiries.
As Marshall Rosenberg expressed in his teachings about Nonviolent Communication, we all have needs, uniquely expressed through our individual character. These are our motivating forces and the roots of our emotional responses to life when our needs are meet or unmet. For example, if I need food but I’m in a location where food is not available, I may become anxious. If I am in a cold environment and I am sitting close to a fire, I can feel content for my needs for safety and comfort are being met.
These needs can be divided into at least seven basic categories: autonomy, connection, physical well-being, integrity, play, peace, and meaning.
We could have a long and interesting discussion about the fundamental contrast between needs and desires and I could certainly embrace a variety of views, but for the sake of this exploration, I would like to differentiate the satisfaction of a need from the longing for a desired outcome. I am purposely not addressing the spiritual definition of desire in terms of longing for oneness with God/Goddess or the Beloved, for I am placing that concept into the needs category…meaning.
Of course, satisfying needs, such as companionship or safety, is what drives most querents into Tarot readings, but addressing certain needs are not necessarily in the form of questions requiring responses—action taken with an anticipated reaction. Please allow me to share examples of what I am proposing.
I may have an essential need for visual beauty in my life and am particularly drawn to the artwork in a special Tarot deck. My impulse is to display these cards in a way that enriches my life, not as a response to a lack of beauty, but as an enhancer. Again, not from a perspective that something is missing or needs to be found, but, rather, icing on the fabulous cake that I am already enjoying. The art stands on its own and has no message about future or past perspectives, yet may transmit a message in a moment of synchronicity. Note the release of expectations.
Enrique Enriquez promotes a wonderful practice, what I call a “walking meditation”, where life can imitate Tarot cards, or visa versa. The curl of a palm frond may be reflected in the curve on a Marseille Tarot card, as in the “Two of Pentacles.” There was no question and the synchronistic connection stands on its own—whether there is meaning or not, be it a spontaneous coincidence or a resonance with nature.
In other words, there was no seeking for this connection, yet there was an openness to recognizing it the moment it appeared.
This can be extended into the chaos of connecting with people as well. When we release the longing and effort to connect with others and replace it with openness to opportunities as they arise, just being present in the moment with no preconceived agenda for filling our desire for a particular type of relationship, natural magic happens. We release the old structures that limit our access to new possibilities. We become more authentically ourselves for we release expectations and attachments to a particular outcome, a limitation in itself, especially in our personal presentation or energy.
Now, let’s take this opportunity for connection into our relationship with the cards (or whatever oracle you choose). When we pay attention to the meaningful potential that is already present in each card, we can play in the present, dance or delight, rebuke or condemn, but always with an open attitude of exploration with our friend, the Tarot. Perhaps associations to our past or future freely appear. In that moment what transpires is a gift, not an answer to a question.
Additional ways of relating with the Tarot include meditating on the image of a card. Meditation upon a sacred image is a technique promoted in many spiritual traditions. Since most meditation is a form of stilling the mind and facilitating guidance for our thoughts, these is no seeking, unless that is your expressed purpose for the meditation. And again, connections and messages can appear, but may not be the intended outcome of the meditation.
But what about actually reading the cards? Can there be no question or attachment to outcome when approaching a reading? I would say there is, again, depending on your attitude and expectations. We can embrace what is called “Beginner’s Mind” in Zen and other Buddhist practices, where we clear ourselves of any attachment or expectation and just turn the card over with curiosity and presence, suspending our interpretation of the card, being absolutely in the moment. This, too, is like a meditative practice for it requires managing that part of the mind that craves answers and wants to put concepts into recognizable boxes.
Beginner’s Mind and presence are qualities that I endeavor to embrace and promote in my Tarot practice. Less emphasis is made on asking questions or receiving answers, but more on the process of relating with the cards, their energy and essence, and gleaning any meaning that may be useful in the moment as guidance, not as prediction or mandate. It is an open relationship with the cards where they are free to explore whatever they like as we dance together in mutual enrichment.”
Katrina Wynne, known for her work with Tarot Counseling. She is author of “An Introduction to Transformative Tarot Counseling”, a Kindle e-book and will be offering a unique presentation at Reader’s Studio 2017 in the “Tarot and Psychology Conference”.
She facilitates online study programs for beginning to professional lovers and readers of Tarot. Her two courses and 20 webinars can be found at the following link:
http://TarotCounseling.org ~ website
http://MySacredJourney.org ~ weblog
http://OracleSoup.org ~ podcast with Gina Thies