Friday, April 22, 2016

My Quest Toward Enlightened Subjectivity

I pulled out my tarot cards for the first time the other day in a while. My cats had knocked some crap off my dresser, unveiling a book I have on tarot that I haven't used much and previously didn't find very accessible.

But this morning, I found some new spreads that were inspiring. One of them is about the sacred quest. It's a 7-card spread. Since I'm planning a quest this summer, it felt appropriate.

1. What is my quest?

10 of Cups, reversed

10 of Cups is a very obvious card for me to get as my quest mission. This card is about Ecotopia, a village in which families play in green pastures, praising the rainbow in the sky. To me it can represent sustainable community. According to one of my book, tens are associated with the concept of Kingdom. This card looks like the kingdom of Earth, a land in which we can dwell happily forevermore.

However, it is reversed. This brought up questions for me, such as, is a sustainable world/kingdom/community impossible?

Or perhaps it is encouragement to recognize the happiness I already have. I live in a village, of sorts - my residential community. This card can be a reminder to celebrate this.

But then, I realized something. Something about polarities reversing. A memory of witch camp, and one of my teachers beginning in the South, instead of North, while casting a circle. And it all clicked into place - this happy village already exists - in the Global South! While it is certainly a generalization, my impression of the cultures "below" the equator is that they tend to be more collectivist. And I hear words from a friend, spoken years ago, about her conversation with a Zapatista elder. My friend had asked, "What can we do in the states to support you?" Her response: "Break down individualism."

This is why I'm going to South America this summer. I need new templates of human interaction. We need this community way of being to survive. We don't have to reinvent the wheel, although we do need to adapt it for our place.

Note that I am under no delusions that the Global South, and South America in particular, is some paradise free of sin or human foible. I know there is a gruesome history of exploitation by those of us who come from European lands. Coffee, sugar, mined materials, and more - the commodification of these goods is tied up with immeasurable suffering at the hands of my kin and compatriots.

But, if nothing else, this card is validation of my journey this summer.

2. What path am I on?
King of Wands, reversed

Hey there KW! This fellow showed up in my life at the Montana national rainbow gathering, summer of 2013, in a random pocket trade. It was a different deck, but it's nice to see each other again.

First of all, I noticed the lizard near the top (since this card is reversed). I just learned the Konkow word for lizard - pic'ak. There's a lion at the bottom - Leo, my moon and south node, both signs being qualities I've already mastered and now need to move beyond. Wands channel magic, so maybe reversed, I'm on the path of letting magic flow through me - being the wand rather than using one.

Other than that, I don't make much of this card, and actually kind of want a new deck with less royalty and more imagery that I connect with. So, onward to the books.

This card seems to be about your basic bro who thinks he's so smart and rational and should be the philospher-king. Interesting. For one, this archetype is one that pisses me the fuck off, for lack of a better turn of phrase. Now I'm wondering if I need to honor my inner bro. Could I do this? At least I'm admitting I might have one (yep, I do).

Reversed, the basic bro experiences setbacks that transform him into someone more compassionate and understanding, as well as "serious and austere." (Hey, aren't I already on this path? What else do I have to learn here?) This reminds me of being the facilitator in a consensus-style meeting, rather than making decisions for others, as a king does.

I don't think this King of Wands is done with me. Apparently I've been on this path for at least two years, and I believe more. But let's continue.

3. Where does the path lead me?
The Emperor, reversed

I sure am getting a lot of royalty today. A lot of dudebros who think they are in charge - but they AREN'T, according to these reversals. A lot of undoing of the patriarchy, me thinks. Could the emperor reversed represent revolution?

According to my book, this card can signify civilization itself - so, reversed, undoing and dismantling that. It represents the laws of physics as well- which are broken by magic! It is also associated with setting boundaries and defending them - perhaps the reversal is a call to transgress and cross boundaries. And to act irresponsibly, since the Emperor is all about responsibility.

Again, like the King of Wands, the Emperor becomes less harsh and more compassionate and emotional when reversed. But he "may have trouble with clear thoughts and decisive action." (Not very feminist of you, tarot book - portraying compassion and emotion as in opposition to clear thinking.) Maybe decisive action isn't what is needed. This could be an excuse to hedge. The path of hedges...sounds like a deleted scene from Alice in Wonderland.

4. What opposes me?
Temperance, reversed

Temperance reversed sounds like a need for hedonism. Good call, tarot. I notice the red wings, the pouring cups, the flowers like daffodils, and a triangle on the dress.

According to one source, this pouring cups can represent the combination of solar and lunar qualities. Reversed, this card can signify finding it difficult to act in a moderate way and instead going wild, overreacting, or getting caught up in people's emotions.

This is where I'm starting to get really confused by this reading, in particular all the reversals. So, it is Temperance Herself that is opposing me, or Temperance reversed? In this particular placement the reading is especially difficult, because of the opposition. Part of me thinks I need to have a temper tantrum - perhaps about the creepy friend of a friend who keeps showing up in my life and feeling entitled to touch me and feel me up while drunk. Perhaps I should stop holding back and give him a good smack or at least a yelling at. Either way, the call to be more temperate doesn't resonate right now.

Which is confusing, given that if I do need it, that would make it all the more important.

5. What aids me?
Justice, reversed

As if I am not already confused enough, now Justice is reversed too.

According to my book, Justice comes at the center of the Fool's journey. It represents the spiritual laws of truth, above the laws of society. It holds a commitment to honesty, as well as combining opposites as seen in the scales. It is about recognizing what we have done and what others have done - that it is never "all my fault" nor am I "always the victim." As has come up in my circles over the past year, "right-sized accountability."

Reversed, this card warns of an injustice in a conflict or our own behavior, and a need to look under the surface of the situation.

Ironically, as much as I love justice and love this card, I feel like the reversal goes hand in hand with Temperance. Just as Temperance opposes me right now, I feel that maybe I'm being called to be less "objective" (along with the Emperor and King of Wands reversed) and more "subjective." To honor my piece of the truth without having to track everyone else's. To hold down my side of the scale and not worry about the other side. To name victimization and trumpet it from the rooftops.

And, at the same time, I resonate with a call to recognize the ways I have victimized others, and may continue to do so. This is also a big theme in my life, one that I have begun expressing over the past year in part by creating a document full of past transgressions in intimate relationships, as well as traumas that influence how I show up for intimate connection. I share this document with new people I'm getting closer to. Justice reversed, in the Aiding position, would seem to approve of this work, and encourage me to continue deepening it.

6. What must I sacrifice?
Ace of Swords, reversed

If I wasn't already clear about the message of this spread, this is the final nail in the coffin of any current attachment to logic and cool rationality I currently have. The Ace of Swords is all about detachment - cutting remarks, a cold blade that pierces directly to the so-called essence of things, meanwhile ignoring that the delight is in the details. Swords remind me of violence and domination.

Reversed this card is associated with illusions, difficulty in thinking, anger, exaggeration, and the need to think more carefully. Again, this is difficult because, like the Temperance card being in the Opposition placement, it's a sort of double-negative - a card that must be sacrificed while also being reversed. It could go both ways.

But the feeling I get is that I actually need to think  less carefully, and more on a whim. I'm ready for that. I started by sending a flirty text to someone cute without overthinking it. (Well, I had been, and then I just went for it.) I'm sure there are much bigger applications as well. Like, time to start packing my bags for my trip, and call Air Panama to arrange that flight.

7. What will I become?
Queen of Cups!!

FINALLY...A CARD THAT IS NOT REVERSED! And it's the final card, the card I'm becoming. How perfect is this?

Cups are associated with the element Water, and this is a very watery card. Water is conventionally seen as feminine. She is seated firmly on the throne (reality), while the stream (emotion) flows into her dress and becomes part of her.

She is the Queen of love and sensuality (thank Goddess this wasn't reversed).

I couldn't have drawn a more perfect card to represent who I want to become in my life if I had tried. The throne of reality reminds me of my Venus in Aquarius, becoming the Goddess of Visionary Thinking. Yet I need this to be more than an airy abstraction. And that's where the water comes in.

I don't really even know what to do with this card, it is so wonderful. Am I deserving of this destiny? Do I have to/ need to work with the other cards more before I can embody this archetype? My answer is probably, but that doesn't mean I can't start all of them at once - all Time is Now, after all. We don't live in a linear existence.

One of my books suggests I spend the day with my cards; well, I've spent a couple days with them. I drew them Wednesday morning and have since spent multiple sessions journaling and reading about them, and now this blog. It also tells me to record my dreams and only follow my instincts today.

Closing Thoughts

One of my biggest takeaways from this reading is the idea of a reversed card representing the Global South (or the opposite of whatever hemisphere I happen to be in while reading?). The Ten of Cups asked, what does community and utopia mean in the South?

I could ask the same question for each reversed card. What does the King of Wands look like in the South? How are men or masculine people embodying compassion in the part of the world I'm visiting?

What about the Emperor - this would seem to be an archetypal enemy of the South, considering colonization. But then again, didn't the Inka have Emperors as well, or analogous roles? What can I learn from this history? How were those Emperors different from the European ones? I'm thinking back to my reading of 1492, and remembering that in the Inka empire, there was an excess of goods stored in warehouses. Production was inefficient according to capitalist standards, but in a way that created security and abundance for people.

What does the South have to teach me about Temperance - is this a place for it, and if so, where? What about Justice? And the Ace of Swords, cutting rationality and exaggerated anger? There's a lot here, and I will be keeping my eyes, and hopefully my heart as well, open for what speaks to these questions as I weave my way further into my journey.

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