Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Tarot: Drunk on the moon

One of the questions most writers are asked is "Where do you get your inspiration?" I usually respond by asking, "Where do you not find inspiration?" Maybe it is peculiar to writers, but everything I see, hear and read provides inspiration. Today, it's the tarot cards.

Nice segue, don't you agree?

The Moon

"O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon, that monthly changes in her circled orb." Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet chided Romeo not to be inconstant like the moon who shows first one face and then another, much like most men believe women do. The moon -- and women -- are constant, although the light shines on them in varying degrees, sometimes in shadow and sometimes in full light. The moon reflects the sun's light, playing hide and seek with the sun, its opposite, behind Earth.

The moon speaks to the soul, stirring our deepest fears and haunting our nightmares. The moon also shines a light on our best dreams. It is a shining beacon in the night that inspires us to romance and changes the way we view the world and ourselves. Thomas Harris, through Hannibal Lecter, asked an FBI agent if they had seen blood outside under the moon. It's black, he said. Fresh blood is shiny, liquid night under the moon's glow. On the nights of the full moon snow is blue and the world is faintly tinged by blue light, a much smaller arc of the full spectrum of light that the sun provides. You must be careful when viewing anything under the moon's glow or listening to whispers in the night, they are shadowy messages that might not hold up in the full light of day.

Some believe the moon brings on madness -- lunacy (lunar madness) -- and some believe the moon calls forth the savage nature inherent in the soul. We can be certain of nothing under the moon's influence. It shows only half the story, half the truth, but where there is light, there is truth, and even a half truth can be more satisfying than a lie.

The card shows the moon above a clockwork chronometer that measures the movements of Sun, Earth and Moon, ticking away in measured movement. Yes, the moon shows us a different face every night, but it is the same face that a lunar month from now it will show us again. Everything that goes around comes around. As above, so below. What at first seems like deception and inconstancy is just the face of the moment, that point in an ever changing cycle that has at its heart a regularity by which clocks and stonehenges keep time.

5 of Cups

Beneath the bloody light of dawn, a man kneels, hands clasped, grief clear upon his face. He is grieving, mourning a loss. Is his loss connected with the contents of the three cups that lay empty and on their sides next to him? Why does he not see the full cups behind him? He has not lost all, although the loss seems greater than he can bear. He is so sunk in despair and grief that he is oblivious to what he still has, to what he has always had.

When I look at the Five of Cups, I think of a man who has a good life. He is successful and he has been successful in his life, although not without sacrifice. He is a knight of middle years who has no doubt seen death and destruction, often at his own hands, through many wars, and he is still alive and well. Three-fifths of his life is gone and it seems he can see nothing but what is over and done. He cannot see that he still has two-fifths of his life to live, years full of happiness and joy, cups full to the brim that will satisfy his thirst and his needs. He is too sunk in misery to care or to see, concentrating on what he does not have instead of enjoying what he does have.

If his grief continues, he will waste his life in mourning, prolonging the drama and the grief until it is little more than a bid for attention, a minor melodrama blown up to the proportions of tragedy when there is no tragedy. Yes, he has lost someone or something dear to him, but so much more remains. The long night is over. The moon has set and there is daylight coming up over the horizon. Will he look up at the new day , drag himself up out of his depression and pick up the life remaining to him or will he choose passive suicide and deny himself the comfort that lies waiting within his reach?

3 of Cups

There is no way to look at the Three of Cups and not be filled with excitement and laughter and pure joy? Three dancers dressed in bright colors celebrate the bounty of life and love. Blue is the color of the swords, the color of the sky, the element of air and inspiration. Green is the color of the bountiful earth, lush and fertile and full of life, the symbol of the pentacle and success. Red is the color of fiery passion and emotion, the symbol of the wands.

The cups overflow with golden waters, a fountain of youth and vigor, full of life and joy. This fountain of golden cups stands in the endless sea from which the depths of emotion flow. Emotional experience binds the past, present and future, giving birth to and nurturing inspiration until it becomes the achievements that bring joy and happiness. However, it takes time to celebrate and appreciate achievement, whether yours or someone else's, and attention must be paid. Acknowledge your own achievements, and do it with joy and true happiness, but don't forget to celebrate the achievements of those around you without rancor or jealousy. We are all connected, like the fountain of cups that support the graceful dance of air, earth and fire among the waters of eternity. To celebrate another's success does not lessen your own unless you ignore their pleasure to hoard what you have. Like seeds in a dank and cobwebbed cellar, nothing grows that stays in the dark underground. Seeds need light and warmth and water while they lie in the earth before they tap the energy at their heart and send forth tiny tendrils to seek out nourishment and the sun. Sitting on a dusty shelf, the seeds like dormant, their energy and life untapped, their potential wasted.

Don't focus on your own problems, no matter how pressing they may seem. Practice gratitude and reach beyond yourself and you will soon see what develops.

As I chose the cards for today's column, the overwhelming grief of the knight in the Five of Cups and the Moon card provided a strange sort of inspiration. I envisioned a man who had lost the love of his life. Kneeling by the deathbed of his lover, he swore to never see the sun again. He leaves her and sets fire to the house, the flames licking high in the blackness of the night toward the faint sliver of light on the night of the dark moon. It is a night of dark omens as he sets out in his limousine and orders his chauffeur to drive west, following the path of the moon. His driver keeps pace with the dark, shadowed orb above, chasing down the moon.

The man is wealthy, beyond wealthy, and he can afford to chase the moon. By plane, by ship and by car, he follows the moon around and around the globe, sleeping and eating when the demands of his body get beyond his control, but never seeing the sun again. Under cloudy skies or clear, always under the moon, he sails in the shadowy world of waxing and waning moonlight, a slave to his grief, trying to outrun the dawn. He knows deep in his mourning heart that if he fails and the sun rises, then his lover is indeed gone and he must go on without her. As long as he follows the moon and never lets her out of his sight, he is safe. The night will never end and time will forever stand still.

The waning moon, not far from full, filled my head with dark thoughts and, under its influence, I dreamed of shadows and grief. How do today's cards and the moon inspire you?

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