Saturday, October 03, 2009

Tarot: Victim or Victor

I once told a friend who was intently pursuing a man who turned her life inside-out and upside-down and then walked away only to come back again and again that the reason he didn't stick around was because she had nothing to offer -- not to him or to herself. She couldn't make up her mind about what she wanted to do and bounced from job to job and school to school, constantly changing her major and her goals. She was scattered, uncertain and spent her life moving from one friend's house to another, watching their children in exchange for room and board and a little money. Everyone took advantage of her, but she didn't see a way out. She had to have a place to stay and couldn't hold a job long enough to earn the money to get a place of her own. She had grants for school and kept flunking out or failing to show up, always ready with excuses. "I didn't have a way to get there. I didn't have any clean clothes. I got up too late."

She had more excuses than anyone I've ever seen before, and yet she kept getting one break after another. Jobs fell into her lap and she seldom held them for more than three weeks, and it was always someone else's fault. She had nothing of her own and didn't mind living off other people -- or other men. Some guy was always ready to bail her out and she played the damsel in distress very well.

By contrast, Jason, the guy she was obsessed about, had a good job and had a place to live. Granted, it was his mother's house, but he paid the bills and kept it clean. His family had several homes and he came from a wealthy family, so where he lived was really no surprise. He was used to better. So, here comes this girl from the ghetto with no ambition and nothing she could call her own and she wanted him. He enjoyed her company and the sex, but wasn't ready to make their relationship permanent. He didn't mind helping out from time to time, rescuing her from her latest situation, but he didn't want the job full time.

I told her she needed to get herself and her life together before he would consider her as anything more than a booty call or occasional girlfriend. She needed to do it for herself more than anything else, get her life settled. She was almost 30 at that point, and being almost thirty with nothing to show for your life is a very sad situation. She wasn't the kind of girl that rich men went out of their way to wine and dine and shower with riches, but rather the girl who would do their nails. No class, no education and nothing to show for her life except a string of failures. She didn't listen. The only thing she wanted to know was how to trap him.

And trap him she did. She got pregnant. After seven abortion, because the fathers weren't him, she got pregnant. It happened under the effects of drugs and alcohol when he forgot to use a condom or pull out in time. She had him dead to rights and she let him know when she was far enough along that an abortion wouldn't be feasible that he was going to be a father. He ran away from her and refused to have anything to do with her. She pursued him and, when he wouldn't give her what she wanted, she went to his family.

She now has a son, his son, and he pays child support regularly. She still has no job and no prospects and no place to call her own. She's living with her mother for now, but time is running out, so she has made a plan to get help from Welfare and other charitable organizations to take care of her and her child. She's 31 years old and still hasn't learned.

So what does this tale have to do with today's cards? It depends on whether you see my friend as a victim or a victor.

9 of Wands

The Nine of Wands shows a soldier weary from battering against an insurmountable blockade. He has put everything into the battle and leans on his remaining support, remaining upright by will alone. When he went into the battle, he was certain he'd succeed. Everything was on his side: experience, intelligence, skill and desire. He is puzzled. Why didn't he succeed? What went wrong.

Beside him in the ivy is a scarab, symbolizing the quiet voice of the soul, the voice that says, "You need time to figure this out. Retreat and regroup."

He needs to contrast his belief in success against his worldly experience and reconcile the data, balance his experiential and emotional checkbook, so to speak. Failure has caught him napping and nothing turned out as he had planned; he is not certain why. He needs to go over the data, reflect and find the flaw in his approach, learn from his mistakes and find a way to turn defeat into victory, and then try again.

The message of the Nine of Wands is not to despair when a difficult situation seems insoluble and confusion. Nothing is impossible. Sometimes it is a matter of taking a few steps back and re-evaluating the situation, learning from the mistakes while healing and figuring out a different pathway through the barrier. Above all, don't use this setback as a reason to escape from life. Life is about struggle. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, but the losses can become victories if you take the time to learn from them. We often learn more from our mistakes than from our victories. Victories are easy and failure a chance to grow and expand knowledge. Don't waste it.

9 of Pentacles

Pentacles are earthly symbols, the sign of the material. In the Nine of Pentacles, a wealthy and accomplished woman stands in a flourishing garden gazing intently at the hooded falcon on her wrist. She takes pride in her surroundings and her pride is evident in the garden, a feat she has achieved alone. She is a strong woman who has chosen a solitary path and she's comfortable in it, comfortable with herself and in her own skin. She has a right to be proud and in spite of her choices she is not lonely. She needs no one.

The nines of the minor arcana are symbolic of nearing the end of a journey. There is still a little more to come and for the accomplished woman in the Nine of Pentacles what is to come is a companion, someone to share and enjoy her garden and all she has accomplished. After all, success is a dish that tastes better when shared.

It's it often the case that those who want for nothing are the ones who get the best breaks and people are always willing to do things for them? Think of movie stars and celebrities. They have more money than they can spend in 100 lifetimes, and people fall all over themselves to give them whatever they admire. For instance, Queen Elizabeth of England often goes down to the high street to shop. Whatever she admires is given to her free of charge.

I remember a story about Hedda "the Hat" Hopper, the gossip columnist. During the depression when most people had nothing, Hedda mentioned in her column that she couldn't find a decent hat to wear. Tens of thousands of readers made hats and sent them to her, many of whom had little enough for themselves.

That's the way it goes. Make your life a success so that you have everything you need or want and, when you least expect it, more will be added. In the case of the Nine of Pentacles, that more would be someone to share your life.

Wheel of Fortune

The Wheel of Fortune, or Fate as some call it, turns beyond our control. It is mechanized and in perpetual motion, turning round and round, like the clockwork mechanism of the sun and planets and universe. It defines and is moved by the rhythms of nature and life, attuned to the energy and music of the spheres. The sun in the background symbolizes the mind: centered and secure, never worrying about the wheel. The mind is not at the Wheel of Fortune's mercy; it is apart, free. Everything that happens -- good or bad or indifferent -- depends on your point of view. The situation could be a blessing, a curse, a tragedy or an opportunity, or so much more or less, depending on what you see.

When the first colonists came to the New World, they viewed the natives as savages without culture or wealth, owning nothing and having no morals or society. The native viewed the colonists as children, idiots who did not see or understand the wealth around them or how they could feed and clothe and house themselves. They were over dressed, over sexed, and over here, to borrow a saying from England during World War II. The colonists saw the land as something to possess, put their fences around and set to orderly rights. The natives saw the colonists as intruders intent on forcing everyone and everything to conform to their way of life without respect for the millennia of culture and contented life that existed before them. Each saw the other as an obstacle to remove and bloodshed followed. It was all a matter of point of view who was right and who was wrong.

Out of great wrongs came The United States of America, a country hacked out of the a Garden of Eden, raped and pillaged and born in fire, bloodshed and death along a trail that extended from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Much great has come from America, but there has also been much harm. Which outweighs the other no one can truly tell because everyone sees things from a different point of view. What is good to one person is evil to another. And so it goes. The Wheel of Fortune turns, grinding down all in its path who fail to see that, although time and fate march on without us, as long as we understand and accept what can and cannot be controlled, life need never be a tragedy or a disaster.

See the cycles of the Wheel for what they are. Don't use fate as an excuse to avoid responsibility or a reason to blame someone else for bad luck or misfortune. Learn to control what you can and let the rest go. Accept blame only for what you did wrong. Take responsibility only for what you can control -- and didn't or wouldn't. There are enough people to take the blame for the rest. Above all, learn to find the good in a bad situation because every situation is a learning situation.

* * *

A woman owns a large piece of land on which she has built a home, tends a garden that provides herbs and food and beauty and she runs a successful business. She has it all and she is happy and content.

In her youth she spent a lot of time trying to find the right man with whom to share her life, but she had nothing to show for all those years except scars, experience and a drive to make something of her life on her own, depending on no one. She had been taught by her mother that a woman needs a man to complete her, to protect and give her everything she needs and, when she was young, she bought her mother's philosophy. When she couldn't find a man to complete her -- none of them were right and she ended up either supporting them or standing in the background -- she decided to make her own way. The result of all her hard work and effort is success, happiness and a feeling of contentment. She doesn't miss having a man around. She doesn't really need one, not with BOB, her battery operated boyfriend.

Midwinter night, December 21st, she sits in front of her fire after a pleasant meal sipping a glass of Merlot. As the full moon rises, she hears a knock on the door, a pounding really that fades into a faint scratching. She goes to the door and finds a naked man collapsed on her porch, shivering and blue with cold. She brings him inside, wraps him in warm blankets by the fire and fixes a cup of hot chocolate with a shot of rum. As he warms and begins to get back some color, she asks him who he is. He shakes his head, confused. "I don't know." He doesn't know where he was before he saw the lights in her windows or why or where he lost his clothes. The only thing he remembers is waking up, seeing her light and knowing there is where he'd find safety and warmth.

In my mind's eye, I see a different story than the one that will occur to you. Do you see a mystery or a fantasy? Is he a con man or something else? Who is he and what will happen in the days to come? Using the message and images of today's cards, how will you write this story's end?

As always, until next week, or when work slackens enough for me to be able to take the time and delve into the stories hidden in the tarot cards, keep writing.

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