The Fool with Four of Pentacles

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Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

In this particular deck The Fool is portrayed as the Big Bang. You know, that astrophysical concept they teach in science, while forgetting to regularly remind students that it’s just a theory? Behemoth quantities such as 14,000,000,000 years ago which are capable of inducing astronomical ice cream headaches when trying to cognize them get thrown around. I wrote it in numerical form so all those zeros would force your eyes to cross.

Despite having a degree in metaphysical theology I’m not one to see Genesisian cosmology (I just made up that word) as barely more than allegory, yet when I compare this massively adulterated Sumerian origin story draped in anthropomorphic language to the fresh-out-of-the-autoclave science-based “I don’t know… it just happened” account of the forming of the Universe, I really don’t see much difference. In both, there was really nothing, then suddenly there was everything.

Let’s stroll over to the right and look at this deck’s portrayal of the Four of Pentacles. It is represented by a depiction of an elliptical galaxy. Basically, these type of galaxies don’t crank out very many new stars and as a result don’t have many young stars. Think of Branson, Missouri. Thus, they are mostly comprised of older stars and big black holes. They are essentially the Florida or Arizona of galaxies.

So what’s up with these types of galaxies? Why are they packing in the same old stars for eons of ages? With that big black hole in the middle keeping tight reins on everything, it’s suppressing the creation of all those new stars. Bastard.

This is the way I see the energy of this card. It states that we are holding onto something so tightly as a means of maintaining an iron-fisted sense of security. Change is the boogeyman threatening to crawl out from under our bed and consume us. Newness is the Jehovah’s Witnesses knocking at our door right when we’ve sat down with a dinner plate heaped with piping hot food. The unknown is a disruption, an annoyance and aggravation and inconvenience as we would have to go through the trouble of learning how to deal with a fresh situation or circumstance.

Staunch, rigid routines have the appearance of creating a nice safe stasis field, but in all actuality they rush us toward entropy. Ask how the preservation of the status quo is working out for the fly in ember. If we want to cling to an unwavering way of life, we will in the process (or lack thereof) create such stagnancy that it will inevitably become a vacuum. What did Aristotle say? Something about Nature abhorring a vacuum? We can substitute Nature for Life. If Life senses a vacuum being formed by those who “hate change”, it will seethe and punch them in the face. It will ensure an environment so inhospitable only the nastiest of creatures can thrive. Look at deserts and swamps, Nature’s poster children for stagnation. I once again reference Florida and Arizona.

Nothing keeps entropy at bay like a surprise. Life thrives when bursting through the opened door of which we had no clue as to what was behind it. Let us unlock the box of mystery and dump its contents on our dusty floor. Let us choose to take the action of which we have no idea of its outcome, for that choice leads to renewed life.

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Three of Swords with Queen of Pentacles

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At some point in our lives… actually, at several points in our lives, we will hurt. We will feel loss or betrayal or heartbreak, maybe heartache. Sometimes it’s quite literal pain, the klaxon of neurotransmitters doing their job to warn the mind of our physical welfare being compromised.

Funny how we deal with these different aspects of pain in different ways, although in the simplest of terms, pain is pain. Pain hurts. When it comes to a cut or a burn we’ll readily bandage it or ice it, with fleet of foot reaction and response. Yet for some of us it gets a bit grey as to how we deal with physical pain that’s not visually discernible. Perhaps we tell ourselves it will go away soon enough. In many cases we’ll slip ourselves an analgesic and bypass the option of examining the cause of the pain.

Then we get to emotional pain, which may be the trickiest of them all. This is where all the crazy-making occurs. We may deny we’re hurting. We may suffer our sufferings, wanting the heartache to simply go away. We might put on our best game face or pull up our big girl panties or nut up and soldier on, believing we are bigger than the personal ache. We may even lash out at every and anyone that crosses our path.

In all actuality, the healthiest thing we can do is regard emotional pain the way we would address physical pain. For this example let’s consider a pain which has as its source some physical trauma. The pain serves as an immediate identifier of the source and location, we then apply a bandage or ice or some other appropriate treatment to mitigate the injury and prevent the damage from exacerbating.

With emotional pain we all too often try to push it away. We don’t seem to regard psychological hurt and trauma as serving as a warning the way we do the throb of a cut or burn or sprain. Physical pain is an indicator that a part of our body needs to be addressed and rebalanced. Emotional pain actually serves the same function, but it is pointing out the part of our life that needs to be redressed.

Just like our body cannot begin to heal until we’ve treated the trauma, nor can our mental hurt and emotional injury heal without addressing the traumatized area of our life. The best thing we can do is to acknowledge the pain, look it square in the proverbial eye and own it. We need to see our heartache as serving a function, as a way of asking us to examine the source of the pain, to be okay with the emotional discomfort and anguish even though we may despise it.

Emotional trauma is one of our greatest teachers when we allow it to do so. As long as we acknowledge it we can let it be our vehicle for something rewarding on the other side. If we continue to try to push it away or force it to abate, it will persists and mitigate our healing. We don’t have to like it, we just need to accept it and it will serve us in a positive way that may seem contradictory, but is profoundly healing.

Six of Wands with Knight of Coins

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Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

I see in my mind the young hero having come back from some great war, sitting on the top of the back seat of an open convertible, grinning and waving to the cheering throngs, ticker tape descending in twirls and flutters onto the pavement around him.

On a whim he snatches from the air one of the thin strips of paper snowing down from the surrounding stories above. He stretches it out before his eyes and reads the text printed upon it:

You will soon have a regular job.

Fast forward to our one-time hero, the top button of his collared shirt loosened along with his tie, the crown of his head barely visible across the sea of cubicles, the sound of office phones chirping intermittently amongst the cadence of computer keyboard clackety-clacks.

On Saturday morning he pushes his lawnmower across the quarter acre lawn then douses the dastardly dandelions with the herbicide that is the second cousin thriced removed of the gas compound used to smite the enemy abroad. He is only a half hour away from drinking a mountain spring filtered canned beer in the maple’s shade while listening to the symphony of the surrounding cicadae.

We often see the lives of these people of greatness in the form of highlight reels, their grand achievements of a lifespan ranging from 24 to 94 years distilled down into vignettes of accolades and awards and recognitions. Yet the gently rolling hills and slightly dipping valleys of daily living comprise the majority of our lifes between those dizzying zeniths of grandeur.

Life is an iceberg. The great milestones such as seeing children born or being handed a diploma or traveling to every continent, the parts of our lives that the world gets to witness in all its magnificence, is only a fraction of who we are and how we spend out time. The vast majority of our lives stays invisible to the world, suspended below the surface. The passing days and the mundane repetition of daily living can feel cold and dark and lifeless as we feel like we’re endlessly drifting through frigid waters.

However, when we dare to dream, when we entertain visions of ticker tape and confetti dancing in the air around us, when we imagine inhaling that oxygen deprived air as we stand atop that alpine peak we’ve successfully reached, that cold deep stagnancy becomes a sanctuary of tranquility.

The Zen saying before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water shows us that the mundane span of time that comprise the largest percentage of our days transforms into peacefulness when we puncture the tapestry of our lives with grand visions and exhiliarating aspirations. The pursuit of those wonderfully lofty goals is what gives meaning to the mundane.

Six of Cups with Eight of Pentacles

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Developing a skill is all about practice. Practice is all about repetition. Repetition… well who looks forward to that? Doing something over and over followed by one hundred and overs

That’s one of the elements of refining and perfecting which we sometimes dread. I’ll raise my hand if you’re calling on someone to be honest; that’s what can deter me from developing a new skill or perfecting a half-baked one. The imagination gets put on hold and suspended in liquid nitrogen in favor of mechanical motion. No matter how cleverly Mr. Miyagi instilled karate reflexes into young Daniel-san it still has us dreading the notion of waxing a dozen cars.

Practice and rehearsal have a way of extracting the fun liquid center from any endeavor and replacing it with cams and gears that call for us to do it again with each grind of our burgeoning albeit not yet perfected skill set. It is the Sisyphean eternal application between where we are in our progress and where we want to be.

Sometimes I wonder… and I’m just spitballing here, thinking out loud… if that constant repetitive application that becomes the Lidocaine to our delights is an indication that the particular pursuit we are undertaking is maybe not for us? I know I normally apply my ideas much more definitively in these posts, but I’m giving myself license to mull out loud here. I suppose I’m looking at it from the perspective of a young musician who is learning to play guitar, or a young athlete who takes shot after shot at the hoop. When we’re young and we first fall in love with wanting to be the next great fill-in-the-blank, we will go at our new endeavor with wanton abandonment. There is no thought of the drudgery of repetition. There is only us and that melody, that swing of the bat, that stroke of the brush applied once after another after another after another- that love of whatever it is we chose to pursue being so great that we lose time in the rinse and repeat cycle. We see perfection in our mind’s eye, and each application of the exercise whispers the promise of its attainment the next go round. If we reach it, we do it again for the sheer delight of experiencing it, where we will likely trip again only to try again.

Do we see a treadmill of loathsome repetition awaiting us in between our here and now and the developed skill we desire? Perhaps we need to see if we are truly and madly in love with all that the skill encompasses. If so, our practice of it will temporarily banish time. If instead the spectre of chore shows up during its application, perhaps our attraction to that particular skill was not love, but merely infatuation.

Queen of Swords with Nine of Pentacles

Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche
Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

I truly enjoy being a man. I can’t put my finger on what it is I enjoy about being a member of the member gender, but I like it.

Having said that, my hat goes off to women. As a gender, I find women endlessly fascinating and amazing and captivating and intriguing.

Reality tv would have us believe that women have a propensity to be undercutting and cutthroat with each other. However, when women team together around a common cause they form an impenetrable and effective force that operates like a singular mind. It makes male bonding look like Red Rover played against a wall of wet toilet paper.

As much as I enjoy being part of the clunky blocky gender, I know we are the utilitarian half of the species. At the risk of genderalizing (see what I did there?) we are built to build. We are the beasts of burden. We pull the cart and the plow of daily living. Don’t misunderstand me; that’s not to say that women aren’t capable of being builders and workhorses. Not only are they capable, they can do it while juggling a myriad of tasks and responsibilities and projects and duties. If we men tried to do so, we would collapse under task #3, whining and complaining about how overloaded we are while instantly coming down with a debilitating head cold.

Am I saying that women are all around better than men? Many women would say yes. Many men would be afraid to say no. I am not at all saying that one gender is inferior to another or any of that. What I will say, is where women excel and men fall short to genderalize once again, is in balancing the archetypes of gender within themselves. Women do it so seamlessly and effortlessly they often aren’t even aware they are doing it.

Let’s briefly look at the archetypes of masculinity and femininity so I can more easily drop my point on your big toe: the masculine principle is about outward expression, drive, strength, hardness, aggressiveness, left-brain analytical. The feminine principle is about nurturing, compassion, empathy, softness, right-brain creativity. Women will easily embody their masculine side through being driven, aggressive, determined, tenacious, and strong while not feeling like their femininity has been compromised. Meanwhile, men still have trouble embracing their feminine archetype comfortably, and those that do are looked at sideways by other men. The manly man’s man’s man will still refer to other men as girls in an attempt to demean them, implying that it is negative to be soft or sensitive or to express one’s emotions.

The concept of fortitude seems to be implicitly tied to our gonads as well, as we declare that someone lacking toughness needs to “grow a pair”. I don’t know about you, but to me it seems that a vagina can withstand far more than our hacky sacks. Those things can withstand the force of our derricks then turn around and do the equivalent of passing a melon through a garden hose during childbirth, while a single soccer ball bounce into the male fun zone induces a temporary state of malaria like symptoms, at which point we are no longer afraid to cry.

So to all you men out there reading this post: True strength is showing your vulnerability. We all have within us the feminine side that is begging to be acknowledged. We have an X chromosome just like the “fairer” sex so we have no excuse. Our little dangling Y is not going to shrivel up and be devoured by the big X if we show some compassion, if we exhibit some tenderness. The world will be better off. The overwhelming number of men in political positions would stop being afraid of the beautiful power that women hold and cease with continually trying to suppress it. If we stop and embrace our feminine principles we will find we are capable of so much more than we currently are, much the way women have when they stop believing the bullshit about them being less than any man.

Ace of Pentacles with The Empress

Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans
Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

My wife and I often joke about writing a book entitled If We Had Kids… We are certain it would raise the ire of every parent that would read the About the Authors piece that described how we have no children. We would be serving as the armchair quarterbacks doling out sage wisdom that was not discovered through the scars upon one’s psyche earned through the process of child rearing. We would be placed in the stockades in the middle of Parentown by an angry mob of mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted moms and dads, pitchforks with impaled diapers and homework raised, the 1st Amendment standing in the background waving us off, saying, “you guys are on your own.”

The biggest problem I see with the title of the book, other than the fact that it would have been written by a couple of middle-class DINKS, is that nobody has kids. People bear children and raise children and teach children and feed and clothe children, but they don’t have them. Although children are under the care of adults for nearly two decades as they grow and mature and learn how to function in the world, they are still embodied with free will, individuality, and personality. Quite simply, they are not possessions.

I would like to see people substitute the term having kids with the term creating kids. The children we bring into the world are of our own unique creation that no other person can replicate. They are the quintessential form of personal expression of our uniqueness. We instill our values into our children so they can contribute to creating a world we want to see realized. Once we have accomplished this, we can only release them to the world when they become adults. The designations of mom and dad are now but associative titles of relation rather than designation of keepers.

I decided to be so bold as to illustrate my point through raising offspring, an experience of which I am richly devoid. Nonetheless, as producing and rearing offspring is the pinnacle of creativity to many, I felt it was rather appropriate. You see, that which we create, whether it be children or art or music or building structures or a company or a necklace or a quilt or a novel, they really truly are not our own. Even if we choose to keep it or possess it, its true value is realized when we acknowledge our creations are our gifts to the world.

Even if we were to custom build that house from the plans that we created, we leave that house standing as a gift to whoever moves into it long after our flesh has turned to ash or soil or crab food. When we see the products of our creations as devices through which to acquire stuff or satisfaction, we are really missing the point. We might be driven to create then we stand and admire our creation with great pride, but it really is no more than a chachki to put on a mantle that has to be dusted every week unless we give it to the world. That’s when our creations truly come alive and expand into the great network of life.

So let us share our creations. Don’t keep that novel in the drawer. Don’t hold onto our sons and daughters so tightly in fear of losing our identities if we release them to the world. All that we create is meant to be given away. If you’ve ever wondered what it means to have one’s cake and eat it too it is to say that we can make the most beautiful cake in the world and put it under glass to admire throughout the rest of our days, but we’ve totally missed the point of cake if we don’t share it to be eaten.

Three of Pentacles with Seven of Swords

Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler
Quantum Tarot 2.0 by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

Raise your hand if you know a single person that believes all men are jerks or all women are superficial or some other unflattering generalization. We all know that person who has decried every member of the gender to which they normally date to equally and universally have a debilitating character flaw, one that prevents them from finding Mr. or Ms. or M. Right.

Have you ever tried to talk that friend down from the ledge of hyperbole using rough math? I have. I tried it on myself when I was disgruntledly single. We may have seen this broken down in a sitcom perchance. It involves eliminating each subset of the population that is not technically eligible for dating based on gender, age, relationship status, proximity or place of residence, etc. The most common number I had arrived at was an average of 150,000 dateable people, adjusting for the population of where one happens to live in the U.S.

The trouble with using this technique on the cynically lovelorn and such is that they have a poor grasp of mathematical concepts. It’s not simply that they cannot imagine finding one good edible apple in a batch of 150,000. I don’t know… I have to admit, looking through that many apples is far from appealing, especially if many of the ones I find are mealy or worm ridden or Braeburns. Perhaps our friend dated a person with the last name Braeburn, I don’t know, and they left a bad taste in their mouth much like the apple of the same name. I think they fail to understand the concept of the common denominator.

Whenever we find ourselves having difficulty dealing with a certain type of person, we automatically think it is that shared aspect that makes them untrustworthy, be it the type of job they have, their likes for a certain type of sport, their income bracket, their hair color, their political party affiliation… any number of aspects we can put into boxes and apply labels. What we become blind to is identifying the labelmaker.

We will indicate that particular class or character trait and brazenly declare that its possessors are inherently flawed with unwavering certainty. Yet we fail to see that, while not everyone shares our particular perspective, the “truth” in our perspective shares a common source. You see, I am a huge champion of the principle of the reflective property of others; as we deal with people the way we perceive and regard them tells us as much about ourselves, if not more, than it does the other people.

When we believe all X types are not to be trusted, it is due to a lack of trust in our own character. When we see all people of a particular religion, faith, political party, or sorority as being just plain wrong or stupid or greedy or any other preferred ad hominem, we are expressing a deep seated fear of being wrong or appearing foolish. The aspersions we cast on an entire subset of people stems from the grain of sand within that we attempt to disavow as an irritant, surrounding it with our mother-of-pearl to insulate ourselves from the discomfort of introspection. Yet this irritant remains locked in the pearl that we proudly display in the form of self-righteousness toward ourselves and our types. We seem to forget that in the heart of every pearl is a bit of dirty silicate sea floor grit.

I had a former neighbor tell me his vicious dog liked everyone except other dogs and people. With each exception we take with a given type of people we are avoiding acknowledging the exceptions within we are afraid to face to prevent from having to do anything about them.