Death with Ten of Cups

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Witches Tarot by Ellen Dugan and Mark Evans

I need to preface this post with a disclaimer: normally when the Death key comes to the surface in a reading, I take pause in going straight to that Chicken Little reaction of someone’s going to die! Most Tarot readers and students know that Death doesn’t necessarily mean anyone’s mortal coil is about to unwind any more than The Devil means Satan is going to show up unexpectedly to your dinner party or that The Lovers means you’re going to meet Mr. or Ms. Excellent or that The Hermit means you’re about to go out and buy a vinyl copy of Led Zeppelin IV.

However, as a Tarot reader that has instilled in myself to be cognizant as to what on a card might draw my attention during a given reading, today I found myself drawn to the two towers behind the boy in this rendition of the card. I was pretty sure I remember it from the Rider Waite, but I went and referenced it anyway to be sure… yep, they’re in there too.

I wonder how many of you are thinking of where I’m headed, or if you yourselves have gone there at any point in time. My mind quickly went the the fateful day of September 11, 2001, an eternal blight on the collective consciousness of the United States, and to some degree, the rest of the world.

I’m not going to go all David Icke meets Nostradamus at a Masonic dinner party here. I’m not going to fold dollar bills presciently or convert 9-1-1 into specific foreboding font symbols. I just can’t help but reflect on the degree of death focused in a single time and place that occurred on 9-11-2001. I’d say it is just a coincidence that it shows in this card, but…

Let me not digress into too many stories of Archons and Reptilians and Annunaki and ruling elite family cabal globalists. Rather, I want to look at what came to mind as I see the Ingalls family play out in Tarot syndication on the card to the right. I want to look at the juxtaposition of the big mean spooky boogeyman of the Tarot abreast it.

Here’s the thing: In talking about the tragedy that irrevocably tore our society asunder fifteen years ago this year as I write this, I do think about the symbol that Death is intended to convey in the Tarot. I see the Ten of Cups talking about what is on the other side of the door or river or chasm or realm or Van Allen belt or veil, that it is a glory, a jubilation, a realization of a reward when the new life is attained and realized.

When I put this in relation to that horrific memory and image that that fateful tragedy invokes, I ask myself where the rainbow is. How have we grown to become better people, better human beings, better members of society? It is a highly debateable idea by many that the Holocaust brought about a raising of consciousness of sorts, an awakening of the self-awareness of humanity within that was long dormant, that could only be jarred awake through such an extreme atrocity. Viktor Frankl, himself a Holocaust survivor, echoes this to some degree in his book Man’s Search For Meaning.

Yet here we are, a decade and a half after the September 11 attacks and I have yet to see any lotus bloom growing out of the mud. We invest inordinate amounts of time and energy putting “security” measures in place that are intended to make us feel more safe yet have the unintended (debateable by conspiracy theorists) effect of making us feel less safe. We have discarded the notion of personal privacy offhandedly. We have added another race, religion, and culture to our collection of Them that are out to get Us. We immediately release the hounds to sniff out the extremist Islamic group du jour after the town cry of every newscaster generated by an attack upon a group of people like a war vet reacting to a car backfiring.

I’m waiting to see us arise from the horror and tragedy of that event into a place where we see our unity and interconnectedness, where the deaths of those 3000 victims of the event and the resulting deaths 100 times greater in number from the reaction to the event are not in vain. I can’t see a burgeoning police state with its Orwellian overtones being worth the number of lives lost. I can’t imagine the departed soul believing its death was meant to propagate jingoism and racism for decades to come.

Death indicates a transition where a state of being must come to pass to make room for a new consciousness. If we cannot move into creating a beauty and new light from the ashes of the fallen towers, we are still in the throws of death and have not yet transitioned to the side where a new life is born. We are still wandering through the rubble no matter how many illuminated monuments we construct at Ground Zero. Endless wars and wary eyes on every Middle Easterner will not bring justice. Balance, growth, and renewal only comes through the joy that is created from the loss. This is what we are still waiting to find from this tragedy, and it seems to be slow in coming, as the evidence of it has yet to come forth.

Ten of Swords with The Fool

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Tarot Illuminati by Erik C. Dunne

At some point in nearly every life, without exception, we find ourselves at the end of the road. We have ventured far enough into the blind alley to the point where we can proceed no further.

If I were to take a guess, the path to this impasse contained detailed plans, carefully deliberated decisions consisting of tweaks and changes to an outline of what we intended to achieve. We thought we regarded every contingency. We thought we entertained multiple alternate scenarios. We believed we had made our plan as foolproof as possible, only to find it had failed to come to fruition at the end of the day.

There are occasions vast in number when it is more than appropriate to chart out exactly how we will proceed in a given endeavor. However, there are moments in our journey or steps in our undertakings for which careful planning is not only futile, it can be detrimental and inevitably disastrous. During times such as these it is imperative to rely on our intuition.

Our intuition is a most brilliant guidance system that seems to follow no guidelines. It will fire off a message that signals us to make a specific choice or avoid a specific scenario, sometimes suggesting an option that falls counter to what might make better logical sense. Yet our left-brain ruler born of academia and conventionalism and even dogma spurs us on to stay on the well laid out path of the tried and true. A sensible plan was created; we must stick to it.

The tales of the greatest achievements of our lives often contain an anecdote of a whimsical decision we once made, or a leap of faith we had taken, or a series of serendipitous events that fell into our laps simply because we responded to a strange urge that came upon us. I will be so bold as to say the grander the intention the more unreliable our meticulous plans will be and the more often we will be tapped on the shoulder by our inner voice as to the best course of action.

The most detailed roadmap or accurate GPS cannot predict cuts of chaos into the fabric of order. We could not account for the aluminum siding that flew out of the truck bed, lifted by a gust that had been generated by the Brazilian butterfly’s wing flapping days prior. The subconscious, however, has the ability to see such things. It lives in the basement of reality along with the fractals blossoming from seeming randomness, with the quantum particles that occupy multiple places simultaneously, in the realm where time is merely the phone conversation doodles of the unrealized forces of our universe.

Our inner knower scoffs at conventional physics and linear perception. We however are enslaved by this inviolate illusion. All too often when our intuition raises its hand and makes a suggestion we are all too quick to dismiss it. We go back to studying our pieces carefully laid out on the board of our game of Mitigated Risk. The non-Euclidian math of the inner voice’s suggestion just doesn’t add up, so we chalk it up to nonsense and we stick to the plan.

There is a beautiful opportunity for us if we choose to look back through our dead-end endeavors. I would bet my spleen (or any other non-essential internal organ) that there were multiple times in a failed journey we had embarked upon when our intuition was screaming and waving arms to get our attention and we simply hit the snooze on its signal. If we can find those moments and recognize them as directions from within, we will know how to spot them in the future when they come along again to save us from ourselves.

The Empress with Ten of Wands

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Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Lösche

Between the ages of six and ten, what I consider the halcyon days of my youth, I lived on a military base in the Panama Canal zone. Save for when I was in school, I spent the majority of my time dressed inappropriately for entering any business establishment, donning only a pair of shorts in a climate that had only two seasons: rainy and dry.

The base was located on an isthmus, which offered a choice of two beaches on which I would play inexhaustibly that were only a handful of blocks in either direction of our quarters. They afforded me a bevy of entertaining choices: hermit crabs to catch, low tide that stretched a quarter-mile out to expose knee-deep mud sand, the washed up carcasses of manta rays and horseshoe crabs, a large moss covered trunk of driftwood the size of three Escalades upon which we would play that we creatively dubbed “The Big Log”, large fist sized chunks of pumice that would float ashore and smelled like a fishmonger when you scrubbed it on cement.

Regardless of how romantically I reflect on those childhood years, they were still ladened with tedious chores assigned to me. One of the most loathsome of all the chores I was given was mango pickup duty. Sure, having a mango tree that spread its limbs the breadth of the entire yard in which it stood dead center may sound like a treat, offering fresh mangos with skin that tore gently away from the fibrous golden yellow meat, sweet juice that ran down your forearm, bursting with the smell of the tropics. Nonetheless, for every delectable fruit one could eat, there was a dozen of its cousins strewn about the yard, casualties of overripeness, impending rot and fermentation, a veritable beacon for creepies and crawlies and buzzies.

Imagine the privilege of scooping up handfuls of rotting mangos, that once sweet fragrance having transformed into rancid syrupy stench, with leaves as stiff as cardboard in accompaniment, all the aforementioned detritus constantly battling and defying the tines of the rake. This is the chore that made a half hour of work feel like it dragged on more painfully than the first Star Trek: The Motion Picture with the extra twelve minutes of film. On one attempt to shirk this drudgery of a chore I was presented with a choice: either finish the cleanup before my parents got back home, or be grounded for two weeks. Employing the wisdom of a seven year-old I chose the latter.

Nothing will remind you that you are a kid blessed with living in a tropical paradise more than being confined indoors. If I thought raking rotting mangos felt like an eternity, being grounded made the chore feel like shore leave.

Forty years later, in the thick midsection of adulthood, I still sometimes have to catch myself when menial tasks of daily living feel so Sisyphean, when I climb into my mental time machine and go back and whisper in the eight year-old’s ear, raking mangos once a month ain’t nothin’.

I honestly believe we lose sight of the meaning of housework and weed pulling and bill paying and gutter cleaning whenever we declare that these are things that have to get done. The implication here is that these tasks and chores and responsibilities are meted out by the gods of grownupness, that we are condemned to forever have to pick up our socks and put away our toys. We so often forget that these tasks are not sentences, they are actually steps in a process. During those moments when we can stand back and appreciate the sweet charming home we live in, or look at our children with glowing parental pride, or appreciate the peace that surrounds us, these are comprised of a multitude of tasks that were applied layer by layer to build upon the moment that we stand in that is making us smile.

If we were able to fully indulge in a life of nothing but leisure, it would be a life that was not created. The body is toned because the workout was strenuous. The tomato is sweetest because the soil was turned. The beauty displayed on the canvas of life was comprised by many stiff and tedious strokes as well as the ones that glided smoothly and softly. When we see these tasks in that light they become so much less grueling. This Zen saying encompasses it all quite well: Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.

Ten of Pentacles with The Moon

Quantum Tarot (1.0) by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler
Quantum Tarot (1.0) by Kay Stopforth and Chris Butler

A couple of days ago my coworkers were having that old chestnut conversation at lunch around the question “What would you do if you won the lottery?”. The invariable answers that follow these questions seem to be of the same strains, involving leviathan real estate acquisitions, leer jet wanderlust, Wall Street wizardry, and maintaining a level of sun-soaked alcoholism on tropical beaches.

These conversations often echo the theme of indulgence, of socially sanctioned excess that is heralded by the lottery list wishmakers. Money or wealth or income or whatever we want to call it is the one type of energy that seems to be exempt from crossing into the realm of a reasonable limit. “You can never have too much money” is often stated with a twinkly eye followed by its impending wink.

Why is it we glorify wealth, applauding the notion of having an amount of money tantamount to reaching the copious levels of Scrooge McDuck’s rolling hills of doubloons? Simply because it signifies a cornucopia of means, an endless wellspring of security. It is the score of mattresses and featherbeds to insulate us from ever having to feel the pesky poke of the pea.

At some point we bought into the fairy tale of wealth being equivalent to happily ever after. It’s as if we sincerely believe we can inoculate ourselves from the most devastating life events if we have a level of financial means that scales beyond what we would need to meet our every possibly desire. Yet we watch the king’s horses and men standing around Humpty Dumpty with platinum cards and congressional connections extended while the doctor is apologizing as there is nothing more they can do for that egg. Their money is no good here.

The next time we find ourselves slapping a 50 dollar bill on the counter of the convenience store and asking for lottery tickets and no change, it’s a great opportunity to ask ourselves what we are afraid of in our current living situation? What is so compelling about “living the good life” that implies our circumstance is not so good? Simply put, if we wish upon a fat stack of cash to counter our fear of having to grind through daily living, we will be surprised to find that life’s hardships cannot be bribed. We will simply carry those fears that drive us to attempt to precognize the most fortunate set of six numbers on a slip of paper into our newly reached status of “well off”. Our acquisition will only serve to magnify our fears to match the level of wealth we have attained.

Ten of Swords

Ten of Swords
A figure lays prostrate on the ground with several swords thrust into the back, a dark sky in the background

So we have set our intention, we have visualized our desired outcome, and we have made effort upon effort and taken repeated actions toward accomplishing our goal. Yet we continue to miss the mark until our energy and resources are depleted, and our drive is exhausted. It may be that there is nothing more we can do.

If we have reached an utter and complete impasse it is because cessation is required of us. We have ignored every indication that we needed to pause, take a break, and regroup in our endeavors, to reassess our game plan. Now we have taken ourselves to a point where continuing is no longer an option.

It is inevitable in life that at some point we will not receive that which we desire. This is an undeniable part of the human experience. When we have reached this point it is often not the failure that causes the distress and difficulty, but the disappointment behind it, the confusion as to why our desired outcome could not come to fruition for us.

Sometimes the answer lies in a misdirected goal that is not in alignment with an outcome more appropriate to our greater life path, one that we cannot foresee. We may have set our sights on a desire that would veer us away from the path that leads to a greater level of personal growth. Or perhaps within this defeat lies a lesson, an experience that prepares us for what shall encounter in the future.

It may be that the most difficult concept for us to grasp during these times of defeat is a most essential one: trusting in the function of the outcome we are experiencing. A bit of wisdom advises us to set our intentions to receive that which is for the greatest benefit of ourselves and those in our lives, or something better. This reminds us that we did not receive what we desired so we could remain open to receive a greater, more rewarding outcome. To put a finer point on it, what we may have set our intention on was counter to that which we actually need.

Ten of Cups

Ten of Cups
A couple admire and appreciate ten cups appearing in a rainbow overhead while children dance beside them

We understand the basic principles behind manifesting our desired outcomes; we know we need to first set our intention, then we need to tap into the emotional state the outcome will provide us. Yet even while employing these methods we sometimes seem to find ourselves in an unsatisfactory station in life.

Often the reason for this undesired outcome reoccurring in our lives is due to our own tendency to block or inhibit the positive manifestations. While we consciously set our intentions and use deliberate positive visualization, it is the in-between times where we unconsciously unravel and set back these intentions. Fear, self-doubt, and negativity find themselves reversing and stemming off the positive manifestation process. Continue reading Ten of Cups

Ten of Pentacles

Ten of Pentacles
An elderly man of means is seated in what appears to be a very secure environment

One of the most common intentions we set out to manifest is based around a desired financial state. It may be an intention to become financially secure. Perhaps we set an intention that may not be in and of itself based on a financial state, but we may feel our desired outcome requires finances that we may not have. One of the greatest impediments to manifestation is not correctly identifying and understanding what we truly desire. Money often becomes the proxy of our true desires, and we believe it is some level of financial means that will fulfill us, when what we actually want extends past anything monetary. Continue reading Ten of Pentacles