Five of Wands with Nine of Cups

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Tarot Illuminati by Erik C. Dunne

To the victor goes the spoils is one of those expressions that makes me cringe. Maybe because it sounds so self-congratulatory, the fact that someone bested their opponent means they are now entitled to their stuff, their land, their tv, their wives and husbands, their pet ferrets.

Doesn’t it just fill you with pride when you reflect on how apropos this expression is in reference to those moments in our past that make us giggle and smile, like the European displacement of indigenous peoples from the lands of [insert territory or continent here], or the cute and charming slap fights that replay endlessly in the Middle East over abiogenic petroleum?

The whole principle distills down to this: someone was worse at a challenge than you so you get to take whatever they previously owned. If they can’t defend it they don’t deserve it. Makes you feel all warmy and glowy inside, doesn’t it? This aggression-fueled avarice ain’t big enough for the both of us.

If we have to obtain something by way of defeating another and taking it from them, then that which we have taken is essentially hexed. I’m not talking about game or sports oriented attainments, such as trophies or belts or titles or other events that make us sit shoulder-to-shoulder with other aficionados or on our couch with a bowl of chicken rinds. I’m talking about conquests, muggings, exploitation, Manifest Destiny, Operation Freedom, congressional votes won by way of which corporations can best afford the most pliable members of Congress.

I say to gain through someone else’s loss is essentially hexed because the acquisition plays host to the viruses that are carried on the backs of the victims’ grief and misery. We may believe that which we’ve taken brings us joys and pleasures through padding our source of means, but those means have within its inherent bones and DNA and internal structure the decay which inevitably consumes itself from the inside.

With the exception of battles which involve points and mascots and fans that can disperse to their beds and homes and cars when all is done, no conflict has any winners if it has losers. There is no gain that occurs at someone else’s loss. When someone suffers a profound loss, we all do. As long as we stand on the same terra firma and breath the same nitrogen/oxygen mix, we are all interconnected. We can talk ourselves into the illusion of perceived insulation (thanks, ego) so that we can take from another with a false sense of impunity, but we are really only taking from ourselves. A gain by way of another’s loss is really a loan that is impossible to pay and encumbered with soul compressing debt.

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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.