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.

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The Tower with Eight of Coins

Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti
Legacy of the Divine Tarot by Ciro Marchetti

Some of us just don’t know when to quit.

Now don’t get your security blanket all knotted up. This is not a post that celebrates the merits of quitting. This is about knowing when to start over, when to begin again.

In the game of poker there is a principle referred to as being “pot committed”. It goes a little something like this: When a player has been betting on a hand that is showing decreasing odds of winning with each round, it is quite possible that they are better off staying in at that point rather than folding. They have already contributed so much money to the pot they might as well see it through.

We often get to this point with an endeavor or project. We get so invested in what we have devoted a great deal of time and energy and whatever valuable resource we dumped into it that we will feel it is all wasted, all for naught if we tear it down and start over.

Our delicate little human egos can’t seem to grasp the concept that abandoning a project that we have over-invested in is not a sign of failure. Indicators and warning signs and red flags and shots across the bow merely cause us to shrug them off and dismiss them with a wave of our hand, convinced we can circumvent the iceberg straight ahead. Hey, with the amount of time and energy and resources we’ve put into this boat, it is nigh indestructible, right? I think we’ve all heard that before somewhere…

Allow me to relate the following experience as an illustration:

Last week I made a hot sauce. I had planned to make it on Friday so I thawed the peppers on Thursday. Friday became bloated with sundry unrelated tasks so the peppers sat on the kitchen counter through to Monday, which I proclaimed Hot Sauce Making Day 2.0.

I cut open the bag of peppers which had oddly inflated like a parade float. That was the first alert to pop up. Throwing caution to the wind I poured out the liquid from the bag which was likely some grade of capsaicin-ladened moonshine and proceeded to separate the stems from the peppers. A few of them bubbled a bit of juice with a teeny hiss, quietly whispering to me that this endeavor might not be such a good idea. Icy waters be damned, said the captain of my ego that had become as bloated as those peppers. Full speed ahead.

The peppers were nicely laid out on a jelly roll pan all prepared for roasting, just under a pound of little imp tongues laughing at me as they went into the oven. I just kept throwing proverbial poker chips into this project as I cooked the garlic and onions and produced the already cooked sugar pumpkin. It would have been a good time to abandon the project when, after having roasted the peppers, the oven carried a pungent smell akin to a ferret spraying a pile of week old grass clippings. Nope. The writ decreed by the whir of the food processor had spoken. I was officially pot committed.

See that Tower card? That is the wings of Icarus melting in the sun, hubris taking us to heights where we have no business as land dwellers. If we don’t figure out when to quit, no matter how tall we’ve built the structure it will come crashing down with resounding inevitability. It does not mean we have to completely walk away, never to return; it means we have to start over, begin again, lay a fresh foundation and break ground anew.

I stared at the three bottles of hot sauce, playing the “it’s still good” game, like staring at the dog that had gained unfettered access to the Thanksgiving turkey when the guests were due to arrive in five minutes. I took one more tiny taste test to discover the final klaxons in the form of a strange tingling sensation that had undermined the flavor, perhaps from the botulin that was dancing on the tip of my tongue. Deciding it would be more welcomed in the forehead of the vanity stricken than in the stomachs of the sauce recipients, I discarded my completed project.

Was I pot committed? Indeed. Would those who ate my sauce be pot committed? If by a pot you mean a commode, quite likely. Either we acknowledge defeat and cut our losses or the leviathan comes and devours us in the midst of our pride. We can make the choice to tear down and begin again or the universe will make it for us, with disastrous results.

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.

Five of Cups

Five of Cups
A cloaked figure gazes with hanging head at three chalices spilt at the feet, not acknowledging the two still upright behind

The process of manifestation is not foolproof by any means. Not only do we encounter obstacles, setbacks, and losses on our path to attaining our desired outcomes, these are often part of the design in enabling us to achieve our goals.

It is not uncommon for us to become discouraged at the losses we experience along the way. We may feel that the universe is telling us that we are not deserving of what we desire, or that the intended outcome is not part of our life path. After all, if we are truly deserving of and entitled to what we want, why is it we cannot seem to attain it?

In all actuality, the frequent setbacks we face are not necessarily messages to ourselves that we are not worthy of our desires. It is possible that we need to examine what it is we truly want. The losses are often of our own making, due to our unconscious act of preventing ourselves from acquiring what we don’t want in the process of trying to accomplish what we may believe we actually want.

Continue reading Five of Cups

Nine of Wands

Nine of Wands
A person appearing to be recently injured stands vigilant with a cache of wands behind him as reinforcement

Manifesting our desires is not always an instant process. In fact, the grander the vision of what we desire, the more time, effort, or energy will be required to bring it to fruition.

In between the time we set our vision and when we achieve it lie many trials and errors. With each mistake we make, with each disappointing outcome we experience in pursuing our dream, we find it takes more determination to take another shot at it. Reminding ourselves to “get back on the horse” begins to feel like an empty cliché, providing us with little to no inspiration. Continue reading Nine of Wands