* This post is a continuation of a month-long challenge hosted on Tarot Rebels. As I can’t commit to daily draws at the moment, I am following along at my own snail’s pace here. The concept of the challenge is to see the ways in which the energies of the Major Arcana are affecting and manifesting in my life at the moment. *
Third Path Completed: What am I most grateful for this Fall season?
One of the main areas I am currently working on in my Norse pagan path is learning about the spirit mothers and guardians that attend each person and ancestral line, the disir, norns, hamingjur and fylgjur. In Norse lore, the term fylgjur was also used as a name for one’s animal spirits, and the roles of these creatures and beings often overlapped with one other. (These souls and soul-aspects share some common ground with old Irish folklore of fetches.)
I drew these cards yesterday and felt an inkling of the message they were trying to give me, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.
Later that night, I took a few deep breaths and focused on the idea of my fylgjur, exploring any possible bridges for communication with them, and drew a card from the Rumi oracle. It was one of those times you just have to chuckle at the perfect synchronicity of your intent with the cards and their response. Of this card, the guidebook reads in part that, “…there is a partner, an ally who journeys with you from birth to death and beyond, again and again. You have a sacred sister, a sister of your soul.” Which in many ways is what the fylgjur are – life-long attending spirits with immense powers of prophecy and protection. Those with the sight may be able to see them, for most of us however, their corporeal form is said to be visible to us only at the time before our deaths, where she or they (sometimes they appear individually, sometimes as a collective) await to guide us into the otherworld to join our ancestors.
These spirits are always women, regardless of the sex or gender of their wards. Although what they are and exactly what they do was never clearly defined in ancient sources, the current general academic consensus is that they represent the ghosts or souls of ancestral women who have taken their place as family guardians. [I don’t want to ramble to much here, but if you wish to learn more about them, I highly recommend this article for a more in-depth exploration.]
But, what does this all have to do with the Emperor, Strength and gratitude? Well, coincidentally, or probably not considering the role and power of the fylgjur, this card also clarified the message of The Emperor and Strength.
One of the first things I noticed is that both Strength and the Emperor cards share similar colour palettes, with the pale browns and golds of Autumn, and both human figures are pictured with animals. The Emperor presents quite an Odin-like picture, with his two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thoughtful and Mindful) and the wolf in Strength represents an ambivalent creature in Norse thought, suggesting both passion and survival, but also greed and destruction. Both figures sit in stillness, patiently listening to and observing their animal companions.
At the end of the Rumi poem attached to the Sacred Soul Sister card in the guidebook, a particular couple of lines stood out, “When you are conscious, you are depressed like Fall. When you are beyond consciousness, the winter cold feels like Spring. All your wavering is due to your longing to be stable! Look for instability, until you become stable!” If that isn’t a ‘lookin’ at you’ to the Emperor and the control issues we both share, I don’t know what is.
So, what am I grateful for this Fall season? I am grateful for my growing relationship with guardian spirits, those animals and ancestors who exist beyond consciousness who guide and protect me. I am grateful also for the seed of belief that has been sown in my soul that knows in acknowledging these spirits, I can be protected and guided by them. I do not need maintain control or seek to force stability, for it is already there in the strong foundation of my own personal and familial spirit-army. I need only trust in them and be quiet for long enough to hear the truth of their wisdom.