The cat, like the cards, has no positional meaning 😉
Summary: You see that sweet little bird? The fearless one about to take its first flight stepping off that branch? The one who knows no limits and has an infinite curiosity in the world? The one who some call ‘Fool’? This week asks you to wipe the slate clean and be that little bird once again.
WOW. Three Majors present us with some big opportunities for learning and growth this week! After drawing the first 3 cards I decided to get a bit of clarification as to the direction of the overall message so I calculated the ‘quint’ card (the quintessential message of the whole spread, as represented by a Major Arcana card): Sun 19 + Fool 0 + High Priestess 2 = 21 The World) to tie it all together.
In this spread we can see the reconciliation of a number of opposites – the Sun to the High Priestess’ Moon and the first and last cards of the Major Arcana, the Fool and The World. We have masculine, feminine, active and receptive, light and dark, beginnings and endings, innocence and experience. But what does it all mean???
Well, for the past week I have been trying to get my head around the Buddhist concept of ‘emptiness’, it is paradoxically complex in its simplicity, and apparently widely misunderstood. An element* of this concept that I understand so far however, looks a lot like the Fool. Emptiness isn’t about feeling empty or being wholly passive and void of personality, it is about freeing ourselves from the “I” that limits the experiences we open ourselves up to, and releasing the personal investment we feel in every moment.
This idea of releasing the “I” got me thinking about all of the “I am”s involved in maintaining a fixed and predictable identity. I’m sure we’ve all said something along the lines of “I’m not brave enough to do that”, “I’m not smart enough”; “I’m not a numbers person”, “I’m not creative”, “I’m short tempered”, “I am not spontaneous”, and so on.
While it can be nice to feel that we have a solid sense of who we are, an accumulation of all of these “I”s that we feel define us can severely restrict what we feel capable of. Rather than our perceived identity acting as a guide in helping us to get on with our daily responsibilities, it can start to act as a prison, restricting us from thoughts, beliefs and activities that do not align with its rigid construct.
Furthermore, it can dictate our reactions to different situations and limit our capacity to grow. Why do we react in certain ways, to either pleasant or unpleasant experiences, and then regret our behaviour later, berating ourselves with “Why do I always do that?” Maybe it is because we have outgrown those ways but have defined ourselves by them for so long that we forget we can choose another way to be? It’s not easy to quit behaviour/s we have entrenched as inherent personality traits or quirks, but if there is something that we do or think that instills a feeling of disappointment, confinement or even loathing in ourselves, it’s time to stop making excuses of “that’s just the way I am”, and allow ourselves to be something different.
On either side and above the Fool we have the Sun, the High Priestess and the World in perfect balance. Here I see the Sun representing self-realisation – the conscious understanding of who we are in all of our dimensions and contradictions, and an acceptance that all of these dimensions are changeable. The Sun includes the “I” and “me”, but is not limited by the turgid structures of ego-centrism, it is the highest self that also seeks evolution, expansion and transcendence. In the High Priestess I see the mysteries of the sub-conscious and unconscious mind, a trust in our intuition, and the acceptance of our shadows, working in harmony and integrated with our consciousness. The World then can represent the sum of these disparate parts, healed as one in the emptiness of the Fool – the one who does not fight against duality and the ever changing nature of life, the Earth and its surrounding celestial bodies, but flows with them, free from fixed nature and without pride or limitations.
This week’s cards ask you to explore the emotional and psychological structures that place limitations on your ability to engage fully with life. What are some of the “I am”s that restrict you? Imagine yourself without them, imagine all of the things that deep down you want to do, and would feel free to do, if you could just break those bonds. Imagine the freedom of seeing you identity as tendencies, rather than absolutes. Finally, observe the natural cycles around you and within you – are you flowing with them, or fighting against them? Seek balance and harmony and understand that any dualities you feel within yourself can be reconciled if you release your pre-conceived notions and expectations of who you are – ‘You’ are nothing, you are empty, you are the Fool and you are everything.
*I am still in the very beginning stages of my Buddhist studies, so this is in no way an exhaustive look at ’emptiness’. Its meaning is far reaching and this write up only touches upon one of its simplest, most personal aspects within the context of this spread.
Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans, 1st Ed. Now published by HarperElixir.