Saturday, March 27, 2010

Random thoughts on "The Star"

When our expectations have been rattled, when our status-quos fall short, what then? In the previous post on The Tower, I mentioned the Star. This is a beautiful and inspiring symbol. We think of a star on a dressing room door, "when you wish upon a star", "thank your lucky stars", when you do well in elementary school you get a gold star on your work.

All of these associations are bits of what the star card can refer to on a superficial level. They're nice things we don't need to dismiss, but there's something deeper that I often see to it. As I mentioned before, the stars from ancient times have been used for navigation. They are a reference point beyond our worldly conditions that tell us where we are at and a reminder of things. Science tells us that the light from the stars we see may have long since burned out at it's point of origin, but who can say how far that light will travel before it is ever unsee-able? Ok I might be getting a bit too deep here, but in the context of a reading the Star card is like a flash of insight, a higher "nudge" that helps us move forward.

The saying that "we are not human beings having a spiritual experience, but rather spiritual beings having a human experience" comes to mind. When we can, however briefly, put aside our egocentric ideas of what we are and what's important, the star symbolizes that recognition of not just what we can become but what we truly are. For most of us this is a fleeting insight. C.S. Lewis (who I have blogged about before and respect) tells us that most vision is usually followed by a sort of trough period. From his own experience and that of many others who have known both the preceding trials that led to a vision as well as the struggles afterward he concluded that living with a vision didn't always necessarily have the luxury of a certainty in it, but rather that we have to live "as if it might be true".

In William James "Varieties Of Religious Experience", the theory is that a spiritual experience is not measured in it's drama or sensationalism. It's validity is in what it motivates us to do. Sometimes this can be an earth shattering vision, more often it is those little glimpses that move us to be part of great things that need to be done. In the film "Schindler's List" the title character does not initially set out to be heroic, he starts out as a capitalist who sees an opportunity in using concentration camp inmates in his factories. Along the way though, something in him wakes up and what some see as a miracle goes on, a bit at a time. Later near the end of the story he laments that he could not see it sooner, "how many more could I have saved" he asks. But remember what he was up against. Would it have worked had he known? I believe Creation  can work though our foibles. We are often best just given the little glimpses.

 Another way to look at it; have you ever tried to look directly at a star? Sometimes we need to see it out of the corner of our eye. Even when you can focus on it clearly, how well do you think you could walk through a dark forest while looking at a star? You would trip over every root and branch. What we often have to do is glimpse and travel, glimpse and travel. The saying "be in this world, but not of it" comes to mind. We are here for an important experience, we need to at times get caught up in things, go to the fair, eat too many corn dogs, go on all the rides, but not get so caught up that we get lost in it. Sometimes we have to go through the Tower's upheaval, like falling off the Ferris wheel before we come back to this awareness. Hmm a Wheel Of Fortune reference? Perhaps, but that will have to wait til another post!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Some random thoughts on "The Tower" card

Tsunamis and earthquakes and the economy,  Swine flu (when pigs fly? oh my!). All of these things rattle our illusions of security. I have heard some say we are moving through a "Tower" time.

Certainly the new millennium was characterized by a powerful Tower image as planes struck buildings on 911. We knew our world would never be the same. But is this some kind of Tarot Prophecy fulfilled? I don't mean to sound evasive, but yes and no. It's nothing new, it is a lesson we get in many forms again and again, personally, communally and globally.

The Tower card is usually an indication of major disruptive force that challenges our sense of security. It's not an easy archetype (in some senses, none of them are). It represents our human tendency to resist change that ultimately has to give way. A man made structure met with a force greater than itself. These structures are not just physical but more often what the cards refer to are the structures of the psyche. We often times define ourselves by our relationships, our careers, our place in the world. These things are important but they are not the entirety of who we are. On another level, our greater communities define themselves by other structures. Our faith constructs or religion, our nationality, our beliefs and prejudices are all structures that evolve and at times get shaken. If these things are based on a solid foundation, what falls away is distraction. It winnows out the crap. We have the opportunity in a Tower time to wake up and smell the coffee. To see the integrity of whats stands regardless.

Sometimes I compare the Tower to a little clay pot you plant something in. It serves a purpose, but at some point the structure must give way, the plant must be re-potted, or the plant dies or the clay breaks. In any case the structure has to change.

Tower energy is about what makes us go beyond our familiar, safe, easy structures. It can be quite devastating, but it can also be liberating and freeing. People react to it in very different ways. There is an old saying that "20 percent of the people do 80 percent of the work". I notice that in a Tower shake up, often 80 percent run around like Chicken Little saying "the sky is falling, the sky is falling", while 20 percent are more like the Little Red Hen saying "well what do we have to work with, and how do we carry on anyway". I truly believe the greatest growth doesn't come when things just flow along our way, but rather when we have to carry on anyway.

I think a lot of people's reaction to some world events in the last few years has not been shock that these things happen, but shock at where and to whom. The shattering of the illusion that some places are somehow immune to these ills or that things can't happen in some places or to some people,was a culture shock.
What we have lost in some of this was our naivete, not our innocence.

On a very superficial level you could compare the Tower to a kid finding out there's no Santa Claus. Maybe  they have the chance to see what was behind the myth, what it was a metaphor for. Maybe (as is the case for me) we learn that Santa Claus is an idea that we all get to be part of and not just one day a year. Or they could get angry and stop behaving because they aren't going to get a pony. Going a step further though, are you really being "good" if it's just to get something?

On a personal level, the Tower can make us question our beliefs, our illusions of immunity, invulnerability and entitlement. I should note that although the Tower is a growth opportunity it is also NOT something we deserve. Bad things DO happen to good people and they don't deserve these things. Tower is not (necessarily) about karmic retribution. Sometimes it is the difficult business of (excuse me) "shit happens", but HOW we work through it is the growth opportunity. Do we try to build an even greater, more resistant structure or do we let go and (maybe) see we no longer need it, in some instances we see we never did.

On a career level it could be a set back that shows us we have had an illusion of security. I know many people who felt that security was finding an employer to be loyal to and it would look after you in return. Many people these days are finding themselves laid off, or worse questioning about their retirement or pensions. The structure has been shaken.

I believe that we sometimes get so caught up in these structures and sometimes others get caught up in them as well that they can become self fulfilling prophecies. If a person feels they have to make a lot of money to have worth, for instance, they will attract people who follow that line of thinking. They can feel that if they aren't successful then people may leave or they wont matter in the same way. Sometimes this proves to be true, some of those people DO leave. Sometimes you have to start over. Quite often though you get a chance to see that the supposed security was something that was owning you. I talk to a lot of people that have lost things and had to start over. They often have the opportunity to get ahead again, but it doesn't "own" them in the same way ever again.

Remember too that in the numeric sequence of the cards, the Tower is followed by "The Star". A card of vision, inspiration and hope. Not just a "star on the rise" but also a source of direction. Star is the little glimpse of our greater nature. Not just our potential. Remember that the stars are still used for navigation. We learn to base our growth and direction not just on our immediate circumstances and the things of this world, but with that greater vision.