Reflection on The Six of Cups

Every day, while I’m waiting for my pot of morning tea to brew after I arise from bed, I deal a ten-card Tarot spread, with the cards laid down in the pattern of the Sephirotic Tree of Life; it’s become my default “advice” spread these days. Anyway, even experienced readers can find themselves flummoxed at times by what appears in a given spread, and today was one of those for me: six of the last seven cards I drew were from the Major Arcana—in order, the Hierophant, the High Priestess, The Moon, The Hanged Man, The Empress, and Justice. (The other cards were the Ace, Two and Three of Wands [!] and the Ten of Pentacles. Talk about overload!) Well now, there’s gotta be a lot of fiery archetypal energy swirling in the air today! and because of this, I asked Tarot for a little clarification—one particular thing or idea to focus on. So I reshuffled the deck, turned up a card, and this was it:


Traditional meanings of this card revolve around what we refer to as “the past”—childhood, nostalgia, memories of good times, innocence and play—but also, by implication, what we call “the future”: new opportunities and experiences in the offing. It’s sort of a “back to the future” card that reminds us that we should “be as little children” if we want to enter the kingdom of heaven—that we should immerse ourselves in the joyfulness, purity and innocence of those carefree days, for surely they can remind us of what our lives can be like once we strip away the many artifices of adulthood: The ego-driven striving and status-seeking that is the root cause of so many of our conflicts.

So, as a “back to the future” experiment of my own today—and holding the thought posed by the Six of Cups—I took the train to a town some 25 miles from my home, a place where I lived and spent a great deal of time in the early 1990s but which I hadn’t frequented in nearly 20 years, to spend a leisurely Saturday strolling and window-shopping. Stepping off the train and walking down one of the town’s busiest thoroughfares, I could make out the familiar forms of the various streets, buildings, people, trees and the like, but of course the names on many of the buildings were different, and all of the faces in the crowd had changed. (Hey, I don’t look the same as I did 20 years ago, either—it must be contagious!) Many times, our reaction to such a revisiting is one of sadness and loss—”all of my old haunts are gone!” or “they ruined my old neighborhood!”—but we are probably wiser to accept the reality that none of man’s creations is permanent, that they all are destined to crumble away at the end of days, and that instead of “crying over spilt milk,” we should celebrate the life anew each day in whatever form it may take. Besides, if we loved this neighborhood so much, we’d never have moved away in the first place, right?

Thus I spent a pleasant afternoon in my old ‘hood, with waves of fond (and, okay, a few wistful) memories cascading out of my head, and at the same time happy to be living in the Now that is the only measure of “time” that truly matters to us. Yesterday is an illusion and tomorrow never comes, and once we surmount the boundaries of space and time—which Tarot, like most systems of metaphysics, can teach us to do through a variety of disciplines and exercises—we open up our hearts to all of Creation, not just those parts we wish to claim or control for our own selfish ends. In that state of contentment, we can “be as little children” for the rest of our days. It is easier said than done, but it is the ultimate goal of the work.

Dante DiMatteo

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