Reflections on the Ten of Wands

Something unexpected has happened of late in the life of your humble blogger. His mother, who is in her middle 80s, took a hard fall at home and had to be admitted to hospital, where she spent the past four days in great discomfort before rallying sufficiently to be discharged to the care of a full-time home caregiver. While she is recovering as well as can be expected for a person her age, she still needs a good deal of assistance in moving around and in performing basic domestic tasks, and likely will for a number of weeks if not months. It has fallen on me, therefore, to move in with her and serve as her home caregiver for an indefinite time; my only other sibling who could help is wheelchair-bound at present as a result of recent ankle surgery—so in other words, the task at hand is “all on me.”

Now, I never had any children of my own, so I have never been in a position of having to provide life care for someone who wasn’t able to care for herself, and this has filled me with all sorts of nervous anxiety, like I am ”flying blind” into uncharted airspace. I haven’t slept well for the past three days, worrying and wondering if I would have the patience, the judgment and the inner strength to fulfill the obligations confronting me. In a state of confusion, and with no little amount of fear, I consulted the Tarot for some one-card advice today, and this is what turned up:

X

Amazing, isn’t it? How this Tarot thing continues to work . . .

The card carries multiple meanings, one of which cautions against feeling the “weight of the world on our shoulders,” of “shouldering” too great a burden on our own—or, conversely, of burdening ourselves with fearful, negative and otherwise unproductive thinking—of nurturing a “persecution complex” or “martyr complex” when what we are doing is merely what many others have done willingly and unquestioningly since time immemorial. Then again, the meaning of the card can be exactly what it implies—that we have entered a phase in our lives where we are meant to shoulder a heavy psychic burden that—on its surface, at least—we perceive as joyless, thankless and utterly beyond our capacity to bear.

Within the Minor Arcana, however, the number “10” signifies the culmination or conclusion of a thing, an event, a life, and even a state of consciousness—and if we bear that in mind, perhaps this burdensome, thankless function that we have been called to perform is, perhaps, the most spiritually transformative work we can undertake; as others cared for us in infancy when were frail and helpless, so now we care for our elders in their state of decline, knowing that one day that their experiences will likewise be ours. In any event, your humble blogger, as with the worker in the Ten of Wands, has some “heavy lifting” to do for a season. I’ve scheduled a few previously written posts to run the next few days, but if blogging seems light in the coming weeks, at least you’ll know why, and I’ll continue posting whenever time permits.

Dante DiMatteo

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