Today’s one-card reading:
Q: As regular readers are aware, your humble blogger has been going through a somewhat stressful personal time of late, what with having to move out of his apartment to provide at-home care for a sick parent, searching and interviewing for meaningful employment, and shuttling back and forth to his own apartment twice a week—a 50-mile round trip—to pick up his mail and pay out his bills (not to mention the emotional strain of a recent health scare—and thanks to you, dear readers, for your kind words of support). Not surprisingly, perhaps, our blogger’s precarious mental state has seeped into the realm of his unconscious, and the topography of the dreams that he has conjured of late have been grotesque and cartoonish landscapes shrouded in uncertainty, unrest and no small amount of anxiety. Last night was no different, though with an unexpected ending. This time, a dark-haired man and a red-headed woman—both of whom were facing away from me and dressed entirely in black—were leading me on a golf course that wended its way through a barren landscape strewn with mountains of refuse, like a landfill. I didn’t know exactly why I was following them except that they told me that the golf course led to my home, so I followed them unquestioningly.
Suddenly, the couple vanished, leaving me all alone on the golf course with the sun setting and the landscape growing more inhospitable. As I kept walking, I could see that the path before me snaked downward into a deep and narrow ravine that more closely resembled an army trench—with remnants of helmets and rifles half-buried in the hillsides, with barbed wire ringing the hilltops—the further I descended into the canyon. Soon I started crying out to the couple who had abandoned me, “Why have you left me alone here? You know I can’t find my way out—I just want to go home!”
All of a sudden, I found myself at a dead end, and confronted by a dark-haired woman wearing a white tunic who I recognized as my real-life next-door neighbor. “How do I get out of here?” I asked her. “Simple, she said, “you need to climb the ladder.” Looking around, I couldn’t see anything resembling a ladder—just piles of dirt and debris. The woman tugged at my shirt and pulled me toward her. “Silly,” she said smiling: “Don’t you see that I’m the ladder? You have to climb over me!” At that point her outstretched arms wrapped me in a warm embrace, which I reciprocated in kind. As I pressed my cheek next to hers, I could feel a warm glow radiating from her face and hands. At that very moment, I began to feel myself levitate—and as I awoke from the dream, the first thought that came to my mind was, “An angel came to my rescue!”
A: Indeed she did:
Let’s walk this back: The querent finds himself on a golf course that shares the qualities of a landfill—both of which are manmade, “manufactured” landscapes that attempt to “re-define” the natural world as something more amenable to our ego-driven impulse to (a) experience a flattering imitation of reality while at the same time (b) separating ourselves from the actual damage we do in reality. Much the same can be said for the one-dimensional perception of the world we experience when it is divorced from the fluid and unseen world of spirit that is so often made manifest in dreams. This may help to explain the mysterious couple who leads the querent in the dream but who never reveal themselves in full to him; like the landfill, they are artificial constructs, “imitations of man” shrouded in mystery (i.e., black attire) whose purpose is to lead the querent deeper into a world where he knows he does not belong and that he fears is about subsume him. When all seems lost, however—at that moment when he appears to have been submerged into a pit of death and destruction, surrounded by all the trappings of war—he encounters his “true” Self, face to face, in the form of an anima figure dressed in the color of light: One that he immediately recognizes and which he allows to embrace him. In this manner, surrendering to love and not to despair, he “finds his way home” by submitting to a simple act of affection that in an instant transcends the worlds of manipulation and deceit that had threatened to overwhelm him.
In the Tarot, Aces signify the advent of a new day, of new opportunities and, potentially, new rewards for those of us who are willing to commit to like acts of selflessness and surrender. As the suit of Pentacles governs the world of flesh and bone that we inhabit here on earth, the appearance of the Ace today suggests that the lesson of the dream is waiting to be put into practice right here and now; we must simply be willing to seize the opportunity (the shiny gold coin) and “pass through” the gateway of perception—signified by the flower-strewn archway in the card—that we might leave behind the mundane world of illusion and allow the transcendent forces of love to work miracles through us.
The world we consciously “see” around us is a pale approximation of the real thing—at best, it resembles an amusement; at worst, a house of horrors. When we drop our defenses, strip away the artifices of ego, and offer ourselves to others as vehicles of transformation—just as the woman in the dream offered to serve as the querent’s “ladder” out of the pit of hell—then we can begin to reach a fuller level of understanding, both of our Selves and of the world around us. In Genesis, God shows to Jacob a ladder of transformation, which he is told he will ascend if he pledges to live in righteousness for the rest of his days; after which time he will be transformed from “Jacob” a mortal man to “Israel” a nation everlasting. In our time, a similar ladder to super-consciousness has been erected for us—we need only grasp its handrails, and climb it in faith, rung by rung.