It has been an interesting six weeks, dear readers, since your humble blogger was roused from his comfortable redoubt to care for his ailing mother in the deep-red suburbs of greater Los Angeles, the same environs where he lived as a boy. The experience of “going home again”—to a neighborhood where no one ever walks the streets by day, where the only cultural landmarks of note are sprawling mega-malls, and where the weather has been in excess of 100 degrees every day while he has been there—has been challenging and disorienting, seldom satisfying, often surreal and, at times, utterly unreal. How did he ever live in such a dreadful place for so many years and manage to keep his sanity?
Then again, who’s to say he kept his sanity at all?
The proverbial light has appeared at the end of tunnel, however. Mother’s health has greatly improved in recent days, to the point where (so says her doctor) that she no longer needs daily supervision and can be left to live independently again—meaning, of course, that yours truly is finally free to return to his apartment on the hip ‘n’ groovy West Side and resume his normal life (or what passes for it) again. Before packing my things, however, I thought this was a good point to look back and review the experience—to see what (if anything) I might have learned from it, and what lessons I might take forth into the foreseeable future. As a meditative device and a psychic triggering mechanism, I laid out a standard four-card spread. Dealt right to left, the meanings of the cards are, approximately:
Alternatively, the cards can be thought of, in order, as “past, present, future and personal aspirations or fears”. In either event, I shuffled the cards thoroughly, and after pausing a few minutes to reflect on the past six weeks and what they might have meant to me, these were the cards that turned up:
Two things are apparent right away: First, the lack of any reversed cards, implying a positively charged spiritual energy field surrounding the querent today; and second, the predominance of Pentacles, which suggests—along with the absence of any archetypal figures from the Major Arcana—that the subject of today’s reading is largely guided and informed by the material world in which we live here and now.
1. Ten of Pentacles. Amazing how this Tarot stuff works, isn’t it? This is the ultimate “homecoming” card, representing the completion of the cycle of life depicted in the Minor Arcana that commences with the Ace of Wands and that concludes with this card. As the “first” card in the spread, it represents the “root” or foundation of the matter—and in its place in the Tarot canon as the “last” card of the deck, the Ten implies that returning to the home where he lived as a boy to care for his mother the way she once cared for him has exposed the querent to a kind of spiritual “death and rebirth” experience that’s implied by the card: “And the first shall be last, and the last first . . .”
In this regard, if the querent were to be honest with himself, he’d admit that the more time he spent time in his old neighborhood and getting reacquainted with it, the more his resistance to it began to subside, and the more comfortable—and perhaps even rejuvenated!—he felt living and working there. To fully apprehend the attractions and felicities of a world that was once familiar to the boy but is yet so foreign to the man requires time, patience, the willingness to reexamine one’s priorities, and to look at everything anew—to “break in” a new set of eyes free from prejudice and judgment. Everything that has ever struck him as repulsive about the place, by contrast, has always been manifested instantly, suggesting the reactionary powers of ego to warp one’s worldview. There is really no such thing as an ugly world, after all—only ugly misperceptions of a world trapped in the boundaries of space and time.
2. Two of Pentacles. Again, a very appropriate—and altogether predictable—card to fall in this station, it speaks directly to the emotional “balancing act” the querent has had to perform over the past few weeks, tending to his mother’s needs while not failing to neglect his own—he’s been looking for employment during this time, after all, and since there is no Internet service at his mother’s house, the querent has had to “juggle” his time accordingly, budgeting hours to plug into a WIfi connection at a local coffee house while equally setting aside time for domestic errands and chores. At first, these dual obligations seemed overwhelming to him (much as the waves in the Two of Pentacles threaten to overwhelm the boats riding atop them), but with the passing of time, the juggling act has gotten easier, and has even imparted a sense of purpose to his life. Even though the querent isn’t employed full-time, every day has had plenty of work for him!
3. Prince of Wands. In our review last month of the Myers-Briggs, test, we noted that this member of the royal court is a dynamic thinker and a skilled, if often impetuous, communicator. If the past (Ten of Pentacles) and the present (Two of Pentacles) have imposed some discipline upon the querent, perhaps now is the time he consider leveraging that discipline to harness his intellectual powers. As with the steed pictured in the card, it is a dynamic source of energy that hold its own in a competition of ideas, or it can just as easily spin out of control and run wild; the Prince holds a tight rein on his ride, and this suggests the querent follow a similar example: Don’t let your ambition “run away with itself,” at least for today. This is because, quite possibly . . .
4. Princess of Pentacles. Now is the time to devote to some quiet introspection. The Princess, like the Prince of Wands, is a creative personality; her creativity, though, is engaged by immersing herself in earthly sensations, by exposure to things of beauty and inspiration: The Garden of Earthly Pleasures and Delights. As we all know, this impulse, if overindulged or entered into for the wrong reasons, can equally be a house of horrors (see: “Bosch, Hieronymus”), but sometimes, we are best advised to “stop and smell the roses” in life—to look back, as the Princess gazes upon the other three cards preceding her in this spread, and to reflect on what we have learned in our lives and from our interaction with others. In this case, perhaps the lesson learned over the past six weeks has been the querent’s willingness to keep his ego in check—or at least to try; to devote himself to others as to himself; and to make an attempt to see the beauty in any lived environment, whether it is an art museum or a shopping mall. The Princess of Pentacles would have us be inspired by the worlds of wonder that we discover are everywhere around us, if we are willing to “rein in” our ego and give ourselves over to the privilege of enjoying them after a time spent diligently at work. We deserve it!