Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Keep fighting or give up? Tarot's perspective

One of the most prominent lessons in my own life has been: how to draw a line between "don't give up now" and "give up now". After all, most things in life don't just land on us or if they do, sustaining them require more or less work. Be it a relationship, friendship, job, family, achieving a dream.

When things flow easily, there's no need to consider should the flow continue or not. Of course it should. But when going gets tough... how many weeks, months or years are we supposed to keep fighting for something that is - or once was - important? I'm sure all of us have heard instructions to "try harder, you'll make it at the end if you just believe in yourself" and "don't bang your head against the wall, surely you can see it's not going anywhere". How to tell the difference?

Tarot, once again, is a great tool. I see tarot as a mirror that shows what's inside us, what's invisible to the naked eye. And like a mirror, the message is an exact replica of the real feeling, it can't be faked, buried or ignored.

When is an ending really the end?

Tarot contains a lot of cards for a periodic trouble that can be annoying, disappointing, shocking or even heartbreaking, but are, after all, fleeting. But tarot also contains cards that indicate final closure. Something's ran it's course and it won't revive, no matter how much we kick and scream and try to give CPR. Some endings are sudden, surprising or ground-shaking, some are slow fizzles to death, fading to nothingness one day at a time.

None of the tarot cards has a fixed, single meaning and the meaning gets different shades depending on the question.

But usually, I'd say that cards like 5 Cups (disappointment), 3 Swords (heartache), 5 Pentacles (physical or mental hardship), 9 Swords (anxieties and nightmares), 5 Swords (arguments and dishonesty) and 5 Wands (conflicts, frustrations) fall into the category of momentary shocks.

The "full-stop" endings usually are Death (painful transformation), 10 Swords (sudden, complete ending), 8 Cups (abandoning something to go seek fulfilment elsewhere) and World (end of a cycle or chapter). Also 6 Swords (leaving worries behind) can come up as a final ending rather than a temporary refuge. Tower, the card of crumbling beliefs and expectations, can mean either type of an ending. Note: the keywords above are not exhaustive, just indicative.

Both ending types can be equally distressing, but with both types, it's difficult to tell, whether this really is the end. With a shock end, the very shock itself makes it hard to believe something's really over. With a fading end, the slow pace makes it difficult to recognise when the day has come a friendship, love, passion or interest doesn't exist anymore.

If you're going through something difficult and do a reading, try and scope which type of ending cards you get (if any, it's not necessarily even close to the end!): is the potential ending a pause or a semicolon, or a full stop?

If there's another person involved (in a relationship or friendship questions), what type of ending cards - if  any - show up for the other person? Are you on the same page - is this a momentary obstacle, or is the other person or you already in the mindset of wrapping it up for good and heading to the greener pastures?

I want to emphasise how important it is to remember that ending is always followed by a new beginning, of something new or something different. Seeing ending cards in a reading can be daunting, but nothing new in life can emerge and grow if nothing never ends. Some endings, like the World, 6 Swords, 8 Cups or Death can actually be a huge relief, welcomed news or a reason to celebrate afterwards, even if they are painful and sad when in process.

Well, how do you know if things should still be fought for?

The simplest and very workable spread is 4 cards: situation - challenge - advice - outcome.

I often use this, because it gives a quick, concise overview of what exactly is the core of the matter, is there anything to be done and what's the likely outcome.

If it's about a relationship, examining both partners' (or friends' / colleagues') views is useful. The simplest reading I know is the 7 cards relationship spread:

2        5
3   1   6
4        7
card positions:
1 - the relationship
2 - how you see the relationship
3 - how you feel in the relationship
4 - your instinctive hopes or fears
5 - how the other sees the relationship
6 - how the other feels in the relationship
7 - the other's instinctive hopes or fears

In my experience, instead of clarifiers ("I don't understand this card, I'll pull another in hopes that I understand that one better), it's clearer and more useful to ask proper questions and pull a card per question, for instance:

What does X most want or need from me?
What do I most want or need from X?
What will s/he most likely do in this situation?
What will I most likely do?
If I do [insert action], how will I feel?
What would be my best course of action? (this requires 1-3 cards)

However, no card can tell you for a certain fact that now it's time to give up. A combination of conscious deliberation (have I made any progress in six months or is any progress likely in next six months), gut feeling and cards will help the most.

Hope this brings clarity for decision making!
A detail of 6 Swords card, Mystic Dreamer tarot, Heidi Darras & Barbara Moore.

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