“Even the upper end of the river believes in the ocean.”-said William Stafford.
But even if it doesn’t, that’s where it’s going anyway. Slowing, broadening and deepening as it goes. Like us, if we get the chance, if we are given the time. And the closer we get to the ocean, the less we strive, the more we carry, the more we reflect and the less we hurry.
Like The Hermit, who walks alone in the wild places, following a far-off light, or answering the ancient drum beat. The Hermit is feeling the weight of his years and experience but casts his own light all the same. He/she withdraws more from society, but the wild creatures draw near and cautiously welcome The Hermit home. He – us- humankind of the modern world left their path many years ago, branching away from the path of the wild.
The Hermit is airy Mercury in earthy Virgo, watchful, enquiring, creative but analytical, self-disciplined, seemingly aloof yet safely approachable,with a quiet warmth.
William Stafford died aged 79 at his home in Lake Oswego, Oregon on 28 August, 1993. The morning of his death, he had written a poem containing the lines, “‘You don’t have to / prove anything,’ my mother said. ‘Just be ready / for what God sends.’
Some time when the river is ice ask me mistakes I have made. Ask me whether what I have done is my life. Others have come in their slow way into my thought, and some have tried to help or to hurt: ask me what difference their strongest love or hate has made.
I will listen to what you say. You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait.
We know the current is there, hidden; and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say.
“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”― Plutarch
There is what Life does to us. There is how we respond. But first there was always who we were to begin with, and the ways we are still becoming it.
Tabula rasa is the theory that individuals are born without built-in mental content, and therefore all knowledge comes from experience or perception. Epistemological proponents of tabula rasa disagree with the doctrine of innatism, which holds that the mind is born already in possession of certain knowledge. Wikipedia
Public Domain: The constellation of Leo with its distinctive Sickle, representing the head and neck of the Lion, and with Jupiter below. Click the link above for more astronomy.
Lions came out of the desert this time of year, driven by drought, to drink from the Nile, a sign that the great Nile flood was shortly on its way, mapped in the sky, led in by the constellation, the star lion Leo.
Alight on chance
To Lionise again
The Lion in The Tarot
Leo’s Tarot Card is Strength, Major Arcana 8. This is not simply about raw physical Strength, or bodily courage, but nerve, fortitude and grace under pressure. The lady controls the lion, but the touch is light. This is a card of self-control. King Hood protects the pride. The Lionesses hunt to feed the pride, working as a team. Hunting is dangerous for the hunter as well as for the prey. The lion does not kill for pleasure. Only for necessity. Any injury sustained during hunting can mean a slow and painful death for the lioness.
Image from The Gilded Tarot, artist Ciro Marchetti
But if you can’t solve the problem, and not everyone can solve every problem, let someone else have a go who thinks they can. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Sometimes there is strength, unselfishness, moral courage even, in deciding to do that, so as not to become part of the problem.
In terms of Tarot divination, if this card comes up in answer to a question, the answer is very likely a yes.
If your question is when? The answer is very likely to be July 23-August 23 of the same year.
My readings include forecasts not predictions. What’s the difference? Mainly presentation. Otherwise, very little. Forecasts are associated with technically based weather and economic predicting, nowadays largely based upon the interpretation of masses of computerised data, plus educated guesswork. A prediction is based on knowledge, experience, intuition or guesswork, and may be made in any context but is generally understood as being presented as almost a done deal, whereas a forecast deals in estimations of probabilities. I deal in probabilities.
Polls and other forecasts not infrequently get it wrong of course, as do fortune-tellers, no doubt.
When I talk to you about your present and past, as sensed and expressed through my Tarot or playing cards, you are in a position to evaluate what I am saying, and to validate it. When I address your question to do with likely future developments, no validation is possible; only time will tell; the future both exists and does not exist. You will die and so will I, the only things in life that are certain, so the saying goes, are death and taxes, and the taxes were only included as a joke.
But in-between, there are things within your direct personal control and things that are not, and a prediction may interfere, distract, block or stymie you, and become a self-fulfilling prophecy, while a forecast allows for the possibility of alternative outcomes depending on whether you do this next, or that next. This job or that job? This house or that house? This person or that person?
This freedom of choice may also be an illusion of course, just as ‘true’ objectivity is an impossibility, because we are always likely to do, and default to what is in our nature to do, regardless of advice, even when that advice is directly solicited. It is a wise and also essentially confident person who can, without instantly dismissing it, no knee-jerks, coolly pay out enough rope to listen to advice that is contrary to what they want or expect, or that challenges their own preferred version of events and vision of themselves and their past choices.
“Whatisbredinthebonewill not comeoutoftheflesh”, firstrecordedinEngland(inLatin) circa1290,widespreadinvarious versionssincethe15thcent.
The version I am used to says that what is bred in the bone will come out in the flesh…meaning, it will unavoidably manifest itself.
Norse mythology took a subtle view on prediction and the nature of destiny. Their Norns were not as absolutist as the Fates of Ancient Greece.
‘Wyrd’ is the Old English variant of the Norse word, ‘Urd’, referring to the destiny of each living thing, cast for them at birth by the three Norns. The Saxon variant is ‘wurd.’ The Well represents the Norse concept of the past – what we might now term birth memory, ancestral memory or the collective unconscious. The Norse view of destiny was that yes, it is written, but unlike the Fates of ancient Greek mythology, the destinies carved by the Norns can be overwritten…though does this pre-suppose that the hero on his or her life quest is aware of the existence and nature of that destiny and decides to challenge it?
The Well of Wyrd
She scrys alone; she is casting stones,
Disposing glyphs on graven runes,
No even numbers speak the Norns,
Wyrd runs water; she must deal,
In whisperings and Fates unsealed,
Winds of fortune shape and shatter,
Time, disposing of all matters,
Is Serpentine, the ouroboros,
Endless, rolling, still coils sinuous.
Circe by Waterhouse: Public Domain
“The Well of Urd corresponds to the past tense. It is the reservoir of completed or ongoing actions that nourish the tree and influence its growth. Yggdrasil, in turn, corresponds to the present tense, that which is being actualised here and now.
What of intention and necessity, then? This is the water that permeates the image, flowing up from the well into the tree, dripping from the leaves of the tree as dew, and returning to the well, where it then seeps back up into the tree.
Here, time is cyclical rather than linear. The present returns to the past, where it retroactively changes the past. The new past, in turn, is reabsorbed into a new present, whose originality is an outgrowth of the give-and-take between the waters of the well and the the waters of the tree.” Source and Further Reading:
One can see the flexibility of the Norns arising in the sphere of genetics.
It is not clear why blue eyes spread among ancient Europeans. One theory is that the gene could have helped to prevent eye disorders due to low light levels found in European winters, or that the trait spread because it was deemed sexually attractive.
Can Tarot cards help with forecasting weather, accurately? The short answer is, experience tells me yes, but, and it’s a big but, the question needs a clearly defined context. As in, for example, what kind of weather can be expected at X location at X time? If I drive from A to B on this date at this sort of time, what kind of weather experience can I expect?
The Tower Card detects coming severe weather. Storms. It featured in this way in quite dramatic fashion in a previous True Tarot Tale, when it saw a storm coming, and we only had a tornado down our street the very next morning at about eight- o- clock. That’s right. A tornado in Lytham St Annes in Lancashire, UK.
You can read that story on an earlier blog post HERE
The Tower card, from the Gilded Tarot by kind permission of Ciro Marchetti.
Other associations: disaster, accident, argument, bankruptcy, shock.
Weather Associations- If learning Tarot, practise drawing a card for the day ahead, where you are:
From the North: Knight of Pentacles (grey, cool,cold, rain and snow)
From the South: Knight of Wands (sunny, heat wave, tropical storm)
From the West: Knight of Cups (sunny, mild, wet, windy)
From the East: Knight of Swords (fresh, cool, ice, hailstorms, biting winds, brrr)
Today, just for a change, the story really is a story, prompted by activities on a writer’s forum called Litopia. Do, please feel welcome to come and join there.
Flash Fiction: Boreas the Blustery
Boreas was bored. The North Wind was fed up of the North. Grizzling and moaning, he stamped about, bending trees, rolling rivers like mattresses and forcing polar bears to roll down snowy slopes, so he could laugh at the way their paws scrabbled as they rolled over and over.
‘Where’s some fun!’ he howled. ‘F*ck off , Captain Bird’s Eye, I want a bit of Southern Comfort!!!’ He ripped off some roofs in Carlisle, straining to go south, but the jet-stream was busy in the higher latitudes, and wouldn’t open the gates.
In the Gulf of Florida, Nota, the South Wind got, er, wind of this, and said to El Nino, ‘ I could fancy a ‘lil trip North to see this Boreas. I hear he’s quite the man.’
‘I can help you there, I think’, said El Nino, ‘I’m heading that way, myself.’
He steered Nota north, skimming seas into mountains and making dolphins sea- sick, isobars winding ever tighter until Boreas saw her, crossing the Atlantic towards him, driving the waves before her. And then they collided, and circled tighter and tighter, high and low . Wires and cables snapped and hummed, and dustbins flew like dust, and wild things cowered in their dens.
‘You couldn’t come to me! screamed Nota, lashing her hair, ‘so, Boreas, I have come to you!’
Shrimp and rice and coconut!
Fish and chips and doughnuts!
The way he loved her was frightening.
Lightening, thunder, until they span asunder
With no air left for more
They parted peaceful on the shore.
‘Great place you’ve got here’, said Nota, sinking weary to the sea. ‘Love it. Really love it. Let’s do this again sometime.’
Boreas puffed out his chest, and gently stroked a trembling tree top, ‘any time, my lovely. Your place or mine. Any time.’
When I draw The Fool card in a reading, the Major Arcana card numbered Zero, or in some decks numbered 22, it may classically signify good news; a birth, a welcome opportunity, a fresh start of any significant kind. I drew it this very day, for a client who is not just moving house, but changing a way of life, and it is absolutely the right way to go. It suggests taking a chance, a leap of faith. Reversed, it cautions against hastiness. You need time. You need more information. You need to think, properly think, or you will do summat truly daft.
But the Fool has other, darker associations, as fools and jesters and solitary wanderers always have, in western culture. There are good reasons people are afraid of clowns, the jokers in the pack. The Tarot’s Fool is the Joker in a pack of ordinary playing cards, and means the same things, if you are using playing cards to read with.
The Fool represents that which haunts all margins and borders. The ‘outwalker;’ that being. force or agency, which observes and may, given opportunity and sufficient reason, may find its way in to where you do not want it.
There is another Tarot card, more often cited in association with Odin, or Odin-esque associations. This is The Hanged Man, Major Arcana number 12. Odin hung upside down on the world tree, Yggdrasil, for 9 days for knowledge, and for a world view gained through a changed perspective.
But The Fool card, Trump 0 of the Major Arcana, contains something as frightening as it is innocent, not only birth and opportunity but something not quantifiable, as real as it is unreal, a ‘thusness’ or haacceity more implacable than Death.
that property or quality of a thing by virtue of which it is unique or describable as ‘this (one)’
the property of being a unique and individual thing.
“he has a paramount concern with haecceity, the thisness of things”
Zero is a something as well as a nothing. Even leaving the philosophical questions aside, and they are bogglers, without 0, as without 1, there is no binary, and no digital age.
Zero draws the Number of the Fool
But only fools will fail to fear
The oddly smiling one who walks alone
Magician, outland, dawn and dusk
Fleeting, glimpsed by tree and mere
Where ripples lap without a breeze
Or single casting of a stone
Zero, Odin’s one remaining eye
His other traded for all kenning
Out-with the knowing of the Norns
Nine days he hung considering
On Yggdrasil, the great ash tree
But Life is flux, and, unfulfilled
Does Odin walk abroad with Men
Entranced, he follows their technology
Their blindly restless struggles to get free
Refusing that their final liberty
Is in their choice of sacrifice
Their ultimate expression
In their direst of necessity
Insatiably, dispassionate, he watches, waits
And sometimes smiles, but has no tears
For what might dim or blind his sight
Of conjurings and reckonings with Fate
The new born come, and dead depart
His scouts of Thought and Memory
Twin ravens, Hugin, Munin, fly
Through Odin’s questing, flaming Eye
The singing echo-chamber of The Gate.
It works by what Jung called synchronicity (see @Tarot Card Philosophy – HowStuffWorks.) The reader uses the imagery and numbers with all their associated symbolism to help them articulate their intuitive impressions more precisely.
Tarot is an old western esoteric artifact, but is only one of many available systems of divination.
The 78 cards offer a symbolic language. The reader ‘uploads’ a ‘programme’ by learning the meanings and associations of the cards. In a reading, the reader draws cards blindly and at random, and uses the imagery on the cards as a prompt, to share what they feel about a given person, situation or question. The thing that is most amazing, even uncanny, is the absolute relevance of cards drawn at random and blindly (being upside down when they are drawn). This is where the apparent miracle of synchronicity occurs.
The Wheel of Fortune; Public Domain
How does the reader choose cards supposedly at random, which so appropriately identify the enquirer’s situation or question? It can be darn spooky.
The answer is, the reader doesn’t know exactly. They simply trust, or learn to trust the unconscious process. What they have done is trained/strengthened a natural faculty by uploading a kind of programme or whether Tarot, or Astrology or Runes. There are many such ‘programmes’.
Sometimes the card does not actually contain literal relevant imagery. How could a deck of 78 cards contain all the possible images in the world? The cards deal with this by using archetypes, eg The Chariot = effort, progress, ambition, team work, or literally, a vehicle. Any vehicle or a driving job, or test.
Each card has a number of possible meanings attached, and this starts with book knowledge but the reader must still make a leap of intuition in deciding which meaning applies. Such a leap in the dark may result in a ‘psychic’ insight, where all existing book meanings for the card is bypassed and a unique meaning arrived at.
During one reading I drew the Page of Cups from the Universal Waite. The card generally signifies happy new developments, sometimes a welcome gift or a message. On this occasion, I looked at it and without thinking, asked the lady, did she ate a lot of those pink and white marshmallows? She was astonished and so was I, and we laughed when she opened her hand bag and there was a packet of those same marshmallows inside it.
It was the pink and white of the picture that leapt to my attention and prompted my question; the rest went into the background. How, exactly that happened, I do not know. I was almost but not equally astonished as my visitor and by now, take it for granted that a conference with the Tarot can result in these experiences.
Tarot accesses a natural talent of the most normal, ancient human mind. We all possess it. A ‘psychic’ reader is simply someone who noticed it, been interested and through study self training and often many years of practice, gone on to exercise and develop this natural ability, rather like a muscle of the mind.
Inheritance is a meeting point of past, present and future, taking many forms, physical and immaterial. Goods, prospects, genes, ideas. How different in character will the legacy you leave differ or depart from the legacies you have inherited?
The Tarot’s card of Inheritance, both material and immaterial: money, property, ancestry, genes, culture, is The Ten of Pentacles/Coins/Disks.
See the harvest mouse, custodian of the family riches. These riches are about far more than money.Appearing in a reading right way up, I am being shown that the person feels well-supported by family. They have the security of a sense of belonging. Reversed, the picture is of someone struggling about this, labouring under a sense of alienation, or injustice over wills and other inheritance issues. Or they may be feeling that their family background has been a burden rather than a resource.
The Tarot’s comment to people coming to discuss the disinheriting of challenging children has so far been Justice above all. Equal shares between children, no matter what the relationship, no matter what the history. That one does not get on with a child is sad. It is a misfortune in life, and one may not like one’s child, just as a child may not like its parent. One might even love someone, without liking them. It happens.
But it could be argued that retribution through the power of inheritance is a betrayal of the principle of inheritance, that an unjust will is toxic and divides families for many years to come, perhaps for ever.
Where is our ‘true’ well-spring? Without knowing our family history, we’ll probably never know, and no-one can know all of it, but a lot can be guessed because it’s lodged in you somewhere still. You might be the spitting image of a great-great-grandparent. You might be wearing their face reborn, cast to reflect your own spirit. You might have their skills and talents, their voice and intonation, even their mannerisms, when all your life you had thought you were the ‘odd one out’.
“You and I can turn and look at the silent river and wait. We know the current is there, hidden; and there are comings and goings from miles away that hold the stillness exactly before us. What the river says, that is what I say.”
In honour of St George’s day, I’ll try the Tarot out as an interviewing tool, as a Translator across Time and Truth. St George’s Day, April 23rd, is also thought to be the anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare.
The Tarot tells no lies, but it stands to reason, factually speaking, there can be no getting at ‘the truth’ of St George. A legend may contain grains of fact, while representing the poetic truth of an amalgam of people or myths. As the poet, Kathleen Raine expressed it, ‘Myth is the Truth of Fact, not Fact the Truth of Myth.’
What some call fantastical, or lies, even damned lies, if they don’t apprehend poetic truth, for others is just taking a possibility for a walk, an interesting exercise with judgement in abeyance. Let’s suspend judgement just for a moment, as we enter the Tarot’s Imaginarium.
That poor dragon. Call the RSPCA. Well, that’s another way of looking at it, by way of a change.
George, if I may, if you can hear me, what can you tell us about yourself? The Six of Swords Rx:
I am the other side of The River. I hear you only faintly, your words are not my language, and yet I understand you. There must be a translator somewhere. I have forgotten many things, but I remember I was a traveller. I made long journeys over the sea as well as by land. When I was small I’d go looking for frogs amongst the bullrushes in the pebbled stream, near where I lived. It was good luck to find a frog.
I didn’t read as well as my father wished, I had some letters, taught me by an old Persian with scarred legs – I didn’t know how he’d got those. He knew about numbers and about the stars. Sometimes he would let me sit by him, and show me maps of the sky.
You’re reputed to have killed a dragon. What can you tell us about that? The Queen of Cups/Ace Pentacles Rx.
There was something once, but I wouldn’t call it a dragon. It was a water-drake, a filthy great eel, attacking fishermen, robbing nets some place I stopped off, they saw I was a military man and they offered coin and a night’s lodgings if I would help them hunt and kill it, and they were in difficulties, so I did.
What about the rescued princess?
Queen of Cups Rx
Princess? I don’t know. There was a woman, still beautiful, not young. Nothing to do with the drake. I was passing through, the problem was mentioned, good coin offered (Ace Coins Rx) I went out at night with the fishermen. One guided the boat, I saw the great eel showing silver at the surface, and threw my lance. We had to withdraw and wait. There was no question of pulling the lance out of this thing, or pulling it from the water still alive. Its mistake was in coming so close to the surface when the moon was so bright. I’d never seen one so huge. They said it had taken a child.
Another thing happened that might have become a story of a dragon. A battle chariot came down on us. A huge thing with its horse team decked out in the semblance of a beast, with a beast’s head carving. I flung a spear, it went through the spokes of one of the wheels. My farthest throw ever, they said. Maybe that’s the root of the story. It was that, or the eel. I kept a pine marten once, for a season, but I don’t imagine that will qualify.
What was your profession?
The King of Swords
(This ties in with known history) Oh, I was ‘miles’, a soldier, I became ‘miles’ after the death of my mother, and I went on to become an officer. A thing to be said for Rome was, it rewarded skill and service, it gave you chances. I wasn’t popular, or perhaps I simply mean, I wasn’t easy and outgoing. I was known for a certain reserve, nothing to do with rank. I was rarely the worse for wear, I laughed at jokes, but I didn’t make many. But the men didn’t give me a hard time either about getting promotion. I tried hard to be fair, always, didn’t put on airs, and few of them could see further or clearer than I could, or better me with a lance. I had a horse, a grey mare called Usa .
(Reading note: I got this name by ‘hearing’ it. Sometimes insights come this way in a real life reading. I had to look it up, and I found that ‘Usa’ is not listed as a Roman or Cappadocian name, but it is a Sanskrit name, meaning ‘Dawn’. My surprise was at finding the name actually existed, I hadn’t come across it before.)
What else, George?
Whatever I said I would do, I did. In my life I had two homes, two peoples, two purses and they were sometimes empty. I was always divided. But it was not in my nature to function divided. I looked at this, or I looked at that, the rest went into the background. I think others besides myself might have paid a heavy price for that. I could not see that at the time. Or if I did, I could not, or would not change it.
Is it accurate to say you were a Christian? The Hierophant Rx
The word echoes. I remember that I found myself out of step, dangerously so.
Why was that?
Perhaps it was just the world I had came into.
What do you remember about leaving Life?
Seven of Wands, Ace of Cups.
There must have been pain and fear but I don’t remember. I can only see blows coming at me to know it was not gentle. Then I was looking down from a height, the peace of knowing I had escaped and was free. Little else.
Did you have children?
The Three of Swords Rx
I feel I was mourned from afar. A son. I last saw him, before embarking overseas again. He had lately been apprenticed. Tooling of leather, I think. He was enjoying the work. Perhaps he continued to become a craftsman or merchant (3 Wands) I hope Life was good for him, I hope he got what he needed and wanted, but what his life path was like afterwards, I can never know.
For students of Tarot, or the just curious, a few words about The Ace of Cups.
Meanings: Inception, Awakening of Love, Creativity, Vision and the Empowerment of Intuition. It is Beauty. It is The Element of Water, it is The Chalice, The Holy Grail. Sometimes it indicates a coming birth. I have known it accurately indicate healing and recovery from illness or after an accident. It is Grace.
It is known as the Ace of Hearts in a deck of playing cards.
‘My Cup Runneth Over’ is the moment that cannot be surpassed.
Whereas the Ace of Wands, Ace of the South, refers to the primal spark, the fires of Creation, the Ace of Cups, Ace of the West, is the matrix of Life.
The Ace of Cups speaks of Source. Physically, The human body runs primarily on water and minerals. Every physiological process that happens inside the body needs water. The human body is made up of more than 70% water. The blood is more than 85%, the brain more than 80%, muscles more than 75%, and the liver is 96% water.
But beyond the immediate physical, what is our most distant physical story, back to the point of Creation, or as some might prefer to think of it, life’s origin in space, or divinity? Dust from space ultimately cross-reacted making water, an epic of chemistry which made the seas, where Life on Earth began.
We are undines, raised by evolution from the deep.
Sublimis ab unda.
The poem below, for me echoes the deeps contained within the image of The Ace of Cups. It’s from a little known contemporary poet of rare subtlety, yet also directness and integrity.
A poem, like a song, like a picture, a sculpture, a photograph, a smile, a kiss, is a manifestation of the Ace of Cups, of the moment, but eternal.
Here is a Ace within the Ace.
Small Object of Desire
I suppose I should have picked my wedding ring
but that is personal and finite to me
as is my two faced charm on a silver chain
triangular, goldstone, tourmaline
But I chose this, lifted from some shore line,
a smaller bit than I’d found and lost before;
a spindle from a whelkish structured shell
more beautiful than any sculptor’s form.
It gives only a hint of its infinite fetch,
newel staircase, ramp to raise the megaliths,
invasive toxic spirochete to invest my blood,
screw my life force with its sickening brood.
No porcelain is half so fine,
that comes from Meissen’s arcane kiln.
This is the divine, the spiral double helix.
Where else should it be but on a beach?
My small object of desire, refined by tidal pull,
inch long, white and deeply curved,
maths of all dimensions along its reach,
shape and key to life, needs only my breath to live.