A post written in 2015. Still stands. Will always stand.
Someone asked me once, what did the Tarot say about Usain Bolt and what was happening to him and in him when he ran?
And he’s just done it again. Well done, Usain.
I asked to understand where Usain ‘went’ when he ran…apart, obviously, from heading straight for the finishing line. What, apart from talent and training, was the secret of his success? What was happening when he ran?
And I drew The Wheel of Fortune, the tenth card of the Tarot’s Major Arcana, and was surprised.
I would not have been at all surprised had I drawn The Magician, The Chariot, Strength, the Ace or Knight of Wands, or The World.
Why was I surprised?
The Wheel is the gambler’s card, the card of taking risks. So far so good. But it is is all about riding the ups and downs in Life. What rises must inevitably fall later, and vice versa. It is essentially impersonal or supra-personal, denoting things which can’t be controlled, when an athlete is very much about control. Self-control. But actually, the Wheel is a potent if unexpected answer.
Self- control is nothing without the gift of timely, well-aimed self-RELEASE.
So then, Usain runs as The Supra-Personal embodied. He releases himself from himself. That thing he does, signifying a ‘bolt into the blue’ helps him release himself from himself. He parks ‘all that’ somewhere ‘over there.’
It is also a victory gesture, whether he knows runes or not. In enacting his name, the Bolt, he is not only aligning himself with the idea of an arrow, he performing a horizontal version of the rune symbol, ‘Tyr,’ the spear of the Norse god of victory and justice.
Tyr bound the wolf, Fenris, and defeated him and bound him, but lost a hand doing so. The wolf within, is always the wolf to be wrestled first.
Usain makes himself a something and a nothing, which is to say, he runs as a Force of Nature.
It is total immersion, as with any any great artist, a singer, a shaman, or a practitioner of martial arts, with the effort, skill and control of the Magician, lined up in avoidance of hubris, with the total surrender to Chance…or Fortune’s Wheel.
It is you in your best moments. You, doing the things you best love, forgetting all else in that moment.
May Luck smile on you.
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.