Friday, August 19, 2016

A Nine of Swords Moment Brings Helpful Insight

Lately I have been sleeping very well, which has been wonderful. Six to nine months ago I went through a period where I'd often wake up in the middle of the night, my mind would start to whirr, those fears that are wont to well up in the darkest hours would rise, and it would take an hour - sometimes even two - before I could relax enough to fall back to sleep. I'm not sure what changed, what switch flipped, but I suddenly began to sleep solidly, peacefully, and fully each night.

And then last night I had a 9 of Swords moment! At 2:40am I awoke, and started to worry. I worried about my son grinding his teeth (a really annoying family trait). I worried about bills (even though they're all under control). As I laid there I felt a tickle on my nose and was sure a bug was crawling across my face, so I shot straight up in bed, flailing my arms, and knocked the charger cord out of my phone, which then fell rattling to the floor making a sound that I was sure was the bug running away (it wasn't). Seriously. This is so comical to me right now, but I was a hot mess at 3am.
Tarot De St. Croix
So I laid back down thoroughly irritated with myself, and proceeded to think. Whenever I have these moments of insomnia I always think about Odin's advice from the Havamal, that (to paraphrase) a fool stays awake worrying all night, wakes up exhausted and has resolved nothing. I wanted to pinpoint the source of my wakefulness. I manage our finances okay. Why was I worrying about bills? Perhaps it was the weight of them that felt like a burden. I may keep things organized, but is there something more I can do? Is there a way I can be even more proactive? What the heck was I really worrying about?

A few days ago my husband asked me to do "one of those big readings" that I do for him once or twice a year. After I pulled his cards I decided to do one for myself, and I was quite interested to see the 7 of Swords appear in the position of my "current awareness." The card, from the Tarot of the Cat People, shows a somewhat unusual image of a woman surrounded by swords, looking up at the sky where a fat cat floats in an ethereal bubble. If anything, it almost feels more like the 8 of Swords (except for the floating cat!). This is often considered a card of deception, politics, strategy, even diplomacy (which is certainly on my mind in light of all of the mediation I've been doing lately!). I wanted to spend some time considering what the card meant for me, and since the depiction was non-traditional I decided to read the artist's own impression from the little white book, which described this card as representing the will and fortitude to reach one's goals. Hm. Well, that is certainly true, I thought at the time. I have a lot of goals on my plate, and every day I feel more poised to work toward achieving them. It's definitely been on my mind a lot over the past month or so.

As I was laying in bed in the early hours of morning, surrounded by darkness, thinking of yesterday's "Deep Emotions" draw from the dat Black Mermaid Man Lady oracle deck, thinking of the 7 of Swords, thinking of this nebulous source of my strange worry session, it suddenly hit me: while I am determined to achieve my goals, on some level I am afraid that no matter what I do, no matter how hard I work, I will never realize them. Whoa. That was a sharp and weighty revelation.
Tarot of the Cat People
Feelings are strange things. They are not always forthright, do not always announce their presence. Feelings can be quiet, at times even imperceptible. They can subtly influence our thoughts and responses; they can disguise themselves within a multitude of contexts, blurring our ability to identify them, to recognize them for what and why they are. As open as I am to working through my own emotional universe, to understanding myself, to engaging the dark, the light, and everything in between, sometimes emotions lurk in shadows just beneath the surface of our awareness. You have to go hunting. It was hunting that I was doing in the pre-dawn darkness when I would have preferred to be sleeping. But the search at this odd flip-side of the day provided me with powerful insight into my own psyche.

Interestingly, the "outcome" card in the reading I had done for myself was the Ace of Pentacles. What intrigued me most about this duo was the story that they told together. In the Ace of Pentacles we see that the "fat cat of unrealized dreams and goals" that once floated in the sky above the woman in the 7 of Swords is now tangible and sits quite happily on the floor beside the lady in the Ace. Now, a glowing pentacle hovers where the cat once did. The "thoughts" of the swords suit become the earthy reality of the suit of pentacles. It is a positive symbol that suggests that despite my anxieties about my ability to accomplish my dreams, the efforts I put forth will not be in vain.

This morning I decided to pull a card from the dat Black Mermaid Man Lady oracle deck, and I pulled one of the "Dreamer" cards for the second time in two days. But this morning, rather than pulling a card with a keyword, I drew one that was blank on the back. This indicates that "you already know" what the message is. And indeed, I did know. I made space to pull a card for the #tarotperspective challenge on Instagram, and instead of simply pulling a daily draw, I decided to ask: "How can I address my own fear of failure?" As I was shuffling I saw in my mind's eye the Chariot card that had been the "shadow" card of yesterday's pull. I cut the deck, turned the top card over, and it was....the Chariot!
Tarot of the Cat People; Stone Tarot; Tarot of Vampyres
This is card that I've been pulling with relative frequency for the past year, and it has ushered me through some powerfully and very positively transformative times. For the Instagram post I wrote about the Vampyres version of the Chariot (which speaks to me most):

The warrior spirit is evident, the fearless pursuit of a goal. The arrow points true, finding its destination and locking on. Even in the darkness of night, with nothing but inner fury and the dim moonlight for guidance, this charioteer flies forth.

On my walk into the office this morning a shining penny stood out in my path. I always see these as little messages from Elegua. I pick them up, run some numerology on the year, and see what that sum means to me in that moment (it's amazing how often there is relevance). I paused and picked up the coin. I calculated the year, and found the sum to be 7. At first I frowned, slightly puzzled. And then it clicked: 7 is the number of the Chariot. And like a vast circle turning round and round and round on itself, the pieces all came together into a whole.

I will probably have sleepless nights again; this realization hardly cures me from concern. But what it has given me is a powerful tool of reflection. I don't float unmoored through time; I, as a human being on this earth, have context and history. When I forget that (which is easy to do at 3am); when I lose - even momentarily - perspective regarding my ability to breathe life into my goals for the future, I can call to mind the Chariot, which reminds me that I will, because I have.