On Thursdays, I meander across the road to sit at the local art gallery for the afternoon. I enjoy my time as docent. Often, it’s quiet for hours, I can write, read, sit outside and watch the clouds sail over the mesas, and listen to the insects singing, invisibly, nearby. I chat with visitors to discover where they’ve come from and what they are doing in my off-the-beaten-track area of the world.
Today was both peaceful and busy, a few visitors floated in and through during the afternoon. We chatting about the art on the walls, their memories of this area in the past, and, as is often the case in these time, we drifted over to political topics. Nothing specific, nothing intense. More of a confused sorrow over how the situation we are immersed in (whether we acknowledge it or not) could have developed.
During one of the conversations, I found myself saying “the challenges we face now, and will face in the years to come, will disclose our true values and whether we are willing to adhere to them.“
There are times when i say something and it’s as if a silent inner bell has rung and the vibrations change my world – sometimes a little and sometimes quite a lot. This was one of those times.
In times of crisis we have choices – to join together with others to carry everyone through to the other side; to take and get what we can before anyone else can; and we can run away and hide, hoping the worst will pass over us and leave us as unchanged as possible.
What’s the difference between these groups? Values is certainly key. What are the values of the individuals in each group and are the stated values the ones they each live out. What about you? Do you live out your own values or are they simply words you preach without any practice to back it up?
I asked for guidance through the cards and realized, as each card was revealed, that I was hoping for a bit of a lighter reading.
The Devil card is about how our fears chain us to that which we fear most. And that’s appropriate for me in these types of conversations. At what point does speaking of our fears move from a positive to a negative experience?
For example: I could say, I’m fearful of being bitten by a rattlesnake. They live here, people here see them, the environment is perfect for them, and a rattlesnake bite is no joke. So, to admit fear is reasonable. To prepare for dealing with that fear is also reasonable – I take a walking stick to test out the land in front of me, turn over stones, etc. I watch and listen. I do my best to respect their territory.
But … what if I just kept talking about rattlesnakes, how afraid I was, how I never want to see one. My anxiety would rise to unmanageable levels, I might not leave the house, I might annoy all my friends! And none of the fear talk would improve anything.
How does that work for other reasonable fears – climate change, the whittling away of democratic ideals, police brutality, violence against women – these are all real, people have, do, and will suffer from them. When does talk about the fear preclude moving on? When does talking and thinking about the fear chain us to it?
The answer is, of course, different for each of us and for each of our fears. The card suggests that we begin to acknowledge, face, and consider which fears for our collective future should we take on. Each of us will recognize the ones that resonate most deeply. The bell of truth is similar to – but not the same as – the bell of warning. Learn to recognize that bell for yourself and learn to respond rather than react.
The Wheel of Fortune, like the Devil, is a major arcana card. It signals – this is significant, so pay attention. And here we are paying attention to the ways that our lives are in constant change. The wheel turns and some days we’re up, some days we’re down, and some days we’re sideways and upside down. We can learn to roll with it – learn to trust that yes, it will always change to something new.
In a way, this card balance out the Devil card. Yes, there are things that we need to deal with, there are real dangers … and … we also know that things will change. For the better, for the worse, simply as change. How do we know which changes are a danger and which are part of the natural rhythm of life?
The answer comes from the center card, the Two of Wands. The wands are not romantic love – they are passionate love, the way the artist falls in love again and again with each creation and uses their passion to draw it out and create in the world.
This person stands looking out and over the world they created. The worked to bring it about, in harmony with others, with the land, with the seasons, with the ocean. And because it was a collaborative work with all, it is flourishing.
They hold the world in one hand and hold on to their passion, their desire in the other. And between the two are their values. What they love, the reason they say yes every morning and say thank you every evening. They create because they know why they create.
And that is the final message this evening. What do you value? Not just inner values of kindness, respect, freedom, etc. What about the things you value in the world? People? Plants? Trees? Mountain? Rivers? Music? Art?
What do you value? How do you nourish it? That’s how we will deal with the fear, with the natural cycles of life – and the unnatural ones. We walk our talk.
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