What’s Left Behind #tarot #death #rebirth

What's left behind

Three days ago, on the 6th of January, I had an impulse to cleanse so I grabbed a pad of paper and a pencil and wrote each fear as it rushed to the front of my brain. With each rush of words, I ripped the paper, allowing each item its separate place. I stopped, I believe, at nine. Nine fears my soul asked for release as I begin this New Year in the quest for the balance of inner harmony and fearless creation.

2014 is a year of balance. When you look at the cycle of life reflected in Tarot, the number 14 typically symbolizes balance, or temperance as seen in the images below taken from the decks in the order below:
Universal Waite, Winged Spirit, Goddess and Thoth Tarot.

Temperance in Tarot

When you look at these 4 cards, you see different, yet similar representations of balance being sought. In the first card, from the Waite deck, an angel stands in human form, somewhat precariously balanced between the elements of water and earth. S/he holds two cups, representing the emotional and creative element of water, defying the force of gravity as s/he pours the blue water of truth between the two without a drop falling. I see this card as not only a balance of emotions, but also the peace that comes from finding and accepting one’s soul’s truths. It’s a gentle, yet powerful fulfillment. You can hardly miss those mighty red-orange wings lifted, ready for flight.

In the second card, from the Winged Tarot, a less serene image of balance is depicted. Here we see more of the temperance aspect of card 14. The angel-like figure in this card literally pours her emotions in the form of water onto her face, catching them, again without spilling them over, in the cup below. She is literally cleansing her face as she dances, almost impossibly balanced like the previous card, in the air.

When you turn to the 3rd card I have shown, from the Goddess Tarot deck, Yemana, the goddess of the sea/water, is seen emerging from the waves with sheets of the element falling from her hands. In the final card, from the Thoth deck, we see a figure of duality with two heads performing alchemy with the elements of water and fire/wands. A more active rendition of creating balance.

Back to my impulse to cleanse three days ago. I had a fire raging in my wood stove. It was, after all, a cold winter day. I took each ripped fear, and one by one, tossed them into the orange flames. I called upon the fire dragons and salamanders, asking them to burn away that which I no longer need, and watched as my pieces of paper were quickly consumed. All, except one, which partially transformed, becoming a curl of gray, stuck stubbornly to the top of a log with one word still etched firmly on its surface. “Guilt.” (Unfortunately this did not show up in the photo.)

This is what remained, that emotion that comes after rage,  bursts of anger and words we later regret after our fire is spent. It’s the charred remains of the fire element inside of us, and, I have found, it’s not so easily released. It’s no secret I have my share of lingering guilt. Some of it still carried over from childhood when I absorbed guilt from pain that was not mine to take on.

There’s the more freshly layered guilt too, that comes from motherhood and the seeking to find a strong, balanced voice that is not laced with fear (i.e. anger) in those moments of trial. Healing a silenced voice, I have found, is not easy. Fear tends to linger, and so does its aftermath, guilt.

We have just emerged out of the year 2013. The year of Death or Transformation in Tarot. I have placed the corresponding Tarot cards for 13 over the 14 cards in the figure below. Take a moment to note the symbolism.

The Death and Temperance cards in Tarot

What was the year 2013 like for you? I know for many, including myself, the last year or so has marked a stage of transformation. A calling to shed the aspects of self that are holding us back from living our true selves. Death, in this sense, is about ridding ourselves of the burdens we have too long carried within us. Note the skeletal figures in four of the cards, which are labeled “Death.” Look beyond their grim forms. In the first card, we see the promise of rebirth in the form of the family kneeling in supplication below  Death armored upon the white horse. The promise of new beginnings is just beyond those sun-filled gates in the background.

In the second card, Death appears as the Grim Reaper, yet look inside his tattered cloaks. This is where the angels reside. Here is the true, divine self, wrapped, yet emerging, from the wrappings of Death. In the last card, from the Thoth deck, the struggle is more forced and active (as it was in Thoth card for Temperance or “Art.”) Here we see the active struggle to get rid of the old and start anew.

The act of transformation is literally seen in the Goddess deck with Ukemochi, who is rebirthed from death into a fertile supply of life. She is the symbol of life transformed from death. She represents what many of us are feeling inside of us right now.

What new life will you call forth this year? What fears have you already shed? What still lingers within, stubbornly seeking transformation? What will you do to let it go? How will you find temperance and balance this year. What will you create from your soul’s truth?