January 20, 2017: Inauguration Day, or Three of Cups by Tania Pryputniewicz
It’s raining here in San Diego, fitting for the blues I woke with today and assuaged by writing my own inauguration poems with my students in the Election Blues: The Gift of Agency in Poetry class I teach and consider my act of rebellion. We sat writing our poems even as we all as a nation were heading for a poetless inauguration ceremony for the swearing in of the 45th President of the United States and people were either getting on trains or not getting on trains to attend or not attend the inauguration, or enroute or not enroute to attend the following day’s Women’s March on Washington in Washington D. C. and in sister cities in the United States and globally from Mexico City to Sydney to New Delhi, to London and Paradise Bay, Antarctica, and hundreds more.
Earlier this week on the radio, I heard someone speaking about how it is never good to boycott an inauguration ceremony because in a democracy the peaceful transition of power is a big part of what we stand for--but what comes to mind is the President Elect stating his own reservations about honoring the peaceful transition of power should Hillary Clinton win during the Presidential debates leading up to the election.
In another snippet of radio interview this week, I overheard a woman designer speaking about a male designer helping with inauguration decoration; the phrase they used, that it would be characterized by “soft sensuality,” triggered speculation that the inauguration would suffer from Trump’s brand of beauty pageantry, girls on stage or in the wings. Other comments followed, speculating that “soft sensuality” might be used here to pull in television viewers either curious to see what was meant by the phrase or those attracted to the lifestyle Trump formerly lived as when he was taped making lewd comments and accused by former pageant contestants of entering their dressing areas because he owned it all. These kinds of banterings, more often than not, consume the air-waves, and I, more often than not, have children in the car on the way to or from school listening, always, and I more often than not turn off the radio in favor of silence when my children are with me.
How does this relate to my card of the month, The Three of Cups? In the Thoth deck, golden light overflows from down bent lotuses into rich red pomegranate chalices. How can this image relate to this month and the intensely charged political climate of fear, anxiety, and opposition?
In Pamela Waite Smith’s version of The Three of Cups, three women raise their cups to the sky; one wears a white robe, one wears gold, the third, red. One dons blue boots, one yellow boots, and the third, feet shrouded by the robes of her companions, perhaps goes barefoot. Flowers garland the heads of the trio; a cluster of grapes trails the down bent palm of the wearer of the golden gown.
Maybe this card is a tiny symbol of the joyful, celebratory, strength created by groups of women such as those gathering to march as an antidote to the myriad collective upsets, knitting and wearing pink hats in an attempt to reclaim a word so disparagingly used by the incoming President. Or on behalf of the seeming failure of checks and balances as the incoming administration’s candidate confirmations barrel along unopposed despite so many concerns raised about qualifications in the hearings. Maybe this card is a pictorial version of joining hearts through bridgework, as one might do, during this kind of strife, helping communities galvanize to take practical and ethical action on behalf of the greater good for all.
Angeles Arrien says the cups in this card symbolize the “abundant communicating heart.” At night, I have been raising my own heart to the sky, to the stars, praying, listening for the next right action to take towards harmony. So that harvest be possible, oranges ripen on trees, pumpkins on the vine, like those at the feet of the Three of Cups women.
I also see in this Three of Cups an image of the women in the Obama family celebrating their hours under the White House roof: the hundreds of dancers, performers, writers, and children of all nationalities Michelle Obama invited to perform and visit, the thousands of young African American girls now believing they have a chance to be President--indeed cause for donning of gowns and the braiding of flowers in our hair. No matter who sits in the White House, there are children to raise, hungry to feed, people to love right in front of us in our own country and across the seas globally. Thank you Michelle, Satia, and Malia for the hours of your life you gave to us. I raise my pomegranate chalice to yours, draw strength and courage, from the example you set.
January 20, 2017: The Hierophant by Mary Allen
My card of the month this time was The Hierophant, the fifth Major Arcana card in the deck. The Hierophant is also my life card. (You can figure out your life card by adding together the numbers of your birthday, including the year, if you come up with a double-digit number higher than 22 you add the two digits together.) I’ve always been sort of dismayed by having the Hierophant as my life card, thinking, probably rightly, that it predicted a lifetime full of painful lessons and opportunities for growth for me. The minor arcana fives aren’t much fun either, depicting, as they do, strife, poverty, defeat and disappointment, mostly all in the mind, as the minor arcana usually are.
I’ve read that the Hierophant was originally meant to represent the pope or some other powerful figure in organized religion, maybe the power of organized religion itself, a concept that doesn’t mean much to me when I pull this card. Much more meaningful to me, and closer to how I look at it, is Angeles Arrien’s interpretation that the Hierophant has to do with learning and teaching experienced through life challenges. These days when I look at the Hierophant—big bearded orange-outfitted male figure with a smaller, blue-dress-wearing female figure standing in front of him, a tiny baby penciled into a star in the male figure’s heart—I think of higher powers, my higher power, which, as someone who has belonged to a twelve-step program for almost twenty-five years, I’ve cultivated a relationship with, tried to turn my will and my life over to daily, for so long I can hardly remember not doing it. I’ve grown into the habit of at least trying to live in concert with my higher power, of wondering what my higher power could be trying to teach me or tell me with all the major and many of the minor events of my life. So when this card came up for me as my last card of the month, I wondered what the universe, Life, my higher power was going to be teaching me or telling me in the weeks to come.
I did have an interesting December. And for once the lessons I seemed to be called upon to learn weren’t painful ones. For at least thirty years I’ve had a recurring dream that I had to fly to Hawaii and I was scared to and I couldn’t bring myself to get on the plane, and last month, on the 15th of December, I was called on, in the form of a text from my ex-partner’s oldest daughter, to actually get on a plane and fly to Hawaii. Plane ticket, lodging, other expenses all provided. I couldn’t help but look at it as a higher power thing, as my higher power calling me to give up that old fear, whatever it was, not exactly fear of flying but more like fear of moving forward in life, fear of getting off the ground.
Flying to Hawaii in real life was nothing like flying there or actually not flying there in the dream and I had a lovely trip, full of warmth and sunshine, the ocean, palm trees, coconuts, walks on the beach, time with my ex-partner’s family which, it turns out, is still one of my families even though he and I haven’t been a couple and have hardly spoken to each other for at least five years. He was there too and it was nice to spend time with him, but whatever lessons I was supposed to learn from him in this lifetime have already been learned, so it was painless, easy, simple, and not particularly significant to be around him for six days. So maybe here the Hierophant message could be about lessons learned, big lumps of old spiritual food having been finally swallowed and digested.
Donald Trump was inaugurated as our 45th president a week or so ago, when I had this card as my card of the month. And as I look at the Hierophant now I’m thinking that maybe, in the larger spiritual sense which the tarot cards talk to us about through symbols, our current political circumstances could be happening for a reason, that we’re getting Donald Trump for our 45th president so we can learn something, maybe many things. Lessons about how to have faith and accept others and affect change, about how destructive and bad form blaming, mocking, and name-calling are, ditto the objectification of women, homophobia, racism, and who knows what. In any case, it seems we are all being called on to stay close to our best selves and higher powers, to stand in the shadow of them and be protected by them so we can learn what there is to learn.