Friday, July 31, 2015

The Chariot and The Knight of Swords

July 21, 2015: The Chariot by Mary Allen

My card this month was the Chariot.  I got the Chariot during my reading too, in the waxing moon position, so I figured the Chariot might have something to tell me – I still think it probably does, though I haven’t quite figured out what yet.

All the readings I found on this card were pretty vague; mostly what I got out of them is that the Chariot has something to do with change and also determination, confidence, and directed controlled energy.  I’ve always read this card as meaning the pause before – i.e., the moment before -- some big change is going to come, but I couldn’t find that anywhere in any of the online sources I consulted so I don’t know where I got it.  The closest I could come to it was in the Angeles Arrien book, where she says the Thoth “Chariot depicts a figure in contemplation or quietude sitting within a chariot readied for activity.”

Someone gave me a Motherpeace deck a couple of months ago and there the card shows a small woman riding in a conveyance drawn by two goats with wings; the woman is holding a thick brown branch with a ball on the end of it.  Most of the Motherpeace cards—which are round and were designed in the 1970s and which I’ve always thought were too dated while at the same time too untraditional to be interesting, but which, it turns out now, I kind of like—show small women doing something; most of them are naked, but the woman on the Chariot is wearing a dress.  She’s an Amazon from northern Africa and the goddess just gave her an apple for a job well done, according to the guide that came with the cards. 

I love that idea and I’m very happy in general that my card of the month was the Chariot—it’s saying something good, is pretty much all I’ve managed to take from it in my thinking so far.  Which is often the main thing I look for when I pull a card—is it a good card, or is it a bad card or a boring doesn’t-say-much-of-anything-good-or-bad card?  I love thinking that my life this past month involved a job well done, that my behavior last month involved change with directed controlled energy, but I’m going to have to stretch to actually connect that with something in real life— my real life—last month.

The only thing I can think of is this talk I gave in the middle of the month.  The talk was on a Wednesday morning at eleven a.m. and I got a terrible night’s sleep the night before, I had one of those night’s where you can’t go to sleep and then somehow you can’t stay asleep.  When I finally got up in the morning I couldn’t imagine how I was possibly going to be able to marshal the energy to go down and talk for an hour – my subject was how to edit like a zen master – in front of an auditorium full of people.  It was not going to be easy, to say the least.  (The victory of the Chariot may involve triumph over some struggle.)  But, as the Chariot predicted, I was somehow able to rise to the challenge. I reread my notes, marshaled my psychic energy, and went down and gave that talk, and everybody loved it. 

Against all the odds, and even a little miraculously, I felt good, happy, confident standing there in front of my audience – most of them writers who’d come to Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, a program I taught in a few weeks earlier, and which my talk was a part of.  I looked out at their faces and saw that they were truly interested in what I was saying, and I felt interested in what I was saying too.  I was present in the room instead of nervous and they were present too.  Three or four people left during the talk – I could see them gathering up their bags and exiting through the back door – but my Chariot confidence remained unshaken.  There were more questions than I could answer at the end and people came up front and talked to me and everybody seemed excited about what I had said.  I was excited about it too. 

I could practically feel myself being pulled along in my Chariot – on to who knows what future triumphs and speeches and publications.   As the afternoon wore on I started to feel my tiredness, and I didn’t quite know what to do with myself while my slightly inflated ego sank back down to regular size.  But the feeling that something had gone well never left me, and I’m grateful for my time in the Chariot, and sometimes I can even remember that I’m still in the Chariot, being carried forward by life.

July 21, 2015: The Knight of Swords by Tania Pryputniewicz

My card this month was the Knight of Swords. In the Thoth deck, horse and rider skim through a blue sky high above cloud-like rivulets of water. I love the tawny caramel of horse outlined in darker brown, the elfin gold-green armor and matching pixie helmet of the knight. Three swallows fly below the horse bearing his colors in winged mimicry. Both backs of horse and rider share a body line, just as horse’s rear leg and rider’s leg fold at the same angle, seamless in their commitment to forward motion.

They’re setting off diagonally; even the birds agree. We don’t see the rider’s eyes, but the horse’s are blue, wide open. His muzzle and profile line meld into front hoove line. Four propellers, transparent as dragonfly wings, spin on top of the knight’s helmet and are labeled North, South, East, and West. Where is this duo headed with such purposeful haste? Angeles Arrien reminds us that the card, “Combining the elements of water and air, metaphorically, is a symbol for passionate thinking.”

This card fell during some intense weeks of reckoning with mortality due to my aging parents. I’m poured through childhood memories, as if on a Ferris wheel, up, up for birds’ eye view, then plummeted back to the ground level of the now where my children live. The psychic umbilical cord doubles; I stand midlife, one half of the cord trammeling back to my parents and the other surging towards my children.

There’s never much more to offer than physical presence so I prepare to visit. Even as I pack my green suitcase, I get a phone call from the lifeguard stand: my daughter hyperextended her arm doing a cartwheel in the surf.  I reign in my fears about dying, what’s left to say or do in my life, my parents’ lives, have they done what they came here to do--have any of us?—and I tend to my daughter, anchored to her need. But by dusk the entourage of doubts and memories return with what I recognize now as the “fear-of-death/loss migraine” in tow.

Alejandro Jodoroswsky writes in relation to the Knight of Swords, “I guide [my horse] in a large leap that projects me from realm of intellect into the mystery of the emotional.” The realm I enter does not feel guidable; I’m definitely out of my head and in the heart’s underworld of projected grief, as if out of time with my loved ones already. My husband makes dinner for the kids and by instinct they all steer clear of my door, coming only to kiss me, nudging aside the stack of pillows over my head, calling Mom, Mom, good night.

By sunrise, I know, like the knight, it is best not to look up or stop  for now, better to dwell in the green spring of the possibility that my parents, and all of us, will have more seasons together. I’ve no other task than to allow that supple strong-legged horse carry me to and away from my parents as often as I can escape while I care for my children and write my way true.

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