This spiritual journey that I’ve been on for the past four years has become ever more eclectic. One of the constants, something to hold the journey and myself together, is the Tarot. It began with the dreams shortly after leaving our last very Evangelical church – when I realized that one of the symbols that kept popping up was actually a chalice – an important symbol and an entire suit of the Tarot. The mystery of the Tarot had called to me once before, before we had children, before I fell headlong into Evangelical Christianity. Before I threw out all my metaphysical tools in a fit of Christian fervor. I went and got my hands on the favorite deck I’d had back then – the Robin Wood Tarot. Before long I found many more Tarot decks started following me home. I kept trying to find one with that “perfect” intuitive connection. Well, Gemini soul that I am, I never found “the” perfect one. But lately I’ve realized I have found a theme of Tarot that works better for me than all others. Any decks which have a pagan, Wiccan, or witchy theme work on my intuition with very little straining. For a while I found this odd little fact both intriguing and disturbing. After all, why should I so easily connect with pagan themes when I’ve been raised by Christian parents, in a Christian family and Judeo-Christian environment? It’s a thought provoking question. One that can’t be answered easily and succinctly. Maybe I really do have past lives that are beginning to bubble up through my subconscious. Or maybe there really is something to that theory of racial memory – all that Welsh and Scottish DNA coursing through me.
Since I’ve been researching and studying the Tarot for four years now, I suppose I thought at some point I would just “get” it completely – that I would come to a point where I’d lay down the cards and everything would make sense, all the time. Well, turns out that’s a silly Western notion that doesn’t translate well for an intuitive tool like Tarot. Near the end of a very busy and stressful school year, I decided to try a different tactic. Instead of trying to forcibly suss out the Tarot’s secrets, I would simply use it. I stopped trying to do it the “right way” (whatever that is). I simply chose a deck from my collection to use each night before bed. No planning, no pressure, and usually without referring to any guidebook – I simply chose whichever deck appealed to me at the time and shuffled and laid out a Celtic cross spread. I did not even take out my Tarot notebook and write down the cards I’d laid out. I was curious to see what would happen if I stopped over-analyzing my methods.
What happened was intriguing, to say the least. Without over thinking, without even writing things down, I noticed that my spreads began to show a pattern. Within a few weeks time I saw that I need not have worried I would forget what cards came up. Not every night, but very consistently – more consistently than attributable to mere chance – I saw the same cards come up over and over again. Also all my spreads were showing an awful lot of major arcana cards. According to most of the Tarot wisdom I’ve read, spreads that show lots of minor arcana are concerned with the everyday situations we find ourselves in – situations dealing with our own choices and actions. Spreads that are major arcana heavy show more the forces (of God, the Universe, etc.) acting on or around us. The major arcana are archetypes or life themes. The minor arcana are daily life and happenings.
At first, when I saw the cards that kept coming up, I was frightened. This, I remembered, was the reason I’d stopped studying Tarot in the first place. Out of desperation for insight (and pure curiosity) I took a deep figurative breath and let the cards fall where they may. These are some of the ones I began to consistently see:
The Tower, The Devil, The Hanged Man, The High Priestess, The Moon, The World, Justice, Death, Judgement, The Wheel of Fortune, The Hierophant, The Magician, and most often and consistently – The Hermit.
I began to wonder what on earth sort of plans the Universe has for me. I was also seeing lots of Swords (intellect, thought) and lots of 2’s (decision, duality).
The Hermit is all about the inner journey. It is exactly what one would picture – the old wise sage up on his mountaintop. Shedding the material concerns of the world to seek after enlightenment. The idea of which I am *all* over. The practice in the real world becomes slightly more complicated.
I have found the Universe handing me some unusual tools for my journey. Things like the unrelenting academic and social pressure on my oldest son who has Asperger’s. And the emotional journey of my preteen daughter who is discovering that some of her friends are changing – not always for the better. The neediness of my youngest son, also with a developmental disorder – which leaves me very little time to have un-interrrupted thoughts (or meals). Topped off by a mystery rash on the little one that turned into a 5 month’s long ordeal of getting rid of a bed bug infestation in our sons’ room.
There were points this summer where I seriously questioned whether God and the Universe were pulling a trials of Job on me. I did so much laundry I feared the washer would give out. I lost so much sleep to the fear that they would spread and suffered the tickling of non-existant bugs. It was like having the DT’s without ever taking the drugs.
Suddenly the most important task on my household agenda was clearing out the almost 20 years of clutter that has followed us around from move to move. I decided it would be my summer project. I wasn’t counting on the toll it would take on me – physically, emotionally, spiritually.
I also wasn’t counting on how little outside validation I would receive. The Hermit’s Journey is a solitary one. In our technologically savvy, sound-byte, materialistic, ever-striving society – the womblike task of sorting and tossing both physical and spiritual clutter is looked down upon or ignored. I am being torn apart inside and remade into something Other, something different than what I started out being. And yet by the very nature of the Hermit’s Journey, very few notice or care. It’s also very tough to find any sort of spiritual support group for this lonely journey.
I have taken most of my comfort and succor from ancient texts and the wisdom of many mystics who have gone before me. I basked in the renewing energy of our favorite mountaintop camping site. I must figure out a way to make my home a sanctuary to hold this journey, and begin to seek out some local companions to share it with. For it seems that The Hermit does not release his pupils into the world lightly and I will emerge forever changed.