Monday, May 2, 2011

Thoughts on Grief, Loss, and the Tarot

Part of the reason I have not written anything in the past couple of weeks is due to a string of technical difficulties, but by far one of the most difficult situations lately was the loss of my aunt and uncle in the recent spate of tornados, rains, flooding, and such down in the southern states. 

When you look at a map of the areas hit by the storm cells, the westernmost points were located in northwest Arkansas, where my aunt and uncle lived.  Moving eastward through Tennessee, Mississippi, and Alabama, the storms also moved up the coast and the northeastern most points were here in Pennsylvania, where I currently live. 

Many good people lost their lives in this series of storms.  Many more lost everything they owned, or struggled with some form of damage.

My ceiling leaked and in many places my carpeting may well be ruined, but when taken into perspective the loss is nothing compared to the deaths of my family members. 

I decided that I would pull some tarot cards in order to make some sense out of what had happened.  Not just for myself, but for everyone who had lost someone in this time.  Interesting cards came up in the reading.  Not the Tower, or the Death card, which you might expect, but instead I got the 7 of Wands, the Moon, the 9 of Wands, the 5 of Cups, the 8 of Cups, the 10 of Swords, and the 9 of Pentacles.

Looking at these cards in the Rider-Waite deck, which is the deck I reached for when I felt low.... this deck has a sense of history and support and feels like coming home whenever I feel at a loss or when I am in doubt.  I have a long familiarity with it and I don't have to struggle to think about what each card means, it simply speaks its message to me.

The 7 of Wands, feelings of struggle and being overwhelmed and bombarded, even though you have the high ground, immediately jumped out at me.  We tend to focus on the negative in times of struggle, and often we need to be able to put ourselves in a bit of perspective.  Granted, that man on the card could be pulled down into the army below him, but he does hold the high ground.  Similar energy is associated with the 5 of Cups.  We have a choice to make, whether to continue dwelling in sorrow for the love that is lost, or we can pick up the pieces that are good and continue forward.  Yet not to skip the grieving process, it is necessary and healthy to spend SOME time looking at what is gone and completely feeling and understanding the loss.

The 9 of Wands was fitting for me as well as for a lot of people.  It just seemed this week like the bad news kept coming, and coming, and coming.  Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue, the Royal Wedding, and other good news to follow.  We feel a bit overwhelmed by everything.  We are safe, but we are wary.  Continued weather reports of more rain and more bad weather leave us edgy and out of sorts, on the defensive.

The Moon and the 8 of Cups both point to feelings of focusing too much on the loss.  I felt strongly as though these were a caution not to get too swept up in the whole thing.  Sometimes it seems appropriate to drop out of life for a while when things get too hairy, and for those who are closest to the loss (in my case, my cousins) there is going to be a sense of being isolated within their own world for a while.  We can offer support, but we cannot go inside their hearts and heal the pain inside.

The 10 of Swords.  A gruesome image, certainly, but one that indicates a sense of finality.  No matter what the battle is, it is over.  We would really like to believe that at least for now, we can stop holding our breath and waiting for the next big blow.  It is critical to our functioning that we know that it will not be ceaseless in its battering of our emotional reserves.  The 9 of Pentacles, ironically, showing us a contented, happy, secure lifestyle, nonetheless has its own set of walls to keep the world out.  It may be a long time before the process is complete, and while we are doing our own set of emotional repairs, we may still be closeted inside our own lives for some time, allowing ourselves the luxury of privacy and the ability to find solace within as the wound heals from the inside out.....

Yours in tarot,

Gina M. Pace (aka Wicce), creator of the Pagan Tarot, published by LoScarabeo, and former webmistress of Wicce's Tarot Collection, one of the internet's largest former tarot review websites

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