Reading #16: Pondering the Meaning of Dragons

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on September 19th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

Lately, I called off my search for purity and acknowledged that we can never be completely pure – because of our humanity.

Or should I more modestly say: I can not.

Anyway; No one is flawless, after all we all carry a shadow, and If we are not willing to accept it it will show it self in funny and disturbing ways. So it has to be brought forth consciously:

“If you bring forth what is within you, what you will bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you”  The Gospel of Thomas, v. 70

I guess it would be more modest just to look at this “within” me. The greeks knew that too: “Know thyself” was written over the Oracle of Delphi.

So to know oneself would be wise, I think.

But then again, what is wisdom? And how can I plea for wisdom – Fool as I am? Maybe it is exactly in accepting that fact that I’m a fool? I know these things, but I still I surprise myself – and therein lies my folly – and perhaps also my wisdom?

And how is purity compared to wisdom? I decided to ask the Alchemical Tarot this question:
One card for Purity and One for Wisdom. Purity: The Still and Wisdom: King of Staffs.

I think the Still in this respect is a bit sterile, the process of becoming pure will be looong and it will happen in some sort of closed circuit, isolated from the lived life. Fire is involved, but it is definitively under control. This is a controlled and protected environment, where no failures are permitted; Everything will blow up if the process gets disturbed.

The thing is. Life is not that way. Things get broken.  Things will be disturbed and challenged.

And then Wisdom; A dragon. Who should have thought that, now?

The King of Staffs is a dragon and Dragons usually guard the treasure in the fairy tales. Here the treasure is the Fire of Feeling. Of being alive. Of Consciousness (think Prometheus),  and of Wisdom.

Wisdom lies in knowing that you can’t live life and can’t reach for fire without getting burnt in the process of being a live and in  the process of reaching for fire. You have to meet your own dragons and demons, you have to face the Monster. But if you manage to challenge the Dragon King, you will have earned the fire. It will be yours.

So what will it be? Unlived life in searching for purity or the burn in reaching for wisdom? Actually I”m beginning to think we can’t have both.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #12: The comfort zone

Posted in Tarot on February 7th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

I look towards one of the more busy weeks. I did not really have a specific question, several passed through my mind, then I just asked What do you want to tell me?

As the Situation I drew Nine Staffs – the Wolf, and as the Challenge I drew Six Vessels – the Gardener.

Fire and Water, again. Hmm. This rings a bell. I’ve had this combination before,  in another spread, though.

The Wolf

Now – in this spread – the Wolf is the Situation, while the Gardener is the Challenge. I guess this is about comfort zones, and the Grey Wolf is about sacrificing my comfort zone, my sense of serenity, in order to go to another place.

Actually Edinger writes in his Anatomy of The Psyche : Alchemical Symbolism in Psychoterapy (1994) that the sacrificing of the wolf to restore the King is a process of Calcinatio, of purifying by fire.

[The death of the king] would signify the the death of the ruling principle of consciousness, the highest principle of the authority in the hierarchial structure of the ego. Death of the king would then be accompanied by a regressive dissolution of the conscious personality. This course of events is indicated by the fact that the body of the king is fed to a ravenous wolf; that is the ego has been devoured by hungry desireousness. The wolf in turn is fed to the fire. But wolf=desire and desire=fire. Thus desire consumes itself. After a descent into hell, the ego (king) is reborn, phoenixlike, in a purified state.
(p. 19)

So, I’m (still) in Hell or put mildly, out of my comfort zone. On the internal plan some things are going on, that will take me out of my comfort zone, if I dare do the sacrificing. Of course this is not easy, and it is not nice. But it seems that I’m already out there since this creature keeps coming up in my readings.

He simply will not let me off this theeth.

And here comes the Challenge, and the good part. The wolf situation is an internal process of psychological alchemy, that I’m going through. On the external I’ll be tending to whatever that need to be tended, I will water my flowers, do whatever has to be done.

Preferably I should also be tender and nurturing towards myself.

What is your comfort zone and are you willing to sacrifice it? Can you, willingly or not? Sometimes we are not even asked.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #9: Clarity

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal on January 17th, 2010 by Kristine Gazel

After shuffling and when laying the two cards on the table, I silently ask for clarity.

I got; The Situation as the Lady of Vessels crossed by the Challenge as The Five of Staffs or The Burning Hand.

The Lady is standing on the water, on top of it, without being afraid of the powers it presents, both as a Force of Nature and as a Symbol of the Unconsciousness, that we are all in danger of being owerswimmed by,  at times. But not this Lady. She is mastering this element, in fact she is it’s personification.

The Alchemical Tarot Study Group says:

Tarot wisdom: You have poise, grace and self-control. Your inner beauty shines out. You have an inner appreciation of how you handle yourself. You are mastering what you have.

This is clarity and differentiation, intuition and being confident, as is also suggested.  But then comes the Challenge as presented by the Burning Hand.

The Burning Hand

Now, the Fives – in my book – is about disturbance, challenge, change, transformation and disintegration. And this is what this hand is telling about.

The hand is about creative energy but also about not getting burned by the very same creativity:

Tarot wisdom: You are enthusiastic and inspired by your work or other fires (channels for your energy). Your creative energy is at its peak, fuelled by the spirit. If your work is all-consuming, or if you are not in touch with your higher self, the message warns that you risk burning yourself up. Do not become a workaholic.

The Hand presents a challenge to status quo, a urge to use my creativity, and this brings about change. On the other hand – so to speak, it also represents a warning of a danger. Of what happens if this creative fire is not wisely guided and chanelled. That this can lead to burn or burn out.

I guess then, that clarity comes with the ability to balance cool water with burning fire and vice versa.

You got the cool water when the fever runs high …

Equilibrium.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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Reading #2: How can I balance my life?

Posted in Alchemical Tarot, Journal, Meanings on January 13th, 2009 by Kristine Gazel

This year I’ve decided to focus on Temperance. The idea of Temperance (and the card also) is very much about Equilibrium and Balance.

Therefore I asked the cards about how I can best balance the different aspects (roles, task and identities) of my life. As a mother, a wife, as a co-worker, a friend and as, well, me. How can I make all that a whole person?

In a short while I’m going back to my job after 11 months on maternal leave, and would like to know how to balance things so my life with my little projects, work, family etc does not end up being too stressfull and chaotic. In fact I’m a little bit afraid to get drained of energy in the swing of things.

I drew 10 of Staffs: The Phoenix : rebirth, strengthened by ordeal, renewed strength; 3 of Staffs:  The ship: a new wave, reinforcements, replenishment;  and the Lovers: The Minor Conjunction, love, sex, attraction, coming together.

One of the things I have to get used to by this deck is that Place connects Staffs (or Wands) with the feeling function, not the intuitive function, of the Psychological Types coined by C.G. Jung. So the two Staffs card makes this very much about feelings and about valuing. (Appearently feelings should not be confused with emotions. Emotions can rise from all of the four psychological functions).

There is some passion in this reading, I should say.

10 of Staffs

The Alchemical Study Group at AT says about the 10 of Staffs: “The phoenix represents the birth of a new personality. Tarot wisdom: You have been transformed by your experiences. You have been tested by fire; your old self has died away, and a new self is being born. You are renewed .”

During the months of my maternal leave and by giving birth to a new little child, some changes have already happened to me. A transformation has taken place, so that I am actually ready for the new phase in my life. I can start anew. I am also at a point in my life where I am proactively starting changes for myself. For example I’ve decided to let go of my overweight and a lot of bad habits. Im ready to let go, purify, and let something new into my life. 

There certainly is a lot of power in this image of fire. 

The Alchemical Study Group at AT says about the 3 of Staffs: Tarot wisdom: Your ship has come in. Energy has been put out, and now it returns in reward. What you have been waiting for is arriving; the project will be complete. Or, the message may point to the arrival of reinforcements to help out in a tough situation.

3 of Staffs

I guess that this means that I need not to be afraid to get drained. I have the power in my self to sustain, and there will come reinforcements from my reserves, as long as I stick to my course. Here I also have in mind the UW 3 of Wands. I also think of this ship in connection to the Six of Swords, and my soul journey, I’m going to embark on this spring. That will provide me with energy too.

The Alchemical Study Group at AT says about the Lovers, that “The Lovers mark the first or lesser conjunction of the masculine and feminine principles, symbolized by the union of the Emperor and the Empress, with their spiritual essence, Sol and Luna, in the background. This is called the alchemical wedding, and was depicted in the texts as a wedding ceremony, or more often as a consummation of the marriage. [...] [A]nd ideally balance between the male and female aspects of our personalities. The Lovers are in harmony with each other, and therefore with the entire physical world”.

The Lovers are in fact doing what the Temperance is ultimately doing on a more sophisticated level: Mixing and combining opposites; female and male energies, solar and lunar. This is the alchemical wedding in the more mundane, sensual form. I’m also thinking about my husband and about my marriage, and that tending my love for and with him really is a key to make things work – of course. All you need is love. Well, love certainly is the x-factor to make the world go around. That goes for our little world too.

Lovers

Something is also telling me that a key to balancing and healing (making whole) my life is passion. To be passionate about things. If some activity does not “do it” for me or fail to make me want to “just do it”, it has to get out of my life. 

The overall message seems to be : The balance will be right. Just do it.

Images from The Alchemical Tarot, copyright Robert M. Place, are used with kind permission. Visit the Alchemical Tarot website.

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