The Deep End

Fall and the Moon of the Thinned Veil

Sunday gratefuls: Mark Horn and the Tree of Life Tarot spread class. The Tarot. An avenue to the Soul and its contexts. The collective unconscious. John Desteian. 100 prayers of blessings. A day. Joe and the Philippines. Murdoch. Kepler. Little Bear Akitas.  Cerulean sky. White led lights. Red sweater. Yellow shirt. Writing. Check Your Privilege.

Sparks of Joy and Awe: Allies

Tarot:  Four of Cups


The year Kate retired we decided to take a class together. Northern Clay Center. A week long class. We signed up, drove down to Franklin Avenue near the Northstar Sierra Club offices. We were the only novices. Not well described in the brochure, it was a master class taught by a well-known Minnesota potter. Classic into the deep end stuff. Kate did ok, but even she felt overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed. We kept at it, but crossed ceramics off our list of retirement activities afterward.

Tarot and the Gates of Light. The Tree of Life spread. Third week yesterday. Of four. Oh, boy. I’m out of my depth here, too. Many have read Tarot since their twenties, even since childhood in a couple of cases. Not so many have studied Kabbalah, but some have advanced knowledge.

This course puts together the Kabbalistic understanding of the Tree of the Life with a Tarot card spread laid out as the ten sephirot (emanations) on the Tree. The Kabbalistic Tree of Life got sucked into the Western Hermetic tradition, an occult “wisdom” tradition. There are, as a result, two different streams of practice combining the Tree of Life and Tarot.

This course sits in the Jewish mystical tradition, not the path of the Order of the Golden Dawn, for example. Think Aleister Crowley. A card placed on a particular sephira during the reading resonates with the emanation.

Chesed, the emanation of loving kindness, is the fourth sephira counting from the crown, or Keiter. The sephirot present god to the world, are god in the world. I use lower case here to suggest the many contents that might fill up those three letters. Including, absence or non-existence. As Chesed is fourth in the Tree, the tarot folks relate the fours in any suit as Chesed cards.

Let’s say I drew the four of cups, as I did today, and that it fell on Chesed in a Tree of Life spread. That would mean it’s power, it’s meaning would be both influenced and reinforced by Chesed.

“Key words for the four of cups: Fallow. Stagnation. Limitation. Meaning: time to lie fallow, allow your creative spirit to replenish. Developing a structure out of a world born of feelings and imagination.” Druid Craft Book

One way to interpret this card on Chesed, the position of Chesed in the Tree of Life. Charlie, you need to slow down, kick back, take a rest. You’ve been charging hard for over three years. Part of that time was caregiving and part of it grief. You’ve taken agency about your house, taken classes Tarot and Kabbalah, gotten back into life at CBE. Loving kindness suggests you slip into a period of relaxation after the kitchen wraps up. Out of this may come more painting, writing. Or, a new ancientrail. Although, not potting.

The deep end for me though is this. Ten sephirot. 78 cards in a Tarot deck. Each sephirot can have one of 78 cards placed on it during the creation of a spread. 780 different combinations on the tree itself. But wait! That’s not all!

A spread reads cards in the context of each other. If I understand this right, that would be 780 times 780 combinations. Over 600,000! And I barely know the sephirot. Let along the significance, or potential significance, of each card in a tarot deck. That’s the in the deep end part of my participation.

Unlike the pottery class, however, I’m making progress, getting there. Having to paddle hard to catch up increases learning. Or, can. And, is. For me.

Coming back to this post after presenting on white privilege over zoom for Groveland U.U. This one felt good. Last year I did a presentation that left me feeling bad. Glad this one was different. The Ancientones gave up their meeting this morning to attend. Good to see them there: Paul, Tom, Bill. Ode is at a birthday breakfast.

I like writing and presenting the occasional presentation. Stretches me. Emphasis on occasional. I’ve done the occasional adult ed at CBE, too. And would like to again. Occasionally. My days of rigorous attention to a schedule, of leadership for a group are over. I’m leaning now into fourth phase work, soul work, the hermit’s journey.

Pondering the four of cups a bit more, thinking about it as we wander down the ancientrail of the year toward Samain. Samain marks the end of summer, the end of harvest, and the beginning of a Celtic new year. That new year starts, then, in the fallow time. In many parts of the world, Asia and the Middle East for example, the new year starts in Spring. Seems to make more sense. The vivification, the renewal, the rebirth. Flowers. Baby animals. Planting gardens.

Not for the Celts. And, not for me. The fallow time is the period that prepares Mother Earth and ourselves for Spring. It is, too, the time for inner work, for the things of the world to decrease in importance. That’s the Springtime of the Soul that began on Michaelmas.

The four of cups then reminds me of the work that is ahead. It’s not the outer work of HVAC and kitchen remodeling, although those are both important. No, it’s the inner work, meditation, reading, creativity. That’s the work of the next whole season, from Samain through Imbolc. Work I need to do after the paint up, fix up stuff.






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