One of my favorite tarot cards is the tower (you can see it below). I used to be afraid of it: the upheaval, destruction, the lack of control. But now when it shows up in a reading I have equal parts excitement and concern. To the card when it appears I say “thank you. Thank you for being clear and honest with me.” When the tower shows up with its shock, unplanned timing, its tearing down of what seemed to be so stable, it can be hard to orient, to breathe, to take action because the wind has been knocked out of us. When the tower is struck, we react because it is a crisis moment.
AND because the tower is a known card in the deck of life, we can have some safe rails in place when the tower appears. The card is a reminder that upheaval, chaos, renewal is a natural part of life. And for those of us who reside on shaky ground the reminder can be a welcome relief that we aren’t doing anything wrong and we are definitely not alone.
I have been afraid of thunderstorms my whole life. You won’t see me dancing in a storm, or admiring the light show. I am squarely hunkered down when the storm rolls in. But I do not question the usefulness of the storm. It exists for a purpose. A purpose I benefit from even if it doesn’t agree with my system.
For the last several years, the world has seemed like a never-ending tower card. The upheaval in culture, government, and climate. For most everyone the landscape is rocky. And this is the moment to embrace the lessons of the tower.
The card invites us into honesty. It strips away denial and false structures. It asks us to take an honest accounting of what is happening within and around us. What structures appear secure but are hanging on by a thread? What relationships appear strong but the red flags are there? What feelings do you notice again and again but push away? Once we have met the moment with compassionate and tender honesty, we can rebuild, hopefully integrating the wisdom we have learned.
To rebuild after a tower moment is to take Maya Angelou’s words to heart. “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This is a painful experience - we want so deeply to believe in the potential of everyone, and this can harm all involved.
Angelou's amazing gift of insight not only pertains to others and our ability to be an honest witness to their capacity, but we must also be an honest witness to our own. This is a path to enlightenment, liberation, and ultimate freedom. An honest accounting of ourselves and the world around us. Not with the awful truth, but with the compassionate truth. The truth that gives full honoring to each one of us in our most complex and multifaceted essence. Is it possible that what you judge yourself so harshly for is your greatest trait that the world needs?
My wish for us all is that we continue to know ourselves. That we meet ourselves with gentle honesty and a true awareness of our capacity so that we may offer this to others. My hope is when the tower strikes for each of us, some small aspect within you can see it for the gift it can be.
May this season’s storms be tomorrow's growth and stability.
This is a holy week for so many - Jews celebrating Passover and Christians observing Easter. Both holidays have roots in the ancient traditions and both have the themes of rebirth, renewal, faith, and resilience. It's hard not to witness these themes in our daily lives as the society that we know has changed dramatically in the last few weeks. We have been called on to dig deep into our personal reserves to muster resilience for even the most mundane of experiences - grocery shopping, walking around the neighborhood, navigating government structures, etc. To cope with this crisis, many of us are looking to the future, when life will be better, when we can return to "normal." But as the quote by Murakami so eloquently states, our normal will be new in its form. Our rebirth and renewal will be from a place that absorbs all the wisdom from this time, and leaves behind what is outdated, no longer useful, and personally destructive.The phoenix rising up from the cosmic fire, leaving its former self behind.
So many of us throughout our lives have experienced our own crucible that left us far from our beloved normal. When we are forced to move from what we hold dear, there is grief, sadness, and anger. But what I have also experienced (often with a HUGE dose of resistance) is an emergence of new opportunities and ways of being. We experience this as a reincarnation within our current life, pieces remain the same but are colored by newness that we never considered before. Frankly, I wouldn't be discussing these themes at this point in our collective crisis if this wasn't a holy week. But the timing is an invitation for us to take note of what is inspiring us, what is challenging us, and what whispers of new ways of being arising inside us. These small moments are breadcrumbs to the new normal we face once we emerge from this challenge. And we will emerge, just as creation from the egg and the phoenix from the flame have done over and over again.
My invitation to you is to take notes, literal notes, of what is arising for you during this time. What are you enjoying? What is challenging you? What are the habits you turn to when you are limited in choices? How are you feeling? What are your concerns and worries? What are your observations of yourself, your community and culture? Once you make your notes leave them be if you want. Maybe now isn't the time to make meaning of all that is occurring, maybe it's time to add your notes to the fire and see what arises weeks, months, and years from now. It's hard to make meaning in the middle of an experience - and Goddess we are in the thick of it. But a storm eventually moves along, and in its wake there will be time to take stock of the person that emerges. But for now, as the storm rains heavy, I pray we each have shelter that is safe and healthy. I pray that the new normal lands with softness and grace. And I pray that this is a true season of Passover - where the Divine spares each of us hardship as we shelter.
With devotion, Valerie
I woke up this morning to see our daffodils beginning to bloom and the first green on the honeysuckle. Spring is upon us. Many of us will celebrate Easter and Passover this weekend - both holidays that reflect the natural world's experience of renewal that is on display right now. I invite you to use renewal throughout your daily life to course correct whenever you find yourself losing faith and hope. These virtues help sustain us when reality requires us to take responsibility and do the courageous work that life asks of us. Hope and faith aren't pollyanna masks we wear. They are spiritual practices that sustain and renew us again and again. So many of us experience an ebb and flow of faith and hope - that is human and natural. They are trusty friends that understand the cycles of life - they have no expectation of you. Just come back to them when you are inspired to do so. Hope and faith are deep wells that beckon us back to re-enliven ourselves for our own benefit and for the benefit of our communities. May you be inspired by season of renewal to reclaim faith and hope as trusty allies in your daily life.