Have you ever considered that perhaps our journey through life is better reflected in a reverse journey through the Major Arcana? I know we are often shown the Fool’s journey from innocence and naiveté through understanding and wisdom but what if we can acquire those same qualities and experiences by journeying through the Major Arcana from The World to The Fool?
I’ll admit this is not a fully fleshed out theory but one day while looking at the cards it occurred to me that The World could reflect our soul’s experience prior to birth; it’s existence wherever souls go when not inhabiting a body. It is perfect, fully integrated and surrounded by the divine. Judgment is the birth itself – our emergence through a dark passage into the light. The Sun is our infancy and early childhood – when we are the center of the universe and everything we say or do is amazing and spectacular. Then we get a bit older and learn that we cannot stay the center of the universe. Perhaps more children come along or our parents need to return to work and daily reality. We yearn for the moon – that time when everything stopped for us, but that is no longer possible. The Stars are the hope we cling to as we get a bit older; as we realize that mommy does not exist just to satisfy our every whim. We also learn about school. Depending upon whether we have older siblings or friends who enjoy school we may feel existing about this upcoming adventure. We’re frightened but excited too. Then we begin school and have a Tower moment. Our reality crashes down around our feet. Not only is school not the fun experience we anticipate, but we are one of many children in the room. We do not receive the teacher’s undivided attention. We don’t get to do or play with everything we desire. We decide we hate school and cling even tighter to our parents. Like The Devil, we want to be chained to them so we feel safe and secure. We believe this will allow us to remain the center of their attention but in reality we risk becoming a burden.
When we reach Temperance we are starting to learn there is a balance, a midpoint, a blending of our needs and the needs of others. We learn ways to meet our own needs while accepting their as well. We realize our classmates are almost as important as we are; that our parents have other areas of focus. We struggle to find the way to incorporate our need to be individuals with our need to be part of a group or family. We learn there is a give and take to this dance – if we want others to satisfy our needs then we must help satisfy theirs too.
Death, well Death is almost surprisingly easy (at least to my mind). In this context, Death is the upheaval of graduating from one class to the next. Each year brings a minor death for us – we’ve finally figured out how this stuff all works. We know the teacher and have established connections with peers (hopefully) and now we have to start all over again. Graduation from junior high to high school and high school to college is even more traumatic. We go from “ruling the school”, being the big people on campus to peon. Everything we knew is now gone and we must find our way anew. I don’t know about anyone reading this but I must say the first day of high school, first day at a new school and my first day at college were all traumatic and devastating in different ways.
By the time we’ve managed to finish our academic career (if indeed we ever do), we move on to The Hanged Man. Oh, isn’t this fun?!! We finally get the hang of school, it may be stressful and somewhat overwhelming but there are clear rules and instructions along the way, and now we’re thrown into the “real world”. We have no idea what the rules are or what our role is. We’ve been completely turned on our heads and are now seeing things through a different lens. We have no safety net anymore. If we’re truly adults then we need to figure out how to do this on our own and not rely on family to bail us out. We may indeed find ourselves turned all around but sometimes that’s the only way to see a new path or find a new life lesson. I know once I completed my masters in forensic psychology I knew that I had no desire to work in the criminal justice field. My degree was useless (or so I thought). By looking at things from a different perspective I realized I could put those same skills to use in a population that might have a propensity towards interactions with the criminal justice system but were not incarcerated – “at risk” youth. So I found a job as a recreation therapist in a recreation center in the “inner city” (geez, I hate these buzz words so much!) My point is that I was able to put my degree and skill to use in a totally unexpected way and that gave me a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment. Had I not looked at things from a completely different perspective and allowed myself the time and patience to explore options, I might have ended up taking a job in a field to which I was not well suited.
Justice represents when we finally feel that we’ve regained our balance. We’ve found the way to balance our needs for income and a job and a social life, with our desire to achieve, to be “somebody”. We believe we’ve taken the right steps on that road and now feel more confident that things are going to flow our way. We’ve made the sacrifices and now it’s time for us to receive our rewards. As long as we perceive those scales as balanced, we’re content. We feel that we’ve matured and can now view things from a less emotional, more rational and logical perspective. We’ve learned to weigh the pros and cons of our choices to reach an intelligent decision. We convince ourselves that we are doing the “right” thing, the just thing, the sensible, logical thing. Is that true?
Finally, at the halfway point in our journey we face the Wheel of Fortune. That fickle and every changing wheel that mocks our efforts and forces change upon us. Let’s consider it the quarter-life (it’s a thing, I swear) and mid-life crisis. It reflects that point in our journey where we realize that our path needs to dramatically shift. It’s when we start to question everything we’ve achieved in our lives and wonder if it was all worth it. It’s become immortalized in films such as The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. In fact it’s become something of a cliché because we often dismiss it as an excuse for middle-aged men to buy a new hot rod or hook up with some younger, sexier partner. Perhaps those things are distractions from the real issue – feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled by where we are in our lives. Perhaps we can no longer ignore that we’re unhappy with the choices we’ve made; the things we’ve sacrificed. This may be when parents and spouses realize their career has consumed them and they’ve lost touch with their loved ones. The difference between this experience and the Tower is that we are more mature and thoughtful (usually) and can steer the course of our journey. We can lay in a new path and right what we feel is wrong without completely destroying all that went before. We also have the ability to understand that even though we may be feeling pretty down right now, that can and will eventually shift. That is the nature of life and of our journey.
I’m going to stop here for now. I’ll continue next week. I hope you found this interesting or insightful or it at least made you pause for a moment and think about it.