Hermit reversed – Terrified & trapped in one’s own mind

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Hermit reversed as dementia

Today, while working with my Dark Goddess and Deviant Moon Tarot decks, I had an insight into how dementia might feel from the inside. I pulled my card of the day from the Dark Goddess Tarot. It was Persephone/Judgement. Using this card as a guide, I asked the Deviant Moon Tarot “How can I integrate what is dying in my life with what is living and growing?” I drew The Hermit reversed and The Star in response.

At first I rather shrugged it off thinking that the Hermit reflected my current social isolation. However the longer I looked at this card the more convinced I became that it was about my mother-in-law. The expression on this Hermit’s face and her body posture suggest fear if not outright terror. The more I looked at this pathetic figure hunched in on herself the more I became convinced this card is a visual depiction of how my mother-in-law feels every day.

My mother-in-law is suffering from some type of dementia. She is not always able to connect with us when we speak to her. She often speaks to inanimate objects or people who are not there. She has forgotten how to care of the basics such as bathing or feeding herself. And yet every so often we get a glimpse of the woman she used to be. She will often cry softly to herself because she realizes this is not how it’s supposed to be. We are convinced that a part of the woman she once was is trapped inside her mind and horrified by what is happening to her. That is what I see conveyed on the Deviant Moon’s Hermit card, especially reversed.

The Hermit reversed reminds me that my mother-in-law is traveling a road that I cannot fathom and she’s doing it alone. No one, regardless of how well intentioned, can help her with this. It is an internal journey that can only end with death. All I can do for her right now is be there and help her where I can. It breaks my heart to see her deterioration. She still recognizes me even if she has no cognitive idea who I am. She will hug me or tell me she loves me but cannot tell you my name. It’s awful to witness but it must be so much worse to experience. Whenever I become frustrated or angry with her I’ll remember the expression of fear and confusion on this Hermit’s face and hopefully it will help me be more compassionate.

Introspection – Transformational Tarot

Transformational Introspection

Transformational Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

The Book says: The need to withdraw from the busy, outer world in order to find peace, to evaluate one’s beliefs and to replenish. Inner vision quest. Time for soul searching. It is a good time to get in touch with the creative self, to keep a dream journal, work wight the Tarot or tools for meditation and self-awareness. One who cares little for the approval for others, who is independent, introspective and on the path of individuation. The reversed meaning of this card warn could warn of excessive isolation, inactivity, “antisocial” tendencies or even deep depression. It could stand for loneliness or an inability to ask for outside assistance.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: I see this card as representing our quest deep within ourselves to find wisdom and understanding. It is the need to shine light on those dark sides of our nature which seem so frightening and horrible until we look at them clearly. The Hermit holds his lantern high in the air. He is surrounded by darkness and “scary” things. A skull rests on his chest; a snake across his shoulders and a bat flies above his head. Typically these are things that would scare people. Many of us shudder at the mere thought of a snake or a bat. And skulls elicit a similar reaction. And the polar bear, while beautiful, can be quite deadly and terrifying if met under normal conditions. But The Hermit has no fear of these creatures. He has learned how to communicate with them and incorporate them into his live. He is at home with man’s darker side as with his light.

The Hermit understands that life is more than just black and white. A rainbow of colors and shades of gray exists as well. If life were that simple then we would always know right from wrong. But nothing in life is that simple. We may all understand that murder is wrong. But we can also acknowledge that in certain circumstances we might find ourselves capable of killing someone. The Hermit has tread these paths of the human psyche and is comfortable roaming there. But at the same time he must be careful not to become lost among these pathways and to lose sight of the light side.

There is a glamour and attraction to the dark side of human nature and if we stay there too long we risk losing contact with the light all together. Andrew Vachss, a fairly well-known advocate for the right of abused children, writes a series of books about a character named Burke. Burke is the Hermit, with a twist. He roams the roads among the dark and evil things that men do and tries to save potential victims. But at various points in his career Burke has lost himself in these dark pathways and has to struggle to come back. But sometimes it’s easier to lose yourself – just as pessimism can seem safer than optimism. But the Hermit offers us a light to find our way back and he is waiting there for us to help us process what we’ve learned and not get lost in the dark.

Thoughtful Thor’s Day: Gloomy thoughts on a gloomy day

Actually today is more of a Thoughtful Thor’s Day.  It’s rather gloomy, gray and chilly outside which means I’m limited to inside stuff today.  I can’t say that really excites me much but then again I don’t do a whole lot when it’s sunny out either.  I realize that part of the problem is my own focus and initiative.  It’s difficult to become excited about anything when I feel like such a prisoner.  The situation is getting worse and I don’t know what to do about it.  Maw Maw (the mom-in-law) becomes so agitated sometimes that it’s impossible to sleep.  Very often we’re almost asleep and she wakes up.  Then one of us has to get up with her because she starts touching things like the stove or trying to open the front door.  This results in both the hubby and I being sleep deprived and exceedingly cranky.  Putting her in an institution is a last resort to both of us but I’m afraid we might be reaching that point soon.

This entire situation makes me wonder at caring for the aging in this country.  So many of the resources available are limited and/or difficult to access.  In many cases we’ve been told that because she is not on Medicaid she’s not eligible for free services and she doesn’t have enough income to afford the paid ones.  I’ve seen this time and time again with friends whose parents are in similar situations.  Nursing homes or senior facilities are costly (ranging from $1500 per month to $6000 per month in this area) and also tend to be few and far between.  this means if we want to visit her it would take an hour drive to get to most of these places.  We’re also very hesitant to place her anywhere because her mental condition means she has no ability to communicate if someone is hurting her.

I’ve never been under the illusion that life is fair.  However many recent experiences have made me question our societal obsession with staving off death as long as possible regardless of the consequences.  I’ve seen many people caring for elderly parents who take them to the doctor or hospital for a variety of reasons.  The hospital is able to stabilize the parent but not actually heal or cure them.  As a result the parent is often either back in the hospital again in a few months or given another batch of medicine to “help” whatever condition the doctor believes he or she has now.  Maw Maw would probably be taking 10 pills a day if her doctor had his way.  He means well but he doesn’t truly know what is wrong with her and seems to believe that if he keeps giving her medications she’ll eventually find one that works.  It seems to be an all to common approach to healthcare in the US.

I’ve had several friends and neighbors battling various forms of cancer over the past few years.  It amazes me how painful and ultimately unsuccessful this process appears to be.  So often they believe they caught the initial cancer only to have it spread to a new area a few years later.  It’s almost as though the treatment actually accelerates the grown of the tumors.  I know the professionals state this is not what happens but from a layman’s perspective this is how it appears.  I think some of the miscommunication stems from the fact that for a doctor prolonging the patient’s life for another 5 years is a victory.  To the patient it just seems to be a long and painful battle that they ultimately lose.  I know some people do live for over 10 years after treatment for cancer.  In fact Maw Maw was diagnosed with uterine cancer back in 1981 and beat it, remaining cancer-free for over 30 years.  I would also never try to influence someone else’s choice for treatment.  That is a personal decision and something that needs to be left to the patient and her/his doctor.  However it makes me wonder what I would do if the situation ever arises (although I hope it never, ever does).

Wow a gloomy day really seems to bring up gloomy thoughts.  Of course my current situation doesn’t help matters any either.  It’s hard to be cheerful when your life has become a relentless deathwatch with no end in sight.  It also points out to me how much I rely on external distractions to keep me from focusing on negative things in my life.  In the past, my salary allowed me to buy books, Tarot decks and dolls (among other things) to keep me from realizing how unhappy I was with my job and other aspects of my life.  I’ve been rather slow to develop other coping skills.  I’d prefer to avoid the matter entirely and just zone out in front of the television or read a book.  I can tell that’s not going to work much long either.

To gain so clarity about this situation I asked the Tarot “How can I deal with this situation in a more healthy manner?”  I used the Dark Carnival Tarot and drew The Moon.

Dark Carnival Moon

The companion book offers a very contemporary and urban interpretation of this card, referring to blood moons, treacherous paths and ready to put a garden claw in the face of a foe.  This resonates with me right now.  Things do feel bleak and desolate (although I don’t feel threatened enough to need a garden claw),  It is an unsettling landscape that lies ahead of me.  It’s unfamiliar terrain and if I can’t trust myself then who can I trust?  I think The Moon is telling me that I need to stop fooling myself and see things for what they really are.  I also need to acknowledge that while things are bleak and desolate right now, they will eventually improve.  I just have to make it through this dark and scary night.  It’s not an especially pleasant image but it does offer some hope.

Tarot Truths Tyr’s Day: The Fool (Blue Rose Tarot)

Blue Rose Fool

The Fool
Blue Rose Tarot
Created by Paula Gibby
Produced by Soul Guidance, 2001

Looking at this card gives me a sense of exhilaration and freedom.  It reminds me of the sensation I get when rising up the first hill on a rollercoaster.  The excitement builds and I’m eager to start the journey down but at the same time there is a hint of fear – what if something goes wrong?  Even the safest amusement park ride has the potential to derail and so does life.  This card reminds me that if we never take chances and let ourselves jump headlong into new experiences, we might live a safe life but how unexciting it will be.

This Fool seems confident that everything will be just fine.  In fact he seems to be taking that “foolish” leap to extreme levels.  Even if he crashes he will walk away having learned something valuable; a lesson that will take him to his next great experience.  How often have I taken the safe path in life?  Even in my career choices I favored jobs at which I was skilled rather than passionate.  Passion and excitement can be wonderful things but they may not always pay the bills.  It is often said that if you do what you love the money will follow.  I’ve seen many people who have managed to achieve that goal in their lives and yet I’ve been afraid to take the leap.

One of my biggest obstacles is my own fear and self-doubt.  If I can’t do something very well I prefer not to do it at all.  How I’m to learn whether I’m good at something if I never try it is something I’ve not quite determined.  Ironically as I get older I’m becoming more accepting of risk.  In fact I’m embracing it.  I think the experiences of my childhood made me crave stability and avoid risk.  Now that I realize you can never truly avoid risk and that nothing in life is ever stable, I’m more open to embracing change and taking that leap of faith.  I don’t know where I will land but from the expression on this skateboarder’s face the journey will provide quite a thrill.

Tarot Truth Tyr’s Day: Comparative Tarot Essay – The Dreamer (Transformational Tarot)

The Dreamer - Transformational Tarot

The Dreamer
Transformation Tarot
Created by by Arnell Ando
Published by US Games ISBN:1572815396

The Dreamer (called The Fool in more traditional Tarot decks) speaks to me of innocence, faith and trust.  The haloed infant on the card implicitly trusts that the bird overhead means her no harm.  The bird (an eagle?) and the sphere hovering above the dreamer child seem to connect her to the spirit world; the soul.

The dreamer child’s focus is on her own feet.  She is watching where she steps but does not seem concerned about what is around her.  She seems secure and trusting that the environment around her means her no harm.  How often do we still feel that sense of faith and trust as adults?  It is indeed a rare commodity.

The Dreamer reminds me that in order to achieve our dreams we need to connect with that inner child who embodies innocent faith and implicit trust in the Universe.  She isn’t afraid because she hasn’t been taught to fear.  I think we sometimes become so burdened by fear, regret and self-doubt that we lose the connection to this innocence, faith and trust.  The Dreamer allows her spirit to soar with the eagles because she doesn’t worry; she simply moves forward.  There is a saying that god watches over fools and drunks (or babies and fools depending upon the source)  The Dreamer embodies this adage.

When we grow up, mature or just lose touch with our under dreamer and fool, tapping into this energy is tricky.  How many of us are comfortable looking foolish or making mistakes?  I know that I hate it.  I want others to see me as knowledgeable and intelligent.  Unfortunately this often comes off as arrogant and know-it-all-ness.  When IK look back over my life I realize I could have learned so much more from others if only I was willing to admit my ignorance;  to look foolish.  This Dreamer child reminds me that the only way to learn is to make mistakes and admit that I don’t have all the answers.  Right now that is an especially appropriate message for me.

COTD – 7 of Wands/Bows (Druidcraft & Wildwood)

 

As soon as I drew this card the phrase “stop being so defensive” hit me.  Of course that is relatively par for the course for me.  I can be hyper-sensitive to certain things and become overly defensive.  Especially if I feel unfairly attacked – for example for being brutally honest.  The Druidcraft 7 of Wands shows a young male leaning over a stone wall ready to engage in combat whoever possesses the 7 spears poking up towards him.  Of course they’re not actually aimed at him or in any sort of battle-ready positions but the young man’s enthusiasm for his task and readiness to engage is palpable.  And that can certainly describe me when I have a tasty morsel in my sites.  There are days when I love nothing more than a good battle – not necessarily a physical confrontation but a battle of wills or even an excited and well-argued debate.

The 7 of Bows from the Wildwood Tarot offers a different take on this card.  In this image 6 staves lean against a tree trunk, a bow lays on the ground nearby and an ax is resting against a log.  In the distance we see a campfire burning, it’s smoke spiraling up into the air.  No humans are visible in this card and its keyword is clearance.  Maybe the battle is over and I’ve cleared all the potential invaders away.  Or maybe what I’ve done is cleared away those that might prove to be friends and helpful in the future.  That’s the risk one takes when one is perpetually ready for battle and consistently defensive.  And of course at the basis of this battle-ready status is fear – fear of being hurt, fear of looking foolish, fear of not being perfect.  Letting people get close to you means you have to let them see your flaws.  And if they see you with all your strengths and flaws, they might not like you any more.  At least that was my experience.  Of course I also have a talent for making strengths into flaws.  Who wants to be friends with a know-it-all who does well in school.  ACK!

Another aspect of this card for me right now is the understanding that I am engage in helping my hubby stave off the inevitable.  We both know that his mother and brother are reaching a point where we will no longer be able to care for them at home.  The idea of being forced to institutionalize them is breaking his heart and his spirit.  He is worn down from caring for them but can’t give up that struggle.  His desire is to allow his mother to stay at home for as long as she’s got left.  Separating her and his brother is probably not in either’s best interests but I don’t know if there is any alternative.  I doubt there is a place that could accommodate both of them.

Many years ago I remember reading a comic book in which a caped figure with a top hat (I can’t remember the character anymore), showed somewhat the memories his mother was using to fight off death a little longer.  The mother was on life support and the son had to make the decision to pull the plug.  I remember as a child thinking that wasn’t fair because there was no way to know what the mother was thinking and that she was going to die eventually anyway.  I also thought it was a dose of guilt that the grieving son did not need.  I detest guilt trips, even when they’re in comic book form.  I still feel that way.  This card reminds me of that story.  If this were my decision I don’t know if this would be my choice.  But it is my hubby’s mother and I respect and honor his decision.  It’s heart wrenching.  And as long as I can help him fight off that eventual day, I’ll do my best.

Several years back during a Rachel Pollack workshop, I drew this card in response to the question “What is my relationship style” and it was so true I had to laugh out loud.  Anyone who was ever interested in a romantic relationship with me had quite a fight on their hands.  I wasn’t letting them get passed my defenses without being sure they were worthy.  I also know myself well enough to know that if I think I’ve got the bull on someone or can dominate them, I will.  I have often described my family as a pack of wolves looking for the soft underbelly to rend.  We’re not really that bad (although we have our moments), but we definitely can be rough to deal with.  For a variety of reasons, we learned not to show weakness or softness.  Those could prove very, very dangerous.  So we became fighters.  The problem is that even when it’s safe to lay down our arms, we are very slow to do so.  That doesn’t make us very easy to deal with on an emotional level.

As for “clearance” – that can mean so many things.  Right now one of the things I’ve been working on is clearing out those inner demons that taunt and haunt me for a variety of reasons.  I recently finished James Wells’ marvelous Tarot for Manifestation and I’ve been inspired to start being more active in pursuing my desires.  Instead of staking a claim and defending it even passed it’s expiration date, I need to start being more daring and explore new territory.  I had an epiphany on Saturday while doing Tarot readings at a fair – I’m a good reader.  My reading style might not be to everyone’s taste but that is just the nature of the world.  Not everyone likes chocolate (although that is genuinely beyond my comprehension) and not everyone will like how I interpret Tarot cards and convey the message to them.  That doesn’t make me bad or wrong, simply different.  That was a liberating feeling to have.  And I need to do more liberating.  I need to liberate myself from all these feelings of defensiveness.  That’s what needs to be cleared away.  I’m feeling pretty energized and inspired right now.