So, since my husband died I find myself trying to speak with him every night before I fall asleep. I ask him to give me some kind of sign that he’s still with me in some way and I’ve never gotten one. It frustrated me because I believe in the afterlife and in the soul traveling to the Otherworld after death; and I felt like I was being cheated. I was rather angry about it. It was bad enough that he died on me but now I had no connection, no sense that he was still there at all. Until the other night.
I dreamed I was in my house, not a house I have ever actually owned but I knew it was my house. I also knew that my husband was there. I’m not sure how I knew this because I couldn’t see or hear him, but I was sure he was there. I was getting ready for something but I don’t know what. Then I heard footsteps walking through the house and knew that it was John coming my way. He finally stood in the doorway where I could see him. I took one look at him and turned away towards the wall screaming in horror. I was so terrified that I woke myself up and began sobbing. The figure I saw standing in the doorway bore almost no resemblance to my husband and in fact reminded me more of a Frankenstein type monster. I was shaken by this dream for days afterwards.
So, I processed this dream the way I process anything that bothers me – I did a tarot reading. Using Sasha Graham’s Haunted House Tarot, I pulled 3 cards:
What is the dream telling me? Knight of Wands Rx
Why did my husband appear that way? The Wheel of Fortune Rx
What terrified me? Justice
After looking at these cards, this is my interpretation of this reading. The first sentence that popped in my head upon seeing the reversed Knight of Wands is from the original Planet of the Apes movie. Dr. Zaius warns Taylor to be careful what he looks for because he might not like what he finds. I think that’s what this card is showing me. I’m trying to reach out beyond the veil for some type of reassurance from my husband but now might not be the time for that. What I discover might be more disturbing than I’m ready to handle. I have no idea how time flows in the afterlife or how a human soul processes transitioning to that level. Perhaps the living aren’t supposed to know these things or at least I’m not supposed to at this time.
The reversed Wheel of Fortune tells me that John appeared the way he did because he’s not finished transitioning yet. He hasn’t fully adapted to his new reality and so he looks like an unfinished science experiment. At the same time I can’t help but feel touched and reassured that despite this he still reached out to reassure me because he always tried to do that.
Justice was a little trickier for me to interpret. It wasn’t until I looked at the actual image on the card that a connection was made. The dream terrified me because if I had been able to fully connect to my deceased husband I think it would have thrown me off balance; so off balance that there would have been psychological and physical health repercussions. The female figure in the forefront of the Justice card looks like an old fashioned nurse. This makes me think that as things are right now my health would be endangered and that’s what terrified me. My soul was protecting itself.
When I first woke up from the stream I was so upset and disturbed. It really shook me. However, upon further reflection it has calmed me and helped me move forward in my grieving process. I realize now it’s not that my husband doesn’t want to connect with me; it’s just not advisable right now. Just knowing that he was willing to make the attempt, even if it wasn’t ultimately in either of our best interests, is reassuring and reminds me how much he loved me. I know now that I will reconnect with him someday; if not in this life then in the next. That makes me feel lighter.
What is beginning to wither in your life that deserves more of your attention?
This I interesting because I think what’s withering in my life is the influence of the inner demons and self-doubt that have often plagued and haunted me. Even though I still pay lip-service to not being confident and valuing my self, I think the reality is that I am confident I just didn’t realize it or embrace it. It deserves more of my attention because I have to fully incorporate this into my self perception and how I interact with the outer world. I have a chance to make some interesting changes and transform the rest of my life but first I have to accept that those inner demons don’t have power over me anymore.
The reversed Knight of Pentacles suggests that I don’t need should be so defensive; trying to insulate myself with protective layers. It doesn’t mean I have to rush to make these changes but I can take my time and cut through that protection like peeling an onion. This is an opportunity to get back to the core of who I am and who I want to be.
How are you feeling trapped? How did you get to this point? What is your next step?
I trapped myself into believing I would always be a student, never confident enough to practice or teach. Instead, I convince myself I still have more to learn. I don’t have faith in my skills and knowledge, too afraid to put myself out there.
I don’t value or nurture my own intellect. Instead I pretend I have nothing new to offer. Instead of trying to share my unique insights and thoughts and communicating them to interested parties, I downplay it; denigrate it; treat it as if it’s nothing special.
My next step is to change these things. To paraphrase line from Mad Max:. Beyond Thunderdome, I need to break a deal and spin the wheel. I need to break free from this mindset that undermines my confidence and prevents me from recognizing my gifts. I need to create magick in my life; break the curse under which I’ve placed myself. No one else can do it for me.
How are you stuck? What can you do to free yourself?
I’m stuck because I’m afraid to trust my intuition, my instincts; fearful of going through that doorway and facing who I am and who I am meant to be. It’s as though I know there is knowledge and wisdom available for me to use on the other side of that door but I’m reluctant to explore it.
Change. The only thing that can free me is change. Rather than being a passive participant in my own life, waiting for Fate to determine what happens next, I need to grab that damned wheel and spin it. I need to be a true witch and be the change I want to see in my life. Whatever I want to become next, will be determined by my actions now. Hesitating serves no purpose; faintheartedness won’t produce the future I desire. So I need to decide what my destination will be and plot the route to get me there.
Oh my! This feels very powerful and impactful to and for me. Transformation, dramatic changes, shedding old skin – Death can mean any and all of these. Is that how I can help others – aid them in processing major life changes? Would I be any good at that? I remember that after my mother-in-law died I felt blessed and empowered by witnessing her passing and helping prepare her body to move on to the next stage (the crematorium). Tending her as she deteriorated and prepared to meet death made me stronger and less fearful of dying.
The image on the 8 of Cups reinforces the need to release things before you can move on – whether it is emotional ties or material possessions. If we can’t let go of loved ones we prevent ourselves from moving on to the next level of our own journey.
Perhaps exploring ways to share this with others could prove fulfilling. Sounds like an interesting topic for future blog posts. Of course I hope I can avoid meaningless platitudes and jingoistic bullshit. Let’s face it, transformation is hard and it can hurt like hell! Sometimes we don’t realize how much pain we feel until something rips off the scab and reminds us the wound is still there. Then again constantly picking the scab doesn’t help either. We need to find a balance but before that we probably spend a lot of time bouncing back and forth between hope and despair. Healing ain’t easy and I’m not sure if I’d be suited to the task. I guess time will tell.
Stop listening to false prophets or self-aggrandizing experts, instead listen to those who truly lead by example; those whose words are logical and sensible; those who have lived through the experiences of which they speak.
When traditional methods and concepts no longer suit the situation you need to find alternative paths. Sometimes we can’t find the answers we seek in history or the ways things were done before. It may be time to explore new ideas and open new communication channels so the situation becomes clearer and less divisive.
If current leaders and pundits rely on outmoded, useless and even detrimental practices and beliefs then it may be time for change. If you truly believe this then now might be a good time for you to guide others to a new way of thinking; to explain how things can transform for the better. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Clinging to the status quo, refusing to be open to change can mean you’re robbing yourself of the potential for embracing your true self and finding new ideas to explore.
Letting someone steal your ideas, allowing yourself to be disempowered can prevent you from transforming your life into who and what you truly wish it to be.
Transformation and change can be frightening but clinging too tightly to the past, or to current circumstances can ultimately cause more harm than good. It can lead to stagnation and a stultifying existence. There is a beauty in death and transformation. Embrace it rather than trying to escape it.
While pursuing my MA in forensic psychology, I read a textbook entitled The Shattered Self. It was offered case studies of people suffering from PTSD, which the authors argued should be considered a dissociative disorder, not an anxiety disorder (I may be oversimplifying this, it’s been a long time since I read the book). As I read the book I had very mixed feelings; very personal feelings. I could to be objective about the material covered in the book. In fact it made me a little angry. As I read the cast studies many of them resonated with me on a deep level; their experiences often mirrored my own. What made me angry was the concept that these people were somehow damaged because they had found a way to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward. Why did the fact that they had shattered make them defective? To me, they were strong, brave, resilient people who managed to endure what many could not. Yeah, okay, there might have been some projecting going on there.
In retrospect I realize that the reason these folks had become case studies in this book is because eventually their coping mechanism felt apart and they re-shattered. They were suffering and trying to hold it together as best they could but failing. So, in theory, counseling or therapy would be beneficial. Of course because I am a stubborn bitch, I resisted even the idea that being shattered was harming me. I felt like a piece of safety glass – sure I was shattered but I was still holding it together. I hadn’t lost any pieces.
As I gain more experience and wisdom, I realize that I have also made myself into a mosaic. I replaced some of the shattered pieces with new ones that are brilliantly colored and uniquely shaped. I wear these new tiles with pride because they’re proof that I have the strength to endure and the will to keep moving forward. I don’t think I’m so special (or at least no more or less special than anyone else) because clearly the case studies in The Shattered Self prove that others have the same resilience that I do. At the same time, I am proud of the fact that I am resilient and even if I’m shattered I don’t fall to pieces on the floor.
Celtic Wisdom Tarot Text by Caitlin Matthews, art by Olivia Raynor Destiny Books, 1999 ISBN 0-89281-720-8
The Book says: Transformation; bringing matters to resolution; releasing or forgiving; freedom to act with full power or resources; a new lease of life; recovery of essential focus.
Reversed: Denial of imminent change; inability to admit faults or allow changes; procrastination; reproach for wasted opportunities; stubborn self-justification; little chance of cure; failure to focus.
TarotHunter’s Theories: Traditionally the Gundestrup Cauldron is connected to transformation and rebirth. Legends connect the Gundestrup Cauldron with reviving warriors killed in battle. But when they come back they are mute; unable to describe this experience to anyone. One of the panels on the Cauldron shows a large figure, possibly a deity, shoving warriors into the Cauldron. They emerge beneath the Cauldron, alive but changed. The three spirits and the elder sprig are connected with healing and renewal. These images suggest that sometimes we need to be forced into making changes but they will ultimately prove healing and transformative. The experience will allow us to release the burdens of the past and move forward into a future that remains unwritten.