Monday, August 1, 2011

Like a Phoenix from the Ashes: Week 13 with Tarot's Fool

FoolHave you ever reached the point in your journey to publication where you want want to scream and break things, or maybe sit quietly in a dark corner with a bottle of Grey Goose? The half-gallon size? I know you have! Welcome to the writer's life. These days it seems like there are more barriers to successful publication than ever, but as Tarot has advised us, sometimes truth is in the angle from which we view things. And to achieve that illuminating angle, at some point it is necessary to strip ourselves down to bare bones. To incinerate our preconceived ideas and all those defensive reactions that built up over time as one barrier after another was put in our way. Incinerate them. Only then can we rise from the ashes and thrive anew. (Yes, this happens in every darned journey.) If you're ready to be a phoenix, Tarot's Fool has this bit of wisdom to share:

Poor Tarot's Fool! He's been through some harrowing trials, and it doesn't look like they're over yet. Just as he's gained all knowledge, temporal and spiritual, from his self-sacrifice and deep contemplation, he learns that the reward for this is Death. How is that fair?

His head hasn't yet cleared of the visions he experienced while hanging upside down from a tree (Fool's Journey Week 12). Now, as he walks across a fallow field, desolate and cold, he sees a skeleton in black armor, mounted on a white horse, waiting for him.

"Have I died?" he humbly asks.

"Yes, in a way," the skeleton, Death, says. "Through your sacrifice, your old world and your old self are gone."

"How sad," The Fool says.

"Yes, that is true." Death says. "But if you look closely at this field, you will see that it is littered with the discarded parts of yourself. Some of them are taking new root. Pay attention to those."

The Fool feels a twinge of hope.  "What should I do?" he asks.

"Here," Death says, "take my scythe. Study the field. Let go of everything that is withered and fruitless. Turn your back on those things. Burn them. But harvest the new growths. They are ripe and worthwhile. A new sun is rising, and this is a time of great transformation for you. You have been brought low, but only so that you can go higher than ever before."

The Fool gets busy in the field. As he swings the scythe he notices that the sunlight has turned luminescent, the pain of using his muscles to harvest is connecting him to a new reality and creating new strength, and he's beginning to feel joy once again.

Ah, yes, The Fool's journey is ours. Not to put too fine a point on it, we need to recognize that Death is a necessary part of our journey. But also know that Death, per se, is an illusion—it is actually Transformation.  The scythe is for harvesting, not for killing. To that within us which is worthy, we give new life. It is about finding our True North.

We are not, at this stage, like newborn babes. We have experience. We've conceived ideas, nurtured them, allowed our deep minds to contemplate our truths. We've had the backing of Luck (Wheel of Fortune), which we, ourselves, made possible through hard work, passion, and readiness for our ship to come in.

We are ready for a new emotional beginning, and that is what Death grants us. Our new beginning is garlanded with vivid dreams. It invites us to drink from the Cup of Life again. We have set fire to that which is no longer meaningful in our lives, and can now rise from the ashes, like the phoenix we know ourselves to be.

Links to Fool's Journey posts:  0—The Fool1—The Magician2—The High Priestess3—The Empress4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot8—Strength9—The Hermit; 10—Wheel of Fortune11—Justice; 12—The Hanged Man

My interpretation of The Fool's Journey as it applies to the writing life is my own, but the journey is long-established from a variety of sources. Those I've relied on most heavily are: TAROT BASICS by Burger & Fiebig, AECLECTIC TAROT by Thirteen, and EVERYDAY TAROT by Fairfield 


  1. I haven't been following this, but I must say, this is really good. You've reminded me how far along this path I've gone. The sitting quietly in a room part--I chuckled. I actually screamed my frustration in an upstairs room, wanting to just be someone else entirely. Why was I given this need/gift? to write? It was a curse! If I couldn't find publication, what good was it to me or anyone?

    Now I'm doing my best to follow this new path on the new journey best I can. It isn't yet perfect . . . but what path is?

    Thanks for this reminder.

  2. Lorelei, what a beautiful comment! Sometimes I feel like it's a curse too! Keep following that new path. While it may not feel perfect, it is perfect for you at the time. We just have to believe that and keep following.

  3. Linda, this is a fantastic post. Boy do I feel like my life has ended and a new path is emerging. It's really hard to shed the old, but you're right... death is an illusion. And with that we need to embrace the new path. The fool has been my friend for many weeks now, and today is the best message of all. Thank you!!

  4. Lorelei, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Screamed in an upstairs room? Sounds excellent. And the proof is, here you are. You've got the gift, or the curse, whichever way you look at it, and it's got you. You'll do something wonderful with it.

  5. Karlene, you're welcome! You will find the way to embrace transformation while keeping all the good stuff and growing it. I know that because I know you, and there's not a doubt in my mind.

  6. What a promising post! Full of hope. This was great.

  7. Who knew hope came from the Grim Reaper's scythe, right, Lydia? Thanks for dropping by!

  8. OH yeah, recently in fact I reached that point. ;) Your tale of the Fool's journey helped ease my mind though. I love how you put that about making our own luck, that takes a lot of pressure off, knowing I've done that. Thank you!

  9. You certainly have done that, Heather. Work, passion, heart, they're all there. Along with a great story up your sleeve. Luck will follow, trailing garlands!

  10. Great advice. Rise from the ashes! :D

  11. Lisa, we all learn how, right? Lucky for us that writers need this kind of experience to draw from for authenticity :-)

  12. Linda,

    This was a TERRIFIC post. Your metaphors are beautiful. Thank you for these wonderful insights and advise.

    You have learned so much.... It shows in your writing. WELL DONE.

  13. Thanks, Julie. So glad you dropped by!

    Michael, I appreciate your thoughts, thank you so much!