Monday, December 12, 2011
Crisis? Stay Open and Go With the Flow—Week 18 With Tarot's Fool
Did you notice the full moon on Saturday night? It was a beauty! And it wasn't just any old full moon. It was a lunar eclipse. They come around every once in a while and are said to pack a punch. Never underestimate the power of a lunar eclipse to shake things up in your life.
So the timing couldn't be better to talk about what's going on with Tarot's Fool right now, because, as if by coincidence, he has just reached the 18th major point of enlightenment on his journey, which just happens to be The Moon.
To back up for just a moment, last time we were with the Fool he was mightily pulling himself together after coming face-to-face with his self deceptions about his life and his life's path. He'd been shattered when he did the bravest of all things and not only recognized the tower of lies, large and small, that he'd built his professional identity on, but instinctively shouted it down to rubble. (Week 16: The Tower) Those deceptions were getting in the way of him grasping the true power of his authenticity, so this was a great thing. But oh, my, it's no easy task to rebuild oneself from rubble!
Fortunately, as he dragged himself forward he came upon a beautiful, mystical girl with water urns, who made him understand that surviving and thriving through drastic change is possible, and his task now is to follow his star. (Week 17: The Star)
So here he is, traveling through the night, holding on to the knowledge that he has a star to follow. He's blindly doing just that when the full moon rises and illuminates a watery path in front of him. Not only that, there are two pillars that he's passing through, and when he sees them a deep chord is struck within him. He's seen them before, long ago, when he came upon the High Priestess early in his journey. She sat in front of the pillars and told him secrets about the deepest mysteries of life. He'd seen hints of a dark land through the sheer veil behind her then. (Week 3: The High Priestess) Now he's passed through the veil and he's there, in the dark land.
Suddenly he feels disoriented and a little nauseated from fear. He's entered the land of dark mysteries where secret knowledge lies. Who lives here? Not just seers like the High Priestess. Poets, artists, musicians, madmen and madwomen live here. (Notice the dogs howling at the moon in the picture, and the crayfish emerging from the water like a creature from a childhood nightmare.) Is he going to howl at the moon like a mad dog, or is he going to somehow, some way, find his footing? He's deep in it now, no turning back. In fact he's hip-deep in a salty, moonlit river, and the water's powerful current is pulling insistently at him.
He looks around for something to grasp onto, and there's nothing. But there is a small boat on the nearby shore. It has no oar and no rudder, and the Fool has to decide whether he'll take a chance on that boat or lose himself in this wild, primal land of illusion and madness. Either way, the moon will be in control, but in the boat, his surrender to the powers of the unconscious and the natural world will at least take him somewhere. He gets in the boat and trusts himself to the river. As he's swept away, he feels the Mistress of this dark land gazing down at him with the High Priestess's approving eyes, for this is the path to inspiration, genius, and Moon magic.
It's no accident that Tarot singles out writers as being among the inhabitants of the dark land of life's mysteries. No further explanation is needed for you all to relate to this one, is there? But that doesn't mean it isn't scary as all get out, or that it's easy to get there, either. Not all of us do get there. Fact is, though, that if we want to find and harness the true power of our authentic selves, we have to shout down our tower of self deception, follow our star, and surrender to the river (remember to choose the boat so you don't drown! :-) ). Any number of great writers have pointed this out. Here are quotes from two of them, one past and one present, who've taken the journey and want us to know the paradoxical but oh, so desirable rewards:
"Life breaks everyone, but some are strong in the broken places."
"The deeper my crisis, the clearer my choices."
You might recognize these sentiments from the character arc you developed for your novel's protagonist. Your protagonist has to get broken to be strong in the broken places, and his or her choices become clear when crisis is deepest, don't they? Back to this page, it looks like the same is true for the Fool (and us, if we're brave enough). He's in the boat now. No going back. The rewards are going to be awesome!
Links to Fool's Journey posts: 0—The Fool; 1—The Magician; 2—The High Priestess; 3—The Empress; 4&5—The Emperor, and The Hierophant; 6—The Lovers; 7—The Chariot; 8—Strength; 9—The Hermit; 10—Wheel of Fortune; 11—Justice; 12—The Hanged Man; 13—Death; 14—Temperance; 15—The Devil; 16—The Tower; 17—The Star
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