Friday, February 17, 2012
January 17, 2012: Seven of Wands, Haindl Tarot
Seven spears alight, rising from the rocks, standing like either a barrier of flame or an illuminated gateway. Which kind of courage will we need today? Oh, you say, there is more than one kind of courage? Well, let's see what the primary commentator on this deck, Rachel Pollock, has to say in her dissertation upon this card. She is speaking not only of the illustration, but of the I Ching hexagram which is part of the picture. She says:
"The hexagram is Liberation or Deliverance. It calls for firm action to overcome anxiety in the self and conflict with others. The commentary for the hexagram cites the image of a thunderstorm clearing the air on a hot day. The image stresses relief rather than conquest. The purpose of courage is not to subdue others, but to remove problems. Often we need the deepest courage to look honestly at ourselves, rather than judge enemies or blame others. The reversed hexagram, Obstruction, would seem to be the simple opposite of deliverance. However, it does not just tell us that something blocks our liberation, it lets us know that perseverance will overcome the obstruction."
Going on, Pollock also speaks of the photo. Here I have interspersed ideas from her discussion with some thoughts of my own (in italics): "The picture shows rocks at sea. The scene is peaceful, the sky appears gray with clouds, indicating a possible storm. Courage at sea is different than courage in battle; in a storm at sea, the sailors must all work together to survive. The spears rise out of holes in the rock, like lingams rising from yonis. The spear symbolizes active humanity striving upward, traditionally a masculine value. The rock symbolizes nature and our eternal ties to the Earth, which is often thought of as feminine. The rocks appear vaguely like stone faces or statues so old they have lost all detail. This emphasizes the universal nature of courage, and the idea that sometimes courage means "act" and sometimes it means "be still". We have a tendency to believe that to be courageous means to DO something. In many cases, however, courage equates to stop, think, and figure out what is happening, and whether or not I should do something. In readings the Seven of Wands emphasizes its fundamental attribute—it shows a person with courage and daring. The way he or she uses the courage can become a vital issue. Is it for conquest or personal development? Does it lead to something important, or just a love of battle? All situations call for courage. Sometimes we need to recognize weakness, limitations, or an impossible situation that cannot be saved. Courage may mean the courage to retreat. In its deepest sense this card means having the courage to use one’s own power for transformation."
So here we are, today, looking at our lives, at that situation which demands courage. But which kind? Act, or be still? Speak, or be silent? Do something, or do nothing? Only you can decide which course exemplifies courage for you today. But you do have the inner fire, the courage, to do that.