Monday, October 3, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Four of Swords

It's been that kind of week here. One thing after another, deadline upon deadline, tedious detail work and odious clean-up work and work that's just...ugh. A week like this one puts paid to the old adage that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. You might not have kicked the bucket, but you certainly don't feel stronger.

The tarot has a suggestion: play dead.

That's the advice from the Four of Swords, another one of those cards where the nature of the suit—in this case the active masculine properties of the Swords—is at odds with the number of the card. Fours are about stability and foundations—think squares—and as such, like to arrange all the ducks in a row.

Easy to do when the ducks are dead. But ah, there are depths to this particular dying, which of course isn't about physical death at all. There is tension in this card between action and passivity, and it is best resolved by remembering how the tarot looks at death (which you can read more about here).

The Four of Swords is about death, certainly. The swords it depicts are no longer put to martial use. They are now symbolic reminders, much like the effigy of the deceased on the tomb. In the tarot, death is always transitional. It is always active, even if it looks as still as...well, you know.

For busy folk, being still can feel like death. The Four of Swords understands. And yet, it asks us to be still anyway, to move through the discomfort, and to find ourselves whole and healed on the other side of our stillness. Creative work often feels like a 24/7 gig, and it often is. Even worse, it often comes with a terrible taskmaster of a boss, one who insists on squeezing the productivity out of every second.

Ignore that bossy boss this week, says the tarot. If you can take a nice long break, take it. But even if you can't, you can make time to sit with stillness. Breathe around the sharp discomfort. Unyoke yourself from the oxen of duty. 

Rest. Sleep. Perchance to dream. Who knows what dreams may come?

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