note: these musings are inspired by readings from Jessica Dore’s tarot book, Tarot for Change.
tarot pull this morning: the prince of liminality* and the king of swords
the prince of liminality is known for being a space of patience and inaction. the prince is literally hanging upside down and totally chilling, seemingly at peace. it’s a place of calm not because everything is good and has worked out but because we have created the capacity to merely exist with it. we have let go of resistance and control. it’s a place of acceptance.
Jessica Dore does a lovely job relating to acceptance as an action, one that can prompt interest, curiosity, and observation. she offers examples of this:
- looking at a difficult emotion with curiosity (to hopefully diffuse the sense of it being “dangerous”)
- extending validation to ourselves when our inner voice is tearing us down
- finding a sense of expansion to make space for a fiery emotion like anger/rage
- learning to sit with discomfort, making note of its dimensions, taste, and texture
becoming curious about emotions we’ve typically ran away from can turn us into the observer, as well as the feeler, of the experience. we can become like a scientist, noting the ways in which sadness, loneliness, boredom, and anger unfold within our being and the specific forms they take.
i remember earlier in the summer, making a point to sit with boredom. to let myself simply be with it without changing it. and lord, it was one of the hardest things i’ve willingly done recently. there was so much shame associated with it. being bored make me feel like a loser, like i was doing something wrong, like i was bad at life, a failure.
without curiosity, i wouldn’t have been able to sustain this for as long as i did. and even then, sitting with it and feeling all the shame and fear associated with boredom, i could understand why i ran away from it. it was scary to experience, it carried so much weight. it was hard and uncomfortable.
my point is that learning to sit with the things we’ve been avoiding is both incredibly difficult and possible. especially from the somatic perspective of titration** — taking things slow and steady, like step by step exposure therapy. if your anger terrifies you, set a 5 minute timer to sit with it. and then walk away. because too much exposure too soon and quickly can compound our fear and avoidance as it overwhelms our system.
the king of swords is like the pinnacle of where learning how to hone and direct our focus can take us.
Jessica makes a connection between attention and worship, which i find captivating. this reminded me of an adrienne maree brown quote: “what you pay attention to grows”
the ability to maintain focus on something in the “age of distraction” is no small feat. i think of the commitment needed to stay true to one’s unique personal path — the ability to come back to that place of inspiration and connection with the divine again and again and again.
the most obvious practice for learning how to return to a point of focus is meditation. but to be honest, i find meditation oddly triggering for reasons i don’t need to go into here. and so if meditation is not the practice you feel aligned with right now, let me offer some other options: reading/studying, writing, deep listening, praying – pretty much any moment in which you want to bring your whole mental presence to it.
which doesn’t mean always being in a state of flow. it’s also choosing to come back to something time and time again, no matter how many times distractions get in the way. it’s choosing to not get discouraged by having to begin again and again and again.
so if our attention is like worship, what do we wish to worship? TV, social media, each other, our dog, books, work, stress…? and i don’t say this to shame or judge, because i honestly believe we each get to choose. i am working hard to live in a place of, “it’s not for me to say what is right for you, only what is right for me.” (which is different than asking someone to account for harm done)
on a final note, Jessica offers us a moment of compassion, noting, “I’d suggest we go where our natural abilities lie in order to build strength and competence in things that come more easily to us before we toil in the realms that are more challenging.” this, to me, is telling me: gurl, you don’t need to start meditating and fasting [two very challenging practices for me] today or tomorrow. we’ll get there.
prayer: may i remember that acceptance is a practice, one empowered by a genuine sense of curiosity. may i use my attention with intention and awareness, growing the things i love and care about with devotion and discipline.
<3<3<3 good luck out there
*this card is typically referred to as “the hanged man” but considering the triggering nature of that name, especially for Black Americans, i use this title instead. this insight and new name for the card provided by Sarah Cargill of Tarot for the End of Times.
** Titration exposes a person to small amounts of trauma-related distress at a time in order to build up tolerance and avoid becoming overwhelmed by traumatic memories. In therapy, people pay close attention to the sensations they experience when revisiting a traumatic event and gradually become less affected by them.