At this, our third and final station on the path of the Three Ps of the Feminine as they relate to the tarot, we spend time with paradox.
Perhaps the greatest paradox of a tarot consultation is that, when it comes right down to it, seeking wisdom by putting some colourful picture cards down on the table is downright goofy, yet something deep and helpful is evoked from one’s Inner Teacher. ‘What the heck am I doing here exposing my heart, mind, and soul to a flippin’ deck of cards? ‘ is something that I imagine runs through the heads of first-time clients. “Wow, that was really helpful!” is often what I hear by the end of the session. I love it!
Many times, one card seems to contradict another. At first glance, this can seem confusing. This confusion is a note from the Inner Teacher that says something like this: You are cordially invited to a self-discovery party. Follow the path of unease and contradiction and cross the threshold at “Aha!”
Even within a single card, one can experience a great deal of paradox. An older meaning for the 5 of Pentacles is “lucky in love or marriage”. Since the times of the Golden Dawn, its meaning has shifted to “material worry”. Huh? Which one is it? How about both? Paradox in the 5 of Pentacles could be reminding us that while our material or physical well-being sucks, we have someone who will companion us through the hard times.
A traditional tarot layout, the celtic cross, begins with paradox. For me, the two central cards in this spread depict the tension of holding this and that, one end of our experiential spectrum and the other end of the same. After exploring this core pair of cards, we have a sense of the paradox in which we’re currently living and can explore its nuances through the other layout positions.
Another celtic cross example of paradox exists in the penultimate position of the layout, Hopes and Fears. People sometimes wonder how to interpret a card that falls in this position: “Is it what I hope for or what I fear?” It’s often both. What I most hope for can be scary. If I get it, then my life will change. While one part of me says, “Wow, I can’t wait for such-and-such to happen, it’ll be so great!” another aspect of me is saying, “Uh-oh, that’s change, and change equals death. Eek!” Any card that appears in the Hopes and Fears spot is a visual story of me holding the opposites of gleeful anticipation and gut-gurgling worry. And it’s a way for me to grow closer to my maturity.
I asked the tarot, “What is paradox?” and recieved the Wheel of Fortune, reversed. So paradox is:
- praying for something to be set in motion, then stepping aside to let it unfold in its own way
- an experience of spiritual and psychological roulette
- sensing “fate” as the sum of our personal choices
- moving our spirits forward while spinning in place
- an integral piece of the great cosmic dance