Path Death, Ego Death, Resurrection

I’ve been listening to Tom Campbell’s model of reality, My Big Toe, while purging the remodeled master bath and bedroom of old, now unused tools. Finally listening to Campbell is part of my recent rebellion lap around Buddhism and its theories. While cleaning my bedroom, I found an old fortune cookie fortune. It reads, “All things have an end.”

Earlier in the evening, I had decided to pull just one tarot card after sitting. The impulse flashed up as an imperative while I was brushing my teeth. My query formulation for the one-card draw was this, born of my knowledge-access frustrations around my current level of practice: “In the next 3 to 6 months, how should I contemplate and actualize in practice all the messages and signs I’m receiving?”

How My Path Will Actualize in 3 to 6 Months: Death

The card I turned up was major arcana Death. And the words in the manual, echoing almost exactly the fortune cookie fortune I had just found, leaped starkly forth: “All things come to an end.” This card means that a major karmic change is on its way, that nothing I can do will avert its coming, for it is certain, and that I should regard the transition that will be suddenly upon me as beneficial.

The message is to offer no resistance to the major change (an important ending) that is coming, but to meet it head on by shedding outdated beliefs, habits, attitudes, dogmas, and practice paradigms now. Out of this coming major karmic death will arise new life. I am to clear all mental clutter and complicating intellectualizing noise, sit in silence, and listen. The card’s message is to begin now to shed everything that has long been dead in my life. It is funny that this card turns up on a day I was “shedding” tons of material possessions from my bathroom, giving all to Goodwill.  I will receive the message I’m seeking from above by listening from a cleared and clean place.

I think I have drawn the Death card only one other time since I have owned this tarot deck. It is a chilling card to turn up. I decided next night to throw some clarifying cards around it. Death is associated with a hard, intense transition—a shock of loss that will be forced on me and that I need to accept and adjust to, go with instead of against.

What This Reading Is About: Queen of Swords Reversed

This was the hardest card to read in this spread in this spread, but here goes. This card is traditionally about having a strong concentrated mind and communication skills. It is about accepting no bullshit, about rebellion. The queen is disciplined and demanding. The eyes in the raven’s wings are both featured in and attending to the landscape of signs. Thus, we look to the outer world for signs of our inner progress, demanding answers. The card is saying, I think, that my concentration on signs has intensified my inner frustration rather than assuaged it, and I’m communicating that frustration to others, which I have been. It is enjoining quiet and delay of communications.

This card is not, however, in an advice position in this spread. So  it is not necessarily to be taken as advice, but instead is revealing what has been churning in me: that I’m  frustrated with my path, rejecting dogma, and basically putting all this rebellion on display. This queen stands up to bullies and authority figures. She rejects dogma. No bullshit! A companion of mine is pointing my blind spots out to me in a rational, sometimes critical way. Am I’m practicing discriminating wisdom? Will I behead him?

What This Reading Is Not About: Six of Disks Reversed

The Six of Disks appeared in my most recent tarot reading. There it was about manifestation: dreams, vision, and upcoming book. In reverse it indicates a Pandora’s Box: Once something begins manifesting, and escaping, it cannot be put back in a box. The card can indicate ambition and passion. This reading is not about any of this ambition to manifest. I take this to mean that visions, dreamwork, and author collaboration are not meeting with death due to overambition. The Death card is about my frustraton with my path stall-out, period. Good to know!

What to Do: Nine of Swords Reversed

This card features a temple of eternity. It signifies enlightenment. The black and white pillars are reversed from the usual left-to-right order, depending on which side of the threshold you stand. This card is about crossing that threshold but also remaining in the human world. In reverse, this card means “death,” but what appears as death is actually a passage into eternal life. This card, especially in a fourth position as it is here, warns against rushing and overthinking everything. I must remain human and maintain my human relationships, so one foot remains in physical reality, the relative. I need to remain grounded.

Outcome: Judgment

This card signifies resurrection from death, specifically ego death, with a new body, as indicated by the phoenix rising from the flames on the picture. This reading is marking the death of the old path of practice and the rising of a new body. I have been having regular astral body experiences as I gave up on my main practices because they stalled. Perhaps the next few months will extend these themes. Dreamwalker mentioned that when one leaves his or her body, in shamanic terms, the event is “crossing the guardian of death. The arising of the second, body is “resurrection.” 

Postscript: Reinterpretation a Week Later

These cards were thrown right when my now deceased friend Terri unexpectedly entered hospice care after years of suffering uncomplainingly the assaults of cancer and chemo. My query for the tarot was specifically about my own path of practice for the next 3 to 6 months. When I first saw the Death card, however, I instantly thought of Terri. Now that she did in fact die 5 days later, plunging me  into the most profound practices of bardo connection with her for the next 49 days, I am reconsidering that this reading may be about her death and my intermediate-state practices piercing into the reality of death and the unreality of it as some entropic end state. The February to April bardo practice for Kory, Kerry’s friend, opened new terrain of the heart and the paranormal (a second body in which I travel, launching from hypnagogia). So soon I’m doing the practices again for someone who was my best friend in my formative years and someone who had meditated several times a day for two decades. She was the one who coaxed me into taking up meditation in 2010. The life interpenetration with her is profound. In short, if this practice does anything for real, then it has a high chance of success this go around. I know she was and is not afraid, but prepared. She was used to being formless and will remain calm and concentrated. She has a good chance of complete liberation, I’m confident. Maybe the cards are showing more ego death on my part via my complete immersion in her death.

This is a simple three-card spread that I read daily, or almost. The deck is the whack Mary-el Tarot by Marie White. It is a hard deck to use if you want to have a text guide as to specific divination. And I don’t think I will ever use it to read for other people, for that reason. It is my personal deck. To me, the better way to use this deck is to take the entire spread in as a whole picture, paying attention to the colors and emotions that the cards evoke.

Image of layout:

For example, look at all that red I’m seeing! The figures are all downright languid, yet the red suggests upheaval, passion. There is some kind of paradox here, and I have indeed been feeling these kinds of contradictions. I’m in an interesting, if sometimes confusing, transitional phase.

Inner World: Page of Wands Reversed

The first card position is my inner state. Here we have the Page of Wands reversed. The image is of Joan of Arc. In reverse, this card indicates a loss of faith or inspiration. This is oddly true. I felt on the night of this layout that i was in a rut, that my sits were repetitive and not as interesting as just sitting and being. What is weird is that my feelings around the sits are this way, but the sits themselves are amazing. Even if my mind wanders off task or target, the clarity, bliss, openness, and vastness are amazing. There is nothing to strive for. All I do is slightly incline the mind to notice. Then I ease off even that.

Outer World: Eight of Wands

Second card is the Eight of Wands. See the girl being carried by the phoenixes? She is asleep. This card position is of external circumstances. This card is about integrating my shadow side, the unconscious. The open lion’s cloak is revealing the core of the magician. The card urges a flexible and fluid response and interpretation of what reality is throwing at me. It is about magick, dreams, colors, poetry, life, specificity, the relative, and individuation.

Advice or Warning: Lovers Reversed

Third card is advice or warning. Here we have the Lovers reversed. This is warning me that I will encounter judgment, exclusion, and servitude. All this has been happening. I met with some bizarrely dramatic judgmental statements, from a couple of Buddhists. Exclusion, yes–I’ve been turned away from by a few. Servitude has to do with my codependency, my penchant for playing Helper, for topping from the bottom.

Meditation: Awareness/Energy in the Belly

Brief sit tonight focused on dropping awareness from the head to the heart and then to the belly. The glow in the heart is also already here in the belly. All you do is notice its already being there. The belly can hold much more energy than the head or the heart, holding great quantities like a sponge, as John says. I released the face and forehead into innocence, and the belly suddenly bloomed out into limitless space. It felt like a sonic boom of sudden bloom. The result felt almost like a yellow rose whose petals are held open by a cold, heavy rain.