Dark Heart of the Transcend-Descend-Transcend Full Circle

Last night I had the urge to throw some clarifying cards around the somewhat confusing outcome card from my recent reading about my practice path: http://jhanajenny.com/relinquishing-whats-special/. First I’ll repeat here the earlier reading of the outcome card. Then I will read the four cards I threw last night to shed more light on its meaning. These new cards form a remarkably coherent and, to me, informative whole reading. The expanded spread is shown in this photo.

Former Outcome Position: The Eight Of Cups Reversed

This is an outcome position, and here, strangely, we have fear of pain and vulnerability, the reverse of an open heart. The young girl in the picture is cloaked with Hercules’s lion’s skin to indicate that strength comes from the ability to be open-hearted and vulnerable. This card, reversed, portends a closed and guarded heart and, consequently, a fall from righteousness.

Logically, this would not be the outcome of following the Page of Cups as advice. So I’m not sure what to make of this part of the reading. Is it saying that I have some more dark stuff to go through? More fear? Clearly, this card is communicating with the Page card: Both are about young girls (Little Jenny) and open-hearted generosity.

I found on researching the traditional version of this card that it shows someone walking away from eight filled cups left on a shore. So, like the Page from my Mary-el deck here, there is the image of turning away from something or someone and starting out on a different journey. It can be about my needing to move on from something about my current practice, or it could be about abandonment and rejection I suffered as a child. A while back, my teacher told me to go back in meditation to Little Jenny at points of trauma and pour on the compassion. I did this practice only once, however, finding it difficult. So I may need to confront that I abandoned abandonment work. At any rate, this card in reverse can indicate an inability to let go, or a hesitancy to move on from relationship patterns that do not serve

What It Is About: Seven of Cups

Oh boy! Dark predator animal! Here we go!

This Seven of Cups is now the center of the entire, expanded spread, and it is the heart of darkness. The wolf on the card is the untamed shadow self, the animal passions, the energy over against convention and behaving well out of fear and conformity. The dark animal self is met when one dares to stray off the path. And Ironically this is how one finds one’s own path: by integrating the dark, the earthy, the physical, and the individual into the transcendent divide. The moon in the background is the eye of introspection, going inward, alone, to rouse and hail the demon.

This card bespeaks the subconscious, the unconscious. “Reality has laws, but it can be bent, like light, by changing your self” (White 115). Nondual enlightenment is not just about transcendence; rather, it is about the interpenetration of the Way of Reality and the Way of Life. Here, in the depths of my childhood wounds, I find and metabolize the dark energy that will fuel my drive to individuate, create, and become. I’ve traveled to the crown; now I’m descending to raw abyssal source of all my suffering. I’m both accepting all that pain and repelling off it to new highs, unsanctioned highs, unorthodox highs. For the unbounded wholeness is not homogeneous. I’m still this body, this heart, this mind, this life, this moment: not two, not one. This wolf is my animal self, that little-bit-evil dakini: wild, passionate, dangerous, untamed, uncivilized. 

The book that comes with this deck speaks of this card in terms of all colors of the rainbow, a spectrum of seen and unseen light: “Truth is wide; vision is narrow. Focus your vision on what you desire, not on what you fear” (116). The message is that my uniqueness matters. The path of suffering still matters, and it gives flavor to the embodiment of power. So were certain spells or transmissions confessed in Heartlighted wrong? Maybe according to surface orthodoxy. But, no, that and other forms of rebellion that I wage against the “sacred” are not wrong so long as I’m clear on compassionate ends, which I was and am.

I’ve been a little weird in my dark solitude, yeah? Rightly so.

So how does this relate to the child in the lion’s skin, reversed? There is a determination to be not vulnerable and open, but at times closed and in retreat from the Way of Reality. Sequestered, I’m playing in the dark, descending, fashioning myself out of clay.

What It Is Not About: Strength

The lion in this card is an individuated shard of the sun, which was the Past card in the first spread, as well as the skin cloaking the child in the Eight of Cups. The lady with the prayer beads here represents strength in Right Action, fortitude, faith. The Eight of Cups reversed is not enjoining faith, courage, and right action. It is enjoining descent right into the heart of darkness, for this is necessary for integration of my shadows. This is not to say that shadow work should be done from the level of the shadow, but it is to acknowledge also that to go into it is to go into it, and that means getting dirty.

Advice: Five of Wands Reversed

And here we have the third instance of a lion in this reading, fourth if we count the Sun. The wolf in the previous card is said to be what I meet with in the dark forest when I leave the path. This lion is a consuming forest fire that also represents the light in the individual’s body. It is a symbol of ancestral wisdom tempered through long eons of painful experience. It is light with an individual face and a will, power. It has direction, force, and a purpose. Now, this card is in reverse, meaning even more on the consumption side. Specifically, it indicates bloodlust – more specifically still, a legal dispute. Yes, this is my maintaining my rights, regardless of other feelings. Strength will be in opposition. Do not tread on me lest ye be burned as much as “enlightened.”

What the More Distant Outcome Is: Ace of Swords

Ah, so here we are full circle! The Three of Swords from the first phase of the spread featured a dove with arrows of sunlight in descent. The descent is into embodiment, and that card promised an eventual re-ascension as an eagle! “Little dove an eagle you will become” (85). Lo, here is the promised eagle of sharp vision and great heights. Described is a rise from the dark waters of the pit of the earth, a rise to the reflection of moon, to eagle, to immortal phoenix. it is about reharnessing reason to steer the chariot with the dark wolf. 

Visually, the whole spread circles or spirals from sun to descending dove and back to the rise into boundless sky wearing the sun’s corona.

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