A commenter noted that my predictions from New Year's Eve, were kind of depressing. Of course, any good pessimist can always simply claim to be a realist. And I do.
But if I'm being honest, I also admit that I have a superstitious reluctance to make rosy and optimistic predictions, especially about my life or the lives of people I care about. There's an old and well-established tradition that talking with confidence about future good things will "jinx" them. It's a tradition that is alive and well in my own upbringing.
If I were just a little more superstitious I could avert the problem by humbly knocking on wood.
I don't "believe" in such things intellectually. It seems preposterous to me that the universe at large would care if I get hubristic in my pronouncements about good things coming my way. On the other hand I do "believe" such things in the sense that the reluctance exists and persists in me. (Sometimes, in fact, my intellect will relent and allow the superstitious part of me knock on wood for a tiny dose of irrational peace of mind.)
A time tested way to get around this problem is to consult an oracle, so this morning I cast the cards for a New Year's reading. This is how they fell:
It's my familiar deck, the Mythic Tarot, cast in a traditional Celtic Cross.
The significator is Strength, with the Three of Pentacles as the crossing card. This indicates that our strength is being blocked by the things we have created in the material world - our own success and prosperity. As we try to understand this conflict at the conscious level, the crowning card is the Six of Cups, a card that symbolizes looking back and dwelling upon the past - while in the position of the more unconscious base of the matter is the Four of Pentacles, the miser card. By focusing on the past rather than the future, and trying irrationally to hold onto what we have, we thwart our own strength.
The card of where we've been is the Queen of Swords, which is the powerful, but uncomfortable blending of icy intellect, emotion and the grounding of the feminine. In the position of where we are going is the Two of Pentacles, which is the card of getting down to work and creating something in the world.
The resource card is the Ace of Wands, which is the inexhaustible fire of creativity and passion that gives energy and drive to action. It is a card without preconceptions, but only the desire to create something. The next card is how the situation is seen by others. In this case the Seven of Pentacles represents the challenge of making decisions - of forethought and planning. So while the common view is that we have choices to make, the reading as a whole puts the emphasis less on planning and selecting options, and more on inventing and doing.
The hopes and fears card is the Queen of Cups - who symbolizes a more integrated, but also more limited or focused way of being than her counterpart the Queen of Swords. The Queen of Cups experiences and embodies her emotions and the slippery element of water, where the Queen of Swords manages it all through intellect and control. In this contrast, there is hope and reluctance to set aside some of the directing force of reason in favor of emotional depth and honesty.
The outcome card is the Nine of Pentacles, which is a card of material prosperity and reward for work and effort.
If I wanted to offer an antidote to the intellectual pessimism of yesterdays predictions, I couldn't have asked for a more straightforward and complementary reading. As I said yesterday, I don't believe that 2014 is the year that we begin to honestly tackle the problems of our unsustainable ways of living. But in its inimitable, affirming way, the tarot lays out the case that as we eventually come to extricate ourselves from the material and intellectual pitfalls we have fallen into, we have the resources and the clarity of motivation to invent for ourselves a new, satisfying way of living.
That's why, in spite of my reasoned pessimism about where our civilization is trending - I still raise a family, learn to keep bees, travel, make plans and make friends.
Happy New Year, people!