In some ways, my process with the Arrows, in my inner and outer life, is the deepest yet. The Arrows are of “confrontation” and its passage into peace.
Touching on the 10 of swords is nadir – I feel that resonance – the collapse of the seed and civilization, for the new growth and transmission. King Bheeshma dies – he gives his Arrow of knowledge and wisdom to the young Yudishtara. Rock bottom: from the old as it dies, is planted the new. It is in the martial art movement, an empty leg with the fullness of the ground flowing into it. In my painting of 10 of Swords, the old King dying on the Arrows along his spinal chakras, uplifts his nobility into the compassion of the new King’s listening face.
In the Sacred India Tarot facebook page yesterday, Rohit mentioned:
“In traditional Tarot this is rock bottom, but in yoga that is also understood as the beginning of a new cycle.
Bheeshma failed, but the knowledge and wisdom he accumulated was passed on so that Yudhistara could succeed. Hence the personal failure did not count as much as the societal gain in the end…”
The Fool in the Tarot, is known in our Sacred India Tarot deck as “the wild card”. This is because the archetype comes through the primordial Wild Hunter, the divine Rudra, fore-runner of Siva.
Every innocent Fool – or Wild Hunter – embarks upon an adventure! Each soul who embarks upon an adventure is a Fool! The Fool is the entire Tarot – the space between the lines. Pretty soon, the Fool meets the Magician and the (subconscious feminine) Priestess, who contains him, and reveals in succession, Empress, Emperor, and Hierophant; his sense of proportion returns.
The Fool begins the journey in an exciting mist. As the sun rises and gains strength, the landscape and its mountain peaks and chief features, appear. Human are we, everlastingly.
But I want to reflect on the 10 of Swords as I am passing through. The nadir (at any point) is reached when a situation overwhelms me. I lose my vital force and die. Dying, I wait latent for the daffodils to appear.
Psychologically, the 10 of Swords carries remorse and new intention. We all get it repeatedly in our lives. This Key is hard, but it is a good one. When we are overwhelmed, we are obscured and off balance. But the “overwhelming factor” is self-correcting in the Tao. When Yang is saturated, when it is filled, it converts to Yin, and vice versa. This movement ever oscillates and stretches, concludes and opens. I am the pebble which is rolled in the river bed.
Truth is the blank, the empty room’s passing; be still and honour it, this morning.
So: the feeling this morning. Stasis, empty room, and sorrow. Not about anything particular. Sorrow is an essential part of the mix; like rain in the sky. Sorrow is awareness, and this feels good and right. It breathes its own pulse. It is love which is object-free; it is the soft talk of the stream that flows on the mountain. I give my sorrow time and space. It cleanses, after each “overwhelming” or flood of the Fishes in Tao. It makes slow Ch’i movements with a candle flame. Nurture the rich field of sorrow, the empty fullness – the Fool in sacred space. Alone in the oscillation, is life. The Swords which move it, are the discipline of the Work: the dance form. This is what I love.
Sorrow is a form of the Sword. I found, to illustrate the “Han” part of my previous post, this photo online of two Tao gentlemen on a sea-beach: one of them just tossed the other lightly upside down, and he cartwheels – they wear flowing white jackets and black flapping trousers, they make a Tao symbol. They are not doing the Sword form, but the Sword form is based on the flow around Tan t’ien in the belly.
What is Sword Form? What is the Tao chi? What is citta (sanskrit)? It is total concentration on Life – just as a woman in utmost labour is concentrated. It is a difficult art to get it right; but keep practicing with this Sword – and “no blame” as those Oriental gentlemen would say (whenever it obsesses a bit).
In Kabbalah practice are very high ideals when the “concentration” surges. Pleasure-seeking Yesod child in due course pulls it down to the consumer level, where it breaks up – and clings to the bits of wet bread, and weeps with being abandoned, and the job yet again, to get out of the fix.
But the beautiful balance – being Empty for the Full – always returns. Each time there is a little more learning. There is wood to cut and water to gather, as before.
And returning to the space: as De Ruiter would say – let it be tenderly obvious and obscure. The values of life are in the illumined empty-full: the attendance on the tendency … the fluid point between those gentlemen on the beach: between the waves. We are all of a waveband.
Rohit and I are students of Jung. To some extent, Jung seems to have directed our project, The Sacred India Tarot, which bridges the spiritual traditions and their archetypes, for he crops up in my journal over the years, whenever it became intense.
At about this point in our Archive, the Suit of Arrows changes its tone. The battle is complete, with the Ten of Arrows; a new realm opens, as the instinct to make war transforms to “martial art”. Intuitively, the Swords/Arrows change to Rods or Wands – the coming Suit of Staves. The Wand or Stave is actually the Caduceus, serpent twined – the authority by which Moses struck water from the rock.
In the seminal Red Book, Jung’s journey with Elijah and Salome continues:
Footnote: “Now I learn that Mary is the mother, the innocent and love-receiving, and not pleasure who bears the seed of evil in her heated and seductive manner. If Salome’s evil pleasure is my sister, then I must be a thinking saint, and my intellect has met with a sad fate. … Salome as Elijah’s daughter, is an offspring of thought, and not the principle itself, which Mary the innocent virgin mother, now appears as.”
And: “The image of the cool starry night and of the vast sky opens up my eye to the infinity of the inner world, which I as a desirous man feel is still too cold. I cannot pull the stars down to myself, but only watch them. Therefore my imperious desire feels that world is nightly and cold.”
He refers to abstract perception, and to the refining of his desire. For most of us, the refinement does not nourish us, until we are willing to wait upon it in our empty-full. Then it becomes a nectar waterfall. It is the fulfilment of humanity’s higher Self – everything else is starvation, really. Our origin is this element.
The chapter in the Red Book titled “Resolution” witnesses a struggle between doubt and desire: the prophet bids him desist from climbing the high ridge of a rock which separates day and night. To the right of the rock is a black serpent, to the left, a white one. (Goodness, those Oriental gentlemen again !) They pounce and wrestle terribly.
“The black serpent seems to be stronger, the white serpent draws back. Great billows of dust rise from the place of struggle. But then I see: the black serpent pulls itself back again. The front part of its body has become white. Both serpents curl about themselves, the one in light, the other in darkness.”
He thinks it over, and asks Elijah – “Should it mean that the power of the good light will become so great that even the darkness that resists it will be illumined by it?” For answer, Elijah takes him to the high place and stands upon the altar Stone: “This is the temple of the sun. This place is a vessel that collects the light of the sun.”
Then the prophet climbs down, becoming smaller and smaller until he is Mime the dwarf in the Ring Cycle. Mime shows Jung the wellsprings of the deep. “The collected light becomes water and flows in many springs from the summit into the valleys of the earth.” He dives into a dark crevice, and Jung follows him, hearing the rippling of a spring. “Here,” says Mime “ are my wells, whoever drinks from them becomes wise.”
But Jung is scared, and he goes outside his house and walks up and down in his yard, in the full bright air of his interior vision, the cave. Before the vision of the snakes, he had a block, and couldn’t descend: his normal procedure would not descend. He realised he had a conflict in himself about going down, and it took the imaginative form of two dark principles fighting each other, the serpents.
In The Ring cycle, Mime the master craftsman, brought up Siegfried in the cave, to kill the dragon giant Fafner who stole the ring. Siegried slays Fafner with Mime’s INVINCIBLE SWORD, gets the ring(?) and kills Mime who had intended to kill him.
It sounds like the transfer of the power in the 10 of Swords, in Mahabharath. All mythologies bear the human tale. It includes precognition and betrayals. In Jung’s journey, the dwarf Mime represented the allure of the ‘clever’ intellect, untempered by the laws of love.
In the 10 of Swords, the old King’s “overwhelming” transforms to Consciousness, as the blades enter his awakened Kundalini spine: the feeling is no longer pain. It yields. Knowledge happens when tension against it drops. The snakes enter me. I enter the snakes. We flower, as the room is opened.
I now discover, the Royals – Page, Knight, Queen and King of Arrows – are all of a piece with these perceptions.
The Pages move together in alert reconciliation. They are Archers, but the truce between them is a Sword. This card recalls the 2 of Arrows, where the young Bheeshma in training to become a warrior, fights with his teacher.
Hanuman the monkey god, crossing the sea to jewelled Lanka to help Rama rescue Sita – (in the Suit of Wands/Staves) – carries a rosebud and displays great mental and intellectual energy. He is of a par with the agile chessboard Knight’s lateral thinking, where everyone else travels in straight lines. He is our wonderful servant; but let him not become the dark dwarf Mime. The dwarves in the underworld play the market with cunning, but do not release their treasure.
Queen Draupadi is a wild dark huntress, like Diana in the west – a formidable encounter for any unprepared male. Note the snake around the sinuous tree. The publishers of the deck requested she wear pantaloons, respecting the conventions in contemporary Indian art; but here is the original drawing.
The King of Arrows is Garuda, who was half an eagle. His human face is a double eagle, as in alchemy. The eagle’s vision flies as high as the serpent travels deep. Advised by the Lightning god, Indra, Garuda is a great ruler. He balances Planet Earth lightly on a feather, raises his arrow like the Queen of Justice in the west, and contains his ojas.
Before him, the Caducean pair of serpents rest on the ground, entwined.
We will discuss these cards more fully in the next SITA posts.
My adventure invites fellow travellers. I am a poet, an artist and a seer. I welcome conversation among the PHILO SOFIA, the lovers of wisdom.
This blog is a vehicle to promote also my published work – The Sacred India Tarot (with Rohit Arya, Yogi Impressions Books) and The Dreamer in the Dream – a collection of short stories (0 Books). Watch this space.
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