April 7th, 2007

shrouded crucifix

Good Friday, Mark 15:22-41, Dark Mother


It is Good Friday, the day in the Holy Week on which the crucifixion of Jesus is the theme. When this happens, the story tells (for instance Mark 15:22-41) that there is darkness over the whole country for three hours and at the moment that Jesus dies, the veil of the temple is torn in two from the top to the bottom. These happenings indicate how people experienced this event as cosmic and immense. It makes me think of our Tower card.

Since it is all dark when it happens, I had to think of the Dark Goddess, the Goddess or the Mother of the dark moon.

Her biggest gift is the ability to put life and things into perspective, to see the big picture in which all fits. In all that loss and aloneness -of Maria, the disciples who abandoned Jesus, the soldiers who crucify him, the people who ask for Jesus death, of Pilate and especially of Jesus- a Mother and perspective is badly needed. That is the reason I called her in. I wondered: “Where do I fit in, in this immense event of the life and death of Jesus (the subject of the stories and the cards I have read during this lent)? What is the bigger picture for me?” This is the question I’ve asked the tarot today.

I have used four positions of the spread “The Dark Goddess” by Christine Jette from her book Tarot for All Seasons to answer my question (p.40-44; the whole spread consist of nine cards). I have read with the Motherpeace Tarot.

Position 1: Protection
This card indicates the area of my life where I give away my power – my soft spot that needs to be protected. The card can depict a situation or gives an advice. I picked the High Priestess for this position (upright). 


Pictured is a very powerful High Priestess who shows that you know what you need. I think it teaches me (so it is an advice) not to be carried away too much by the radical example of Christ’s life and death. It advises me to stay balanced, and in that way grounded in my own power. That has been difficult, for I discovered during my readings that I liked the example of Christ more than I was aware of beforehand.

Position 2: Patience
This card shows where I need to take it easy and allow things to happen in their own natural cycle. I’ve drawn the Priestess of Wands (Queen of Wands) here (upright). 


Again this is a picture of a strong, powerful woman, who walks with a purpose. My feeling is that I got stuck in my issues, and I want to push, break out and liberate myself. On the one hand I am disappointed in not being able to follow Jesus in all his ways. On the other hand I do not want that for it is unpractical in real life, it gives me a drained feeling and a loss of the ego, which is not healthy. But I could not put this second, more healthy view, in my heart. The gold at the end of the rainbow on the card symbolises this for me. I did not find that pot of gold. I need to take it easy, not pushing issues in order to overcome them. I need to let go of that purpose 

Position 3: Acceptance
This card shows what events, people or circumstances I want to control. I have pulled the Ten of Swords here (slightly to the left). 


On the card priestesses are jumping or falling off a cliff. It is an end of a road. These women feel there is nothing else left but disillusionment and loss. This position is closely related to position 2. It shows my disappointment in not being able to do as Jesus did, nor resolve my inner conflicts. I need to accept these disappointments.

Position 6: Perspective
This card give the big picture, this a “ah-ha” card, which gives the ability to put the situation or the issue in perspective with the “master plan.” I received the Magician for this position (slightly to the left). 


The Magician in this deck is a fiery person. She represents action, empowerment and choice. Since the card leans a little bit to the left, it is asking me to execute my power, my will and my ego. It will give me the balance (position 1) I need.

Although I do recognize this perspective, I see my blockage for obtaining it, hindered as I am by the image of Jesus. It is something I cannot push in an effort to solve it.
tiffany angel met lamp

Holy Saturday, John 19:38-42, The Burial of Jesus


When Jesus was dead his burial was done with great care and love.

Joseph of Arimathaea, a disciple of Jesus, asked Pilate in secret (fearing the High Priests) if he could take away the body of Jesus. He had bought a grave for Jesus in a garden. Legend is that Joseph of Arimathaea went to England with some followers. He came to Glastonbury carrying a staff grown out of Jesus crown of thorns. He thrust the thorn staff in the ground and it immediately took miraculous root, and it can be seen there still on Wearyall Hill. Nicodemus –a man who once came secretly in the night to speak with Jesus- is the other man who helped with the burial. He brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, more then a hundred pound. They and the other disciples took the body away and bound it in linen cloths with the spices. The body was laid down in a new tomb in a garden.

The disciples took great care of Jesus, I wondered: What did Jesus mean to his disciples? I have used the Voyager Tarot to pull a card from for an answer to this question, and I picked Death. 


Coming into contact with Jesus and his teachings must have been the most important event in their lives: something that changed everything (Death means radical change).

First of all, they loved him. Secondly I think Jesus meant “renewal” for them, new ways of life and being. The autumn leaves on the card -a far away promise of the spring- and the shedding of the skin of the snake are showing renewal. They could have hoped that religion, culture and society would be reformed so that poor and sick people were valued. That could have hoped gentleness would prevail: a king on a donkey. Possibly they secretly hoped that healing their gravely ill was possible. The branch of Joseph of Arimathaea accentuates the accent on renewal and new ways of being. Out of the staff, made from thorns, symbol of Jesus abuse and suffering, new life miraculous took root. Furthermore, they probably admired Jesus for choosing his death so bravely -  that he did not walked away from the consequence of his teachings (Death in the Voyager is among other things a choice).

But there is more to this card. The card is ambivalent, for although its promise is renewal and transformation, the card is called “Death,” and the card shows many symbols of it. At the time of his burial the life of Jesus is ended. Jesus is no longer there and his disciples feared for their lives. They could not pass his message along. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus were among the people who followed Jesus, but hiding that because they were afraid. We, living in the twenty-first century, know the stories about the appearances of Jesus after his dead; we have the accounts of an empty grave, but the disciples did not have that at the time. When Jesus was crucified it meant the end of their hope -- and who knows they felt it much earlier, for the threats were there as soon as Jesus taught in public. If they felt this earlier or not, his death meant the end of hope and uncertainty how to go on with living, having to find a new meaning. 

On the one hand, Jesus meant for the disciples hope for renewal. But on the other hand, his death meant loss of hope and the challenge to form their lives anew. Either way, meeting Jesus caused a radical change in their lives, and they loved him dearly. 
Madonna del "Magnificat" (detail)

Holy Saturday, Descend into Hades


Last night I had a dream. I was in a mental institution crowded with people. This made me think of Holy Saturday because according to tradition Jesus descends on this day into a very crowded Hades and liberates the souls in there. Often people in a mental institution are in need for some sort of liberation. 

As I said, I dreamt that I stayed in a mental institution; it was an institution for psychotherapy. With me were many young people. There were no proper places to sleep, because there were too many people staying. During the night these youngsters made a lot of noise and I did not like that. I felt that I did not belong there. I was too old and I already had done so many therapies, I did not partake in any of them any more. I felt my time there was long overdue. I had outgrown it and I wanted to go away. I decided to say this first thing in the morning to the people in charge.

In my entry yesterday I came to the conclusion that I had an inner conflict regarding the issue of giving and sacrifice (again this theme, sigh); a conflict that I could not resolve. I think the dream has a message about that. Just like Jesus calls the people to come out of Hades, the dream invites me to change my view on giving and sacrifice (which is not helpful to me). Therapy is over now, time to come out of the institution, to rise up from the grave, so to speak.

I decided to draw one card for the message of the dream. I’ve used the Fantastic Menagerie Tarot for it and I received the Ace of Wands. 


Pictured on the card is a young father with a baby, a yellow canary. The baby swaddled in cloth, just like Jesus is bounded in cloth when he is laid down in his grave. It is unclear who is the father of the baby, but it will be all right, since it is screaming, which means there is a lot of life in it (that it is unclear who the father is, could be of interest, but I let it rest). The baby is screaming. The yellow canary is a little bit like me in the mental institution, wanting to get out. The meaning of the Ace of Wands is a new beginning of energy and enthusiasm, a spark of energy, a new sense of life. This baby, the new spark, is still swaddled in, but it is there, inviting me to live it, and to feel it sparkling inside. The card confirms my thoughts about the dream. My time was overdue in the institution. I was ready to go into the city again, answering the spark of fire in my heart, which makes it easier to stand up for myself, daring to balance my view on giving and receiving.