October 2nd, 2007

Madonna del "Magnificat" (detail)

Sukkot, Abigail

Today Abigail was the foremother who visited my virtual sukkah. Abigail is associated with the sephira Hod on the Tree of Life. Hod is the sphere of communication on the Tree. 


Abigail was the wife of Abal, a clever bargainer and uses witty means to protect herself and her family. Nabal does not want to give a reward to David, who protected his sheep. David –who will become king in the future- sets out to kill Nabal, and with him his whole family. Abigail, who knows her husband will never give in -he shall never budge- goes to David without her husband knowing, and gives him his presents. Saving David for shedding blood is the excuse she uses: “Take my presents, killing is not good really if you want to become a king”, she says, clever and wise, while she throws herself to his feet and explains who she is. David accepts her presents, and goes home, without killing her family. Later on she will marry David. 


What is it that Abigail can teach me today? Abigail is smart and wise and although she belongs to the acts almost in a manipulative way in the communication. She cannot tell her husband that she brings the presents to David, he would not have it. There is no other way she can do it than do it in secret. She cannot act and communicate straightforward. And her words to David -that he should not kill people before he is crowned king- is a good excuse for David, but is not truthful, the words have political edge to it; the real reason is that she wants to save her life. I have pulled the Devil as what Abigail can teach me. 


Deep down I resent what Abigail does, thinking it is not honest, not straightforward. Perhaps I am a little afraid of her as well. I am not as clever as she is, I will never win a fight with her and I fear I will be manipulated by her discovering it afterwards. She makes me feel powerless. I know now that I have a manipulative side as well, and of course I have had it all my life, but it was not until recently I discovered it and became aware of how and where I use it. I think Abigail accentuates and stresses with this strong card that that I really have this manipulative side. I am not innocent. 
Madonna del "Magnificat" (detail)

Sukkot, Hulda

Today foremother Hulda came visiting my virtual sukkah. Her picture hangs on my virtual Sukkah-wall.


Hulda is a prophetess and is associated with the virtue discrimination and the sephira Yesod (Foundation) on the Tree of Life. 


All week I feared the card that I just. It is the Ten of Wands. I was utterly surprised at drawing the World and Three of Pentacles earlier this week. I sincerely doubted my optimistic interpretations of these cards, because I am too busy and I can feel it. I am snappy and tired and probably I should look at these cards again looking for other interpretations. 


Hulda is a prophetess, bringing the message of God. She told King Josia, who had found a book, probably the Torah (according to Rashi) or Deuteronomy (according to modern scholars) that he would die in peace -because he had found the book, and lived according to its message- but after his death the nation would be destroyed. 

So, what is it that Hulda teaches me? 

The card shows a wooden puppet, carrying a bundle of sticks. He is rigidly walking forward with all his, just like me. “Try to lighten your load” writes Karen Mahony about this card in the book alongside the deck, “mentally as well in practical terms”. I can apply “try to lighten your load mentally” very well to my situation, if I bring back my fear I had for pulling this card. it also fits nicely in with Yesod, the illusionary moon-sphere of the tree Hulda belongs to. A sentence as the following comes to mind: “Do not worry too much, discriminate between illusion and reality, your fear is (totally, a part, or a bit) Halloweeny illusionary: you can handle it.” This sentence represents the way I looked at the World Card that I pulled a few days ago.

I do not know though if an interpretation restricted to the mental side of things fits Hulda. 
note to self

A Teaching of the Sukkah

When I was a student and lived in Amsterdam I worked with children in a church during the services on Sunday (the one on this photo). 


Once, at the time of the Jewish festival Sukkot, and reading Exodus in the services, we asked the children what they could not live without, what the most important things were in their homes. The Sukkah with its provisional walls and roof, bringing into mind the temporary boots of the desert, provokes this question. This is an interesting question to ask the tarot as well. 

Tarot questions: (1) the one thing I cannot do without; (2) what I really cannot do without. 
note to self

A Teaching of the Lulav

One of the duties of Sukkot is that one takes four species of plants, called the “lulav” and shake this bundle on each of the seven days of Sukkot. This entry ends with a tarot-activity using the symbols of the lulav.


These species are the lulave, (date palm frond) which is the biggest plant, the hadass (bough of a myrtle tree), the aravah (willow branch), and the etrog (a citron). These plants can be seen as a reflection of four categories of plants that grow in Israël: those with a good taste and nice fragrance (the etrog), those with a good taste and no fragrance (the palm), those with a pleasant fragrance and no taste (the haddasim), and those with neither taste not fragrance (the aravah). You could say that by waving all four, Jews ask for all types of plants and crops to grow.


In another interpretation (there are more than the two I mention here) the four species symbolize the relation people have with the Torah. The etrog with its sweet taste and nice scent symbolizes people who not only study the Torah but also practice it. The Haddasim with its pleasant fragrance, but without taste, symbolizes people who study Torah but do not practice it. The lulave points to people that practice the Torah but do not study it. The aravah symbolizes people who either study nor practice the Torah. All of them are part of the community symbolized by the lulav. But this is not all of the teaching. A community changes and grows, because people grow and change. This means that the etrog can humble itself tomorrow in a hadass, the aravah can get scent suddenly, and the willow can be on its way to become a blossoming fruit tree. The promise that change is possible is the promise of the lulav in this interpretation.

Tarot-activity “The Four Species”
The following is a tarot activity derived from the lulav. In the activity the Four Species are seen as four attitudes in ourselves towards our faith, our spirituality or religion. Two concepts are important in this activity: “study” and “practice”. You need to define what the difference is between the two, but it might become clear what they means to you by doing the activity.

1. Select (do not pull) a card from one of your tarot decks for each of the four species.
Etrog (citron): studying your religion, and practicing it.
Haddasim (myrtle): study your religion but not practicing it.
Lulave: (date palm frond) practicing your religion, but not studying it.
Aravah (willow branch): study nor practice your religion.

2. Mix these four cards and pull a card with the question: “What of these four species am I, what is my attitude towards my faith right now?”

3. Then pick a second card (of the three remaining) for what you are heading for. I mean the attitude you are heading for: for example towards the approach of the etrog, studying and practicing, or the approach of the lulave, practicing your religion but not studying it, or another of the Four Species.

4. If you like your second card and its direction, then draw a third card that tells you how to stimulate your growth. If you do not like the second card, the attitude it represents then pick a third card which tells you how to prevent going in this direction.

Literature: “Een brief aan de lezeressen en lezers van Tenachon over het feest van Soekot”. Tenachon, 4, 1999.