Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. Even as the stone of the fruit must break, that its heart may stand in the sun, so must you know pain.
It appears that, after a New Year’s respite, our challenges return this New Moon week. I regret to say that we are faced with a difficult message from the Tarot. For better or worse, say hello to the guidance of the Five of Pentacles.
This is one of the cards that usually comes up as a least favorite in my Tarot classes’ games of “Good Card, Bad Card.”
With good reason. The fives examine how we deal with conflict and loss. And in the physical world of the Pentacles, this struggle is usually literal. Therefore, this can involve money, home, health, or work — the most important issues of our material existence.
Here we see two miserable looking people on a wintry night, struggling past a stained glass window.
Where is the doorway to that place? Do they seek it? Or are they so used to surviving their hardship that they simply battle on?
Perhaps they have been cast out, no longer allowed into the holy places. Or maybe they deliberately pass it by, because what it offers is not what they need.
One is in rags, and obviously depicts poverty. The other, on poorly-made crutches, wears a bell around his neck. In the Middle Ages, everyone with disfiguring diseases like leprosy was forced to wear a bell. This was, in part, to warn of contagion.
But it was also to ostracize them from society. Leprosy, in particular, was viewed as a terrifying sign of divine punishment, and anyone with the disease was considered impure and cursed by God.
So it may well be that they are unwelcome in the halls of those who call themselves spiritual.
Blaming the Victims
What similar attitudes do we harbor today? How many times have you heard people pronouncing that victims of life-threatening diseases or other misfortune somehow attracted their fate to themselves?
Of course rather than declaring adversity as a Biblical punishment from God, so-called modern people instead whisper that there must be psychological reasons for someone’s difficulties.
Or perhaps the ill-fated person is ignorant, too pessimistic, weak of character, a spiritual failure, or is enduring a past-life karmic payback.
I sure heard it more than once as I was facing catastrophic cancer last year. That I was paying off a “karmic debt,” that I obviously fit the “cancer profile,” and more. This disaster was somehow bestowed upon me thanks to my personality/life history/you-name-it. Oh, yes, all kindly meant, I am sure, but with all the hubris of the spiritually superior.
On some level, so goes this old reasoning re-jiggered for the New Age, one’s suffering has been earned.
You would think we would be more enlightened, but to what extent have you heard similar ignorant and arrogant attitudes applied towards the nations and individuals who are struggling with natural disasters, AIDS, refugees, and war? Or all the millions of people who are dismissed, because they live in “shit-hole countries?”
How often have you heard the implication that women who are sexually assaulted were “asking for it?” How many of the privileged accuse the poor of being shiftless, lazy, and lacking in character? That their poverty is their own fault?
Of course, blaming the victim is a feeble, false strategy that only works as long as we, or someone we love, are not the afflicted.
Ultimately, even the most wealthy, beloved, clever, or noblest of us cannot escape our mortality.
Even the super-rich can be so tormented by their fears of poverty, they might as well be true. We all endure heartbreak, illness, and pain.
When we suffer grievous losses and setbacks that tempt us to despair, we may wish to simply give up. We, or those around us, may even begin to believe we have been cursed or somehow deserve our woes.
Some may even decide that their suffering is the ragged cloak that makes them special, and use it to excuse themselves from responsibility, or cling to it with secret pride.
The Missing Doorway
The oldest question of life is why we experience suffering and death. Such times come to us all. The “why” of it is probably futile and can be debated forever. But the “what” of it is that in such times, we stand on the brink of transformation.
Note that with this card, we are halfway through the Pentacles suit. The design in the stained glass is the top portion of the Qabbalah Tree of Life. The Ten of Pentacles, as you may know, shows the entire Tree – the only place it appears in the Waite-Smith Tarot.
Thus, never mind your doubts, hurt, and struggle; this is no place to stop.
Changes often come disguised as loss, and it can be painful to say goodbye to what has been dear to us. But there are times when only the breaking of our hearts makes possible the sprouting seed that longs to come forth.
Crowds in Capricorn, Including the New Moon
Speaking of seeds, this week, we have our first New Moon of 2018. Could we consider this the Western version of lunar New Year?
As you know, New Moons are the time for setting intentions, making a wish, and planting the seed for what we want to see bear fruit by Full Moon. Or, with this first New Moon, perhaps the seed for the coming year.
The wonderful Libra Seeking Balance astrologer, Diane Lang (aka “Neith”) writes:
This New Moon at 26° 55′ Capricorn on 16 January 2018, 06:18 PM PST in many ways is the culmination of Capricorn season this year.
The Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Saturn and Pluto are all in Capricorn!
Cardinal Earth completely dominates this New Moon with the only outlier being feisty Uranus in Aries. Don’t discount rebellious Uranus though, since it squares the luminaries and Venus, working hard to open a crack in the tight lipped Capricorn façade.
…We have the perfect ingredients to set long term goals and figure out exactly what we need to do to reach them. So it’s time to put on our grownup pants and get to work. Neither Scorpio nor Capricorn suffers fools gladly but they both respect those who behave responsibly and who understand why delaying gratification is so important…
There is a clean, crispness to this well grounded Capricorn New Moon, excellent for lining out where we want to venture next. Admittedly Earth and Water folk are going to enjoy it more than Fire and Air types, but we can all benefit from understanding the need for well thought out structure in our lives.
It is amazing what some meticulous planning based on solid facts can do for improving the chance of future success.
Taking it slow and proceeding step by step is the obvious way to go with the preponderance of Capricorn energy. Time to take action!
In the dark of this Moon, our Five of Pentacles indicates we may face a “dark night of the soul” in which our faith may be tested.
But giving in to despair gets you nowhere — just wandering around and around in the bleak and bitter night, only barely realizing we have made ourselves the outcasts.
Grounding, making a plan, and then taking ourselves forward, one step at a time is a strategy for progress.
Re-birthing the Light
As the Moonless skies go dark, the returning of a small sliver of crescent light is not just something to be hoped for. It is inevitable.
So now is the time to ask — what do you really need from Spirit? What is your truest wish? How will you dare to ask?
And then, what are you going to do, to help manifest it? Even in this darkest dark of the year, the stars and planets are aligned to aid you.
What physical resources and support do you need, to flourish and thrive? How much will you allow yourself to open and receive?
And what can you humbly offer to others? Who are the shunned ones, the lonely, the marginalized that need our compassion?
In the words of Jacob Marley, “It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men! If it goes not forth in life, it is condemned to do so after death! It is doomed to wander through the world! Oh, woe is me! And witness what it cannot share but MIGHT HAVE SHARED on Earth and turned to happiness!”
Be patient with yourself while understanding the obstacles before you. If your heart is broken, know that it is the opening that allows the Sun of wisdom to shine within you.
And no matter how hard life may be, always offer kindness to others who are struggling.
For you, yourself, are the much needed doorway to the light.