Place no hope in the feeling of assurance, in spiritual comfort. You may well have to get along without this. Place no hope in the inspirational preachers of Christian sunshine, who are able to pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days–until you fold up and collapse into despair.
Self-confidence is a precious natural gift, a sign of health. But it is not the same thing as faith. Faith is much deeper, and it must be deep enough to subsist when we are weak, when we are sick, when our self-confidence is gone, when our self-respect is gone.
Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation
Dedicated with love to all who are in pain, afraid, or feeling alone. For all beings who are suffering. For my beloved magickal friends who are preparing your Samhain spells, your election workings, your environmental healings, and your deep prayer work for the well-being of we the people during this time of unimaginable anguish and death caused by the apathy and hubris of those who hold power. – Beth
Hold my hand, and I will hold yours. Together we will walk into the Blue Moon-lit parting of the veils, between life and the Otherworlds. Hearken to the whispers of the beloved dead and feel the brushing of our faces by Ancestral fingers, long cold and gone.
In this week when we arrive at the mighty gateway of the year we call Samhain, we are given a visitor of darkness, but a vivid instructor, nonetheless. Welcome this week to the Five of Pentacles.
We stand, as you and I cannot escape knowing, in the midst of an existential crisis. The hope of a habitable climate future, the vision of a benevolent, prosperous, and democratic society, and the wise management of the conflagration of global pandemic are all in jeopardy.
Spiritually, economically, geopolitically – we are at a crossroads of epochal transformation.
(And this week of the Taurus/Samhain/Blue Full Moon looks astrologically fraught, too. Don’t miss my friend Elisabeth Grace’s brilliant and comprehensive analysis).
What About the Ace of Cups?
Many people feel that the Five of Pentacles is one of the unhappiest images in the Tarot. Hard to argue with that. So has last week’s visit from the Ace of Cups gone cold? Has Grace now deserted us?
But after my initial disappointment pulling it today, my reaction was, “Well, of course!”
For, at the risk of Merton spinning in his grave at my linking his quote to the Tarot, the Ace of Cups does not “pick you up and set you back on your feet and make you feel good for three or four days.”
The gift of Grace — indeed, the entire gist of the Tarot, if we wish to see it as one of many doorways through which we may encounter Mystery — is that we are not excused from life on Earth. And yet all is moving towards awakening and unity.
Grace does not insulate us from suffering; it does not preempt grief, sickness, or death. But it offers us the understanding that we are blessed and beloved even so.
Indeed, without the dark night of the soul as Pixie Smith so intensely depicted in this card, how would our hearts break open and thus prod us forward?
How else to redeem and be redeemed by the world?
Again, for a more traditional interpretation, I have written many other posts for this card. But for this most sacred moment in the Wheel of the Year, accompanied by endings, darkness, and transformation, I am called to suspend tradition.
Instead, I think this quote from Joanna Macy sums up this week’s card more eloquently than I could hope to.
There are a lot of people, when they look at the situation, the facts, the pollution, the economy and meltdown, the militarism, the generation of yet more weapons, the extinction spasms of the species, of course, who wouldn’t be in despair?
I mean, it seems like if you’re not, you’re out to lunch.
But that’s not the whole story.
We have to really not be afraid of feeling pain for our world– that we recognize that the anguish we feel for what is happening to our world is inevitable and normal and even healthy because how are we going to do the huge about-face, psychologically and socially, that we need to do to create, out of the present disarray, an exquisite life-sustaining, life-respecting society unless we are ready to just galvanize everything?
So pain is very useful. Just don’t be afraid of it.
And recognize that the anguish, the horror even, that we can feel over the devastation that we read about or see or experience, that it’s okay to feel that.
Because if we are afraid to feel that, we won’t feel where it comes from, and where it comes from is love– our love for this world. That’s what is going to pull us through.
So know that the feelings of grief, anger, outrage that can come as you look at how this world is being trashed– and its people–that that pain is just the other side of love.
And if you try to anesthetize yourself, then you numb your whole psyche and that is so boring and ineffective.
So this is the time for ourselves to reach and expand into our full humanity, and in that humanity will be our anger and outrage, our imagination, our creativity, our laughter.
We are going to come alive now, and we are.
I call that The Great Turning.
And as she said elsewhere, “Of all the dangers we face, from climate chaos to nuclear war, none is so great as the deadening of our response.”
So let us keep walking, you and I, though the snow is deep, the way is hard, and darkness encroaches everywhere. We carry our faith within, and we are not alone.
And if we must, then let us embrace the breaking of our hearts, and open wide our tear-stained doors of Love.