Friday, November 23, 2012

Sorrow, Letting Go and Tarot's 5 of Cups

                                                                                                  5 of Cups - Loss, sorrow, grief 

5 of Cups as depicted in "Wizard's Tarot"©
by Corrine Kenner and John J. Blumen
During winter, the Pacific Northwest, reflects a grieving world.  The sky is a solid mass of grey - varying hues, but grey nonetheless.  Rain comes down in cold sheets that penetrate everything that isn't Gortex.  Fashion is all but forgotten in the quest for dryness and rubber boots that are big enough to allow for heavy socks are your closest friends.

Death, or Transition comes at any time, but in winter it feels particularly deep.  Symbolically, The Green Man is no more and though he will come again when oak leaves burst open to life, right now it feels as if Spring has been imprisoned on the other side of eternity.  This is the world of tarot's 5 of Cups.

In the RWCS tarot deck, a cloaked figure stands huddled against the wounds of the world.  Before him, three cups have spilled their contents on the bank of the river.  Their liquid creates a small rivulet that seeks to rejoin the river as it moves purposefully towards eternity.  Our cloaked friend stands mute, deep in the sorrow of what has been lost and can never be reclaimed.  There is a time to grieve and that time must be honored.  We are of this world and can have only limited understanding of the next one.  We want things to remain the same - to stay in a form and content that our concept of reality can understand.  Unfortunately, that's not the way the universe works.  The universe sees the big picture and we only see a shadowbox.

Grieving is an individual process.  There are no timetables, no list
5 of Cups, RWCS
US Games© Edition
of standardized events that truly signal its end.  Grieving takes as long as it takes because what you are doing is trying to catch your breath by once more synchronizing with the universal flow.  That's hard to do when the person or people that helped you set your pace are no longer there to guide you.  You are alienated from the rest of life and you've momentarily forgotten your way home.

The figure in the 5 of Cups doesn't see that there are still two cups standing with their contents intact.  His back is turned to them, as if their life-affirming presence is to painful to handle.  Eventually, he will begin to breathe in a pattern close to the old, familiar one.  There will be enough moments between the new normal and the profound agony of loss that he will be able to get his bearings.  He'll turn and see what has been left to him.  In that pivotal moment, our friend must decide whether he remains fixed at the riverbank, continuing to long for what has passed away, or whether he releases his grief and moves on.  Most of us turn around in our own good time and see the remaining cups.  We pick them up, working our fingertips over their battered, but familiar surfaces and holding them close to our hearts, we follow the path that leads us to the bridge that takes us home.

December brings us the Solstice and Yule - celebrations of light and hope.  We mark the return of light to the world and even though we may not be in a space to reflect on its brilliance, we appreciate the fact that the light is there.  So it is with the world in the 5 of Cups. It's a long journey from the riverbank to the bridge and a lot of soul searching is done along the way. There's an old proverb that says, "It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness."  Our friend in the 5 of Cups comes to understand that very thing as he stands on the bridge looking up at the lighted windows of his home.  Inside is the warmth of hearth, friends and family and it is ultimately their glow that drives away the darkness.


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