Shadow Wrangling

“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept…”

John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962

Just this week I’ve been bombarded by well-meaning relatives and friends sending me pro-Trump ad and other various propaganda videos. I’ve also overheard co-workers speaking about their new pro-Trump paraphernalia to put out on their lawns and how they hope he can get this country back on the right track and… I really don’t want to hear it. I do not like this man and I certainly do not relish the idea of four more years of him. I’m not sure America can survive four more years of him.

But if you happen to live in America, hear about him you must as we all do. Every. Single. Day. I imagined this election cycle would be exhausting back in 2016 if Trump managed to remain in office. But on top of out-of-control coronavirus, mask wars, well-justified Black Lives Matters protests, DHS goons being sent into our cities, and Trump at the center of all of it like some mad conductor leading a group of hyenas on kazoos playing All Hail the Conquering Hero – I’m not sure how much more of this I can take.

But with little choice in the matter, I’ve chosen to focus on a positive aspect of the Trump administration. What could that possibly be? He’s introduced America to its shadow side.

All of the hate, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the religious hatred, is hanging out for everyone to see. All of the problems plaguing America; the cracks in the system, the loop-holes in our democracy, the institutional blindness towards people in need, the gerrymandering in the voting system, the theft from the social safety networks are now exposed to us. It was always there. Trump didn’t cause it, he just shined a large enough light on it for all of us to see the rot that was growing there. Our history is both great and terrible. Where we have excelled, we must remember that this nation accomplished its great deeds on the backs of slaves and through the genocide of the indigenous culture. This is a time for our nation to sit with these realities and actually work through them rather than ignore them. If we are to ever heal these wounds, we need to stop pretending that we have nothing to do with our own past. As Antonio tells Sebastian in The Tempest, “What’s past is prologue.” Everything in our history has led us to this point. But how we choose to act right now at this moment, can change things for the better or the worse.

There is no recovery from some mistakes.

When I was studying archaeology as an undergrad, my professor gave me an old iron artifact covered in rust from the 19th century to clean with a sandblaster. To this day, I don’t know what it was. It was mostly rust by the late 20th century when I got my hands on it. As I used the sandblaster to remove the rust, it gradually became apparent that whatever it was, the rust was all that was holding it together. My heart sank as the object split into four pieces. They were shiny though! If we melted it down, we could have used the pieces to make it into something else. Alas it was not a metal recycling class, it was archaeology. My job was to preserve the useless thing. When my professor saw it he simply replied, “Ah, shit.”  

I sometimes get the feeling that America is now being hit by a giant karmic sandblaster. It’s a grueling process, but we’re slowly stripping the rust and rot away. Maybe beneath it there are some shiny nuggets for us to recover and make into something new. Rather than being archaeologists and preserving the old, decaying, rusted, rotting legacy that we’ve held onto so tightly for so long, we need to instead become the alchemists who burn away the dross, refine what is left and make alchemical gold.

Solve et Coagula

My work this election year is shadow work. It is not easy. It is why it is called The Great Work.

To everyone who is reading this, stay healthy and stay safe.  

Love & the Devil

Today’s topic has to do with my daily tarot reading. I’m currently in a program that uses the Thoth deck, which I’ve never used until now. I resisted it for a while because the energy is entirely male to me. Not that there is anything wrong with that, I just never felt comfortable with it. The deck is a combined creation of Aleister Crowley and the art of Lady Frieda Harris. The alchemical symbolism is rich and the artwork quite stunning. I’m warming up to the deck as I embrace the fact that I need to integrate my animus and celebrate the masculine energies within – this is not easy for me. But I have found it’s a bit easier now with Mars currently direct in Aries. Now as I see that in writing it sounds like a euphemism for something dirty. I’m going to leave it there anyway because it’s astrologically sound.

I balance the male energy of the Thoth deck with what I sense is the female energy of the Tarot of the Holy Light deck. This is a Marseilles based deck, which is also alchemical and rich in Gnostic and Sophianic symbolism. It was quite painstakingly researched by Christine Payne-Towler with artwork by Michael Dowers. I find that when the Thoth deck throws something at me that I don’t quite understand, the TotHL deck offers a deeper understanding to make more sense of the reading. And if I fret over the Thoth card, like a mother she tries to guide me back to reason, often times with a dose of tough love. Other times, the cards simply complement each other and rhyme. I’ve fallen into a daily morning routine with them that sets me off on my day.

Today’s card from the Thoth deck was the Two of Cups: Love

The card’s divinatory meaning is marriage, love, pleasure, harmony of masculine and feminine united.

Interesting in its own right, as that is how I view the use of the two decks in my daily life and this is my chosen topic for today’s post. I do understand that I picked the topic after the daily draw, yes. Other rhymes for the day include the finalization of my hiring process at work from contractor to full-time employee; a great conversation with my boss, whom I love; and she bought me a new headset for remote use when I work at home. I also had a great lunch with my partner today and it’s the Full Moon in Aquarius. What’s not to love!

The daily draw for the TotHL deck was The Devil

This deck has a Gnostic view of the devil, which I love. Had I pulled it from the Thoth deck the meaning would be a bit different, while maintaining a similar resonance, I think. But here the devil is Venusian. It is the awakening of the suppressed self. As the book that comes with it notes, it is the “light-bringer uniting the reborn anima and animus.” The Latin words on the Hermaphrodite’s arms read “Solve et Coagula.” This is the alchemical act of disolving the elements, refining them, and then recombining them into alchemical gold. The alchemical symbolism on the card is plentiful. We see the union of the woman and man, the sun and the moon, the Alpha and Omega, the peacock’s fan symbolizing alchemical perfection, water and fire emanating from the same source, and something about disembodied rainbow eagle feathers. It’s a Divine union of opposites. This card represents the end of duality and a shift into polarity. For our world and so many among us who have lived our lives in the absence of the Goddess, it is a celebration of the re-emergence of Goddess energies.

But today, for me, it’s more about the union with the animus.

The challenge I was given for this month is to write something of significance everyday on social media. This is to let out my Leonine spirit for Leo season. This is the Coagula part of this month’s alchemical process. The Solve aspect will be letting go of some bad behaviors, fears and resentments I’ve built up over the past few months. But taking this time to get back into the swing of writing and celebrating myself as a writer with something worth saying is something I’ve been denying myself for a while now under the guise of too much else to do. So, this month, I’m going to embrace my animus and let it all out!

Happy Leo Season!