One thing I love about the Samurai Tarot is that it comes with two unusual suggested spreads: the clash at the crossroads, and the duel. I’ve blogged about the clash at the crossroads spread before, but today, for a change, let’s focus on the duel. This is a simple two-card spread — much like the two cards that I normally draw for my cards of the day — but these two cards have specific positional meanings. The first card represents the querent (for cards of the day, I regard the querent as all of us). The second card represents the problem or challenge that the querent is facing. Here they are, The Moon and the Five of Wands:
A few days ago I remarked that it feels like there is a full moon right now, even though there isn’t one. And here comes the Moon again! Did you ever feel as though you were sleepwalking through your day, as if the whole world were made of water, or as if you were dreaming even while awake? To me, this is what The Moon is telling us about what today feels like. The Moon is supposed to represent all sorts of things: illusion, deception, intuition, emotion. The thing about illusions here, though, is this: it may seem as though this is a day of illusion. Yet–to some degree every day is an illusion created by our minds. So our feeling about this today (if that’s what you are feeling) is not itself deception, it’s the truth. We are surrounded by illusion at all times, much of it self-generated. Maybe most of it self-generated. That’s why the same exact day can be experienced in quite different ways by different people depending on what is going on in the heads of those people. Ironically, the Moon isn’t so much bringing us illusion as bringing us awareness of illusion — in other words, it is shining its light on things that we normally are unaware of, making our usual filters of reality invisible so that for today, we can literally see through stuff. We can see through lies, see through deception, see through illusions, and even see through ourselves (because, as I said before, MOST of the illusions and deception that we experience are self-generated). It makes us feel all spacey and ungrounded. Which is oddly appropriate, because we have NEVER had the ground under us that we think we do. We have always been falling through space. Today might have an otherworldly feel to it, but what we’re feeling today is more real than what we normally feel. The Samurai Tarot book notes,
“What we cannot know exists anyway. Where there is wisdom there is space.”
This feeling of ungroundedness, and of seeing through everything, is a door to wisdom. There are other doors, but this is one door that I suspect we truly do have to pass through in order to become wise.
So that’s the querent, us, today. And what about our problem or challenge? The Five of Wands represents struggle, tension, and conflict. The Samurai Tarot card for the Five of Wands shows a person with a stick, in a dark, spooky forest, facing what looks like a ghost. Now, this ghost may or may not be real. It may be an illusion generated by our minds. It may be a memory from the past rising up to give us some new static today. (Thanks a lot, past memories!) It both matters and does not matter whether this ghost is real or not. (I’m sorry; I feel like I’m writing imcomprehensible Derridian prose today, but what can I say? It really DOES both matter and not matter whether the ghost is real.) Why? It doesn’t matter because we have to deal with it, real or not. I’d like to see you ignore a ghost that looks like this one! But it also does matter because our strategy might differ depending on what the nature of this ghost is.
Here’s what the clear light of the Moon can tell us about the ghost on the Five of Wands card. We cannot win a fight with this ghost, but we also do not have to. In the Samurai Tarot, the Five of Wands card is labeled “introspection,” and we are instructed,
“If you understand that you cannot beat others, you will understand the path to conquering yourself. Then you will be victorious.”
The one thing we cannot do is to fight this ghost and win. But, to quote Obe Wan, “there are alternatives to fighting.” We can release this ghost. We can approach this ghost tenderly and with gentleness. We can also take the time to recognize that this dark, spooky forest is just the earth with trees rooted into it, the same earth that is supporting us in every step we take. Perhaps most importantly, we can breath and regain our sense of calm and poise, recognizing that ghosts of all kinds, but especially the ones generated by our own minds, are fueled by anxiety and fear. By a simple change in mental perception, we can draw the feeling of safety around us and face any ghost eye to eye. That doesn’t mean we will win the duel. It just means that true safety lies in realizing that we do not have to.
Besides, today’s problem has already been solved (and not just because I’m writing so late in the day, you wise guys!). Today’s ghost has already been engaged and released. As long as I’m being incomprehensible and Derridian today, I might as well say that by the time we see the ghost, we have always already dealt with it. We just haven’t informed ourselves of that fact yet.