In the Samurai Tarot, according to the accompanying booklet, the suit of wands is connected with “desires, fears, and weaknesses that take the form of spectral apparitions.” In other words, this is a suit full of ghosts. I would like to say that ghosts can’t hurt us, but the truth is, anything we fear, “real” or not, can hurt us on some level.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
On the Eight of Wands, we see the Japanese tengu spirits, who often appear as crows. The tengu are tricksters, and are sometimes described as monster-spirits, other times as protective deities. Fear often works that way. We’re not always sure whether the thing we fear most would be good for us or not. Sometimes we fear that which we need most.
He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life. —Ralph Waldo Emerson
And sometimes, the Seven of Wands tells us, we fear ourselves. We worry about unleashing our own demon nature. The Samurai Tarot booklet comments, “There are times when there is no demon in the demon, no man in the man. Do you understand the difference?” We may feel overwhelmed and unprepared by our own situations. But, demon or human, we must face our circumstances and work with them gently, engaging with them and possibly, even getting hurt. It happens. Still, even if we get hurt, even if we die, we are who we are, so there is no real risk — in some sense all risks are illusions as much as ghosts are. (And are ghosts really an illusion? I leave you to tease that one out!)
The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed. —Buddha
What am I really saying here? Not that Halloween has come early and spirits will be wandering abroad to scare us. No, what I’m getting at is that our internal fears, the stuff we bottle up and keep pressurized inside us, will start to pop out. The pressure of all that fear can only be contained for so long. When it comes out, we tend to jones. The real test of spirit (pun intended) lies in how we choose to react to all this. Can we welcome these feelings and work with them tenderly? Or will we run away and/or call Ghostbusters?
Finally, a word about lies. If you find yourself lying (to yourself or to others, even about minor matters) you know that you are being ruled by fear. A brave person is honest, period. Sincerity, authenticity, genuineness–these are signs of courage. The coward hides behind a veil, or even a closed door, while the valiant allow themselves to be made vulnerable.