The Rider-Waite Four of Cups card shows a person sitting under a tree, considering whether to accept the cup being offered–but in the Samurai Tarot (which I am starting to really love), we see only the upper tree branches. This person is not just daydreaming or in a bored stupor. This person is floating away into full scale dissociation.
I’m one of those people who is very, very prone to dissociation. It’s one of those things that I don’t think is bad or good in and of itself, but it can certainly be an interference. It can cause a feeling that nothing is real — and like so many shadow self distractions, there is some value in this, because on some level, the things that we think are real truly aren’t. The problem with dissociation, though, is that on another level, the things that don’t feel like they can be real actually are, and we have to deal with those things. Traumatic events, in particular, often don’t feel real. Our loved one can’t be dead, or far away. It feels like they ought to be here. We can’t have lost that job. We can’t have moved across the country. A physical assault? Or a painful debilitating medical condition? No, this can’t be happening. Dissociation can be a defense mechanism in traumatic circumstances. It’s a way to avoid feeling pain. But at some point we have to wake up and face the reality of traumas such as these.
Dissociation can also happen when things are good — so good that it doesn’t seem real. We don’t quite believe in it.
Reading books can be a form of dissociation. So can watching television. Listening to music. It isn’t always simple daydreaming.
Dissociation can be like a drug. It’s habit-forming, and it also produces a dreamy feeling. It may be hard to work today, hard to get things done, hard to focus. We’d like to go back to bed. Might as well sleep through our dreams!
Thank goodness for the Soga Brothers, shown on the Samurai Tarot’s Knave of Wands card. Maybe they will wake us up! When full scale dissociation sets in, we need an alarm clock, or something. Something to shake us out of it and wake us up. I’m hopeful that this reversed Knave heralds a wake up call from somewhere — some message, even a negative one, that shakes us out of our reverie and gets us moving again. If not, then we need to wake ourselves up — because the world is full of challenges that we cannot adequately meet unless we are awake.