Cards for the Day: Facing Our Fears

Tenjin--from the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston

Tenjin--from the Museum of Fine Arts in HoustonTenjin (then called Sugawara no Michizane), the Japanese deity of scholarship and calligraphy, was at one time Japan’s ambassador to China’s Tang court, but was exiled for political reasons in the year 901. After he died in exile, Kyoto was beset by several natural disasters (earthquakes,  typhoons, fires, a famine) which were blamed on Tenjin’s angry ghost. To pacify the ghost, the emperor deified Michizane and renamed him Tenjin.Knave of Chalices--Samurai Tarot

How interesting, then, that Tenjin is appearing in our cards for today (he represents the Knave of Chalices in the Samurai Tarot) with a card depicting an angry ghost (the Ten of Wands). While in a Rider-Waite deck, the Ten of Wands has to do with burdens and struggling under a heavy load, in the Samurai Tarot this card is about fear. The book that goes with the deck advises us, “Free the mind of prejudice and learn to watch. The greatest fear is often impalable like the wing of a moth.” Ten of Wands--Samurai Tarot

A day to face our fears, then. I think it’s no coincidence that as Mercury retrograde begins, I’m pulling a card about ghosts. Most of our fears are based on old, past experiences. We fear the known, really, more than the unknown. (Which may be why, as this is Election Day in the U.S., the debate over who to elect has centered on old fears such as the possible loss of women’s rights. Ghosts.) We may find that our own personal pasts arise today and over the next couple of weeks of Mercury retrograde. The past may rise up and fill us with fear. Still, I don’t believe a ghost can cause an earthquake all by itself. If your ghosts are trying to threaten you, I’d follow Terry Pratchett’s advice (given by the Wee Free Men to their newfound young hag in Pratchett’s book, The Wee Free Men, when the hag confronts the headless horseman): “Look him in the eyes he hasna got!”

Looking at what frightens us is one of the best, most powerful things we can possibly do. Because knowledge is power. (Remember Tenjin is the patron deity of scholarship.) Because then we can see where our defense lies. Because we can see that what frightens us is smaller than we realized. And because bullies often get scared away when you look them in the eye.

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