How are things going in Ukraine? Stuck in the mud.

Three cards from the Enchanted Map Oracle: in the middle, the first card drawn, how are things right now? Stuck in the mud. To the left, what preceded this? Follow the leader. To the right, where is this going? Strength.

Worrying about Ukraine, I turned to the Enchanted Map Oracle to steady my nerves, but it didn’t. I guess I was hoping for peace and compassion breaking out all over. I don’t know what card I think that would have been.

Instead I drew: How are things currently? Stuck in the mud. I take that as confirmation that the cards are referring to Ukraine. If you’re following this, you know there’s a Russian convoy that’s been stuck in the mud for days on the way to Kyev, as if the land itself was fighting back. (Or as if, Twitter tells me, collectively rolling its eyes, it’s mud season.)

What got us to this point? Following the leader, the Enchanted Map says. Well. I guess. This does seem very much like a tale of two leaders. But is that what Follow the Leader is? Leading only works if followers follow.

What’s coming next? The deck doesn’t say, just that we’ll be using Strength. I don’t like that. If you want my best hopeful interpretation (you don’t want my worried interpretation), it’s that the impossible saves the day. A miracle, a magic, whatever you want to call it. An amazement. Because what is more impossible than a woman holding the globe in one hand while standing on one foot and shooing butterflies away? This makes me think of the stories of witches we’ve heard, like the woman telling a Russian soldier to put sunflower seeds in his pockets so some good will come from his death, or the man who shouted at soldiers, “Don’t you know where you are? Every second woman here is a witch! By tomorrow you won’t be able to get your dicks to stand up!”

I love those stories and the defiant spirit they invoke. But I don’t like to be one to call for thoughts and prayers, or to promise solutions that rely on magic (such methods can absolutely be helpful, but, I think they need back-up that is grounded, they cannot be an excuse to cowardly do nothing more). I don’t like to be calling for firepower either, but, there are times, and this is one, when that looks like a far more practical option–even though it’s an option that carries its own deeply worrying risks. I don’t like it. I’m a pacifist for goodness’ sake. But I’m also a pacifist who spent more than a decade studying martial arts. To me, this looks like a time when methods of spirit and pragmatic methods merge: Ukraine’s choice to fight back and defend itself is a grounded physical reaction driven by heroism. Yes, that heroism is sapping the average Russian’s interest in fighting this war. But do you see how heroism is spirit but only works when it is carried out physically?

And: Heroism may not be enough if everyone is still following the leader. Maybe if the sunflower seeds were in Putin’s pockets, instead of in the pockets of some kid who got sent to Ukraine after being lied to by his government and told his unit was just going to do an exercise.

In my studies of self defense, I learned that the most successful defenses involve multiple strategies used simultaneously. At Thousand Waves in Chicago, where I studied, teachers use a model called the Five Fingers of Self Defense: think, yell, run, fight, tell. Ukraine is doing all of this. It’s fighting a seemingly impossible fight, but if it is going to pull off a miracle, it’s going about it right.

There you go. Hope. But I warn you that although the hope is real, so is the need for strength. This is going to get worse before it gets better. I’m sorry but I think that’s the truth. Sunflowers take time to grow. And this is not any ordinary war. šŸŒ»šŸŒ»šŸŒ»


  1. This is really brilliant. You have an amazing way of conveying truth in a…what to say? real way. No matter where or which situation or pertinence , or whatever. Thank you so much!

    Liked by 1 person

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