Three days ago a woman psychologist wanted to know what kind of an impact her research has made on a crowd she has lectured for, and who was unfamiliar with some of the concepts that she was using – concepts imported from the less consecrated world of ‘related psychology’, such as, myth as reality in a shamanic world view, the stars as guides and markers of identity in astrology, and cards as storytellers in divinatory situations. I can relate to this type of question, as I often find myself transgressing borders and making gate-keepers uncomfortable.
We looked at the Lenormand cards for it laid in a grand tableau. While a lot was said, as is often the case when pouring our minds and souls into this grand picture world, one thing emerged as interesting, regarding the situation of what to make of it when one is seemingly up against a wall, or barriers informed by prejudice rather than sufficient knowledge about a topic.
The corner cards in the tableau (Key, Tower, Star, Book) disclosing how the psychologist went about her aim of putting a clever solution on the table (Key, Rider, Fox), suggested that while she was indeed facing a mountain (Woman to Mountain in the diagonal future line), her talk was appreciated for its brilliance and its gifts (Woman, Birds, Sun, Flowers, Moon).
Going with the image, I was struck by the card of the Mountain dissolving into the card next to it, the Ways, leading to consolidating a relation (Ring) with the institution (the Tower). The verticality of the mountain, suggesting almost an impossibility to overcome, has turned into a horizontal relation in the card of the Ways, with the peaks of the mountain now having become two roads leading to the polished diamond in the Ring, and to infinite knowledge.
The point here was to see the Tower as the cultural manifestation of the natural force that the Mountain expresses. With its own two peaks, one on top and one part of the construction, the Tower translates the mountain peaks into its own. Insofar as the aim was to make raw power manageable, the progression from the Mountain to the Tower is good news. It would not have been so good if we had to question why we would want a mighty mountain contained by some random man-made tower. We would even find support for this here in the houses that the Mountain and the Tower fall within, the Tree and the Coffin, respectively. Bringing the natural world to an end is indeed bad news.
When presenting us with symmetrical elements, the cards can be seen in terms of the one manifesting the power of the other. Here, in the context of the psychologist’s question, the answer was given in this very relation. Her talk, dealing with the wild ways of ascension to insight, found validation in the Tower being open to the rough power of the Mountain. The fact the Tower also literally sits on top of the Moon in this tableau indicates that the alternative views have been endorsed.
‘Your talk had the impact of a break through’, I finally told the woman, and then offered the inverse of the situation. Had she started with the consecrated knowledge in the academy and then move towards the wild ways of smashing the pedestals leaving behind a pile of rocks, then her talk would not have made any significant impact. It would have lacked the structure that the higher learning institutions appreciate.
But if we stay with this idea that the cards can be seen as the manifestation of some other card which they come into relation or aspect with, we can say the same about the corner cards. The Star can be a seen as a higher manifestation of the Key, given that both open doors. The Book can also be seen as a written manifestation of the ideals brewed in the Tower, given that they both formalize knowledge.
Thus it often pays off to look at not only who is doing what to whom in a grand tableau, but also at what is manifesting which aspect or relation. An answer to our question can emerge right there in the conflation of symmetries.
A Helium Poet Lenormand.
Camelia Elias, ink on archival paper, 2013.
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