Again–The idea of 1 (or 2) spreads for each major arcana card is taken (as are the spreads) from Rachel Pollack’s excellent book Tarot Wisdom. As often as possible I am using the textual definitions from Ms Pollack’s book as otherwise there exists a possibility of skewing the meanings to serve my own ends rather than get any insight into what the cards are showing me. Recently I have also been taking (for the minor arcana) cards some of the textual definitions from Eileen Connolly’s Tarot: The First Handbook for the Master. Way back when I started working with the cards Ms. Connolly’s Tarot for the Apprentice was one of the first books I used.
Lately tho, I have had a new insight. That if the goal of these readings is a greater internal knowledge and understanding these forces then subjectivity may just be the way to go. Still I will give Ms Pollack’s and Ms. Connolly’s definitions because I feel it may be useful for anyone reading this to follow along.
|1) What is evil?
||3) Where does it originate
The High Priestess
||4) How should we respond to it?
VIII of Swords
||2)Why does it exist
1)What is Evil? Strength
“What should we say when Strength shows up in a reading? …Is it the power to wistand life’s struggles? Overcoming your animal nature? Working with your animal self? ”
When I first saw this card come up, I was a bit puzzled. How could Evil and Strength be equivalent? If you look at it from the point of view of duality, Evil would be at the negative pole of the good / evil dichotomy where Strength would be at the positive pole of the Strength / Weakness one. The more thought that I put into this, the more sense of sorts it makes.
When we think of duality, we always tend to end up chasing our minds in circles. Many of us were brought up in our respective religions with the idea that we should always strive for good and oppose evil, always treasure our strength and eliminate our weaknesses. Despite Jesus saying that the meek would inherit the earth, few of us conceived of times where not using our strength could be a better choice. It seems that it has only been in the last several decades that the idea of passive resistance would take hold. In other words, both strength and weakness had their place and value.
What then of evil? Does evil have relative value? I would say that would depend a large part on one’s perspective. A caterpillar might see going into the cocoon as evil, where the butterfly might have quite a different opinion. During the cold war, the Soviet Union was seen as being evil by the US, the average Russian might have had quite a different opinion . The United States, according to several fundamentalist Muslims in the Middle East is considered “the Great Satan”. From my perspective, good and evil seem to be a function of one’s reality tunnel and are totally relative.
Since both evil and strength seem to be defined by the observer, what were the cards telling me personally when it came up that evil = Strength? Maybe that I have been trying way to hard to ride herd on myself, and to keep a tight rein on the more animalistic part of my nature. I’ve been keeping way too many things bottled up inside, imprisoned as it were and that that has been holding me back a bit from my own growth. Hmmm
2) Why does Evil exist? Judgement Reversed
“Judgement reversed suggests denial, fear, or doubt. We still hear that trumpet call within us, summoning us to embrace a new existence, but we don’t trust it. Perhaps we simply do not know how to recognize what has happened or do not know what to do next. Or we do not want to hurt someone’s feelings or embarrass ourselves”
Wow this fits so well with the idea of evil as Strength, It seems to be saying that evil exists because one is resisting the call of the higher self (or evolution or ascension however you may wish to word it, we could always go back to the caterpillar analogy and say that one is choosing to stay larval.) Maybe our culture and life at this stage has made us so complacent that for many of us, staying asleep is easier than waking up spiritually. Maybe for many of us, we have to get jolted, woken up either by the awareness of what we consider our own animal nature (dark side) and the damage it is capable of inflicting or the dark side of our culture and how it has been spiritually numbing to ourselves and everyone around us.
3) Where does evil originate? The High Priestess
“She may at times signify secret doctrines and teachings, or even the office of a priestess, someone who guides and inspires others”
So the Fool falls starts on his journey and in order to evolve splits into duality, the Magician and the High Priestess. This ties in nicely with what was stated above about the idea of evil coming from duality-consciousness and largely being a matter of perspective. Why the High Priestess and not the Magician for the card answering this question? It seems easy to say that evil springs from the will, the active principle, deeds and thought would seem a more likely source for evil. Why the High Priestess? Let’s take a look at the garden of eden story from Genesis. According to the eden story, human beings had no concept of evil until they ate from the Tree of Knowledge. Until that point they were innocent, If I remember correctly the tree is actually called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil , in other words, folks, the the tree of duality consciousness. It took duality-consciousness and the understanding of the same for evil to exist… that seems to make sense.
4) How should we respond to evil? VIII of Swords
“Someone needs to understand. Keeping it to yourself will cause hurt and confusion”
“You cannot continue this way. Worry affects health”
“Be straightforward, it is the only way”
“There is no easy way! But it is possible! Get the wheels in motion.”
OK, Let’s look at that, so what the card would be suggesting then is that the response to evil would be to gain understanding of what is really going on, avoid becoming anxious about it, being straightforward and true to ourselves, shining out who we are and realizing that dealing with what would be from our perspective evil is not easy but both possible and necessary in order to transcend it. This reading has struck me as being rather awesome as far as perspective goes…..