The death card is one of my favorite Tarot cards. Bordered by circles of blue lifelines, the card beautifully demonstrates the concept of letting one thing go to make way for the new.  This concept is also reflected in eastern ways of thought like Feng Shui; you clear the old clutter in your home to make way for new energy and items to fill your life.  Life’s cyclical nature, as represented here, always inspires hope  that new things are on their way.

But sometimes death is a b*&ch

While I am certainly glad that parts of myself and my life have died, sometimes the process of change seems eternal and excruciating.  In this past year, the death card pretty much wiped my personality down to nothing (ex. anxiety and depression) and let me sit there for while.  This gave me a chance for some introspection and to identify some of the ways we think when we get stuck in the mud:

  • I am worthless (and all ten thousand permutations of this that wind around our brains).
  • I just need a man, more money, the perfect job (etc) to be happy and fulfilled.  (Mostly since I am worthless and can’t do it myself.)
  • So and so ruined my life and since I am worthless or not in control, there is nothing I can do about it.
  • I am too tired change or too used to my maladaptive ways to move onto something new.
  • I lack support, knowledge or resources to make a change and often I am too tired or overwhelmed to find out who can help.

Depending on the situation and the individual, we can be stuck here from days to months to years. Even if you haven’t firsthand experienced this, I am sure you knew friend or a family member who was struggling.  It is often frustrating for everyone.  Personally, I want to shake and yell at everything.  JUST GET BETTER ALREADY.

Society too, as a whole, sends a message to those attempting renewal and often it is a message of hypermasculinity.  Yoga guru Sadie Nardini wrote an article on this topic, noting that women often “attempt to source their ability and drive from an overly masculine prototype, instead of reviving their inner feminine to do the job.”  [Even I tried this tactic out!]

I don’t need ___ or ____.  I don’t need anyone. I got this, I can do this on my own.

The difficulty with this overtly masculine approach to rebuilding is that it is inherently isolating and cold.  While initially productive and intimidating, this energy serves to create more boundaries and separation from the community that is often so vital to recovery and a successful life.  It is a closed-ended approach with little room for discussion, expression and connection.  While our movie heroes like Wolverine certainly get the job done (with lots of exciting action scenes), they are usually devoid of personality and true friendships.  Is that what we are looking for in our new selves? In my personal experience, this masculine driving energy would get me moving and out the door… but then to where?  What was I going to do all on my own?

Thus, Sadie Nardini elaborates on the power of femininity and our inner warrior goddess.  She writes:

The end result of an integrated feminine side is completeness: full nourishment of one’s life-force, passions, creativity, and relationship to Self.  This provides one with the confidence and freedom to stand up and say “I don’t need anyone or anything, it’s true– but I choose to want them.”  I choose love.  I choose family,  I choose these projects and I choose to keep myself close to my inner mother even as I dedicate to truth and moving toward right action, led by my inner father.

Her thoughts are equally beautiful as the death card.  The synthesis of the vulnerable, caring, more feminine sides of our being with the driven, meticulous “masculine” side creates a strong, raw, and authentic energy.  Reaching out, connecting, expressing, nurturing… these are not weakness, but are instead powerful tools we can use to live.  Often, devoting ourselves to others can pull us away from our own despair and difficulties.

Sadie concludes:

In this place, we are whole, and we are free.  We refuse to play small yet we walk with humility and openness to the world’s curiosities and dead ends.  We allow our hearts to break because we dared to love with abandon, we gather our children and friends and lovers close and recognize that God can be found between our palms and the skin of our beloveds–and in our joy or grief alike, we thank the Universe for letting us love at all, even while we mourn the inevitable loss of all those we touch.
We are women, not men, and it’s high time we learn what it means to rock who we are, and when in doubt, to simply become as incandescent as summer’s first firefly in response.

With this, we can move on and live.