Recently, I have had a number of clients asking me to help them solve the question “How do I know when I have to stop being a dilettante and commit to a spiritual road?” Or perhaps more to the point, “When does narrowing the field of my focus become an asset in my search for evolution?” It’s a bit like asking how does the Fool become the Magician? I think it’s a great question and one I never really asked myself.
I have been asked the question “how did you get here?” too many times in my life to even count. I certainly have a default answer, which is a linear progression of my journey from A to B to today, which I pull out if my wit fails me. However, more often than not I like to say something ridiculous perhaps including monkeys and move on to another subject. Perhaps a little clearing the air is a good place to start. I have dabbled in everything, looked at world religions, joined a wide variety of groups, left a wide variety of groups, and to some extent had a revolving door of teachers along the way. I have treated the world as my buffet and mixed and matched till my belly was full. Eventually I found what worked best for me and committed to it. At which point I sold my heaps of books pertaining to older roads and set out to follow one path instead of many.
I think there are a few different aspects to the Wandering Path in this post I am going to focus on groups and teachers. Others have played a big role in my growth along the way. The progression of the suit of Wands from Ace to 5 provides some good insight into what many people experience. I choose Wands because they reflect the Will and the search for who we really are.
The Wandering Path covers a lot of ground and there are many things that can come up to make us change direction. Our lives may take us away from our practice for periods of time. We may outgrow a practice for a period of time or permanently. Or – the focus of this installment – the perils and politics of working with groups and teachers may shift our course.
In my life groups and teachers have played a significant role – both for good and for the not so good. Regardless of whether things work out there tends to be a pattern that most people experience. This pattern is clearly shown in the progression of the suit of wands from Ace to Five. Whether you stay or go when things change, this pattern continues to unfold.
• Ace of Wands – Newness and the potential to find fulfillment. This card mirrors the aspiration of the newbee or impulse towards growth. Lets face it, any new venture is going to be exciting at first.
• Two of Wands (Dominion) – The beginning attempt to balance the personal with the other. The seed of power struggles is found here. The structure of groups leads to some degree of tension. As we seek to grow our issues create friction with those around us.
• Three of Wands (Virtue) – The truth is seen on some or all levels. The reality and limits of the group are met. Our own limits and foibles are also brought out. This experience of truth or reality is exciting and unnerving all at the same time.
• 4 of Wands (Completion) – Balance is re-established. A harmony is found between personal need and the goal of the group. Growth and the ego find a new way of relating that can lead to evolution.
• 5 of Wands (Strife) – Conflict erupts in any number of ways. The ego rebels. Politics bring conflict. The need of the group no longer matches the need of the individual. The group unravels.
I don’t hear from too many people who do not run through this cycle in one form or another a few times before finding something that works for them. The playing out of this pattern inevitably leads to the question of whether we are on the right road or not.
So lets look at how to start sorting this out.
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” Spread
In the context of this post we’ll use this spread to look at self-evaluating your spiritual journey. However, it can be a handy spread for any situation where it’s not clear if you should stick around or move on.
Put four cards out in a row.
1. What you have.
2. What you’ll lose.
3. What you’ll gain.
4. What you’ll regret.
What you have – This card talks about the things you have gained that are transportable. If you picture the fool with his backpack slung over his shoulder – this card is about what is in the pack. It’s the lesson that can’t be lost.
What you’ll lose – Inevitably leaving, or moving on at the least, changes your relationship to what you did, at worst it can mean closing a door on a group, teacher or whatever forever. This position is not meant to imply negative feelings, but is the card that talks realistically about what cannot come with you on a journey. Once the fool leaps off the cliff he can’t turn around and go back.
What you’ll gain – What’s the benefit of changing? This card is not just about what you think you’ll get but what will really come out of the changes.
What you’ll regret – If there is a negative side to this change, what is it?
It is important to remember using this spread that we are as humans great at rationalizing everything so try and be honest about what shows up. Let negative cards really be just that don’t try and read them positively just to make you feel better.
In the Court Cards are some great examples of human strength and folly. Here are few suggestions on how to read them if they show up.
King of Wands – It’s all or nothing if you make the change and you will not be able to go back if things go awry.
Princess of Wands – Your feeling is not wrong but out of scale. Be careful about over reacting.
King of Cups – Follow your dream no matter what but know that people will still be people.
Prince of Cups – You try and rise above your past, but you have not dealt with it yet.
Prince of Swords – You are caught in a loop. No matter what you do you end up in the same place.
Princess of Swords – Be careful about acting on others behalf. You’ll end up fighting what cannot be changed.
King of Disks – It will happen on God’s time. You cannot make the plants grow faster by pulling on them.
Prince of Disks – Only by staying the course will you find what you want – focus on the daily work.
Princess of Disks – It’s not the time, no matter how strong the urge, is you have to wait till you are done where you are.
If you sit with each of the court cards they will reveal another side of this story.
Next post will be about the balancing of daily life and spirit in regards to walking your path.