I have been thinking about the contrast between our city as a collective being and as a collection of individual beings. As a tarot reader I could use my tarot cards to read for the city as a whole. Essentially treating it as a being of its own. I can also zoom down and see the people who make up and influence the city and read for them personally. Between these two poles I want to play and explore the life of a city through my lens of tarot with you.
I was in Detroit this week.
My friend who drove me around dropped me at the bus station a bit early so they could catch up on sleep. I arrived hours late due to a problem with the bus and they were such great sport about picking me up after 2am. (Thanks again Shawn.)
As I got out of the car I joked “Thanks for dropping me early so I can get some extra crazy in before I go home.” I am not saying I created what follows or if it was a premonition. I did step right into the 5 of Wands.
I strolled in and up to the customer desk to ask a question. A commotion caused me to turn and see a woman with a golf club chasing man down. She was swinging it wildly at him and yelling something I could not make out. 3 other women were with her and they wall wanted a piece of him. I literally jumped aside and ducked as the melee rolled over the stanchions and past me.
No one intervened.
They cornered him by the blocked second exit. He circled back and tried to get over a counter into a back room with no luck. They all continued to swirl and circle towards the front doors. Someone cut him off and they circled back. I moved again to avoid getting caught in the action. Yelling, punching, and swinging that gold club this group of ladies tried to take him down.
No one intervened.
After this went on for a bit he finally got away and took off out front. The ladies walked out. came back for their luggage and sauntered away again. They all got in their car and sat around talking just around the corner. The station is all glass so I had a clear view from my seat. Everyone started talking about what had happened. It was all laughing and joking. No one seemed upset or agitated.
No police or security showed up that I could see.
The man appeared again in front of the station. Walked back in past the chuckling group of smokers as if nothing had happened and then back out to the street. The ladies in their car saw him and started to run back. This time they had a very angry looking man with them. They caught up with the guy in the road and beat him in the middle of the street.
No one intervened.
People laughed and revelled in this as if it were a gladiator match or maybe a Bugs Bunny episode. No one expressed concern. It was all reality TV in action. The man got up. Made some announcement about being tough and walked away.
5 minutes later the police arrived guns out. Everyone laughed at them too. All the people involved were long gone.
All of this is the 5 of Wands. Violence without a known cause. Conflict that you can get pulled into. Who started things? Who is right or wrong? Nobody could really say – maybe not even the people involved. The 5 of Wands is an effect that often happens without a knowable cause. It is a perpetual conflict that draws in everyone around if they are not careful to step aside. No one is coming to stop it so just wait till everyone tires themselves out. Usually everyone will walk away afterwards.
I also think the 5 of Wands speaks of the normalization of violence. It speaks of the way in which our environment dictates our reaction when violence occurs. No one at the bus terminal expressed any concern. The staff behind the counter never got up from their desks. Other than moving out of the way nothing happened and no one raised an eyebrow.
My trip to Detroit is a dramatic example but this plays out on all levels all the time. My advice when I see this card coming? Step aside and let them fight with each other. It has nothing to do with me.
Have you stepped into the 5 of Wands lately? Let me know I’d love to hear about it.
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“Club” image by Aidan Wojtas used under Creative Commons License.