Card of the week: Leaving the Story

Tarot of Transformation, 10 of Swords — Leaving the Story

Steep, ruddy canyon walls, showing layer upon layer of sediment, rise above a canyon floor on which is engraved a large, ten-pointed star. Rising out of the star, two birds fly in an upward spiral, while a beam of light shines down from the heavens–not from the sun, which appears to be setting, but from on high. The sky above the setting sun is blue with shades of pastel purple nearing the horizon. The birds appear to enjoy their flight.

The 10 of Swords is traditionally seen as a death card or a card of endings. But not necessarily a literal death. In this case it’s described more as a literary death, with the keywords “Leaving the Story.” We create our own stories, with our own lives as the settings and ourselves as the central characters. We choose to stay or go, in most situations of life.

I’m reminded by this card of a time years ago when I went through the deaths of two important people in my life, one right after the other, as well as other problems related to family and finances, and I found myself, many months later, still in a spiral of grief that seemed to never end.

Somewhere in all that difficulty, we decided we had to take a vacation, get away for a few days. We took a trip to Sedona, Arizona. It was wonderful, a refreshment for the soul, a kind of soft, clarifying interlude like a cool shower in the middle of a hot, sweaty day. Red rocks like natural churches, blue skies, happy people, ethereal fountains of spiritual energy. Every day there was heavenly.

But when we returned, it was to more bad news. I didn’t think I could take any more problems, and I got stuck, dwelling on all my losses so much that nothing else seemed to matter. I couldn’t see a light side to my life anymore.

Finally I turned to meditation, and one day I sat still, slow-breathing, when I received a clear message, not a voice, but a knowing in my mind, that I needed to be done with all my “obsequiousness.”

I didn’t know exactly what that word meant. When I looked it up, what stood out for me most clearly was a definition of “obsequy” as a funeral rite or ceremony. Of course there was the other meaning: obsequiousness as the act of showing servile deference. I had given in, numerous ways in my life, to others, to death, to loss, to grief. I’d lost myself in the process.

That personal revelation was the starting point of a lengthy healing process. My problems didn’t miraculously go away. They continued. My way of facing them changed. I began to do more of what I wanted and needed to do with my life, and leave behind the notion that I must (or even could) please everyone else. I began to move away from bowing down to death and begin consciously living again.

That fresh insight and my decision to act on it was the 10 of Swords. It wasn’t the losses that were about leaving the story. It was the recovery, the letting go of pain. I left the story of my grief behind and resumed the story of my life.

This card as my card of the week indicates to me that there is something I need to let go of this week. Now I just need to figure out what that is. It’s possible I already know on some level. I’ll have to do some personal excavating, digging within, to get to the bottom of it–and then fly free.

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