Only my closest friends know that, for the past decade or so, I’ve been studying the Tarot. As part of my learning curve, at the beginning of each new year, I lay out a spread which tells me in detail how the months ahead will look, what energies will be at play, what to keep in mind in order to stick to a path of growth.
The spread I use consists of twelve cards laid out in a circle, counterclockwise, which symbolise the months of the year, and a thirteenth in the middle which tells about the general atmosphere, the common theme in the background of all other events.
Everyone gets excited when they see this card and the breathtaking energy it represents. Winning a (metaphorical) lottery, receiving life-changing news, experiencing a sudden act of force majeure which sweeps you into a brand-new phase of your life – The Wheel represents that part of our human experience which is out of our hands, comes when it will, and is much stronger than any resistance we can possibly offer.
‘Feeling a sense of destiny, opening to luck, witnessing miracles, being at a turning point, altering the present course, feeling movement, living faster, rejoining the world of activity, having a personal vision, uncovering patterns and cycles, discovering your role and purpose’, are some of the possible meanings of The Wheel I find on my favourite tarot-learning website.
When last January I saw it in my 13th house, my heart skipped a beat, and with the silly anticipation of someone about to open a big-ass present, I started fantasising about all the ways in which The Wheel could roll into my life this year. One of my scripts being awarded substantial funding? A big publisher recognising my talent and offering me a book deal? Winning enough money to buy myself a Mustang? A rainbow of possibility splashed in my head.
But as the first weeks of the new year went by, the excitement slowly chilled, my attention slid back to tackling my daily struggles, and somehow I forgot to fantasise about unicorns flying through my window.
Until things started happening.
You think when great transformation is involved, there’s going to be fireworks so bright all your neighbours will be aware of what’s going on. But the subconscious is dim, and screened, and the way it works is just as imperceptible as it is enormous.
At first, it’s something mundane – a book you read, the lyrics of a song getting stuck in your head, a strange image flashing your brain while you’re busy peeling carrots.
Then, in the quiet hours of your life, when there’s only the moon to hold you accountable for what you do, you let your thoughts wander. You let them creep toward what suddenly intrigues you, and eventually, your heart begins to follow. You almost don’t notice yourself inching closer, shifting onto a spot you have never thought suitable for you, and one day you are startled by how unfamiliar your face looks in the mirror now.
You become drunk with daydream and you can’t even recall when did this happen – the fantasy of a different life becomes the backdrop of all your thoughts, all your moments – it’s like being in love with someone who seems to know who you really are.
And so you become naughty. In the hooded privacy of the reverie only you can see, you allow yourself to take steps and experience feelings which rapture you even just like this, without even having to be real. And you wallow in this, you almost wish it would never stop.
Soon comes a moment when you’re so in love with the new creature nursing at the core of you that you decide it’s time to share it with your closest ones. You dig out the courage, choose an appropriate moment, and when with sparkles in your eyes you let them peek inside your precious Pandora’s box, you are shaken (and painfully offended) by the dismissing shrugs.
You have had the time to grow accustomed to the strangeness, to muster delight for the most challenging corners of it, but they haven’t. So first there is denial, then comes irritation for something which is perceived as a bad joke that doesn’t know when to end, and finally – once they understand this is NOT a joke – there is shock.
Have you, deep inside, always been this way? How could they have not seen it before? How could you not have told them? How many more surprises are there looming behind the familiar facade of you?
Not immediately, but soon enough the tensions cumulate and strange fights ensue. Fights about money, about locations of toothbrushes, about the best way to arrange dirty bowls in the dishwasher. As these fights don’t resolve anything, they just keep coming, and coming, like contractions before a birth, they become stronger and tighter against each other and eventually all hell breaks loose and there is so many tears you could fill a bucket, flush it out, and fill another one.
There comes a moment you genuinely think your life is over, gone – congratulations, you fucked it up. But by now you also know you are not just fighting for something that fascinates you and others don’t seem to understand – you are fighting for the survival of your true Self. A Self you had no idea even existed, a few weeks ago, and now it has grown to the point of strength (and threat) of a nuclear power plant.
Through the fog of dense excitement a tiny voice wakes up in you, screaming you have been hijacked. The pain, the exhaustion, the emotional strain on you and those you love begin to take their toll, and for the first time you wish this had never happened.
For a moment, you convince yourself you can reverse it. It was you who allowed this daze to materialise, so it must be also YOU who has the power to efface it. But you’re wrong, and the more you try to turn your back on it, the more you realise you’re being strangled by your own struggle, and anyway the damage cannot be undone.
You deflate, the boastful euphoria which allowed you to float over weeks and months exits you and all that’s left is ache. But when you land, you also awaken to the understanding that things have gone so far there is only one reasonable thing left to do – go through with it, experience the daydream in the flesh, for real.
That’s when you realise (if you’re lucky) that for how disapproving and scared your closest ones may be, they still DO love you, and that’s not going to change that easy. They will hold your house together while you go out to meet your dark side, and they will be there when you come back, shaky and upset but ready to medicate your wounds, if needed.
And it’s this, exactly this – an act of unconditional love in what now feels like a nameless catastrophe – which brings you back together. Slowly, carefully, laughter shows up again, with time you become able to joke about this all, and when you look back you understand you would have not had a chance to become this close, had this deluge not hit you.
The goblin who almost destroyed you reveals the face of a twisted cupid, and when the black tide ebbs and you can stroll on the shore again, you are grateful your life went back to serenity, closeness, and warmth.
But also, that The Wheel has turned.
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