As a teenager, it’s downright deprivation of liberty.
I remember being grounded for buying tickets for a Gorky’s Zycotic Mynci gig when I’d already been told I wasn’t allowed to go. Boy was I annoyed about that one, shut up in my room. And for folks stuck at Heathrow airport due to our recent ‘snow event’ (er, when did we stop calling it just snow?), I imagine there’s a whole new level of earthbound frustration.
But today I’m interested in how ‘groundedness’ relates to the tarot suit of pentacles. Like aeroplanes sitting on their runways, this suit is about our connection to the earth. It’s our material world – health, sex, home, food, nature – the physical basis of our human existence.
The Queen of Disks, from The Mary-el Tarot by Marie White
I love the way Rachel Pollack interprets the suit in her book, Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom, linking the tangible nature of the pentacles with our human ability to experience magic in our everyday lives, all around us. For Pollack – and for me – we achieve and experience the magic of human existence through those very same things – through our bodies and physical relationships, through our domestic arrangements, through communing with the natural world. Thought our senses, our sensual experience of the world.
This adds so much more depth to the pentacles, which are so often the last suit discussed in tarot books, or down at the bottom of a new, unshuffled deck. We quickly refer to pentacles as representing ‘work, money and health’, without stopping to understand that these things are the very stuff of life, they are what we experience.
Five of Disks, from The Mary-el Tarot by Marie White
‘We ground ourselves not just in our work, but in a love for the world around us‘ writes Pollack:
As a magical sign, Pentacles symbolize the ‘magic’ of ordinary creation. Taken simply this means the beauty of nature, the joy of satisfying work. The symbolism, however, carries a deeper meaning […]. The mystic or magician does not simply ground the self in a negative way, using the world as the opposite of a spiritual experience. Rather, the natural world, because it carries a firmer reality than the other elements, because it does not so easily lead to confusion or misconception or ill use, opens the way to a more mystic experience.
Rachel Pollack, Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom
At the centre of the earth is a great fire, raging and burning. Across its surface, water flows and freezes, and above it, air moves, changes, rises and falls.
But it is here on the actual earth that we work and love and feel – here that we actually live and die.
This is where I can find spiritual fulfillment, through acting and creating and understanding the world around me. Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of need’ examines human motivation and the levels of need which must be satisfied in order for us to develop on ‘higher’ planes. At its base are our physical requirements – nourishment, warmth, breath, to work, good health, other resources.
Once we are satisfied in these earthy ways, we have a springboard from which we can move on to the other elements – air, fire and water, developing our minds and hearts in less tangible ways.
Because I felt that 2013 is going to be a year of hard work, self-discipline and not having a lot in the way of material resources, and also because I will be living/working outdoors a lot more this year, I bought myself a necklace – a silver pentacle on a chain. I hoped that in wearing this magical symbol, I could remind myself to find magic in everything I do, as I work and build and create, as work on the land or sit by the fire, to always understand that in doing so I am preforming a spiritual act and developing my soul.