Strength and Death

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I asked the cards ‘what personal qualities can I draw on this month, to help me with the challenges I’m facing?’

The cards were not shy. Strength, and Death. A lion, my own beast, my wildest instincts, the generosity of restraint, of choosing my battles and of bringing love to difficult places. And transformation. The willingness to let go of my own ego and to die, again, and be reborn, again, to shed skin, again, and to be renewed and changed, again.

Ego is the theme. Good old ego. How many conflicts have I entered, against better judgement, for the sake of ego? How many times have I hurt others, or tried to, or projected, or pretended, or refused to forgive or let go…because of ego? Because of an idea of who I am that for some reason must be maintained at all costs?

Countless times. Countless times each day, each week, I know.

I’ve just read a very short book. I picked it up because that thing happened, you know where you bump into something three times over and on the third meeting you say ‘okay, I won’t ignore you any more’ and you go with it. I’m glad I did. It was The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz.

Though ego as such isn’t mentioned much, for me the book was very much about ego. It’s about letting go of stories that we cling to out of fear, and rewriting those stories, creating new ‘agreements’. It’s a simple book about transformation. Instead of believing the stories we have been told about who and what we are, we write our own, and we allow others to do the same. Ego, for me, is what holds me back from doing this. An inexplicable feeling that I can’t ‘give up’ who I am. That I can’t be vulnerable. That loving is weak and holding fast to my stories, even if I hurt others, even if I hurt myself, is strong.

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The tarot’s Strength is the opposite of this. It’s true strength. The strength to look with eyes full of love, the strength to allow the story to be rewritten, to re-write it.

In my current situation, I am easily and often hurt. There are hurt people around me and I take on their hurt, because of my ego I take it personally, I believe it’s about me. This makes me angry, and sad. But I don’t have to be angry and sad and hurt. Strength reminds me that none of this is about me. It tells me to get my ego the heck out of my interactions and to put in only love. Other people’s hurt is not my hurt, other people’s pain is not my pain. I can witness that hurt and pain, but it is not about me. All I have to do is give love.

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And death. This one is about me. This is what I can change. I can’t change other people but I can change myself, and I can let myself change when change is just what happens, which it does every moment of every day. Ego is what resists change. Ego is what says ‘this is who I am and no-one can take that or change that or damage that, it’s mine, it belongs to me.’ Death reminds me to let go. That nothing is truly mine. That change is destabilising and that is okay. That letting go is welcoming transformation and that transformation is what I need.

So together these cards reassure me that where I am is where I need to be, and that I have nothing to prove and everything to learn. And I feel comforted and strong and free once again.

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I asked the cards how I can ground, what I can hold on to in this unstable, challenging time. The Six of Cups. Kindness. Love, again. In one sense, this card brings me back to my ego – I often associate it with a deep-rooted sense of ‘who we are’. But that is not what I need to hold on to right now. I have to re-frame those roots so that they represent freedom, not an anchor in an old story.

I’ve been afraid to root here out of fear of getting hurt. I haven’t felt safe since I arrived. But I am safe. I love myself. I don’t know who I am but I love myself and I know I am strong. I have so much love that I can overflow wth it, send it down into the ground and out into the air and give it to everybody here. That’s what will anchor me as the storm rages on, that’s where I’ll find stability when it all feels too much. Ego-less love, more love, and transformation. I feel strong and brave looking at these cards.

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All cards are from the Wild Unknown Tarot.

11 comments

  1. Roger says:

    Gosh Beth! Strength also reflects your courage it seems to me. It takes a lot of courage to be open to exploring the truth when your own position {ego ?} is at stake. Once again you are an inspiration!

    Rog.

  2. Niki says:

    Hi Beth, thanks for sharing this. I’ve been feeling listless lately and a lot of emotions and confusion bottled up inside. When I saw your post today, it spoke to me and when I read about Strength and Death and grounding up in kindness, I knew that, while they were your cards, thaty they were also mine. Your post brought me here at a time when I needed it the most and while it’s easy to fall into the trap, it will take practice. I hope I could take from these cards the same realizations you’ve had about them and I hope I find the strength inside of me to carry on. Thanks for this wonderful post.

  3. Kim says:

    Beautiful post! I’m moving to a new place soon, and I’ve been contemplating my “old stories” as well. Thank you for this inspiration!

  4. I absolutely adore this and thank you for sharing.

    Also, The Four Agreements is such a quick, simple powerful read and everyone should really read it! I put it off for so long too. But when I read it, I yelled at myself for waiting for so long.
    So, this reading really speaks to me, particularly the Strength and the Death card. Both are my birth cards (Strength being the Number 8 birth card for me & Death being Scorpio’s card) and I feel such a connection to them. I really resonate with the interpretation of the Ego and letting things go, I feel like that is literally what I am in this life for, lol.

    Thank you again, Beth. Sending you all the love and support! If you ever need to talk it through, I’m just a virtual talk away! <3

    • Beth
      Beth says:

      Thanks Ashley! It’s a powerful little book. Since reading it, so many little situations keep popping up where I can see ‘this is where one of the agreements comes in’…it’s a really interesting frame for looking at our interactions (and trying to do better). Loads of love to you too xxxx

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