Out of the wonder and into the frying pan.
Sometimes the transition from ease and freedom to struggle is overwhelming. Despite our lifetime of experience with ups and downs, we're surprised when, at the end of a big accomplishment, we have to enter into the fray once more. The contrast - like walking into a dark room after being outside - blinds us temporarily, making the dark seem darker and more frightening.
This week's reading shows us the challenge of such transitions. The World is our equivalent of a bright sunny day and - good news here - it's in large part due to our hard work, bravery, and ability to run with what life has handed us. Because of this we can rest assured that our skills are not illusions and our achievement is not a stroke of luck. Rather, it was hard earned and is now a part of ourselves, something we can draw on in the future. Or, perhaps, in this time of difficulty.
The World is also the final card of the Major Arcana and is therefore rich and resplendent with meaning. Feeling fulfilled on a personal level and seeing that reflected in our lives and environments? It's an addictive feeling, one that opens our eyes to wider vistas of possibility. We'd all like to float above it all, dancing with the joy of our wholeness like the figure in The World , but like any stage it can't last forever.
Instead we have the Five of Pentacles. What a contrast! We actually have replaced the bright blue sky seen in The World with a confusing flurry of snow against darkness. Instead of dancing we're trudging through banks of snow, bedraggled and beat up. Coming down is a hard thing to do, even when it's necessary, and this week we'll be feeling the struggle as we reengage with our everyday.
Yet when we move from brightness to dark our eyes need time to adjust. After a while, the dark doesn't look so ominous or pervasive. We feel less lost as we gain the ability to pick out shadows and flickers of light. There's two things we'll see as we make this somewhat awkward and unwanted adjustment. First, that we are not alone. There's someone else slogging along with us. We can find companionship, support, and comfort in community right now, whether it's in an individual relationships or with a group. Regardless, our shared struggle holds a beautiful potential for connection and coming together. We're all in it together.
And there's something else hiding in the swirling snow. Above the two figures we can see five pentacles framed in what looks like a window. In fact, they seem to be made of stained glass and illuminated from within. Perhaps they're from a building that can offer us shelter. Symbolically, these pentacles and their glowing light represent the comfort and guidance we can find in our belief in a higher power, whatever the shape it may take for each of us. It can give us meaning and direction, reintroducing a ray of the clarity we felt earlier when relishing in embodying The World. Now we're being asked to trudge towards a new light, deepening our beliefs and strength and proving our dedication. The path isn't always easy, but there's always a something guiding us. It just might not be as bright as we wish.
So yes, this snowy realm of the Five of Pentacles is confusing and off-putting. Not exactly where we'd like to land after feeling so fulfilled and on top of things. Yet it's a brief interlude, dare I say a necessary lesson, as we move towards our final card, the mysterious and mystical Hanged Man. This card suggests that a large part of our discomfort is stemming from our desire to control things. Perhaps we got addicted to the ease and triumph of The World and when things got sticky - when real life barged in all messy and demanding - it felt like we got demoted from rulers to beggars. Struggling against the situation felt like the natural thing to do; however, The Hanged Man asks us to embrace the messiness. It's simply what we are being asked to integrate next. Most intriguingly, it's also a place where we can find peace and relase. Once our eyes adust to the darkness and we reorient to the light we can ease back into ourselves, secure in our sense of self and trusting we'll know which way to go.