And so the work continues.
That tension of opposites that I referred to last week? This week, it is still very much present – except now it’s asking you to hold something different for consideration: two new, contrasting states. Two experiences that you know well, and which are not asking for resolution, but are asking that you acknowledge each as equally valid, equally possible.
And equally valuable.
Now, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if you looked at the first two cards and immediately warmed to one of them more than the other.
That might even be an understatement: you might feel tempted to focus solely on one of them at the exclusion of the other.
Today’s reading couldn’t have chosen more apt cards: one of the most favoured in the tarot deck, and one of the least favoured. One that elicits a sigh of relief, the other a short intake of breath between the teeth. One the promise of pleasure; the other, pain. One “Success”; the other “Mourning.”
How so? How did we get here? How did we fall out of balance so much that we forgot that both are not only worthy of consideration: both are essential?
This week’s reading is asking you to reconsider the nature of what matters. In truth, both matter – and they matter equally. When you are able to hold both equally – while at the same time not using either to mitigate the other – then you are, once more, an alchemist.
Let me emphasise this:
When you can look at the Ten of Cups and consider it wholly on its own merits, and you can simultaneously look at the Three of Swords and consider it wholly on its own merits – so that they are not defined in terms of the other, but completely on their own terms – then, yes, you are an alchemist.
How does this look?
The answer will be particular to your own outlook and circumstances, and your own experiences, but perhaps it might feel similar, if not the same, as this:
That you can seek and reach fulfilment without dreading the let down. Or you can find a sense of completion in a situation without looking for a sabotaging force. Or you appreciate what is here and now in the fullest expression of what it is – whole-hearted, deep – and accept it, without rushing ahead to what could happen or what it is not.
That you can feel the pain of exclusion and embrace it unconditionally – or, at least, as best you can. Or you can know that things are seldom straightforward and rarely is there an experience without choices and complexity, and know that this is as natural as your wish for simplicity. That you feel the wrench and tear of separation, and yet you also know that this is what it means to be human, in a human world, where choices define us, bring us towards, and distance us.
And yet overarching both of these cards – both the Ten of Cups and the Three of Swords – is the major arcana card of Alchemy. Accommodating both “Success” and “Mourning” – completion and separation – Alchemy is a form of magic that fashions something out of nothing. Or, more accurately, it fashions something new out of what appears to be contradictory.
Who are you when you are both alone and part of something bigger? Who are you when you are a family member and yet need to strike out by yourself?
What do you do when you feel that you are deeply a part of something, and yet feel so separate that you might never connect with anything again?
Do you feel the inherent contradictions in these statements, and do you feel them in yourself?
Then you are in the land of Alchemy holding both the Ten of Cups and the Three of Swords with equal regard.
The tension of opposites, when worked with well, depends on no resolution. When you work with both forces, you are “both/and” and not “either/or”.
Where have you been “either/or” with these two cards, the Ten and the Three? And how do you feel about what it means to be “both/and”?
If you feel you can’t, then look at the third card, and know that it is here for a reason – in front of you for a reason. And you are here for a reason. And part of the reason, according to this reading, is to rise to the challenge of this particular act of magic.
Masculine and feminine. Fulfilment and lack. Togetherness and separation. Heart, and mind. Where in your life have you felt that one is welcomed, and the other needs to step away?
Where can you invite them both in to sit at your table – as autonomous experiences, the two very different children that they are – and make them feel like they are both at home in you?
And what is created from that force? What do you make space for when you make space for what defies being squared away?
What freedom do you discover when your options broaden into possibilities you hadn’t yet considered?
Astrology Correspondences: Ten of Cups (Mars in Pisces), Three of Swords (Saturn in Libra), Alchemy (Sagittarius)