As you may have noticed, there’s been a distinct lack of rhythm to the publishing of The Tarotcast over the past couple of months.
This is partly due to the general disruption that is The School Holidays here in the UK and elsewhere – a near seven-week behemoth that has an uncanny knack of not only toying with my well-intentioned work schedule, but also with my brain: kids in the house do not a psychological work-mode make!
But that’s not the whole story, and I thought I’d share a little of it here – perhaps in some way as a personal need to justify not keeping to a strict weekly writing commitment, yes; but also perhaps because in some way it might speak to some of you.
For the past several years, I have been drawn to the concept of “descent” as it is described in those books where I first read the term – namely, books written by practising Jungian analysts who were describing a phenomenon that they witnessed in their clients.
I’ve written about descent in several articles (one of them you can find here, which will explain the concept a little more). I have also experienced it personally several times over the course of my adult life, as those analysts certainly did themselves, and as many of you will have done, too.
So, this time precipitated by illness, the flare-up of a chronic condition, the flare-up of chronic behaviour patterns that feel well past their expiry dates, and the break-up of a key relationship, this summer has, once again, been a “Summer of Descent.”
Now I don’t tend to go into my descents with anything like the grace of Inanna – the queen of the upperworld who, in Sumerian myth, relinquishes everything as she heads into the underworld where, naked and surrendered, she faces her dark sister, Ereshkigal.
No. I tend to go into my descents saying I’m going into a descent as I metaphorically tap my nose knowingly – but my actions get more desperate by degrees. Until one day, I notice I’m spinning: from Facebook to tv program, to the fridge, to my phone, to the online news, back to Facebook, to some ridiculous gossip being played out somewhere, back to the fridge, then back to my phone again. It’s tiring reading it, and it’s tiring doing it – mixed up, as it is, with a heady concoction of cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine; cortisol, adrenaline, dopamine.
Well, this summer, I got tired of getting tired.
So I started to stop.
It wasn’t an integrated, co-ordinated slamming on of the brakes as much as a bit-by-bit realisation:
“Oh, this has to go. And that too … Oh, and that. Yep. That. Feck: that too,”
which took place over a period of several weeks.
It’s still not over, but I’ve slowed down enough, and enough has been sloughed away, to give myself some space. It’s starting to feel right, and it gives me the perspective to see what else is asking to be looked at.
And these are just the things I’m aware of. I am also aware that I am unaware and blind to the blindingly obvious.
(In some key ways I’ve been adhering to the messages of the Tarotcast over the summer – though it’s funny that I have a particular blind-spot about where they apply to me until some time afterwards, which may not be such a terrible thing.)
I notice where I berate myself for not keeping to a strict writing regimen; I notice where there are many writers and artists I admire who extol the virtues of discipline.
I notice that there is comparatively little space for those voices that extol the virtues of the wait and the extemporaneous, of procrastination and the ebb of a mysterious current that we often label as ‘lacking in self-will’ or ‘not good enough’.
I love Steven Pressfield and his book The War of Art. I love it – while knowing I relate far more closely to Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness), and Sarah Perry (The Essex Serpent), who demand the patience of their publishers while their stories percolate inside them – sometimes for years.
My life and my work are intertwined inseparably, it seems. I try to parse them out, to strike out professionally in one direction while my inner life is housed – compartmentalised – in another. It has proved beyond my capacity to do this. Today, I understand it’s not only beyond my capacity to separate them: it is undesirable and counterproductive.
And so I have to advocate for some kind of agreement between my ego and its drive for perfection, my commitment to all of you and to my own sense of accomplishment as a writer and tarot reader, and to the apparently contrarian and inexplicable desires of my unconscious for space. It is a fine balancing act, which has moments of dissolution into anarchy and equal measures of divine and slapstick comedy alike.
Where am I going with all this? I’m not sure. I’m not sure I need to be going anywhere with it. I think this newsletter is more like an encounter with someone on a road, whom you meet, who tells you a little about their journey. It’s up to you whether there’s any value for you in it.
……. I also, finally, notice that it has taken me as long to write this as it would have to write a Tarotcast. And I’m smiling.
Next week, my intention is to get back to rhythm as the kids here get back to school. All other things being equal, it will make things easier, I know that much.
It’s also recorded, so if you can’t attend live, you’ll receive a link to the webinar the next day.
[Featured Image: Inanna’s Return by Judith Shaw. Visit Judith’s website here.]