Ten of Wands

Wands and Fire

Wands are associated with fire and with the hot, passionate energy that comes with it.  This is a suit of ambition, ideas, creativity, the sparks that excite us and brings us alive.  They are inspiration and electric.  A person who can fire off a thousand exciting ideas is one expression of fire energy.  Because of the intense nature of fire, burn out is a real possibility with this suit.  Other things to be on the look out for are impulsiveness, illusions and not following things through.

As you’ll read below, in some decks the wands are referred to as branches, sticks, staves and batons, all of which bring with them particular connotations.  The first two feel to me like they are viewing the wands as something which is growing and reaching out and the latter two feel more like something static to hold onto.  Both make sense in the context but do give the reader a different angle with which to lean into the cards.  The former feels like a flame flickering and getting bigger as ideas and inspiration come and the latter feels more like a steady, strong flame.

Tens

As we saw with the ten of swords, the tens are about endings and beginnings, the natural conclusion of the suit.  If we look to the five of wands in the wild unknown tarot, we find a card with very similar imagery; again there is darkness and scattered wands although with the five it feels more like they are falling and in the ten as though they have fallen.  This gives the five a bit more hopefulness – there is the chance to regain control, to catch the falling pieces and gather yourself up.  In other decks, the five depicts people using the wands to fight with; there is a struggle but there is a chance of winning.  Learntarot.com tells us that the five and ten of wands are reinforcing cards and its clear to see why.

Another ten to consider is the ten from the Major Arcana, that is the Wheel of Fortune, another card about starting again, about turning the wheel, about moving forward.  As I’ve said already, I’ll probably be doing a post about the Wheel of Fortune at some point so we might find a bit more light shed on the ten cards then.

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Left to right: Tarot of the Pagan Cats, Wild Unknown, Lumina

Different decks

RWS

“My shoulders hurt just thinking about this card.  The figure clutches a cumbersome bunch of wands in the most awkward way possible, limping painfully into their future.”
– Michelle Tea

Tea goes on to ask why the person is insisting on carrying them so awkwardly, why aren’t they using a cart or asking friends.  One theory she posits is that the person felt they knew best and got themselves into a difficult situation and are too proud to ask for help or admit that other people might have known better.  Perhaps this person is a martyr, insisting on doing everything for himself and possibly moaning about it as well – I’m sure we all know someone like that!  There are different reasons why someone might act that way – they might struggle to ask for or accept help or they might think they are the only person who can do something or do it right.  In fact, there are very few things where you are irreplaceable.

This idea of being irreplaceable is one that our culture likes to encourage.  The idea that we are all so important that no one can do what we do or at least not as well as us.  But for me, the realisation that this is a myth, really freed me up.  I would martyr myself, struggling to work through intense pain, because I believed this myth.  I believed that it mattered that I was in work every day and that if I wasn’t something terrible – no idea what – was going to happen.  The reality is that very few of us have roles which are so vital.  And whilst this can feel like a harsh lesson, it also shows us that we don’t need to break ourselves trying to chase after the goals of a consumerist society.  We don’t need to buy into the idea that being busy all the time makes us good human beings.  This card is asking us to look at our motivations.  Why are we doing x,y or z?  Can we do things differently?  Are other people perhaps more suited to the task or might have valuable insight that can help us?

Tarot of the Pagan Cats

The LWB says, of the ten of wands:

“Carrying a large or many burdens.  Reversed: Being overwhelmed by burdens.”

Whilst the imagery is similar to the RWS deck, the cat seems to be struggling significantly less, in fact a case could be made that the cat is handling her burdens with grace.  The house she is approaching is not too far away and there is a clear path for her to follow.  This suggest that the cat has thought things through a bit more than the character we find in the RWS deck.  She has accepted her burden but she has set things up in such a way as to minimise the impact and she is heading towards home where help may lie.

Wild Unknown

The Wild Unknown card for the ten of wands shows a pile of wands, tangled and messy, against a dark, almost rainy background.  This is chaos.  Where the RWS and pagan cats showed the reader in control or at least handling their burdens, this version shows the struggle to corral them and what happens when you drop them all.  It feels a bit like herding a group of cats or taming wild horses.  It is hard to see what move to make next.

Perhaps you have too many things on the go or are overextending yourself, maybe you are afflicted with too many ideas or your enthusiasm and zest has imploded.  One of the downsides of wands is that the passion and inspiration can come without structure and the process to see things through.  This card could be calling you to create a plan and clarify your goals.  Add some good thinking air energy and so practical earth energy to your endeavours.  This might look like getting other people in to help or it might be about channelling different aspects of yourself.  Whatever it looks like, you probably aren’t going to get far if you just rely on wand energy.

“Do one thing well”
Beth, Little Red Tarot

Look at how you manage your workload, break things down into smaller tasks, prioritise, let things go, look at how and where you are leaking energy.  And look after yourself as well.  You can’t do the work you are here to do if you are burnt out and exhausted.

Lumina

As with previous card explorations I am going to discuss the fox symbolism a little later and see if it adds any specific insight into this card.  In the meantime, for the ten of wands, the lumina deck tells us to accept the support of others.  I don’t feel that the imagery here really conveys this as strongly as I find in other decks but we have already seen that carrying burdens can become difficult alone.  We can have so many ideas and wonderful visions but sometimes we need the support of other people to share the workload or to bring in different talents and expertise.  Carrying everything can lead to burn out and the spark of the wands that once excited us goes out.

As a ten card, the ten of swords reiterates completion and the cumulation of work resulting in achievement.  As a wand card, it is full of energy and you may feel inspired and excited about the future, about the next project.  But you may also experience overwhelm from the choices ahead of you.

I sometimes see the fox on this card as coming across a little smug.  He is sitting on his pile of wands, proud of his achievements and bolstered by them.  But he cannot leave his previous projects to start gathering new ones without leaving the old ones.  Are you stagnated by your success?  Are you holding onto what you have achieved, feeling rightly proud but also tethered to the past?  It feels to me a little like an artist who has accumulated a number of works of which she is proud but her attachment to them, and to the approach and style she completed them with, is holding her back and preventing her from trying out new styles and ways of working.

General thoughts

In addition to what I’ve already mentioned, my little white book also says that the ten of wands could be about:

Not feeling at peace with yourself * success that has little reward, for example something that has material gain but spiritual loss * how can I see the bigger picture? * see the support around you, let people in, be vulnerable * take responsibility * immaturity * a failure to understand one’s place in the world

I recently purchased Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot: Modern Variations of Ancient Images which has examples of tarot cards from a multitude of decks.  One in particular caught my eye with its illustration of the ten of wands.  It was ‘A Poet’s Tarot’ from Jesse Cougar and the wands are referred to as sticks and her ten of sticks includes what Pollack describes as “a sense of fantasy in the snaking branches”.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find the image online to link to but it is of a forest with intertwining trees and twisting branches, hinting towards a similar meaning as the wild unknown card.  I found the word fantasy interesting here and with everything else we know about the card, I feel this maybe referring to an element of self delusion.

Something that Beth from Little Red Tarot suggests is that feeling burdened is not necessarily the same as being burdened.  We often take on other people’s issues and burdens and forget that we can put them down. For women in particular there is this feeling that we need to smooth everything over, make everything ok for everyone else and this can be a heavy weight to carry.  If this chimes with you, you may want to read about emotional labour.  Compassion fatigue and activist burnout are also areas which may be applicable to your current situation.  Know that you are not alone and you cannot support others if you do not first support yourself, even if this means you have to put down other people’s burdens.

“Sometimes, to become empowered, we have to reach a dark rock bottom first, and sometimes we have to acknowledge that for all of our radical power, we too are human and flawed.”
Cassandra Snow

Alongside this idea of emotional labour and compassion fatigue come the words I must/ I should/ I have to/ it is my duty and so on.  We are conditioned to feel a sense of duty, particularly as women, but these are pressures which come from outside ourselves.  Beth talks about this in her post on the ten of wands and discusses the idea that we don’t HAVE to.  Instead we can reframe things.  Turn I should into I could and suddenly a statement becomes more of a question.  If you are saying I need to or I have to all the time, experiment with what happens if you change it to I am excited to or I want to.  These are not indulgent ideas, they are crucial for preventing burnout.

Pause.

Breathe.

Let your self-loving breath reignite your fire.

Associations

Saturn in Sagittarius

Helpfully this week in In The Stars, we’re looking at Saturn and I have Saturn in Sagittarius so I’ve been able to reflect on this quite personally and in more detail that I might have otherwise.  Basically put, we have a planet that tends to be association with constriction, with discipline and a zodiac sign which is about expansion so we have a bit of an uneasy combination here.  We could also view this as finding a balance between freedom and commitment, between new ideas and following through with existing plans.

Sagittarius is a sign that’s looking to learn, to expand, to move forward – it’s symbolised by an arrow after all – but we have the discipline of Saturn here which guides that arrow to a more focused place.  Instead of trying to master everything all at once, Saturn in Sagittarius suggests that focusing on one thing at a time might be a better option in this situation.  Instead of clumsily carrying all the wands and dropping them (as has happened in the wild unknown card), maybe picking up one at a time will be a more helpful approach.  Saturn also brings structure to Sagittarius, perhaps you need a routine or a project plan to help you achieve what you want.

Another way of reading the symbolism of Saturn in Sagittarius with the ten of wands is around meaninglessness and loss of ambition.  There can be self doubt which becomes paralysing and if Sagittarius is not allowed to expand and head forward, they can become disheartened and frustrated and feel a sense of pointlessness.  Whilst you might not be able to do ten things at once, make sure you’re doing one thing and do it well.

Other

The Thoth tarot calls this card Oppression and indeed, the heavy burden being carried can be read to be oppressive but perhaps here we are also looking at the burdens we carry because of society such as the emotional labour mentioned above.  This is not an individual burden, instead it is one shared by oppressed groups.

I went looking to find out if the associated plant or crystals etc would shed any further light on this card but the only associated plant I found was Prickly Ash Bark which I’ve never heard of.  That being said anything which is prickly feels appropriate here!  This card is filled with ideas that can be difficult to handle and challenges which can potential rip through us and shred us.

Fox

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Left to right: Animal Allies, Medicine Cards, Wild Unknown Animal Spirit Cards

We have three very different looking foxes here.  The medicine card fox is skinny and feels to me like it belongs in a desert.  The wild unknown fox is glowing and seems sure of himself to me, possibly with an edge of conceitedness.  And the animal allies fox is looking us in the eye and knows how good looking he is and what fantastically bushing and vibrant fur he has.  It is almost as though we have the fox in three different life stages – the medicine card fox is young, the wild unknown fox is a teenager or in early adulthood and the animal allies fox has the confidence of a fully grown adult who knows his place the world and is sure of himself.  With this in mind, it feels like the foxes are illustrating the journey that the ten of wands is inviting us to take.

We start off young and naïve, sure of ourselves even when we shouldn’t be and inevitably we overdo things and that shows in the unsure eyes and the skinniness of the young fox.  He has been overly confident and now is questioning that.  Having experienced that and learnt to ask for and receive help, the teenage fox is basking in the glow of his successes, achieved because he took on board those lessons.  He asked for advice and support from those around him and because of it he saw things through but it seems as though perhaps he isn’t confident sharing the limelight here, he isn’t ready to say that he needed help or that he couldn’t have come so far alone.  Earlier I said that in my own LWB I have written “a failure to understand one’s place in the world” and whilst I can’t remember why I wrote that in my book, I do feel as though the adult fox has worked through his stuff and come out the other side understanding the interconnectedness of the world and through that, his own place.  He has matured and grown as he has taken on board the lessons of the ten of wands.

Mira Sol Wisdom says, of the ten of wands:

“Where once there was momentum moving forward with a goal, this is a time where one has really slowed down and starting to feel the burden of their own creation. This is right about the time where pushing through is most necessary. At one time of immaturity it would have been easy to give up at this point.”

It is this journey of growing up that we see with our three fox cards.  The excitable energy of youth, flitting from shiny toy to shiny toy slowly becomes a more sustained interest in seeing things through and basking in the glory and over time, we may come to realise that it is the team which should be receiving the recognition and that drawing attention to team achievements does not negate our own involvement.  We can say the team did well and not lose our own place in the world or the project.  Indeed, in my own experience, being acknowledged for work done as part of a team can feel more authentic and enjoyable.

Another way to lean into the fox imagery on the ten of wands is as a medicine to the situation.  The fox is often considered to be quick witted and cunning, thinking about what is coming.  Perhaps channelling this energy will help you to be more decisive and become better at planning the next move.  The wild unknown fox is part of the earth suit so may also be able to offer some groundedness to the excitable fire of the ten of wands.  It could steady the flame and reduce the risk of burn out.

The Japanese folklore about shapeshifting foxes echoes the potential for illusion and delusion with this card and one of Aesop’s fables shows the fox to be prideful, something we definitely see in the ten of wands.

To complete the series, I’m going to take a look at the ten of cups and then I will get onto the long promised, and much mentioned, Wheel of Fortune card.

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Ten of pentacles

Having had so much fun investigating the ten of swords, I decided I would start investigating the wheel of fortune, what with it being a ten card. I approached Oephebia about it and she said it had already been taken for this year but that the ten of pentacles and ten of wands were both available if I wanted to take on a second card.  I most definitely did and I picked up a deck and flicked through until I found the ten of wands or pentacles, whichever came first was going to steer my choice.  Ten of pentacles it is!

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Left to right: Wild Unknown, Pagan Cats, Lumina 

Pentacles/ Earth

The pentacles and the element earth with which they are associated are about worldly things, things you can own or touch.  This extends to your body and your health but also includes home, money, career, resources and a practical, pragmatic approach to life.  It is a grounded energy that tends to the aspects of daily life such as health maintenance and food.  This suit embodies the idea that a flourishing outer world extends from a flourishing inner world.  Putting on your own oxygen mask in on a plane before helping others is a high expression of pentacle energy. This is helping and being generous with yourself but tending to self first in order to do this.  However, greed and possessiveness are a lower expression.

With the pentacles there is also the practical realisation of dreams, the work that you put in to get what you want. It is about manifestation and productivity.

Tens

As we saw with the ten of swords, the tens are about endings and beginnings, the natural conclusion of the suit.

I find it interesting to look to the five of a suit, a half way point on the longer journey.  With pentacles, the five is about struggle, scarcity and not seeing what you have.  We work through this, we open our eyes to our abundance and we put in the work we need to build a solid foundation, to build the life we want.  There is a weariness to the five of pentacles and we might want to give up and give in but the light in the darkness is the wealth that comes with the ten.  Keep going even if you feel like you can’t.  There are times to quit and times to power through, this could well be the latter.

Another ten to consider is the ten from the Major Arcana, that is the Wheel of Fortune, another card about starting again, about turning the wheel, about moving forward.  As I’ve said already, I’ll probably be doing a post about the Wheel of Fortune at some point so we might find a bit more light shed on the ten cards then.

Different decks

Rider Waite Smith

In the RWS ten of pentacles, the foreground pictures and older man feeding or playing with two dogs, two adults in conversation with a small child pulling at the robe of one of the adults.  We seem to be in a market place or a town.  The scene is taking place in front of an arch, behind which are a range of buildings.  Ten pentacles are superimposed over the top in a symmetrical pattern.

Key words include affluence, permanence and convention and a traditional interpretation tends to view it as physical wealth, business success and maintaining this status quo. The Thoth tarot calls this the wealth card.

There is an air of prosperity in the village or town, not just in the people featured, which suggests a generosity, a sharing of wealth.  This is echoed somewhat in the old man who seems to be well off and I feel has been drawn with respect, this suggests a valuing of knowledge and experience, not just money.

I like Carrie Mallon’s observation that the card illustrates a passing down of security from generation to generation.  This could be in the form of physical or financial inheritance but it might also be in terms of wisdom.  Or perhaps the card could be asking us to turn to our elders in our quest to build stability and create abundance in our lives.

Tarot of Pagan Cats

The tarot of the pagan cats echoes this with a large cat – a fat cat if you will – laying in an opulent courtyard, a smaller cat at its feel and a couple of cats – one black, one white – interacting in the background.  The pentacles in this case are ten different symbols over the archway.

The LWB tells us this card means a stable and abundant life.  The description suggests less of the financial wealth of the RWS card and a more holistic idea of wealth.  Does anyone know what the symbols over the archway mean?  I know that left to right, the first four are earth, air, fire and water, possibly the fifth is the sun and the next three could be moon cycles but I’m really not sure…  If this is the case, it feels like we are being given all the aspects of life that we need – the magic of the different moon phases, all the elements and the power of the sun.  There is nothing more we need, we have security and the knowledge that we are safe and secure in what we have.

The Wild Unknown

The Wild Unknown has a circular rainbow with 9 large pentacles and one small pentacle right inside the central pentacle.  I like this, I like that you have to work a little bit to see all that you have.  This for me feels like a better angle for reading the card, one more fitting for this deck.  Pay attention to the details around you, don’t take things for granted.

As with most of the cards, I find the wild unknown take much more inspiring.  We are surrounded by abundance – the colours of the rainbow could perhaps be the equivalent of the symbols on the pagan cats – but no one is dictating what the aspects of abundance are.  For some people, to be surrounded by family might feel like contentment, for others it might be having the luxury of time alone.  And the need to look closer to see all you have really speaks to me.

I enjoy Carrie Mallon’s interpretations of the wild unknown cards and the words she has chosen for the ten of pentacles are stability and establishment.  Having spent the previous nine cards of the suit creating and achieving what you need, you can now pause.  You have established the life you want to live and have the things which make you content, you have created a solid foundation.  Note, this doesn’t mean you see them or feel them, you may need to stop and look instead of always future gazing.

Unlike in the ten of swords, this is a time to embrace the status quo, this is not a time for rushing forward and moving on.  Pause.  Enjoy.

Lumina Tarot

I love the image on this card!  It has a bear’s head with a bee resting on it’s forehead or third eye.  It is greyscale except for the ten golden pentacles surrounding the bear.  As with the ten of swords, I will explore the symbolism of this more later.

This time the keywords are joyful abundance and connection.  It is about satisfaction, appreciation for our life’s journey and gratitude for what we have.  The deck suggests that we create rituals to celebrate completion of particular journeys and phases as well as acknowledging that challenges and setbacks build us and help us to grow.  It also notes that what we have achieved may look very different to what we set out to achieve and that is ok.  Like all cards this could be read conversely as suggesting that you are not being grateful or not acknowledging how far you have come. We can get stuck in what we want to do and forget to look at what we have done.

General thoughts

Having looked at the decks, there are inevitably some common threads and I find pulling out questions can be a helpful way to help others read for themselves.  With this card some of these could include:

How can you use your success to help others? What can’t you live without?  What does success look like to you?  How are you tending to the details of your health and life?  What part of your life makes you feel richest?  What does security look like to you?  What have you inherited from previous generations?  How are you practising gratitude for what you have?  How are you working towards what you don’t have?  What are your values in life?

The card is speaking to the blessings in your life, to your relationship with abundance, to how you work towards or have worked towards fulfilment, whatever that looks like to you.  And that last bit is important here.  To find the richness of the ten of pentacles, you must be travelling along and honouring your true soul path instead of doing what you think you should be doing or what other people are telling you you should be doing.  If you follow other people’s paths, you might well find you harvest a bumper crop financially and physically but what of your emotional and spiritual wellbeing?  This can mean that the ten of pentacles is speaking to you more of how you heal yourself, how you align your inner world with your outer world.  As we’ll see, the associated mercury in virgo has aspects of this tending to your health and body, your emotions and your spirit.

Things you might want to reflect on are your confidence regarding your place in the world, your need for security vs your need for risk and adventure.  Also think about how you can further about yourself to experience the hidden ordinary magic.

Unlike the ten of swords, the ten of pentacles is the accumulation of the suit ending on a high note.  Michelle Tea says of it that “it is affirming that you’ve done the right thing, taken the correct actions, and made the best decisions, and the proof is in the very life you’re living… you’ve integrated your past achievements and their material payoffs into your life.  You’ve accumulated enough emotional and material security to trust that it’s not going anywhere.”

The ten of pentacles associations

Mercury in Virgo

Mercury is the messenger of the gods, it is a communicator, an archetype of perceiving and transmitting, taking in and putting out.  There can be an eloquence with this sign.

Then we have virgo, a sign which is detail orientated and also known for being of service.  Whilst these characteristics tend to be interpreted as perfectionist and helper in pop astrology, we can also see this as being meticulous and good at tending to the day to day.  There is an often overlooked aspect of tending to oneself, the day to day aspects of looking after yourself and others.  The detail part of this sign can be seen in the daily brushing of teeth and fuelling your body through carefully chosen nutrients.  Doing the little acts of self care even when you can’t see an immediate change.  These acts accumulate and this is how virgo’s attention to detail shines.  As an earth sign, virgo can be cautious, moving on a slower time scale than other signs.  Here I feel like we have an association that perceives, that observes, the details of life – the little things which some people overlook – the smaller bricks that make a life.  Ten of pentacles asks us to engage in small acts of attention and small acts of doing, both of which will build over time to create a gratitude and a security respectively.

Other associations

I didn’t have any plants noted specifically in my little white book (where I collect all my thoughts and notes about tarot) so I did a bit of googling and found that this card is linked with:

Black tourmaline, copper, emerald, fossils, geodes, granite, jade, iron, jet, haematite, lodestone, roots and wild yam

I don’t know a lot about the properties of different crystals but these are feel strong and tough, hard to break, excellent qualities for the foundation we build through the suit of pentacles.  Roots and the root vegetable yam are another kind of foundation.  Not an architectural one but a more natural one.  The roots of trees are what stop it from falling over in a storm.  The roots of the yam seek out the daily water and nutrients which let it life and grow.  We have the physical foundation or secure base of our home, the security of regular food and water, our health which may or may not feel secure.  We are looking here at our needs and how safe and stable we feel with these and how we could work to strengthen the foundations of the needs.

The bears and the bees

Sorry, couldn’t resist…

Bear

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Left to right: Animal Allies, Wild Unknown, Medicine Cards

For the lumina tarot, the symbolic animal for pentacles is bear and I love the bear, and the bee actually, so this has been a really fun post for me.  One of the things I really like about the bear is the paradox or duality inherent here.  We have the mama bear who loves her cubs gently and wholeheartedly.  But we also have the fierce, protective mother who would kill to protect those she loves.  Learning how to hold contradictions and dualities is an important part of life and for me has been helpful for firming up my mental health.  Knowing I can be happy and sad and that one does not invalidate the other has been an important lesson for me.

But what does this have to do with the ten of pentacles you ask?  Well, holding those paradoxes with peace is one way of creating a foundation for your inner world.  Knowing that life is filled with happy and sad moments and that these do not contradict or invalidate each other even when they are concurrent is a way that we can hold onto something stable even in the most unstable situation.

There is also a strong grounding aspect to the bear, they are very in tune with the cycles of nature – life the cycles of the wheel of fortune – and can teach us the benefit of going with the flow, embracing changes instead of fighting against them.  For a card that has inherent contradictions, it is probably no surprise that alongside going with the flow and the cycles of change, we are also invited to pause – to hibernate – and rest and just be, something that the ten of pentacles encourages as well.

Bee

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Left to right: Wild Unknown, Animal Allies

If you know nothing about the symbolic meaning of bees, you probably still know they are hard workers.  Busy as a bee.  They are the embodiment of the work ethic that builds the foundation we see in the ten of pentacles.  They, like the ten of pentacles, are manifesting abundance.

In my post about the wild unknown bee card I wrote that bees have sensory hairs which can determine wind speed and direction and they can see UV light which means they see the world differently to us.  Flowers appear even more beautiful for the bee, pause and appreciate their magnificence, such a ten of pentacles message.

Where the bear is both loving and aggressive, the bee is both honey and the sting.  This feels like a prompt to consider perspective within the context of the ten of pentacles, a reminder that what we have depends on what we see and don’t see.

I hope this, along with the ten of swords, has given you some flavour of the ten cards in tarot and how some are the manifestation of positivity and others the accumulation of the negative.  Both have valuable lessons for us and both can help us grow, develop and enhance our lives.

10 of Swords, part two

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Part one looked at the meanings of swords, tens and considered a few portrayals of the ten of swords.  Today I’ll be looking at a few things associated with the ten of cards, including the symbolism of the buffalo and vulture which we see in the wild unknown and lumina decks. Consider this to be the equivalent of a person’s clothing. They do not dictate or change a person, but instead they are another way they can express their personality and are a way of an outsider seeing inside a person. These aspects are taken secondary to the areas discussed in the previous post but certainly they add depth to our reading and give us more to ponder and to question.

The ten of swords associations

Now I’m going to be looking more widely at who the ten of swords is, using the four cards I’ve already described. Once I’ve done this, I’m going to return to the Wild Unknown and Lumina and see what else we can gleam from them by looking at what the featured animals represent.

Whilst the cards all portray the idea differently, we clearly have a pattern of bleakness, of pain and of devastation in one way or another.

Sun in Gemini

The ten of swords is associated with the sun in gemini and this chimes very nicely with the idea of the play and telling, performing or watching stories. Gemini is the storyteller, the communicator and with this we are given the creative gift to retell or repaint our lives and stories. Where the card itself is bleak and dire, we have the tools to make the light shine. We just have to chose to. We can keep retelling our misery to ourselves, or we can start to tell new stories about who we are and who the world is.

Another way of leaning into this association is that because gemini is a quick sign, has lots of ideas and interests and sees lots of sides to a situation, you can end up overthinking or getting stuck in idea overload unable to make a decision. You can be so busy thinking and learning and perceiving that you can’t concentrate on one thing, your mind and eyes get caught by something interesting over there…

Ephedra

Somewhere along the way I wrote Ephedra in my little white book next to the ten of swords along with a note about how it’s a plant which has defied extinction. I don’t want to go into too much detail about a plant you’ve probably never heard of but…

It’s been around for a very very long time – at least since the early cretaceous period (145 million years ago – 100.5 million years ago) but it nearly went extinct around 66 million years ago (when the dinosaurs were wiped out) but escaped. Based on fossil observations, it’s thought that this group of plants saved themselves by shifting from predominantly insect pollination systems to wind based systems.  The plant shows us the need to keep changing, evolving, adapting and moving forward.

Unrelated interesting, at least to me, Ephedra, as the name suggests, gives us ephedrine, a compound which can be used to treat asthma, narcolepsy and respiratory conditions although ephedra plants have been used to treat illness as far back as 5000BC.  What medicine does the ten of swords gift you?

The Buffalo and the Vulture

The Buffalo

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Left to right: Animal Allies, Medicine Cards and Wild Unknown Animal Oracle

The Wild Unknown Animal Oracle Guidebook tells us that the buffalo is grounded yet heavenly, practical yet spiritual. When this medicine is in balance it is trusting, pure presence. When out of balance it is restless, lacks gratitude.

The buffalo is a symbol of abundance and being grateful for what you are receiving.  They are strong yet gentle, sturdy and grounded but is also spiritual.  Because they provided for the indigenous population of america, they were a way of attaining security.  They used all the parts of the buffalo and thanked them for their gift, because of the generosity of the buffalo they were seen as sacred, sacrificed.  How are we treating those who sacrifice for us?  Are we thankful?  Or do we react by exploiting their offerings?  In the context of the ten of swords, I am wondering if a kind ear has become over used as we recite every hurt we’ve ever received?  There is a time and a place for that and it is a valid way of healing but don’t abuse the generosity of others.  And don’t take without giving.  Share your abundance as well as your pains.

The medicine card buffalo is associated with prayer and abundance, again it is the giving thanks for what we have and what we receive.  Instead of listing our woes, perhaps we list the things that we are grateful for.  Again, I want to stress, this doesn’t mean you can’t feel your hurts or process your worries, but we privileged negativity over positivity and they can co-exist.  Just as the buffalo is both grounded and of the heavens.

“Buffalo… You bring us, the gifts of life. Hear our prayers, smoke rising, like phoenix, we are reborn, within the scared words.”
Sams and Carson

The Vulture

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For the vulture, the Wild Unknown Guidebook has the keywords guardian and purifier and notes that it is essential for rebalance. When in balance this medicine clarifies and reveals wisdom. When out of balance, it is dramatic and aggressive.

It can be hard to see why we should like a vulture, but if you look closely enough and give it time, you can find that they are fascinating and vital to our planet. Perhaps when we think of the ten of swords then, we are creating space to find a silver lining. To reach it, you need to work though some dark and heavy preconceptions, complex emotions, an unfounded hatred perhaps but this work that you’re putting in, that is what will make the reward feel so much more powerful. You will gain wisdom if you seek to know the vulture.

Change, like the vulture, has a bad reputation.  But both can be important to cleaning up, to cleansing and purifying the self and the environment.  The vulture cleans up after others and keeps our planet, and us, healthy.

Although the vulture only appears on one of the ten of swords I looked at, it feels appropriate for a sword card.  The belief that they have excellent eyesight means they have been thought to be able to see into the future.  With all the thoughts, imaginations and worries of the swords, this suit can also, if they wish, peer into the future, although they may find themselves dwelling on the past instead…

With the vulture, and the ten of swords, we have a theme of death and rebirth, hitting rock bottom and moving forward.  There is an aspect of renewal to both. However painful and difficult the death is to experience, it will allow something new to come into being.

Linked to the idea of birth, the vulture is associated with mothering and given how tricky the ten of swords can be, this is certainly a time to take care of yourself.

Whilst there is so much I could say about the ten of swords, I think it’s important that you find your own relationship with the cards and I hope that something in what I’ve written will chime with you and set you off on your own path.  Different ways in work for different people but once you’ve found your own, there can be an amazing journey ahead of you.

I’m going to leave you with two links, both about tarot and poetry that I couldn’t resist including:

10 of Swords, part one

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Left to right: Tarot of the Pagan Cats, The Wild Unknown Tarot, Lumina Tarot

I got an email in the middle of June asking if I was interested in taking part in an investigation into the tarot cards ahead of International Tarot Day.  I most definitely was and I was also intrigued as to which card I would be assigned – the universe can work in wonderfully intriguing ways.  Anyway.   The card was the 10 of swords.  And earlier that week I had done a spread with a deck I rarely use and had got a very puzzling 10 of swords card so it was already on my mind and I jumped right in!

The way I get to know a random card is different to how I get to know a card when it’s come up in a reading.  In the latter I’ll describe it, might attempt a drawing and will see what leaps out and what speaks to me that day.  To get to know a card in detail like I’m doing today, I approach it from a few angles.  I look at the suit and the number and I look at it across a number of decks.  Once I’ve done that I might then have a look at astrological associations and the symbolism of the elements of the cards.  So with that in mind, let’s get to know the ten of swords.

Swords/Air

Swords are the suit of the air, of the mind, of communication and the mental realm.  They are about matters of logic, knowledge and ambition.  Strategy and planning, truth and justice are all sword qualities.  Swords are about learning and thinking but as they are about the inner mind, they also deal with worries and nightmares, the shadow side of all that thinking energy.  This suit, like the swords that represent them, have two edges; light and shadow.  Creation and destruction.  Imagination and anxiety.  Decisiveness and indecision.

Being air cards, they are often depicted using feathers, birds and other creatures of the sky although the examples we’ll be coming onto contradict this.

Tens

Tens are about endings and beginnings.  With the ten of swords, we find a very dramatic, painful end.  We have hit rock bottom, but that only leaves us with one way to go.  We have completed a journey and are now getting ready to move on, to go beyond and to start something new with the wisdom we’ve found.

I find it interesting to look to the five of a suit, a half way point on the longer journey.  With swords, the five depicts chaos.  Too many ideas, too many directions and getting stuck because of this.  Too many thoughts result in non action with the five of swords and in the ten of swords we see these thoughts come to destroy us.

Another ten to consider is the ten from the Major Arcana, that is the Wheel of Fortune, another card about starting again, about turning the wheel, about moving forward.

Different decks

Rider Waite Smith

As I’ve discussed before, I am not a fan of the RWS tarot deck but I do know it’s widely used and most people like it more than I do.  For a lot of people there is a sentimentality as it’s a common first deck.  Because I don’t have the deck myself and because I feel too much guilt if I steal images off the internet, here is a description instead.

It seems to be dusk or dawn, the sky is predominately black, with a strip of yellow under the clouds on the horizon.  In the distance are the silhouettes of far off mountains, at the foot of which lays a flat lake.  On the near shore lays a person with ten swords stabbed into his back.  The head faces towards the mountains and blood drenches the lower body.  A red ribbon of blood appears to lay under the head.

The words associated with the RWS ten of swords are ruin, destruction, defeat.  There is a hopelessness to this card.  I don’t think there can be much doubt that the person is dead, a sad realisation if you read the sky as clearing.  Perhaps there was hope and possibility but this fighter couldn’t fight long enough.  Sometimes light is just around the corner, it’s a cliché for a reason…

The Tarot of Pagan Cats

The nearest to a RWS deck I have is the Tarot of Pagan Cats which relies on RWS for imagery but portrays in slightly differently.  Differently enough that I feel more comfortable using it.

I’m aware the photograph is hard to see the detail on this card, it’s hard to see it when it’s right in front of you, so I’m going to try and tell you what I see here and this is actually a good exercise with all cards, however clearly you can see them.

There is a stage with a statue holding what might be two bouquets of flowers and some stage decoration, all are dusty.  The backdrop to the stage suggests a setting sun.  In front of the stage lays a red, plush looking cushion with ten swords stuck through it.  Unlike the rest of this deck, there is no cat in the image.  The little white book that came with this deck says “surrender to unpleasant or unfortunate circumstances”, a suggestion that I don’t always feel comfortable with.  But that does ask us a question – in whatever situation we find ourselves in, should we surrender or keep fighting?

When I’m dealing with this card, one of the key questions is where is the cat?!  Where is the reader?  Are you being present for this reading or are you distracted?  Is your mind elsewhere?  I’m also interested in the stage aspect – what play are you performing or watching?  What stories are you telling about yourself or to yourself?  Given that it looks as though the play is over, perhaps you need to leave some of these stories behind, perhaps you have got stuck in an old story that’s no longer relevant but you’re still standing on the stage, without an audience, getting dusty whilst you hold onto old achievements.  As a ten, this card is saying you’ve completed something and it’s time to move on.

The Wild Unknown

This is my favourite ever tarot deck, possibly because it was my first, but I also love the lack of people and how much you can read into the images.  For the ten of swords, we have a bull or buffalo (the angle and darkness makes it hard to be sure the artist’s intent) with nine swords piercing into his shoulders and one sword extending through both eye sockets.  The bull looks like he could be falling and it would be blackness he would fall into.  The use of lines in the background suggest rain to me.

Where one single sword could have blinded or killed the bull, ten have been used, this is overkill, it is like a death by a thousand papercuts.  No one person or reason is to blame for how you’re feeling here and you can’t fight every loss or hurt.  You can’t beat a tsunami by looking at each individual water droplet.  Sometimes in our society it can feel like you need to examine each aspect of what has hurt you and that certainly has it’s place, but sometimes you just need to lump it all together and move on.

As with the pagan cats, there is an important focus here on what you’re telling yourself.  Are you repeating each hurt and wound you’ve received over and over in your head?  Are you telling people over and over of each of your little pains?  Are you playing the victim or being a martyr?  I have a hard time saying this – being told I’m being dramatic is a trigger for me – but are you being melodramatic?

I am put in mind of something I figured out with my therapist.  We looked at a range of different things which caused me pain and suffering and then generalised the incidents.  So instead of focusing on someone not waving to me, I could reframe it as realising that it had pressed my trigger around being invisible.  Instead of looking at your ten thousand papercuts, could you look at the themes?  Perhaps you take it to heart when people are late and that’s ok, but it’s easier to carry that around than to carry each memory of each person being late.

Remember too that we are in the realm of the swords, of the mind, so the stories you are telling yourself, the thoughts you are spinning, are not necessarily true.  They are thoughts.  They are real thoughts but the truth of them is not necessarily accurate.  How are you responding to your thoughts?  How are they shaping how you act?  If we think we are terrible people then we can either accept that and do terrible things or change and become better people.  If you think all our pains are other people’s fault, we will stay stuck here but if we accept responsibility for how we react, we can move on.  We are not saying that what we’ve experienced is ok, we are saying it has happened and we are taking back our power and not letting the thing control us.  With the disclaimer of course that terrible things do happen in the world, this isn’t a just snap out of it card, this is a card which is saying go and find a therapist, get some medication or talk to a friend.  It is a card which is saying make a single step, right now, however small.  In taking that step, you are gaining some control over your situation, you are taking some responsibility for the future.

Lumina Tarot

Here we have a gnarled, bare stump of tree standing upright despite ten bloody swords stabbed through it.  On the top perches a vulture with blood dripping from his beak.  Everything is greyscale except the rich red of the blood.

The keywords for this card are traumatic endings and sudden change.  Probably not something of a shock given what we’ve seen for our other decks.  Again, there is pain, hurt, possibly betrayal.  Wounds are raw and you feel like you’ve been knocked off your feet.  Stability is hard to find.

Where other cards have talked about creating your stability, about taking responsibility, the book for this deck speaks of letting time take over, that you may not have control over where things are headed so you may way to stop resisting.  It does however clarify that by saying that whilst playing the victim may feel “temporarily rewarding, long term it will erode your sense of Self and leave you powerless, leading you to rock bottom.”  This adds an interesting dimension to the other characters we’ve seen – they have already been at rock bottom, but here we haven’t quite got there – do we keep falling or do we fly?  Swords are the cards of the air after all…

Interlude

We’ve certainly got a lot of food for thought here.  We’ve seen the general characteristics of swords and tens as well as different personalities of the ten of cards in different decks.  Next time I’ll be looking at a few things associated with the ten of cards, including the symbolism of the buffalo and vulture which we see in the Wild Unknown and Lumina decks.

Astrology and me

Some of you, depending on when you first got to know me, might be surprising to find out I’m doing a year long astrology course and have just paid for a reading – both with the wonderful Hali Karla.  You might be asking yourself how someone with a masters in mathematics has arrived at this.  And I think you’d be right to wonder.

For a long time, I mostly thought of astrology as horoscopes and the horoscopes I’d come across were ones that are nicely generic and can apply to everyone at any point in their lives.  Newspapers which claim that this week pisces are going to feel hurt by someone in their lives and aries are going to find themselves facing a financial challenge.  This is so generic as to fit anyone, regardless of their sign.

My journey towards astrology started with tarot being used as a tool for self reflection.  I’ve also always loved the moon and a lot of people who talk about tarot online also align their lives to the moon.  They pay attention to what part of the cycle it’s in and create ritual around different phases.  Whilst I had unclear feelings about the power of the moon in this sense, it does give a nice symbolic way of thinking about and experiencing life and ritual has power in and of itself.  I’ve spoken about tarot and ritual before on here and I know that they both have an important role in my life; one for touching in with my heart and the other for setting intentions.

As part of my moon journey, I started listening to Hali’s monthly moon reflections.  They had a different flavour each month as she focused on which sign the moon was in.  Again, it gave me a cycle to hang my life on – life loses a sense of time and place when you retire.  And the twelve different zodiac signs cover 12 key ways of looking at and experiencing life.  This means that regardless of your feelings about astrology, if you’d followed her for a year you’d have done some deep and broad reflection.

I loved the recordings partly because of their content, partly because Hali is an artist and partly because I find her voice really soothing and friendly.  She seemed very approachable and whilst she was taking it seriously, it wasn’t too serious!

At one stage she talked about charting the moon’s journey through the zodiac signs and seeing how that appears in your life.  I wasn’t especially convinced, particularly given I wasn’t really sensing much with moon cycles, but I went along with it.  And wow.  Without knowing much about the signs, I recorded my activities and energies across a month.  As I’m retired I can mostly go with my gut and see where my whims take me.  At the end of the month I looked back and saw some interesting themes so carried on making notes.  I think the moon had been through the signs three times when I stood back and properly looked at patterns.  As I discerned differing energies and priorities, I began to look beyond the stereotypes of the signs and get a better feel for what they are and the two – the signs and my activities – aligned incredibly, and surprisingly, well.

I was somewhat shocked but there had been a couple of times when things had changed suddenly in the day and it transpired that was when the sign had actually changed.  I’ve had enough slightly weird, unexplainable things happen to me that I didn’t rule out the power of the moon and the stars.  I carried on charting a bit longer to see if the themes continued and I began to notice that some signs had much louder themes, emotions or activities than others.

I was still listening along to the monthly recordings and I was starting to pick up more about astrology and the different signs so I looked up my birth chart and began to learn a little more about it, beyond just knowing I’m a Pisces.  For example, I’d not come across the idea of rising signs until recently and just knowing I’m a Cancer rising with Pisces sun gives me a lot of food for thought.  It also gave me some interesting insight into my charting.  The signs where I wasn’t feeling such a strong pull in a particular direction were the signs which were empty on my birth chart.

By this point, I’d figured out enough about astrology to realise that regardless of whether it is ‘real’ or not, it was another good tool for self reflection.  The more I learnt the more obvious this became and this was a big motivating factor in my decision to join Hali’s In The Stars course.

For those of you who aren’t into astrology, a birth chart is made up of the 12 zodiac signs, 12 houses and 10 planets.  Each planet represents a different kind of energy or motivation, each sign is a filter for that energy, how we act it out and each house is a different life area.  So you can see how a year long course which looks at all of these in detail is going to provide a lot of food for thought and reflective material.  And this is how Hali approaches her course.

“The real purpose of astrology [is] to hold a mirror before the evolving self, to tell us what we already know deep within ourselves.”
– Steven Forrest

In the first lesson we were asked what we think astrology is and for me, it’s a symbolic language through which we can develop our self awareness and sense of connection to ourselves and to others.  It is a tool which we can use to help understand the ideas and impulses which call to be expressed or wrestled with within.  It is a way of relating archetypes to our own lives and seeing how we can work with those to become more like ourselves.

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How the moon makes me feel

But I said I got a reading, how can someone else’s reading of my birth chart be self reflective? Well, it turned out, the more I learnt, the more a-ha moments I had and the more I felt like I understood myself and could validate my experiences and perspectives of the world.  To have Hali do a reading for me felt like it could be a powerful way of getting external validation and direction and she is excellent at giving you food for thought.

It turns out my reading was actually pretty accurate, and not in a newspaper horoscope kind of way.  There were things she touched on that resonated deeply and other aspects that she was able to give words to which I had not yet managed.

So what do I think of astrology now?  Well, I still don’t really know.  But one of the areas we looked at this week was about how we face and interact with the unknowable.  And astrology is dancing with the unknowable.  We won’t ever know if it’s ‘real’ and if it is, we won’t know why it works.  I am moving towards making peace with that, to accepting the strange, beyond coincidence moments I’ve experienced, and towards a place where I don’t feel I need to question everything.

“Negative capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.”
– Keats

Sacred Scarab

When considering the messages of beetles, it would be impertinent to ignore the sacred scarab beetle which was revered in ancient Egypt for hundreds of years.  Within the discussion of the scarab it is also vital to understand that it is actually a dung beetle and therein lies an interesting dichotomy; the sacred scarab and the mundane dung beetle. Perspective is clearly what matters here.  The way you view your world, shapes your experience of that world.

This seemingly straightforward creature is deceptively complicated.  When most people talk about the scarab beetle in terms of being a symbol, they are talking about the sacred scarab beetle associated the ancient Egyptians.  The sacred scarab beetle is one of the species in the dung beetle family which in turn is part of the Scarabaeidae family, which is commonly referred to as scarab.  See the confusion?  For clarity, here I am talking about a sacred scarab.

For ancient Egyptians, the scarab beetle was a common and important symbol and images of this significant creature have appeared carved into bone, ivory, stone and on precious metals.  Scarabs were placed on the heart of the dead to help them move on to the afterlife.  It was also used to ward off dangers after death.

Associated with the god Khepri, the rolling of the dung ball was likened to the action of the god rolling the sun across the sky.  As the sun dies and is reborn on a daily cycle, the scarab became a symbol of transformation and rebirth.  Interestingly, whilst not all dung beetles roll their balls, those that do get their cues from the sky, be it the sun, the moon or even, in one case, the milky way.  This orientation of self to the universe is one I find myself compelled to unpick.  Could it be an invitation to explore astrology? To turn your eyes to the skies for advice and omens?  Is it asking you to consider your place in the world, your purpose and your reason for existing?  Another option is that it’s a reminder we are all made of stardust, or that we are tiny on the stage of the solar system.  If we recall the myth about the beetle who accidentally created the milky way we add another dimension to some of these questions.

One of the beliefs surrounding the scarab was that they reproduced only from males.  Ancient Egyptians had observed young beetles emerging from the balls of dung and thought that the male beetle had injected his sperm into the ball and thus female beetles were superfluous to the process.  This had parallels with the god Atum whose name is thought to come from the verb tm, meaning to complete or finish.  Associated with the creation or the world, and the end of the world, he is a self created god who is linked with pre and post existence.  Along with Khepri, Atum was a sun god, representing sun set where Khepri represented sun rise.

If we consider the metaphorical implications of the scarab in the context of Khepri and Atum, we find ourselves asking questions about how we start and finish projects, what we are starting and finishing at the moment, what we should be starting and finishing.  The endless cycle of death and rebirth also comes up, a theme that is echoed by the metamorphosis of the beetles, the nature of regeneration, resurrection and immortality.  The process of metamorphosis brings with it ideas and questions around transformation, the letting go of one self to make space for another, a process which cannot come without pain; a phoenix rising from the ashes must first go through the pains of fire.

Naturally we also have themes of recycling, of cleaning, of the importance of small creatures in keeping the world functioning and as such it would be worth reading the general beetle post as well.

Animal Allies – Beetle

Note, I’ll also be doing a post specifically about scarab beetles.

“Beetles comprise the order with more members than any other in the animal kingdom.  Scientists have catalogued more than 350,000 species.  Like most insects, a beetle has four wings.  What makes the beetle different is that he front pair are no longer useful for flight, instead they have evolved into tough sheaths that conceal the functional hind pair when the beetle is at rest.”
Gordon Grice

From an imagery point of view, these protective sheaths are full of juicy metaphors.  We can turn to some of the ideas from the crab, the turtle, the ladybird and the snail as they provide a shell or armour of sorts.  I find it interesting to think about how they were once wings – the beetle stopped flying and in doing so it needed to create this extra layer of protection.  Is there something there about how vulnerable we become when we don’t step out of our comfort zone?

The protective shell can come in an array of colours including beautiful iridescent rainbows, perhaps you identify with a particular type of beetle that has appeared to you recently, or maybe you want to take a look at local species for a more intimate connection.  If you do, take a moment to think about the colour of that beetle and what it means to you.  Here I don’t mean look up colour symbology but of course do feel free to, what I mean is probably best explained with an example: my granma almost always wore a particular shade of greeny blue and thus if a beetle appeared to me with that colour I would react differently to a black beetle.

The protective side of the beetle comes up when we turn to ancient Egypt.  Whilst the scarab, or dung, beetle were considered sacred, other beetles were also important.  Throughout their history the ancient Egyptians held insects in special reverence.  A predynastic grave was found to contain jars filled with wood boring beetles.  Metallic wood boring beetles were important as amulets and were used before the use of scarab beetles.  Click beetles were also important to the ancient Egyptians and shields were often the same shape as the prothorax of them. Protection is such a big part of what the beetle asks us to think about.

Moving around the world to native American mythology, we find a story of a water beetle which dove into the water and brought back mud to make earth and a tale where an Eleodes beetle was in charge of placing the stars in the sky.  Through a mix of arrogance and carelessness, the stars were dropped and became the milky way.  The beetle was so ashamed of what he’d done that even today, he hides his face in the bird when approached.  We’ll see this a bit more when we turn to the scarab, but there are ideas here of building something so much greater than yourself.  We have a small beetle creating earth, placing the stars and with the dung beetle, making a ball of dung that is comparatively huge compared to the beetle.  Size doesn’t matter.  We find this echoed loudly in the Hercules beetle which is one of the largest beetles and which can lift 850 times its own weight.

Strength takes on different forms and whilst the bombardier beetle can’t outlift the Hercules beetle, it can survive being eaten.  When attacked by a frog they will squirt boiling chemicals out their anus which make the predator vomit, one study showed that the beetles survived regurgitation in 43% of cases and there is no way that frog will make the same mistake again!  Survival is an important trait for beetles.

We also find with the beetle a vulture like cleaner which turns waste into value, turns negatives into positives.  This may also parallel the dichotomy on how we view beetles; some are seen as pests and others are used as pest control.  There are angles and ways of looking at things which can transform how you see them.  Perspective matters.  You might also be called to consider how you recycle ideas and resources, how you make new out of old.

Returning again to the idea of looking at local beetles, stag beetles are Britian’s largest beetle. They spend 3-7 years underground as larvae and then emerge for six weeks as adults to reproduce.  Males enjoy a spot of sunbathing to gather strength then patrol the same area repeatedly in search of a mate.  There is a suggestion here about the importance of waiting, letting ideas or plans percolate a while before jumping into them.  Put in a bit of work in the preparation stage so you don’t waste your strength and energy when you get to the action.  I think the image of the stag beetle patrolling an area has some intriguing metaphors in it.  On the one hand it could be a case of impatience, of going over the same ground and expecting different results but on the other hand, in repeating the same flight path, the beetle is intimately getting to know his immediate surroundings, something which chimes heavily with the work I’m doing around nature and writing.

There is just one more aspect of the beetle that I want to think about here and that is their antenna.  Different species use them differently but on the whole they are used for sensory perception and can detect movement, smell and help the beetle feel their way round their environment.  There is a very physical connection to your surroundings here.  It is almost like the beetle is shouting at us to get out and touch a tree, feel the grass, stand bare foot on the dirt.  Get intimate with the world immediately around you.  Feel the earth and allow yourself to experience how grounding it is to connect with nature and our planet.