About two weeks ago I got to go to Madrid to see live pandas. I’ve been wanting to see a panda for a few years now. Unfortunately, there aren’t many places in Europe where one can go to see a panda. According to the Wikipedia, only five European Zoos have a panda exhibition and Madrid was one of them. Being the closest one – the visit was supposed to happen during a weekend – Madrid was the logical choice.
This all started a few years ago, when I started to feel a close kinship with bears. Not just pandas, mind you, but any type of bear. But little by little, pandas began gaining my heart until they finally became it. My special animal. In a way, they became my spirit animal and not a day goes by where I won’t do anything to honor them.
The journey to Madrid was uneventful. I had pulled an all-nighter, since I was leaving of the 6:25 am flight to Madrid, but that didn’t matter one bit. Inside, I was glowing and trembling with excitement as the chance to see a live panda became nearer and nearer.
The trip to the Zoo happened the very afternoon of the day that we arrived. I went with some friends of mine and with a newly met couple. It seemed that everything sparkled that day. As I started to see the signboards with the pandas, my heart beat stronger and stronger. With every step I was coming closer to fulfilling this dream of mine and, at the same time, becoming more anxious. More nervous. Until I was finally at the panda site and for a moment, the whole world disappeared and only me and the pandas remained.
There were three pandas in two cages. In the cage at the right, a male panda was sleeping; at the left, a cub and its mother kept passing around the cage. We were separated by a glass, since on the day we went there, they weren’t allowed to roam outside their cage. But that didn’t matter. Or better, it did matter, as I felt uncomfortable to see them confined to a closed space. The cub seemed oblivious to it all, playing around on its own. The she-panda felt uncomfortable too, always walking around left to right, right to left. Every once in a while, the mother would go to the cub and lick it or play with it. This would last a few moments, before the mother would become restless again and would start pacing back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.
Now, being a tarot reader is all about being able to see the moment when it pops up. To recognize it either in a string of cards or when something pops up in real life. Not just the bad moments or the ones where we feel lost and confused, but also the good moments. The ones that bring us joy and contentment. If there was a moment that qualified , this certainly was it. So I picked up my cards and asked them “what did they have to say to me?”
A three card string was quickly pulled, presenting me with The Sun, The Hermit, The Lovers.
“You came to us, bringing joy and warmth”, they seemed to say. “We were waiting for you and here you are, bringing your love and radiance to us. Bringing your warmth to us who are so far away from home with only a few leaves to nourish us.”
A message of thanks then. As if the privilege of this meeting was theirs and not mine. But in a way, when we meet someone special isn’t this what happens? Both parties are happy that the moment happened. True, here we aren’t talking about two people. Even so, this was a meeting between the spirit of an animal that held a special place in my heart and myself. A communion of sorts between kindred spirits.
And, as with all good magic, the moment passes and I’m standing in front of a glass watching pandas. The spell had faded on its own, as it should and I was left to wander through the remaining of the Zoo visiting other animals and enjoying my time in Madrid.
As I am writing this, I can’t stop looking at the Hermit card and how it stands out from the reading. true, it’s the only gray card in a colorful spread and yet, it invites me to stop and think about it for a moment. About how things can be accomplished by pausing and taking small steps, making sure with each step of where do I put my foot. The grayness of the background and the lack of any vegetation speak of a solitude so great, but somehow not unbearable. Looking back at my pandas, I’m reminded of how they would spend hours alone in the forests looking for food. You see pandas are slow animals. They eat mainly bambu leaves, which doesn’t give them too much energy, and as such, they tend to keep to themselves and avoid any unnecessary use of energy.
Keeping this in mind, the card of the Hermit seems to say something more. it seems to tell me that my path is slow and that I should understand the value of slowness. The kid in the Sun card can come charging carrying his dreams and celebrating the light above him. But this is not the whole of the story. Whatever dreams I might have, I still need to stop and watch where I’m going. To take time. It’s as if Father Time is my ally and that if I want to achieve my goals, I better start walking instead of running. In a way, this is what happened here. I waited until an occasion presented itself to meet my pandas. The magic of the moment came not because I met them, but because I took the time to nurture our relationship and to slowly build it. Until that moment where I finally got to be face-to-face with them. When Heaven and Earth met, and each was looking to each. The cub to the mother to myself. Me to both of them.