As I write this, Easter has just passed. I come from a catholic country and, even though I’m not a practicing catholic, I was raised in this religion. Easter is very special time for us catholics, as it tells us how Jesus after being persecuted and passing through the ordeal of his death, breaks the bonds of death itself to come back to life. It wasn’t the first time he had done so, as the story of the resurrection of Lazarus shows us, but according to the Bible he was the first to transcend Death, to assume his place as the Son of God. And, not only that, he did this while remaining true to his values of truthfulness, justice, humility, patience and compassion. For me, this is why the image of Jesus nailed in the cross is so powerful: I see not the suffering but how far he went in his love for Mankind and in his mission of Redemption of all Mankind from the shackles of sin.
The same theme of breaking free from bondage is also found in the Jewish festival of the Passover, which in this year coincided with the festival of Easter. In this case, it is not freedom from death that is celebrated. Or at least not literal death, as in the Christian celebration, but the liberation of the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt.
It is then a powerful time, when freedom is to be celebrated and the reunion with one’s own with those who are close to us. With those of kin. In Portugal, families reunite around the table to celebrate their union. It is a time to put aside all differences and stick together, for even though bonds were broken, some bonds should remain strong and tight. It is interesting to observe how some bonds are to be broken, while others need to be strengthen. How some bonds can become a self-imposed prison, while other bounds are there for our protection. In a way, Easter calls me to think of bonds and to determine which bonds to maintain and which to sever. And here, family plays an important part.
I look to my family in a positive way. We’re not always in the best of terms. We quarrel and argue, sometimes so much that I feel tempted to just throw everything away and walk out on them. Sometimes, it felt that I was sacrificing way to much to my family and this prevented me to lead the life I wanted to have. Still, I was never capable of breaking those bonds. Time and time again, I would return to them, conscious that no matter how bad things were, my well-being was also dependent on their presence in my life.
When I was writing this post, I did a reading with a Lenormand deck, the Day of the Dead Lenormand by Edmund Zebrowski, a deck I’m not at all familiar, having only used once or twice, but that felt important here, since it was given to me by someone special. It was this connection, I think, that brought me to it and that made me think it would have something relevant to say. But since this is one of my first readings with a Lenormand deck, please excuse me for any short-sightings I may have. As I was placing the cards on the table, I got:
The Serpent / The Bear / The Clover / The House / The Mountain
The first thing that called my attention was how the outer cards represented negative things (with Serpent speaking about seduction and betrayal and Mountain reminding me of obstacles and problems that need to be overcome). At the center, three cards, Bear, Clover and House, which bring to mind ideas of protection and security (Bear and House) with Luck in between them. My first reading would then be that my Family provides me with safe harbor against all the things which might tempt me in the outside world. It is also a place where good things can develop (The Clover), since they are favored by the protection of both Bear and House.
As I was looking at the cards trying to read them as a sentence, I got the following: “as Snake tries to get to the Clover, she is stepped on by Bear, leaving the Clover to grow near the House by the Mountain”. So Bear here is both the guardian of Clove and the destroyer of the snake. It is the one who guards against the seductions of the world, the things that seem to good to be true and generally aren’t. By doing so, it enables real luck to arise, for good things to happen, even if they are as unexpected as a four-leaf Clover. That this Clover grows near the House in the Mountain, again says that luck and good things need to be fostered: they need the security and the shelter that the House provides in the face of problems (the Mountain).
And yet, as I felt I needed more familiar grounds, I ended up pulling my Waite-Smith deck and drawing three cards for that very same question:
The Empress, the Temperance, the Magician
A woman is sitting on her throne, calmly watching as the the plants in front of her grow. She’s looking at the plants. Maybe even guarding them? If so, this seems to resonate with what I saw with the Lenormand deck. At the other end, a Magician is up to its tricks. It’s good that he is experimenting, but as often happens to me with this card, I can’t stop asking “does he really knows what he’s up to?” It is the Magician, after all, and not some sage like the Pope. I find him more interested in doing stuff for the sake of doing, without being concerned with any outcome. If the Empress is the one who guards, I have to assign her to my family and think how often my family watches over me. This, then, means that I’m the Magician. The one who wants to do stuff and have its my own existence by myself. That the Empress is looking over to my side tells me that I’m constantly being watched, which is a good thing when it doesn’t step on my toes. On the other side, I might also want too much independence, too much freedom and try to break the bonds that connect me to my family. A compromise needs to be taken, which is, what I feel, is what the Temperance card is all about. Just look at the angel’s toes, one in firm land, the other on the water. Talk about different sides indeed! Above them, two jugs of water are leveled one against the other. My desire to stand on my own ground, against the protective pull of the Empress, trying to embrace me like a tide. It is a very delicate balance, as it can easily overflow if too much water is placed one of the jars. And indeed, how many times do we hear of families members that don’t get along with each other?
I found it interesting how the same message comes from both the Lenormand and the Waite-Smith decks. Looking at my own relationship with my family, I can understand how they have shaped my character, by allowing me to make mistakes and growing on my own, while at the same time trying to prevent me from going so far away that I can’t return. Looking at this, it’s easy to recognize how the positive aspects of this relationship have outweighed the negative aspects. It is a very strong bond, and one that doesn’t let me go very far on my own (with all the frustrations that come along with it). However, there’s also warmth in there and fondness. And gratitude for a bond so strong that it can’t be severed.