From the Jester fool, we have come a full circle. What is there left to do but start over. With a song in her heart and a prayer upon her lips, she steps out of the abyss into the World.
Let the journey begin anew; perhaps this time the prodigal child will find the way home.
In Jahanam, some places are harder to travel than others especially the ones where we know shadows lurk in wait for us. This will be a solitary journey; in a barren land of the past.
You can't buy water here; the thirst can kill so remember to bring your own. Water cannot be bought in a place that has no use for money. But this is a journey we need to make at some point when we are ready to intergrate; when we are ready to embrace the banished parts of ourselves and accept them as our own.
It is where we will find the eye of the needle and cross it; a place none may follow but it's going to be alright because we are finally ready to take responsibility for choices we made; we are finally ready to face ourselves.
Who amongst us fear Judgement? In search of redemption; what we reap as our reward is what we have sown all along.
The sun rarely shows itself here and it makes the going tough for the people at Jahanam but we learn to deal with it, don't we? Once in a while though, the sun breaks through the dark clouds and we appreciate the grace showered upon us more than ever because it is precious, it is priceless.
When that happens, we see the world around us through new eyes and we see that things are not always what we thought they were; perhaps that is what gives us hope.
Perhaps what we really want is to know for certain; that there are greater things beyond our comprehension; things we may not always see while we live in the dark but we cling on to faith... that everything will be alright if we just hang on a little longer. Darkness does make the light all the more beautiful and if you have walked this road before, you know this already.
Light gives clarity; from darkness we seek out the light and if it burns; if it turns us to dust under the harshness of its glare, that is the ultimate liberation for enlightenment frees the soul from its earthly bondage.
Here is the map to Jahanam, I'll show you how to get there. Look for the moonlight when it gets too dark to see.
First find the dark waters of your soul and sink to the depths below. Look for the Naga Fish for they are the guides that will take you to the place of eternal twilight.
You see, Naga Fishes swim to the surface when they are close to death but in Jahanam, death is just an interval between heartbeats. They will take you there but you may not return from whence you first came.
That route closes when you emerge from the lake. You will be shown the exit when the time comes for you to leave.
The past, the present and the future exist as one in Jahanam; so be not afraid to visit ghosts from long ago. Be afraid instead to face the coming of false prophets.
You will arrive as you are and your masks from the land of sunshine will be washed away by the lake. There is no need for masquerades in Jahanam.
You may hear both angels and demons bicker endlessly; you may see them change forms in a whim when it suits their fancy. This because they flaunt their freedom with impunity and it is how they become the pied piper that lures us to the river.
And if you think to speak of them when you return to the illusion of reality... well, they know your words will be mocked as the ravings of a lunatic. They will enjoy watching you try to convince the blind of what you have seen. This amuses them no end.
Jahanam is where dreams are woven; this is where cats learn to fly and birds carry swords; this is where the Lady Moonshine hides the face of the Sun God so that we may see the truths hidden in the dark and drive ourselves insane.
And when it all comes crashing down; it is time to seek solitude and heal ourselves from old wounds.
On the final day of the full moon, the lady snake emerges from the lake to shed. Have you ever seen a snake shed it's skin? In front of her, flames flicker and dance over the dark water before forming the 6 pointed star. When I spoke about her to the Soothsayer, he claimed her the Lady Babylon but I think not...
I think she is the serpent rising from the depths of the lake to watch the moon meet the sun. I think she rose from her sleep to remove laden weight; and as the flames burn out, she will disappear beneath the black sappire lake once more, not to be seen till the next full moon.
"Tell me, what does the lady snake do beneath the waves until she comes up again?", I asked the travelling Fool.
"She lies asleep in a trance, watching the Beetle King dance...", came the reply, her merry laughter ringing like bells in the wind.
The city is made of glass. See how the buildings touch the sky like the Tower of Babel?
Were we meant to fly? Were we meant to walk amongst the clouds in the realm of the Gods?
See how the children climb their gilded cages; lost in never ending spirals reaching up to heaven. And once we reach the top and find that heaven lies not at the end of our man-made dreams; it is the loss of innocence that sends us crashing down.
Is it be better to hold on to a lie because it gives us hope; or is it be better to know a truth that throws us off the edge of deception into the abyss below?
What have we wrought with pearls we once held sacred; how is it they slip through our fingers like fine grains of sand in a blink of an eye?
From the depths of our heart comes a whisper; temptation is a potent weakness most exploited by the one named Desire. She is the mistress of lust; beauty laced with poison.
But it is not she who binds us to her; for when we wish to own a thing, we become attached to it and not the other way round. If you listen to Desire's honeyed whisper; beware of its sweet seduction. It may pervert you; it may corrupt you but all she did was whisper your heart's desire out loud.
Her name is Temperence. Like those before her, she serves as the bridge between extremes. Her name means moderation; she is the wick that fuels the flame above with liquid wax below. Too long a wick and the flame drains out the wax all too soon; too short a wick and the flame dies out.
It is not easy finding balance along the edge; equilibrium is harder to maintain than it is to obtain.
I wish to pose a question, traveller... Why do we pretend that Death in these cards do not mean Death in its literal sense when that is exactly what it means? Could it be that we fear the physical aspect of Death thus; we tip toe around the truth hoping to soften the edge off it?
Death comes to us all; it does not discriminate nor does it negotiate terms. Death on the physical aspect is but a facet of an ageless concept. It is a companion walking alongside us waiting to take us to another place; Death is not personal but grief, loss, sorrow, helplessness... these are personally felt when Death claims one of our own.
Yet in every moment of our lives; we are well acquainted with Death. In both the mundane and significant, there has to be a beginning and an end that leads to another cycle of creation and birth. It is in that ending that Death awaits; for without it there is no transition. All things that perish will one day meet Death; all things that end will meet new beginnings. It is but a bend in the road; not the end of the road.
Imprisoned instincts was a child bonded to a wheel within a wheel within a wheel; carried away by the thrashing waves of change.
But when the child meets the twin Duality; perception of reality shifts yet again. What do we do when innocence is taken away but still our mind; heart and soul once more and watch the world spin away, leaving us behind.
The lord has abandoned the child but the child hangs suspended in wait for something else to emerge in its place.
The child was once upon a time, naive; but experience has taught the Fool turned Magician that all is not what it seems; reality is when the mist of deception is lifted from our eyes.
What is reality when all truth and falsehoods are but reflections of each other; like a cell in mitosis?
Once we were the Magician child; learning to crawl, walk, run.
Though the Magician has come far in skill and art; the chains that bind us to worlds within worlds grind in opposite directions. Its rust taint our blood and heart, leaving chambers once pure with charity stained and clogged.
To serve the lord of the world we sold our soul; to find that all we ever wanted have turned to dust. All we have learned are but rituals practiced in ignorance; bringing us deeper into the underworld of the god we serve.
The Magician is the child trapped in a world of one's own making.
In denial over past failures; the seeker travels on to the hightest peak in Jahanam where it is said that the mirror that flatters not hangs upon the crumbling tower.
There the seeker will learn more about the "self"; there too demons wait to show us facets we choose not to see, for in others the face seems ugly but never in our wildest dreams would we think those faces belong to us.
So in vain, the seeker negotiates with her "self" to change those faces because in denial; we are "not" the ones we despise.
The proverbial quest for the Holy Grail; like the search for Atman; is one taken in solitary confinement. Not necessary isolated from the material world, it is a journey of discovering oneself and often, it is easier to pretend we stand apart from that which we despise. Turning our backs; disavowing our own contribution is akin to our reflection in the mirror... not the person per se but of the person.
How does one run away from one's own reflection? In our mind, we are what we believe ourselves to be; is the reflection the reality, or the person casting the image upon polished glass?
If meta-knowledge is the art of analyzing what we think; how we think... who will the Hermit find when faced with the Self that is stripped of all glorified masks fit for soceity?
Strength chains herself to the Dragon King; thinking to tame him with her knowledge. Little does she know that he is the keeper of secrets; seeking asylum from the chaotic world from which she comes.
So Strength deludes herself into thinking that she is righteous; with lofty ideals to keep the uncivilized beast in chains so that it may not harm others, she knows not that to the beast; she is the uncivilized life-form.
Strength is not necessarily a virtue; it is the ammunition bullies use to submit the weak; it is the weakness exploited by the dishonorable against the nobel-heart and strength is only as strong as its weaknest link.
The beast is only as low as the human form that perceives it as such; the human is only as exalted as it perceives itself to be. Yet to think for a moment that the beast may be subdued by love and love alone is a fallacy that blinds the human to all that the beast is capable of; and it blinds the human to the truth that love need no shackles made of flowers or metal.
It is when there is a need for submission that the perversion of what "love" is becomes apparent for then, love becomes conditional; it becomes an attachment that misguides one into thinking that the other needs to be cowed to be saved. Would that apply to free will that is granted to the human tribe as well; as the human robs the beast of its freedom for its own good, should free will be revoked for the good of all humankind?
Thus the human who thinks that the beast requires taming; no matter how gentle the touch; is the human who is the beast that begs to be tamed.
Breaking free of age-old tradition, the Charioteer seeks automony from the will of the elders. In trying to carve a way before him, he will find that that his two-headed serpent-chariot refuses to obey the commands of youthful pride or aging ignorance; nor will they bow to the Charioteer who knows not how to rein them in. This ride will be treacherous for the unweary fool.
But it is necessary to brave the unknown for the Charioteer is untried and must make a name for himself. How does one control the sun or the moon? How does one hold nonexistent reins to keep two opposing forces from destroying each other? The loss of control will be a painful lesson to learn but in falling; we learn to pick ourselves up.
In this battle; the winner may need more than false bravado. The Charioteer must fall before he gains mastery over the two-headed snake.
It is a lesson we all learn; choices in life and how they eventually bring about what we have worked for. And we will be tested along the way, sometimes when we least expect it.
It is a stage of learning about self-regulation and the Charioteer will learn that before one can bring about equilibrium in one's external reality; one has to first be able to bring inner turmoil under control.
It is a time for theories to be tested; for battles to be fought between opposing elements; it is a time for the young upstart to prove his worthiness and his choices will be the deciding factor that makes the difference between triumph and defeat.
If he can hold his own, the Charioteer moves up the ladder to the next level and meets the twin Duality. If he cannot, he will return another day to pit his wits and skills against his own worst enemy, himself. Choices lead to where we find ourselves, not conditions that provide the opportunity to further our growth.
The Lovers are independent because the journey lies not in being together; it is in fulfilling the role of complementing the other. Yet the ones who showed us what to become were once fools like ourselves.
Can the sun and the moon ever meet on equal ground? "Aye," said the Magician, "Nay," said the Priestes. "Surely if there is fairness, then it must be so," said the Empress but the Bull-Headed Emperor's earnest objection rang with the slamming of his fist. The Lovers turned to the Soothsayer for one so wise must surely have the answer.
In stillness he contemplated but found no answer for the skulls around him have long turned silent. No blessings for the Lovers in this world; no archangel to watch over true love found. Instead they face the harsh reality that Lovers are not made in heaven nor are soul-mates entwined in happiness; they come together without imposing conditions; like the sun and the moon in eclipse, each merely following its own path.
When the time comes for the paths to cross, the sun will meet the moon though that concept in itself is a trick our eyes play upon us for it is not so. The sun does not meet the moon; an eclipse is merely the crossing of two entities across the vast sky. From the distance, it appears that they touch; they embrace and all too soon, comes the parting till the next time they meet once again.
We all have our journeys to make and it would seem like we are destined at times to meet the ones who will play the sun to our moon and vice versa; that is but an illusion of the fanciful mind. In truth, we all traverse the universe on our journey; crossing paths again and again as we move towards our destination. Parting is but the sorrow that makes the meeting of souls all the more sweet, for tears of loss, pain, hurt are precious jewels we never had when we travelled without a shell.
So we touch; we embrace and feel the softness of the butterfly kiss thinking, hoping that it will be last forever and ever; but forever ends when the shell can house the soul no longer.
Is it the need to be whole what drives us to seek someone out to fill the void within; is it natural selection that drives us endlessly to seek a mate; is it merely a meeting of souls bound in a journey that never ends?
The Jester looks up at the vast and endless sky to see the Sun God reach out to the Lady Moon thinking it is a match made in heaven. But it is not the eclipse itself that pleases them, it is in knowing the other exist when they are not together. Thus, their inevitable parting is not one of sweet sorrow because love without conditions stake no claims on ownership.
To hear what is being said, one has to read between the lines. The spoken word is riddled with intentions to mislead; thus the child is taught how to tell the first lie.
Listen to the soothsayer if you wish to learn from him; for he may be a charlatan filled with dreams of grandeur or a prophet tortured by visions of truth. Upon his tongue lies the venom of a serpant that fills the heart with hope and upon his hand, the ways of the righteous. Watch the soothsayer's actions if you wish to learn his true nature. For it is the act that carries out the intentions of the heart.
Riding upon the shoulders of giants from long ago; the soothsayer is both a blessing and a bane.
Truth is Oneness with many facets; spoken through countless voices in all languages. At the bottom of the pit, under the cover of darkness are voices long silenced by teachings of propriety.
Knowledge is a tricky thing, even trickier is the keeper of knowledge. The ones who were sent to guide may also deceive; look at the actions for it speaks of one's intention while words may not.
The soothsayer is not a saint; he is just a man prone to err as humans do. Would we follow a man blindly because he claims himself superior or test his truth and find the answer for ourself?
Before you answer, friend, think on it awhile. The soothsayer claims to be the mouthpiece of the gods; and it appears like we fear incurring the wrath of the soothsayer more than we fear the gods.
Sitting upon the throne in his chamber, the Bull-Headed King watches as he calculates his next move. Too strong a grip and the realm shatters under a tyrant; too weak an Emperor and he becomes a puppet king. Decisions are based not on what is easy but what is needed for the good of all.
In the shaping of an Emperor, the child was broken and molded; remade in order to be worthy of standards created by men who see only the icon of their idealized self. What of the son who bears the mark of the father; what of the halfing child with horns of a beast?
Do the rules we follow define us; or the ones we create for ourselves?
In setting boundaries, the Emperor creates a structure that becomes a reflection of his character. In the raising of the child, he imposes expectations befitting his heir.
But buildings crumble as time marches on oblivious to man-made ideals; rules become stifling. Emperors were once mortals living within the confines of responsibility; or the lack of it.
Yet the legacy of the Emperor lives on long after the man himself and the structure of that legacy will become the testimony of his worth; like the child that becomes the reflection of his guardians.
The secret of life is written in scripts that cannot be read by the untrained eye. A pair of keys contain intertwined spirals bound by steps lead to the creation of hybrids. One key is held by the female half, the other by her counterpart the male and together they can bring forth life.
The female is the Empress with many masks. She is the child who becomes the mother; the wife who is also the mistress of manipulation. She is the assasin of dreams; the avenging angel; the lady harlot; the one who brings comfort and then takes it away. And if mother is the name of God in the hearts and lips of all children, then she who is a mother holds the power of the future in her hands.
The secret to the power of the Empress lies in the hidden influence of the feminine aspect of life. The seed that is buried in the earth exists even if it cannot be seen. Life is conceived on many levels... both visible and invisible; tangible and intangible.
The feminine half holds one key; the masculine half holds the other. Together, creation is made possible. She provides sustainance; yet not all may escape unscathed by the demands of the Empress. The bearer of life also commands the twin serpants of death and decay that can just as easily smother the seed, stunting its growth.
Appearances can be deceiving and the Magician who seem to have turned his back to the Universe is in fact turning inwards to seek what ties him to the greater scheme of things. Deep in the inner sanctum where the soul rests dormant, the masculine becomes the feminine.
The Priestess may have read the oracles written in the stars but understanding becomes elusive when knowledge is merely parroted and not internalized. The voice that once spoke with the gods of old turn silent when it is drowned by endless chatter.
The act of listening to the self is the art of tuning in to the Universe. Chattering voices drown out whispered conversations between angels; endless demands of reality leaves the mind trailing after incoherent gibberish.
The Priestess goes in search of answers. In the presence of the gods, she gathers divine inspiration though she cannot decipher the oracles. There is need for silence; there is need to still the body so the mind may focus. There is need to watch and learn. Do not speak; do not act. Listen...
Amongst the beasts, there are those who seek hidden knowledge. They are Magicians who send petition after petition answered by silence; for the voice that once whispered in their hearts became quiet when they turned their backs to the Universe.
Trapped in the form of the beast, haunted by recollections of divinity; they manifest their legacy by attaining mastery over the blade, the flame, the coin and the cup.
But those who were adament, they write their will in blood so that if they died and turned to dust, their life-force still carry the markings of the soul's journey. And when they return housed in a new shell; their longing will echo within the chambers of their beating heart.
The Magician is adament in mastering the tools laid out before him. The halfing child summons the power of life from his very veins. He has both the taint of the beast in his blood and divine knowledge hidden deep in his soul. If he plays servant to the beast; the voice within him that speaks to the Gods will turn silent.
Actions create matter from nothingness but it is divine inspiration that opens up doors to the unknown. The Magician can create greatness out of emptiness if he learns how to use his tools wisely.
The start of a journey that has no endings, only new twists to an endless maze of twilight illusions. On butterfly wings, The Fool travels the winding road ahead uncertain of what it offers.
Shadows creep up on the unweary in a land called Jahanam; dark mists crawl upon its sleeping enemy with kisses of death and doom. The Fool knows not of dangers or of evil; keeping faith that light and warmth awaits just ahead.
The Jester starts a new adventure; unaware of the long and arduous journey ahead. Naive and filled with dreams of grandeur, she sets out toward the castle in the clouds... away from the freedom of the open land.
There are many lessons the Jester needs to learn, foremost is that on this journey, her feline companion will only accompany her as far as the next meal. There is no loyalty beyond what she can give and when she reaches the castle... if she reaches the castle, where would her own loyalties lie for castles are but playgounds to Jesters with a wandering heart.
Fools travel where they will, with no chains to bind them or walls to hold them in.
Reaching out to the butterfly that is beyond her reach, the Jester does not see that her own wings will be clipped by the rules and conditions imposed within the very structure she is headed for.