Happy New Year, everyone! I am happy that I finally have had a little vacation time to get back to writing. Having undergone a recent illness, I have been reflecting on cross cultural ways of celebrating healing—something which ties in with the theme of New Year as a time for renewal.
Unfortunately, Western medicine doesn’t draw a clear line between the state of being sick and the state of being healed. For the more common and curable types of illness, you just take your medicine and expect that at some point your symptoms will have subsided enough for you to get back on your feet. By contrast, many traditional societies affirm a person’s return to health with special rituals. For example, a person might take a ritual bath, put on a new set of clothes, and go to a shaman to be blessed. In Mexico and South America, the shaman’s proclamation of healing may be followed by a “flowering” ritual to generate good luck, (as luck is viewed as part of a state of health). In keeping with the idea that our community helps to construct our identity, the public is often invited to a communal feast as a part of these rituals.
Although it might be a bit much for people in our busy society to stage a public celebration of healing, this is something that can be quietly affirmed with a simple tarot rite. The following rite, (here illustrated with the “Radiant Rider-Waite Tarot”), uses images of recuperation and revival, as a way of signaling your Unconscious that you are ready to reengage with your life.
To affirm your recovery, first lay down the Four of Swords, (featuring a tomb with the effigy of a recumbent knight) while recalling how your illness may have knocked you flat, enforcing isolation and inactivity. Next, lay down the Judgment card, whose images of arising can suggest a return to health after sickness—especially as a long illness is sometimes experienced as a stay in the Underworld. Think about how much better and more energetic you’re feeling, and then lay down The World card while thinking about how you are back on your feet and reconnecting with your outer world.
By the way, it’s always interesting to look at graphic relationships between cards in a rite or spell. Using the “Radiant” Rider Waite Smith cards as illustrated above, the first and second cards feature images of tombs—contrasting the sealed tomb with the open tomb. There is also a contrast between the human bodies portrayed. In Judgment, the rising people are a bluish tinge, still retaining the coldness of the tomb, while The World is used here to show a person restored to the ruddy pink of active health. (The original RWS deck doesn’t bring out the same nuances in coloring.)
Note that because magic involves affirming a desired state of being as if already achieved, you can also use this layout as a tarot spell to promote healing for yourself or others still convalescing. If performing this spell for a child, use The Sun as the third card, as The Sun card often features the image of a happy, healthy child having fun under the sun, (with flowers in the background hinting at the quality of flowering).
If preferred, you could also use The Sun for yourself or another adult, in lieu of The World. This begs the question, why not use The Sun and The World, as both are auspicious cards with images of health? The reason for preferring a three to a four-card spread is that odd numbers show activity, while even numbers promote stability, and are therefore more gravid. So, for restoration of health, we want to put the emphasis on the return to activity.
So, now that I’m back to my blog after such a long hiatus (due to the demands of holding down a regular job), I will next have to get around to restoring all my dead links.