Monday, September 5, 2022

Back-To-School Time and Teaching as Blessing

 Back when I was a kid in school, I held the beginning of September in awe and dread, because my golden summer of freedom was over, and it was time to go back to school.  Despite that, I had good relations with my teachers, and I regularly experience resurgent memories of teaching moments, where I can hear the voices of my teachers explaining different principles and relaying different knowledge.

                Some of those teachers have also influenced my personal values and greater life path, so September is also a month that brings to mind the Hierophant card, which represents values and traditions that are passed down—often from teacher to student through generations.

                As I have recently cut my hours at work so I can get back to my writing, I have just been working on a half-finished book about bringing out the magic in individual tarot cards, so below are some of my thoughts on evoking the Hierophant, along with an image of The Hierophant as portrayed in “The Steampunk Tarot” by Barbara Moore and artist Aly Fell.

Blessing Your Teachers:  Because the Hierophant card can denote persons who have been influential in helping you find your life’s purpose, the appearance of this card can remind you to bless the teacher figures in your life. You could say,  

                As all my teachers have blessed me

                                 by sharing their wisdom

                     and their traditions,

                so do I now return those blessings.

                My best wishes go out to all the teachers

                                who have helped me,

                and all the teachers who have inspired me.

                And where I can use further teaching,

                                so may the teachers come.

                And where I can be a teacher to others,

                                so may the students come.

                In teaching and learning, learning and teaching,

                                we share a circle of blessing.

Note that honoring teachers is an ancient practice.  For example, some ancient Romans (like Marcus Aurelius) honored their mentors as their family gods by having images of them in their household shrines, and some Zen practitioners keep an image of their teacher in a place of honor, and direct gratitude toward their teacher in their daily lovingkindness meditations.

Finding Your Teacher:   We are never too old to learn, and life is full of teachers—including hidden teachers.  Here is a tarot image search technique for identifying the next teacher to enter your life:  Shuffle and cut your deck in your preferred manner while mentally reciting, the mantra, “When the student is ready, the teacher comes.”* 

When you feel you have shuffled enough, set the deck of cards with the picture sides face up before you, then go through your deck until you come to the Hierophant card, and then also pull the cards that come just before and just after the Hierophant.

Consider how these flanking cards may provide clues as to the nature of your teacher and the areas of life where new learning can be experienced.  A court card or other “people card” would especially indicate that your teacher is likely to be a certain type of person.  A Major Arcana card would indicate a learning experience that is significant to your life path, and if it is one of the more spiritually oriented cards, it could indicate initiation into a spiritual fellowship.  A pip (Minor Arcana) card would provide clues about the general circumstances in your learning situation, as well as material world values that influence your spiritual world concerns.

 Mentoring Others:  The blessing ritual above makes mention of how you can be a teacher to others.  If you have skills and knowledge that you’d like to pass along, but don’t currently have anyone who is receptive to what you have to offer, put yourself into a meditative state as you think about the information that you have to share, while mentally reciting the mantra, “When the teacher is ready, the student comes.”

 *Endnote:  Bodhipaksa. “When the Student is Ready, the Teacher will Appear.”  Fake Buddha Quotes, March 16, 2013.  Bodhipaksa explains how this quote was popularized by students in the Theosophical fellowship of Madame Blavatsky, including Mabel Collins, who mentioned it in her book “Light on the Path” in 1886.  Apparently, no one has traced it back farther, though it has a Taoist vibe to it, and I had assumed it came from Taoism.  However, Stefan Stenudd also discusses how this did not come from the Tao Te Ching.  Stenudd, Stefan.  “Taoism Explained,” Fake Laotzu Quote “When the Student  …”  Sept. 22, 2020.