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Friday, 17 May 2013

Just (You do it to yourself)

Tarot of the Sidhe, Carding 2010
Rider Waite Smith
This is an alarming-looking image for an easy Friday morning!

Dreamer Seven, 'A Coward Betrays', from Emily Carding's Tarot of the Sidhe, is the equivalent of 7 of Swords, which in RWS shows a man carrying swords which he's apparently stolen, tiptoeing away from some tents. Traditionally, the card is taken to mean some sort of unethical behaviour or nefarious scheming. But it's also sometimes interpreted to mean studying and learning (such as in the Druidcraft Tarot, though he might as easily be plotting or scheming something underhand, I suppose.) Learn Tarot suggests these meanings, as well as: 

The Seven of Swords can also indicate a hidden dishonor - a choice you or another has made that does not do justice to the highest. We all make wrong choices that we want to hide. Some of these are minor, some serious. Your inner voice will tell you when this is happening. When you see the Seven of Swords, take a good look at what you're doing because hidden dishonors will eat away at your happiness and self-respect.

That is a profound interpretation of this card, and I think it is quite pertinent to the image seen on the Tarot of the Sidhe Dreamer Seven card. It is a full moon, in a clearing amongst bare trees. Five wraith-like beings have apprehended a male sidhe. One of them holds a knife overhead in a threatening manner, as if he would plunge it into the sidhe's chest. From behind a tree, another sidhe watches, in hiding. What are these terrible wraiths? What has the green-shirted sidhe done to deserve this? Is he the coward who betrayed? Or is it the other figure peering around the tree? I believe it's the overall sense of the thing rather than the details that must be considered with this particular card. Emily Carding's verse for Dreamer Seven:

'At times the shadows in Dream are hidden,
And from the depths will emerge unbidden,
They must be faced, the challenge met,
Lest dreams be tangled in cunning net.'

It seems to me the card is about facing up to things. If you do something or think something that you know is beneath you, that is not up to your own standards, or that denies the dignity of yourself or someone else, you have betrayed both yourself and that other person. You have, as Celie puts in The Color Purple, 'sinned against [their] spirit.' Or your own spirit. Or both. Something you've done or thought that makes you feel slimy, sneaky, sly, or just plain dirty, that's what the Dreamer Seven card depicts. Maybe those wraiths on the card are the conscience, making us 'pay' for it, showing us what we think we deserve. We do feel cowardly and small when we behave or think in ways that we feel are wrong. And we do, like cowards, want to hide from our own actions and thoughts. But we can't hide from them. Eventually, we have to look at them and make amends, or else, as Learn Tarot suggests, the 'hidden dishonors will eat away at [our] happiness and self-respect.'

Certainly a fitting card for me today. Some of my behaviours have presented themselves recently in a new light, in the light of how they affect those around me. I never realized, or never allowed myself to realize, the consequences of certain of my behaviours and attitudes, but it has been pointed out to me. I mean, I knew I felt bad about them, but could never really see how they might be perceived by others, until recently.  So now I have two choices: feel guilty about the past, or accept the message I have received and behave differently. 

Have you ever read Eckhart Tolle? He has some amazing ideas about something he calls the 'Pain-Body'. Maybe those wraiths holding the sidhe captive in the Dreamer Seven card are actually his Pain-Body! Especially that really scary one, with the knife, oh yes. And even that face peeping from the behind the tree is the Pain-Body, because the Pain-Body loves it when we are in its thrall. Even the circles radiating down from the moon start to look like bonds. Dreamer Seven, the Pain-Body card. I know I realised that my own behaviour is my Pain-Body. Some people have ferocious ones. Lucky me, I'm one of those people. 

(If you are interested in learning more about Pain-Body, I highly recommend both 'The Power of Now' and 'A New Earth' by Eckhart Tolle.) 


  1. Very interesting! I hope you're not being hard on yourself. We all have behaviors which affect others negatively, but I know some people who have no desire to acknowledge those or to try to improve. Good on you for being self aware!

    1. Thanks, Siddaleah! I think it's hard to strike a balance between being forgiving of ourselves and assertive with our boundaries and actually being completely self-centered. Quite easy to slip from one healthy stance into the territory of the other more harmful stance, I think. They say take care of yourself first -- you know, secure your own oxygen mask before helping others. But sometimes we might find ourselves securing our own oxygen mask and then forgetting about others. Or even somehow criticizing them because they are still fumbling with theirs instead of putting them on the way we did! (It's early to be chasing metaphors, but I think you might get what I mean...)

  2. Interesting card, isn't it? I think I've mainly identified with the person behind the tree, not standing up for their green shirted friend when they could/should. Being too afraid or too lazy to do what it right. I found your suggestion about this card representing our own negative patterns really interesting - something to ponder.

    However, reading that Eckhart Tolle link, I didn't like him saying women are particularly taken over by their pain body when they're premenstrual! Other than sometimes craving chocolate more, neither I nor anyone I've ever lived with or spent time with has ever identified me as being "pre-menstrual", so maybe I have a different take on it, but to me it just smacks of sexism in different words...

    1. Having a particularly vicious pain body, and having always had fairly raging PMT, I can say that for some of us hormone fluctuations make us highly susceptible to pain body triggers. For me, I know it's the pain body when my thinking, words and behaviour fall into well-worn grooves of dysfunction. If something, anything, triggers you to spiral into old tapes and patterns, that's the pain body, as far I'm concerned. So I see what he's saying here. (If you wanted to see premenstrual, you should have lived with me when I was about 29 or 30 years old. Dear God.)

      The first couple of times I read Tolle, I completely rejected the entire pain body theory. But one day, I realized the truth of it. It makes perfect sense to me now. That doesn't mean I don't keep getting blind-sided by it.

    2. Hmm, the pain body as our old tapes and patterns, now that I get. It's interesting, too, because my mum as a body psychotherapist says that massaging a particular body part can bring up specific pain memories/patterns...