And so, here I am. Tuesday, mid-day trying to write with ideas which don’t seem to have a defined pattern. So I’ll let the fingers do the talking, and let’s see how it goes. Let’s start with my Tarot collection. As anyone who ever bought a Tarot deck knows, it can get a bit addictive. There are so many versions and themes now-a-days, so many works of arts and few crappy ones (which of course, you learn after you bought the deck) that is almost impossible not to end with a few under your belt (20 under mine). Funnily enough, though, you don’t always connect to a deck. I can’t exactly say why. Sometimes it’s the imagery, sometimes the new names given to familiar labels, sometimes it has to do with the cards themselves. They can be too big, or too small or too flimsy. That is what happened with my Celtic Arthurian Tarot.
When it comes to reputation, few author have the weight of Caitlin and John Matthews in the field of Celtic spirituality and the Arthurian mysteries. So when I got the Arthurian Tarot for Christmas a few years ago, I was over the moon -until I started handling the cards. I have tried over and over again to connect to them, but is has been useless. I just don’t like them. However, last week, in yet another attempt to get myself immerse into their Arthurian Mystery, there was a card that made do a double take. In classical Tarot decks it’s called Justice, and depicts a woman holding a sword on one hand and a scale in the other. In the Arthurian Tarot the image is different: a woman sitting in nature holding a cup, the sword represented by a flame on the top of the head, called Sovereignty. I have yet to read the interpretation the author has given to the card, but it did make me wonder about Sovereignty in our lives.
Originally the card of Justice is related to decision and legal procedures, as well as to apply common sense to discern the appropriateness of an action. But the idea of Sovereignty goes further than this. It tells us that as regents of our lives, we not only make decisions, but become wholly responsible for the consequence they may bring. A queen or king may say that they were ill counselled, forced by the circumstances or deceived, and all that may be true. That does not take away the accountability the regent has and the obligation to make amends, compensate, change, re-construct or build anew. So is with our lives.
No matter our circumstances, our story, our weaknesses, it is up to us to go beyond the obstacles and honour our existence by creating the best life for our soul to experience, develop and fulfil its destiny. As part of the great web of life, we also have a responsibility towards the people we deal with and relate to; the environment we lived in; the animals and plants we share the planet with. This regency also extends to the care of the body, the mind and the soul, the way we nurture them, accept them, work them and love them.
This royal status it is also a reminder of our divine connection. As far as I know, every queen and king has argued that they were in that position by God’s will. So are we. Whatever you see yourself as a creation, reflection or manifestation of Spirit, know that without Spirit’s mysterious input, you would not be here. Like any heir, you have been entrusted with gifts, powers and duties, to be used to the best of your ability, in the creation of wellness, prosperity, peace, love and creativity, among other things. You even have been given a dragon or two, to prove your metal. It is your royal, divine duty, to be the best regent this life, appointed to you, and could ever have.
Being sovereign of my life also reminds me I do not have to take crap from anyone. It tells me that I am as royal, as worthy and valuable as anyone high-born person and, hence, should expect -and demand- to be treated accordingly. Which in turn also helps me remember that, when I deal with people, independently of the job they do, the way they look or talk, I am also dealing with royalty, who deserve the same respect I would grant Queen Elizabeth, should she ever decide to pop for tea.
As I looked at the card, with that flame of justice coming out of the woman, I remembered what in some circles is known as the Druid’s prayer. The payer goes something like this (it changes somewhat from version to version): Grant me Gods your protection; and with protection strenght; and with strenght, wisdom; and with wisdom, knowledge; and with knowledge, the knowledge of justice; and with the knowledge of justice, the love for it; and with the love for it, the love for all existences; and with love all of existences, the love for the Gods and all that is good. What calls my attention is that in this prayer, love does not start until there is knowledge of justice, and this knowledge and love for justice unravels love for all creation, kindness and the Divine.
I guess that in a sense, the idea of justice awakens within us appreciation for those who are not necessarily within our sphere of affection. It’s the concept of justice that tell us that poverty is wrong; that is not fair that there are people who have so little when others have so much. It is justice that tells us that, when it comes to rights, there should be no difference between a man and a woman, a heterosexual and homosexual, a black person and a white person, a Christian and Druid. Justice ask us to connect to Nature and ask ourselves what right, as humans, do we truly have to take away the quality of life of animals so we can sell them cheaply for consumption -or even what right we have to eat them at all. Why should human whims dictate that a mountain should be destroyed to find diamonds? Why should sharks be killed so a few can surf the waves safely?
The love for justice is what make us take a stand. It’s this love that make us march, protest, volunteer, find alternatives, come together with others for a higher cause. Justice can help us go beyond ego and understand that, sometimes, it’s not about us; that there is such thing as a greater good and there are moment when we bow to it and give part, or all, of what we are, to this greater good. Now, as I said in the beginning, the card of Justice speaks of discernment, and through the Arthurian mysteries, sovereignty. So I think the idea of Justice also implies freedom of choice -whatever personal sacrifice is to be made, it must be born from our sovereignty, from our inherent right and duty to co-create our human experiences. Imposed sacrifice is an oxymoron. True sacrifice is more like an offering, a gift, born out of love and honour -out of spiritual nobility.
So I look at the card one more time and I remember another Tarot deck I have, the Egyptian Tarot. There Justice is represented by the goddess Ma’at, the principle of organization over chaos; the giver of laws that insure a harmonic society and a balanced relationship not only between men, but between people and the Divine. The laws of Ma’at ask us not only to refrain from violence and selfishness, but to appreciate what we have, waiving aimless complaining about the everyday. It asks us to be as compassionate as possible (by not making anyone cry on purpose) and to be humble enough to listen to others (“I have not closed my ears to truth”). So to live in Justice is not just to blindly obey legal rules, but to live within a spirit of fairness, generosity, compassion and self-awareness that encompasses ourselves and others, to create a better society.
As I thought about these ideas (because that’s how my mind works) the image of Isabel came to me.
Isabel is a Spanish mini-series about the history of Queen Isabel, the Catholic. On the last episode, when she crowned herself queen, her first decree was to have a noble man walk in front of her, holding up a naked sword, to show that from now on, she was not only regent, but guarantor and executor of the Justice of the land. So this last image seems to tie up nicely the themes of this rambling. We may not rule over a country per se, but we are rulers of our lives, and as such, we bear our naked sword of justice in every action we take, every word we say and every though we ponder on. As regents know, to keep the peace and assure progress and well-being, queens and kings have to come together and negotiate -and if they are good queens and kings, they’ll do it for the betterment of all. So go forth, my lady, my lord and exercise your sovereignty wisely, strongly and beautifully.
© Karem Barratt 2015