The Ninth Key

My life has been going very well lately, but I still felt so lost. The reasons for this always seemed to be just beyond my reach to articulate, until a post from a Tarot site came swimming up my facebook feed. Why not ask the cards what you need to do to regain control of your destiny?

Why not? I took out a deck I rarely work with and separated the Major Arcana. (This was a big question, so it needed a big answer). Key II immediately fell out. In Tarot de Marseille decks, this card is called the Popess. She is thus even more explicitly the female counterpart of the Fifth Key, the Pope/Hierophant. In the Rider-Waite Smith system, she is the High Priestess. This archetype resonates with the energies of my patroness, Saraswati Devi.

I did not take this as my answer, though it clearly was a sign. Instead, I completed separating the cards, shuffled them, and asked my question. What can I do to regain control of my destiny? I drew Key IX, The Hermit.

This was a clear and unambiguous answer: I should turn my attention within and listen to my own heart. Like the Hermit, I would walk my own path. It was a perfect answer, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. So of course, I didn’t believe it. Instead, I shuffled the cards again, but again, out came the Hermit.

Even when I switched to a different, full deck and drew one more time…for a third time, there he was. At least at that point, I had enough sense to stop! However, it wasn’t until I picked up my books and reviewed the meanings of the card that I realized how deeply resonant this message had been.

I will walk the path of The Hermit, and may Saraswati Devi be both my Priestess and the light in my lamp.

Water and Wisdom

Saraswati Devi is a goddess of water and wisdom, worshipped across Asia by millions of people in multiple faiths. While she is the patroness of learning and the arts, she is also ancient and elemental in her power, for she was once a guardian spirit of the sacred river from which she took her name.

The Saraswati River was said to have its source in the heavens, though her essence no longer flows to earth in the form of the waters, but instead as the fluidity of inspiration itself. Those lucky enough to drink from her wellspring have wisdom that can break the backs of mountains, just as in the age of the Vedas.

Good Help is Hard to Find

I’ve been seeing a psychiatrist for most of my life, for various reasons. I’m autistic, with the common comorbid conditions of anxiety, OCD, and ADHD. I saw a number of psychologists and social workers before being referred at the tender age of about 8, to the doctor I still see now. His office is over an hour and a half away from where I live. Good help is hard to find.

When my head cracked open, I asked him about it. He looked over his glasses (as he is wont to do) and asked me a couple of vague questions, before simply shrugging at me and telling me that what I was experiencing was “within the range of normal.” You see, he told me, “mystical experiences are part of the human condition.” He told me that he’d had such experiences himself.

Of course, this was the same doctor who would excitedly ask for a reading when he saw my Tarot cards. Good help is hard to find, but it’s worth searching for.

Crossing the River

Worship of Saraswati Devi dates back to the early Vedic period in India (1500 BCE), where she was the presiding spirit of a sacred and possibly mythical river. The name of the river is believed to be derived from the proto-Indo-Iranian *sáras-vat-ī, which supposedly means “marshy” or “full of pools”. Another proposed etymology derives her name from the root *sar, which means “flow”. Though this latter theory has been widely repeated, it was apparently not favored by Manfred Mayrhofer, a linguist specializing in Sanskrit and Indo-Iranian languages.(1)

In modern worship, Saraswati’s origins as a river deity have been obscured. She is a deity of wisdom, and a patroness of learning and the arts. Modern commenters sometimes derive her name from Sanskrit Sāra and Sva, meaning of “essence of self-knowledge”. While not a historically valid etymology, it certainly captures Lady Saraswati’s character.

(1) Information taken from Wikipedia entry “Sarasvati River

The Mandala of My Life

One of the founders of the Western Buddhist Order (now rebranded as Triratna) wrote a book called Meeting the Buddhas. In it he described the familiar Buddhist icons known as mandalas as maps of one’s inner life and priorities. He asked us, his readers, what would be at the center if we made our own mandala.

I wrote in a previous post here, that I would put My Lady at the center of my own mandala. It was a reflexive answer, unprompted by any thought. Of course she goes there! Where else would she go?

The answer of course, is that there is more than one Saraswati in my mandala. She has ended up in every quarter and corner of my mandala and my life. She is the mandala just as she is my life.