Awakening and Staying Woke in the Tarot

Yesterday, I went to church for the first time in a while. I had been in two minds about going because I was really quite upset that the Anglican church won’t move forward on the right track and support the Christian LBGTQ community fully as One. Also, there is the aspect of having be told ‘to be careful,’ about whom I tell that I work as a Tarot reader so as to not offend anyone. This wasn’t from the vicar, mind you, but from a well-meaning member of the congregation. Not that I ever volunteered that information… but I would never lie when asked directly.

As someone who finds it hard to trust others anyway because of my PTSD, that comment last year didn’t exactly help keep me in church. The last thing I wish is to cause offence. But I’ve reconciled myself to that, on the whole, the church is pretty much like the dysfunctional family I grew up with (only a few degrees less triggering). I didn’t light up the room for my parents because they were too tightly wound up in their own personal pain and trauma… and perhaps this is the best way to see my church family. Many of them won’t smile when they see me once they know I’m a Tarot reader because they are too wrapped up in fear-based judgement. We’re all dysfunctional together but we come together anyway because of grace… and somewhere along the line this grace goes to work on us as long as we are willing to forgive others as we hope for Mother-Father God to forgive us of our own sins.

If I can have compassion on myself, I can have compassion for everyone else.

Anyway, I was extremely glad I went because the theme of the sermon was ‘Wake Up’ and I had been pondering the concept of awakening for the better part of last week, meaning (of course) to blog about it. So this felt like a massive sign to me that I was meant to be there, as did the beautiful purple irises (the flowers I associate with my Guardian Angel) at the foot of the pulpit.

It was the Sunday before Ash Wednesday and this time of the Church Year, the transfiguration of Christ is in focus. The vicar suggested transfiguration, being illuminated from within by God’s grace, was not just reserved for Jesus but that we too could be transfigured. How? By waking the fuck up. Of course, he didn’t put it quite that way but my brain translates things into a language that works better for me. What the vicar did do was to quote someone (name escapes me) who said that we only need two words for prayer: ‘Wake up.’ 

When we are awake, we see and experience God’s presence fully in the world around us. The vicar was brave enough to confess that he sometimes sleep-walks for days, weeks and ‘Dare I say it…’ even months at the time… I’m glad he expressed what is real for most of us. We simply don’t stay ‘woke.’ Some people think they do but they are usually clinging to a framework of what staying woke should look like in the outside world and that is why it is so good that we have people like JP Sears who pokes fun at this modern version of the ‘ultra spiritual person.’

So… What does awakening look like in the Tarot? Well, it depends on how deep your sleep is.

When we are well entrenched in the ego and lack the ability to reflect inwardly… If our agenda is ‘my way or the highway’… then the kind of awakening we usually get is of the Tower variety. It is never pleasant but oh so necessary. It is the Tower of Babel that comes tumbling down. We did it our way instead of God’s way and the consequences are that what we built simply cannot last. We have to start over.

The problem with a Tower awakening is that this does not automatically lead to us staying awake for long enough to start building something on a solid foundation. Unless we first go within and ask God for direction, we are more likely than not to immediately start constructing another tower, whether this be by replacing one addiction for another or one toxic love relationship for the next…

This is especially true for those of us who have suffered childhood abuse and trauma. In addition to seeking spiritual direction, somewhere along the line, many of us need proper talk therapy as well as healing with help of complementary medicine and things like art therapy or yoga. Incidentally, the Tower is also the card indicating shock and trauma. The meaning of this card isn’t always awakening but it is the nature of the human mind to want to make sense of traumatic experiences and the most constructive way for us to do so is to see it as a chance to start afresh. However, when trauma is keeping you frozen in limiting thoughts and behaviours, you can never truly start afresh. First you must rewire your brain.

An awakening that goes deeper is one that is born from within. Where the Tower awakening is like being hit with a 2 x 4 over the head or having a ton of bricks dropped on top of you, an awakening by the Angel of Judgement brings us to our knees out of a deep desire to do the right thing.

We realise that there is more to life than meets the eye… We begin to have a sense of purpose. The challenge inherent in the Judgement card is to move forward having learned from the past… but with none of the baggage.

What this card enables us to do is to accept grace and guidance from on High about our true nature and calling. It has been preceded by the surrender of the Hanged Man, the realisation of our mortality and the ability to actively engaged in soul alchemy which combines the ability to self-reflect with the action of making adjustments in accordance with the vision of the Higher Self.

Then we are tested again (The Devil) and if we fail, we have a Tower experience… This is followed by relief and an aha moment after which we are called to dive deeper into our unconscious mind to keep growing (The Moon) until we start feeling OK in our skin (The Sun) and read to fully align with our Life Purpose (Judgment).

Please pay attention (Wake up!): The Sun precedes Judgement for a reason. Until you feel OK being you, you cannot embark fully on the journey of your life purpose. Be compassionate with yourself and your journey so far. Know that you are loved and lovable.

Of course, it is not always linear. In fact, it’s nearly ever linear… but it is handy to have a rough outline of the spiritual Path that we are all on and that the Tarot beautifully shows us in highly accessible images that resonate so deeply because they are part of our collective human heritage and universal consciousness.

So what about The World? What does the final card in the Major Arcana have to do with awakening and staying woke? Glad you asked!

The meaning of this card is very simple. It means we are awake to the fact that we are one body in Christ. The World dancer is naked to draw attention to her body and to show the sense of liberation we gain when we awaken fully to this simple truth: ‘We all belong to each other,’ in the words of Mother Teresa.

When we break bread in His name we are dividing bits of this body up and absorbing it as a reminder that His body is our body and that we all are One in Him.

Staying woke isn’t about feeling blissed out all the time. This card corresponds with stern Saturn, Lord of Karma, ruler of space and time. We stay woke only if we accept our limitations, do our best and stop worrying so much about our sense of entitlement to feel fabulous all the damn time. Life here on earth can be very hard. More so for some who are born in war zones or with severe handicaps… but guess what? They are part of YOU. Their pain is your pain.

A trouble shared is a trouble halved. Click To Tweet

Staying woke makes it impossible to not start acting to help those less fortunate than ourselves. And that is what I love about people of faith, true Followers of the Way… They keep doing that even when they don’t feel high on patchouli or have a new piece of aqua aura around their neck.

Take it on faith that we are all one body and you will dwell in the body of the World dancer. You will stay woke even when you’re not able to perceive the bliss and splendour of transfiguration through your senses. You will be her and she will be you, and all around you will have the support of the Word, represented by the four evangelists: Mark (Lion), Matthew (Water Bearer), John (Eagle) and Luke (Bull).

As the Dancer, you will be ever vigilant against social injustice because you love every member of your body equally and you are protective of them.

Love and Blessings,

Lisa Frideborg