Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Lovers Card: Mastering the Art of Integrity

The Lovers Card, from the ancient Marseilles Tarot Deck

We might say the Lovers Card is very much the card of integration. There are three distinct parts of the psyche suggested by the card:  1) Cupid, 2) the older, matronly woman on the left, and, 3) the younger, more alluring woman on the right. The woman to the right, the younger woman, is the man’s Anima, the feminine part of the man’s psyche that is often subverted into the shadow, the subconscious, the parts of ourselves that we tend to marginalize in order to maintain our roles in the relationships that form our lives.

Cupid represents our higher power, the guiding part of ourselves that knows and sees a lot more than we do, but who only leads and guides, who doesn’t force or even impose, except in certain situations when more drastic measures are required, such as when someone is refusing her call. In some respects, our “higher power” might be seen as fate or destiny—not so much that we don’t have choices or freewill, but because the higher power knows and sees more, has greater insight, and might guide more or less overtly at various times.
The older, matronly woman represent the part of the psyche that is more aligned with both “externally”- and “internally”-based morality. 

The Matron:  "I've got my eye on you."

The matron is concerned about maintaining social bonds and keeping a good face in the community on the one end of the spectrum, but then also has concerns for the deeper and more personal issues of “doing the right thing.” I don’t think this has to be anchored in some kind of externally-based morality, but can simply be a person’s preference for dealing with others, such as a desire to be honest and avoid game-playing. Nevertheless, the matron can also represent the parts of ourselves that see the prevailing mindset, the opinions of others, the “standards of conduct” imposed by society as a something to bow to, to pay homage to, even when doing so isn’t in line with our own internal understanding.

The seductress, the part of ourselves that doesn't care too much about convention.

The younger, sexier woman represents the part of the psyche that is more opportunist and more sensually motivated, such as desiring things that are pleasurable. This part of the psyche likes to have fun and doesn’t care so much for convention. This part wants what it wants without stopping to think too seriously about consequences. This part is more likely both to notice opportunities and to move us to act upon them, to seize the day, to make it happen.

The "Pilot," the naive, non-integrated, illusory self who thinks he's in control.

The character in the middle is something of the illusory “self,” the “pilot” who seems to be running the show, this idea we have of the “integrated self.” Oddly enough, I think this guy exists in the lack of integration, or in the lack of individuation. He exists because he hasn’t found how to live the three influences in the manner of the ancient alchemists, who found the art of turning the crude element of lead (the unintegrated self) into gold (the integrated self) and the Lovers card is about integrating these disparate parts in order to master the art of integrity.

I define “integrity” as living out one’s destiny both by recognizing opportunities and acting upon them, but also by keeping a mindful adherence to issues of conscience, making adjustments in both directions—toward morality and way from it—as needed to adjust to and mediate the ongoing challenges of life. The Lovers card represents this sense of integrity, this integrated sense of living life while being mindful of these three aspects of self.

Integrity:  living out one’s destiny, recognizing opportunities and acting upon them, but also keeping a mindful adherence to issues of conscience...
It seems this experience requires a sense of faith and patience, while also requiring the person to be watchful and able to adjust to the demands of a situation while maintaining both a good sense of humor and a sense of adventure.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Santa Cruz -- A Retrospective

Some times in our lives may be especially challenging and trying, but the memories, friendships, and the place itself hold a special place in our hearts. And so was my time in Santa Cruz as a starving artist...