The idea for this post has been rattling around in my head for a while, but until now I didn’t quite feel ready to approach it.
For years I’ve been interested in the idea of “thought forms.” Honestly I can’t remember where I first encountered this idea, but obviously I can’t take credit for it. I read a lot, as you might have noticed from the list of books that have influenced my tarot practice here. That’s why I can’t pinpoint the first place I encountered this idea. But it possibly emerged either in a book by Gregg Braden (The Divine Matrix or The Isaiah Effect), or, one of the most influential books I’ve ever read, which sadly I haven’t been able to find in English, Schicksal als chance – “Destiny As Choice” by Thorwald Dethlefsen (I read the Italian translation Il Destino Come Scelta — why this isn’t translated into English I have no idea, I’m about ready to write the publisher and suggest it myself!) I certainly know that my mentor Paola Pierpaoli talks about it in her books about working with your spirit guides and angels.
What are thought forms?
To sum it up though as an introduction to this post, in my way of thinking, “thought forms” can be explained as thoughts becoming actual matter, albeit invisible. Stick with me here because this is a really “out there” sort of idea. But if you want to hypothesize this idea, it would be that if there’s a sort of thought that many people are thinking, and continue to verbalize, obsess over, and worry about, all the energy behind the thought is constantly sort of swirling around us, bombarding us with its particular vibration. I know, this isn’t science. So be it. But I for one can say that the energy behind all this talk, for at least five years now or more, about “the economic crisis” is becoming harder and harder for me to defend myself from.
Think about it: how many times recently have you or someone you know mentioned or thought about this omnipresent “economic crisis” and the general idea that no one has any money right now? How much time do you think you’ve spent recently contemplating the general lack of money and abundance and resources in our current society? Perhaps you or someone you know is out of work, or can’t pay their bills. True, this is a problem that can happen at any time. But personally I feel like this world economic crisis and all the news and talking about it has us at a point where we’re beginning to incorporate the belief into our daily lives that there’s simply not enough to go around, and furthermore, that there might never be enough for everyone, ever. This kind of thinking, in my belief, isn’t innocuous, it’s damaging. I truly believe that the more we and others think about, talk about, and obsess about how little there is to go around, and the more we worry about losing our jobs, or the fact that people we know are losing their jobs, the more we are actually enhancing the lack of material resources.
Our thoughts create our reality – where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go. -Peter McWilliams
Possibly you’re saying this is new-age mumbo jumbo, and “how can just thinking about there not being enough make me lose my job?” I don’t have any answer to that. But I simply want to bring attention to the fact that I think most of us live our lives in a state in which we are nearly unconscious about what we think, and how what we think contributes to creating the reality around us. I don’t mean that you can become rich by simply repeating positive affirmations. I am very skeptical about new age type treatises like the pop culture phenomenon “The Secret” and the bandying about of the so-called “Law of Attraction.”
But by the same token, I certainly don’t think that constantly reinforcing the idea that “I don’t have enough money” is going to help anyone on the path to opening to the Universe’s unlimited abundance. We can’t receive what we don’t believe exists, and we open ourselves to the realities that we believe exist. This is covered in depth in the fantastic book by David Spengler, Everyday Miracles: The Inner Art of Manifestation, which I also mentioned in the post Tarot and Non-Attachment to Outcomes. If you don’t think the Universe is unlimited in its abundance, and you honestly believe with all of your heart and soul that you’ll never have enough, and that there’s not enough to go around and never will be, then it’s difficult to imagine that you can allow and accept abundance into your own life.
Living in a time when economic lack is everywhere
All of this is what has led me to pose some questions to the tarot. Because I personally was becoming overwhelmed with these thoughts. While I myself am blessed to have enough financial stability to live without lack of the basic essentials and enjoy a life that’s comfortable for me and my three children, I am constantly plagued by thoughts of worry regarding “what if?” “What if I lose my job? What if I can’t pay the bills? What if there’s not enough money?” Because so many people, everywhere I go, are constantly talking about and reminding me of this. “No one has money right now…economic crisis.” “There aren’t any jobs out there…economic crisis.” “What if I never find anything else…economic crisis.”
Lest you think tarot is simply a tool to predict whether or not your lover is going to leave his or her partner, think again. Tarot in my practice is a tool for expanded consciousness and active awareness.
With this in mind, I developed a spread to gain insight to this challenge, and how to actively confront it. Now, in my view, we could generally produce the same advice the tarot gives. It’s not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination. But what I believe tarot helps us do is to detach emotionally from our subject or question. Since what we are dealing with is causing us anxiety, or stress, or some type of emotion, by turning to the tarot we let go for a moment of our emotional attachment for a more objective look at the issue.
Here is the spread I developed (each number represents one card in the spread):
1) What do we need to know about this economic crisis?
2) How can we respond to the constant barrage of negative thought forms that tell us “there’s not enough to go around”?
3) How can we cultivate faith in the natural and unlimited abundance of the Universe?
4) What advice and guidance can be given to those of us who are struggling with lack in our lives (no jobs, fear of not having enough)?
5) What can this economic crisis and its thought forms teach us?
Here are the cards that came up:
In the position of 1, “What do we need to know about this economic crisis?” we see the 2 of Cups, reversed. We need to know that this financial recession or period of resources being taken away, or not being enough, is about sharing, or lack thereof. The 2 of Cups shows a man and a woman offering each other full cups, which in the context of the tarot suits represent heart-centered love and giving, the emotional and not rational side of things. As it’s reversed, it shows that this free giving and sharing is blocked. We need to know that this crisis is a blockage of the free sharing of heart and giving without expecting anything in return. There’s a lack of giving for the sake of giving, and there’s not recognition of the fact that giving freely is what generates abundance. The card of the 4 of Pentacles comes to mind here, of holding on tightly to what one has. It would appear here with the 2 of Cups reversed that there’s a fear of sharing freely from a heart level with others, and that’s what we need to know about this economic crisis. I think in practical terms we could relate that to the lack of consideration for people shown by the financial machine that triggered the world economic meltdown. It’s a question fundamentally of misplaced values, a lack of heart in business practices, a lack of compassion and a lack of feeling, that resulted in the physical manifestation of a lack of financial resources. Until values change at a fundamental level in terms of doing business on a global scale, the outward manifestations won’t change.
Card 2 asks “ow can we respond to the constant barrage of negative thought forms that tell us “there’s not enough to go around”? This is the challenge I face on a daily basis. I don’t want to think these worrisome thoughts, but at the same time, simply telling myself “don’t think that” isn’t doing it for me. Here the tarot gives us the image of The Star, upright.
The Star is a card of renewal, regeneration, and of course the biggest key word associated with The Star is always hope. Already here we’re seeing this idea of abundance being expressed. The Star pours water from her jar onto the ground, it filters back into the pond, she pours water from her other jar into the pond, it mixes with the trail of water on the ground. She doesn’t hold the water or try to keep it for herself, but lets it freely flow. She’s not clothed, not concerned with material objects. What she has is already enough. In terms of the pressing negative thoughts about lack of abundance and fear of not having enough, here The Star is telling us “what you have right now is exactly what you need, no more, no less.” I know that this is totally counterintuitive and you aren’t going to want to hear that if you don’t have enough to eat. But I think here we need to look at this issue on a more spiritual level. We all know that the world isn’t a fair place, and that economic disparity will always exist. But when we begin to let fears of not having enough creep into our awareness, we can meditate on the image of The Star, who simply gives back in order to receive. If you’re in a position of financial lack, or fear not having enough, how can you cultivate faith and hope in the reality that receiving comes from giving? When you reach outward your focus shifts from “I don’t have enough!” to “How can I give to others?” This is a paradigm shift and lifts the emphasis on “me and what I need” to “what unique gifts can I contribute to the world I live in?”
Card 3 answers the question “How can we cultivate faith in the natural and unlimited abundance of the Universe?” and the tarot responds with Temperance.
At first glance, doesn’t Temperance seem so similar to The Star? My first impression in relating these two cards to each other is certainly the vessels of water being poured, and the two pools of water shown in each card. Note how in The Star, the woman’s foot is on the water but not immersed in it, and then in Temperance, we see the foot both in the water and covered by it, water flowing over it. We could interpret this as taking the abundance represented by the limitless flow of water and immersing ourselves in it, a sort of taking the “theory” of The Star represented by hope and faith, and then living it, as shown by the action taken in the Temperance card. Temperance takes the ideas represented in The Star and puts them into action, by taking the elements at hand and combining them into something new. The direct and deliberate mixing now of the water in the two cups (which also calls our attention back to the 2 of Cups itself) is that we can identify elements in our life that seem to be incompatible, and combine them skillfully into something entirely new. Temperance does bring to mind compromise and balance, but in this context, as to how we can cultivate faith in the limitless abundance of the Universe, Temperance is telling us to actively put the theory into practice. Begin by noticing where abundance flows freely in your life. Even a person who is unemployed or can’t pay the bills should be able to find one area of their lives where abundance flows freely. Are you healthy? Is your family healthy? Do you have people who love you? Do you have love for yourself? Focusing on where abundance already exists, even in the smallest form, is a key to creating more abundance. Then, using the magic of Temperance, one can take that small seed of abundance and mix it with the seemingly incompatible areas that aren’t abundant, to produce and cultivate new faith in the fact that the Universe wants to give to us if we are open to receiving. In practical terms, this means that faith is cultivated by experience. “Blind faith” means believing in something you’ve never seen or had proof of. The faith cultivated by Temperance is one that is born of practical, live experience. If you take the theory presented by The Star and put it into action in small ways in your daily life, you’ll start to see results and as you observe these small miracles, you begin to grow your belief in the fact that the Universe does in fact provide for your needs.
So what then is the tarot’s advice to those who are currently struggling with physical lack in their lives? What can be said to those who are currently experiencing unemployment, financial hardship, loss?
Here we have The Wheel of Fortune, reversed. The Wheel of Fortune is the quintessential card for life cycles. Think about a wheel turning. Sometimes I imagine a roulette wheel in a casino when I see this card. The wheel is spun, and no one knows exactly when it will stop or where the ball will land. It’s also akin to another phrase that comes from the casino “it’s a crap shoot.” In craps, one throws the dice, a game of chance, not knowing the outcome, not having control over the outcome. In simple terms, the advice would be “Accept that you aren’t in control of all the circumstances in your life.” It’s a very Zen sort of approach, an approach of acceptance, of observation, rather than fighting. Learning to accept that life comes in cycles, and that the cycles are necessary and not to be avoided, is essential when going through periods of hardship and lack. It goes without saying that no one wants to live a life of struggle, of not having enough. But at the same time, trying to run away from the practical and psychological realities that joblessness or financial loss presents is simply a form of denial. It’s obvious that someone without a job or without enough money wants to have a job or get more money. I think The Wheel of Fortune here is reminding us as its advice and guidance to be aware of the larger scheme in life, to be aware of the fact that giving and taking away are natural cycles in life, and that everything is transitory and has a necessary lesson to teach. I interpret the reversal here to mean that the advice is to let go of blockages and resistance to life’s natural cycles. Find ways to accept loss in your life, without turning away from it in fear. As with all cycles, this too shall pass, but the way you confront the situation, with either a resistant or an open approach, can accelerate its passing or prolong its stop in your life.
In summary then, what can we learn from all of this economic hardship?
Well, certainly it could have been expected that the 5 of Pentacles would show up in a spread addressing financial loss and hardship, as that is generally what this card represents. “Falling on hard times,” struggle, not having enough to get by. And yet, here we see the card reversed, turning all of that on its head. This financial crisis can show us new ways of looking at what is typically viewed as a negative situation. We can turn around our ideas about the difficulty inherent in struggling from lack of resources, and create new opportunities from what at first glance appears to be a very terrible situation. The economic crisis is forcing people to rethink their careers, their values, the way they look at money and resources in their life. Although the lessons come from hard experiences, the ultimate outcome can be seen as positive and a source of new growth. Who’s to say that the loss of a job isn’t the first step in the creation of an even better, more prosperous and rewarding career or vocation? I don’t say this as a generic cure-all or a Pollyanna outlook. The 5 of Pentacles reversed in this situation is asking us to see financial struggle and difficulty in a new light, and to look outside of ourselves for the solutions, drawing on the advice and insights already presented by the other cards in this spread.