Monday, 13 December 2010

Tarot journey into yogic philosophy 7 - santosha

The next niyama, or as Donna Farhi calls them, "Codes for Living Soulfully" sounds lovely.  Santosha is translated as contentment!  Yet how many of us are content with our lot?  Don't we wish we had something more: that new tarot deck for example, or a book, a CD, a Wii - whatever else you may have put on your Christmas list.  And back we go to aparigraha - attachment!  Or else it may be something on a more emotional, aspirational or even spiritual level - a soulmate, a sense of peace with the world, more time to meditate, less pain, the ability to hold an arm balance.  With all of this going on in our heads, how can we develop an acceptance of and contentment with our life?

There are some areas where I find contentment a lot easier to reach than with consumerism or spiritual aspiration.  One thing Donna Farhi mentions is the idea of hope, another is acceptance.  These seem in direct contrast to one another, and yet... Where I have hope, I can feel content because there is still potential.  Likewise, where there is no hope, so long as I can see a reason for it, I can come to acceptance and contentment.  For example, in Downward Dog my heels will never touch the floor.  Having watched Paul Grilley's Anatomy for Yoga DVD I know this to be a fact based on my bone structure.  It has nothing to do with flexibility or practice.  It is an immutable fact, and so there is no reason for me to feel bad about that aspect of my practice.  I am content to not have my heels reach the floor!

However, there are definitely areas of my life where I am not content.  So, I decided to explore the idea of santosha a little more.  To represent this niyama, and how I see it being achievable, I chose the tarot image of the Queen of Pentacles.  She is often seen as an entrepreneurial figure. However, it is important to remember that she is neither miserly nor decadent. She enjoys what she has, but is also able to make do with whatever is available to her. She chooses simple pleasures and family over luxury and extravagance, either material or emotional.  Although she is of the suit of Pentacles, which is associated with the element of Earth and with material and practical matters, I see her also having a very down-to-earth spiritual side.  These aspects of the Queen of Pentacles represent well, for me, that aspect of santosha, or contentment, that I would like to foster.

So, I asked: "What will help me develop contentment?" and drew a card from the Hezicos Tarot by Mary Griffin.  The 8 of Rods shows knobbly rods flying through the sky on the breath of the wind.

The first thing that springs to mind is that the rods travel together, in a flock.  Contentment comes from good company along the road we take through life.  As I wrote in a previous post, friendship is important on a lot of levels.  It helps us define who we are, as well as providing us with stimulation, support, and inspiration.  Feeling I am not alone, but part of a group, will help me be more accepting of where I am.

The second thing I notice is that in this particular version there is a creature blowing to create the wind, making it more than just rods flying through the air.  Rather, they are being carried on the wind.  The message seems to be about going with the flow rather than fighting the energy that sweeps through my life.  How can I be content if I am fighting the flow of life?  So, I should keep an eye out for which way the wind is blowing in my life now, and respect that.  There will be a reason for that direction, based on choices I have made in the past.  That's not to say I have no room to make new decisions, just that I should be aware if those choices match with where I have been heading for the last little while.   

What areas of your life are you content with?  And where is contentment harder for you?  Why not draw a card to see what might help you be more content...

Images: Queen of Pentacles from the Radiant Rider Waite Tarot, 8 of Rods from the Hezicos Tarot.


  1. I wish I was a content person. I really do. I look at Tertarus and wish that I could be so Zen with my everyday life - I'm always trying to improve upon things.

    There is one area of my life where I am extremely discontent, which I won't go into here. But in light of this post, I drew a card from my Druid Craft tarot and got....the 8 of Wands!

    In this deck though, someone is throwing a single wand, like a javelin. The remaining 7 are stuck firmly into the ground waiting to be thrown.

    I'm really not sure how that relates to my question, which was just the same as your question :-) Any clues gratefully received, Chloe!


  2. Hi Ali,

    Ah yes, the Zen Tertarus who really can think about nothing at all!

    It's funny you drawing the 8 of Wands, too. I did another draw today (will be posted in a few days) and got another version of the 8 of Wands!

    Anyhow, as for your version, I wonder whether one message might be about concentrating on just one thing at a time, leaving the others planted til you've got the first one flying nicely? Also, having the others lined up smacks of planning - knowing ahead of time what the other things are you want to work on. That way you can worry less about them, knowing they'll get their turn, and focus on one at a time.

    Or, on a completely different tack, perhaps contentment will come as the result of clearing things out of your life - giving them the heave-ho. Be it Kevin, or the feeling that you ought to be tidy, there are probably things in all our lives we would be more content without :-)

    If any of those chime with you, or if you come up with other interpretations, I hope you'll share them.

    Best, Cx

  3. KEVIN CAN NEVER HAVE THE HEAVE-HO! He's scheduled to come for Christmas dinner :-)

    I like your take on the situation and can see how ALL of it applies. Specially the tidy bit lol!

    Thank you Chloe!

    Ali x

  4. It's true: Kevin is family, and better than many ;-D

    Glad you like the suggestions, though if you stopped worrying about tidying you might no longer be able to claim your Hestia title, or at least lose some of the amusing angst of your posts!