Friday, 11 February 2011

Tarot journey into yogic philosophy 10 - Ishvarapranidhana

In this, the last in the series examining the yamas and niyamas of yoga through the lens of tarot, we turn to Ishvarapranidhana - surrender to the divine or celebration of the spiritual.

In yoga practice, as in life, there comes a time when it seems like we just can't get any further through our own efforts and resources.  Many teachers suggest that this is when we must surrender our ego, and allow things to happen rather than pushing and trying.  In this letting go of willing and forcing, suddenly something new arrives, taking us to a different level - higher or deeper, or just different.

In picking out the tarot card which I feel best represents this concept, I chose Judgement.  Traditional images often show an angel blowing a horn on the day of Judgement.  Some decks show instead a rebirth/reawakening.  Either way, I see the aspect of listening to a call from spirit, of being uplifted, and accepting with open arms a new, more spiritual way of being.

So, I drew a card from the Gaian Tarot to represent what I need to know about ishvarapranidhanic surrender. 

Ace of AirThe answer I received was the beautiful Ace of Air.  Here we see a butterfly dangling from some blossom (in my imagination it is cherry blossom, but I'm not great at recognising plants, so am happy to be corrected).  A pale blue sunny sky with wisps of white cloud hints at warmth to come.

As an Ace, this card speaks of new beginnings, perhaps surprisingly in this context.  However, I see the Ace of Air representing new ideas, and one thing about these is that they often entail letting go of the old.  This image certainly underscores that suggestion, with the symbolism of the butterfly which has released itself from its cocoon, from its old life as a caterpillar.

Just yesterday I was talking to someone about decluttering my life, so this rings a lot of bells.  I was thinking about clearing out my wardrobe, but find it hard as I have clothes going back twenty years.  So, it's not just about whether something will ever be fashionable again (if it ever was to start with), but also about the memories connected with the clothes and when I wore them. 

Likewise, I have a collection of exercise videos from the 1990's.  However, I can no longer do aerobics due to chronic shin splints.  But I had so much fun with those videos that, although I have given away about half of them, I haven't yet reconciled myself to shedding the rest.  Realistically, though, I'm not getting any younger, and my shin splints aren't going away, so I am reconsidering giving away (or throwing away, how many people have video players these days?!) the rest.

How does this decluttering fit with the suggestion of ishvarapranidhana?  Well, I see this being not just about getting rid of objects, but rather about surrendering to the reality of getting older.  I can no longer get away with wearing a skin-tight tiger-skin suit, and I can no longer do aerobics.  I need to surrender to ageing, and allow something different and new to come into my life to replace these things.  I need to trust, like the caterpillar in its cocoon, that what will come will be different and good.  So, although letting go feels hard, I need to surrender to the possibilities of the new, not knowing what they may be, but willing to be surprised.

Try drawing a card from your favourite tarot or oracle deck, and asking what you need to know about surrender in your life right now.  I'd love to hear what answer you get...

Images from the Tarot of Dreams by Ciro Marchetti and the Gaian Tarot by Joanna Powell Colbert.

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