Sunday, 10 November 2013

Grace Under Fire

Today's is a lovely image from James Ricklef's Tarot of the Masters.  And, I believe it's based on a painting by Degas, proving I'm not totally unaware of these Old Masters :)

Here, on the Two of Coins (Pentacles), we have a ballerina on stage, doing an attitude with her left leg.  Both her arms are held up in what looks like second position (though it could be fourth), and her head is tossed back nonchalantly.  Can you tell I know more about ballet than I do about art? ;)   In the background are two more figures, a male and female, who both appear to be in evening dress.  They are standing in what may be the wings, either that or they're all on a beach, which seems rather unlikely.  As though floating in the air, we see two coins, one above each of the ballerina's outstretched arms.

For me, the ballerina is a great image for this card.  She is balancing in her pose, one leg back behind her in the air.  She also reaches out in opposite directions, as though pulled towards each of the coins.  All the elements, then, of balance and physicality that you would expect.  And yet, there's more, as she achieves this balancing act with grace and poise, making it look easy.  That takes a lot of practice, and focus!

Referring to this archetype in The Soul's Journey, James talks about balancing the mundane and the spiritual aspects of life, on which he says: "In order to find a balance between those two, we choose which is truly important to us and then give more weight to that one."   He also points out that not making a choice is, by default, choosing the material plane, given the way we are shaped by the culture around us.  And, as in the Zen proverb: "Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.  After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water," he also reminds us that: "Although we may do the same old things when enlightened, we will do them... compassionately and mindfully, and we will be fully engaged in them."  Bringing absolute engagement, then, to a physical experience like dancing, is a way of making it a spiritual experience.

At a basic level, I could take this card as a recommendation to do a ballet practice today.  Yet, I also see it questioning the way I choose to balance different aspects of my life: work and home; energy I give to my living child or the one yet to be born; time I give to myself or others.  Theoretically, I could give time to others, with an engagement that makes of it time I give to myself.  Still, I don't think I've achieved that degree of enlightenment yet...

I am grateful for the reminder to be present in whatever I choose to do.

8 comments:

  1. Balancing by giving one aspect more weight than the other; I like that, will try that. :)

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  2. Beautiful image and interesting and deep reading, very nice! Muchas Estrellas!!!!

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    1. Thanks, LM. As I say, James' projects are always fascinating :) Muchas strellas y buenas vibraciones!

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  3. The painting that served as inspiration for this card is “The Star” by Edgar Degas.
    Although generally classified as an Impressionist, Degas called himself a Realist, and unlike most Impressionists, he typically portrayed people at work rather than at play. It was part of his genius, however, that the work he illustrated usually looked like play, and “The Star” is an excellent example of that. This is one of Degas's many ballet paintings, and as such, it is a beautiful depiction of balance. I have tried to maintain this sense of balance by using one coin icon with a male head and the other with a female head. And of course, the dichotomy between performer and audience depicted in this painting further conveys this theme.
    Again, thank you for feature both my deck (Tarot of the Masters) an my new book (The Soul’s Journey).
    Blessings,
    James Ricklef

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    1. Ah, I hadn't twigged to the male and female heads on the coins - another lovely detail! I also love the notion that he shows work which many would consider to look like play, that adds a beautiful layer to the card's meaning.

      I'm really enjoying this week with your deck and book. Although I've read many of your posts using the Tarot of the Masters, I always find it different to interpret them myself, in the context of my life.
      Blessings,
      Chloë

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