Does anything make your heart sink faster than a card that comes with a message that says, “You are so much stronger than you think you are”? Or “we are watching over you”? Or “everything you do has an effect, whether visible or not”?
These are actual card interpretations from actual LWBs (Little White Books) that go with decks I have recently pulled cards from.
I love oracle cards, but sometimes I can see why some readers prefer not to read with them. They are so warm and reassuring — at least, until you start to read between the lines! That’s where you find the “dark side” of these sweet, gentle cards.
But the truth is, some parts of life are hard. Though I might jones when I see a “you are so strong” message, don’t I — and don’t you — always already know what the card is talking about? We know quite well what the rough times are that we are going through. If the cards told us something different, who would they be kidding?
What do oracle cards themselves have to say about this?
From the Universal Wisdom Oracle by Toni Carmine Salerno, I pulled what I think is a very wise answer: Eternity. And this time I’m going to quote directly from the LWB (though in this case it’s an LBB–but anyway):
“This card is encouraging you to detach from the restrictions of your mind and look at your life from a more universal perspective. If you try to make your life fit entirely into human logic, you are always going to get to a point where it will no longer make any real sense. Trying to make sense of every part of your life is like trying to piece together a jigsaw puzzle while having only a few pieces of the puzzle in your possession. It is human nature to strive to work everything out and control things. Yet, the eternal nature of life is beyond human understanding.
The message for you at this time in your life is to focus on the spiritual side of life. Observe your thoughts and fears and consciously surrender them to the Universe. Feel the spirit of Nature and Her changing seasons. Observe how all of Nature is in perfect order, how She accepts all that transpires in the world. Rejoice in the feeling of timelessness that swells within your heart when surrounded by Nature’s beauty.”
Well, that DOES put things in perspective. So, we are not the center of our own worlds. We are here in a world full of other beings, placed in the context of nature, time, and the universe. And the time in which we are placed could telescope out indefinitely to encompass units of time that we can’t even begin to comprehend.
To me this is the answer for those times when the cards seem to be saying, you were put in this place and time to play a role that is necessary. You were not put here to be happy. So, you know, suck it up and do your job (or words not so much to that effect). We may think that we are looking for the keys to our own personal happiness in the cards. But, got news for you, the cards may think otherwise. Their messages may be more about destiny than about personal happiness. And your role on this planet at this place and time might not have anything to do with being happy. It might have to do with doing what you were supposed to do.
Let me give you just one example: family. Family members are not always sweet and kind to each other. And even when they mean well, they can be a source of DIRE stress when they persist in having problems, getting ill, and even dying. Do we abandon them when times get rough? No. Because we are not in our families to be happy, though families can and should often be a source of deep happiness and contentment. Still, that contentment is a peripheral byproduct — collateral damage if you will. We are in our families not to be happy but to be there for each other, period.
(A side note: please don’t misinterpret what I am saying as meaning that you should never leave a family member. Some of you out there have abusive family members and family members struggling with all sorts of very dark issues. Standing up to family members, drawing boundaries, getting professional assistance and even leaving your family and making your own new family or tribe, are all good options in certain situations — but whatever your choice is in that situation, it’s not likely to be an easy happy perky one, is it?)
So what about happiness? Here’s the deal with happiness. Yes, you should be happy and the universe and all of the many enlightened beings in it DEFINITELY want you to be happy. No question about that. I don’t even have to ask the cards! But your happiness is not a gift from the universe to you. It’s a gift from you to yourself. I don’t know how to put it any more plainly than that. You can be truly happy, or at least have happy moments — like the fellow in the Zen story who, chased by tigers and having fallen off a cliff where he was hanging by a branch, looked up at the tigers above, and down at the tigers below, and then reached out and picked a strawberry from a nearby vine and ate it joyously. Even when staring death in the face, we are not in fact OBLIGATED to turn ourselves into drama queens. We can choose to find joy in the situation — or some aspect of it.
(Another side note: please don’t think I’m being insensitive to people who are depressed and who simply cannot find happiness right now. This could be a whole other blog post, but, even if you cannot find happiness right now, it still is not guaranteed to you by the universe. To experience it, you’re going to have to take charge of the situation, and take action. But: it’s not bad or evil to be depressed. It’s part of life and, in my opinion, a gateway to enlightenment. And thank goodness we are not all obligated to be perky and cheerful — I don’t think I could take that! Even though it may be hard and even though it may be as impossible as you think it is to overcome depression — who am I to tell you there’s a way out? I don’t know that for sure — the thing is that IF there is a way out, that way out will come from you, not from outside. Because those people outside your depression, frankly, are morons who don’t understand it anyway — and you know that. They can be resources but they can’t do this for you. This being the pursuit of happiness and joy–of gratitude.)
So what about the jargon in the oracle cards? Well — I’ve already told you what makes me jones about it. Sometimes the language connected with these cards can deeply resonate with the heartache and feelings of loss inside you. But here’s what I appreciate about it. Though the language of these cards is positive, it is not cheerleader positive. It is more of a gentle nudge toward something you’re not seeing, positive. Because you may actually NOT be seeing your own inner or outer resources. You may need to be reminded that you live in a universe that, while it sees that your life is rough, is actually, still rooting for you. And you may need to be reminded also that this chapter of your life, while possibly quite difficult, is still only a nanosecond or less than a nanosecond on the unfolding tapestry of the history of time.
In other words, when your personal circumstances suck, get out of them — and take a look at the rest of the world. The medicine for depression and grief is not happiness. It’s perspective.