I used to roll my eyes at people’s use of ritual and symbolism. I remember being 25 or 26 years old, in graduate school, and attending some kind of weekend retreat in which part of the discussion was about whether progressives needed to develop rituals that would bring people together and provide them comfort and hope. I argued for the side that said ritual and symbol merely perpetuated old ideas that oppressed people and restricted their ability to develop a better future.
Okay, well, I was young and oversimplified things. Since then I have come to appreciate and value the layers of meaning that symbols and metaphors can bring. And I repeatedly surprise myself with how playing with metaphor, sometimes not even that seriously, can bring me to a deeper understanding of where I am in my current healing process.
Four years ago, when I was just starting this high-pressure job I’m about to take leave from, I went on a women’s do-it-yourself retreat in Mexico. Essentially a good friend invited me, her sister, and two of her sisters’ friends to rent a palapa for a week, relax, and explore ourselves through conversation, writing exercises and tarot cards.
I’m well past my graduate school days, but I was still by far the most scientific minded member of the group, which included a midwife and a spiritual healer. They made fun of me (kindly), and I tolerantly participated in their plans.
I had forgotten this until recently, but when we drew tarot cards, I got the Princess of Swords. She seemed like a good omen for the start of a new leadership job. As I revisit her now, she seems like a good companion to take with me up on my upcoming three-month leave, time that I hope will allow me to become, like the PoS, one with my intentions.
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In these days leading up to my leave of absence, I have been a stress monkey, running around chasing competing priorities, not catching many of them but wearing myself out with the effort. It was good for me to read these words this morning:
I welcome both the peace and the chaos. Without the chaos, peace has no meaning.