Writing through the TAROT deck, one card at a time. This is number twenty-three in a 78-week durational project.
Magical Abundance / Security / Contemplation of the Pandimensional Real / Embodiment of Hidden Forces / An Open and Grounded Channel / The Empress in the World / Master of Earth Energies / Domestic Goddess / Happy Household Gods / Lucky Spirits of the Stovetop / Compassionate Wisdom / Generosity of Table and Spirit / Devotion / Nature as Nurture / Increase in Sexual Appetite / Fertility / Back in the Body / She Who Is Adorned and Adored / Loving Mother / Responsibility to the Whole / Complete Cycle / The Power to Make Great Works / One Who Listens to the Ground / Soilspeaker / Master of Roots / Mycelium Medium / Luxury Witch /
The QUEEN OF PENTACLES contemplates a golden star-marked orb that she cradles in her lap. The pentacle, disk, or coin is the Earth itself, the living planet. In the Coleman-Smith/Waite deck, she sits on an elaborate throne outside in a verdant and cultivated valley, underneath a blooming archway of climbing rose.
I’ve been writing once a week at my friend Margaux Williamson’s studio. Recently I had the opportunity to listen to curators at the McMichael Gallery discuss her upcoming exhibition there, and one of them referenced a painting called “Brick Wall” that I hadn’t yet seen. Hearing them talk about this painting titled “Brick Wall” that they described as a painting of (surprise!) a brick wall, made me curious. Most of the paintings I’d seen from Margaux’s most recent work were interiors, scenes from daily life, rich with detail and literally alive with a particular vibratory energy unique to her hand. Yesterday, when I visited her, I saw “Brick Wall” for the first time, and I found myself falling into it. It was a slow experience, and very pleasurable, my eyes first traveling along the lines of the bricks, appreciating the ways they did and did not match up with each other. Enjoying the shadowed texture of the mortar between the bricks, thinking about how the mortar of this wall was originally applied, at some distant point in the past, by a hand in much the same way that a painter applies paint to a canvas. The overlap, even, in the tool of the palette. Though the paint on the canvas was very smooth, the material of the image was thick, dimensional, sensual. The irregularity of the bricks made the pattern so much more beautiful than it would have been if the wall had been made with orderly, machine-like precision. Because this wall was clearly a made thing, constructed from real materials, by once living (though maybe long dead) people. The wall only part of a larger, unknown story, in which it was the side of a building, or someone’s house. In which it provided shelter and privacy. Bricks are an old technology, first made with dirt and straw, then mud, then clay. It takes skill and patience to build a wall that will last. Some of the oldest occult orders in the West grew out of medieval stonemasons’ guilds. But what I love about “Brick Wall”, the painting, is that it is not the idea of a wall, it is an individual wall, probably from my neighbourhood — an individual wall in the way that a portrait captures an individual face. I’m curious about this wall, the way I might be curious about a neighbour, one that was here before I arrived and might be here well after I’m gone. But the lives of walls are as vulnerable as the lives of people, of course. You can see everything in anything, if you are willing to unlearn our habit of flattening the world into placeholders (symbols, words). QUEEN OF PENTACLES connects you to the world as it truly is, to the underground universe contained in the root system of your houseplant. Margaux walked me home after my visit yesterday and we stopped in front of a house that was in the early stages of a major renovation. The front of the yard was dug up and several different layers of the building’s construction were exposed. Instantly I could see the image before me as it might be rewritten — transcribed — by Margaux’s hand onto a canvas, the varieties of material, the arrangement of lines, the particularity of the colours. It was so beautiful. Being alive, it is so beautiful.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
What lies between you and the world? What is the frame you place around the tableaux of your days? Are you feeling the edges of a transcendent state? Are you willing to get closer? What self-disciplinary practices would help you capacitate to the level of energy that wants to flow through you?
IDEAS FOR PRACTICE
Go for a walk and pay careful attention to the texture and detail of everything that you see. Take a lot of reference photos to study later. Arrive fully in your own environment: clean your space, get into the corners, make someone a meal, reconnect to the objects of power with which you live. Select one object and allow it to become an image in your hands. Drop into a deep meditation as you engage this image. Merge your conscious awareness into the object. Pour yourself into the image. What can it tell you about the world? Bring your awareness to every cell in your body; meet the world with every cell of your body. Move from “about” to is.
We’ve arrived at week twenty-three, just on the other side of the full harvest moon in Aries. QUEEN OF PENTACLES is a welcome opportunity to ground down in the good, even as chaos churns all around. The number twenty-three corresponds to the fives (23 = 2 + 3), which are a hard bummer to ride, but offer the opportunity for more transformation in the direction of beauty and perfection, the reaching out from conflict toward an ideal. Choose to evolve. When we separate the two from the three, the twos gesture to a choice, a doubling, a split; and the threes represent accumulated energy, creative spirit. The QUEENS are the thirteenth card in each suit, invoking the degree of three (life force in action) and also reducing to four (13 = 1 + 3), which offers a foundation. QUEEN OF PENTACLES is often compared to THE EMPRESS (II), but the QUEEN is a bit finer-tuned than THE EMPRESS. A little more specific. A little more of a person than an idea. Not less powerful, but more human. She helps us be more conscious about where we place our attention. She is well resourced. She is an excellent guide to grounding into the present, to releasing old stories that don’t match the moment in which you find yourself thriving. She is also, very practically, a money moves QUEEN. She’s tapped into an infinite supply of energy manifesting into material. She is generous with her gold because she is confident in the knowledge that her stores are inexhaustible. Help her set the table and enjoy (and share) the feast.