The Seven of Cups
How do you experience stability in your life? When is enough, enough?
As children running amok in the garden of capitalism, we are largely encouraged to make a deep association that wealth and material = monetary possession(s). As the sun appears to be setting on many of the empty promises of modernism, our own naivete is becoming less innocent by the minute and more of a survival liability. What was once a cornucopia of indulgent delights, a saccharine syrup that we’ve managed to almost suck entirely dry – if we didn’t become Type 2 diabetic first – is now rearing its primordial head in retaliation. The folly of our efforts to bend the natural world to our will is beginning to rebound with such force that socially constructed hierarchies are being rattled to their core – flattened, or even being inverted. We can certainly see this as a kind of cosmic harmonizing. The lesson we can learn from our own bodies is that if we don’t choose balance of our own volition, some ailment will coerce us into submission, attempting to bring us back to homeostasis – sometimes at the expense of its host.
It’s not my intention to paint a bleak picture of the state of the world – or rather, the state of humanity, which I think are often conflated. (Let’s be clear that Earth long pre-existed us, and will persist long after all humanity has perished… whether by extinction or escape to some other corner of the cosmos. Either way, entropy is built into the system.) I don’t think an attitude of “we’re absolutely fucked” is constructive or useful at this juncture. Perhaps, that’s my own naivete and I’m one of the clueless ones running around the aforementioned garden picking poisonous flowers as a garnish for the salad of my own demise. Like a sun-drunk sailor stranded on a deserted island, I’m optimistically clinging to the notion that there is still hope of survival – that goodness and beauty can forever be found everywhere in everything. Even, and sometimes especially, at the height of crisis or existential doubt. The foolish heart teases sweetly in my ear: We wouldn’t still be here if there weren’t some way out of this mess.
As Jupiter moves through Taurus, a more capitalistic interpretation of this transit would be to welcome material or financial resources and abundance. There’s nothing wrong with this take. Nor is there anything wrong with experiencing financial stability, an influx of money or things that make us feel safe, stable, and at home – like we’re once again thriving in this crazy, mixed-up world. Look, I’m all for it. My door is open to receive, Universe! Astrologically speaking, it’s been a hellacious few… months… years? It’s starting to feel like it’s always been this way – like we’re just living in a perpetual red wire/ blue wire situation, and not only are we not sure which one to cut, but whether or not the “wrong one” might actually be the better choice if it gave us a chance at starting over. Is there a reset button on this thing? Given the context of how difficult life has felt and been lately, moments of reprieve are so welcomed. Just because the garden is full of snakes and flesh-eating insects, doesn’t mean there isn’t shade, clean drinking water, and the intoxicating smell of jasmine.
What I’m trying to reconcile via these thousand or so words, is where the spiritual and material authentically meet inside of me. I invoke my internal landscape because, like the thousands of flowers in the garden, each one needs the right combination of soil, moisture, and sunlight in order to thrive. Even though sunlight is necessary for all life, if I put my monstera on my front porch, it’ll be a deadened crisp by high noon.
I think part of the predicament we find ourselves in is a lack of inquiry around the questions I offered at the beginning of this post: How do we experience stability? When is enough, enough? These questions are ones a dear friend recently invited me to explore in relationship to my professional life. Without being condescending or leading, they invite us to reflect on what security and stability mean for us…us… ourselves, not anyone else. We’re not trying to draw universal principles here. We’re trying to explore a personal philosophy. Just because we come up with an answer that works for us doesn’t mean we need to go and tell the world we figured it out and start selling our “secrets to success.” That shit is exhausting and it doesn’t work… and yet we’re all still buying someone else’s fertilizer and wondering why we’re not blooming the same way they are. What kind of plant are we and what does our plant need to flourish? When we receive what we need to flourish, the excess can then be distributed among the other life forms in our ecosystem, so they too can flourish. How does the undomesticated world seem to do this without human intervention?
While we have an opportunity to soak in astrological reprieve as Jupiter moves into Taurus, it’s not permission to check out. Being lazy for the sake of relaxation and rejuvenation is quite different from dissociating to escape the discomforts associated with being a human being in this harrowing moment in time. Please relax responsibly. This is a great moment to get really fucking clear on what it is that we need to be able to flourish. Specificity sets us up to ask for exactly what we need and want and to redistribute anything beyond that to others that are also asking for what they need and want. In any ecosystem, stagnation is death. What is enjoyed is meant to be shared.
Personal reflection in this regard is quite powerful. We don’t need to have the answers for anyone else – just us. And if we do this kind of reflection in a meaningful and honest way, I think it has the potential to unlock the regenerative capacity of our own undomesticated core. It’s part of living in alignment with the natural order of things, rather than against it. Human beings, domesticated or not, are still a part of Nature.
In the Tarot deck, the Seven of Cups shows us that everything we need and want is available to us – it’s literally within arms reach. However, to “pass the test,” so to speak, we must correctly determine what’s meant for us and what is not. Some of the cups contain the proverbial keys to the castle, while others unlock a personal Pandora’s box. Before acting, we must first look inside ourselves and use our self-awareness to recognize what is necessary at this moment. What is the medicine and what is the proper dose? This particular predicament is not one of access. Rather, we seem to have lost the connection to the intuitive faculties that can tell us what’s too much and what’s not enough. If every plant can be used for food or medicine, then why are there so many sick and hungry people?
The Seven of the Cups is the scene in the (very mediocre) sequel of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (featuring Sean Connery) where Harrison Ford has to correctly choose the Holy Grail from a room full of jeweled chalices to save his father’s life. The arrogant and greedy “bad guy” chooses wrong and poisons himself. Don’t be that guy.
May we learn to trust ourselves enough to choose the Holy Grail for ourselves. May we not be distracted or persuaded by things that aren’t meant for us, no matter how much someone else might covet them. May we cultivate the discernment to learn what we need to thrive in this life and to share our flourishing with others both by giving generously and letting lay what we do not need. And most importantly, may we always give thanks. As long as it’s sincere, gratitude might be the only medicine on which we cannot overdose.
image: Chalice of Love, artist unknown