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Awe and Fear

Updated: Aug 2, 2023

While standing on my front balcony, situated across from three city parks and two churches, a tap-tap scraping sound captures my attention. My eyes focus on the culprit. It's a fallen, bronze colored, magnolia leaf. An early morning breeze rolls the hardened frond along the road. Tap-tap, scrape. Tap-tap, scrape.

There's something about Nature. As with me, does she call to you to see her, walk with her, recognize your body is aligned with her, and your senses interact with her? Mother Nature cleanses my spirit from the angst of city life. At the same time her raw power makes me fearful. We witness tumultuous conditions from climate change even if not experiencing her wrath directly. News outfits stream videos of catastrophic events from around the globe. It is unsettling. Full of compassion my heart sinks laden with sadness for those in harms way. Today, I feel lucky. But what is luck and how long does it last?

Awe and fear also characterizes how we can experience the spiritual realm. Interestingly, life-affirming and destruction wrapped up in one female god manifests in a number of religions; the Hindu goddess Kali exemplifies the powers of creator and destroyer; in Kabbalah, the feminine Divine Presence dwelling amongst us is known as the Shekhinah who rewards us for good deeds or meters out punishment for bad ones; and Demeter, the Greek goddess of the harvest who causes plants to grow or not.

Many people prefer to seek the divine amongst the forests and lakes, rather than in a church, synagogue or temple of organized religion. Even on a secular level most of us are in awe of Mother Nature. She reflects more clearly the notion God's presence is everywhere. As a society we place great value in preserving her through State and national parks, and protective statutes. Unfortunately, a few people hold everyone and everything on the planet hostage while they peddle their anti-science propaganda in support of polluters. Certainly, biblical exegesis of Genesis 2:15 recognize Adam was put in the Garden of Eden "to work it and to guard it" and not to exploit it to serve his own ends. "As stewards of resources placed at our disposal by the Creator, we are duty-bound to expand our concern beyond instant gratification and economic benefits and assign much greater weight to our policies' effect upon posterity." - Rabbi Walter S. Wurzburger.

I am no expert in the field of ecology and climate change, but I do know this; the minor suits of a tarot deck numbers 56 cards, and correspond to the four basic elements. Here, the suit of Disks, or Pentacles is earth; water is Cups; air is Swords; and fire is Wands. The major suit of Trumps, composed of 22 cards, provides an archetypical, and phenomenological map to mirror ourselves and our experiences in the world. Studying and working with the cards is a personal, subjective, and intuitive way to understand we are a part of Nature, and not totally distinct from her. "The Tarot could be described as God's Picture Book, or it could be liked to a celestial games of chess, the Trumps being the piece to be moved according to the laws of their own order over a checkered board of the four elements." - Lady Frieda Harris, artist and collaborator of Alister Crowley's Thoth Tarot Deck.

The Tower, numbered XVI or 16 in the tarot deck's major suit of Trumps, is representative of unexpected change, danger or destruction and a subsequent liberation that transforms one’s life and rebirths a new point of view. In its foreground, the card is traditionally depicted as a tall tower struck by a lightning bolt. Dark smoke billows, while a raging fire threatens folks inside. Some of them jump from the tower's balustrades. Terror reigns. Contrarily, a sun shines in a distant sky as a peaceful dove flies across the expanse.

The symbolism of a shattered structure can refer to an actual tragedy, or a forced move from a home, store, or office building. There is a psychological aspects to the card where one suddenly must abandon entrenched paradigms and beliefs for something new. A calamity can set you free from a stale status quo or prison-like conditions, and usher in new physical formations and cognitive formulations if you are ready to move forward…into the sunlight.

The Tower expresses profound, cataclysmic change. The card indicates innocence lost, never to be regained. We all must grow up, face hardships and some not of our making. In particular, it is apparent man's negligence, and in some cases greed, has escalated us into a climate emergency. The reign of fossil fuels is over. Renewables and sustainability is the new way. It has to be. Issues about access to charging stations, especially for renters, and the many hours it takes to charge an electric battery must be addressed. However, the danger represented in the Tower card points to this exact moment when the world experiences the hottest days on record.

So how does one best adapt to profound change? By being bold, experimental, and open to newness. The Torah states when the Hebrews left Egypt they did so boldly, being given what ever they asked for from the Egyptians. Exodus 13:36. This attitude of confidence beckons our society to take up the challenges of climate change. Sure there will be setbacks, ie golden calf. Nevertheless, we must allow our awe of Nature to guide us. To do nothing is to choose fear and to live on an increasingly uninhabitable Earth.

Street Tarot
Street Tarot

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