While on a magical hike with an equally magical friend today, we decided to camp out in a dry, stone-lined creek bed for a bit and do a tarot reading. Here’s what happened…
When it was my turn to draw a card, I decided to focus on insights that would help me further embrace the message of a lesson card I’d drawn the night before, which was the Wheel of Fortune. The Wheel of Fortune is often seen as a card indicating “what comes up must come down” and vice versa. You can’t always be on top, and you won’t always be on the bottom; life is all about change.
My specific interpretation last night, however, was that my current work is about finding a way to move further into the center of the Wheel, for, if you think about it, even though the Wheel is spinning round and round, your experience of this continual turning will be dramatically different if you’re clinging to the edge of the Wheel versus if you’re sitting smack dab in the middle.
My current lesson, then, is to focus on the practices that I find deeply centering, enabling me to be a witness to the inevitable ups and downs without experiencing them as a never-ending roller coaster. So for today’s tarot reading, I was drawing a second card to get insights on how best to do this, and in particular, I was curious to know what might be obstructing me from residing in that centered place. The card I drew was the Three of Swords, which is often interpreted as heartbreak and/or sorrow.
Many versions of this card depict a heart being stabbed by three swords, and what stood out to me most this morning was the fact that there wasn’t any blood present. To me, this indicated old wounds, and so I went into a light meditation and asked for further messages as to which old wounds in particular were creating the block. What came to mind was a dynamic between me and my mom. Growing up, I often felt like I wasn’t okay just being me. I was too dumpy, too shy, too weird, too whatever.
About a year ago, my mom and I had an amazingly healing conversation in which she shared her realization that she had been so critical of me in the hopes of, essentially, grinding out any of the imperfections that might cause others to criticize me. In doing so, she’d hoped to protect me from the vicious criticism (and racism) she had experienced growing up.
It’s easy to see the irony in hindsight: I’ll criticize you in order to protect you from possible criticism. But what’s interesting, and what came up in the tarot reading, was that I had learned this “technique” quite well. As best as I can articulate it, my false belief was, “You have to be perfect in order to be safe. And the way to be perfect is to constantly criticize anything within you that isn’t perfect.”
Needless to say, this doesn’t work and for many reasons, a big one being: it’s impossible to be perfect. And how boring would that be, even if it were possible? Not to mention, no one thrives under constant criticism, so even if perfection were attainable, surely criticism would not be the way to reach it.
This false belief has layers, and while I’ve experienced massive relief in recent years in terms of how I relate to my body (before, self-criticism of my body felt “normal” to me; now I can’t even fathom saying something even slightly rude to my body), that false belief was still cropping up in my push to succeed and generate a long list of accomplishments.
After this information came through, I could feel in my body a heavy weight. More accurately, it felt like it was over my body, like a “weight on my shoulders.” In that moment, I was able to feel, in exquisite detail, the burden of perfection I have been lugging around for years, and I was able to see another false belief attached to this burden, and that was, “If I just get this thing done, or that thing done, then the burden will disappear.”
But of course, no matter how many things I crossed off my to-do list, the burden remained, because it has nothing to do with how productive I am. Nothing. This burden is a bundle of false beliefs that I can choose to set down at any time, and that is how the burden will be released–not by doing more stuff.
I had the urge to pick up a large rock and ask for its permission and assistance in a releasing ritual. With permission granted, I held the rock in both hands and sent everything I no longer needed to carry around with me into the rock. I found myself repeating over and over to myself, “I’m letting it go, I’m letting it go, I don’t need it, I don’t need it, I don’t need it,” as the energy streamed out of my hands, into the rock, filling it until it reached the point when I knew it was ready to release. It felt like a hot potato that had dramatically increased in density.
I dropped the rock into the dry stream bed with a loud thunk and let out a huge exhale.
What a relief. To consciously set down this burden, after carrying it for so many years.
And even though I may have to set that burden down again. and again. and again (because my ego just loves to pick it back up again), now I know I can be free.
Anytime I want to.
I don’t have to complete any tasks first.
I just have to choose to set down my burden.
What burden will you choose to set down, right here, right now?