Alchemical tarot — five of wands
Hello from the hot mess of the Odd Shoe Gang!
Nobody ever got anywhere or learned anything by sitting alone in an empty room. No matter how tantalising the concept of “I’ll sit with this idea and figure it out.” People learn by doing. And progress is not a linear, tidy, goal-directed process. Growth is not a heat-seeking missile. Real growth is a messy, noisy, chaotic jumble of stumbles, of semi-cooperative play that sometimes falls apart into discord and mayhem, and it may seem like nobody is getting anywhere, while the ground rings with the sounds of disorganized stomping and wands clashing.
Motion, noise, butting up against others, trying stuff with no idea how it will work out, fooling around with your mates…this is the creative crucible.
These lads burst with as much virility as the leafy wands they wield. Chaos, colour, pattern, noise, and to add to the mayhem maelstrom, three of them are even wearing odd shoes!
But this mayhem is essential to getting anywhere in negotiations, in creative endeavors, or in seeing the way through to the solution to any puzzle you’re grappling with. Can you trust that you are right where you need to be, doing exactly what you need to be doing? Can you embrace creative chaos? Can you trust the process? Can you accept that out of seeming disorder and tomfoolery with no apparent aim, something useful will emerge, far more powerful than anything you could have pre-planned, sitting alone in your silent room?
If you want to create or solve something, how can you be like the Odd Shoe Gang? How can you put on your play clothes, get out there, roll in the mud, be boisterous, be disorderly, make noise, create chaos, crack your ideas against those of your mates, and see what happens? What kind of creator / solver / maker would you be if you were as willing as they to brawl in the moment? Who would you be if you didn’t get hung up on end results?
How would that feel inside? What kind of action would you take in your current puzzle, if all this were true of you?
“Of course we have no idea what we’re doing. That’s why we call it research,” said one famous brawler, Einstein.
But what if you are a Champion Conflict Avoider like me
This card can also be a pointer-outer that sometimes life has discomfiting, noisy, tiresome arguments that don’t seem to get anywhere. Even we Champion Conflict Avoiders, who sacrifice much in the name of superficial harmony and the buttery smoothness of everybody agreeing, occasionally have to deal with unpleasant arguments, and instead of the scrumptious quiet of everyone getting along, we do have to whack our wands at other people’s. And sometimes there are many ideas in these arguments and all of them are whacking against each other. Sometimes that’s how life is. And even Conflict Avoiders have to get in there, into the fray, and hold their own. Do not shirk!
Do you feel like your thoughts are in a mock battle with themselves? Has your process with a particular puzzle so far felt like an endless bunch of bump-ups and red herrings and botched leads? Are you in a play war inside yourself? Are you feeling overwhelmed by internal cacophony and a fear like maybe you can’t see a “bigger picture” or aren’t “on point;” maybe you’re not “circling back” to “action” enough “bullet points?” When you put on your Creator Cap, does everything feel jumbled and gnarly and like you’re not getting anywhere?
What if instead of judging these thoughts and feelings, you recognise your current state and say to yourself, “that’s what that is. This is an essential part of my creative / problem solving process. All these disparate elements just have to duke it out in the playground for a while. Outer bumps in the road are useful information helping me learn more about the true shape of the puzzle in their own way and their own time. Inner noise and discord is also part of learning. I trust the process.”
Just as boys eventually leave the sandlot and come home for dinner, know that you will not always live in a mental construction zone-turned-animal-house that looks on the outside like nothing productive is happening. Play is when and how humans (and rats, and dolphins, and crows, and many other smart beings) do our cleverest thinking, even if you might not recognise it as such at the time. Disagreements are how you get to the juicy meat of what really needs to get worked through. Failure is information that leads to success. If you try to curtail the process, that’s when you cause real snafus. For now, be glad that your brain is working everything out in its own inimical way, far more effectively than anything you could ever consciously do, and there will eventually be peace and quiet again.
Except then, you will have learned something from this noisy experimental play that you don’t yet know.