A Tale of 2 Trees

In the Garden of Eden, there stood two trees: the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil.

The Tree of Life is that of direct experience, life as we perceive it through the five senses. It is felt through the body, and the center of its intelligence is the heart.

The second tree perceived solely through the mind, and through the tool of language & logic.

Language is a tool which divides. Each word cuts through the real, splitting it into binaries. Hot & cold, men & women, light & dark, and of course, good & evil.

Another name for this tree could well be the Tree of Death. We need look no further than the fruits it often bears.

When we begin to label one element of binary as “good” and it’s opposite as “evil”, we know we are dealing with the fruit of this tree. In reality, nothing is wholly good or wholly evil. Humanity, and the universe of which we are a part, is a complex, multi-dimensional reality impossible to encapsulate in one word or phrase.

Too often, when we crown ourselves or our egos the arbiter of all that is Good, we dissociate from the messy reality of being a human being in interconnected web of relationships and roles. This often leads to the violence we see in the world around us. Convinced of our essential goodness, we turn a blind eye to the evil we can do.

It is for eating from this Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil that we were cast from the garden.

To return is not as difficult as we may have been told. We can always return to the Tree of Life. It has never stopped bearing fruit; all we need to do is look towards the sky and reach for it.

Centered in our hearts, with our eyes toward heaven and our feet on the ground, we can begin to live again. We can live with love, with connection, beyond the mind and into the beautiful, messy complexity of what it means to be a human in this vast, infinite universe.

The Tree of Knowledge is not our enemy. When we are in right relationship to it, it can often lead us in the direction of truth. But the final step is often to reach and jumó into the void, that space between thoughts and beyond words.

It is in this space that we can feel the divinity of spirit and the force of life. It is a choice we can make, every second of every day.

When in doubt, you can ask choose to step outside of yourself and ask your mind what it believe to be true.

You can then repeat this process, and ask yourself, “What does my heart know is true? What are the sensations in my body telling me? How do my five senses contribute to this?”

There’s no need to commit to any outcome ahead of time. Just practice switching between centers of awareness. Experiment with it, and see what happens. Move towards life, and watch as your experience begins to shift. You might be amazed at what you see.

X — The Wheel of Fortune

Recently, I woke up in the morning with an image of this tarot card in my mind. Along with this image came the words, “Tie yourself to the Wheel of Life.”

As the day went on, I thought more deeply about what this meant.

There are many meanings surrounding card 10 of the Major Arcana. The central theme of this key revolves around change and the passing of time. It is the turning of the wheel of life, which churns ceaselessly on, paying no mind to our individual desires.

Another name for this card is the Rota Fortuna. “Rota” means wheel in Latin, while Fortuna refers to the Roman goddess of chance & luck.

In more ancient imagery, the goddess is depicted turning the wheel of fate. On this wheel sit men in various positions of favor. At the top of the wheel is the king. As Fortuna spins her wheel, each man changes position. The king moves to the right, and will eventually lose his crown. The man on the far left looks toward the king, hoping he will one day assume his position.

The favors of Fortuna are impersonal, and have little to do with the character or will of the men involved. In some older portrayals, she is even depicted with a blindfold, as her sister Lady Justice.

I’ve recently been contending the events that are unfolding in the United States, and all of the uncertainty and anxiety that they are provoking. I’ve wondered where I can even look to anymore for a sense of certainty. Nothing seems safe in a country ravaged by disease and seemingly on the brink of authoritarianism.

I desperately looked for something to cling to outside of myself to make me feel at ease. And that was when I thought of this card, the Wheel of Fortune.

Then I remembered the phrase “tie your self to the wheel of life” from my tarot training.

To start to understand what this means, it’s helpful to imagine yourself as if you were in one of the images of the Rota Fortuna. Think of yourself as the King or Queen at the top of the wheel. As it begins to turn, what do you do?

For many of us, our first instinct is to look outside of ourselves for something to cling to. We grab money, power, possessions, anything that we think can keep us on top.

But what happens when, from our position on the wheel, we cling to things in our external environment? As the wheel turns, we are torn apart. Our arms reach out to grasp for stability, but as time marches forward and the wheel turns, we move with the wheel downward towards our fate. The harder we cling to what is outside, the more we suffer.

I saw that the only solution was to center myself in my true and only source of power, that which is inside of myself.

This doesn’t mean ignoring what is going on around you. What this does mean is remembering that you are the only thing you can truly count on. In times of crisis, we will do well to look inside of ourselves for the resources that will ensure our endurance in trying times.

For me, this means meditating daily, reading & reflecting, and being in right relationship to my work and my surroundings.

What does this mean for you?

Earlier this week I was reading more about alchemy in my new book, “The Emerald Tablet.” I learned about the concept of the rejected stone, or what manifests from the parts of ourselves we have not accepted and integrated. It comes from the persistance of what we keep in the shadows, unwilling to recognize and transmute.

So I said, in my mind, “I want to see my shadow. I want to know what I’m hiding from myself, so that I can work with it, and stop the cycle of manifestation into my life.” I didn’t really expect much of an answer; it was more of like, “I’ll put that on my to-do list for later.”

But I did get an answer. I entered the field of Hermes, I know that for sure. I was shown a lot of things that made me uncomfortable. That I didn’t want to accept. That even still, I tried to deny, or justify, or rationalize.

I knew that I was in the presence of Hermes, because of the play of language that was fighting it’s self in my mind.

One of my attempted justifications was, “Well, you didn’t know better. It’s understandable that you would act that way based on your past experiences & what you’ve been taught.”

Then I heard myself answer, “Okay well you are an adult now, and every day you have the choice to do differently. You don’t have to live as an extension of your past; you have a responsibility to do better now.”

I attempted to deny those words, too, but I couldn’t: they were the same things I had just said the day before about my parents. I could acknowledge that, yes, it would make sense for them to act as they did & do, but that’s never an excuse.

“Music is the space between the notes.”

Claude Debussy

So I kept going. I kept seeing. I kept accepting. I kept staying in that space between understanding and questioning. Of accepting and knowing I could do better. This space in between in where the magic is.

I’m working on staying grounded in this liminal space. At the border between two truths, between the inner and the outer, at the crossroads of above and below, the masculine and the feminine, of my light and my own darkness. To look both ways as I leap into this infinite void, the place of all possibility and of true presence.

It’s an ever-changing dance, a beautiful and delicate stepping into the future, a jump divinely inspired and grounded in truth.

Step by step, I’m here, and I’m ready for whatever may come.