A series of recent conversations with various people have led me to think about obsession. This is nothing to new to me, as I have five planets in the House of Leo, making me a very fiery person. For us, people of fire, obsession comes easily. We’re creatures of passion and addictions, which means that the more we like something, the more we devote our time and interest to it. It is useful, because the more we can narrow our focus into what we want to achieve, the better our chances to achieve it. After all, if one doesn’t know that something is impossible, chances are he or she will get there. If you need proof, just look at all that we’ve been able to achieve as a species and how impossible this world we live in seemed just a few decades or centuries ago.
Obsession has done me well. When I was at the University, I would lock myself in my room (sometimes for 16 hours a day) to study in preparation for the exams, leaving it only for food and toilet. Whenever I needed something done fast, I would do the same thing; sometimes staying awake for two or three days in a row, so as to not break my work flow. These would happen with assignments, but also when I had too much on my plate and needed to rapidly empty it.
This was also what happened when I stumbled into a certain someone, let’s say… P., which caused such a deep impression that for the next three months, I couldn’t think of anything else. The result being that for the following three months I went into a reading frenzy so powerful I would do nothing but read cards for 6 to 8 hours non-stop. And although this all ended in nothing, by the end of the whole affair, my reading skills had tremendously improved. However, it had also burned me out to the point where I had to stop reading cards for a few months and actually de-energize my Thoth deck, which was the deck I was using at the time.
Still, by being obsessed, I was able to push myself forward and actually develop myself as a tarot reader. No only that, but at that time I successfully managed to burn the entire Thoth deck into my mind up to the point where I could actually do tarot readings without cards, using only the images in my head, a pen and a paper to randomly select cards from a list and draw the spread I wanted to use. I believe this happened because I would read cards using the images that I saw there, instead of the actual keywords. And that as I was constantly looking at them, these images ended up being seared into me, its patterns and colors imprinted into me by the same process that is used advertisers often make use of or the process one uses with sigils.
But fire has an interesting quality. Well, it has many interesting qualities. The one I wanted to mention here is the fact that it’s the only element that has a rhythm. Fire actually changes with time. It starts with a small flame, which grows and grows and grows as long as there is something to feed it. As this tiny little flame gets bigger, it rages and ravages, consuming all in its path. Then, as soon as there is nothing left to eat, it will wither and die, only to be reborn again at some future time, unaware that it had died.
So, obviously, when my obsession cycle had gone its course, it waned and died, so did my need to use the tarot also waned and disappeared. This is the other part of the cycle. The part where I would walk away from everything I was involved with and I would rest. As it happens with this sort of things, the more I would put of myself into something, the faster I would will and the sooner I would detach from it all.
In all, I have been living through these cycles of obsessing and chilling out for most of my life. Expansion and contraction. Expansion and contraction. The stronger my obsession, the quicker my return to earth would be. And the longer it lasted. As years passed, my obsession periods became shorter and more focused; my grounding periods longer and longer. Looking back, I would say that the last 20 years have actually been a lesson in detachment. Things would still get done, but the results have become less and less formidable over the years. Things that were accomplished would be demolished a short time later, thereby rendering all previous efforts practically useless. And I started to wander if obsessing about what I had to do and acting upon it was the way to go. Fire still burns through my veins, but it has become quieter, more steady. It’s almost as if it no longer yearns for its own extinction, but instead is content with simply existing and burning at a more or less constant rate.
As a new period of my life dawns, I can’t help but wonder how will my ability to learn and work toward my goals evolve. Am I to continue to rely on these cycles of concentrated effort or am I to make the transition to a less intense, but continued effort?
THE EMPRESS, THE PRINCE OF CUPS, THE ACE OF CUPS.
How interesting. In a question about fire and work, the main line addresses the importance of being connected. A woman is looking at a cobalt-blue cup from which light emanates in all directions. She is surrounded by nature everywhere. The birds below her, the bees on her shirt, the plants and the moon around her. It seems like she is part of this very nature that surrounds her, or at least attuned. Looking to the card, it seems that this period of detachment was necessary to find a balance. A leveling of the moments of obsessiveness and of chilling out. Hence the lessons of detachment I went through. Stillness was needed – if I was to preserve the good things around me.
Afterwards, and as if to stress this need of stillness, two pips from the suit of cups appear. Cups being attributed to the element of water – one of the two elements capable of by itself putting out a fire – I see a need to calm down; to smooth things out. The ideals are still obtainable, as indicated by the Ace of Cups, so the potential is still out there. But the focus has shifted. It is no longer a thing of passion, of burning desire, but instead of delight. Burning my way through things would often do that. There were times where not even the desire would survive and I would stare at what I’ve achieved and wondered “why the hell was that all for?”. A confirmation of that known proverb “Be careful what you wish for… for you might get it!”
Between the Empress and the Ace, stands the Prince of Cups, the equivalent to the Knight of Cups in other decks. Just because the fire doesn’t burn as strong, doesn’t mean that it still doesn’t move. If anything, the Knight card here indicates that I am still quite capable of achieving what I want. He is bursting through a crashing wave, his chariot drawn by an enormous eagle. On his left hand is the cup; the same cup that appears on the following card. On his right hand, a lotus blossom identical to the one the Empress held. I am not to be worried because of this. Things will still be done and the energy of fire will still propel me forward.
So how am I to act upon this?
Two cards from the suit of Wands – which is related to fire – appear. The King of wands, telling me what to do, and the Princess of Wands (the equivalent to the Page of Wands), what no to do. They form a curious pair and the difference, once again is in the fire. In the first card, the King of Wands has a cloak of fire – how odd that be doesn’t get burned… or does he? Is the fire so intense that he burns out or, maybe, explodes in a blaze of power? Or just enough that it can propel him to move forward? And what about the Princess, who seems to be carried by fire, with no control of where she goes and how she goes, her wand only useful to keep her from burning? Intensity is the issue here. Going forward, I need to only apply as much energy, as much power as needed to get to where I want to go. Not anymore. But I also cannot rely on fire alone anymore. As indicated by the card of the Princess of Wands, it will take me swallow me whole, for fire always claims its own.
Which brings me back to the central line and its abundance in cups. Although they are not the most stable element – that would be earth – they are the most stable element that can freely move. Like the element of air, it has the ability to adapt to the circumstances, with the advantage that it will not feed the fires, but rather tame them.
The way forward, it seems is to be made with awareness. To remain conscious of the energy and power necessary to achieve something, but to not let myself get carried away. As mentioned above, Fire works towards its own extinction. And I would be wise not to let myself do the same.