You are who you are because of those who preceded you. Your grandparents shaped the personalities and lives of your parents who shaped you. The lessons they learned freed you from having to relearn them for yourself; their unresolved issues became part of your inheritance. The issues you resolve in your lifetime will free your children; your unhealed wounds will be passed on to them. This is true not only of family groups, but also of communities and whole cultures. Estrangement from the values and visions of your forebears prolongs separations in yourself and creates obstacles to your understanding. Opening to the truths of earlier generations builds bridges between your internal conflicts and between yourself and others.
Tarot — like the I Ching, alchemy, astrology, and dreams — is a symbolic language about complementary differences between archetypal masculine and feminine life forces. It is not concerned with gender roles, which are cultural adaptations. Anyone can receive cards depicting the Emperor or Empress, High Priest or High Priestess, Hermit or Star, Sun or Moon.
For example, when consulting an on-line tarot site which asked for the birth dates of both partners, one couple was surprised to find that the husband received the Empress card and the wife received Strength. Whereas their initial associations (conditioned by their particular culture) caused them to assume it should be the other way around, especially since the husband was extremely hard-working and the wife very relationship-oriented, they soon realized that the wife was indeed more driven by a powerful visionary need to succeed in her work, while the husband was more flexible, spontaneous, receptive, and emotionally intelligent. In recognizing the truth of this assessment they grew more accepting of each other’s differences and less attached to stereotypical expectations.
Spirit warriors develop both life forces, masculine and feminine, to their fullest potential in ways that complete their souls. In most people one force is more conscious and well-developed than the other. This is not simply a function of physical factors like hormones and gender, but also of genetic inheritance, experience, personality, and cultural conditioning.
Observe where your true interests lie and how you use your energy to pursue them. Use this knowledge to discover which life force is stronger in you and which needs more attention. When they work together, they flame the spark of light that is your soul. Light is the symbol of understanding and knowledge. When held up, it removes the darkness so that others may see. Seeing the differences between your inner opposites and tapping into the wisdom of each as needed will enable you to follow your path and help others find their own way.
You cannot change the world by yourself but you can contribute to a fresh start. If the history of your family and culture is unknown to you, take advantage of this time to learn more about it from elders. Remembering that they too, were once young and idealistic, use a gentle and respectful approach to find out what obstacles they tried to overcome, what rights they tried to wrong. How did they lead the way for others? Which of their efforts were effective and which were not? Which were self-serving and which served others? What did they learn from their mistakes? What would they do over if they could?
Times change, and so do strategies and standards. You do not need to cling to all the traditions of your forebears, but you must not automatically discard them, nor should you perpetuate those which did not enhance the human condition. You and your generation can effect healthy and lasting change by understanding the people, mindsets and events that contributed to the present situation, then making original choices that are relevant to current times.
The genuine light of your soul can push away darkness and lead the way forward into the future. Find your voice and communicate your legacy to those who follow. Every soul has an ideal mode of communication. Spirit warriors develop their unique voices so they can share their wisdom with others as artfully and effectively as possible. To develop your particular gifts is to make of yourself a work of art which strengthens your link in the chain of humanity. As you refine and beautify the link that is your soul, you light a lantern for all who follow.
What light can you bring to the world’s darkness? What are your soul’s special gifts? What will your legacy be to your children and grandchildren? What problems will others inherit because you failed to fulfill your destiny? What benefit with others receive because of your faithfulness to your truths?
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Image Credits: Google images, the Hermit, Rider Waite tarot deck. Lantern, pinterest.com.
Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at Kobo, Barnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Watch for her new book, The Soul’s Twins, to be launched by Schiffer Publishing this October.
I think the same is true in reverse. You are who you are not because of those who preceded you. Personally, I grew up with a strong incentive to be as unlike my abusive, neglectful relatives as I could be … and yet it’s also true that I am the way I am because of them! So I guess I find myself agreeing with both points of view. Also, estrangement from my family values and visions was a good thing and this is where I deeply identify with the Tarot’s Hermit card, as I had to also physically remove myself from them in order to save myself (however defined) and break destructive ancestral family patterns.
If only everyone knew we’re all double-gendered alchemists! Discovering this secret knowledge through the work of Carl Jung (and many other post Jungians I hasten to add!) has been revelatory in my life! Spiritually, I know I am intersex, androgynous, a divine hermaphrodite as I write in my “Divine Hermaphrodite” poem and essay! And as I’ve aged I also recognise in myself and others too a happy place with gender which is different for everyone. No one size fits all! Thankfully, the work continues to unfold, as every year I learn more and more about gender (above and below!) and love.
One of the main reasons for writing my first poetry book was that I didn’t just want to become a name on the family tree. So I decided to leave my mortal footprint in the shape of my life in verse. My first collection starts in my mid-teens at 15 years old and concludes during my 50th year. My second collection starts at 50 and will end I don’t know when … as I was all ready to stop writing and then the corona pandemonic came along and I grabbed my pen in haste! So now I don’t know when it’ll finish. My life as a psychotherapist these past 25 years would tell other stories, just as rich and hopefully they will be long-lasting too.
Thank you so much Jeanie for sharing these rich insights and your deep wisdom with us. You finish your wonderful article so well by asking so many important spiritual questions … which leaves me now, to muse and reflect on finding the answers.
Love and light, Deborah.
“You are who you are not because of those who preceded you.” That’s an excellent point. Our ancestors can influence us both ways. You are an example of one who discarded the negative inheritance you received from your ancestors and consciously worked to leave a different legacy from theirs; one that is positive and healing and beneficial to all.
And what a legacy it is! Your exquisite poetry flows with honesty and integrity. It reflects the tireless work you have done to face your suffering and heal yourself. To stay present with your life, facing it with strength and courage. Most of all I think, your poetry shows others what it looks like to appreciate the extraordinary beauty of the miracle of life, including your own life, and to create beauty out of it instead of wasting and misusing it.
Double-gendered alchemists! Perfect. And each of us has our own spot on the continuum between the polar opposites, a place where we are at home in our own skin and the world. And for most of us, it absolutely takes devoted and tireless and never-ending alchemical work to find and live comfortably in that spot.
Thank you for appreciating the spiritual questions at the end. I know you are someone who has been consciously asking yourself the same questions almost your entire life. You began at the age of 15; I, at 17. We have both been fortunate. Living with those questions and others like them has served us very well.
Blessings and light,
Thank you so much Jeanie for your truly kind-hearted and generous reply! I sense that discarding a negative inheritance is just as difficult to manage as inheriting a positive one … for many children born from greatness suffer deeply too. I guess this is why it’s so important for each of us to find out who we really are in life and not blindly accept our lineage without questioning who we are.
Yes, “our own spot on the continuum” indeed! And this is where being an open, gay woman has been such a great teacher in my life as I’ve met many men and women on that continuum, all in different places, many exploring their masculine and feminine aspects in both positive and negative ways. I couldn’t think of what to call myself so “double-gendered alchemist” kinda stuck in recent years!
“Living with the questions” is a place I feel I’m beginning to reach. In the process, I know that my ego will need to be dethroned … and it’s not giving up easily or without a battle it seems! Poetry has been my salvation, nature and the myths too. I’ll stop here and reflect more on the questions. Love and light, Deborah.
You’re welcome, Deborah. We all grow up with a secret legacy of pain and guilt over not being what we think we’re supposed to be, regardless of our inheritance. I think that comes from an ego that defines and judges itself according to parental expectations, all the while growing more and more separated from its original whole self. Regardless of the inheritance we receive, the only way that dualistic spit can be healed is, as you say, for our egos to kneel before the power of the unconscious Self and consciously accept the truth of our shadows, this time accepting full responsibility for them instead of denying them as we did the first time around.
And, as you also suggest, reflecting on the questions is a work that is never completely finished. I find it comforting to know that no matter what happens to my physical body, this is an adventure my soul can continue to my deathbed, and maybe beyond. 🙂 Love and light, Jeanie
Thank you Jeanie for this deeply felt post. At first reading yesterday I was alarmed at the headline – what will I leave for future generations and thought, nothing. But yesterday was yesterday, gloomy for me, unproductive, filled with mud. I read it again last night and thought more and on my morning walk today, I thought some more. Especially about my long dead parents and remembered my mother for her wonderful yoga teachings which brought so much healing to so many. And her wonderful way with plants and veggies. My father was on the opposite end of the spectrum. Rational. Both lived through WW2. But I know too that they were the products of their parents, an era moving out of the Victorian era & WW1 inter alia. And for all the distress and unhappiness I felt a lot of the time as a youngster growing up in my normally dysfunctional family I can only give thanks for that fire that I had to live in and get through.
As a parent myself, I knew it was necessary for me to be responsible for not passing on any unfinished baggage I had with regard to my family unit. Break the pattern so to speak. I am pleased and blessed that both adult sons are self-sufficient in their fields and are loving sons to us both. Both of them have integrity and kindness at their core. Or as their core. Our sons will be my legacy.
All I know is that the task of being as true as possible to my soul and to others is the biggest task of a lifetime. One of which I do in my bumbling way whether writing, planting, painting, weeding, being in wonder at this world and its beauty. Knowing too that much is gross and heavy.
There’s a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in .. Leonard Cohen. I’m always looking for those cracks.
Thank you again … it’s said that the questions themselves have the answers within.
Oh my! I’m surprised by your initial response to the title. You thought you had nothing to leave? When I read your books and blog I think, “What a wonderful legacy she is leaving for those she loves.” Like Deborah’s poems, your writings exude honesty and integrity. And deep compassion. For me, the thoughtful questions you ask yourself and ponder are Leonard Cohen’s cracks: they shed light on unsuspected insights about myself that I might not otherwise have had. I thank you for that.
And your sons? I’ve been meaning to tell you that so far three people have forwarded videos of the Kiffness’s delightful rendition of “Like a Bridge Over Troubled Waters,” to me without having any idea that I “know” his mother! I don’t know anything about his brother except that he must be a wonderful young man to have been raised by you. I also feel that my children are my best legacy. They, their father, and their children are the brightest lights in my world.
Much love to you,
Thank you Jeanie for your lovely response! I suspect it was ‘the sound of sirens’ you may have been sent 🙂 I couldn’t find bridge over troubled water by the kiffness. Davey’s parodies definitely bring humour and talent and bright sparks to those who listen to them. His latest one is hilarious … a Cher parody: Do you believe in life after lockdown. His lovely wife Jüte throws some serious dance moves in the background. I’m a bit hopeless at links … this may work? https://youtu.be/K9gtPHlrptw
Mike is such a lovely man. I hope he’ll find a woman to love and she to love him. He’s an animator (videos et al) and cartoonist with his finger on the pulse and uses his two characters, Bru and Boegie, one black one white who make social commentary as well as asking nb questions about life.
So, like you, my immediate family are my bright sparks, my husband included. And my sweet sister and brother who live elsewhere. And Mother Nature, who is everywhere.
Love to you Jeanie and I hope all going well with final publication date well in sight! Susan
Oops. Yes, of course. It was the Sound of Sirens! So funny!! Somehow the two songs are linked in my mind. Silence. Water. Bridges……. Well, at least I knew it was Simon and Garfunkle! 🙂