We each start with birth. And as birth itself appears to be the theme in the card on the left, we’ll begin this reading there. The card on the left is the first Flame Song of a deck that I will introduce shortly. Look at the card, what do you see? A child’s head crowning from the center of a red lotus while stars and planets whirl in the heavens. These images hint at the birth of the universe and everything in the universe. All of it is the mystery, beauty, and miracle of birth. Out of darkness, the birth of light and love.
The birth of a new star changes the shape of the heavens. The birth of a child changes the shape of the family and family dynamics are transformed as a result. The birth of anything changes everything. In that regard any birth, even a long awaited birth of a child conceived in love or the birth of a project one has devoted time and energy to, is at once welcomed and a bridge to a new way of being. Walking across this bridge may very well make one aware of birth’s natural counterpoint: death. Entering a new way of being signals, by default, the end of the previous and known way of being. According to Catherine Cook and Dwariko von Sommaruga, the authors of the deck we are using today, the card of birth contains this consideration: “In aligning yourself with whatever you most desire, you may need to give up activities, habits and relationships which sap and dilute your sense of purpose.” Are you ready to commit yourself to such a birth? Are you willing to be created anew by what is birthed?
Did you let that question open a space in you? If you didn’t, you’ll have another opportunity before this reading comes to an end. For now we’re taking a look at the card on the right of the hinge: the eighth card of the suit Earth Songs. Take a good look as there is a lot going on.
In this card we see a crazy, though enjoyable, mess of a home! Over the entrance hangs the sign “Alchemists & Artists” and when you walk through the door you notice all the freshly baked loaves of bread. One floor up is the art studio. A model poses, smiling and nude, as art students practice their craft in a circle around her. There is a sewing studio, a garden, a massage room, and one heck of a party on the deck. Down on the first floor off to the right sits an individual drafting plans for a house.
The card suggests a fulfillment through a creative engagement with life. Yet first Flame Songs points out that the birthing of what we most desire may actually requires a willingness to die to the known. In eighth Earth Songs we are shown the love and joy and vitality of “Alchemists & Artists,” but we are not shown what they have given up in order to birth their dream home.
Creative energy leads to birth and birth leads back to creativity. We might plan the birth of a child, the birth of a new business, the birth of a work of art. Or we may enter any scenario unplanned. We cannot predict the outcome or control the unfolding of what is birthed, planned or otherwise. Creativity is being present with what is birthed and participating in what it calls forth from us. And in that way, what we birth will, in turn, give birth to us. It is a two way street. Or, as this reading is suggesting, a two way bridge.
Have you clued in to what the Alchemists and Artists have given up?
Look at the hinge card. Homecoming, the middle card above, is the namesake of this entire deck: Songs for the Journey Home. Homecoming, as the hinge card for this spread, is the essence of this reading: Welcome Home, welcome to what you were born for, welcome to what you were born of.
Look at Homecoming, what do you see? A sea shell – a protective cover for a vulnerable being as well as a home that goes everywhere the creature who lives in it goes. This home is connected by a braid of white and gold to a star in the heavens, a star that is opening its arms in welcome. It is a star amongst the clouds and the clouds are in reciprocal relationship with the sea. Sweeping across the middle of the image is a bridge. Yep, there’s our bridge.
Homecoming, like the suggestion of death within our recognition of any birth, requires willingness to walk across the bridge through the unknown. I asked earlier if you are ready to be created anew by what you birth. Are you? Are you willing to be created anew by what is birthed?
Homecoming isn’t a static object or a final end result. Even just at the level of linguistics, though a noun, homecoming is derived from a verb. Homecoming implies action or movement. Without being willing to change and give up certainty (the illusion of safety), homecoming escapes us and we escape it. The reciprocity is thorough. We long for it, yet unless we risk giving up “activities, habits and relationships which sap and dilute your sense of purpose,” we are not walking across the bridge depicted in Homecoming.
It could be scary to begin walking that bridge connecting to parts unknown. But the illustration of Homecoming offers that other image of connection: the braid of light and gold between the shell and the star. It is a means of connection not unlike our bridge. There is encouragement within this image. This house, a shell of protection, can become home though this innate connection. It shows us that we already have what we need. We don’t need to be any different than who we are, we just have to give up trying so hard to be who we aren’t. In this sense, though we travel great distances across the bridge through the unknown, creating ourselves through what we create as we go, this creation isn’t other than what we truly are. Homecoming is lie-leaving, it is allowing that we are not who we think we are. We may not know the shape in advance, yet as we recognize reciprocity that what we birth also births us, we are participating in just that. Homecoming is the birth of the Self; it is Heaven incarnate.
Remember that soul in the eighth Earth Song, the one drawing plans for a home? That individual is doing so within an already vital and creative home. Why would someone in a great place be willing at all to change it? Vitality, as opposed to stagnation, allows room for change. There is a Chinese saying: house finished, life over.
There is another saying, “Faith isn’t faith unless it involves a significant risk of failure…” Faith that we are connected to heaven, to the universe, to true Self – whatever language you use for that sense – is walking in the dark yet trusting inner light. Out of darkness, love and light. But if we’re not willing to enter the uncertainty of darkness what do we create? It is possible that an unwillingness to walk across the bridging presence of the unknown, without any certainties and without knowing the outcome in advance, will create only the shell of protection (otherwise known as ego, or as Eric Gross calls it Fear-Self). Tucked within the shell of protection we forego the guidance that brings us home.
What do you long for and where do you really live? What is your experience of this journey of Homecoming/ Lie-leaving? How do you experience the reciprocity of creativity? I would love to hear all about it.