25 July 2011

Today's Tarot - Temperance

Temperance is the "everything in moderation" major arcana card. It has developed a little negativity around it from the old "temperance movement" of the early 20th century. It isn't about pretentious austerity, or militant piety, or painful self-denial.

Today, the part of the card that steps forward is akin to one of my favorite lines from the new version of "The Karate Kid"...."being still isn't the same as doing nothing." More on that in a minute.

Temperance is about balance. In the west, we often connect old-fashioned balance-type weight scales. In the east it might be the yin-yang symbol. For now, let's focus on the balance scales, like we saw last week on the Justice card.

On scales like that, if you have something big, like banning alcohol, it takes something equally huge to balance it...like the crime and crime enforcement the Temperance Movement of the 1920s ultimately fostered.

If you have something light on the scales, it takes less to bring things into balance. That is where we start getting back to the idea of "being still isn't the same as doing nothing."

Instead of piling on weight after weight to balance a loaded scale, as we see in the historical example of Prohibition, another solution is to take stuff off the loaded side.

Summer has a bit of a reputation for frenetic relaxation. We want to do stuff, fast. We want to have fun NOW while the weather is good and we have time off from work. We have a tendency to equate "doing nothing" to wasted time. Being still isn't wasted time.

Sometimes the answer to heat and activity is stillness. For effort to be productive, it has to be balanced with passivity. For our frenetic schedules to work, we need to be still every now and again, and be still with gusto - remember it isn't like we are doing nothing.

Being still is tough. Letting things go, being aware of the here and now..."mindfulness" is a good way to put it. Bring your mind to the task of being quiet, being relaxed, being here, thinking about only now.

Stillness is relaxation dynamite. If you are genuinely still, you aren't doing nothing...you are recharging your batteries in a big way. Five minutes of stillness is a vacation compared to whole day of striving to relax.

Vacation hard. Work, play, enjoy the summer in whatever full-throttle way you enjoy. But don't forget to balance that with a little stillness too. Done right, stillness can be its own kind of extreme.

Wishing you a day of balance, and stillness when you need it.

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