A spectre is haunting my blog. It’s not the spectre of Communism, nor the SPECTRE of Ernst Stavro Blofeld; it is the spectre of the suit of Cups.
I have learned about myself that I cycle through the Minor Arcana every five years or so. Although you wouldn’t know it to look at me now, I used to hate the suit of Swords. For years, I railed against the cold impassivity of the Swords, the hyperrationality divorced from all the messy human passions that make our world what it is. I whined constantly that “cold logic” was dead, that it couldn’t express the emotional realities of human life. I decried scientism for disenchanting the universe. I waxed poetic about the Great Mysteries of Life.
During those years, I considered myself a child of the suit of Wands. What mattered most to me was passion, creativity, sexuality, spontaneity, and art.* As far as I was concerned, the Swords were all but useless–and it didn’t help that half of the most unpleasant cards in the deck are all Swords. (i.e. the Three, Five, Seven, Eight, Nine, and Ten.)
And then, somehow, something changed.
I’ve written about this change once before. It was a long, slow, often ugly process, but I gradually came to realize that the things I rebelled against most in the suit of Swords were things core to who I am. The Swords were cold and unfeeling? Well, I am cold and unfeeling. The Swords were responsible for stripping the world of wonder? At the time, I was an annoyingly aggressive atheist. And so on. The things I rejected most in the Swords were marked traits of my own personality.
Over the course of a couple of years, I reconciled with the Swords. I embraced the identity of a Swordsy person. Now, I use the King of Swords as my significator. I value and trust the Swords, more so than any other suit of the Minor Arcana. The suit of Swords feels like home. I’ve even come to love Immanuel Kant, who for a long time epitomized everything that I hated about cold reason.
But I feel a change is coming.** Because over the course of the past year or so, I’ve noticed that I have started to react against the suit of Cups exactly the way that I used to rebel against the Swords. I don’t understand Cups. They’re all… Emotional. I find these cards (and the Cupsy people who accompany them) discomfiting at best and infuriating at worst.
There’s a pattern here. This is how I felt about the Swords once upon a time, and I’d be a fool if I didn’t pay attention to the pattern I see emerging. That I now react so viscerally against the elemental energy of the suit of Cups means that I’m more of a Cupsy person than I’m willing to admit; that in accepting the loving embrace of the Swords, I have neglected the fulfillment of other areas of my life. I am human, and like it or not, that means I am emotional. This past year of hemming and hawing and rebelling against the Cups smells to me like the early stages of a major transition towards accepting my more emotional nature and curbing my current tendencies towards cold-blooded rationality.
I’ve written numerous times before (most notably here) about how empathy and displays of emotion don’t come naturally to me. Or at least, they don’t feel like they do. But then again, this time five years ago, I would have said the same of the kind of “pure” reason that is now my bread and butter. Of late, I’ve been considering more and more the possibility that I really am, at my core, an empathetic/emotional/icky-gross-having-feelings-and-all-that-jazz type of person,*** and that I’m just alienated from that part of myself. My goal is, slowly but surely, to reconcile with my emotional homunculus until the Cups feel just as much like home as the Swords do now.
I’m sorry if this post feels redundant or excessively personal. It feels like I’ve been blogging about this sort of thing a lot of late, but, well, it’s what’s been on my mind.
The Minor Arcana are important. They make up the fabric of our quotidian lives, and although the Majors represent the Big Sexy Themes of human existence, the Minors rule over the way we live from day to day. What I see going on in my life right now is a big Hegelian dialectic with myself and the suit of Cups; I am pulling away from them right now, and am caught in a moment of antithetical tension, but I expect that antithesis to lead to synthesis and reconciliation. This is the first step in the process of my coming to affirm that in addition to the Wands and Swords, I am a child of the suit of Cups.
*Art is still the thing I care most about in the world. I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art last week and got so emotional that I started blubbering uncontrollably as I wandered through the galleries–just from the sheer beauty of the pieces in the museum.
I have complicated thoughts about aesthetics and the importance of Beauty with a capital B, but those thoughts run counter to a lot of popular thought. I’ve found that unless I’m talking to someone who’s recently been reading Plato, I can’t discuss my feelings about Beauty without sounding like a complete ass. For the sake of footnote brevity, suffice it to say that Beauty is the one thing I value most in the world. In the words of the immortal Oscar Wilde, “People say sometimes that Beauty is only superficial. That may be so. But at least it is not so superficial as Thought is. To me, Beauty is the wonder of wonders. It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”
**And if I’m gonna make it through the day / Then there’s no more use in running; / This is something I’ve got to face.