Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Page of Cups β€” Ship of Fools Tarot

Brian WilliamsArtist & Author: Brian Williams


I can’t sleep. My body is a new, strange, ever-growing size. My hips hurt when I sleep on my sides. I get nauseous when I sleep on my back, quickly triggered by my constant hovering in a semi-nauseous state. I really just want the entire bed to myself so I can flail around without injuring or waking my partner. Failing that, I rise, clean the fishtank, sort some dry beans left to soak, put away the dishes, tend the woodstove, eat a sandwich, surf the web for information on sleeping, and finally ask the tarot deck: “Tell me something about sleep.”


Brian Williams says about this card’s meaning: “A wanderer, impulsive quester, wayward pilgrim. An emotional and poetic person, a seeker on life’s journey. Side trips and detours, the unexpected moments of travel, the pleasures and perils of a poor sense of direction. Rediscovering one’s intended path.”


The fool on this card has at last found his path after a lengthy bushwhack. On the path there is a shrine: a holy or sacred place, dedicated to a figure of awe and respect. The shrine points the correct direction: a well-traveled path. I know this traveler. I have been him a hundred times or more. The delight of gaining one’s bearings is enough to make one wander off the path almost as soon as the path is found. All who wander are not lost. Finding one’s self and finding one’s self again, over and over, is a thorough state of meditation. That which seems like aimless roaming can be the most thorough search for self-awareness.


Eventually the wanderer finds a path so enticing, he does not notice he’s actually following a path instead of meandering through woods and wilderlands. The path is well-trodden not because people follow it, but because people find it. It is a path of inner-wisdom, of following one’s dreams, of intimate knowledge of sacred and holy places not as destinations, but as places created by the journey itself.


What does this card tell me about sleep? Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or absent consciousness, among other things. It is as impossible to wake up without sleeping as it is to find one’s self without noticing one is at least slightly lost. Or have I got that reversed?


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