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Legend: Five of Shields (The Wasteland)

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Legend: Five of Shields (The Wasteland)


Here's the image:
http://www.llewellyn.com/tarot/images/le_shields5.jpg

And here's the earlier thread on the Fives:
http://www.tarotforum.net/showthread.php?t=34757

What an eloquently desolate landscape; a ruined castle in the mists, dead or blighted trees, the skeleton of a horse being stripped by crows. In the foreground are two figures that I at first took to be travellers through the landscape. But...on closer examination, they are dead and rotting, like everything else here

My first thought when I looked at this card, was that this was the aftermath of the scene in the Death card. Gwynn ap Nudd and his Wild Hunt have passed by, and this is the scorched landscape they have left behind (the same castle ruins can be seen in both cards).

It's hard not to be reminded of Eliot's famous poem:

"What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water."


The crux of this card is, for me: the Wasteland is a place that sometimes has to be crossed, but not a place to get stuck in.

One of the key phrases in "A Keeper of Words" is:
"Moving on in search of nourishment."

Sometimes the Waste land cannot be avoided, it must be traversed, but one must keep moving, keep looking for nourishment and not fall into stagnation and decay. It's like the process of grieving or psychological death - the horrible barrenness, the despair, has to be gone through, has to be felt, without sure knowledge of light and life at the other side. An act of trust.

The Fisher King's wound, in a way, is capitulation to despair. The land is blighted through lack of hope and faith and compassion. It is dry - the water element is lacking and the land cannot be nourished.

Healing comes through Percivale's (or Galahad's, depending on which version of the story you follow) offering of compassion through asking the right question. But what's the point of waiting around for some rescuing knight to appear? We have to learn to ask the right question of ourselves...
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Are they both dead and rotting? It seems like the figure in a reddish cloak, closer to the dead horse, is more alive , so I was thinking on similar lines but more of acknowledging our mortality, knowing that death is our constant companion.

So what you are saying about not getting caught up in it, rather than focusing on our eventual demise and the changes that come with death, that what we do between birth and death is what matters. It's good to face our mortality and make every living moment count, no matter how desolate the landscape is around us. To find some spark of life and growth and nourish that, to regenerate and probably answer the question of what matter's most?

Kind of a good thing to keep in mind when everyone is trying to predict the end of the world! Will we really live our lives more fully if we know the exact time and place, do we need to in order to live richly and abundantly?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WalesWoman
Are they both dead and rotting? It seems like the figure in a reddish cloak, closer to the dead horse, is more alive
Yes, when I first looked at the card, I thought the two figures were travellers through the wasteland. It took me a while to realise that one of them is a skeleton and the other...he's so hunched over, it's hard to tell. He could be alive - I guess that's in the eye of the beholder! It looks as if he's just sat down to rest for a minute and fallen asleep, or into a coma, or drifting towards death...

I agree, the presence of death is very tangible in this card. It's tempting to try to avoid thinking about this place at all...let alone crossing it. I feel that the danger of *getting stuck* is very real. It reminds me of depression, where feelings cannot be either escaped from or expressed, and one becomes part of the living dead.

This card also reminded me of Lyra's journey through the Land of the Dead in "His Dark Materials", and the fact that she had to leave her soul - her daemon - behind in order to gain entry...
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Oh, yes, Lyra in the Land of the Dead! Thanks for making that connection for me, Leo, how true! This card haunted me for several months earlier this year, although my wasteland was not nearly as wasted as this one. I greatly appreciated your analysis above, and in particular these lines:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leo62
Sometimes the Waste land cannot be avoided, it must be traversed, but one must keep moving, keep looking for nourishment and not fall into stagnation and decay. It's like the process of grieving or psychological death - the horrible barrenness, the despair, has to be gone through, has to be felt, without sure knowledge of light and life at the other side. An act of trust.

The Fisher King's wound, in a way, is capitulation to despair. The land is blighted through lack of hope and faith and compassion. It is dry - the water element is lacking and the land cannot be nourished.
Thank you for deepening an already profound card for me Leo.

Cheers
David
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sophie-David
This card haunted me for several months earlier this year, although my wasteland was not nearly as wasted as this one.
David - yes it's chasing me around a bit at the moment.... I guess that's why I started the thread - my way of trying to get across those gloomy wastes!!!

Funnily enough, I don't find it a depressing or a scary card. It's come up for me 3 times in the last couple of weeks as my daily card, and it feels more like a "reality check" card, when I'm not wanting to face something uncomfortable or unpalatable....
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Same here, Leo. Frustrating and uncomfortable maybe, but not depressing or scary. I look on the wasteland as a necessary cyclical process and challenge.

As I wrote in Post #73 of the Spirit Guide Group: Dreams Subscriber's Spirituality forum, "a swampland can reflect intense periods of internal processing in which the old forms are broken down and digested so that creative new life can emerge - this is the positive aspect of creativity blocked or delayed, the Empress Reversed". I would look on the Empress Reversed as a possible "why card" at the root of a Five of Shields experience.

Depending on how you look at it, this Five either appears as a misty swampland or as the bleak desolation of a murderously harsh winter, with life graphically feeding on death. I had first dreamed of entering this frozen psychological wasteland before it happened and before I saw the Legend card. Then some time later I actually saw something very much like it when I visited southeastern Ontario for a conference this winter - minus the rotting bodies of course. This scene was very alien to me because in British Columbia where I live there are always evergreens poking through the snow, never this total washout of whites and greys.

In Post #4 of the Legend: Eight of Shields, Wayland thread I described how, later on the same journey, I perceived the underground downtown world of Toronto as a more abstract form of wasteland after experiencing the more natural one of southeastern Ontario.

Blessings
David
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David - thanks for the links and your comments. I was fascinated by your description of the Toronto underground! Here in London, with our creaky underground and 19th century train network, we'd kill for something like that!!
But I think your point about modern life and modern spaces - and the toxic outflow of our "civilisation" - is very apposite. When I look at the 5 of Shields, I do see a contemporary toxic wasteland, saturated and poisoned with chemicals and the discarded, plastic skeletons of contemporary life. We live in an environment that is in many ways comfortable and priviledged, yet on a deep level, it is hard on the soul - harsh with noise and fear and rage, and so sterile.
Thanks also for making the link with the "collective" level of this card. How are we - as individuals, as societies, as the human race - going to get ourselves through this wasteland, without succumbing to the poison...?
Bit of a heavy one for a Wednesday morning, huh?
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The idea of the Wasteland is a good one - TS Eliot's poem is famous, for good reason.

And for me it ties in with some of my studies/interests, in the following way. Compare Tracy Emin's unmade bed, or Damien Hirst's stupid dead shark, with the beautiful art work of Tarot. Which one has meaning and vitality, and which one expresses meanglessness and decadence? The art world is stuck in a Wasteland, and instead of saying 'hey, we need to get out of this because there are dead bodies in here!' they say 'yeah, cool! - dead bodies, dead sharks!!' I know which one I prefer.

Also, as TS Eliot mentions in the poem, modern society is a Wasteland in the sense that it is understood by and operates within scientific-materialistic thinking that ignores or denies the possibility of spiritual meaning (and I include religion in that - they're nothing more than belief systems).

And what the Tarot does of course is present you with other cards/images, reminding you that you don't have to be stuck in the Wasteland. That its not a great place to be!
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theredfox
And for me it ties in with some of my studies/interests, in the following way. Compare Tracy Emin's unmade bed, or Damien Hirst's stupid dead shark, with the beautiful art work of Tarot. Which one has meaning and vitality, and which one expresses meanglessness and decadence? The art world is stuck in a Wasteland, and instead of saying 'hey, we need to get out of this because there are dead bodies in here!' they say 'yeah, cool! - dead bodies, dead sharks!!' I know which one I prefer.
Hi redfox - I know what you mean, but I think it's important to remember that there are also lots of wonderful artists out there doing exciting, meaningful work...unfortunately, it's the above examples that attract publicity and attention and end up serving as paradigms for the vacuity of modern culture. And don't forget - there are plenty of trite, shallow tarot decks out there too!

Quote:
Originally Posted by theredfox
Also, as TS Eliot mentions in the poem, modern society is a Wasteland in the sense that it is understood by and operates within scientific-materialistic thinking that ignores or denies the possibility of spiritual meaning
I think you've hit on another key meaning of the card here. A culture that is purely materialistic and that denies spiritual meaning (hence the absence of the water element - a key theme of both card and poem) creates it's own waste land...I can't help thinking of the landscape of London and SE England, an endless depressing desert of car parks and shopping malls and supermarkets...the physical environment mirroring the spiritual sterility of our culture...
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This is must be the card of the week and sort of fitting. Dreams crumbling to dust, the wasteland of realizations that some dreams are illusory and as insubstantial as the mists around the castle in the background. Death visiting, the changes needed to go on and transform the dissappointments into something different... moving away from what didn't work and finding something else that will.

Seeing the barebones of the situation, the framework of a dream or enterprise and discovering what killed it, why it wouldn't or couldn't survive. The messages that come with it, that it is a loss, but still offer food for thought and encouragement. That with it's death, the process acts as nourishment to the earth itself to support new growth later on. The ravens, not staying in one place, but taking wing, the soul in flight going from one opportunity to another.

I'm trying very hard to be philosophical today... I'd submitted for an art show about 3 months ago, to have been my very first show and got my first real rejection in the mail yesterday. I'm dissappointed and relieved all at the same time. LOL

But this card and the accompanying letter returned with my art submissions, really seemed to fit everything going on and gave me a new way of looking at this situation and how to keep on keeping on without giving up totally on my dreams and aspirations. This turned into a bit of a dead end, but I can't dwell on it or feel like I'm the dead horse or keep kicking it or me for that matter, that I'm not quite ready and the only way I will be, is to persevere and keep on and move on from this, discovering ways to improve and grow from this experience.
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