Pardon the Hanged Man

By Melanie Harris

If I ever become a self-serving, indulgent, sweatpants-clad writer, may my pen become possessed by the spirits of Strunk and White and stab me to death. While I was on vacation, I had the masochistic pleasure of reading some very bad literature, fraught with absurd metaphors and sickly-sweet wordiness that brought to mind a vivid image of a writer smirking triumphantly at their own wittiness. I wanted to vomit.

Like the Tarotist who would rather stick with broad generalizations and cheesy esoteric catch phrases than go out on a limb and risk being wrong, this writer spoke solely from the ego, leaving the spirit tucked safely away in some dusty file labeled “for my eyes only”. Too many writers and too many Tarotists are far more concerned with proving their own greatness than they are with conveying any ideas of real value. The self-serving writer can turn a phrase, but makes no attempt to turn a life around. The self-serving Tarotist whispers, “Follow your heart,” while she buries her own underneath a misty gaze. 

When we talk about what really matters, when we take a chance and express our own unique vision, our own unique soul, the secure illusion of the social mask is shattered, exposing the truth, the core, the heart of it all, naked as it is and vulnerable. 

I too am guilty, a champ at purveying surface knowledge, a timid weirdo afraid to take an idea as far as I know it can go. I like to think that I overcome this fear, that I go ahead and speak the truth whatever it costs me, but in my soul there is plenty that has not been expressed, the ideas of a freak, the pain of a lover, the love and the indifference between a river and its rock bed. 

There is a melancholy joy inherent in love and life, a sadness and a gladness that is present in all things. Loving each other as we are brings happiness, and knowing that time will crush our bodies to bits brings tears. Sharing our real selves invites both understanding and alienation, as truth is embraced by the seeker and is shunned by the hider. 

Sometimes when I read the Tarot for myself or for a good friend, I shy away from the obvious reality conveyed by the cards, not wanting to bring to light a painful darkness. But only by speaking the truth, acknowledging it and facing it, can we fully embrace that truth and use that knowledge to move our own light out of the shadows.

A year ago, I thought I had a finished book manuscript, ready to submit to a publisher. I set it aside for awhile so that I could evaluate it objectively, and when I looked at it again, through the lens of truth rather than through the shade of ego, I found that I had failed to write the book I had set out to write. It only scratched the surface; it did not express those deepest thoughts that are uniquely my own, it only halfway shared the magical truths that I hold most dear. 

Since realizing this, I’ve kept myself busy writing magazine articles and I haven’t made the time to get back to my book. Perhaps I’ve been hesitant to replace the confidence of having written a book with the agony of completely rewriting said book. I’m ready to do it, though, ready to take a risk and write the book that I truly want to write, a book that holds real value for the reader, a book that shows how to take magic and spirit to their absolute limits. Looking over that edge is scary, but walking right off the cliff like The Fool plunges us into something much deeper than fear.

The Hanged Man has reached the end of his rope. His pardon has been denied, and this month is the last installment of this column. I’m hanging him up forever in order to free up some time to move past the gallows and write my book, for real this time, without hang-ups, without fear.

Thank you so much to everyone who has read and enjoyed Pardon the Hanged Man. I expect to see you all at his funeral. Please bring flowers.

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Tarot Reflections is published by the American Tarot Association - Copyright (C) 2008 

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