The Problem with Changing Your Mind

By Jeanne Fiorini

You don’t need me to tell you that we’re moving through important times politically, astrologically, economically, globally and personally. Yup, the times they are a changin’. Last month we had a 4.6 magnitude earthquake in the state of Maine for goodness sake! 

There are cracks and holes appearing in the walls of what used to pass for static reality, a bit of light is now beginning to enter the room. This fracturing, and in some cases the disappearance, of the status quo offers a momentous opportunity for each and every one of us to effect change. 

But let’s cut to the chase: all the difficulty and chaos we endure as the old systems fall will be for naught and nothing will significantly change unless we shift how we think about who we are and what is possible. We can’t create a bold new world while holding on to the same old belief systems.

As I sit at the Tarot table with clients, I do see a desire for a more fulfilling life. But it’s painfully clear that when it comes to what constitutes security, what it means to be personally and fiscally responsible, and notions about what constitutes a justifiable lifestyle, traditional assessments are still very much in place. This choke hold creates a suspicious attitude toward any sort of shift in normalcy, even when “normal” has repeatedly fallen short of what we really needed, not quite met our desires, or has totally screwed us over.

At the Tarot table, this clash between what we know (i.e. what we have come to expect) with what subliminally we know is possible often shows up in the Eight of Swords.  Although the call for change may be very loud in a client’s ear, the fear of “making a mistake” and thereby calling forth the nasty consequences which are sure to follow can easily override the heart’s desire. 


I’ve always considered the Eight of Swords to be the most persistent and commonly-seen card of the 78, but this card is really having a heyday amid the rolling tides of 2012. The underlying belief here is that when we listen to the voice of the soul rather than the “voice of reason,” we encourage (and deserve) retribution from the bats of hell. Saints preserve us if we make the dreaded Wrong Move.

OK: shifting our thoughts and belief systems is important, but how can we learn to truly think differently? How can we flex an obstinate thinking mind that has fixed itself on polarities such as black/white, right/wrong, good/bad? How can we as soulful beings comfort an ego that is hell-bent on self-preservation?

Being aware that the mind is controlling our reality (that’s a good definition for the Eight of Swords, actually) is a good first step. We’ve gotta keep a check on our belief systems, the conscious ones and the deeply-rooted, automatic responses to life’s experience. As my Tarot pal Josephine says, “You can’t see the gnomes on the lawn if you don’t believe in gnomes on the lawn.” You can’t change your life if you really don’t believe you can change your life.

Here are two specific tips for helping to shift the mind: Change Perspectives and Be Brave

RE: Change Perspectives

I had an amazing bean plant growing in my garden this past summer, the thing must have been 8’ tall.  There are baggies of beans in the freezer as the plant produced fruit through the second week of October. Along with providing the daily requirements of Vitamins A, C, K, iron, and fiber, picking beans from this plant taught me something important: It’s all about perspective.


Because the plant was so massive, I’d go ‘round the pole once, gathering beans up and down spinning around the circumference. Retracing steps in the other direction, it was amazing to find fat and ready beans that were missed first time around. What was under a leaf coming from the northwest corner is in full view from the southeast vantage point. What was “too far down and out of sight” is at eye level once you scootch yourself closer to the dirt.

Going back around for a third time, invariably I’d discover more and more fruit that went unnoticed in previous passes. How did these go undetected? How could I have missed this one? Why didn’t I think to look at the very bottom of the plant, almost into soil, where the vines are doing exactly what they’re doing at the top of the plant: stretching, reaching, sprouting, growing.

This brings up concerns about what else I may be missing, what else I am not seeing: work opportunities, potential friends and lovers, essential information regarding health and wellbeing.

The bean pole teaches me that the best I can do is to keep my eyes open and try to look at things from as many perspectives as possible. “Bend your neck, move your head, shift your posture, use your eyeballs to really see what is there, and not just perceive what you expect to see.”

RE: Be Brave

I just have one thing to say on this point: Did you see the guy jump out of the space ship 24 miles above the earth

Talk about taking life by the cahones! I mean really, if he can do that and live to tell about it, each of us can make a modest but scary move toward a personal goal, take self-expression a little more seriously, become more vulnerable to others in order to promote deeper emotional connections, allow a little more of who we really are to see the light of day. 


The definition I use to describe the Eight of Swords during a reading is “If you’re feeling stuck, the problem is not in the issue itself, but in how you’re looking at it.” What fabricated and illusory restrictions we allow to run the show! And yet how often we succumb to the mind’s siren song of powerlessness and limitations.

When you consider making changes in your life, what scares you about that? What makes you feel like you’re about to jump from 24 miles above the surface of the earth? Your answer to that question shows you where to start when you’re ready to unravel the constraints of the Eight of Swords

After writing an article like this one, I always wonder how the world would look if only 10% of us lived life with this type of open mind and sense of adventure. Or even 1%. It makes me wonder what it takes to flip the elephant of perception into a new direction. It makes me think of John Lennon’s Imagine. It makes me hope I’m alive to see it when it happens.

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