8 min read

on contemplation

thoughts & reflections for july 2021
on contemplation

hello, dear friends, and welcome to july. many of us are dealing with an intensive heat wave, while others are still working to get vaccinated - and while i know that things are beginning to open up and masking restrictions are being relaxed, i urge you to still exercise caution, to protect yourself, and to be as safe as possible.

i’ve received so much beautiful, helpful, incredibly generous feedback on my survey, and just want to extend my most sincere gratitude to everyone that has already filled it out. it’s so helpful to hear what works and what doesn’t, and i’m also so happy to be able to create things and write words that push us all to keep thinking, keep dreaming, keep going. thank you for being here, for reading, for being kind. if you haven’t gotten a chance to fill this out yet and are willing to give me some feedback, the direct link to this survey is right here. and if you’d like to purchase a custom reading or study guide from me, head to my website.

as we shift into july, as we power through cancer season, i’m continuing to think about one of my favorite topics: movement. i write about this subject a lot: from rest to stagnation, from wandering to pushing limits. the ways that we understand, utilize, and process movement hold a lot of significance, particularly the differences between conscious inaction and deliberate progress. and as we sit in this season of the chariot, a time of victory and breakthroughs, a delicate balance of safety and stretching, i want to explore this idea a little bit more with you.

take a moment to stretch out your neck, to roll your shoulders forwards and backwards, to shake out your wrists, to relax your jaw. let’s dig in.

on contemplation

movement, and pausing movement, are powerful parts of our growth cycle. yet just as we should give ourselves space to both move with purpose and wander with joy, it’s also  essential that we learn how to differentiate between rest, deliberate stillness, and stalling. how can we know when we’re taking time to intentionally step back in a way that will serve and nourish us, and when we are delaying our own progress? what does it mean to stay in control even as we give up that intoxicating sensation of movement? how can we make time to check in with ourselves, and how does that nourish us in different ways from pausing altogether?

when i think about themes of contemplation, true inspection, scrutiny of the self, three main archetypes come to mind: the high priestess, the hermit, and the star. the first two are still, wise, introspective figures, who stand apart from their communities and routines. these aren’t people that seem particularly at ease - instead they interrogate themselves, demanding authenticity, honesty, truth, in a way that not many can withstand. they force us to listen to all that lies in the quiet moments and the hidden spaces, inviting us to check in with ourselves, to examine our own slow transformations. and the third archetype, the star, offers us a chance to look at the world in light of our experiences, to reflect on where we’ve been and honor the wisdom that’s manifested from those challenges. it’s a moment to breathe, to regroup, to consider our path forward.

in this way, each of the three lines of the major arcana have a defined moment for awareness, choice, and introspection. throughout the fool’s journey we are regularly and consistently urged to slow down, to pay attention, to check in with ourselves. we have multiple chances to change course, to make sure that we are being as authentic to our journey as possible, to make necessary adjustments and account for our own growth. in these times of contemplation, we step into the fullness of who we are, gradually expanding our sense of self as well as our beliefs about how far we can go. and in using numerology to explore archetypes’ connections to the minor arcana, we can identify these opportunities for reflection throughout the entire deck.

this first card of contemplation, the priestess, is the second archetype in the fool’s journey and a quiet figure that appears after the magician’s brash confidence, making space for intuition and indefinable wisdom in this first phase of the major arcana. they challenge us to balance our joy and courage and sparkling, brilliant magic with a foundation of trust in the self, to let the magician’s burning fire be tempered and soothed by the priestess’ cool, quiet water. ideally, this time of thoughtful awareness and gentle self-interrogation helps us look at our choices in their fullness - but it’s possible to get stuck here, to become so paralyzed by our options that we refuse to make a decision. in taking a beat to check in with our hearts and minds, in ensuring that we feel completely confident in the path we have chosen, and in executing the decision that we have made, we have the opportunity to step into the abundant, creative flow of the empress with certainty, joy, and celebration.

we see this wisdom echoed in each of the minor arcana’s twos, giving us opportunities for choice, planning, awareness, connection, and intuition. and while the two of cups and the two of wands helps us see the dreamy, magical possibilities at our fingertips, the two of pentacles and the two of swords reveal challenges, as we struggle to balance our growth and make decisions that will help us find deeper truths.

in the second cycle of the majors we meet the hermit, the ninth archetype who urges us to step outside of our familiar routines and comforts and instead look critically at where, and who, we truly are. they push us to stretch, to get uncomfortable, to be fully honest with ourselves about our fears, desires, hopes, wishes, anxieties, triggers, frustrations, and most fervent dreams. and in inviting us to question, to examine, they help us to find deeper meaning in our actions, and to find powerful contentment within ourselves. after acknowledging our capacity for both wildness and patience with strength, the hermit empowers us to move at our own pace, to prioritize our needs, to be both gentle and true to ourselves. this archetype sets us up for the full alignment and rich sense of purpose within the wheel of fortune, reminding us that we do have control over ourselves, even if we cannot control anything else. but just as with the priestess, the hermit holds a warning - not to get so comfortable in isolation, in solitude, that we shun community or believe ourselves to be above connections and relationships.

in the same way, we celebrate our independence with many of the tarot nines, recognizing the ways that we stand alone. with the nine of pentacles and the nine of cups we honor the routines, communities, and risks that we have found along the way, and consider how our accomplishments have grown from those decisions. but the nine of wands reminds us to not get too cocky, to move at a thoughtful pace and remember our limits - and the nine of swords speaks of the kind of stillness that comes from fear, a sense of being fully paralyzed by worst-case scenarios. with all of the nines, we’re reminded again to be thoughtful about our movement, to pay attention to our choices, to remain in alignment with our truest self.

finally, the third phase of the fool’s journey includes the star, the seventeenth card that follows the crumbling chaos of the tower. in this moment of reckoning, we dust ourselves off, give ourselves a chance to recover and heal, to evaluate, to consider. in losing something foundational, in being forced to acknowledge the cracks and weaknesses that we were avoiding, we find new freedom, are able to see the world through another perspective. and while this can be a moment that requires intensive healing and deep rest, it’s also a time when we step into a brand new journey, allowing ourselves to be reborn. we fully walk away from the old ways, the broken things, and embrace the truth of who we are: our strengths, our joys, our desires, and our wishes.

numerologically, the star doesn’t have quite as clean of a parallel as the other two archetypes - but in combining the star’s digits of one and seven, we get eight, pointing us back to strength and the minor arcana’s eights. all of these cards offer us hope, with the eight of wands celebrating joyful and obstructed movement, the eight of pentacles urging us to keep growing our skill and craftsmanship, and the eight of cups giving us permission to walk away from something harmful or destructive. even the eight of swords, though it explores the ways that we get trapped in our own negative thought patterns, reminds us that things are not as bad as they seem, that we can find our way out if we simply shift our perspective.

all of these cards, both major and minor, represent moments in the cycle when we are faced with an important choice that will guide the rest of our actions - the twos at the very beginning of the journey, as we consider what we will do to follow that new insight or make that new idea come to life; with eights and nines near the very end, when we acknowledge how far we have come and consider what will help us make that final step into victory and transformation. these are all moments when we must honor where we are in the process - the knowledge that our actions and decisions carry weight, and the awareness that we alone are responsible for the ways that we move through the world. our choices have an impact, both on ourselves and on other people. and while in many ways the fool’s journey is a solitary one, none of us are truly solitary creatures.

but this kind of consideration doesn’t happen by accident. we often to have to choose stillness, have to decide that we are going to slow down or pause or step back. and while contemplation and rest may not be the same, they are both vitally important to success, growth, and balance. we must be intentional about both, even as we recognize the ways that we use them, the frequency with which we practice them. do you have a preference for one over the other? which feels more comfortable?

the annoying thing that i’m going to say, which you can probably feel coming: whichever one is less comfortable is likely the one you need more of.

you deserve the deepest rest, but you also deserve opportunities to stop racing forward with grasping hands outstretched, to take your foot off the gas, to pull your chariot to the side of the road and recover. we all owe ourselves that much, those gifts of time and space, of processing, of reflection, of analysis. gifts of true, honest questioning.

stillness, quiet, is essential. take it when you can. give it to yourself more often, especially if you worry that you don’t deserve it or can’t afford it. understand its power, and don’t underestimate the strength it takes.

i know - it would be easier to keep rushing, to stay moving, to never interrogate ourselves. yet in being willing to ask ourselves the tough questions, we give ourselves the space to begin looking for the truest answers.

thank you for reading, for being here, for sharing your energy and time and joy with me. wishing you a magical, contemplative july.

images from this post feature cards from the gentle tarot. all photographs by meg jones wall.