Fairly straightforward: a reading done with the Celtic Cross spread on the Occupy Movement sweeping the world (this spread has been sitting on my Tarot Table, unread, for a good while. Now that I have the time, I figured I’d get around to doing it!). The question was:
What aspects surround and influence the Occupy Movement across the world?
Due to my bias – living in the United States – my answer will focus on movements here, that I am more well-informed about, but I will attempt to cover all movements. The spread visually:
Position 1 (Central Aspect): Queen of Vessels (Salmon)
The Queen of Vessels in the central position of the Celtic Cross to me seems to indicate that this card is acting as a personality descriptor summing up the whole movement. The Salmon is famous for the journey it makes upstream each year to spawn, going through countless obstacles in order to reach its goal. In this regard, I believe that the Salmon reflects upon the tenacity of the Occupy Movement, and the deep devotion of many adherents to its cause. This Movement is not something that will go away, and no matter how many waterfalls and hungry bears you throw at it, it will keep on growing and moving forward. If we carry the comparison even further, the Movement might be weakened by the hardships it faces as a whole as people back out, but those left behind will be stronger and in the end will triumph, as the Salmon always does. It isn’t extinct yet, right? In the near future we will see if this holds true, following intense police crackdowns across the world, which have the potential to either shut down or inflame the movement. Let’s hope it’s the latter.
The Salmon can also represent virtue and caring, indicating that perhaps the Occupy Movement is right in what it is doing (I personally believe in it myself, which doubtlessly influences my reading). The Salmon is also associated with cherishing things – such as the ideals of freedom from corporate domination and economic inequality that the Movement is protesting. The Movement is also seeking to recover from the terrible downturn the world plutocratic society has taken, again putting it in harmony with the Salmon.
The Queen of Vessels also calls to mind self-sacrifice in the name of the future – what else is the Salmon’s journey upstream a prime representation of? Many have sacrificed much in the Occupy Wall Street Movement – pepper-spraying, arrests, and beatings – in order that they and their descendants do not have to deal with plutocratic oppression. The Salmon also represents honesty and generosity. Generosity can be seen in many of the camps, who provide for their members’ needs, and the message of honesty resounds on the Movement, though critics have pointed out – sometimes with merit – that some (but not all – not nearly) of those joining the Movement do so purely out of personal gain, and there are some horror stories of crimes committed in the camps. This brings perhaps a shade of dishonesty to the movement, possibly a cause for Mourning the loss of the Occupy Movement’s original integrity, as reflected in the next card.
The last important aspect of the Salmon as it applies to the Occupy Movement is its association with simplicity. Many critics have… well, criticized the Occupy Movement for having no clear message. In fact, the message of the Occupy Movement is very clear and very simple; so simple, in fact, that it seems to go right over many peoples’ heads. The message is thus: End corporate power and return democracy to the people. It is a very broad message, yes, but that simple statement incorporates all that the Occupy Movement is about.
Position 2 (Opposing/Supporting Aspect): Seven of Vessels (Mourning)
While the Salmon indicates that the Occupy Movement is virtuous and persevering, the Seven of Vessels – Mourning – has some contradicting messages, indicating that the Movement is not as simple as it may at first appear. As mentioned above, some of the initial spirit of the Movement has been lost – some of its integrity has been destroyed by those abusing it, the media, and, of course, its opponents – and it is no longer quite as spontaneous as it had once been due to its growing size. The time of those aspects of the Movement are past, and this card indicates that it is time to move on from them.
The Occupy Movement also has met with fierce resistance from law enforcement, and has had to recover many times from clashes with the police. Mourning is the first step to this recovery, and as protestors and occupiers mourn the loss of their encampments and the support of the law, they move on forward, putting the past behind them.
On a very broad level, the entire Occupy Movement can be seen as representing a reaction to mourning the loss of a true democracy in the United States, and in many other areas of the world, where corporations have taken control of political and economic power (look at Greece, for example, where this is most overt). The people have seen democracy fail, especially in the United States, due to corporate power, lobbying, and an ill-and-mis-informed populace, and mourn for the death of what was once a country where everyone mattered (this in itself is, of course, a fiction, but the idea of the past is almost always more important than its reality). The Occupiers have finished the worst part of their mourning, and are recovering – but not by moving on, as the Seven of Vessels urges you to do, but instead by embracing their grief and sense of loss, trying to restore that which they have lost. The entire movement, then, is a way of embracing what was lost and not letting themselves move on until the problem causing them to mourn is fixed.
Position 3 (Unconscious Influence): Knight of Bows (Fox)
The unconscious influences on the Occupy Movement are best represented by the Knight of Bows, or the Fox. This is very interesting, as the character of the fox is a strange mixture of wisdom, cunning, and playfulness. Certainly, the mischievous nature of the Fox is absent in many regards, but that character has come out in a few regards – emphasizing the fact that this is the unconscious influence, so is beneath the surface. One thing influencing the Movement is a desire to change the current system – and some might even go so far as to say “upset” or “overthrow.” This mentality represents, I think, the hidden influence of the Fox, and perhaps a mischievous desire to upset the anthill and see what comes out. Some members of the Movement are doubtlessly in this mindset, and this card is perhaps telling us that they wield more influence than we have been led to believe – or maybe it is telling us that the troublemakers that critics of the Movement are quick to point out do have influence beyond their numbers.
Other supporters of the movement – particularly Facebook groups such as the Coffee Party and The Other 98%, and of course Jon Stewart’s Daily Show – embody this playful nature in a less harmful way, making their point stronger through the use of wit (again the domain of the fox) and humor. These voices are perhaps the most influential (especially Mr. Stewart), even though they are not the official spokespeople of the Movement, making them, in a sense, “unconscious” influences. Jon Stewart in particular I feel is a good archetype of the Fox – using wit, humor, and playfulness in order to cunningly expose the ridiculousness of the system, and in his own way provide us with wisdom. Though not explicitly connected to the Movement or even to activism, really, Jon Stewart has been a rallying point for liberals, whether he wanted to or not, and a sworn enemy of many conservatives. The Occupy Movement, while not belonging to any political party, is generally more liberal than conservative (many have compared it to the Tea Party, but I believe that this comparison has no real merit), and so Jon Stewart I believe has served as a rallying point for the Movement as well, and his words have probably influenced a large portion of them – the Fox’s hidden influence becoming plain.
The Fox is also known for its stealthy qualities, further reinforcing the idea of hidden influences. Perhaps this card is hinting that the Occupy Movement has goals that even most of its members don’t know, or are being influenced and run by people that hide their ties to the movement. I’d like to believe that this is not true, but this card hints at the possibility, and I think acts as a warning to Occupiers as well, telling them to watch out for pranksters and those who hide stealthily among them in order to change their course.
The Fox also, however, represents cunning and wisdom. This indicates that perhaps the Movement is using underhanded tactics – something which I have seen for myself at my university, when Occupy protesters interrupted a lecture being given on what one scholar thinks of capitalism, heckling him and in some cases abusing their status; definitely not something admirable, and in the end something which might undermine the movement. On the flip-side, however, the Movement is also in many ways putting forth its own wisdom, pointing out the flaws in the current world plutocratic capitalist system. The first step to true wisdom is realizing what is amiss in life, and the Occupy Movement has, I think, realized this.
Position 4 (Past Influence): King of Vessels (Heron)
Next to his wife is the King of Vessels, the Heron, representing the influences of the past – whether these influences be receding ones or those influences that have been in effect for a long time. The King of Vessels is a court card, so I feel that this influence is one of strong personalities. The Heron is a symbol of the gatekeeper to the Celtic Otherworld, and often is seen as having uncanny, nearly psychic abilities of observation. He is calm and possesses extreme self-control, but when he is forced to take action, the Heron can be unstoppable and willful. Certainly, the latter part of this description made itself known in the initial stages of the Occupy Movement, when a group of people who had previously been (mostly) calm, going about their daily lives, trying to earn a living, finally felt compelled to do something about the inequalities caused by corporate greed around the world, and using a depth of character found in the Heron, managed to begin a global movement to change things, that may or may not be unstoppable.
Looking even further back into the past, the inspiration for the Occupy Movement can be, I think, be traced back to the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring came to the world’s attention first through Egypt’s example, although there have also been protests in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and ongoing ones in Iran (although the protesters there are not Arab, but Iranian, similar ideas prevail). Of course, there is also the first country to overthrow its corrupt leader and the only Arab nation to have had any real success with its revolution: Tunisia, beginning with Mohammed Bouazizi’s setting himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his wares, bringing to light the oppression of the Tunisian government. Bouazizi is here, I think, the Heron that started the international idea of liberation in 2011: a street-vendor trying to make a living, harassed by officials and yet not resorting to violence against them (for whatever reason, ethical or practical), who when finally made to act, did so in a spectacular way displaying a real level of martyrdom and death that has significantly changed the country, and perhaps the entire world.
Taking this analogy further, Bouazizi is, as a result of his self-immolation, no longer among the living, his martyrdom making him a possible gatekeeper between worlds: while physically dead, his actions continue to play out in the real world, making his influence that of something between life and death, like the Heron of Celtic mythology. Bouazizi’s actions also demonstrated great integrity and honesty, and he fought for ideals of fairness – all aspects of the Heron as well. He also possessed extreme amounts of self-control: he did not attack officials, and it takes extreme self-control to set oneself on fire in a public space. He deliberately made a statement in the hopes of bringing equality, caring for his subjects like a good king should.
The suit of Vessels comes into play here as well, as the impact of his self-immolation was a result of the emotional trauma associated with such an event – something in the area of Vessels. This can also be tied to Mourning, the Seven of Vessels, as the Arab Spring began with the mourning of this man, and was a way of dealing with what he had done. Some people have claimed that Bouazizi’s story is not real, and was just a symbol. I personally doubt this, but even if it is true and it did not actually happen, that does not make the story any less powerful or influential.
In turn, the Arab Spring spread the idea of liberation to the rest of the world, and the Canadian group Adbusters adopted the Arab Spring’s revolt against political oppression into ideas of economic oppression, and thus began to movement. Whether or not the influence of the Heron is still strong, we shall see, but it seems to me as if it is, as the Movement still seems to have, as a while, the honesty and integrity of the Heron (though the rigidity associated with the Heron certainly does not seem to manifest itself in the Movement, other than in its unbending message). Additionally, the Heron stands beside his wife, the Salmon, whose perseverance will help the Heron keep his standing.
Position 5 (Conscious Influence/Thoughts): The Seer
This is a very interesting card to have here. The Seer is a card of wisdom and oracle, representing an inner journey and prophetic visions. While her counterpart, the Shaman, is an active manipulator of events, the Seer is passive and imparts guidance upon those who seek it. In this position, the Seer is representing the prominent position of the wisdom of the Movement. Indeed, the Movement is wise, I think, as the current state of world affairs cannot be allowed to go on for much longer. This card in its position as the conscious influence also indicates that perhaps the Movement wishes it had a guide, an oracle, or a leader of some sort, instead of being the supposedly leaderless Movement it is – or that it has one. This guide and imparter of wisdom is, I think, liberal philosophy and, frankly, common sense. Life is unfair, and something can be done about it, so why not do it? That is the Oracle of the Movement.
The Seer is also associated with an empathy towards nature, which can manifest itself as a part of the Movement. The corporate world economy has done lasting harm to the environment, which in turn has harmed the people, and a return of power to the people will hopefully begin to reverse this process. Nature can also refer to the environment surrounding people, which has definitely been harmed as a result of the world plutocracy, and this Movement empathizes with the environment, and seeks to heal the world spirit – another aspect of the Seer. If you look at my Personality of the World Spread, I think you will notice that a lot of the themes I discussed there appear here as well – as well as many of the same cards.
Position 6 (Future Influence): The Pole Star
This card tells us that the Pole Star will influence the Movement in the future – or is it telling us that the Movement will act as a Pole Star in the future? The Pole Star is a guide, shining its light down from above. This indicates to me that something – perhaps the collective energy of the world – is guiding this Occupy Movement (after all, it seems to have advanced very far for being ostensibly a leaderless movement), and will continue to influence it in the future. At some point in this future – and perhaps even now – the Movement will begin to guide the rest of the world, by exposing the corruption of the system in which we live and ushering in a new cycle – something else that the Pole Star represents. To me, this card is very optimistic about the future of the Occupy Movement, representing as it does renewal and hope: perhaps it can save society and guide it out of the darkness we have found ourselves sliding into. The Pole Star represents universal law and spiritual order, and the Occupy Movement will eventually come to represent this law and order, bringing harmony back to the world. This card also represents the calm after the storm, and indicates that perhaps it is this Movement that will end a lot of the conflict on the planet if it can succeed.
Position 7 (Occupy’s Perception/Presentation of Self): The Wanderer
Not a surprising card at all. The Occupy Movement is presenting itself as the first phase in a new journey, and heading towards a new society. While the Occupy Movement is advocating for a return of democracy to the people, this sort of thing is actually, in reality, quite unprecedented in the world (if you want to dispute this with me, I’d be more than happy to talk about it, as I study both sociology and history). As such, the Occupy Movement presents itself as, much like the Wanderer, stepping out into the unknown, having faith that its foot will fall on the rainbow bridge, and won’t touch nothing and cause them to fall to their deaths below. Reinforcing the idea of the simplicity of the message brought out by the presence of the Salmon, the Wanderer/Fool is often portrayed as simple and naive. While the Occupy Movement itself does not try to portray itself as naive, that is how the Occupy Movement is seen by many. However, its message is simple (though not in the sense normally assumed of the Wanderer/Fool), as I explained earlier, reflecting the simplicity of the Wanderer’s mind. The Occupy Movement seeks to make the first step into creating a new society in which the power of the corporations are shattered and democracy belongs again to the people.
Position 8 (Other’s Perception of Occupy/Influence of Environment on Occupy): The Mirror [Reversed]
This is very interesting, at least to me. The Mirror in this position, I believe, has two meanings. The more obvious of the two meanings is what this card represents: patiently waiting for initiation into hidden knowledge. This card’s meanings in this regard seem to fall short here (there’s one of these cards in every spread), and that certainly does not seem to be how others perceive the Movement. Interestingly, though, many people initially skeptical of the movement, after visiting the actual sites, become involved in it and begin to support it strongly (one example of this is here). In this sense, there does appear to be a kind of initiation, but it is more similar to the Hermit’s initiation than the Mirror’s, as there is a conscious move to the sites of the Movement. However, the visitor does not often intend to “convert” to the Occupy Movement by attending, but is taken by surprise when this happens, indicating that perhaps the Mirror is at work here through her unconscious initiation into the inner knowledge of the Occupy Movements. Additionally, due to the way the media covers the event, it is often impossible for viewers to really know what the Occupy Movement is like without going there oneself (regrettably, I have not been able to make it to one, though I have searched out obscure articles by Occupiers on it), which in itself makes the Movement similar to the unconscious initiator of the Mirror. It is also important to recall here that the Mirror is, in fact, reversed, so the characteristics we see here are less obvious than normal – which is good, because some of those explanations are a little bit of a stretch!
I believe, however, that a second interpretation of this card is better. The Mirror initiates by letting one see oneself through one’s reflection, allowing for better self-awareness and an inner, spiritual journey. Many Occupiers no doubt see their own struggles reflected in the Movement, which in turn leads them to become better people and to understand themselves more. However, the still water that reflects can also distort, and the mirror is sometimes cracked. The fact that the Mirror is reversed to me indicates that this reflection might not be as pure. This card is not how Occupiers see themselves – it is how others see them. The most vocal speakers on the Occupy Movement are its critics (aren’t they always?), who, I think, like a Mirror, reflect the face the Occupy Movement puts forward (that of the Wanderer) back at them and distort it. The simple message of the Movement is criticized by its opponents as being too broad and ill-defined. The Movement is portrayed as being naive, and taking foolish actions filled with risks in order to gain something that critics argue was never lost in the first place. Many others view the Occupy Movement’s face and see a twisted and distorted version of it. Due to the influence of the corporate-dominated media (again, if you dispute this, tell me – I argue that the idea of the “liberal media” is a myth), no one truly sees the Occupy Movement for what it is, and instead receives a twisted picture of it.
Position 9 (Hopes/Fears/Advice): The Shaman [Reversed]
The Shaman appears with his counterpart, the Seer, indicating that two types of guidance are present in the Movement. The Shaman in particular is positioned in the position of guidance itself within the spread, indicating that while the Seer’s oracular guidance may be more visible, the Shaman’s influence is perhaps greater. This card is also, however, blocked, indicating that perhaps the Shaman’s influence has the potential to be greater, and perhaps is the best course of action, but something stops it. The Shaman is a manipulator and a liaison between the ancestral memory of the world and the current world. To me, this seems to mean that the Shaman here is telling us that we should look to the past for lessons, drawing upon our ancestral memory. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and the Occupy Movement could probably look for past precedents to determine what the most effective course forward would be, manipulating the world in order to achieve its ends. Examinations of the South African anti-Apartheid Movements, the Black Power Movements, the World Social Forum, and no doubt a large amount of other movements I am less well-informed about.
However, this possible influence is blocked; perhaps actively by the media and the corporations providing access to information about the past, or more likely, by people’s lack of knowledge of or motivation to look at the past for examples – the Movement is very liberal, and looking to the past is primarily a conservative idea, even though it is often helpful for liberals as well. Perhaps the Movement has been looking in the wrong places for its inspiration, or is unwilling to look back, instead preferring to look forward. It is foolish to forget that which proceeded you, however, and by doing so one turns one’s back on a wealth of useful knowledge. This card could also represent a lack of active manipulation of the world around them, and advises the Movement to take an even more active role in making its own terms.
Position 10 (Sum): The Wheel [Reversed]
This certainly seems fitting here. The Wheel is one of those cards that sums up things, lying as it does at the end of the first decade of the Major Arcana. The Wheel is also a representation of the entire structure of the Wildwood Tarot Deck: the Wheel of the Year. To me, this overtly suggests that the Occupy Movement will be defined by the cycle of time: rising in the Spring (interesting that the Arab Spring began in the Spring…), flourishing during the summer, and then becoming more cautious in the fall as reactions to the Movement increase, until finally being forced to go almost underground by repression. I believe that the first cycle of this has already happened, with an initial strong movement flourishing for a while with support, until the crackdowns began, scaring many off, and then finally winter began with the forced evictions across the world. This card to me indicates that this cycle will continue on and on, persevering due to the influence of the Salmon/Queen of Vessels, and that soon winter will end and the Movement will come back stronger than before: perhaps in the reaction to the evictions, or perhaps later. Only time and the turning of the Wheel will tell.
This card also can indicate karma and the balance of the universe through the actions of fate. The plutocratic system has created drastic imbalances in the world, and this Movement may the karmic force to restore that balance. Interested at the lack of Balance in this reading – which is what I believe the entire Movement to be about – I drew another card here to see if perhaps Balance would modify the Wheel. Instead, I drew the Five of Stones: Endurance. To me, the message here was clear. As a card in the Suit of Stones, Endurance represents Winter. As a Five in a Tarot deck, this card represents a destabilizing force. The Occupy Movement has been destabilized in the recent past – in the “Winter” phase of the Wheel – and Endurance will be necessary to get through it. This seems to indicate that the Winter of the Occupy Movement has only begun, and this it will go through difficult times before it triumphs.
This card’s position as the sum also inspired me to look more closely at how the Wheel of the Year played into the Occupy Movement. Most of the cards in the spread are Majors, and those Majors – and the Court Cards, which consisted of two Vessels – tend to concentrate in the Vessels area. I rearranged the cards in the spread to their positions according to the Wheel of the Year below:
This makes the heavy weighting on the side of Autumn extremely apparent. The Wheel and the Mirror (Reversed) are both at the Autumn Equinox, and the Seven of Vessels is also well into the season. The Heron and Salmon are also cards of Autum. This, to me, seems to indicate that at the current time, the Movement is currently in Autumn, which is disturbing to me on some level, as this implies that the worst is yet to come – the evictions of late are not the Winter of the Movement. However, it could be that there are smaller cycles of the Wheel, but that in terms of the overall Movement as a whole so far, it has entered Autumn – and has done so extremely quickly, if the Autumn of the Movement is also the Autumn of the first cycle. I do believe that this is the best interpretation of this; that in the overall cycle of the Movement the plutocracy’s oppression is just beginning to make the movement cautious, but that smaller cycles exist within the movement as a whole, and that this is a moment of winter for the Movement. I just hope we have the Endurance necessary to survive the coming Winter. Also, there are no arrows at all in this spread (initially there were no stones either, until I drew clarification card, indicating that Winter is Coming). Spring is currently long gone, and it will be a long Winter before it comes again.
Also interesting to note is that three out of the four cards at the hub of the Wheel of the Year are present: the Wanderer, the Shaman, and the Seer. Both the querent and his two initial guides are present in this spread, which to me seems optimistic; if the Wanderer (the Occupy Movement itself) can find the guidance of the Shaman and combine it with that of the Seer, the Wheel will continue to turn and Spring will come again, as the Hub of the Wheel is practically whole, allowing it to turn. This also, I believe, emphasizes the cyclical aspect of the Movement. The one element of Spring in this reading is the Pole Star. While still in Winter, the Pole Star is a guide that will lead us eventually to Spring and our rebirth, advising us that we should use the world’s guidance to succeed.
However, despite all of this, we should not forget that the Wheel is reversed. This is most definitely not a good sign. The shirt that the loom is weaving is uncompleted, and something is stopping its progress. Time is not moving as it should. This seems to reinforce the idea that the cycle is askew, and that Autumn – and perhaps Winter – will last longer than they should at the expense of Spring and Summer. While all seasons are necessary for renewal, giving too much time to one season can ruin the world. The corporate plutocracy of the world has cast us all into Autumn, and we will have to struggle to survive the Winter and emerge into Spring.
Reflections on the Spread as a Whole
The most striking thing about this spread was the large degree of Major Arcana – seven of the ten cards were Majors! Of the remaining cards, only one was a numbered Minor, the other three cards being Court Cards. As mentioned above, Vessels also dominated this spread, though there was a single bow present, indicating that the cycle has advanced on from Summer. There were also no bows available for the Arrows, which perhaps hints that the Occupy Movement will have trouble obtaining its goals – it’s hard to use a bow without arrows. However, through the tenacity of the salmon, the guidance of the Seer, Shaman, and Pole Star, the integrity of the Heron, and the passage of time (the Wheel) will in the end help the Occupy Movement succeed.
I would also to take this space to point out that many of the cards in this spread were the same as in my Personality of the World Spread, which either indicates that I need to learn to shuffle better or that the Occupy Movement is the face of the world right now. Indeed, in that reading, I brought that point up several times, and I believe that this reading then reinforces that idea.
That was long, I know, but hopefully illuminating and/or thought-provoking!
Pingback: Thief of Time « Z. M. Wilmot
Pingback: Imaginaerum « Z. M. Wilmot