This is where we start to learn about our higher nature and develop mastery over the inner struggles that truly make us shine and come into our element. Deep in our core, the nature we once fought to keep from expressing itself in reality is now part of our psyche. What was once a crushing weakness has been integrated into the psyche to become a great strength of character. We are vitalised by this nature within our self, and have a sense of control over our animal nature for the health and wellbeing of the whole self.
This path is the perseverance through trials and what we become afterwards.
This card covers a path that is not readily available to consciousness, but can be understood from the two spheres, Geburah and Chesed. We have expansion (Chesed) mixed with the constraints that govern reality as we pass through time and three dimensional space (Geburah), and this means that willpower and heartfelt dreams must be tested in the framework of this reality.
This is one of the simpler majors to understand. If we have cultivated manners and a polite nature then we’ll find this process of taming the animal nature within much easier as we can rationalize the rights and wrongs within, and get a grip on manifesting a controlled channelling of a clearer self, free of selfish desires.
The Hebrew letter for this path is ‘Teth’, meaning snake (or serpent). There are elements around us that stop us from progressing towards a balanced internal state. Our past, current situation, physical form, finances, and anything else that impinges our ability to act will all affect what we can do effectively. The snake can be seen as a restriction that we have to just accept or face a tightening of its grip! The way I personally see this function, is where the paths of the Lovers and Emperor cross over and pull a person to one side or the other if the lessons our life is presenting us with are not understood; they are the forces that cause the imbalance deep within. There’s an identifying urge of frustration or crushing news that comes from the very core of our being. This instinctual nature requires that it has its place in reality. This part of the psyche needs to be allowed to express itself, or we’ll end up with twisted visions, debasement, and all sorts of neurosis running amok internally.
Sometimes we can feel a literal ‘bite’ internally from guilt or regret. This card offers a hidden strength for those who face these mental constructs. We should relax and clear our mind a little, letting any troubling visions of our issues arise. What comes to the surface is usually abhorrent to the self, and denied that it’s within the self, but it needs to be understood and assimilated. If you face the larger things that trouble you, then the process will become easier over time and you’ll deal with troubles with an open mind.
We may have people around us enforcing these ideas of restriction and boundaries (parents are a good example), and we see subtle forms of control from them and our peers (depending on your upbringing of course!). An example would be sexual guilt. Masturbation for example may be regarded as a debasement of the self if one is brought up in a society where sexuality is repressed. Because masturbation isn’t spoken of, the idea of it lives internally and punishes whoever thinks about it, or acts upon its impulses, with anguish, guilt, and disturbing imagery. It’s a cyclic torture of the self; we need to see the external power of an idea as repressing the self, forming guilt that prevents us from simply living. Why on earth should an idea make us feel negative? Once freed, we’ll be able to hold our heads up with some pride, self-worth, and happiness — we have that right. Claim it, find the negative ideas aimed to repress you, and unchain yourself from that thinking.
The Hebrew letter here is ‘Teth’, meaning snake. We can simply see this as a mythological representation of sin and the ability to shed our skin or that something is constricting our simple core self.