Threshold of Clarity

Years ago, I created an eight-card spread for Tarot readings that I have used for myself and clients ever since. Actually, I should call it an eight-position spread, since I often pull multiple cards for a position. I call it the Guided Solution Spread. [I’ll post it on my site sometime soon.]

Position 7, the second from last, is what I used to call the Guidance Position. “If your guides / your higher self were sitting here with us, this is what s/he would say to you regarding this topic.”

Recently, I have changed the name. I now call this position Recommended Focus.

A common question is:

What about when a negative card shows up here?

Surely spirit is not asking us to focus on negativity. In fact, I know this as fact. Well, I’m here to tell you that the asking of this question (long ago) has initiated a journey that continues now. Any time a card feels negative to me, I look deeper or wider. I search through the imagery, the numerology; I pursue a perspective that is decidedly positive and helpful.

10 of Swords
10 of Swords

In yesterday’s reading (for myself), the 10 of Swords popped up in position 7. Take a look. It depicts a gruesome scene. A body, lying on the ground, has been pierced by 10 swords. In some decks, a pool of blood has formed around it. Is the person dead? Is there any chance he or she survived?

The card does not predict death. No single card does. But this card can indicate travesty, tragedy, catastrophe, chaos, pain, a terrible experience. It can represent the nadir: the lowest point of a cycle pertaining to the subject at hand; the worst of it.

When the card shows in the past, it means the worst is over. The tornado touched down, did its damage, and dissipated. In the present positions, it pretty much means the same. You have bottomed out and can now (or soon) begin the journey upward and out of the pit you’ve fallen into.

In the future, it may be looming, but there is still a chance to divert or diffuse the damage. Maybe life will have its way with you. If its too close to avoid, just keep your eyes on what’s just beyond it.

Yet all of this does not exactly tell us (or me) the message when the 10 of Swords shows up as recommended focus. What, pray tell, can Spirit want me to see in this?

When the card showed up yesterday, I had no emotional reaction. I stopped looking at this card as doom and gloom, so I stayed objective. “There is a message here,” I told myself. “What can it be?”

With no effort, it came.

An easy, yet still somewhat negative way to look at the 10 of Swords is as strong contrast. Contrast is a word Abraham uses all of the time to soften our perspective of the so called negative. And there are degrees to the contrast we experience (as well as the response we’ll have to them).

The message of the 10 of Swords for me, which I will use from now forward (at least until a better perspective comes along) is this:

Contrast has one purpose: to inspire, promote, and create clarity. The strength of the contrast is proportionate to the resistance we hold around the subject.

In other words, the more strongly we hold to a limiting belief, the stronger the contrast may need to be to push us out of it.

At the 10 of Sword, the contrast has now reached a threshold. It is strong enough to catch our attention…to break through our resistance…to penetrate us. It is still up to us to recognize, focus upon, and take advantage of the newfound clarity.

A few months ago, I had an experience that could be described by the 10 of Swords.

I live in an apartment that has restricted parking. One needs a sticker to park in certain places. I had my brother’s car at the time and I was getting ready to head out and pick him up at the airport. I also had his cat. I drove his car up into the restricted area so I could load it up more easily before heading out. However, I did get a bit ahead of myself.

The moment I parked the car and made to head to my apartment, I paused. I stood there, looked toward my apartment, looked toward my brother’s car, and thought to myself: “I don’t need to leave for another couple of hours. Should I really leave the car here that long?” I then dismissed the concern.

How often do we bend the rules like this? We speed over the limit, but think to ourselves that we’re fine and will get away with it. We park “illegally” but justify the action since it’ll be “just for a moment.” Often, we’re not really trying to get away with something, we’re just trying to make it easy on ourselves.

In my mind, I had every right to park there because I live here. But the towing company had no way of knowing that.

It doesn’t take a psychic to see where I’m going with this story. When it came time to leave, I headed out to the car and it was gone. I felt that strong burning sensation in my gut. It not only created a lot of inconvenience for me, it cost me a chunk of money.

And it took some time to recover from it. I was angry and hurt and mad at myself (and wanting to blame all sorts of others).

So, what was the message? If I did a reading afterward, I would have likely gotten the 10 of Swords in the past position. It was too late to change the outcome. And, in less than 24 hours, the situation was resolved…even if I was still sore about it.

One thought (and possible answer) that I keep entertaining, which many others would too, is that it was a “lesson” to not do that again. Why take the chance? The signs are not idle threats. They will tow you away. And the cost outweighs the convenience.

But, you know, that wasn’t the point of the experience. It wasn’t as isolated an event as it seems. It was not a product on my behavior. I don’t make a habit of parking illegally around here. It was not created solely by my actions; it was a result of my vibration.

When strong contrast shows itself (and when the 10 of Swords card shows up in a reading), we want to ask ourselves this:

What clarity do I desire or did I gain?

In my case, I, for one, have more clarity around the validity of subtle, guiding messages. That pause was not me questioning my actions. It was my inner being advising me to take a different course. Maybe, from his perspective, it was good for me to walk through that contrast. It did serve me.

I now realize that at times like these, I am at the threshold of clarity. My inner being wants for me the clarity I ultimately desire. We both would probably prefer that I come to it though softer contrast, but what difference does it make? It really is up to me (the human part of me) to receive the clarity or not. I had been asking for it…and only I can ultimately let it in.

I suspect that all of us skirt the threshold of clarity quite a bit. Whenever we’re confused, we (consciously or unconsciously) ask for clarity. We are then led toward it. If we are too slow to let it in, (if we continue to argue for our limitations, if we blame others’ action and not accept our part in the creation), we might skirt the threshold longer than is best. The longer we hold ourselves apart from the clarity, the more we’ll ask again and again, and the more the pressure will build. At some point, the pressure will propel us forward into the clarity.

Strong contrast is simply that. We are still free to heed or not the guidance.

A stationary object has a (strong) tendency to remain stationary. This is called inertia. A force is required to get the object moving. Furthermore, it must be strong enough to overcome the friction (the resistance). It must cross the threshold.

It is hard to get a stationary object (like a stopped car) to move, but once it begins to move, it is easier to accelerate it.

The more we go with the flow, the more easily we’ll be guided long before a 10 of Swords event would occur. But if we keep focusing on the idea and feeling that we’re stuck, then our continual asking will eventually build enough pressure to overcome our resistance.

This past week, there have been a number of times when I heard that subtle guidance. Sometimes I heeded it; sometimes I didn’t. In each case, I later received confirmation that I had actually heard something useful. In those cases when I realized that I didn’t listen, I could have kicked myself. Nevertheless, in each case, I expanded my intention to hear and heed better.

I probably won’t ever completely catch up. I’ll hear it some times and heed it a fraction there of. I can continually improve, but I’m sure there will always be a potential for more.

Hopefully I’ll stop beating myself up when I don’t.

Pay attention to the subtle guidance…or at least those moments afterward when you realize you were given it. When you do find yourself experiencing strong contrast, look for the clarity that is presenting itself. Keep reaching for it if you still haven’t found all there is to find. And be easy about it…and loosen the resistance. After all, you do want to move forward, yes?


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