Is it possible to make peace with an ideology designed to strike fear into our very hearts and souls? Is there a way to come to an understanding of the perpetrators as reflections of a part of ourselves, acting from a deep pain and the need to be heard in the world? As we’ve seen in numerous terrorist events from all over the world in recent history, often a different story emerges than the one that may have been intended. Instead of hiding in fear, girding ourselves against the bogeyman on the corner, or refusing to leave our homes, in the aftermath of some of these devastating acts we’ve seen communities becoming more cohesive as a result, people reaching out across borders and time zones to offer whatever support they can, and a growing collective restlessness for change.
Once again, I’ve reached for my tarot cards to see what I could make of what lies behind the terror. I have used the Llewellyn Tarot deck to ask ‘what is the root of terrorism?’ and Doreen Virtue’s ‘Healing with the Angels’ deck as further support. In some places I have used the third person (‘we’) because I believe we have all had the experience of living in both light and in darkness throughout our many lifetimes. This way we balance out the growth of our souls and open up to compassion for those who walk paths different from our own this time around.
Three of Swords:
This card indicates a deep-seated pain behind the actions, a kind of pain that has been driving the mind of the affected individual(s). There is abandonment and a crippling weight from past devastations or injuries (whether real or perceived). This is the kind of pain that draws us into it, so that we are blinded by it, unable to unravel the threads between real and imagined slights. It holds us in its space and feeds us only with the ‘truth’ of itself, infecting our mind with the desperate need to be heard, and avenged. How can we move out of it, when it is what feeds us? Do we give it what it wants or do we risk the unknown by separating ourselves from the familiarity of the hurt? In terrorism, the needs win out.
Five of Swords:
This card indicates feelings of being resisted on many levels, opposition so overwhelming it is impossible to move forward. This leads to diminished confidence, and a growing need to make others feel as hurt and misunderstood as we ourselves have. It denotes a lack of personal strength and resources (spiritual and emotional), coupled with feelings of victimhood, which lead to blame and searching for scapegoats for our pain. When our lives have not delivered the joy that we hoped for, or happiness that we may even believe others have taken from us or found at the sacrifice of ours, we begin to develop the need for retribution. We want to steal the joy that we haven’t found, or cause others to feel the pain we’ve felt.
Knight of Wands:
This card represents a person with a unique take on life, someone who might be able to recognise and take advantage of opportunities or patterns missed by others. It might be someone unpredictable, someone who appears unstable or outside the norm, who has the potential to make life exciting. It can be someone with charisma, who weaves an exciting tale of inspiration and intrigue. It would appear this is the recruitment stage, or the story that the terrorist might tell him/herself to justify the planned actions. There is something else attached to this card, which might be difficult to hear. It’s the idea that if we take into account the previous two cards and the pain that we know the individual has felt, we might be able to step back and (collectively) depersonalise the actions, putting aside the reactive need for potential vengeance. In doing so, we might find the answer to the questions, ‘what is this trying to teach us?’ and ‘is there something about ourselves we have been unwilling to look at?’
King of Wands:
The King of Wands continues in the same vein as the Knight, in that he represents the energy of (distorted) Masculine dominance and power that the hurt and crippled individual wishes to embrace by taking extreme actions. The card suggests a man who has achieved some form of status and honour, who has overcome a shaky or difficult start in his life to reach a position of (perceived) authority. The important thing to remember here is that the disempowered and hurt individual (from the first two cards) has lost a sense of his/her own personal power, which has resulted in the need to place authority in something outside of him/herself. The act of doing so can help to transform the hurt and pain into a righteous anger or belief that the way to change things is to use the same force that was used on them in order to cause the pain or disempowerment in the first place.
The Fool (0):
Having put their faith in the new belief system, the individual goes blithely into the future, following the path laid out by the distorted power they wish to claim. They take a leap of faith, ignoring or disregarding the way that others may do things, throwing their whole belief into the idea that this way will be the way to their salvation (and perhaps the salvation of others). The need to be heard, and to make a statement leads to their ignoring the dangers that they must on some level know exist. The higher goal becomes their purpose, a burning, dangerous purpose that will not let up until it has been satisfied.
This one at first seemed to be so discordant with the theme of the reading that I almost discarded it as a mistake. Upon further reflection, it came clear. It represents the collective need to hold onto our belief in the beauty and goodness of humanity, of existence. In the same way that personal relationships can be ‘killed’ by difficulties, strife, and stress, times of collective difficulty should not be allowed to ‘kill’ our faith in humanity. Hold onto your dreams for your own bright future, and the future of all of existence. Don’t let the terrorist’s view of the world paint your reality.
We are all someone’s child, someone’s sister, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin or friend. Terrorists are born of the same biological process as everyone else on the planet, and have the same capacity for joy or pain that we all do, as humans. This time around they may not have had the same opportunities as we did to find the love that was being shown to them, and instead chose a different route to what they saw as their salvation. Send gratitude to the Universe for the blessings in your life, the friends, the family, the love you feel, and for the ability to feel compassion for others without the need to judge their actions.
One final note about the overall theme of the reading: it was dominated by masculine energy. Two Swords, a Knight, a King, all representative of the forceful and potentially destructive side of the Masculine. This is not to say the Masculine is dangerous in and of itself, but the distortion of the energy through time has led to the understanding of force and domination as the meanings of power. It is through the incredible energy of Love that we will find a way to our true, powerful potential.
About Jenny: Also known as 'The Catharsis Coach,' Jenny loves exploring life's twists and turns through the lens of transformation. When she's not writing, she's coming up with new ways to help people move through change with grace and ease.