Today’s card is The Island of Black and White – a landscape divided by a fence with sheep on either side, the shepherd heaves one across. On one side of the fence the sheep are white but as soon as they are heaved across the fence they turn black. Here’s what the book says about this card:
In the Otherworld everyday reality is reflected by its opposite as though in a mirror. Where black becomes white and white becomes black, it is difficult to know just where we are. The only person who can regulater this change is the shepherd who knows the reality and powers of both worlds.
Reversal of good fortune to bad luck or bad luck to good fortune, a shock, startling change. A chance to appreciate the mutability and natural rhythm of life. Challenges to deeply held beliefs.
Are you clear about what you intend and the changes they will bring about? Only by appreciating your current position can you judge. Look at the opposite side of the agreement.
I think for me today this card comes as a bit of synchronicity – I just love it when that happens! We do tend to see things as black and white don’t we, I mean it’s rather human nature to do so – we see things in polarities, either one thing or the other. The truth is nothing is either one thing or another, in fact all things are what they are depending on one’s perspective. For me a situation can be black but for another it could be white but each person’s view is not the only view of reality. We could say some thing is wrong, or right depending on our deeply held beliefs and our experiences but for another person it could be the complete opposite. So who is wrong and who is right? Neither and both at the same time. What a paradox! But life is chock full of paradoxes isn’t it.
I’ve heard it said that life is not black nor white but varying shades of grey. At first I kind of dismissed this as being rather ‘sitting on the fence’ kind of thing but in fact it has more truth to it than you can imagine. Of course grey sounds bland and boring doesn’t it and who wants a bland and boring life. That’s one of the reasons, I think, that we as humans polarize things; black or white, good or bad – it’s far more dramatic and interesting isn’t it. However, polarizing life leads to all kinds of difficulties and stress. Nowadays I tend to look at it as Yin and Yang – there is lightness within the dark and darkness within the light and the two in union fit together perfectly into a whole. This is what the yin yang symbol actually means – no one nor the other but a union of both – life is what it is… all and nothing…nothing and all…not right nor wrong but both at the same time yet neither. It’s kind of hard to get your head round isn’t it.
So let’s give a little example from my own experience. I have mentioned a few times on this blog that I suffer from mental health difficulties, I am diagnosed as bipolar and have a severe borderline personality disorder. In the past I used to self harm by cutting myself. Not nice you might think, and some might even feel angry and say that was wrong. At the time it was a useful coping mechanism for the intense pain and rage I was feeling inside. It was the only way I knew of to show people how much pain I was in. It had a purpose! I couldn’t talk about those feelings you see because I didn’t even understand what those feelings were. It’s only in hindsight that I now realise that the feelings were pain, rage and abandonment. But at the time I had no idea. I know I hurt a lot of people by my doing it. They didn’t understand and were scared for me and also angry with me. Did I care about this, was I aware of how my actions were impacting on others at the time? No! I was too wrapped up in my own pain and anger and couldn’t see the wood for the trees.
Was my self harming wrong? Was it black? No, I don’t think so. I agree that it wasn’t a very constructive way of dealing with my problems and moreover it was very dangerous. It hurt a lot of people especially my mother and my daughter. But neither was it ‘white’…it was neither, it was what it was at the time. From my perspective (at the time) I guess I’d call it white, but from those who loved me and were trying to help me it was definitely black. Here you see the polarities. Were they helpful? No not really but both sides were on different sides of the fence so to speak. So polarity has to do with perception also doesn’t it? How we see things and view things is about our own perception, which is always coloured by our own life experiences. But neither is wrong nor right, it just is what it is.
Does that phrase ‘it is what it is’ sound like grey to you? Does it sound like sitting on the fence or is it rather coming from a place of integration. Because life is about integrating the opposites isn’t it.