Mind medicine: Creating safe space
The leaves have begun to fall, Millsies! The seasons are changing! Midterms are ending and soon we will come upon finals and winter break. In these times of hard work, it is important that we as a collective are reminded to care for ourselves and each other, especially as we face the season of change. My question for my tarot deck is: how can we create safe spaces? Namely, I would like to know how we can create places where we can be nurtured.
The cards presented to me, in order, are: The World, The Eight of Cups, and the Knight of Swords.
Let us begin with our first card, The World. In this card we are presented with Hermaphroditus, who is encircled by the snake Ouroboros. This snake of The World is seen completing an egg shape around Hermaphroditus by devouring its own tail. Encircling Ouroboros, we have the four elements of our Major Arcana: The Cup, signifying love or Aphrodite; The Wand, signifying creative imagination or Zeus; The Sword, signifying intellect or Athene; and lastly, The Pentacle, signifying physical reality or Poseidon. Let us work from the center of the card outwards, starting with Hermaphroditus. Thought of as “the harmony of opposites,” Hermaphroditus symbolizes the unification of one’s being. In one version of Hermaphroditus’ story, the child was simply born a unisex being. In another version of Hermaphroditus’ story, Aphrodite attempts to conceal the child by offering him to a forest of nymphs to raise. When a young nymph, Salmacis, falls in love with Hermaphroditus, though he tries to repulse her, she holds tight to him and asks the gods that the two never be separated. When the gods grant her wish, their two sexes become one. Ouroboros, who surrounds Hermaphroditus, is known as the Snake of The World. Simply put, this snake embodies the power of life, forever re-creating and devouring itself. Encircled in harmony are the objects of The Wand, The Pentacle, The Sword and The Cup, which represent love, imagination, intellect and physical reality. When balanced, our opposites create harmony, be they mind and body or intuition and physical expression. In our relationships, we must remember to make time for solitude, and in our mind, we must remember to be open to feeling. Ouroboros lets us remember that life is ever-changing and ever-evolving. Though not everything lasts forever, the glimpses of harmony encourage us to remember that harmony does exist. The potential in our creativity, intellect, love life and physical surroundings can be amplified and harmonized when we harmonize ourselves.
Our second card shows us Persephone, with a face of resignation, on her descent into the underworld. Aphrodite and Persephone have both fallen in love with Adonis. To spend time with her beloved, Persephone has been tasked with a quest into the underworld. The underworld is ruled by the god Hades, and Persephone knows that no living mortal can make it into the underworld and survive. Behind her we see eight cups stacked neatly, which symbolize Persephone’s previous accomplishments. By leaving these feats behind, Persephone has succumbed to resignation accepting that her fate is leading her to what feels like an impossible situation. The young woman has no hope of making it out alive. This card teaches us a valuable truth: that sometimes we must accept resignation. In pursuit of love, Persephone is now facing the loss of her life. Resigning ourselves to the unknown, to “fate,” may feel like we are giving up; it is in these moments that we must remember that the resignation itself is what changes us. This card asks us to consider what battles we are fighting that perhaps take more than we should be giving. What battles do we carry in us where perhaps we should be trusting the unknown or divine? The change that can come after acceptance can be exactly what it is we need to free us.
The last card in our spread is the Knight of Swords. In this card we see the Dioscuri Twins. These twins are not only the constellation in the sky for Gemini, but also a set of twins who happen to be both mortal and immortal. One twin, with a mortal father, is killed later in life. The other twin, a son of Zeus, begs to share immortality with his brother after facing his brother’s death. These twins, Polydeuces and Castor, are known for their quarrelsome reputations. As strong warriors, the two live their lives together, inseparable during adventures or wars. These twins signify the capacity of the human mind to suddenly become inspired, and when inspired, to cause chaos in the routine and everyday. When new ideas are born, these ideas require new room in our selves, and therefore, be it mental or physical, we must assess where we can make room to invest in these ideas. This assessment causes chaos by invoking the concept of necessary change (which did not exist before the birth of a new idea). Though the twins, like inspiration, are known for their great feats, they are also known for quarreling (challenging the current order). Irresponsibility can sometimes follow inspiration when we give in too quickly to a new idea without proper judgement. This card not only reminds us to consider who and what we affect through our actions, but also promotes the idea of preparing for change or disorder. Just as the twins remain inseparable (even when one dies), we must remember that change and sometimes disorder are parts of life. We must also remember that we are vessels of inspiration. Though changes come, we are inventive and can change with them.
As we consider this spread when making our safe spaces, let us remember the affirmations we have gained from these cards. The seasons are changing but we can create spaces for us to thrive. Harmony within ourselves can lead to harmony outside of ourselves. In thinking about my favorite way to create safe spaces I like to first target my senses. What I have chosen to share with you all this week is something that I believe we can all do. It is mostly centered around intention, as I believe creating an intention to shape our safe space is the first step we can take to pursue harmony within ourselves. By targeting our sense of smell, we can feel invigorated as we prepare or relax in our spaces that we are filling with intention and aroma. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients to your liking.
Below is my favorite recipe for a simmer pot, which will have your space smelling delicious, new and comforting. Feel free to add or subtract ingredients to your liking.
- 3 apple slices
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tbsp allspice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Fill pot with water about 3/4 full.
Add ingredients to the pot and bring to a boil.
Reduce to a simmer and stir the pot clockwise, unless you are doing a banishing or releasing spell, in which case stir the pot counterclockwise.
Visualize your desired outcome or goal for the magickal work you are doing. Are you aiming to create happiness in the home, or more money in your wallet? Whatever it may be, focus on what you want the outcome to look like. Continue with the visualization and stirring until it feels right to finish. You’ll know when!
You may recite your goal, a chant or ritual words while you stir as well. Something pertaining to your desired outcome.
When you finish, let the pot boil down until there is about an inch of water left and then turn it off. Your work is now complete.