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Mind medicine: What do we do when the path changes?

Welcome back, Millsies! The start of the spring semester is here — a turbulent start, for many of us. The merger with Northeastern University approaches, which has put some of us in the position of making big choices about our academic futures, as the merger is anticipated to affect some degree pathways. Regardless of the uncertainty about the future, I stand firm in the belief that at least for the moment, we are all Mills. In order to provide some comfort and guidance to my peers, the question I will be asking my tarot cards in today’s article is: “What do we do when the path changes?”

Our academic futures, the pandemic, the weather and politics all seem to be a little out of control. Add in our personal lives and things can feel overwhelming. When choosing the road we will follow amidst all these coming changes, we must remember that we are not alone. In that spirit, I invite you all to view our spread with me.

Photo By Jessica Moreno

Firstly, we have the Knight of Wands. Some of you may recognize the young and confident Bellerophon from a previous article, while others may be meeting him for the first time. Secondly, we have the card Justice, in which a statuesque Athene sits upon her throne. Lastly, we meet two more characters: the first, kneeling down, is Psyche, who asks the second — the goddess Aphrodite — how to win the heart of the man she loves.

To refresh ourselves on Bellerophon, let’s discuss a little of his backstory. This young man is a confident, mighty warrior who not only tamed Pegasus but slayed the Chimera. Known for symbolizing the element of fire, he is characterized by determination, might and unreliability. Bellerophon follows his passions, be they battle, adventure or being praised for his talents. Though Bellerophon is the warrior to call when you want a beast tamed, there is no guarantee he will show up. Bellerophon is a loyal follower of his passions, and this can sometimes lead him astray. Although his ideas can be charming, exciting and new, they are not necessarily good ideas. When over-confident Bellerophon uses Pegasus to fly himself to Olympus to join the Gods, Zeus becomes offended and causes Pegasus to rear under the arrogant knight mid-flight, leaving him to fall very publicly all the way back down to Earth.

This card validates the overwhelming number of paths that lie ahead of us and our innate desire to use our ego as a guide. We may want to choose what is exciting or new without considering the consequences. We may believe in our ideas, but does this mean they will lead us to the future that we want?

With this in mind, we come upon our second card, Justice. Here we have the ethical and clever warrior Athene, seated at her throne. When Zeus learns that his pregnant wife Metis will have a child who might be stronger than him, he decides to swallow her before she can give birth. One day, complaining of a headache, the mighty god has his head split open by Hephaestus and finds a fully formed Athene within his wound. Athene symbolizes not only wisdom but care and thoughtfulness. The sword she holds in her right hand symbolizes her preparedness for war, if necessary. In her left hand are balancing scales, which symbolize her talent of deeply thinking things through with a strategy to help her prevail. Beneath her, a black and white checkered floor symbolizes the human talent of creating order from opposites.

Athene follows the Knight of Wands card to remind us that, although passion is important, so is rationality. For Bellerophon to have kept his reputation as a mighty warrior, it would have been better for him to think out the situation rather than assume he would be lucky. Although Athene can be a reminder to think things through, she can also be the reason we struggle when making a choice. Though we must choose ethically and cleverly, we must ultimately come to a decision.

Our last card, the Seven of Cups, is where we find solace. Young Psyche is seen kneeling to the goddess Aphrodite praying for aid in winning the heart of her love, Eros. Aphrodite rises to the occasion; however, she first points to seven golden chalices. These chalices symbolize the many challenges we must undertake before we can reach our goals. Aphrodite agrees to help Psyche but gives her what feel like impossible tasks to complete before aiding her. Though love is easy to fall into, it takes effort to maintain. For Psyche to ask for aid, she must first know her true goal and have the commitment in her heart to see it through, no matter the number of obstacles. Though Aphrodite can aid Psyche, only Psyche can do the work.

We are reminded here to look inward; to remember what we want from our finances, academic careers and even love lives. Do we have the heart it will take to follow our visions, regardless of the obstacles? It is important to make concrete goals for ourselves, and to believe in our dream enough to seek aid from others while remaining committed. This spread comes with honesty, advice and comfort. We are built of passion, although we are human and have faults. Though we may have an idea of our path, when things become chaotic, we must remember to think deeply and strategically about our goals.

I believe in you all, Millsies, so let us embark on this spring semester reconceptualizing our paths with passion, wisdom and heart. Provided is a do-it-yourself recipe for one of my favorite tools: an affirmation jar. This jar is a little bundle of self-belief that you can use on tough days when you need encouragement. I include self-affirmations and positive beliefs I have in my jar. So, for example, I might add “I am divine” and also “I believe in honesty.” This jar is very useful for focusing on our inner values, and helping us rely on our inner compass.

The directions are:

  1. Find a jar, paper, and scissors. (A dollar store is a cheap place to find all three!)
  2. Cut your paper into strips. Write an affirmation/belief on each strip.
  3. Fold strips into whatever way makes your heart happy, filling your jar.
  4. Decorate your jar how you see fit and place it in an easy-to-reach spot.
  5. Modge Podge and free printable labels are optional. This is YOUR jar.

I also want to provide a link to a short but helpful meditation by Peaceful Meditations, which is helpful for approaching thoughts about facing change.