Lust for Life

Self-development is a tricky field to be involved in. Usually when people think about it, they're thinking of sudden enlightenment, moving full speed ahead, wanting to be a supercharged version of themselves. They want more of this, less of that, and clear steps for achieving their best self. What they don't want is to be told is that transformation is hard work - that they need to spend time practicing tools, shifting their energy, or simply making space for something new. 

​In reality, people often spend more time focusing on their dissatisfaction with their current life than visualizing what is possible. Complicating this is the often snarky and difficult feelings people often have towards the type of people whose qualities they secretly envy. Being clear on who you want to be is harder than it looks.

So it's challenging dealing with tarot archetypes, or any archetypes in general whether they're jungian or from a particular culture--because they deal with not how to *do* something, but how to *be*. Trying to be a different person by incorporating or appropriating the qualities of a particular entity can seem like putting the cart before the horse--I mean, if you could be a certain way then you would, already, right? 

This month's theme is somewhat provocative. Strength, or Lust (depending on which version of the tarot you're consulting) both call up a lot of emotions and knee-jerk responses, as well a certain amount of craziness. We like strength, as long as it's not flaunted, and sometimes it scares us. Let's not even go near lust -- any hint of sexual overtones can send people into a tailspin.

And then there's the issue of what's up with Strength and Lust, anyway? How could you confuse or reconcile those?

As we'll see later this week, the Rider Waite version of Strength presents us with a rather gently puritanical idea of self-control. Strength, here, is controlling your baser instincts not by strong-arming them, but by taming them in the way the girl on the card is gentling the lion. When viewed as vibrant personal power as in the Thoth deck, however, Strength gets a different spin (she's riding the lion). Here, strength is what you get when you joyfully work with your animal nature to express your will. It's joie de vivre, lust for life, passionate action, not the debauched irrationality commonly attributed to "lust."

Joan Parisi Wilcox, on her web page "Q'enti Wasi - House of the Hummingbird: Andean Cosmovision and Sacred Arts for Conscious Evolution" describes this quality in a way that echoes the power of the sacral chakra:​

"Because the qosqo, the belly area, is the center from which we most often engage the world, this is a primary center of personal power. The belly is the puka chunpi, or red belt, and one of its core capacities is to use khuyay as you engage life. Khuyay is passion, as in passionate engagement. It is not action in passion, but action through passion. There is a difference. You are not swept away by an impulsive passion, but combine your passion and will to fully, joyfully, and deeply engage life. The qosqo is the place of kinetic action—of being able to do what you intend to do. Khuyay is how you do it. So the qosqo is central to our capacity for and display of personal power."

So, when you think about the phrase "finding your passion" -- look no further than yourself. In fact, look into yourself. Your power lies not in what you choose to do to engage with the world, but how you do it. Lust isn't about the object of your lust, it's the intensity of the desire that fuels you into action -- and who can argue with that?