method, search for knowledge, guide, experiential and intellectual practice
After exploring intuition, mind and the unconscious, Hope is in need of a clear method to advance on its journey. The Path to knowledge that leads through the experienced, the experimental and the intellect opens up by stepping onto the hanging bridge and entering the mouth of the snake. The snake appears in the Tarot of Hope as the ancient creature that reminds us of a sacred and sensuous wisdom that cannot so much be written down as danced out to the trance of her hypnotic stare. The snake is an age-old symbol for the pharmakon: the medicine that simultaneously heals and poisons, the one that gives life and takes it away. But she is also the figure that embraces the world, biting her own tail: the snake is the beginning and ending of all that is.
Walking into her fangs then is not without its risks. But the Eye is keeping watch, waiting for you to catch up and enter the Path leading into the unknown. The Eye is your helper in dealing with the mysteries of the All. Opening your gaze to see what was only intuitively experienced, and helping you to navigate through the Snake’s poisonous fangs. Path is on the one hand the card of the journey to comprehension, where the divine laws become your field of study, where Reality unveils itself only to add to its mystery. And at the same time it is the card that points out the impossibility of such an endeavor: with every new piece of knowledge comes the even more poignant insight into the vastness of what there is to know, the sheer impossibility of coming to even the most simple intellectual understanding of what it is we are after. Therefore thinking and practice are never separate on the Path. Intuition, experience and intellect are the bases for the development of a method, a possible Path leading to understanding and knowledge.
So: after the dark and mute travels through The Hour Blue, it is now time to experiment, to listen and to speak up. To create clarity through the simple pleasures of comparison, analysis and prediction. To practice and practice again. This is not a Path for the innocent to follow. It is not the Path of the scholarly mind. The questions that are posed here, are asked by those who have awoken from their self-evident dream of life, and are therefore deeply personal, though probably also intrinsically universal. These questions can only be addressed by stepping into the river of knowledge, a river that has widened through thousands of years of philosophical, scientific and spiritual search. The Path is no more than an inspirational guide to lead your way. It doesn’t speak of religion or a sectarian philosophical system. It doesn’t offer one-knowledge-for-all, but the knowledge that is waiting just for you. The Path is but an invitation to look around at what is out there, taste what awakens the adrenaline in your mind as well as in your belly, the hunger to learn, to compare, to come to your own conclusions. And once you have chosen a Path, to stick to it until it reveals its secrets.
Your guide can be a book, a psychiatrist, a scientist or a shaman… The Path can encompass zen, astrophysics, carpentry or philosophy. Or any tradition that recognizes the mind as a valuable partner on the way to wisdom and transformation. This card is about you undertaking your search to come to understand what it is you believe: what are the ideas or practices you would like to shape your life? This is the moment you start to construct your own philosophy, one that embraces the intellect with the sensuous pleasure of the snake. It is a creative undertaking that can only be accomplished with a firm grounding in the intuitive inspiration of Care.
So if you follow the Path you have to be ready: to practice what you think you believe, or deliberate how to give agency to your doubts. Now is a good moment to weigh up your understanding of life and the way you practice it. Are you consequent? Is there a need for a slight readjustment to make your opinions fit your actions? Or to blow up your practice to match your lofty ideas? Or could they both do with a bit of dusting off?
The Path is manifold, and suits anyone’s curiosity and inclinations, as long as there is a willingness to proceed. But: once the Path becomes dogmatic and turns into a Highway dictating your actions, or the moment you can see your Path starts circling around its academic self-importance, making jealous claims to an all-encompassing wisdom, it is time to make a U-turn and get lost in the woods once again. Until another Path opens up.