Tarot Tuesday and Tupac Shakur

First of all, I have two songs that have basically been on shuffle back to back for days. In my car. On my phone. Out of Alexa’s mouth.

One is Kid Rock’s F.O.A.D. Which…yeah. It’s cathartic. Don’t judge.

The other one is this:

Just feels appropriate. There is plenty in Tupac’s music that I can’t possibly begin to relate to because, at the end of the day, I can’t know what it is to experience life as anything other than white. I can read about it. I can hear about it. I can learn about it. I can bear witness to it. I certainly can respect it, and I can empathize with it on a human level, but I can’t ever claim to understand what that experience feels like.

I can never know it.

But I feel like, I listen to this song, and I can one hundred percent identify with the vast majority of it.

“I give a holler to my sisters on welfare/
Tupac cares, if don’t nobody else care.”

“But please don’t cry, dry your eyes, never let up/
Forgive but don’t forget, girl keep your head up/
And when he tells you you ain’t nothin’ don’t believe him/
And if he can’t learn to love you, you should leave him/
‘Cause sista you don’t need him.”

“You know it makes me unhappy (What’s that)/
When brothas make babies, and leave a young mother to be a pappy/
And since we all came from a woman/
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman/
I wonder why we take from our women/
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women/
I think it’s time to kill for our women/
Time to heal our women, be real to our women/
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies/
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies/
And since a man can’t make one/
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one/
So will the real men get up/
I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up.”

“I’m tryin’ to make a dollar out of fifteen cents/
It’s hard to be legit and still pay your rent.”

“It seems the rain’ll never let up/
I try to keep my head up, and still keep from gettin’ wet up/
You know it’s funny when it rains it pours/
They got money for wars, but can’t feed the poor/
Said it ain’t no hope for the youth and the truth is/
It ain’t no hope for tha future/
And then they wonder why we crazy.”

“To all the ladies havin’ babies on they own/
I know it’s kinda rough and you’re feelin’ all alone/
Daddy’s long gone and he left you by ya lonesome/
Thank the Lord for my kids, even if nobody else want ’em/
‘Cause I think we can make it, in fact, I’m sure/
And if you fall, stand tall and come back for more/
‘Cause ain’t nothin’ worse than when your son/
Wants to know why his daddy don’t love him no more/
You can’t complain you was dealt this/
Hell of a hand without a man, feelin’ helpless/
Because there’s too many things for you to deal with/
Dying inside, but outside you’re looking fearless/
While the tears, is rollin’ down your cheeks/
Ya steady hopin’ things don’t all down this week/
‘Cause if it did, you couldn’t take it, and don’t blame me/
I was given this world I didn’t make it/
And now my son’s gettin’ older and older and cold/
From havin’ the world on his shoulders/
While the rich kids is drivin’ Benz/
I’m still tryin’ to hold on to my survivin’ friends/
And it’s crazy, it seems it’ll never let up, but/
Please, you got to keep your head up.”

I mean…just pulling, line for line, what I can directly, absolutely relate to? That’s over three quarters of the song. And no, my “making a dollar out of fifteen cents” isn’t selling crack on the street. My “gettin’ wet up” isn’t getting shot at.

I may not have a son who “wants to know why his daddy don’t love him no more,” but I’ve got a five-year-old girl who thinks it might be nice to die so she can stop being sad that her dad is a registered sex offender.

I think that people don’t understand how constant it is, when you’re struggling. Like, not having a rough patch, but when it’s a longitudinal lifestyle that you can’t change, despite your best efforts. When your income is not secure. When you could wake up tomorrow and be making 70 dollars less a pay, and have no recourse. Not a damn thing you can do but figure it out. Stretch that fifteen cents you’ve got left. Without going into explaining things that aren’t mine to explain, my entire life has been inconsistent and unpredictable. And it just…it changes how you relate to the world, you know?

I get the insecurity of resources and the uncertainty of experience that Tupac talks about. And I know that his is coming from his own perspective that is very different from mine, but I do get it. I think anyone living with any amount of  longitudinal insecurity of resource and security can’t help but get it.

But a lot of people say “don’t talk about that” and I feel like, you know…

Fuck that.

Talking about it is exactly what we should be doing. And if you don’t live with it, then you should probably be listening. Because if you don’t live with it – whether “it” is poverty, racial bias, disability, mental health issues, literally anything that puts someone a few paces behind another at the start of the race – then you don’t get to decide how it affects those who do.

Sorry. Not sorry.

You don’t get to be white and talk about “black people should…” anything.

You don’t get to be wealthy and talk about “poor people should…” anything.

You don’t get to have both your legs in good working order and be like “that dude in the wheelchair should…” anything.

You’re not entitled to that. We. We are not entitled to that. That impulse to say that anyone with a challenge you don’t have to live with should be living any kind of way.

The only person you’re entitled to judge is your damn self.

Which is a nice segue, actually, into today’s Tarot card.


Card 20. Judgement.

To understand this card you have to understand what’s come before and what comes after. So, the Tarot is The Fool’s journey toward enlightenment and integration. He goes from a state of blissful ignorance to authenticity and wisdom. The four cards that come before Judgement are: The Tower; The Star; The Moon; and The Sun. In The Tower, the hero falls from a place of perceived authority, wisdom, or entitlement. In The Star, The Moon, and The Sun, the hero is nowhere to be seen.

It’s understood that those three cards represent a sort of coma period. The hero has to go fully unconscious to reach the ultimate state of personal integration. He’s not the actor in those cards. The Star, The Moon, and The Sun are acting on him.

So we get to card 20, and we see the hero personified in the many people rising from the tomb to greet an angel trumpeting out a resurrection call. This represents the hero’s emergence from a sort of “dark night of the soul.” A period of quiet reception. A passive, rather than an active period. A cognitive rather than a physical state.

Directly following Judgement, then, is the conclusion of the entire journey. Card 21, The World, represents The Fool transformed from an unwitting, reactionary, thoughtless hedonist to a strong, wise, experienced, authentic version of who he started out as.

I mean, if we were to ask Jung I’m sure he’d say that the figure represented in The World is the ideal state for all human beings. It’s the successful integration of the personal and the universal. Of individual and collective wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. It’s knowing oneself well enough to be authentic, flexible, and open to the experience offered throughout our existence, and comfortable enough not to resist the change that ultimately refines and develops us into the best, fullest possible versions of ourselves. If we let it. It’s acceptance of the universal, collective wisdom of all humanity, to which Jung believed we were all connected, all able to draw from.

We’re born asleep. Unconscious. Birth fractures us, and the process of growing up, ideally, is what puts us back together in the form were were always meant to take.

That’s the gist of Jung’s individuation process.

And if you follow the Fool through the cards of the Major Arcana…it’s just a pictorial representation of that journey. Each card represents a stop along the way. While they can be read sequentially, as a linear narrative from birth to death, perhaps, or at least a state of ultimate development, it’s rare that anyone takes so linear a path to get there.

It’s more like connect -the-dots, I think. Right? Each card along the way is a stop. We may not hit them all. Certainly, not every person gets to The World, in the end. Some of us strive forever and never make it there. Others don’t try at all, and are content (or think they’re content) not to make it there. Some of us stay as far away from the deep dive into our unconscious that The Star, The Moon, and The Sun represent as possible because it’s weird, and foreign, and scary, and entirely outside our control.

But, if we’re ever going to get to the Card 21 versions of ourselves – if we’re ever to reach integration, Jung would certainly say – we don’t get to skip The Star, The Moon, or The Sun. As we age and learn how to survive and thrive in the external world, Jung would argue, we all feel a sort of pull to go inward. I think it’s that feeling of dissonance that starts it off, you know?

You get to a certain age, and you think you’re all set up. Right? You know all about yourself. You know who you are. You’re completely confident in the person you’re presenting to the world.

And then something happens. Something starts to peel at our edges, like a kid trying to get the back off a sticker, and something just starts to feel off and that’s how it starts.

I don’t know. Jung’s a weird dude, maybe it’s all just crazy talk, too. But it sits right.

I fucking hate it, because it’s annoying and it means more shit I have to deal with if I want to ever get comfortable in my own skin which sucks and I hate it and I hate it and I hate it.

But I can’t deny it.

I’ve always pictured it – because Jung is just this weird, misty, sort of roiling type of dude, with theories to match – as turning oneself inside-out. At some point, we just pull ourselves inside out. Like a two-sided jacket or something.

I don’t know, man. I’m not a physicist. It’s just what I see in my head.

And it’s actually one of the least terrifying things up there, so.


Moderately unrelated note:

“Inside Out” is my and my daughters’ favorite Pixar movie of all freaking time, and that’s really saying something because we adore us some Sully, some Buzz, and some Dory.

So. Ooh, also? Riley’s mom in “Inside Out” is clearly, clearly Margo Gru from “Despicable Me” all grown up. Observe:


I mean.

You see it, right?

Okay. Back to Tarot. If The Star/The Moon/The Sun represents the moments immediately following a person turning himself cognitively and emotionally inside-out (think of The Star as an inkling, The Moon as a growing, and The Sun as the ultimate illumination of the true, integrated self), then card 20, Judgement, is that moment when the newborn, integrated self first opens his eyes on the other side of it all.


See them nekkid peeps? See how they got the “holy shit, check this out…” faces?

That’s that moment.

That’s also the exact same face I get every time I solve a math problem.

Like I just kinda saw God a little bit.

But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

At all.


Anyhow. I like this card.

It’s a good card. I mean, I wish I felt a little closer to it. Right now I feel pretty low on the Fool’s progression toward integration.

But I feel like I’m probably on the right track to get there.


…Are we there yet?

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