© Copyright 2011 Judy Jennings
Sometimes writing can be a tricky business. Coin a clever phrase or come up with an idea that works well in a story, and the temptation to try it again can be seductive. That road leads dangerously close to the neighborhood of Trite, though, so it’s a good thing that when I tried to think of a Tarot card representing the spirit of Thanksgiving I came up blank.
Of course that particular holiday wouldn’t have been known by the ancients, but that’s not the point. Strip down to the best aspects of Thanksgiving and you find food, family, friendship and gratitude. Gratitude, such a virtue. What does it mean that there’s no major arcana to represent the virtue of gratitude?
If we look closely, will we find gratitude tucked away as one of many forces at work in the cards? An essential ingredient in the metaphysical ecstasy of the Hermit, perhaps? Cards 1-7 of the major arcana represent high ideals that an enlightened mind must incorporate. In those cards we find the quality of cognitive thinking and the spirit of cooperation, for example. I’m baffled by the absence of gratitude, but a visit to the trusty dictionary provides a clue.
By definition, an ideal is a standard of perfection; a principle to be aimed at. A virtue, on the other hand, is a quality considered to be morally desirable in a person, or behavior showing high moral standards. With this comparison one thing becomes obvious. The ideals expressed in the major arcana are about powers that exist outside the individual personality. Virtue, then, is a positive reaction to those forces. Turns out gratitude lives in the human heart, it’s an intimate emotional response to universal forces at work.
As I walk through this line of reasoning, a thread of connection appears. In his book The Tarot, A Key To The Wisdom Of The Ages, there’s a point that author Paul Foster Case makes repeatedly. It is our INTERPRETATION of events that creates the patterns of our experience. In other words, it is the attitude with which we greet the circumstances of our lives that creates our own Karma.
With that, a light clicks on and I get it. Gratitude is a uniquely human key to a positive, meaningful life. It’s an ingredient each of us must find inside ourselves, because without gratitude there is no embodiment of higher ideals.
Gratitude by definition is the readiness to show appreciation and return kindness. That works any time of the year.