The Three of Swords and Healing a Broken Heart

Did you know that having a broken heart can actually . . . well . . . break your heart?

There is a medically recognized condition called, “broken heart syndrome,” that can cause all of the symptoms of a heart attack and lead to hospitalization.  Although it’s most commonly associated with middle aged women it can strike anyone and it’s brought on by intense grief such as the death of a loved one, a divorce, or breaking up with a lover.  One side of the heart actually enlarges for a period of time and fails to beat normally causing chest pains and shortness of breath.

The Three of Swords is a perfect illustration of that pain.  Most of us have been there: being deeply, completely in love with someone who betrays our trust, or falls out of love with us, or, sometimes, dies.  It literally feels as if we’ve been stabbed in the heart, wounded to our very core.

The question then becomes, how do we recover from that?  Or do we? One strategy, of course, is to just swear off falling in love and vow that we’ll never be suckers like that again.  Oh, sure, maybe we’ll have sex every once in a while – maybe a LOT – but we’ll never fall in love with or completely trust another human being again.  Ever!

Probably not the best plan.  In one of her always excellent podcasts called, “The Courage to Love,” Tara Brach asserts that moving away from love is actually moving away from the best and most authentic part of ourselves.  Which is not hard to recognize when we stop and think about it. When do we feel best about ourselves? When we’re loving and kind.  When do we feel best about the world? When we’re receiving love and kindness. It really IS hard wired into us: even a baby happily recognizes a smile and is frightened by a scowl.

As Brach points out, though, it can be difficult to remember that.  We are right now JUST starting to evolve out of that fight, flight or freeze response that’s always lurking in our amygdalas.  When someone shuts us down, when someone breaks our hearts, it feels like danger, like a terrible threat to our very being and we want to fight back against them, run away, or become emotionally frozen in place.  (Never again! Ever!)

We do have a couple of assets that we’ve evolved into, though, that can help:  consciousness and intentionality. We can consciously recognize our emotions and just sit with them.  “Okay, I hurt like hell. I feel betrayed. I feel like I can’t trust anyone.”  And that’s okay.

And we can intentionally move toward love.  “Okay, I really hurt but I recognize that I’m a loving, caring person and I’m not going to let someone else remove love from my heart.  I claim my autonomy and I choose love.”

We can also remember that the Heart Chakra just feels love and it doesn’t discriminate about where it’s coming from.  It’s wonderful to receive love from another human being but it’s not the only source.

When we’re broken hearted we can bring in a lot of self-love.  We can write out affirmations about what good, loving and deserving people we are.  We can visualize ourselves bathed in love and compassion and we can be especially nourishing and kind to ourselves.

Divine love can be another source for many people.  In Red Tara practice meditators will visualize Tara hovering before them, sending golden beams of love into their bodies and hearts.  We can do the same practice and replace Tara with the deity, spirit guide, or angel of our choice.

And, of course, we can just love.  Love generates love. The more we act with loving kindness and compassion toward our fellow travelers on the earth plane, the more the heart chakra opens and heals.  The more it opens, the more love we attract and receive.

“Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.” – The Desiderata

The Wheel of Fortune Reversed and Turning it Over

I recently made a decision to start turning some of my problems over to my Higher Powers.  And I found that for me – as a Wiccan who tries to be emotionally and intellectually honest – that was a surprisingly easy decision.

Sometimes life turns into a shit sandwich.  It happens to everyone sooner and later and this was my turn.  Within a period of just a few months I’d lost my beloved life partner to cancer, I was embroiled in a nasty probate process to settle her estate, and the unpaid bills just kept piling up like malevolent imps that had taken up residence on my desk.

In other words, The Wheel of Fortune Reversed.  A prolonged period of bad luck.

I was beat up, beat down, and hung out to dry.  Emotionally and spiritually exhausted, I knew I needed some help from the higher realms to keep walking down my path, and getting to that help turned out to be more of a revelation than I could have anticipated.

The first realization was that I actually trusted my Higher Powers.  I had drifted a long way from the little boy kneeling in a catholic church, being taught that god loved us so much that he let his only son be murdered just to prove it.  My view of the universe no longer included some scary, bipolar, vengeful, patriarchal god who might be equally inclined to toss you into eternal flames or welcome you to heaven, depending on how much you’d prayed and how little you’d masturbated.

Somewhere through the many years I’d lived, my view of Higher Powers had morphed into angels and spirit guides, fairies, elves, and gods and goddesses (with a lower case, “g,”)  who actually loved and cared about us. The face of Jesus, writhing in pain and covered with blood, had been replaced with the smiling, tender faces of Lakshmi and Tara.

It was kind of a shock to me, to tell you the truth.  Despite all of the poison that had been planted in my subconscious mind when I was a child, despite the fact that I was going through a terrible, terrible time in my life, I found that I had unquestionable faith in a loving and nurturing universe.

And that brought along a second, equally powerful revelation:  I can live – for the most part – without the need for a constant cause-and-effect spirituality.  The universe doesn’t always have to be a comfortable place for me to trust it.

Cause-and-effect spirituality is the basis of all organized religions and has a large part in New Age spirituality.   The idea is that if you’re a really, really good person then really good things will happen to you. And if you’re a really, really bad person then really, really bad things will happen to you.  And there’s a lot of truth in that.

But then you look at someone like Donald Trump and you think, “Huh . . . what happened there?  Why has this tangerine colored, demon infested, piece of human excrement who’s never caused anything but misery been blessed with all of this material wealth?”

Or you have a friend who is a kind, loving, wonderful person who lives in poverty and dies an agonizing death and you think, “Huh . . . what happened there?”

As I said, cause-and-effect spirituality appears to be true a lot of the time.  But not always. People have been trying to come up with explanations for why good things happen to rotten people and vice verse since the beginning of human existence.  Maybe it’s karma from past lives. Maybe they forgot to say their prayers or slaughter an ox and two sheep and offer them to god. Maybe they masturbated too much. Who knows?

That’s what The Wheel of Fortune Reversed is really all about.  Shit happens. It doesn’t put any value judgements on it, it doesn’t say shit happened because you were a bad person or you brought it on yourself.  It just quietly observes that shit happens, sooner or later, to all of us.

And that’s a Spiritual Law, just as surely as the Law of Attraction.  It can be scary if you need to view the Universe as a neat and tidy place where everything happens for a reason, the good are rewarded, and the evil are punished.  Or it can be a strong motivator to deepen your spiritual resources and to cultivate your inner strength and resilience BEFORE it happens. As The Desiderata says, “Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.”