So How are Those New Year’s Resolutions Going?
In an effort to kick-start my brain this morning I had a look at what I’ve written about this card. I found I was pretty happy with my thoughts about it from a little over a year ago, for example:
On the RWS version of this card we see a man and a woman submitting to the control and influence of a big, scary, winged, horned beast of a Devil. The man and woman are both chained to the block on which the devil is perched, but they don’t seem to be terribly upset about it, judging by their faces. Apparently they haven’t noticed that there is enough slack in those chains to simply slip them off over their heads and walk away. Ah, but then they would have to take responsibility for their own cute little horns and tails. If they stay in bondage, they have someone to blame (read more).
But of course one of the beautiful things about Tarot is there is always something more to discover, something more to say, another example to give. It occurs to me that the New Year’s resolution is a perfect example of trying to turn the Devil on its head and extricate yourself from whatever vice, bad habit, or unpleasant situation you’ve been tethered to.
Personally, I long ago gave up New Year’s Resolutions as a bad job. Oh. I believe in self-responsibility, and self-improvement, but I think it’s something you need to do when the time is right, not because that’s what everyone else is doing, and the reason they’re doing it is because the world’s odometer is ticking over. That’s a great reason to say “Whoo hoo” on a car trip, but making integral changes to your life requires a little more focus than that.
If you are going to make significant changes you have to WANT to make those changes (see what I did there). The reason you have to WANT to do it is that it won’t be easy, and you will want to go back to your old ways. People might not always like what they know, but it is easier and often more comfortable. Hence the expression “The Devil you know”.
When we make changes we are delving into the unknown, and it can mess with our sense of self identity. If you quit smoking, for example, you might think, “Who am I going to be without the cigarettes? What will I do with my hands when I’m talking to people? How will I fill my time? What will I do with all this extra energy? Will I ever stop fidgeting or be able to sleep again? Will I eat everything in sight, then next year have to make a completely different resolution?”
Whatever you resolve to do or not do, there are going to be emotional, physiological and/or psychological challenges for some time to come—maybe forever, as is the case with addictions. And the positive changes can be as daunting as the negative ones because they are unfamiliar to us. This is one of the reasons it’s so hard to reinvent ourselves—it’s uncharted territory. While we might have guides we don’t have a map to where we will be when we get there, so we begin the journey with a certain amount of trepidation despite knowing absolutely that we don’t want to be where we are. Can’t we just ignore all this and lie on the couch watching “Sherlock” again? Ah, but what would Sherlock do? Not that anyway.
All the while, out of the corner of your eye you can see the Devil (metaphorically speaking) smirking in the background, waiting for you to slip up, confident that you will, his hand idly twirling a chain with your name on it.
Ok, so you made a New Year’s Resolution. Don’t panic. Stay calm. If you fall, forgive yourself and get up. Repeat as necessary. If there is a change you want to make to your life just do it, and keep doing it until it is to your liking. The only Devil you need to be concerned with is the one inside. Make him bend to your will for a change.