Tarot Card Reading: The War on Terror

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By Gina Rabbin

In London, a 27-year-old Brazilian man named Jean Charles de Menezes was shot and killed by police who followed him from his home to a subway station in the mistaken belief he was a suicide bomber. Witnesses reported seeing an obviously terrified de Menezes running from gun-carrying plainclothes police officers as they chased him through the underground station. As he stumbled running onto the subway train, two police officers pushed him to the floor and held him down as a third shot him in the head seven times and once in the shoulder, in front of other subway riders. Police have since admitted he was not a terrorist and in no way connected to the recent London bombings.

While they have apologized for the tragedy, the police will not accept responsibility. The Mayor of London stated that police killed de Menezes because they were doing what they believed necessary to protect lives. The Police Commissioner said that police could shoot more people as they continue the hunt for would-be suicide bombers.

Tears come to my eyes at the thought that more innocent people might be killed at the hands of those who are searching for terrorists. Who will be held responsible for those deaths? In many op-ed pieces and letters to the editor across the country, people blame the terrorists for making the actions of the police necessary. Is that true? Are the terrorists responsible for how we choose to respond to acts of terrorism or are we responsible for our own actions?

We are, indeed, engaged in a "war on terror," as we have been reminded repeatedly since September 11, 2001. Nevertheless, "terror" is not an action, it is an emotion, and the emotion we are at war with comes not from outside of ourselves but from within us. Can we really blame someone else for how we choose to respond to their actions, even if those actions are devastating? Can we win this so-called war on terror by reacting in a way that creates even more terror? Will terror win over compassion, fear over understanding, vengeance over justice? Or is it possible to change how we respond to terrible acts committed against us?

These are questions that pull hard at my heart. I reach for my tarot cards, looking for answers and understanding and, hopefully, a new way to respond. I'm not certain of how many cards to pick, so I pull one at a time from the deck until I feel it is enough. I end up with seven cards.

The 3 of Swords and the 9 of Swords reflect where we find ourselves in relation to this issue. The 3 of Swords represents the heartache we continue to carry with us at the events of September 11, 2001. The tragedy of that day left scars of sorrow that many of us have not been able to heal. The way in which we have chosen to express that sorrow is through the energy of the 9 of Swords - fear. Fear has been born of sorrow, and out of fear flow behaviors that permit terror to be our response.

Can we continue to respond in this way? Or can we find another way? The Queen of Rods and the Queen of Cups both tell us yes. Let our sorrow give rise to compassion, the Queen of Rods says. Understand that those on whom we inflict the expression of our sorrow also feel sorrow. Is our own pain truly lessened by causing pain to someone else, she asks? Can we feel our own pain, and not realize that someone else is feeling the same way? When we can begin to empathize with the pain of others, says the Queen of Cups, when we become aware that our pain is no less than theirs, we have reached the place where we can understand how important it is to shift the response to our pain and fear. From this place, we begin the healing process.

How do we accomplish this shift? By facing our fears. The Strength card is our ability to look at our fears, to stand up to them, to recognize where they come from, and to not give in to them. When we can openly and honestly acknowledge our deepest fears, they cease to have power over us and we can begin to find a new way to respond to them. From this place of Strength, we can call on the energy of Temperance, the card of balance and harmony, of connection to our highest, most loving and compassionate self. This is the place from which we can now respond, and from this place, we find that terror has become an impossible reaction for us. We want to find another way.

What next, you might wonder. What do we do with this newfound awareness and compassion? The 3 of Pentacles tells us to begin building something new in the world. We can build a new way of dealing with our terror, one that does not create terror for someone else. We can use the energy of the 3 of Swords in a different way. Now, we can use that energy to feel compassion for others, for those innocents like Jean Charles de Menezes and his family who have been caught in the net of our fears and suffered because of them. By using our new awareness to respond in a new way, we can allow resolutions that spring from the well of compassion. Out of that well, we can build a world of compassion, and bring and end to the war on terror.

I welcome reader questions! If there is an issue you would like to see addressed in a future column, please email me at (Please note that real names of clients are never used in this column.)


Gina Rabbin - TarotGina Rabbin is a life-long intuitive and catalyst for clarity. She helps people clarify and resolve their personal and professional issues in order to create more fulfilling and meaningful lives. Currently residing in San Francisco, CA, Gina is available for tarot card readings in person or by telephone. For more information, please visit http://www.ginarabbin.com.