She arrived late and apologized by announcing her urgent visit to a veterinarian for the care of her dog. The dog’s ails sounded similar to her own physical symptoms. She was surprised about this observation when I mentioned it to her later. I have found this to be a common phenomenon in my work with people who suffer physically because of emotional turmoil. Emotional struggles often manifest physical symptoms, which is taken over by our loving pets. Their love helps us carry illness in our place, so to relieve our suffering to a certain extent. Pets are our protectors, healers and angels. They also try and make us aware and conscious by suffering our symptoms for us. We see more clearly when something is reflecting back to us from the ‘mirror’ outside of us, than looking ‘within’.
My client was obviously sad. She could not hide her despair from me behind her shy giggles and smiles. By listening deeply to her conversation, it became obvious to me that she was still longing for a long lost love in the light of the anniversary of their breakup. Now, many years later, the memory of that pain conjures up physical symptoms. Her dog is trying to help with that burden by suffering the same mysterious symptoms of digestive difficulties. They both feel a lack of joy and delight and cannot tolerate digesting life.
I lead her in meditation to access her higher wisdom and used a deck of Tarot cards by the artist Lisa De St. Croix, to tune into her subconscious story at that moment. Lisa’s artwork is ideal for psychotherapy because the images are universal and archetypal yet not related to any traditional Tarot images that might stir prejudice. I also removed the words on the cards so that the client’s story comes from their authentic unconscious and is only influenced by the archetypal image and not the words on the card. We only use three images that represent the problem, the action out of the problem and the outcome or result of that action taken.
The first story that emerged from the images was a dancing skeleton with a key in hand moving in a vortex of interconnected cells towards the light. This image, (Death), represented her current difficulty or challenge. She identified herself as the skeleton that is stuck and cannot move towards the light, despite the fact that she held a ‘key’. She felt that the key held an obvious solution but that she could not see how to release herself to freedom from her pain.
The next image was a tribe of Brazilian Indians who marched together in defense of their land. My client felt that this image, (Seven of wands), showed her the importance of connecting with others, which she has neglected to do for some time. She currently felt isolated and alone and realize that she has to reach out to others for support and assistance; she need to find her ‘tribe’. This image illustrated the step to take that will support her healing. The more she isolates herself the further she fell into a self-absorbed depression about past hurts.
The last and third image was a woman elevated from her reflection in the water by five swords, into the starry night sky (The ten of swords). She felt that she can move beyond her pain if only she can allow herself to be elevated from the water, but now, this image made her feel hopeful that she can do so.
I lead her into deeper meditation for her to access clear awareness of what was happening in her body to feel where she was carrying her depression. This is when I became aware of uncomfortable tightness in my throat. I asked her what her body felt like at that moment. She reported tightness in her throat! I realized that there is a scream of sorrow that wanted to be let out, but was stuck; she, the ‘skeleton’ was stuck in the past, even though she held the key, she did not know how to use it! She suppressed her sorrow so deeply. I asked her to scream out loud and proceeded to shout to encourage her follow my example. She broke down in tears saying that this is the first time she can cry in many years, but that she felt too afraid to scream. The last time she screamed was when ‘he’ left her and she was too afraid to lose herself in that pain again.The suppression of her pain made it emotionally unbearable to take life in, and the pain sought a way out to free her life-supporting channels!
Then I remembered the Wasp that visited my kitchen over the weekend! I noticed a vicious looking wasp sitting high up on the wall. Somehow he came in while the screen door was temporarily open. This Wasp held so much power over me with his threatening presence to cause me stinging pain and rob me of my peacefulness in my kitchen. I had to get rid of him. But how could I get him out of my territory, without angering him into an attack? I knew that the only way to do so was to face up to the challenge and confront him with an active humane human trap in which I was the action-hero. The mere thought of catching him in a bottle, and securing the open side with a firm cardboard to prevent his escape, had me sweating. He was a dangerous threat to me but I did not want to kill him; I just want to set him free and rid him out of my territory. I chose to conjure up all my courage to act with efficient stealth and a good plan.
I did what I had to. I climbed up a chair, stared the wiggling wasp in the face, smacked the glass bottle over his body, fully aware of the gamble I took if I missed, and shifted the cardboard under the opening the instant he moved towards the closed side of the bottle. I held on tightly with the vigorously squirming wasp in the bottle, until I got down from the chair and took the whole shebang outside. My body was pumping with adrenaline and my hands did not stop shaking for a couple hours afterwards. I placed the closed bottle on a table outside and decided that the next step of releasing the wasp will have to wait until I gathered my next bout of courage. My kitchen however, was safe and peaceful again. The wasp was released later that night from his trap. I felt great having acted with courage and a determined well thought our plan to protect myself and my family by taking back ownership of my kitchen.
Now, during my session with this client, I realize that this experience was the embodiment of the healing process of dealing with past pains. Past emotional trauma is like a Wasp that visits your safe emotional space. It intrudes and threatens your life with pain; the possibility of being attacked, claiming power over you! My client needs to scream out her pain; that was what her body told her. The Wasp of the past trauma was still sitting in her throat and choking her life force. She could not let any joy in; absorb food or pleasure, or let anything out; the pain that she still held onto. The wasp was sitting in her throat. Face the ‘wasp’ and despite your fear shout it out and reach out to let life in again dear woman. Don’t let the wasp of pain keep you trapped. Recognize the wasp and take it to freedom with all the courage that you have in you. You have the key to freedom! You can reach out to others that will make you happy and you are elevated out of the despair of your own mind.
If you leave the intruding wasp on the wall, you live in constant fear of the pain and give the wasp control over your life. The only way to get rid of the threat hanging there with you in your psychological territory is to face it head on with all the courage you have. You do have the upper hand and know exactly how to outsmart the threat and let it go if you listen to your deepest inner wisdom. All you need to do is act, despite your fear. Every time a past pain visits you, it is like a wasp flying into your soul that threatens your happiness. Claim your joy by releasing the unwelcome visitor from the trap by trapping it to freedom. The Wasp is also your healer; it is your message and angel to teach you the same determination and skills it possesses.
This photo was sent to me by Camelia Elias associate professor at Roskilde University in Denmark. It was taken form the Emily Dickson Tarot deck. The Wasp symbolizes the Emperor in the Major Arcana.
My research shows that in some African traditions, the wasp is a symbol of evolution and control over life circumstances, which fits my experience about the symbolism of the Emperor Archetype. The Emperor evolves the past to move into a new future through choice, planning, practical ‘building’ and courage. A Native American Indian tribal myth indicates that the wasp is a creator of earth (it is the practical manifestation of transformation. It is a symbol of order, organization as well as productivity; so it is symbolic of new beginnings, starting new projects and again fitting the archetype of the Emperor. In the Shamanic tradition the Wasp symbolized fighting the good fight.
Questions to ask oneself when a Wasp appears are:
“How do I transform my pain into power, death into new life, suffering into joy?”; “Am I aligning myself with my truest spirit-goals?”, “Am I procrastinating about something because of my melancholy about past losses?”, “Am I keeping myself from reaching my highest potential?”, “Am I allowing my progress to be held back by others; giving my power away?”
Wasps are perfect totems for those of us who need a bit of organized focus, own our own authority, not give our power away and serve community with our assistance and assertive communication. The wasp-Emperor is a master architect, planer, champion, leader and protector.
Own your true spirit and transform the past into serving your truest goals on earth.
My client immediately realized how appropriate the wasp story was to her. During this phase of her life it is her opportunity to find her ‘power’. Her spiritual task right now is to learn to speak up by asserting her claim to life and happiness (the throat chakra). The signs and symptoms she experience as well as her astrological chart confirms this theme of “the Emperor” in her process of growth at the moment. This is how she will use the key and move towards the light without being stuck, connect with supporting community and be elevated from her despair.
The signs and symbols all around us every day are the deeper side of our essence speaking to us though its reflections; making us aware of what we are cognitively unaware of; leading us to grow, heal, evolve and transform. Open yourself to this deeper awareness and grow.
Love and Blessings to you.