Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tarot Of Terror- Laurie Strode/Angel Myers

For this installment, I'll be looking at the remake of Halloween, directed by Rob Zombie and released back in 2007. Comparisons between this and John Carpenter's original 1978 release are inevitable, but I thought the remake was not without its own merits. In this, we see a different portrayal of Laurie Strode, and although a director's cut of the sequel to this film gives us a different fate (Laurie doesn't make it) her psychological state and the series of events she goes through make for an interesting story.
A background on Laurie is needed to really understand the whats and whys of what happened to her, and perhaps to provide us with some hope for her future. Laurie Strode was born Angel Myers on or around 1990 to Deborah Myers and an unknown father. She was the youngest of three children, suggesting that her father had been around during the lives of her two older siblings. Judith is her older sister, and is in her teens. She seems to be the only Myers sibling with a clear memory and attachment to the unknown father. Michael is Judith's younger brother, whom she regards as something of an annoyance, but generally has little to do with. Angel is the youngest of the three, and is less than a year old when Michael is taken into psychiatric custody. Michael displays hostility towards Deborah's live-in boyfriend Ronnie White, who is unemployed and has at best a tense relationship with the three Myers children, as well as Deborah herself. Deborah is the only person with a job in the Myers house, working at a local strip club despite the reputation this earns her around the town. Money is a little tight at chez Myers, and this adds to the ever-present tension in the home. Though Michael's teacher suspects something is very much amiss with Michael, Deborah is both unwilling to acknowledge Michael's disturbing behavior both in and out of the house, and too harried to really be able to do much about it. Nonetheless, Michael seems close to his mother, and she does her best to provide for the family.
Michael and "Boo"

 That Halloween, things come to a head. Michael murders Judith, Ronnie and Judith's boyfriend. Deborah is out for the evening, and Michael deliberately spares his sister Angel. Deborah comes home to find Michael calmly waiting on the porch of their home, holding Angel, whom he refers to as "Boo", an affectionate nickname. Michael is taken into psychiatric custody, and continues to deteriorate.
It's interesting to examine Michael's pathology, as it provides a great deal of insight into Laurie's own life. Michael displays symptoms consistent with Type 2 schizophrenia, and the fact that Laurie later develops similar symptoms, albeit later in life, also suggests this. (Schizophrenia is thought to be at least partially genetic). While in the psychiatric hospital, Michael occupies his time making masks, which, as he puts it, hide his "ugliness". He later finally lapses into catatonia, though occasional violent fugue states are present as well.
Deborah later shoots herself, unable to cope with the stigma of being Michael's mother, and the trouble of now having to raise Angel herself. Responding to the emergency call, local law enforcement officer Sheriff Brackett finds Angel alone in the house with Deborah's body, and the baby Angel is later put up for adoption. She is adopted by the Strodes, coincidentally friends of Brackett. Angel's records are sealed by Brackett, and now-Laurie Strode grows up without any knowledge of her biological family.

Michael remains in custody, and finally, when Laurie is in high school, comes back to the town where Laurie now lives and attends school. Laurie does not recognize him, and has no memory of ever being Angel Myers. She is attacked by Michael, who attempts to communicate their relationship to her, but she ultimately escapes.
At this point, Laurie takes a turn for the worse. The Strodes unfortunately did not survive Michael's return to town, and Laurie now begins to develop signs of PTSD stemming from her encounter with Michael, and she becomes increasingly moody and withdrawn. She has moved in with Brackett, and sees a psychiatrist regularly, as well as taking medication. However, lacking any knowledge of her past, what is highly likely a developing schizophrenic state goes largely unnoticed, as Laurie's therapy focuses much more on dealing with her trauma than any underlying psychological condition. A year later, Michael comes back, at which point Laurie's PTSD and nightmares are getting extremely troubling, and she begins to dream of Deborah, indicating some residual memories of her former life. Laurie ends up stabbing and killing Michael, though at a tremendous cost. Prior to killing him, Laurie acknowledges Michael as her brother and tells him she loves him. Laurie ultimately survives, but enters a catatonic state not unlike her older brother, and continues to hallucinate young Michael and Deborah. Whether or not this is actually Deborah, or if a psychic connection exists between Michael and Laurie, remains speculative.
Still adorable, even after a psychotic episode

The reason I chose Laurie for a reading is that it's not impossible she can recover sufficiently to live a more or less normal life. There are a number of factors against her here- inherited mental illness as well as circumstance-generated mental illness. But Laurie does not have the early onset that Michael does, indicating that the malady the Myers kids share is partially triggered by stress. Schizophrenia also manifests most commonly in adolescence, though it seems Laurie is highly responsive to a supportive and nurturing home life. The Strodes appear to be great parents, though they are unaware of Laurie's past, as she herself is until much later in life.
So on to Laurie's reading. At the time of the reading, she's sequestered away in a psychiatric facility, and prognosis is unknown. Has she been traumatized beyond hope of recovery? That, dear readers, was the question I sought to answer. I saw two halves to Laurie- the well-adjusted, intelligent and generally optimistic student and the scarred but still tough person she became after her first encounter with Michael.
Circumstances very much factor into her life- first, she has clear-cut PTSD, and finding out she was in fact Michael's sister takes a tremendous toll on her psyche, and we are left hoping that her natural resilience can make a difference. The reading seemed pretty consistent with this- Laurie is not beyond hope, and though there's a lot of work for her to do, I wouldn't call recovery impossible.
So to start off, I decided on a 14-card Celtic Cross spread. The first card that came up for her was the reversed 6 of Wands- the interesting thing about reversals here is that in some cases reversals indicate the energy of this card may be present, but is blocked or muted by something else. This seems to be the case here, as the 6 indicates victory and strength of will, but Laurie simply can't do it on her own.
See what I mean? 
Covering this card and indicating main influences at present was the Ace of Pentacles- Laurie is not without resources, and here this card brought to mind its aspects of Earth, and with Earth, a support network. Laurie is considerably less socially and mentally isolated than Michael was, and in his case, lacking any other relatives to consult, it's entirely possible his underlying issues went unnoticed. Laurie, however, has strong connections to her friends and loved ones, and though she often feels isolated, seems aware of the support she has, and perhaps more than this, remembers a normal life.
The Past position for Laurie held the 9 of Wands, and it seems again much like the image above- Laurie feels overwhelmed by the task she's met with, and unable to cope with all that's required of her on the road out of the hospital and back to some semblance of normality. Nonetheless, Laurie seems aware of having come a very long way under very adverse circumstances, and though she really lacks the means to communicate her feelings and ideas to others, she may not be an entirely lost cause.
The Foundation position here held the Strength card, which, along with the Aspirations card, is an interesting take on her psychological and emotional state. The Aspirations card, which addresses the best outcome of the situation, was the 10 of Cups- a strong indication of family. Ah, but which family, and how does that family affect her? Is it coming to terms with her past, and the fact that Michael is her brother? It seems she has already come to a fatalistic acceptance of that, though whether or not she realizes that her past is just that, past, is not entirely clear. The Foundation card here, where she is coming from, so to speak, is the Strength card. Again, what aspect of Laurie are we looking at here? Is it her ties to the Myers family, which she seems to regard much as her mother did, a stigma to be concealed and avoided, or is it a chance to move beyond that, and prove to herself and others that she's not just a serial murderer's baby sister?
Moving on to the 7th position, and Laurie's future, it's a mixed bag as well. Here the cards were the reversed 9 of Swords and the 4 of Swords. Laurie, it seems, is no slouch mentally, but has a lot to deal with here. I wouldn't expect a quick recovery at all- she has a great deal of underlying issues, but the 4 of Swords tells me that given time, she can gradually come to terms with them. The question is whether she can address and move past her hurt and trauma and come through this storm in one piece, or sink into despair.
The 8th position deals with Laurie's own state of mind, and here was the Page of Cups and the Wheel of Fortune. Again, there's some hope there for the future. The Page of Cups, appearing here with the 4 of Swords previously, gave me a strong sense of her trying to come to terms with having her world turned upside down. I tend to think the hospital environment may be beneficial to her, as much of the stress has been removed from her life, and she can focus on her own thoughts and coming to terms with them. However, there's a danger here also that these thoughts will just tend towards rumination and drive her further down the spiral she seems to be trying to shake free of. The Wheel tells me that it's not impossible that Laurie ultimately will indeed move beyond these things, though the scars, both physical and mental, will always be with her as a reminder of what happened. And therein lies Laurie's challenge- to accept these things and move beyond them.
The 9th position deals with influences, and here was the reversed Hierophant and the 6 of Pentacles- Laurie seems to be a study in contradictions. The reversed Hierophant can be interpreted as her traumatized, scarred state, or her dismissal of the therapy she received- at several points prior to her hospitalization Laurie questions the value of her therapy, expressing frustration at a perceived lack of progress. This frustration no doubt has increased, and Laurie may well be at the point of giving up- it's just too much of a burden for her to try to hang on to the life she once knew. But on the other hand, the 6 of Pentacles points again to the fact that Laurie is well aware she doesn't live in a vacuum. She knows there are people who care about her, and she cares about them too. Although these connections to others are not in and of themselves sufficient to motivate Laurie to shake off her issues and move on, (again, this will be a lengthy and difficult process for her) they are definitely in her mind and definitely leave an impact on her.
Finally, the 10th position provides an outcome. And ultimately, it seems things have a very real possibility of turning around for her. Here was the Lovers and the 10 of Pentacles. Throughout this reading, Pentacles have referred to Laurie's support network- friends, family and perhaps even the psychiatric care she receives. The Laurie we will see on the other side of all this is not the same Laurie that went in, as the Lovers indicate- here, it's a joining together of Laurie's past and present- she can learn, it would seem, to accept the fact that she was once Angel Myers, but is her own person. Her past does not define her, though it does continue to make itself felt, and a big part of Laurie's recovery will be admitting to herself that she needs help with this- she can't just sweep her mental issues under the rug. On the other hand, she doesn't have to go it alone, and seems aware that there are other people who care about her and are willing to help. Looking at the 10 of Pentacles, I see that this goes two ways with her- she wants to be well for them as well as for herself, and the pain she causes them, albeit unintentionally, leaves a mark on her as well. She doesn't want to go back to that state, and though the task is a daunting one, a part of her wants to keep pressing on.
So in the end, Laurie is something of a mixed bag. On the one hand, she feels completely overwhelmed by everything that's happened to her, and despairs of ever getting over what has happened. She feels like she will never get past the part of her that she knows to be Angel Myers- blood relative to a psychotic murderer, and fears the same fate for herself. However, another part of her remembers happier times, and this has left her with a degree of natural optimism and hope. The final scene in the sequel, where Laurie is sitting in her hospital room, shows Michael and Deborah appearing to a smiling Laurie. What does this mean to her? Has she given up and decided to follow in her older brother's bloody footsteps, or does this mean something else entirely? It would seem from the cards that Laurie needs to address these specters and find meaning in them- they represent something to her, and that something may well be where she does not want to go again. So given time and sufficient interaction with others, I think Laurie might well one day put the past behind her and move on with life, perhaps even being the stronger for it.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Zodiac And the Tarot Courts

This post came about as a result of a question I encountered a while ago- is there a correspondence between the Tarot court cards and the signs of the Zodiac? The answer I came up with is yes, but it's not an exact one. The same problem as drawing parallels between the Tarot and Runes comes up- you're really comparing apples to radial tires in a lot of ways. This is not to say one is superior to the other- not at all. That would be like saying the black keys on the piano are superior to the white keys. Each one has a different focus, and each one can be an invaluable tool for self understanding and learning. Having said that, what issues are there in trying to compare your Sun sign (the most commonly used Zodiac aspect- where the Sun was at the time of your birth) and what Tarot court you fall under. There is a system that uses the date of your birth to calculate which Court card you fall under, and this can also be done with your Sun sign.
However, there are 12 Zodiac signs, and 16 Tarot courts, so some of them do double up- more than one Court can apply to a Sun sign. Before we get too deep into it, there are a couple aspects of the Zodiac signs to take into account. These are reflected likewise in the Courts. The Zodiac is comprised of four elements, and three aspects to those elements. The four elements are the same between the two systems- Earth, Air, Fire and Water. Under the Zodiac, where that element falls can likewise determine what characteristics it takes on. There are cardinal signs, which act to initiate change, fixed signs, which sustain, and mutable signs, which tend to be acted upon rather than to act, as the cardinal signs do. So, to break it down by sign, we get the following:
Aries- Cardinal Fire
Taurus- Fixed Earth
Gemini- Mutable Air
Cancer- Cardinal Water
Leo- Fixed Fire
Virgo- Mutable Earth
Libra- Cardinal Air
Scorpio- Fixed Water
Sagittarius- Mutable Fire
Capricorn- Cardinal Earth
Aquarius- Fixed Air
Pisces- Mutable Water

However, this is really only a partial picture- what about the other planets in your chart? Your natal chart describes where the planets were at the moment of your birth, relative to your position on the face of the Earth, and takes into account time and location. In many ways knowing this can provide a significant amount of information as to what your Tarot Court card is likely to be. Some readers use what is called a Significator- a card from the Courts that is used to indicate the person the reading is for. Again, in some cases (not all, there are other methods) this is based on that very same Sun sign. In both cases, generalizations are made- and there is something of a challenge unique to the Tarot court cards that I'll come to in a minute. First, let's consider the Tarot courts- each one has two aspects, much like the Zodiac signs. These two aspects come from first, the card's position in that particular Court- (Page, Knight, Queen or King) and the suit of that card (Wands, Cups, Swords or Pentacles). Each position, as well as each suit, is assigned a particular element. To break it down this way, the following characteristics are obtained. The position dictates one element, and is common across courts- the suit dictates a second, and is specific to that suit:

Page of Wands- Earth of Fire
Page of Cups- Earth of Water
Page of Swords- Earth of Air
Page of Pentacles- Earth of Earth

Knight of Wands- Air of Fire
Knight of Cups- Air of Water
Knight of Swords- Air of Air
Knight of Pentacles- Air of Earth

Queen of Wands- Water of Fire
Queen of Cups- Water of Water
Queen of Swords-Water of Air
Queen of Pentacles- Water of Earth

King of Wands- Fire of Fire
King of Cups- Fire of Water
King of Swords- Fire of Air
King of Pentacles- Fire of Earth

So, if we take Fire to indicate a Cardinal energy, Air to indicate a Fixed energy, and Water to indicate a Mutable energy, we're still left with Earth. Should we call it a prima materia, the building blocks for the other suits? Consider the aspects of Earth- malleable, subject to influence, yet steady and unchanging. This was a challenge I also ran into, where to put Earth? Water likewise can be a powerful force, but can also be very flexible, mutable and subtle. And look again at the Court cards- Water of Fire, the Queen of Wands, can be flexible and emotionally responsive (as well as emotionally susceptible to the world around her). And it's important to keep in mind too that the Zodiac has this in common with the Tarot- they do predisposition you to certain characteristics or decisions, but do not compel you- they influence, but do not dictate. The choice, as always, is yours.
A rough approximation, however, is possible. Here are the Tarot courts by their respective Zodiac signs:
Aries-King of Wands
Taurus-King of Pentacles, Knight of Pentacles
Gemini-King of Swords
Cancer- King of Cups
Leo- Queen of Wands, Knight of Wands
Virgo-Queen of Pentacles
Libra-Queen of Swords, Knight of Swords
Scorpio- Queen of Cups, Knight of Cups
Sagittarius- Knight of Wands, Page of Wands
Capricorn-Knight of Pentacles,  Page of Pentacles
Aquarius- Knight of Swords, Page of Swords

Pisces- Knight of Cups, Page of Cups

So where does this doubling up come from? Notice that only some of the Zodiac signs have one Court, while others have two. This is due to the fact that the Courts are divided by elements, not by the characteristics of cardinal, fixed or mutable. The assignments of the Courts here reflects what their commonly accepted characteristics are- how they work, in other words, and how this is similar to the elements and how they likewise operate. 
Confused yet? Hopefully not. But like I said, here we have two different systems. They share common characteristics, but do not dovetail exactly. One interesting aspect is that the Zodiac operates on a fixed system- the stars and planets are more or less able to be calculated in terms of their position, and move through fixed orbits. The Tarot courts have as their focus the individual person, and well, that's a whole other can of worms. People can change, and can occupy multiple roles at a given point in time. 

See what I mean? 

One of the most notable changes is maturity- in many cases a Page is considered a less mature person, a Knight somewhat more so, until finally that person moves through the course of their life to arrive at a King or Queen. This too is consistent with the characteristics of the elements of these cards, though in the Zodiac these signs do not change. The positions of the planets (relative to the Earth, that is) do change, and in many ways we could consider this a parallel path to the evolution we see in the Tarot courts. It's important to note also that the Tarot court card that applies to you in any given situation can and does change- starting a new job or beginning a college career may put you in a very Page frame of mind- successes, hard work and dedication, riding high on a recent victory can likewise put you in a Kingly state of mind, or a Queenly one. People change from day to day, and the situation you are in may emphasize a particular characteristic, or particular set of strengths and personality characteristics you may have. It's certainly possible to occupy multiple Courts at the same time- you may rule the roost as a Queen of Pentacles, but your drive and determination at your job as you press on for that promotion puts you squarely in Knight of Swords territory. What card is you? They both are. We all contain aspects of these cards, to a greater or lesser extent, in the unique mix and combination that makes us who we are. Sounds familiar? It sounds a good deal like an astrological natal chart to me. What influences come together to make you who you are?
To tie it all together, there are similarities between the two systems, perhaps because once again we see the common factors in human experience. However, there is a different method and different focus here. Astrology points to external influences on a person, in this case where the planetary bodies are relative to where you started from. The Tarot brings environmental factors into it as well, as well as mental factors. Again, one system is not necessarily better than another, but does have a different focus. Which one works best? That depends on the question, and what you're looking to learn. We are surrounded by influences, and some of these can be much more persuasive than others, while different factors can be compelling on one person and completely overlooked by another. We live in the midst of a vast, complicated system of interaction and influences, and in the middle sits us- on a journey to understanding and enlightenment. Let your light shine, fellow seekers!