Material Happiness: a reading for the New Year

by Charles Olbert in

A reading for the New Year

Happy New Year! And happy indeed it may be. The portents for the New Year speak of material happiness. The Nine of Chalices is a fine place to begin in this solar nadir. Now is a good time to push forward and try to close the circle on any projects, relationships, or goals that 2015 left open-ended. If the end of the year seemed brimming with losses and abandonments to you, it may have been that life was simply making room for more genuine riches and wonders.

(9 of Cups, King of Pentacles, XXI The World, 2 of Swords, XX Judgement; Prisma Visions Tarot)

(9 of Cups, King of Pentacles, XXI The World, 2 of Swords, XX Judgement; Prisma Visions Tarot)

Solidifying a sense of pleasure and emotional well-being may lead to a new phase this year in which you feel more of a sense of security and control, especially over your material situation. This year is a good time to be king of your castle (or at the very least to shack up with someone else who can give you that sense of security).

Move toward a sense of solid footing in the world and mastery over your environment and career, but don’t forget that the purpose of doing so is to fuel and be fueled by your inner life. It’s easy to backslide into thinking that our material position and possessions in this world reflect the truth about How Things Are. If you’re doing well, don’t make the mistake of thinking you have it all; conversely, if things aren’t going so well for you and you’re struggling, don’t make the mistake of thinking that this is the way things are or that the world is an inherently bad place. All of the King cards should put us in mind of the Wheel of Fortune—those who now reign will soon only have reigned, and those who have no reign may soon come into their kingdom.

As the year progresses, keep in mind that the world is much bigger than you. Remember that genuine happiness and progress come from the recognition and encouragement of human beings, not from our personal material circumstances. Whatever rulership and power you come into (or dream of coming into) this year, remember that you only ever see, understand, and master a tiny sliver of something far bigger than you can ever comprehend. You may think you’ve got it made this year; you may find someone who thinks The World of you (or who you think The World of); you may believe that you’ve figured it all out. Things are going to look a feel momentous!

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if that’s you this year, you’re getting ahead of yourself. This is just one year of many. All of these illusions are subject to a corrective, and you’re going to have to make peace with that. You might find yourself stuck, or feeling pulled backward toward a loss of momentum. This is a good thing. Too much grandiosity requires a deflation, and these deflations are painful. The phenomenologist Edmund Husserl puts the pain of this deflation nicely: “Can we live in this world, where historical occurrence is nothing but an unending concatenation of illusory progress and bitter disappointment?” (Husserl, 1954, p. 7).

Handling that deflation with good grace and a sense of fairness and balance will get you through to the other side. As painful as these correctives may be, they can bring you toward a greater sense of who you are. You may even find this year that an unwelcome puncturing of your illusions about the world and your place in it bring you toward self-transformation—a sort of transformation and inner movement that may set up you to break through the illusions and truly come to understand something about yourself and the world after all.

The overall lesson of this reading is to take time this year to reflect on the differences between the inner and the outer world (and inner and outer successes); don’t mistake one for the other. Good luck. It’s looking like it’s going to be a powerful year that starts off with positive energy that ultimately contains the potential to bring you into a greater sense of harmony with your greater purpose.

Charles Olbert is a doctoral candidate in clinical psychology at Fordham University. He cultivates longstanding personal and academic interests in Western esoteric, hermetic, and mystic traditions and maintains a daily Zen meditation practice. He is a recent graduate of Stuart Südekum's Tarot Symbolism course.