Today’s card is from the Faerytale Oracle by Lucy Cavendish and Jasmine Beckett-Griffith (Blue Angel, 2016). Titled ‘The Tinderbox Soldier’, it represents the story of a down-at-heels soldier. He meets a witch, who tells him about how he can win a fortune in treasure, and asks only that he give her a little tinderbox included in the stash. The soldier realises the tinderbox controls three magical dogs, and decides to keep it for himself, killing the witch. He then uses the dogs to win a princess and hence a kingdom, becoming King.
Somewhat strangely, the image on the card shows the princess and the smallest of the dogs, rather than the soldier and the tinderbox. Perhaps because Jasmine Beckett-Griffith prefers/is best known for her big-eyed girls.
The subtitle given to the card is Ambition, and Lucy Cavendish asks what price we are willing to pay to achieve our ambitions? The soldier murders and steals, and at his wedding the three magical dogs are there, staring at him with their big eyes. They know his secrets, and you wonder what they would do to him if the tinderbox didn’t control them. Or whether their knowing gaze will drive him mad in the long run, a reminder of his sins.
At the moment, I am interested in what lies behind things like ambition. What is the emotion, the drive, that fuels it?
My DH and I have been watching The Revenant over the last few nights. In this case, the story is not so much one of ambition as of revenge/redemption. That being said, you could see the Tinderbox Soldier in that light, too. He was left destitute after having fought for some king or other, and then takes his revenge/finds his redemption by marrying a princess and becoming King himself.
In both cases, a man fights his way back from the brink of death, surviving to achieve the quest he has set himself. Yet, a big question for me, is whether these men have drive, or whether they are driven. Are they active or passive, are they working from a place of love or fear?
The Revenant survivies and avenges the death of his son, and in a more roundabout way the death of his wife, the rape of a woman he rescues, and the deaths of two companion travellers who showed him kindness and were murdered by others. He does it for love of the people he has seen injured or killed. And in the end, he doesn’t actually kill anyone himself.
The Tinderbox Soldier, on the other hand, is driven by his fear of being left destitute, of dying. And he kills and steals, dominates and injures, to achieve his ambitions.
Love or Fear
For me, that is a basic difference between these stories. Whether the protagonist acts from love or fear is an important distinction. It shows in their own actions. The one guided by love fights on, but without compromising his ethics. The one guided by fear will stop at nothing, and has no boundaries – fear drives them out of his heart.
I will admit to some ambitions. I enjoy running workshops and creating decks, and working with people one-on-one to transform their life. To do so, I need a certain amount of publicity or acceptance. Yet, I hope and believe this comes from a place of love. I love what I teach, I love creativity, I love oracles and cards in general, and I believe that what I offer can be of benefit to others, too. In this sense, I feel I have drive, rather than being driven.
Looking at the things you want to do, what fuels those desires and ambitions?