December 31st, the Joker

“…all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, we are all one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, there is no such thing as death, life is only a dream, and we are the imagination of ourselves…”

– Bill Hicks

Although he wanders near and far, his footsteps are difficult to trace…the Joker bemuses us with his antics, disappearing just as quickly and mysteriously as he arrived.

As we cross the gate of the Winter Solstice the Gregorian calendar year comes to an end, taking us through another great rite of passage. What we call our New Year’s Eve, December 31st is the day of the Joker in the astro or “Destiny Card” system – a face card with implied effects that are as unpredictable as its title describes. There is a card attributed to each of the 365 days of the year, with certain dates sharing the same card.  The Joker is the one exception to the system in that it cannot be approached or read the way the other cards can be, just as it is often regarded in a game of cards. This card represents part of the mystery element that keeps our mundane lives both interesting and coherent in ways we can vaguely piece together.

Our lives were not meant be meticulously planned in the types of ways that so many of us have been trained to do, which ultimately has led to year after year of disappointment, unmet needs and desires. Our societal approach to success is too often a set-up for failure. It can certainly be helpful for us to set goals and work toward them, but why do you suppose we so often wait until “New Year’s”? I think of the day of the Joker as being a portal of a sort that enables us to imagine, dream, consider, and act on what we’re unaccustomed to, normally incapable of or too intimidated by. If we “play our cards” right we can make great use of the following Capricornian Spade days, beginning January 1st which ruled by the King of Spades, imbued with incredible power and potential for achievement and new beginnings.

This Joker is the one card in the deck of 52 representing an energy that has no karma, no limitations in its expression, and absolutely cannot be bound, tied down or squished into a box, unless that is the game it chooses to play at its whim. As a card of royalty, it overlooks, perhaps more accurately it leaps through the entire Life Spread and gets to pick and choose who it will imitate or what it will embody. With this knowledge our goal-setting becomes more powerful and our potential reveals itself to be as unlimited as the Joker’s.

Often said to share a correspondence with the Fool card of the Tarot, numbered 0, the Joker is symbolized as a carefree or silly chap. Just as the bag slung over the Fool’s shoulder contains the 4 suits, all kinds of memories, tools, and potentials, the Joker has the ability to try on any suit or card for size and play the part darn well. For this reason, this card can bring forth excellent actors, musicians or performers. The Joker is much like the Jack (of any suit, of course), whether of all trades or none at any given time – youthful, creative, and very slick.

As a modern day trickster, this card’s energy and those who have it as their birth card may move and function much like the Heyoka, or sacred clown of the Lakota people, acting contrary to what anyone would think, do or expect. In other cases they will act totally irresponsibly. Author Sharon Jeffers calls this card a representative of “the Alpha and Omega” and states that absolutely anything can be created on the Joker’s day. We can say it is well suited to break a habit and expand the mind, but just like any real freedom or manifestation of wealth, what good is such opportunity if one does not put it to use?

The Joker also bears a bit of resemblance to the Holly and Oak Kings of Celtic tradition who switch roles between the Summer and Winter Solstice. These woodsy, leaf-garlanded patriarchal figures are the archetypes who in part represent our primal ability to sync ourselves up with nature’s changing seasons and expressions. There is transition but also a choice factor here. Some things happen of their own accord, such as breathing and blinking, sunrise and sundown. We know those things are going to happen so we usually don’t try to make them happen or interfere. Other things like choosing to wear shorts and ride a bicycle when it’s freezing cold or eating a huge piece of chocolate cake for dinner are up for debate – those things might sound crazy but do they make you feel more alive? Is there a method to that madness or a madness to the method? In a sense, the Joker couldn’t care less – what happens is like what happens after a roll of dice. We need the Joker’s input just as we need both entertainment and ritual of some sort in order to make light of what could otherwise easily be perceived as dark, evil or troublesome.

The Joker reminds us that we are the writers of our own scripts and that we are not the masks or the costumes we so often wear. We are not the cars we drive. We are not our sicknesses or cherished wounds. We are not our experienced betrayals or our mistakes. We aren’t our physical appearance or fondest material possessions either, although they reflect who we are on certain levels. We don’t control the seasons, weather and most other things but we get to choose far more than is commonly recognized in our lives, including what to to dwell on after a thought comes barging in – we get to choose what to say, how to respond, and what to make of whatever comes our way. Those who work extremely hard or take life’s blows too personal may take this day as an opportunity to stand back and take themselves a little less seriously, at least long enough to get a good chuckle of out things.

“the most wasted of all days is the one without laughter” – e.e. cummings


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