I have all sorts of fantastical ideas for what brought me to Rome – some more practical, and others less practical. I needed a break from the hyper-capitalist hustle of South Korea, I needed a break from teaching, from worrying about my “next step.” Italy, another peninsula (I end up in them God knows why, Florida!??!), seemed like a safe refuge from all the frenetic movement of life in Seoul. While Italy DID in fact provide me with such breaks, as the old saying goes, “you can’t escape yourself.” We all attend to reflections of parts of ourselves wherever we go, both good and bad, and it is no different in Italy, except maybe the coffee is better, the gelato and weather and all manner of fleshly desires are better. Overall, a trade up from the intensity of Seoul – where, for me, and I quote from Keats, “I am, however young, writing at random – straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness…” …ok, I’m exaggerating, but still….dark times.
On a more esoteric level, I had some unfinished business I needed to attend to in Rome. In other words, there were a few past-lives I needed to come to terms with before moving on. Visions of ancient Rome came to me during my time in Seoul – I was a man, part of an elite legion, who foresaw manipulation and intrigue at the hands of a corrupt government, I issued warning to friends and family before escaping in isolation for the rest of my days. The visions were specific – I defected from the Roman empire during an underwater ambush….I fled to the “north” where my only friends were passerbys and animals. I died. Alone.
I dunno, maybe I have a particularly active imagination. At any rate, I thought I’d come to terms with a few things while here, and well, the opportunity presented itself to me (from a woman hand surgeon – another story for later), so I took up the offer. At first it was all gelato and limoncello, but as I took long walks I began to walk into church after church and seeing the crypts of several saints. Morbidly curious, I began to look up each saint and their patronage and leaving tangible prayers (candles) in each church for myself, friends, humanity. I unknowingly embarked on a pilgrimage that ended with the Vatican. I prayed to Saint Sebastian who was martyred by arrows and LIVED, Saint Cecilia, patron saint of flute, Saint Valentine, patron saint of lovers, and several others with bizarre patronages I may or may not be protected from (bubonic plague anyone?).
I am still currently in Rome, and all I can say is that the experience has been intense and fantastic. When I leave this place I will have fodder for years about what it all meant, and can only hope it will all unfold with beautiful understanding about myself and others, as well as deepen my connection to creativity and beauty. Maybe a few miracles to boot (thank you Saints).
Along the way, I’ve met with my wondrous partner-in-crime, Carrie Sanders, who is based in Krakow. We prayed and shed our anger and sads (there’s a lot to be angry about in the post-modern world let’s be real here) at the altar of several churches, walked 40 miles in 4 days, and ate pasta. We talked tarot, and we’re ready to share the magic and mystery of how tarot can help you navigate through the times we live in.