Tarot Reading for September: Two of Pentacles with Herbal Pairing Lemon Balm

 

Juggling two large pentacles, a young man with a long red top hat adeptly balances the two coins as he seems to dance. Indeed, his light feet and confident manner invoke someone with energy, enthusiasm, playfulness, and skill. Though he concentrates on his task, he does so with enjoyment and lightheartedness. In the background, an active ocean tosses two ships about, reinforcing the energetic scene. Juggling itself has a long history, with hieroglyphics appearing on ancient Egyptian tombs of women juggling balls in the air – some of them with their arms crossed, and later juggling appeared in Greek artwork and pottery where it was considered a form of recreation at that time. Juggling is a balancing act that demands sharp motor skills, practice, and patience, especially in the beginning.

“Life’s a great balancing act,” according to Dr. Seuss, and this card reflects the famous sentiment perfectly. It depicts the two pentacles anchored by a ribbon which creates an infinity sign – the same sign that sits above the Magician as well as the lady in the Strength card of Tarot. In a way, all three cards connect the infinity sign with opposites – in the Magician, it is the material versus the immaterial, or thought opposed to actualization. In the Strength card, it is gentleness versus dominance, or Ego compared to Morality. And in the Two of Pentacles, it’s the often polarizing demands that life creates – such as the need for shelter versus the need for adventure, or the need for love versus the need for independence. Life frequently creates opposing desires or obligations that we must juggle. The sooner we can approach this juggling act with the same cheerful outlook that we see in the juggler of the Two of Pentacles, the sooner we will relish our disparate challenges instead of resisting them.

The obvious lesson in the Two of Pentacles is that of balance, but the more nuanced message is that what’s important is not just the skills needed to keep opposing forces in equilibrium but to approach this task with an equal amount of concentration and delight. This is no easy undertaking, but just as the juggler makes the act of keeping several balls in the air look easy, so too can we learn to multitask with the same finesse and confidence. In a reading, the Two of Pentacles signifies that an important balancing act is at hand and that if we approach it with vigor and enthusiasm, a little practice, and a lot of patience, it will surely be successful.

Balance is key to health and Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) – a lovely aromatic herb belonging to the mint family, has been shown to help reduce nervousness, anxiety, tension, and irritability, which living an active life can often incur. A hardy perennial that loves a sunny spot and does best in potted containers, Lemon Balm has a bright, citrusy taste that blends the acidity of lemon with the sweet, refreshing flavor of mint. Steeped as a tea infusion, it is easy to drink, and when combined with chamomile, is well suited to crying, colicky, or teething children. Lemon Balm also reduces negative stress responses to multi-tasking in adults, while simultaneously improving cognitive performance. Participants who took Lemon Balm in a study done in 2021 had improved anxiety and depression scores compared with a placebo. Recent research points to its ability to alter the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels in the brain, which are directly correlated with mood. This gentle nervine is also a powerful antiviral herb, one of few that can be used to speed the healing of herpes simplex outbreaks.

The juggler in the Two of Pentacles surely drank Lemon Balm tea before beginning his act, and we should remember this before putting on juggling acts of our own. Lemon Balm will certainly help us stay relaxed and in touch with the present moment as we take on the various multitasking challenges life throws in our direction – in this way the Two of Pentacles and Lemon Balm are a perfect pairing. 

*Tarot reading is based on the Rider-Waite Tarot Card deck, illustrated by Pamela Colman Smith

References

Berlin, Andrew Allen and Ziethen, Karl-Heinz. “A Brief History of Juggling.” Juggling Information Service, 1996. http://www.juggling.org/books/artists/history.html

Geisel, Theodor Seuss. Oh, The Places You’ll Go! New York City, Random House Books for Young Readers, 22 January 1990. P10

Ghazizadeh, Javid, Marx, Wolfgang and Sadigh-Eteghad, Saeed. “The Effects of Lemon Balm on Depression and Anxiety in Clinical Trials: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 27 August 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34449930/

Gibbs, Amy, Neale, Chris and Scholey, Andrew. “Anti-Stress Effects of Lemon Balm-Containing Foods.” National Center for Biotechnology Information, 6 November 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4245564/

Pollack, Rachel. Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom. San Francisco, Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2007. P257-8

Tierra, Lesley Lac. Healing with the Herbs of Life. Berkeley, The Crossing Press, 2003. P95

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