Knot asks us not to try and break self-defeating patterns with reason or effort.



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The Knot card

The Knot represents a longstanding issue resistant to unraveling. The threads are bound tight. It seems to have dark magic and power, a perverse sort of pride: even efforts to pick the unyielding Knot only make it stronger. As a symbol of an embedded self-defeating pattern – a karmic loop or vicious cycle – naturally any failure to solve this enigma entrenches defeat itself.

The Knot becomes an idol of sorts in a child’s magical thinking. Before this unholy altar we might beg or bargain. It is the desperate prayer of the helpless. This Knot lies at the heart of the myth of our brokenness. ‘If only I did this, if only I tried that, if only I did it better next time’ …. these are the voices of the child, trying to bring a chaotic world under their control. The alternative is submitting to a terrifying powerlessness. That’s the origin of the Knot. In Vedic astrology, it is called gandanta – literally, Knot at the end. And here we are once again at the end of the line.


Knot in a reading

It took Alexander the Great, an empire builder, to break the Gordian knot – in one version, by taking his sword and cutting it. In another version, he removes the linchpin holding the Knot together. In either case, Knot cautions against trying to solve the system within the system; trying to release the mind with the mind. A corrupt paradigm is only legitimized by reform.

The Knot asks us not to try and break the pattern with effort or reason. Like a Buddhist koan – what is the sound of one hand clapping? – this can’t be figured out by the mind. We can’t apply the old healing rules of duality: attempting to unfasten what was once fastened. Even trying to disappear the Knot by animating a brighter future is sure to fail, if our efforts are based on repudiating the present, and the presence of the Knot. It just becomes a more sophisticated Knot.

Instead, here is the place for true prayer. Let’s be reverent before our fatal flaws. Stop fighting them; stop healing them; stop trying to accept or even love them. Reverence is a different order of acceptance altogether: we are not trying to change anything. We can bow before our wounds and whisper, Holy, holy, holy… Our deepest injuries are the portal to commune with the soul of the world. They are a gift from the divine, our greatest strength unmasked. The Knot is not broken but transcended. Not there yet? Bow lower. Holy, holy, holy…

 Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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