I had warning things were going to go south very soon, having drawn the Ten of Swords for last November. It's a card distinctly lacking subtlety. When it comes into your life, you know it. The tens in the Tarot deck depict the culmination of a cycle, a sort of end-of-days scenario for that particular element, in this case that of Air, or the intellect. Ten of Wands, the Fire element, show a person burdened by too much spiritual baggage; Ten of Cups, Water, which looks like - and is - a happy ending, a fulfilment of sorts, but with a slight Hollywood, sentimental touch as if it's not quite real.
Ten of Swords is very real, in my case last November manifesting as Covid. I was laid low, very low, after four days. To add insult to injury, I had a place set up to go to in Cornwall for the coming month. Instead, I became trapped in Hereford, one of my least favourite places. There is a particular dreamscape that is often associated with Covid, and I write about this in more detail in the latest post of my Love and Awareneess in the Time of Covid series at my Patreon site. Here I wish to emphasise the external dreamscape of Herefordshire itself.
I've been visiting Herefordshire for many years as I have many connections here, and find I have to keep biting my tongue when I feel a critical comment coming up. While the people I know and meet every day here are perfectly fine, there is something about the county itself that is unsettling, deep below its chocolate box image. A healer I spoke to who ran a centre here, responded when I commented that Hereford was ten years behind, 'It's more like thirty years'. But things change, albeit slowly. It is certainly much more ethnically diverse than it was even ten years ago, more life and vibrancy coming into the communities than I'd witnessed previously.
So what could be the issue from a geomantic perspective? The one thing that has always struck me about Hereford itself is the lack of a Dragon Heart. These, as I write in The Poisoned Dragon, are hills that are quite salient, and pump ch'i into the surrounding landscape. For an area to be nourished by such a lifeforce, a Dragon Heart needs to be within 5 km. There is nothing like that close by, though some such landmarks are visible a good way from the city. The last word takes me to my next point: Hereford is a city because it has a cathedral. The above picture shows its idyllic surroundings last autumn.
Cathedrals are usually built on powerpoints, sites of pagan temples etc., and can provide extra ch'i to the surrounding area. But I was recently made aware that Hereford Cathedral was not built, as so many were, due to spiritual inspiration, but simply because the citizens were ambitious and wanted Hereford to become a city. I haven't managed to verify this but it does explain the mishmash of different styles and - more important for me - the lack of upliftment. Not for Hereford the soaring loftiness of Wells or Salisbury. At least, there is peace, as captured in the above picture.
In my covid-driven dreamscape, Herefordshire and Texas melded together into a moribund pointlessness. I was lost, attempting to explore a featureless land, aware of a vast labyrinth hidden beneath which I could not see nor decipher. There was no escape either, it being the same dreams every night for a while, reflecting the fact that I was indeed trapped, and would never be able to reach that house waiting for me by the sea.
Although I naively expected to be on my feet after ten days of isolation, and getting back to my usual life, the reality was very different as it was challenging to even walk out of the house for quite a few days. A week or two later though I had to go into town where the Christmas market was taking place. New warnings of Omicron were about, and reports coming in all over the country of deserted high streets. This was not the case in Hereford, where the High Town was vibrant with sound and colour. People were being careful, but there was a joy and harmony very much present.
I had had previous insights into Hereford, round about when I learnt about the Cathedral's building history, that at heart it was a market town, one meant for celebrating the good things in life. This was truly in evidence during the Christmas market.
Writing about the Tens at the beginning, I quite consciously didn't mention the Ten of Pentacles, the Earth element. This is the only Ten that doesn't exhibit challenge or difficulty. Unlike the other elements, Earth can keep building with tradition, family, community and love. It can regenerate purely through celebration.
And so I came to the heart of Hereford.