iTongo Tarot on the Taxi – 9 Earth

Empathy is the capacity to recognize and, to some extent, share feelings or emotions that are being experienced by another person.

Behind the iTongo Tarot visual.9 of Coins, Pentacles, Earth

For seasoned tarot readers this card is a new take on 9 of Pentacles.  Traditionally the card is about feeling self confident and self sufficient, independent and free.

In South African traditions the above is kind of frowned upon.  The South African perspective is that we are who we are because of other people, the principle of uBuntu.  In order to be a valuable part of our society or community we need to practice empathy, before we can practice compassion.

Before we realise all the self-fulfilling needs and the good life we need to get our own self in order, focused and balanced.  We need to be in-tune with our surroundings and others – this is where the practice of empathy comes in.  A large portion of empathy is also about tolerance.

Self confident people believe that what they do, think and say is “right” or “the way”, self-obsessed and ego centric individuals believe that their way is the only way.  There is very little room for tolerance of other people’s needs, views and feelings.

So how do we do this?

Imagine yourself as part of an orchestra.  In order for there to be a coherent sound and melody each member has to be aware of the others.  Working together to create the whole.  Allowing times for space and rest, staying in the rhythm and pace of the music.  Going with the flow and build within the structure.

Sometimes a single note and instrument is heard, sometimes the whole orchestra sounds a single note – each is in tune and in rhythm with the other.  The wealth and gain of this is working in harmony and together.

When you practice empathy it is important to give the other person the time, space and rhythm of their emotions or situation.  Be there as the conductor but don’t play the tune.  Recognising what is your ‘stuff’ is also part of Empathy.  Identify with their situation, help them develop strength and courage, you can’t do it for them.  Gently direct their shadow self and bring them to a point of self reliance through discipline and determination.

Be gentle first with yourself – if you wish to be gentle with others. Lama Yeshe


The Mbila is played in the north of South Africa, most particularly by the Venda people. It is like a keyboard made out of a single piece of wood, which is the resonator, and has metal blades (made out of huge nails hammered flat) which act as the keys.

The Mbila is the finest of the Venda musical instruments and is one of the most endangered Venda traditions. The Venda style of playing Mbila is quite different from that of people in Zimbabwe or Mozambique.

Drums are central to the Venda culture and there are legends and symbols linked to them. Most sets of drums are kept in the homes of chiefs and headmen, and comprise one ngoma, one thungwa, and two or three murumba. Drums are always played by women and girls, except in possession dances, when they are played by men.


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