“My Life Came to a Standstill…”

That’s what Leo Tolstoy wrote in his Confessions about the period in his life when his old priorities and accomplishments no longer held meaning for him, but a new sense of meaning and authenticity hadn’t yet become clear.

At the time, Tolstoy was between stories, as many of us have been or are now. In fact, the entire Western culture is at the cusp of the old dominant story and an emerging, not-yet-clear new story that’s being born.

Tolstoy was pretty depressed about being at standstill or between stories, he said.

Bridge in the Woods (1885-86), by Rafail Sergeevich-Levitsky (1847–1940). Image courtesy WikiCommons.
Bridge in the Woods (1885-86), by Rafail Sergeevich-Levitsky (1847–1940). Image courtesy WikiCommons.

That’s often the experience for those who are, as I was, conditioned to view action and (seemingly forward) momentum as good, and stillness or standstill or in-between as being bad, indicating that there is something wrong, when neither is the case.

It’s simply a phase, a lilypad, part of a cycle — and a potentially rich and fertile one at that, though the not-knowing facet of it can seem unbearable at times.

My life came to a standstill…,” Tolstoy wrote.

I’ve experienced that very potently, too, particularly in the years following a near-death ‘event’ that occurred in late-Autumn 2000 and sent shock waves rippling through my life for years after.

I’ll likely be sharing more about that life-altering experience from August 2000, since it started spiraling back up in 2015 and since, for various reasons.

But I’ve experienced that standstill or in-between eco-tone since then, too, as I’ve lived into the unfolding spiral of life since The NDE Event itself.

And I know that there are many more people — friends, clients, readers, and kindreds that I don’t yet know and haven’t yet met — in this time of great transformation who are experiencing this standstill or in-between or re-storying.

As much as it frustrated me, none of my attempts to ‘go back’ to an old comfort zone seemed to work, and no attempts to impatiently force a new clarity were very effective. Both ego-effort and resistance proved depressingly futile.

The Queen of Disks, painted by Lady Frieda Harris for the Thoth-Crowley Tarot.
The Queen of Disks, painted by Lady Frieda Harris for the Thoth-Crowley Tarot.

One image that really captures this time of ‘in-between’ is the symbol-rich Queen of Disks painted by Lady Frieda Harris for the Thoth tarot deck.

In this card, the Queen of Disks is at a standstill, but her pause is not without purpose.

Take a look.

She sits on her throne, looking back over the barren valley through which she has just journeyed.

The desert seems to stretch on forever into the horizon now behind her. It has been a long, trying, and often exhausting journey for her.

The desert, like the ‘dark forest’, is that cycle of life when what has come before has dropped away, and the ‘new life’ and renewed clarity and motivation have not yet materialized.

Our Queen of Disks looks out over the meandering path by which she’s come — one that seemed to zig zag along without direction, until she sees the whole of it from her current vantage point. It’s led her to where she now sits.

And though it’s a desert, and her path was meandering, she now sees the many trees, grouped in threes — a pattern that she hadn’t noticed when she was laboring through the journey.

This tells her that the Feminine, the Great Goddess, had been present with her throughout her desert-valley initiation.

She can now more fully realize that her desert-valley journey has been an initiation into the Feminine, presided over by the Great Goddess herself.

In her current position, new vegetation grows around her, symbolizing the energy of new growth that is gathering, perhaps because she has taken the time to be still enough to let the greening energy gather.

She wears the crown of spiraling horns, and the Aries ram sits to her left. In the journey of the Zodiac, Aries is the new beginning: one cycle has completed, and a new one readies to begin. The spiraling horns signify a maturity, a ‘royalty’ earned on the Spiral Road of initiation.

The Queen of Disks, painted by Lady Frieda Harris for the Thoth-Crowley Tarot.
The Queen of Disks, painted by Lady Frieda Harris for the Thoth-Crowley Tarot.

Look closely (unusually, I’ve repeated the same image twice so you can see it more easily).

She holds an orb-shield painted with interwoven circles, symbolizing her awareness of the interconnectedness of Life — a more wholistic perspective gained from her experience crossing the desert valley.

In her right hand, she holds a scepter topped with a crystal, symbolizing a new clarity of mind and a new mastery that she has earned through experience, through gnosis — the knowledge and wisdom based in her own experience.

With this awareness and experience, she is more grounded, centered, spiritually mature, and dignified. She can now move through life with a newly earned depth and grace.

Because she is a Queen of Disks, which represents Earth, her orb and scepter speak to her new mastery being rooted in ‘down to Earth’ experience, and her awareness that she is connected with the energies of Mother Earth and the ‘greening’ energy of Nature.

She now knows that it is this ‘greening energy‘ of Nature, of the Feminine, the very Shakti of Life itself, that allows life to be rich, fertile, and abundant rather than the barren wasteland of the wounded Masculine in the Grail.

Being a Queen, she represents the Feminine, having learned through her journey how to navigate using the Feminine gifts of the Empress and the Priestess.

From this different perspective, she sees that the barren valley, the desert, is ‘greened’ through the presence of the Feminine and action that is based in connectedness and alignment with the laws of Nature.

Her meandering path through the desert valley might now be seen, with her expanded perspective and wisdom, as a potential riverbed through which waters might flow to bring a new fertility to what has lain barren and dry.

Osmosis Zen Garden in Sebastopol, CA. Photo by Jamie Walters.
Osmosis Zen Garden in Sebastopol, CA. Photo by Jamie Walters.

She reminds us that our time of seeming standstill allows us to restore, integrate, take stock of our journey through the desert, and ‘gather the pearls’ of the new perspective and mastery we’ve gained, knowing that these give a renewed fertility and abundance as we begin a new cycle on the spiral of Life.

From Leo Tolstoy’s writings, this is what he learned, too, as he opened to a new, more vibrant awareness that gave new meaning to his life.

If you’re feeling like you’re at a standstill, in the ‘in between’, the remedy is homeopathic — like heals like. Stand still, and let the ‘greening energy’ gather around you, renewing your vision and guiding you into authentic, inspired, and meaningful action.

Sometimes not doing is the right action, and standstill is the right place.

You’ll find related inspiration just below in the ‘similar post’ recommendations (which are random!), or in another Sophia’s Children archive post, Wu Wei and the Blasphemy of Not Doing.

Big Love and Best Wishes,


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