“Life of Pi” and the symbolism of Tarot
This time we appeal to the symbolism of the Force of the Tarot to interpret a movie!
Did you see the wonderful movie “Life of Pi“? It is the story of a shipwrecked man struggling with the immensity of the ocean and with a Bengal tiger: a beast that had also survived the shipwreck and a rather disturbing guest on the same life raft of the protagonist.
In the relationship between the protagonist and the tiger, deep symbolic and psychological cues can be found. The most obvious inspiration is the relationship with the unconscious world (the ocean) and its primordial and “bestial” instincts (the tiger). They are instincts that can be positively channeled ensuring survival at critical moments. Or, if not consciously governed, they can become destructive to ourselves and to others.
Dream symbolism of “Life of Pi”
The film also describes the same situation that occurs in a dream when we are pursued and chased by wild animals. Or more generally when we are forced to face a threatening animal. Just like the tiger co-star of the film, the unconscious can take on the connotations of a devouring beast if we rely too much on it at the expense of consciousness and rationality.
It is the risk faced by Pi when he feeds “his” tiger too much. On the contrary, if we rely too much on rationality and we refuse to deal with our unconscious, without considering it an integral part of our essence, not only do we lose the possibility of drawing on our primordial instinctive energies, but it is equivalent to letting a part of us die. This corresponds to Pi’s initial choice that could theoretically let the tiger starve without feeding it.
In the movie, Pi survives (especially at the risk of going crazy!) as he finds an ally in the tiger of the unconscious. The idea of having to feed it – just enough! – indeed offers him the stimulus to keep on surviving.
The teaching of the Force of the Tarot
In the Tarot, we find an Arcanum that fits perfectly in describing the psychological dynamics of Life of Pi: the Force.
The beast seems to be merged with the woman of the Force, to emphasize that it is part of its totality. Tarot Force teaches us the right way to relate to our unconscious animal instincts.
On the one hand it is necessary to soften the devouring aspects. That is the power of the unconscious to submerge us. On the other hand, by not taming the beast excessively or trying not to control it with too much rationality to the point of transforming it into a kitten. In the Tarot Force it would mean ticking the animal’s teeth.
Among other things, dreams with falling teeth are based on this concept: click here to learn more.
As the protagonist of Pi, we must feed our tiger just enough!