As an earth-conscious individual, this card, the six of stones, really strikes me. The subjects of the card are holding out empty bowls with an expectant look in their eyes, their clothes in tatters, their tools broken, and their beehives decimated. The presence of the old man and the young girl illustrates that this is a problem that has been and will be carried into future generations. This earth is barren from all that we have taken, yet we still hold out our bowls for more. We ask mother earth to endure our suffering, to provide for us even while she has so little to give, while we continue to plunder her for everything within her that we find useful. We take more than we need just to acquire wealth, yet so much continues to go to waste. We burn it in landfills. We destroy the habitats of thousands. We poison our mother. We are all responsible for this. No one is exempt, and what we have taken from her will be taken from us in time. Our children will suffer the consequences of our injustices, our greed, our selfishness.
Just as this card implies, after we have taken all that we can, our children will be the ones going hungry, and if we do not correct these self-destructive patterns then our children will fall prey to the very same fate, destined to be repeated until someone can affect change, or the whole of humanity wipes itself out. We are jeopardizing the human race by exploiting the only place we have to call home, by pretending that her resources are limitless, and by continuing to behave as if there will be no consequences for our actions.
In the Wildwood Tarot, Ryan and Matthews address the Exploitation card with such mastery of the written word:
“The human race’s capacity to exploit planetary resources to our own detriment is motivated by a flawed belief that we have the right to do so. As we begin to come to terms with the profound effects of global climate change and the irreversible effects this will have on our children’s lives, the human race still struggles to deal with the unresolved issues of how to feed the billions of new human beings born every year….with world financial systems and safeguards breaking down, and faith in any government’s ability to tell the truth and act with integrity severely damaged, our social moral codes and once-familiar cultural ‘norms’ appear under enormous strain. We all need to be aware of the price our children will pay for our exploitation of the planet’s resources.”
As children of the earth, it is our responsibility to rise up against these injustices and to plant the seeds of sustainable life. This requires change, sacrifice, and hard work. Breaking old behavioral patterns is not easy, but more radical things may happen for the good of all concerned. Consider the dinosaurs. They reached the top of the food chain, yet when they reached the pinnacle of their growth, they were wiped out by mother nature. When the delicate balance is disrupted, a debt must be paid to restore order. We must proceed from a place of love and compassion. We must see that all we are doing now is digging our own grave.
The earth was here long before us. As we have evolved we have learned to adapt to her, yet here we stand, trying to force the earth to adapt to us. It won’t end well, and if you don’t believe me, then perhaps you should continue behaving like spoiled children. In the words of George R. R. Martin, “a day will come when you think yourself safe and happy, and suddenly your joy will turn to ashes in your mouth, and you’ll know the debt is paid.”