Love is mystical
Love will break the chains
You might feel invincible
And you might be afraid
Light in darkness will show you the way
Give you the power to believe again
-Love is Mystical, Cold War Kids
Happy 2022, Happy Year of the Lovers! Cara here, I hope you’re feeling deeply connected to yourself and your people; that your garden is growing and your gains are plentiful. Let’s talk Be Not Afraid and Tarot! There are a lot of themes in Be Not Afraid that were natural reflections of our lives and where we were as we wrote the story, as well as ideas we have been building on since we conceived the source story, Asher, in 2017.
For those unfamiliar with Tarot, in Numerology, 2022 adds up to 6. The Lovers is card 6 in the Major Arcana of the 78 card Tarot; the 22 Major Arcana (arcanum means “secret knowledge”) represent major spiritual and life themes and point toward pivotal shifts and developments in the consciousness of the individual. All of the Majors represent spiritual ideas that have been personally incredibly powerful for me since I first started working with the Tarot, and many of those ideas have found their way into my work by both accident and design.
The Lovers of the Tarot signifies deep connection, partnership and the maturation that that necessitates. As the child develops, they must separate themselves from dependency on their parents, claim autonomy and seek individuation by pursuing their own will, desires, and experiences. In intimate connection, the young adult discovers the mirrors of other human beings, and all of the riches and challenges that provides.
The Lovers presents an opportunity for deep connection and partnership to be an illuminating and elevating force in one’s life. Deep romantic love itself can and does act as a primeval force of nature that exists far beyond reason. When it occurs, or descends, this force points toward an unseen spiritual dimension and reality full of meaning and depth of feeling that obliterates Reason’s limitations of physical matter and even time itself. Deep Love is a radical spiritual experience (one that I will personally attest to the power of) that can completely transform a person at any stage in their life, and put them through a sort of second puberty or individuation, as they are transformed by Love.
In Be Not Afraid, the themes of the Lovers card have an electric presence. Shelly acts on her love for Bobby, calling on magical, irrational forces beyond her understanding or control. She literally calls a wild stranger, Asher, into her home, in the hopes that something can be revealed or understood. No spoilers, but what Shelly initially wants and what she gets are not exactly the same thing, and this speaks to the power of the heart’s true longings. What we truly need and desire may show up for us in ways that appear wild and terrifying (this speaks to the Tower card, as well). In order for you to find your true path or calling, sometimes you have to have a lot destroyed, and that process is often painful.
Personal tangent: my calling and path to be what I’m unfolding and deepening into (filmmaker-strength-artist-helper-meaning-maker-etc) was only cleared for me by the total literal destruction of my old life in 2020’s obliteration of the status quo. While I went through many challenging and painful confrontations with myself, my attachments, my fears, etc, I had a strange sense of calm settle in very quickly after I stopped personal training in person in early 2020. I don’t say that to brag or to say that I handled everything great, just that part of me had been explicitly asking for a change of course and to devote more time to writing and filmmaking. I got it, and it couldn’t have been more clear. It came with many, many, aches and pains, but I find myself in the settled dust now, determined, eyes fixed ahead, and deeply at peace with myself and my path. I got what I asked for, and it took a lot of dramatic course-destruction and re-routing.
Back to Shelly. At the story’s outset, she has made some request (we learn over the course of the film what that was), and it is this act of love that kicks off the story, and ushers in both total chaos and upheaval, as well as the potential for a radical shift in her understanding of herself and even the very world she exists in. This is the inherent beautiful danger of pursuing one’s heart; in order to get closer to what feels true and meaningful, you may have to abandon everything that makes you feel safe. Your safety might never have been real at all. But the good news is that in asking for a true revelation, you learn what is real, and what is worth fighting for.
Everyone in the story is affected by Shelly’s act of love, for better or worse. The Lovers card doesn’t mean that there are no challenges or road bumps or conflict, if anything, the Lovers asks us to courageously tell the truth, and act out of the truth that is in our hearts. When we feel something is wrong, speak, and if you cannot speak, act. An act committed out of Love and the Truth (as close as we can get to it) will always have incredible power. Transformative power.
The Lovers presence continues in our mercenary exorcists, two best friends who seem somewhat at odds. Asher and Vargas’s opposites attract teamwork and problem-solving tactics reflect a mature partnership that has been battle-tested many times, but like all good connections, holds infinite potential for future growth. They are both changed by every experience they have together, and this escapade is no different. They are a powerful partnership not because they are similar or agree on everything or think the same. They are a powerful partnership because they deeply love and respect each other, and honor each other’s unique approaches and personalities.
In Be Not Afraid, the power of The Lovers wreaks havoc, rends hearts, and heals them again; I would never have thought to describe the film as a romance, but the beating heart of Love is alive and well within the story and its characters.
Thanks for reading! I’m so stoked to finish the film; it will be a little while yet as we have a lot of our resources rooted in our main 2022 project, but Be Not Afraid will arrive in due time, and I couldn’t be more proud or excited. Feel free to message me if you’re interested in getting involved in production or learning more about the film.
1st Book & Tarot Card: WTF Is Tarot? And the Wayhome Tarot By Bakara Wintner, a phenomenally insightful and accessible book on Tarot, and my favorite Tarot deck. Not sponsored, I just love her work, check out her store EverydayMagic to grab your own.
78 Degress of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack – packed to the rim with powerful spiritual insight, essential read for the Tarot hungry
If you liked this essay and want to support our work, and get access to my exclusive Tarot readings (once a week, focused on the body and its needs), as well as BtS film content and first looks, join the team at patreon.com/SunstrikePictures
Strength & Love,