This week’s Harrow card, The Rakshasa, is one to watch out for. On the card, we see a strange creature with the body of a human and the head of a crocodile. It’s dressed in a sharp business suit, and it sits calmly with a cup of tea in one hand. A pair of glowing red eyes regards the viewer with unnerving intensity. Most disturbing of all, the creature sits atop the prostrate form of a naked human.
The rakshasa in the Harrow is a creature based on the demonic shapechangers of Hindu legend, but it is distinct from those beings in several ways. The rakshasa is possessed of a malicious cunning and a skill for deception. Its card comes from the suit of Books, which corresponds to intelligence. In the legends of the Harrow deck itself, the rakshasa takes the form of an old man who comes to a village asking for hospitality in exchange for knowledge and wisdom. After receiving food, drink, and lodging from the villagers, he asks them to bow and serve as a place to rest himself, and the villagers comply, having been awed by his intellect and advice.
Similarly, The Rakshasa’s card can indicate someone or something that has placed us under submission, and often as a result of our own actions. The Rakshasa has no need to force itself upon its victims, since it often finds ways of tricking people into servitude. It can represent a person or situation that exerts undue control over our lives, dictating our actions and thoughts. While it can sometimes represent physical slavery, it more commonly indicates a mental or emotional enslavement, especially if that situation occurs without us discovering its existence before it is too late.
But there is always a way to extricate ourselves from whatever form our own personal Rakshasa has taken. The way is usually not easy or obvious. Rakshasa are powerful creatures and obsessed with controlling others, so they do not relinquish control without a struggle. To release ourselves from the mental bondage the Rakshasa represents requires accessing all of our personal power and creativity, and it often involves thinking outside the box, since the easiest way to defeat the rakshasa is often to outwit them.
When the Rakshasa appears in a spread, it can be a warning that a negative influence is trying to control or limit how we live our own lives. Often, this influence is not readily apparent, and we must seek to actively discover the source. If it appears misaligned, it can be an indicator that the way to free ourselves from the Rakshasa’s domination is available or that new information will bring to light the way to liberation.
Sunstone can be a potent aid for helping us rid ourselves of the Rakshasa’s influence. It is a stone of freedom and of opportunity, and it helps us to utilize the full range of our skills and talents for the benefit of ourselves and others. It helps to manifest our desires into reality, changing darkness to light and negative to positive. Aquamarine can also help us to discover a way out of the mental chains of the Rakshasa by helping us to release mental and emotional baggage. It eases communication not just between ourselves, but between us and the universe, connecting to the empowering vitality of life. It encourages resilience and the expression of the emotional truths that are necessary to disempower the rakshasas in our lives.
Bright blessings, and may the cards be in your favor.
The Harrow deck is part of the Pathfinder RPG and is a fun alternative to a traditional tarot deck both for those familiar with the game, or those looking for a different framework for divination.