I toyed with the idea of trying to be more original, but I find that I identify closely with this card's
traditional symbol of the bed and the poor, sleepless man. The "dark night of the soul".
Lying awake at night, unable to sleep...well, even the smallest worry can become huge.
And that's what has happened here. Intense mental activity has created a fantasy world. The unreality of the "dark night" is symbolized by placing the bed in the middle of some unknown planet. The environment is bleak and utterly alien. The comfort of one's own room has evaporated and we are left afraid and alone in this cold, dark space.
It bears no resemblance to the real world, but it is "real" enough to the poor individual who kneels by his bed, hands pressed to his face as he seeks inner solace and counsel. The "monster" sitting on his head symbolizes his
chaotic thoughts and the phantoms he himself has created. There is Colossus...huge, menacing...symbolizing worries and fears that start out small, but in the darkness become overwhelming, filling us with fear and
threatening to crush us with their intimidating weight.
Another interesting character makes an appearance. It is the "Ghost of a Flea", taken from a painting by William Blake. Blake frequently had quite literal visions of creatures that not only appeared to him in the dark of night, but by day as well. One such apparition was the ghost of a flea. Fleas are small creatures possessing an incredible ability to harass and torment their victims. Blake's flea inhabited the bedclothes and one can
imagine it creeping out at night to nibble away at its human host.
Just as a flea torments its victim with small, but inexorable bites, so do our small thoughts eat away at us, keeping us from the rest and "sleep" of the peaceful mind. The apparition symbolizes the thoughts that gnaw and eat away at our peace of mind.
However, one need only look to the heavens to see that all is not lost, for glowing in the universal sky is the great Milky Way. If you look closely, this particular rendering resembles a human spine. The artist based his
interpretation on an old belief of the Kung Bushmen of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana. They have their own unique explanation for the Milky Way, which at their latitude, is often overhead. They call it "the backbone of the night", as if the sky were some great beast in which we live. The Kung believe the Milky Way holds up the night; that if it were not for the Milky Way, fragments of darkness would come crashing down at our feet and
I chose the symbolism of the "Backbone of the Night" because it reminds me that, even in the throes of the "dark night of the soul" one should look to the light. By tapping into one's higher self, the light of truth prevents the darkness from falling down upon us.