embers & flames

my letters are written, and i’m sending them in just a little while. i’ve been awake for hours, full of crackling energy and nervous anticipation. it’s pride, and i’m about to finish coming out. i asked for a card to meditate on, to give me energy and strength, and was given one of my favorite cards in the deck: the mother of wands.

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i’ve loved this card since i first started with tarot, but she took on new meaning for me a few weeks ago as i was gathering the courage to come out on social media for the first time. most of the people in my life already knew, but making that public declaration felt like such an important step, and helped to pave the way for me to finish coming out to my family. she represents charisma, confidence, passion and strength and ferocity. she knows what she wants and will do what it takes to get it. she is so powerful and fearless, and she inspires me to be brave.

fire is such a beautiful, changeable element. it can flare up quickly, burn low and slow, spread so fast it’s unstoppable, smolder and spark. it has many faces, can sometimes show instantaneous energy and flash, but other times creep up and spread until it’s out of control. this queen knows when to let the embers build slowly and when to let it rage with smoke and flame, and loves all of its forms. i think i’m slowly learning that it’s okay to shine brightly, to let myself crackle and glow, to embrace the heat even when it’s scary.

and as i prepare for my first pride celebration, even as the rain comes down, i know it’s okay to burn.

confidence & courage

i’m still struggling with writing letters to my family, and i’ve been obsessing over it all week. i decided today to do a larger spread to help me find confidence and courage, in the hopes that i can finally finish this difficult task.

this spread is from beth at little red tarot, and while it was designed to help build personal confidence on a more general level, i’m going to use it for my specific situation.

1. the root of my insecurity & fear

four-of-pentacles

the four of pentacles, a card of possession and control. this is not a card i’ve worked with before, but its themes are clear: brilliant threads hold the pentacles in tight formation, letting nothing else in. energy from the outside bounces right off, closing off the spaces between. the lines are so rigid and stiff that they do create a lot of security and protection, but perhaps this is simply an illusion. everything cannot be controlled – no one has that much power, even when we think we do.

it made me nervous to only have one card in this first position – after all, coming out as bisexual to my conservative brother and religious in-laws isn’t exactly a simple scenario, and there are many reasons for my fears and worries. but ultimately, control is a big part of this – i have to give them part of myself, hand them my heart with trembling hands, and hope that they don’t crush it. i have no control over their reaction, their feelings, their potential for anger or fear or sadness or betrayal. it’s taken me a long time to get this point, and they deserve space to think and feel and react too. but once i reveal my truth, all i can do is trust them not to destroy it.

2. how to overcome these feelings

ten-of-cups

a colorful card of harmony, light, and positivity, the ten of cups radiates energy. every cup is giving and receiving, sending out beauty and taking in love. this is a card of completion, of balance, of wholeness, and it reminds us to stay open and joyful, sharing our blessings with those around us and seeing the good everywhere.

i’m not typically known as a positive beacon of colorful light (my power cards below back me up on this), but the sense of karma and balance here is impossible to deny. and remembering how much i love the people in my life, how i try to offer kindness and support to those that need it, makes me hopeful that if i can continue to be positive and loving, i will receive that back. with only a few exceptions, when i’ve come out (which for me is always scary, every single time, to every single person) i’ve been accepted with open arms. friends and strangers alike have made me feel like i belong, and remembering their generosity gives me strength too.

3 & 4. my main sources of personal power

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seeing the devil and the hermit as my cards of personal power is, frankly, hilarious. these are some big, powerful cards, and while i imagine plenty of others might be horrified by them, these boys feel just right to me.

let’s start with the devil. i think it’s easy to recoil at the sight of this card, but i’m not afraid of his energy. as a scorpio and a water sign, there’s always a bit of darkness, mystery, wickedness present in me. i don’t seek out evil, but i definitely live in the grey areas, trying to see all sides, working the angles. and the devil can help us to challenge our assumptions, look at things differently, try to avoid snap judgements. temptation doesn’t have to be bad, as long as you understand it. making your own choices can be a strong path, one that may look wrong to others but feels right for you. and indulging can be a beautiful thing, as long as it doesn’t take over.

i can also see this card as a reference to difficulties in my life, from my very conservative, religious upbringing to my severe depression to my challenges as a married bisexual woman to my unusual sleeping problems. i’ve definitely had my feet in the fire, had to resort to deception and denial in order to keep myself safe, had to make impossible choices that weren’t always the right ones. but it’s made me stronger IMG_0361and more powerful than i was before. and while no one chooses to go through difficult things, the end result can be something wonderful.

my second strength is the hermit, a card i love. i’m definitely an introvert, someone who prefers intimate gatherings to giant parties, someone who prefers a book and a glass of wine to a loud venue, someone who needs a lot of personal time to recharge and consider. the hermit trusts his own inner light, relies on it to reveal the path he should follow. and while i do need the love and support of others sometimes, i’ve had to face most of my challenges alone. no one can make me sleep, or not hurt myself, or change my identity to something more “acceptable.” no one can take away my past hurts or my present fears or my future challenges. just like now – no one else can come out for me. i have to do this myself, on my own strength, in my own way.

 

5. how to tap into that power to build confidence

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the fool, another card i haven’t worked with before. represented in the wild unknown as a baby bird, eager to take his first steps away from his secure nest, and speaks of new beginnings, spontaneity, potential, and inexperience. this bird is excited but naive, with no idea what is ahead. she exists entirely in the present. the future is limitless, sparkling with possibility. as carrie mallon says, “this card speaks of pure, unbridled potential. in order for that potential to take shape, risks are required. taking a leap doesn’t necessarily guarantee a favorable outcome. but if you never leap, you remain stuck on the precipice, never fully immersing yourself in all that life has to offer.”

there’s a lot to unpack here. but something that i immediately noticed is that the devil and the hermit are both stationary, whether standing in flames or retreating into a shell. they’re self-aware, sure of themselves, sometimes to their detriment. the fool, however, is moving forward, even if it’s into a completely unknown place. she’s about action, taking that big leap, being open and ready and saying yes. she may be young and inexperienced, but she also isn’t shackled by fear or expectations. if i can look to that trust and love and beauty from the ten of cups, and channel the strength and assurance from my power cards, perhaps it’ll give me what i need to take that big step forward.

6. something i can do right now

ace-of-pentacles

so what do i do? the ace of pentacles is all about new beginnings and growth, planting a seed and letting it take root. this card reminds us to stay grounded and consistent, to commit to the process, to activate the resources we have and the ones we may have forgotten.

aces are always brimming with potential. and this ace of the earth, with its stable growth rings and blooming branches and tough outer layer, speaks to me of strength and balance. i need to remember that my letters are the start of something, rather than the end – i’m beginning a conversation based on truth and honesty, and need to keep faith in the process. i have resources – supportive friends, a wonderful therapist, an online community, and my beloved cards. they can give me strength and courage, and help me remember why i’m doing this at all.

this is a fascinating, complicated, challenging spread. but it reflects so much of who i am, what i need, and why i’m pushing myself to come out to my family. i’m grateful for the wisdom here, for the honesty and difficulties presented by the cards.

time to write some letters.

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checking in

my mind kept going back to the eight of pentacles after my reading yesterday, trying to sift through various meanings and what this card might be trying to tell me. and while i’m not sure that i have all the pieces together, my cards clearly want me to continue to work with pentacles. today’s draw is the seven of pentacles.

IMG_0324lined up in an orderly fashion, with lines at direct angles behind them, this card is organized, thoughtful, and contemplative. this is a card for stepping back and evaluating, considering progress made and if a change of direction is needed. beth calls this an interim report card, which speaks to me in a much clearer way than yesterday’s eight. rather than doing something quickly or haphazardly, this card speaks to making long-term decisions that will work for good. putting effort into what is truly important will make all the difference in the future, and will start to pay off in ways that are even bigger than planned.

my mind is a bit confused at the moment, trying to construct the perfect words to express what i want and need. pride is this weekend, and i’m going to participate in events for the first time: a run in the park, a fun meet-up with some much-admired writers and vloggers, and of course, the big parade. i have friends meeting me at each event and am excited about finally joining the community. but the month is also drawing to a close, and while i’ve been working on drafts for the letters i still need to send to a few family members, i haven’t finalized or sent them out yet. i’m worried about commas and phrases, scared about how they might react, as if one tiny word will make the difference between their acceptance and support or a complete disaster.

pentacles typically are tied to the earth, to worldly possessions and successes, to career and home and wealth. i have trouble relating to this suit, simply because i don’t have a strong tie to money, or a particular definition of success, or a big end goal for my career. i don’t really evaluate my life this way. but if i change the meaning of pentacles to reflect what keeps me whole and grounded, what makes me feel safe and secure, what gives my life purpose and meaning, then these cards become much more significant. and while relationships and communication are traditionally tied to cups, in my current situation, my family and friends are keeping me together. not having certain people in my life know the truth about my identity feels like something that’s holding me back, like i can’t truly relax or be happy and whole. the thing i’m craving, what will bring me back to earth and let me feel strong and confident, is honesty. i want to live my truth, not just with a select few but with everyone in my life.

there is so much fear, still (and perhaps always), but i know that i’m making the right choice. this matters too much to ignore.

keep your head down

today’s card is all about focus, determination, craftsmanship, and innovation: the eight of pentacles.

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confident and skilled, the spider is constantly pushing herself to create new, intricate webs, never giving up. if a web is broken or damaged, she fixes it. if it’s destroyed beyond repair, she creates a new one, that’s stronger and more beautiful than the one before it. she is constantly honing her skills, seeking mastery of her craft. detail-oriented, determined, focused, and devoted, she is constantly challenging herself to do better.

this card is all about balance and devotion, understanding that hard work and drive can achieve so much. there can be joy in every stage of a process, learning to embrace every single aspect of a project or craft. and while there’s always plenty of things to distract us, sometimes the best thing we can do is keep our heads down, stay focused, and put all of our energy into making something strong and beautiful.

this is a challenging card for me today, as i have a quiet work week planned. my to-do list is completely finished, every task that’s been wiggling in the back of my head completed – all that’s left is writing difficult letters to my family, which i’ve been putting off for weeks now. pentacles are so connected to the earth and possessions for me, all about stability, material things, wealth and careers and property. but eights are goal-oriented, all about achievement, getting things done.

son-of-wandsmy clarifying card is the son of wands, a card that’s been popping up a lot lately. this son has no fear, no self-doubt, but pushes forward with confidence and strength and passion. i don’t want to force the cards or miss something, but this feels like it could speak to my still-unwritten letters. after all, finishing coming out during pride month was the goal that i set for myself, and while i’ve taken the first step i have stumbled over the others. the son has such purpose, such fire, and he and his mother have appeared so many times this month. it feels like the court of wands is pushing me to push myself, to finish the journey i started years ago.

yes, it’s scary. i might destroy the fragile webs i’ve been building all these years, damaging relationships that are so important to me. but if i can keep my head down, focus on the task at hand, use the skills and intuition and empathy that i’ve been developing – perhaps i can build something even stronger.

passing time

after a hectic and challenging week, along with a running race that i was certainly not prepared for and a busy weekend of planning several upcoming trips, i’m now facing a very quiet few days. only one shoot scheduled, editing finished, nothing major on the agenda. it was no surprise to draw a card that so often symbolizes confusion, procrastination, and choices: the seven of cups.

IMG_0338this card pops up a lot, both in my daily readings and also in my thoughts. it’s beautiful and confusing, a colorful, entrancing illusion, often pointing to tangled feelings, deception, temptation, or the power of dreams and decisions. sometimes we get so caught up in a fantasy that we lose our grasp on what’s actually in front of us; other times we’re simply dazzled by all of the lovely options in front of us and paralyzed by choice. in my case, a sudden end of my work to-do list leaves me with endless options for how to spend my week. my personal tendency to disappear and lose time can often take over, and since i’m still considering how best to compose coming-out letters to family members, my brain feels like a jumbled mess. i’ve been relying on my work to keep me busy, but now that everything is completed i need to come to terms with the best way to communicate.

i don’t mind mystery or challenges, but this card can point to so many things that i often pull a clarifying card along with it to give me a direction to consider. in this case, my card is much more grounded and clear: the mother of pentacles. whenever i pull this card i feel that it’s reminding me to care for mother-of-pentaclesmy husband and family, to use my energy and resources to help them however possible. with extra time and energy this week, it seems like a perfect opportunity to offer assistance, get organized, and be a kind and compassionate caretaker. my husband is very overwhelmed these days and while i can’t solve any of his problems (my first instinct when things are going badly for anyone), i can listen, offer empathy, and do what i can to lift other small burdens around the house. i’m not always good with words, preferring to express affection and love through actions or gifts, but in this case my energy can be focused on a way that it will have true impact on the ones that need it.

the mother of pentacles feels like the opposite of self-care; rather, she devotes her time and resources to those she cares about. i can use my energy for them today, and find a way to help myself tomorrow.

lost mojo

i’m feeling drained, tired, and generally uninspired. the work i’m doing is so fun and i’m proud of it, but it’s not exciting me for some reason. the cards i pulled this morning are ones i’ve drawn very recently, and aren’t speaking to me in a meaningful way. what’s a reader to do?

beth’s finding your mojo spread, of course.

1. here’s my mojo:

IMG_0362the wheel of fortune. this isn’t my birth card, or even one that i work with or feel especially drawn to, but it makes sense to me here. i do value the connections between things, the colorful threads that tie everything together, even when events seem completely random. i enjoy the mystery and chaos that lie on the surface, and feel such relief and awe when things start to fall into place on a deeper level. there is only so much that we can control, and sometimes all i can do is let things go, and let fate take over. the only thing that is constant is change, heraclitus wrote, and there’s something comforting in that. my mojo is linked to control and power, to the inevitability of change, to surrendering to destiny. i’m more at peace when i stop trying to control everything and simply follow those vibrant threads that connect every person and thing, when i accept my small role in this world and don’t try to make it something that it isn’t.

 

2. here’s what’s getting in the way:

IMG_0305the three of wands. a card so perfect in this position, it made me laugh out loud. envisioning the future, as the wild unknown guidebook says about this card, always seems to cause me problems. i don’t have huge goals for my life, often resisting the so-called five- or ten-year-plan that so many others cling to. and tied with the wheel of fortune as my mojo, of course i would struggle when considering if all of these different types of shoots are ultimately going to help or hurt my career.

while i like being constantly busy and having work coming in all the time, every “traditional” job i’ve had has left me exhausted, frustrated, and doubting myself. freelancing is difficult but i know that it truly is the right path for me – i love the freedom to pick and choose work, love challenging myself to solve problems and grow, love working with new clients and new photography styles and new events. i thrive in the unknown, succeed when things are unpredictable, push myself harder when the outcome is unclear. clarifying my goals is something i hate to do, but feeling like i should be more goal-oriented is absolutely blocking my mojo these days.

3. solution:

father-of-cupsthe father of cups. if there’s a more appropriate card for this position, i can’t think of it. open-minded, calm, sensitive, and strong, he doesn’t hide from his emotions – he thrives on them, knowing the power that they contain. rather than the more introspective, mysterious members of his court, he harnesses the power of his connections and feelings in a stabilizing, empathetic way, and pushes that energy outward. his emotions do not control him – he understands and values their strength, and allows them to connect him to the world and people that he values.

what a beautiful card for me, in this position. while the action-oriented, fiery wands can stress me out and block me, making me second-guess my drive and lack of detailed goals for myself, the cups always bring me back to center. i trust my intuition, value my emotions, and rely heavily on my ability to read and navigate difficult situations. i work best when i work by instinct, following my gut to find a solution that feels right. it’s time to stop doubting myself, stop trying to make my life fit into a neat little box, and instead enjoy the fact that i’m a bit different. so what if my goals and dreams aren’t the same as others? who cares if i don’t know where i want to be (or who i want to be) in twenty years? does it really matter if i’m unique, independent, utterly strange? what’s most important is that i’m confident and content with my choices, that i trust myself, that i follow my heart.

mojo: found.

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every which way

after so much beauty and strength in yesterday’s draw, today’s card initially feels a little discouraging: the five of wands.

five-of-wandsthese wands are laying haphazardly, each pointing in a different direction, with none of them touching or overlapping. the lines behind them reflect the chaos, moving in hard angles and with erratic spacing. all of this suggests a complete lack of focus, confusion, distraction – the eye wanders, unsure of where to look. rather than working together to move in one direction, they seem to be fighting each other, defensive and contrary.

i’ve been enjoying pushing myself in different directions in my photography, but it can also bring up worries about talent, ability, and stretching myself too thin. am i good enough to try all of these styles and specialties? can i make a living doing all the things i like, or do i have to choose just one? this field is so competitive, and with everyone posting images every single day from their cell phones, some good and some downright terrible, it’s impossible not to feel threatened or like i have to prove my worth and value every day.

daughter-of-cupsi pulled a clarifying card to offer additional guidance, and found an old friend: the daughter of cups. and while she can represent many things, in this context i see her quiet confidence in the full spectrum of the suit of cups. she knows that water can be clear or murky or choppy or still, bright and illuminating or dark and mysterious. even when she doesn’t understand every facet of herself, she still trusts that every emotion has value, and believes in her own instincts. knowing that she doesn’t know everything does not bother her – she finds it comforting that there is much she does not understand. there is power in wonder, in the unknown.

confusion is not always bad, as it forces us to focus on what matters. and second-guessing my career choices doesn’t make me weak, as long as i don’t allow it to stall or consume me. but these cards feel like they’re pushing me to rise to a challenge, rather than give in to distraction and fear. i am capable of riding out these difficulties, as beth from little red tarot says. this tension can make me stronger.