september has been a difficult month. my depression has dominated these past weeks, culminating in some very serious self-harm issues that terrified me. i’ve felt so alone in these dark days, wondering why i’m still struggling, trying to find any beams of light that may help me.
but september has also shown me how much i’ve grown, even though i’m feeling so low. making the effort to see a therapist regularly (and not skipping a single appointment, no matter how terrible i’m feeling) has made a difference. reaching out to friends and family to be honest about what’s happening has made a difference. telling my husband when things are getting desperate has made a difference. and i truly believe that working with tarot, pushing myself to connect with the tarot community, and reading even on difficult days has made a difference. it’s been a really hard month, but i’m still here.
i haven’t been particularly consistent with this instagram challenge, but i’ve really enjoyed mixing the prompts in with my regular readings. and as i look to october, hopeful that the fiery colors and crisp air and cooling waters and rich earth will help bring me back to center, it feels like there’s room for a few cards of reflection.
27. where & how are my fears holding me back?
the world, a card of completion, balance, and wholeness. an interesting card for fears and hesitation, but this sense of peace, unity, and fullness is something i struggle with. the dark parts of me, my depression and insomnia, my struggles, my jealousy, my shadows – they are just as much of a part of me as my better qualities. i may not be a perfect person, but i am a complete person, and the light and dark sides of me are both important.
i pulled the fountain for my theme card for september, a card from the fountain tarot that also represents a firm sense of self, contentment, learning to simply be. we are connected to the universe in a unique way, but we are also complete in ourselves. learning to accept who and where i am, understanding that all the parts of me combine into something that is whole even when it feels broken, has been a real struggle this month. there are so many pieces of myself that i despise, and i wish i could shed them, leave them behind, or turn them into something better. but these reluctant feelings, this desire to change the core of who i am, is driven by fear. if i can learn to accept this broken self, and see the cracks and flaws as signs of strength and perseverance rather than as fundamental failures, perhaps i can find new strength in myself.
28. what can use more of my time?
the nine of cups is a lovely card of contentment, quiet, and letting things be. the circle of cups is not yet complete, but there is a stillness, a gentle pleasure to this card that feels incredibly soothing. this card always feels like permission to relax, to enjoy the moment, to be grateful, to indulge in the small things that help us find peace and rest. it’s a card of self-care, of relaxation, of generosity.
i often struggle with self-care, finding it difficult to fully rest into any one moment. i may treat myself to a bubble bath or an at-home facial, but i find it hard not to still check my email, read about whatever latest hideous thing our idiot-in-chief has said on twitter, worry about friends and family, wonder how i can boost my career, and on and on and on. i may try to take time for tarot, but i find myself irritated with any interruption, constantly distracted, feeling like the whole thing is ridiculously self-centered. several doctors have all told me i need to adopt a regular yoga practice to help my severe major depression and idiopathic insomnia, and i find it impossible to do this as it somehow feels like a selfish indulgence. i feel like i don’t deserve anything, like i shouldn’t waste money and time and energy on things that only benefit myself, like i don’t do enough for others to also indulge myself. but depression takes everything away, and finding ways to physically and emotionally tell myself that i am worthy, that i am valuable, that i am important – that can have a huge impact on recovery.
29. what should october leave behind?
i love the daughter of swords. i love her honesty, her directness, her agility, her intelligence. she assesses situations calmly, considers the best solution in a straightforward manner, and refuses to play games. she doesn’t make things more complicated than they need to be – rather, she has a gift for boiling issues down to their more simple, basic principles. she trusts her instincts, relies on facts and reason, values the truth above all. why would i want to leave her behind?
perhaps it’s simply to make way for growth. the daughter is the youngest member of the court, often called the page or the novice, and while she feels like a pure expression of the suit, she still has much to learn. being so analytical, so focused on truth and facts, can definitely be taken too far – and applying so much mental energy to something as nebulous and complicated as depression hasn’t been super helpful for me. reading articles, talking about it nonstop, being unable to see anything through any other lens – even my tarot readings always come back to my mental illness, rather than any of the other things going on in my life.
in this context, i think the daughter of swords is asking me to make room for some other approaches. it may be time to get out of the sky and get back in touch with nature and the earth, to let myself feel all of these messy, water-logged feelings, to acknowledge the bits of fire that will hopefully start to spark again. it’s time to get out of my head and learn to trust my own instincts, even if they aren’t always based in the element of air.
comparing this with my three cards from the first day of september, there’s a lot of similarities. my theme card is reflected in this fears card, reminding me to embrace all the pieces of myself, even the ones i’m not proud of. my strength was guarding myself, staying safe, and here i’m also encouraged to take care of myself, to remember the good, to find healing in stillness and quiet and solitude. and my weakness was burden, exhaustion, which i appear to have countered by swapping passion for prudence.
here’s hoping for a more balanced, energetic, positive october.
day 17: where should i focus more on the present?
the six of wands, a card of victory, escape, and release. this card appeared just last week to represent my personal intentions, and really spoke to me of hope. sometimes it takes a long time to untangle ourselves from the darkness, but that patience and perseverance will ultimately help us free ourselves from whatever we’re trapped in. my mess of wands is this persistent depression, a smothering of my inner fire that i cannot seem to reignite. the dark chaos below her brilliant wings reveals no easy paths through, no obvious tunnels or beams of light to follow out. the butterfly had to make her own way, and i imagine it was painful and difficult and frustrating at various moments. but this card is her triumph, blasting free and soaring up and out on her beautiful wings.
this fight is still my present, and it’s easy to lose in the hazy struggle of every day life. just getting dressed, doing my job, caring for my dog and my husband, staying in touch with friends feels like too much – i also have to fight off these miserable tangled shadows?
yes, the cards whisper. keep fighting.
day 18: what can use a more positive view?
the ten of wands, a card of heavy burdens, overload, giving up, too much of a good thing. all those brilliant burning fires have exhausted themselves, run out of fuel, been smothered by too many other wands, and everything has been extinguished. all that’s left is a pile of leftovers, energy that has burned out. this card was my weakness for the month of september, and has been challenging me this month.
feeling so drained of fire, utterly exhausted, and having lost passion and light and interest in even the most basic of activities – it’s miserable. and it’s hard to find positivity in such a dark and discouraging card, one that seems to reflect my mental state over the past three weeks. but saying yes to everything, smiling and acting like everything is fine, all to try and force my way out of depression – that isn’t the answer. i have to remember to find joy in one thing at a time, to relish those little victories, to focus on what’s positive in my life rather than letting myself drown in all the negatives. having opportunities is wonderful, but saying yes to every single thing is not.
i had a conversation the other day about wishes, and giving up mental illness and challenges if we could. and while my idiopathic insomnia and major depressive disorder are not characteristics that i love or enjoy, they are such massive parts of me and my life that it’s hard to imagine who i would be without them. if i slept normally, would i be more positive, more energetic, more friendly? if i didn’t deal with depressive episodes several times a year would i be more popular, more optimistic, more spontaneous? it’s impossible for me to know. and while the idea of not having insomnia or depression is certainly appealing, i’m not sure i would want to lose them both – because i don’t know who i would become. what if gaining hours of regular, uninterrupted sleep impacted my creativity? what if not descending into the shadows and darkness made me less sensitive to moods, and damaged my intuition? would those losses be worth it?
both of these cards remind me that for better or worse, i am who i am. this dark depression, these murky shadows, the tangled branches and twisted thoughts and difficult struggles are all part of me. but fighting through it, trying to find those bits of light, pushing through all the pain and hurt and this aching, overwhelming sadness to eventually find freedom and space and room to breathe? that’s part of me, too. and staying engaged in that fight, finding one wand to wield rather than just burning them all to ashes, and remembering that i’ll escape eventually, are lessons worth repeating.
instagram has felt easier these last few days – a bit more anonymous, a bit more concise, a bit safer. the prompts from my tarot challenge are thoughtful and focused, and i’ve really enjoyed getting to know others in the community. but today’s cards are devoted to uncovering inner truths, and i find myself wanting a bit more space to explore these meanings. i’m utterly drained, and the last few days have been very difficult, but this feels like a good way to assess and reflect.
first up is my intentions: the six of wands. this is a new card for me, but i already love it – it reminds me so much of judgement, rising above darkness and shadows and tangled thoughts and feelings to be free, to find space and light, to move forward. the butterfly is so bright, so strong, and those tangled thorns below her could’ve shredded her wings to bits. she may be tired, she may feel worn down, but she has managed to break free and find space to spread her wings again. this is such a lovely, victorious card, recognizing what we’ve had to fight through to find progress. and this absolutely feels like my current intentions – i just want to escape this darkness, want to opened my battered wings and fly out of all of this hurt and pain and fear. i feel like i’ve been stuck here for so very long, and i’m craving escape. i want fresh air, want room to breathe, want to feel like i’m in charge of my body and mind and soul again. everything feels so dark, but this butterfly’s beautiful, colorful wings give me a bit of hope.
how is this manifesting in my life, and what are my actions signaling? the son of wands is independent, single-minded, completely focused on achieving his goals. he’s charming, adventurous, passionate, and completely confident in his abilities. he knows that the path he’s following is the correct one, and he’s sure that his plan will work – no obstacles in sight, no challenges he can’t face, no storm he can’t weather. who needs a backup plan when you already know you’re capable of facing anything?
his confidence is staggering, and certainly doesn’t reflect how i feel right now. but that focus on doing one thing well, on following a path to the very end, on putting all of my energy into one task? that i relate to. tarot has become something so important to my days, and even when i don’t have the energy to write or the strength the share my readings, pulling a card or two and spending some time in thought and meditation has become a goal for each day. i may not accomplish a single other thing, but at least i can find some time for reflection, for consideration, for challenges. it feels like if i can just listen to the cards, even for only a moment, it gives me a much-needed break from the darkness swirling in my mind.
i love that both of these cards are wands, that both cards feel independent and strong, that both cards are focused on a single purpose. i’m longing to break free of my darkness, and i’m using tarot to help me find my way out. and while both of these characters are finding their own way, and i still feel pretty lost in those tangled branches, the son of wands gives me hope that by focusing my energy on self-reflection and understanding, eventually i’m going to find a way to escape.
armed with a citrine cluster to help release negativity, i came to my cards today with a bit of desperation. i feel so alone, so lost, so exhausted. i just need some guidance, some help, some advice. how can i let go of these miserable thoughts? what can i do to make today feel a little bit easier?
the daughter of pentacles is a card of grounding, positive energy. she is eager to explore, interested in learning everything she can, unafraid to experiment or to fail – she knows that even when things go wrong, we can find lessons in mistakes. she’s practical, resourceful, creative, intelligent, ready for whatever comes next. there is so much to learn from this child of the earth, this eager explorer, this kind, naive daughter. but what really resonates is that she is fully present in each moment, taking things as they come. she doesn’t use up all of her energy planning every step, trying to predict the future – and she doesn’t spend time dwelling on past mistakes, either. she breathes deep, smiles, notices her surroundings, enjoys the sights and sounds she is immersed in, and lets her feet lead her somewhere new and magical. she fully trusts her instincts, even though she knows that they may not be fully developed – after all, she is still a child, still a student, still has so much to learn and experience. but she knows that her innate abilities, her powers of observation and exploration, her intelligence and strength and connection to the earth will guide her. she knows that she is capable of great things, even if they don’t all happen today.
how does this translate to my depression, to my need for reassurance, to my self-care? this fawn has such a fresh, lovely innocence about her – but i feel ancient and crumbling in my pain, withering away to nothing. she’s eager to see the world, curious and excited to experience everything she can – but i feel exhausted, bitter, and all i want to do is curl up and hide from everyone and everything. of course i wish i was more like her at this moment, but how can i possibly get there today?
the short answer is that i can’t. depression is so tangled in guilt for me: all the things i’m not doing, all the ways i’m letting my friends and family down, all the ways i make everything about me me me instead of helping others. but i have to accept that this is where i am right now, and while i may not have a colorful rainbow overhead, or be surrounded by people that love me, or feel like i can accomplish much of anything on any given day, i’m still here. i’m still visiting my therapist, still talking to a psychiatrist about additional treatment options, still reading my cards when i can. i’m still talking to my husband, still taking care of my dog, still eating and even showering occasionally. i’m still answering work emails, still trying to stay in touch with friends, still keeping my family in the loop. i’m still alive.
it may not feel like much, not right now. but this is where i am, and if i can learn to accept that, perhaps today will bring a little bit of peace, and a little less pain.
reaching for my cards has been difficult lately. the cards are wise, comforting, and challenging, but they take a lot of energy to interpret correctly – i have to be in an place where i can hear anything, where i’m willing to see the messages and lessons that are intended, rather than looking for what i want or what i fear. i haven’t felt strong enough, but i’m trying to push myself today.
i mentioned in my last entry that i’m beginning a september tarot challenge on instagram, and i’m already a few days behind. it felt like fear (and it partially was), but i also liked the idea of tackling the first three days together – my theme for the month, my strength this month, and my weakness this month. i’m not sure how much the challenge will spill over onto this blog, and am honestly not sure how many days i will get through, but starting with these three cards felt right to me.
armed with rose quartz for healing, compassion, and love, i laid out cards from both of my decks. deep breaths, quiet prayers, trying to enjoy the stillness rather than feeling trapped by it. it’s been a long, difficult few weeks. please, cards, be kind.
1. my theme of the month card
the fountain, a major arcana card unique to the fountain tarot, representing oneness, clarity, ultimate connection, enlightenment, surrender, understanding and acceptance. it was designed to be separate from the cycles of birth, death, time, and form, and while it appears after the world in the major suit, also exists outside of it – similar to the fool, with its 0. this card is infinite, whole, separate. this card is complete on its own.
it’s a stunning card, with sparse, abstract patterns of light and shadow. a brilliant white beam cuts through the center, allowing the edges and swirls to play on either side in their own natural, beautiful way. the card is not perfect, not symmetrical, not flawless, but it is whole, complete, and gorgeous. there’s a peace, a tranquility about this card – it feels confident, calm, aware in its stillness. the text for this card includes the phrase surrender to that which you are, which really resonates – i spend so much time struggling against my own self, my desires, my wishes, my preferences, my needs, my demons. i judge myself daily, especially when my depression is wrapped around me, cutting me off from the world, making it hard to breathe. this idea of unity, of being utterly connected with the universe simply by tapping into everything that makes me me, feels huge, powerful, uncomfortable. but surrender, embracing who and what i am, understanding that even my flaws are essential to my self? what a lovely, complicated idea, and a beautiful challenge and theme for my month.
2. my strength this month
a card of self-preservation, conscious action, and full awareness, the seven of swords represents the strengths that i can draw on this month. this has always been a challenging card for me, feeling like it could have a number of interpretations based on the situation at hand, but i don’t normally see deception or deceit here – at least, not as secrets with wicked or damaging intentions. rather, this feels like a card of protection, staying alert, keeping one eye open and aware of possible danger, trouble, obstacles. our fox is a clever trickster, yes, but he’s using his mental energy and clarity to stay sharp, to make a plan, to keep himself protected and safe, even if that means withholding information from others.
i prefer to keep things close, private, personal. it’s hard for me to share thoughts and feelings and dreams, even when they’re positive – i’m an introvert, but i’m also pretty secretive. i don’t let just anybody in. and in these shadowy days, this fox feels exactly like me – i’ve driven everyone away with my depression and my irritability and my darkness, and am utterly alone, clutching my sword, sad and afraid. everything hangs overhead, and it’s up to me to keep my secrets, stay aware, protect myself. i don’t know if my solitude is helping or making things worse – i hate feeling that i don’t matter to anyone, but i also truly believe it, way down deep. it’s all up to me, because who else is there?
can this be a strength, this tendency to hoard personal details, this unwillingness to share, this desperation to stand on my own even when i’ve already fallen flat on my face? perhaps it can. i’ve seen others write about this card in terms of tact, diplomacy, keeping secrets to protect ourselves and others from unnecessary harm – and that i can do. and as i approach my theme of the month, learning to surrender to my true self, perhaps a bit of caution, protection, full awareness, wouldn’t go astray. these are big, scary themes – knowing how to keep myself quiet and safe could come in very handy this month.
3. my weakness this month
my weakness this month is the ten of wands, a card of burnout, exhaustion, too many projects, scattered passions, stagnant energy. these wands, which once pulsed with fire and flame, are now piled high, their light extinguished. too much of a good thing, overwhelmed, a burden of enthusiasm. we can’t say yes to every single thing – we have to pick and choose where to invest our time, our energy, our passion, or we run out of steam, and things fall apart.
the creator of the wild unknown deck talks about mental and physical burdens, missing the wood for the trees, a weight on ones’ spirit that leads to hopelessness and depression. and that all rings so true right now – i feel heavy, yet empty. hope feels out of reach. my body hurts, my soul aches, i can’t see things that are right in front of me. my depression is a weakness, to be sure, but it’s also a challenge. every single thing i do takes too much energy, and i have to push to complete the smallest tasks. my everyday household chores, caring for my beloved dog, setting up work for the future, trying not to drive my husband completely insane – it’s so much harder than usual.
i hope september isn’t only defined by my depression. i hope i’m not stuck here for too long, trapped in this heavy haze of sadness and loneliness and frustration. i hope i come out the other side stronger, that i haven’t permanently damaged my relationships, that i haven’t alienated too many people, that i haven’t lost work or contacts or momentum. but even if i come out of the storm soon, this card reminds me to not jump back in too quickly, to stay focused and passionate, to channel my energy into the places and projects that truly matter to me. taking the time to reconnect with the world, and working to maintain balance, will be essential for me this month.
there are challenges here, to be sure. life is difficult right now. but that pulsing light in the center, the wholeness and quiet power of the fountain, is a lovely guiding light for my september. even with swords overhead, with depression and fear and sadness weighing me down, if i can keep moving towards that beautiful surrender, perhaps my september will bring me some peace and healing.
swift change, rapid motion, freedom and space – the eight of wands is all about moving towards goals, free of obstacles and struggles. the wands are focused, glowing, pushing all of their energy into that brilliant, sparkling goal just ahead. there’s no more hesitation, no confusion. the destination is in sight, the end is within reach, and things are moving fast.
i love the look and energy of this card – those golden wands are surging forward, straight and strong, moving towards their target. everything in them is centered around that luscious green island, and my eyes can’t help but fix on the perfect little center. the wands know exactly what they want, where they’re going, and the path forward is clear.
it’s almost too fast, too intense, too much. the speed is palpable, the focus absolute, like a car a breath away from skidding out on a slick road. everything feels heightened, and while there appear to be no obstacles, it feels like one little shift could push everything off course. that focus has to remain, or we could lose sight of our goal, find ourselves pointed in the wrong direction yet again.
i’ve been having trouble writing this week, floating in the endless, shadowy sea of depression. it’s impossible, humbling, distressing – i feel empty. this energetic, positive card full of ambitions and dreams realized feels so far from me, it’s completely unreachable. i’m finding comfort in distraction, losing myself in fictional worlds and alternate universes, staying away from friends and family, being quiet, doing anything to forget the person i am. this card feels too personal, speaking of a goal i can’t even see.
but perhaps today, this card is simply a reminder to keep looking forward. at times like this i simply need to do whatever i can to find comfort and rest, even if that may look odd to others, even if my internal monologue is vicious and unyielding, even if i feel useless and worthless and pathetic. i may not be reaching the end of an epic journey, but right now every small victory feels monumental. i’m still breathing, still getting out of bed, still struggling. more than that is too much, but i’ve kept my dog alive, managed to eat a little, am still reading my cards even if i can’t write about it.
i’m still here. even if i’m standing still, i just need to occasionally lift my eyes forward – and that can still feel like motion.
one last note – in the spirit of the eight of wands and trying to set small goals, i’m going to try to participate in this month’s september tarot challenge, put together by @lionharts on instagram. if you’d like to follow along, find me at @wandering.priestess and see all the participants by following the hashtag #theseptembertarot. see you there!