september, september

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.

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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, IMG_1926and 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 seven-of-swordsfox 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, IMG_0312overwhelmed, 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.

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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.

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wisdom of the eclipse

new moon energy is an intensely charged time – full of potential, a chance to start fresh, an opportunity to set new goals and intentions. and combined with the incredible energy from today’s solar eclipse, there couldn’t be a better time for a tarot spread centered around reflection, awareness, and finding direction.

1. where you stand

IMG_0299the son of swords grips the blade of his sword as he hones in on his target. everything in him is focused, utterly fixated on his destination. wings flapping, eyes forward, sword at the ready – he is completely determined, and will let nothing get in his way. as with all of the sons, their understanding of the suit is growing, and can go many ways. is his single-minded pursuit of his goal, his focus on the truth, something that makes him strong? or is he too obsessive, unwilling to see any other perspective?

i don’t feel this strong or sure about anything at the moment, except perhaps that i’m longing to channel my energy into something. i’ve been toying with new creative pursuits, itching to start a new project, eager to find something i can pour my fire into. and while this son is several steps past where i feel i am, there’s something to his passionate intensity, his fearless drive, his complete willingness to throw his entire self into this purpose, that resonates. i may not be sure where i want to go, but i do know that i want to put my whole self into something that matters to me.

2. something to leave behindIMG_0334

the card that i cannot seem to shake, the three of cups represents companionship, love, friendship, and honesty. this card has been stalking me relentlessly for the past few months, and has come to mean something very different – feelings of isolation and being misunderstood, being alone or left out, wanting something that no longer exists. but in this context, i feel that this card is asking me to leave behind not only these feelings, but also this inherent craving for approval, for support, for praise and love and inclusiveness. it’s important to have people around us that give us that unconditional love and support, that encourage us to be better, that strengthen us and help us heal. but with that comes temptation, even a desire to lean too heavily on those that we love, rather than growing and learning on our own. having a strong community is a beautiful thing, but if we come to rely on it too heavily, we can do ourselves a disservice. sometimes we have to leave the pack, strike out alone, set our own course. i have to rely on my own independence, my own strength, and listen to what my heart is craving.

3. something to receive

IMG_0293a card of hope, healing, and moving forward, the six of swords feels like a gift. i’ve been so discouraged, felt so alone, wondered what my purpose is and how to escape this feeling of restless sadness. this card doesn’t speak to all problems magically disappearing, or leaving everything behind, but instead seems to offer shelter from the storm, a chance to dry off, warm up, and set a new course.

hope and optimism aren’t traits i’m particularly known for, and they aren’t something i tend to seek – i take a rather bleak view of life, generally content to stay in the darkness. and while my gaze naturally drifts towards the pile of dark swords in the rain and the shadows, this card is really about that narrow, colorful rainbow overhead. i may not know where i’m going just yet, but that lovely ribbon of light is a potent reminder that no storm lasts forever, and that i have the power to leave this troubling sadness behind.

4. something to learnIMG_0369

the only major arcana card present, the star is a beautiful card of generosity, authenticity, peace, inspiration, and healing energy. it feels particularly poignant to see this hopeful image as the eclipse occurs overhead, a reminder of the powerful forces at work at the moment.

this card offers so much, and provides endless lessons, but one thing i’m grateful for is this card’s association with creativity, passion, and feeding that inner fire. the star reminds us to connect with what truly drives us, encourages us to look deep within and see that which keeps us strong and centered, helps us find our way. beth calls this card the north star, and i love that strong image of a guiding light, an inner compass, a distant fire that helps us follow our own path. i may not always be good at pausing to look for this gentle beacon, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been there waiting for me, ready to help me find my way.

5. something to give

IMG_0333the two of cups, a card associated with love, balance, reciprocity, and strong connections. while it seems that many see this card as a symbol for romance and romantic love, it can also speak to connections with anything that is important to us: friendships, families, pets, art, music, nature, movement, or anything else that speaks to our soul, makes us feel alive and empowered and complete.

sometimes we’re too depleted to give anything to anyone, but i find that when i’m running low on energy, on love, on encouragement, that i can often muster up some positivity for friends – even if i can’t find it for myself. it’s always astounding to me how reaching out to others, finding small ways to be kind, offering words of encouragement or support, tends to magnify and expand those feelings. those gestures feel small and sometimes seem like they can’t possibly make a difference, but they often mean so much more than expected. and though right now it feels that i can’t offer anything special, that doesn’t mean i shouldn’t try anyway.

6. your hopes and dreamsIMG_0324

an intriguing card for this position, the seven of pentacles also made an appearance in my last reading. it represents an important step in any journey – a pause, an evaluation, an opportunity to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments. this card is a reminder to look at how far you’ve come, and make sure that the path you’re following will lead you to your ultimate goal.

this card often pops up in snarky, clever ways for me – it tends to appear when i’m unsure of my direction, seeking guidance, or looking to connect with someone or something that’s challenging me. as i’ve written before, i don’t have major lifelong goals, impressive dreams, ambitious plans for my future, so this card feels like a tease. but perhaps that’s an indication that i have more ambitions than i think, that just because i haven’t set big goals for myself in the past doesn’t mean i don’t have them, buried down deep. this card may be pushing me to step back, evaluate what i really want, and consider if there is something i want, something i should be pointing myself towards.

7. your secret special skill

ten-of-swordsthe ultimate victim, the the ten of swords is a card of despair, melodrama, hitting rock bottom, and giving up. there’s no possible way to escape all of those swords – indeed, ten seems a bit excessive. this card always makes me laugh, for don’t we all feel this way sometimes? like the whole weight of the world is bearing down, everyone and everything is against us, there’s no escape from the insurmountable problems stacking up before us. it’s a card of utter defeat, getting so in our heads that we’re sure there is no solution, no escape, no recovery.

quite a secret special skill to round out my spread. and yet, these dark cards come up for me frequently when i do readings that include personal powers, strengths, and important characteristics. my scorpio nature and depression play strongly into everything, from the way i read cards to the way i approach decisions to the way i relate to others. it’s difficult to see the ten of swords as a skill, since melodrama and painting myself as a victim is rarely helpful. but this card does make me snicker, and reminds me to stay aware of those dark tendencies in both myself and others, which can certainly be a skill. it’s a lot harder to be aware of bad patterns when it’s you that’s falling into them, but i try to pay attention to how my mind operates and stay focused when i can feel myself slipping into dark, twisty places. i also have plenty of darkness in my mind and my past, and while nothing truly horrific has happened to me, i do think that those experiences have helped shape me, taught me how to survive and remove the swords that are impaling me.

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this spread was certainly a challenging one, encompassing everything from honest love and community to self-imposed isolation and leaving the past behind. there are images of hope here, encouragement, friendship, inspiration. but there are also warnings of obsession, loss, despair, getting lost in the darkness of our own minds. but there’s so much wisdom here, particularly as i seek ways to let my own creativity shine, as i reflect on hidden dreams or secret aspirations, as i crave a passion project that lets me channel my energy and knowledge and inner fire.

i’ve been doing a lot of larger spreads lately, and am eager to get back to my single-card daily drawings for a bit so that i can unpack all of the wisdom here. but if you did any special spreads or readings for the eclipse, please share in the comments!

so this is the new year

…and what a year it’s been. today is my one-year anniversary of tarot, exactly 365 days since i purchased my first deck and began learning a new language. what drew me to tarot was a desire to feel more connected with the world, to find a method of relating to things bigger than me, to overcome my difficult relationship with the church and find a new way to connect spiritually with the world. tarot has helped me reclaim that part of myself, learn to see beyond what’s in front of me, and forced me to grow and challenge myself in ways i never expected.

i’ve been searching for a new spread, something to help me celebrate and reflect, but in the end i decided to use an old one – the reader’s reading, a spread i did when i first purchased my deck, and again six months ago, when i started this blog. i love the continuity of it, having a spread i do each year to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. one of my favorite things about tarot is that while we can continue to gain knowledge and experience, even those that have been reading cards for decades still find new lessons, new interpretations, new ways to learn and grow. it’s a beautiful language, an incredibly powerful tool, and one i’m constantly challenged and amazed by.

1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?

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the seven of pentacles is a curious card to get in this position, but it feels like a little wink, an acknowledgement that i’ve done this spread several times before. this is the report card of the deck, a chance to stop, evaluate, and consider if a change of direction is needed. it’s so easy to set a course and then just find a groove, settling into that path and following it. but sometimes it’s essential to pause in the middle, to recheck that compass, and make sure that we’re still heading the right way.

of course, this is exactly what i’m doing right now – stopping to consider, remembering where i started and looking forward to where i’m going. i’m not a person that sets strong goals for my life, or has huge ambitions, but i do enjoy the process of introspection and assessment. the journey is what matters to me, and in tarot, that could certainly be a strong and important characteristic in my readings.

2. What strengths do you already have as a reader?

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it’s hard to imagine any other position or spread where the dreaded nine of swords would make me smile, but in this case, i couldn’t help it. nightmares, the mind attacking itself, dark visions, anguish, despair – this is not a card anyone wants to see. and yet, in some ways, this card absolutely represents my strength: it doesn’t frighten me.

as someone that battles severe depression, idiopathic insomnia, a lifetime of feeling isolated, and more run-of-the-mill (but no less crippling) self-doubt and self-loathing, this card really hits home. it speaks to my inner demons, my worst fears, my darkest moments. but in this position, the card also represents what i already know to be true: that the mind is a difficult, twisted place, and that it is capable of true darkness. even when i do readings to find courage or strength, i often get “scary” cards in places of personal power. i know what the darkness is, but i don’t shy away from it. traditionally scary or fear-inspiring cards like the tower, the devil, death, or the ten of swords don’t frighten me, because i can see that they have purpose and meaning and value. loss can lead to greater findings. change may be hard, but it’s not inherently bad. and transformation can lead to greater beauty, even if the process is painful.

i truly believe that as a tarot reader, it’s my job to unflinchingly see the messages that the cards hold. those might not always be pretty or shiny or happy – sometimes they are difficult, brutally honest, or unwelcome. but i have to be able to honestly interpret their lessons, even when i don’t receive the answers i’m hoping for. and being able to see the darkness for what it is, and remember that there can be light at the end? that’s a strength, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

3. What limits do you feel as a reader?

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the chariot is a card of strength, willpower, confidence, control, and overcoming adversity. it’s a beautiful, inspirational card, but in this position it indicates limits that i feel as a reader, which makes it a bit more difficult to read. this card speaks to control, determination, someone that’s a force of nature. as a limit, it’s easy to see how this could go awry – someone is so focused on their goal they push past other potential options, become too forceful or stubborn, need to be in complete power and control over everything and everyone in their path.

i’m probably on the other side of this card – i rarely feel in control of anything, and don’t usually seek it unless i’m scared or uncomfortable. sometimes i want to steer the ship, chart the course, but most of the time i stay focused on little challenges, taking things day by day, and seeing how things go. this can certainly be a limit or weakness for me, as i’m resistant to looking too far ahead, or setting long-term goals. and for tarot, only pulling cards for a single day or the short-term or for small questions could be limiting my abilities to grow as a reader. perhaps it’s time to start pushing myself, asking bigger questions, to stop being afraid of what i might see farther ahead.

4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey?

son-of-cups

the first card in my spread to show any real color, the son of cups is quiet, peaceful, introspective, and intuitive. he represents the extremes of the suit, shifting between poetic and insightful and dark, brooding, moody. this card really speaks to me as a lesson, since as a child of the water, i’m very susceptible to difficult, changing emotions. some days i don’t feel like i can handle what the cards may say, and other times it’s hard for me to cut past my own feelings and be honest with myself about the messages in the deck.

sensitivity is key when reading tarot, but it’s important to not let it get the best of me. i have to be able to separate myself from the deck when i’m reading for others, and it’s essential to be able to look past my swirling emotions and complicated feelings and see the heart of the matter, the reality that the cards are bringing to my attention.

but i think this card is also a reminder that emotions are not a weakness, and that they are not something to fear or avoid. the cards challenge me in so many ways, but one of the biggest lessons i’ve learned this year is that powerful emotions can make us strong, can push us forward, can reveal what we truly care about. they can take us to dark places, but they can also remind us what matters.

5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?

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a card of secrecy and self-protection is an interesting one in a position of openness and development, but the seven of swords is a card that i’ve learned to love this year. i think it’s often seen as a card of deception, lies, trickery, of fooling those around you for your own gain. but for me, this card tends to pop up when there’s danger around, when i need to be on my guard, when protecting myself is key. sometimes you’ve gotta hide, and other times you have to grab a blade and be ready.

similar to the first card in the spread, i think this could be a little wink to me – a reminder that cards can be open to interpretation, that leaning heavily on books and blogs and resources to understand every single nuance isn’t always the answer, that the cards can mean different things at different times. when i first began reading tarot i was eager to memorize meanings, wanted to be sure i was aware of all the traditional implications and histories of each card. but now, i’m learning to rely more on my own intuition, to trust my inner voice and my first reactions to cards, rather than simply opening books and websites and leaning on the wisdom of others. everyone might not agree with my understanding of the seven of swords, but that’s perfectly fine.

but taking this card at face value, i think it challenges me to be aware of secrets i’m keeping while reading. it’s so much easier to just take what you want from the cards and run, rather than honestly assessing meaning and pushing yourself to understand what the cards are truly saying. i think the seven of swords can serve as a reminder to be open with myself, to not fall into the trap of self-deceit, to keep my eyes open.

6. What is the potential outcome of this journey?

IMG_0305the most vivid and colorful card in my spread, the three of wands is a card of confidence, moving forward, stepping into a bright future. this card shimmers with possibility, and it’s an incredible card to have in the outcome position.

i’ve written a lot about how the first few cards in the suit of wands often bring me anxiety, a weight of expectation that i never feel prepared to bear. but the three is about clarifying that vision, opening our eyes wide, solidifying intentions and following dreams. and while i’m not someone that necessarily has a crystal-clear vision of my future, or even an understanding of what my aspirations truly are, this card is both soothing and empowering for me. there’s such opportunity, such potential, and yet the world is wide and the possibilities are many. tarot has expanded my vision, helped me view my days through a different lens, and by continuing to follow this path, perhaps my future will also find some clarity.

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this is a very black and white spread, in more ways than one. i see definite progress here, learning and growing, leaning into challenges and understanding my own limits. and while the three of wands isn’t a card i typically like, in this position it gives me hope – i’m on the right path, and the future is colorful.

thank you for a beautiful year. now, onto the next.

on the three of cups

IMG_0334i’ve written before about stalker cards, and this past month i have a new one – the three of cups. it’s not hard to pinpoint why, exactly – i’ve been struggling with changing relationships, feeling left out and misunderstood, battling my loneliness and trying to learn to reach out and ask for help more often.

the three of cups is a card of friendship and community, a safe space of honesty, love, and openness. this is a beautiful, comforting card, one that represents those that truly allow us to be ourselves. and while for most it’s a very welcome card, for me it’s come to represent a particular relationship that’s shifting, and other relationships that are lost. it feels like it’s mocking my feelings of doubt, isolation, and rejection. seeing it again today, reversed, feels very pointed. rather than letting this card stand alone, it seems like time to do a stalker spread.

 

1. What is the importance of this card in my life right now?

IMG_0315the mother of wands, a card of fierce loyalty, vibrant energy, and incredible passion. strong-willed, determined, and independent, this is a card that has shown up when i’m pushing myself, and when i’m scared – she tends to reveal herself when i need an extra boost of confidence and clarity, when i’m hesitating, when i’m doubting myself. she’s a reminder to fight for what’s right, to stay true to ourselves, to practice gratitude and focus on what matters.

in this reading, the mother of wands feels like a reminder to keep reaching for what i want. i’m afraid of relationships falling apart, i don’t want to push people away that i care about, and i don’t want to be alone with my troubles – but at the same time, i hate feeling vulnerable, asking for help, sharing my feelings. it may take a lot more effort on my part, and i may need to push myself to keep being honest and working through my issues, but it’ll be worth it to get what i want and need. i can’t keep bottling everything up, hoping that the people in my life will somehow magically know what i need. my friendships and communities matter deeply to me, and right now i need to fight for them, and to make an effort to connect with friends both near and far.

2. What is preventing me from hearing the message of this card?

strength, a card of gentle courage, personal power, and true patience. this card is a reminder to tap into that well of inner strength and mastery, to learn to walk in tandem with our inner demons rather than always engaging in battle, to exercise patience and IMG_0360love when working with others. it’s a beautiful, encouraging card, but a challenging one in this position.

while strength is generally considered a positive thing, something to aspire to and work towards, the cards seem to be saying that in this case, it’s become a hindrance. i’m clinging to a specific idea, mistaking my refusal to change for patience, perhaps not taking enough responsibility for my own feelings and actions. i keep ploughing ahead with the same view of the three of cups, sure that it alludes to my sadness and isolation, that it keeps popping up to taunt me. but there are plenty of cards that represent loneliness, depression, loss, grief, discouragement, rejection. is it so hard to take this card at face value, to believe that i have a community that cares about me? can i be strong enough to see this card for what it truly is? do i truly believe that showing vulnerability and feelings is a weakness, or can i embrace it as a true strength of will?

it’s time to stop seeing stubbornness as a synonym for fortitude. sometimes, strength comes in knowing when to shift, when to regroup, when to stop and breathe and reconsider. strength can be honesty, openness, admitting weakness and fear and brokenness. and rather than clinging to old ideas, calling it patience while i wait for things around me to change, perhaps it’s time to adjust my own attitude.

3. How can I release any blockages?

the ten of wands, a card of burnout, exhaustion, scattered energy and emotion. the suit of fire and passion, enthusiasm and opportunity, has reached its natural conclusion: feeling overwhelmed and utterly depleted. there’s a sense of burden and even shame here – too many things going on, feeling stretched in every direction, unsure of where to go next or how to succeed.

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this card is a reminder to focus on what truly matters, to strip away the distractions and all the extra, to remember where joy lives and to seek it out. and right now, that feels pretty damn impossible – i can see the fog of depression creeping over the horizon, my own sadness is at higher levels than usual, my therapist is out of town, i feel lonely and strange, everything is wrong but i’m doing my usual song-and-dance that everything is fine. i don’t want to fight through this tangle of branches, choosing the one that matters most – i want to use them for a bonfire, burn it all down, start over. and perhaps this is a reflection of how i feel about the three of cups: so many tangled feelings, making something that seems so simple and lovely into something utterly complicated and dark.

the ten of wands itself is a card that demands release, that advises us to let go of all those extra burdens and instead find the joy that started the whole mess. and the joy of the three of cups is so simple: feeling understood, feeling valued, feeling heard. knowing that you mean something to the people in your life, both those you see all the time and others that take more effort to stay connected with. i am lucky enough to have both, a community of friends in my city along with old friends i’ve known for years, though they’re much farther away. and while sometimes i’m stumbling in the dark, feeling utterly lost and alone, i have a family that i’ve chosen, that somehow has chosen me right back.

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i knew this spread would be a difficult one, and it is. i clearly have trouble accepting love and friendship, leaning on others, admitting when i need help. i’m much better at reaching out to friends that are in pain than i am at reaching out when i’m in pain. i struggle with believing that people truly care about me, especially when i’m battling my demons. but the three of cups keeps popping up not to mock me or insult me, but rather as a constant reminder that i matter to someone. it’s a difficult lesson for me, but it’s one i need to take to heart, particularly in this time of challenge and change.

birth cards

rather than a regular single-card drawing, today i’m meditating on a specific card: my birth card, the high priestess. there are a lot of ways to calculate birth cards, but for me, every method produces this card.

IMG_0354the high priestess is one that i really love and admire: intuitive, psychic, wise, mysterious, calm, one that is comfortable in stillness. she is able to see beyond what most are capable of, listening carefully to what is both spoken and unspoken. most people, problems, and situations have much more going on under the surface, and the high priestess’ ability to see beyond the obvious and acknowledge what is hidden gives her the ability to find the truth. she has utter confidence in her strengths, understands her power, and does not fear what she does not know. she embraces the mystery, the tension of the unknowable, and puts emphasis on things we cannot prove but that simply are.

finding and meditating on my birth card is part of my week one exercises, and beth has a bit more information on numerology to explore. to gain further understanding and connection with my birth card, i’ll be using this simple three-card spread to explore the high priestess’ energy. a getting-to-know-you spread, so to speak.

1. how do you relate to this card? what is your relationship with this card?

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the seven of pentacles, a curious card in this position. this card can be considered the report card of the tarot, a chance to step back and evaluate progress, get organized, and consider whether the path forward is correct or if a shift should take place. in terms of the high priestess, this card could be showing that while i’m taking first steps towards becoming a more intuitive person and tarot reader, than i still have a ways to go. starting beth’s course and applying more disciplined work towards my practice is certainly a shift for me, since i started in a much more casual manner – but i do tend to to rely on books and blogs for my interpretations, rather than my own instincts. i want to be a more intuitive reader, but often get caught up in the idea of a correct meaning, rather than what my mind and heart tell me when i look at the cards. the orderly, organized fashion of this card seems in direct opposition of the calm, confident mystery in the high priestess, and doesn’t represent the kind of reader that i want to be.

2. how does this particular card reflect your own relationship with yourself, and what can you learn from it?

ace-of-wandsthe ace of wands, a card i’ve been seeing more and more. a bold opportunity, an exciting beginning, the fiery crackle of energy and movement – this card represents a fresh new start with a big idea. again, the fire and passion and anticipation all seem to contradict the peaceful stillness of the high priestess, making this a challenging card in this position.

i do like quiet, but i also am a very passionate person – and my eagerness to understand and move forward with tarot could be limiting my ability to deepen my practice and meditate with cards as i work with them. i want to be a strong reader, want to feel a deep connection with the cards, but my instinct after a spread or a daily draw is not to meditate and ponder, but rather to reach for my books and resources. analyzing and explaining the cards is not a bad instinct, but to rely on my intuition is a bigger challenge for me, and one that i should be focusing on. more luna, less hermione. 

3. how can you actively and positively integrate this archetype into your own life?
daughter-of-pentacles

the daughter of pentacles, a child and student of the earth who radiates peace, strength,and stillness. responsible and kind, she is supportive of those around her, hard-working, detail-oriented, and resourceful.

this card is a beautiful reminder that i am just getting started, that a year is not long to be reading tarot, that focusing on details is not a downfall but rather the means to an end. i need to accept where i am in this process, using the resources at my disposal but also trusting myself to solve problems on my own. my intuition is strong and present – i simply need to consider it a resource in my tarot reading, and remember that my instincts can be just as powerful as the meaning and interpretations of much more experienced readers.

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my birth card, the high priestess, is a powerful, inspirational card – and it’s completely okay that i’m not her yet. i’m still a daughter, a student, finding my way on shaky legs. but my ability to step back and reconsider, along with my fiery passion for this practice, will help me continue to grow and learn to trust my intuition and embrace the beautiful mystery of the tarot.

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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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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