peace & love

today’s daily draw is a card i worked with just last week: the empress.

the-empressnurturing, soothing, radiating calm and tranquil energy, the empress is vibrant, creative, and brimming with love. she’s a caretaker, someone who makes everyone around her feel both relaxed and strong. she builds people up, cares for their needs, reminds them that they are capable and powerful, and is never afraid to let her own light shine brightly. there’s a sensual energy here, a passion and abundance that illuminates the card. she encourages us to care for others as well as ourselves, to reconnect with natural and the world around us, to offer love without restrictions or restraint. she takes us as we are, imperfections and all, and reminds us of our power.

i’ve got a lot swirling in my head these days – my husband has been pushing himself to the limit and is now sick, work has been hectic, and we’re getting ready to head out to california tomorrow for a week-long trip. it’s the first time i’ll be seeing my in-laws since coming out last month, and i’m both excited and incredibly nervous about what the next few days may bring. i’m also trying to be as loving and compassionate as possible, helping my husband get well before a busy week of travel. the empress can speak to these worries, reminding me to offer nurturing love to my partner, to remember compassion when speaking to my conservative family members, and to stay grounded and connected to the world around me so that i don’t get so lost in my mind that i drift away.

IMG_0334since i drew the empress so recently, i decided to gift myself a companion card for some extra clarification and direction: and pulled the three of cups, a card i haven’t worked with before. a card of friendship, kindness, and joy, this is a beautiful reminder of the people that i share love with on a daily basis. i have a group of girls that have saved my life in a sense this past year, and i see them here – but this card is also a reminder that i have a supportive family, a strong husband, and old friends that love me even if we don’t see each other often. i love my family, but the idea of the family you choose is something i’ve always really embraced. my chosen family keeps me grounded, keeps me centered, lets me kick and scream and cry when i need it, but also reminds me that i’m strong and brave and more powerful than i realize. they gave me the courage to come out. they encouraged me to seek a therapist for my depression and self-harm. they let me be myself, absolutely and honestly, in a way i haven’t been able to before. and that holistic, healing energy of the empress – it’s here, in real friendship and love.

there’s a lot of color, a lot of soothing energy, a lot of love in these cards today. and as someone that considers myself a dark, swirling mess of weird, it’s comforting to see so much positivity here. my main struggle with tarot is honestly reading what the cards are saying, rather than twisting them into something else – but it’s hard not to see the tenderness and warm in today’s cards. i’ll try not to fight it.

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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?
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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.

dual meanings

as i continue to reflect on what tarot is and why it’s important to me, i was delighted to pull a card for my daily reading that seems to embrace all the beautiful difficulties and contradictions of this practice: the two of swords.

IMG_0289this powerful card features two dark swords, identical in strength and size, locked together. a fiery eclipse hovers over their meeting point, with dark lines of energy pulsing away from their crossing.

this depiction in the wild unknown is very different from the more traditional images of a woman standing blindfolded, holding a sword in each hand, contemplating and considering what she cannot see. where the wild unknown image feels like conflict or a stalemate, the original image feels peaceful, contemplative, like the woman featured is pushing other things out of the way to focus on what matters. i love the duality of this card, the variety of meanings that can be drawn from it. two opposing forces clashing, with no one able to move forward, all that energy stalled by an contradictory force. but they could also be unified, lending one another strength, joining those strong forces together to achieve a common goal or purpose. there’s such focus, a beautiful balance and symmetry that speaks to a completely different energy.

week one of beth’s alternative tarot course includes a lengthy list of questions, all centered around tarot, including history, meaning, purpose, abilities, and how that connects to me as a reader. and when i consider what drew me to tarot in the first place, this card is a perfect example: i love the duality, the hidden meanings, the way that every card feels full of possibilities. obviously the suits and courts, the major and minor cards, all have patterns and inherent symbolism that lends each card to specific meanings. but all of that is open to interpretation, allowing individual readers to listen to the cards and hear their message.

mother-of-cupsthe appeal of the beautiful mystery and elusive nature of tarot is what compelled me to choose the mother of cups as my personal card for the duration of this course. it was a strong influence in my reader’s reading a few days ago and is a card i’ve written about many times already. her wisdom, natural intuition, empathy, solitude, and psychic abilities are appealing and inspiring to me, and represent much of what i hope to gain from learning tarot. this card makes me feel powerful and strong, reminds me to listen and find wisdom in stillness, and gives me courage to trust my instincts and my intuition.

 

worries, worries

all of my exercises for beth’s alternative tarot course this week focus on my personal feelings and goals for tarot: what is tarot for? what do i hope to achieve by reading? can tarot predict the future? and as i consider my connection to these cards, and why they’ve become so important to me, i have to acknowledge that i don’t see them as predictive. i seek insight, understanding, and a new perspective on questions when i read – i don’t rely heavily on the outcome cards in larger spreads or think that what the cards tell me is a guarantee. however, i do take their wisdom seriously, and meditate on their messages.

today’s card is one of sadness, worry, and hard times: the five of pentacles. and while this isn’t a particularly uplifting card to see, it does reflect some worries and difficulties i’ve been facing, and could speak to difficulties to come.

IMG_0322a vivid rose droops, stem slumped, losing a wilted petal in the darkness. in spite of her bright color and seemingly healthy leaf and stem, she is dejected, lost, carrying the weight of the world on her delicate petals. fives are related to loss, suffering, and failing to handle the suit, so as the five of pentacles this card speaks to illness, losing a job, financial troubles, or rejection. earthly concerns, a lack of that which keeps us grounded and stable and comfortable.

i wrote a few weeks ago about a worry that was consuming me, a narrative that i couldn’t see a way out of. and while in this case it was manifesting as swords, i acknowledged a very real concern, though one that i could be creating in my own mind. for me, these days pentacles feel less about money and more about the things that keep me feeling whole and strong: creative work, stories, friends, family, feeling connected to the world around me. while these things are more closely related to wands and cups, seeing a similar feeling of discouragement, worry, and loss reflected in the suit of pentacles feels like it’s hitting closer to home. IMG_0340

seeking advice, i pulled a clarification card: the nine of cups. a card of bliss, peace, and harmony, that seems to directly contradict the sadness and concern of the five of pentacles. this card represents good health, happiness, even material gains; a feeling of wholeness and satisfaction.

at first these cards felt contradictory – my tendency to read pentacles as the things that matter to me, rather than their more standard meaning as earthly possessions, makes for a confusing pairing. but just because i don’t place as much value on wealth and career as others, doesn’t mean that those things can’t still face trials. my current worries are centered on relationships, and the nine of cups speaks to that – it’s important to remember that my connection with the tarot is based in intuition, not prediction. my gut says that things will be hard, but my relationships with people will see me through – and that they are more solid than i think.

tarot’s main purpose for me is to expand my mind, help me see more deeply into myself and the world around me, and find meaning in things great and small. my cards challenge me to trust my intuition, to see beyond the superficial, to listen to my instincts and learn to rely on them to guide me. and while today’s cards aren’t shiny and happy, they reflect what’s going on in my head and my heart – and remind me to remember that what truly matters to me is not in jeopardy.

always learning

IMG_1381after such a difficult and emotional june, i’m feeling energized and a bit restless. we havea lot of travel scheduled for july, and as i look forward at all of the exploring and adventures ahead, i’m also craving personal growth. tarot has become so important tome over these last ten months of reading, and i find myself wanting to dive deeper into hidden meanings, personal intuition, and feeling truly connected to my cards.

with that in mind, i’ve decided to begin beth’s alternative tarot course, an eight-week program designed to help readers develop their own style of reading and interpretation.

the course includes daily single-card readings, much like i do anyway, along with exercises and a larger weekly spread. i plan to use this space to explore the writing prompts, along with all of the readings she outlines, but i will still do my regular single-card daily readings here too. it’s my hope that sharing this journey publicly will connect me further within the tarot community, and help me continue to grow and learn.

with that in mind, i’m going to begin with this week’s weekly spread: the reader’s reading. this first week is all about thoughtfully considering what tarot means to me personally, what i believe about it, how it impacts me, and what i hope to achieve by learning this practice. i did this exact reading when i first started this blog in february, so revisiting it seems like a lovely way to begin this new portion of my tarot journey.

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

father-of-pentacles

the father of pentacles, king of the earth. grounded, practical, strong, observant, confident, quiet, steady, and gentle, this father is a lovely, calm soul. he stays cool under pressure, remains deeply connected with the world and people around him, and prizes his family, home, and career. he is reliable and mature, down-to-earth, known for his dependability and rationality.

i don’t always see myself in the pentacles, and don’t often draw them. but there’s something so soothing and profound about this card’s energy. i do think of myself as a hard worker, a problem solver, someone that will always jump in to help. i’m great under pressure, someone that can quickly assess a situation and come up with solutions. i like to think of myself as someone with a quick mind and a cool head. i’m the consummate emergency contact, the one who will drop everything to help out, the person who fixes things. i may not always have the answers, but i will always try to find them.

2. What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader; what are you bringing to this course?

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the ten of cups, a card of harmony, balance, love, and support. there’s so much energy and positivity here, but i’m most struck by the openness, the evenness, of that colorful rainbow of light. every card gives and receives, sharing what they have and discovering something new. there’s no holding back, no stinginess or secrecy – the cups let everything pour out into the community.

as a strength, what i see here is my willingness to share and learn from others. i’m rarely 100% confident in my knowledge or abilities, even on topics where i have a lot of experience – and tarot is no different. i have so much to learn, and i think that this spirit of openness, this willingness to admit what i don’t know, and this desire to read and study and gain from the experience of others has already helped me in my study of tarot. i love my blogs and books, love finding new forums and old texts that will help expand my knowledge and push me to always find new meanings in the cards. if i can maintain that attitude of humility and sincerity, i think it will really help me grow.

3. What limits do you feel as you start this course?

four-of-cups

the four of cups: a card of discontent, apathy, an emotional slump. this card has come up for me in spreads before, and never fails to confuse me. is the rat simply hoarding the cups for himself? is he ignoring the light above, as in the five of cups? what is making him discontent, restless, selfish?

i struggle with the meaning of this card, which makes me think that the four of cups in this position is less to do with the literal meaning of this card and more what it represents to me in drawings and spreads – i don’t have a perfect, encyclopedic knowledge of every card’s meaning. i want to do this course, and i believe that it’s time, but i’m concerned that my lack of memorization is somehow going to hold me back. i want to know the more traditional interpretations, want to stay connected to the history and wisdom of the deck, but i also want to have a personal link to my own cards. the four of cups is probably the card i struggle with the most, not because i don’t like the meaning but because i always feel confused by what its message is.

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

mother-of-cups

oh, my beloved mother of cups. this is one of my favorite cards in the deck, one that comes up for me often, and she is always a welcome sight in a spread. her insight is legendary, her creativity is inspirational, and her psychic abilities bring tranquility and healing to everyone she touches. she’s often compared to the high priestess, which is my birth card, and i find her deeply inspirational and aspirational.

as a lesson, the mother of cups speaks to me of openness, a willingness to listen, and a deep need to trust my intuition. being receptive to the lessons of the tarot, even when they’re difficult, is critical to understanding the wisdom and beauty of the cards. there is power in quiet, strength in stillness, and so much more to these cards than what is on the surface.

 

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

ace-of-cups

a brilliant and colorful card, the ace of cups is overflowing with energy and connectivity. the wild unknown calls this card love’s beginnings, and this card does usually symbolize the start of something lovely – a new crush, a new relationship, a new opportunity.

emotions have power, and while not all feelings are pleasant, they all have significance and weight. cups are not just for love and happiness, but the full spectrum of human response. in this position, i see a reminder to engage with all the aspects of emotional wisdom. just like feelings, the cards can quickly get away from me if i’m not careful – it can be easy to only see what i want, rather than remembering that there is often more than meets the eye. it’s more fun to focus on the happy emotions, the beauty and pleasure and love that swirls around us sometimes, and ignore the danger signs or the more difficult interpretations. i don’t always need to search for the most beautiful, positive meaning in each card – some cards are just difficult or ugly, because that is part of life too. i need to remember to acknowledge everything about the cards, to embrace my role as a student, and to find a way to enjoy every lesson, every emotion, every message – even when it’s hard.

6. What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?­­­

ace-of-wands

it’s fascinating to pull the ace of wands, a card that is typically associated with a new idea or opportunity, as my outcome card. this card brims with energy and fire, and while it’s a positive and exciting card to see, often overwhelms me.

however, a card of such powerful inspiration and potential is really motivating to me. if the outcome of my tarot journey is to put me at a fresh start, an exciting new beginning brimming with energy and possibilities and strength, then that’s a wonderful place to be. i don’t see this journey as one with a clear destination – i plan to read for as long as i can. there’s no end game. but if the benefit of this course is that it can put me in a new position, one that inspires me to start something else or bring tarot into a more important place in my life, how can i not be energized? this is such a fun and powerful card to see here.

 

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overall: four cups, one wand, and one pentacle – no swords in sight. the proportion makes sense to me – i’m a scorpio, a water sign, and identify strongly with the suit of cups. but i’m very drawn to the suits of wands and pentacles, seeing quiet and strength in the earth and often craving that crackle of fire. swords are less appealing to me, as my mental energy is usually dark and negative. and for me, tarot is all about intuition, connection, and insight, and less about structured meanings and precise interpretations.

i’m both soothed and energized by this spread, seeing so much potential in this course and what i can learn from it. i’m really looking forward to continuing my journey and growing as a reader. and please, if you find this post and feel inspired (or have worked with this course, either now or in the past), let me know! i’d love to connect to other readers.

reverence & gratitude

it’s been a truly incredible few days. my letters were received with love and kindness, and now i can proudly say that i am out to my entire immediate family. it’s been years in the making, and i feel such a profound sense of relief, release, and rest. i was able to celebrate my first pride weekend with the knowledge that i’m living honestly and truly.

the-empresstoday’s card is nurturing, holistic, and compassionate: the empress. and she’s a beautiful reflection of the energy i feel today.

i love this card. the ultimate earth mother, she is creative, gentle, strong, warm, sensual, comforting, and free. she’s completely unapologetic for being herself and taking up space – there’s such an easy confidence about her. the empress knows her value and her worth, is sure of her place in the world. she gives of herself, openly and honestly, and thrives when she can comfort and nurture others around her. unlike the high priestess, that lives in mystery and shadows and stillness, the empress is utterly grounded, deeply connected to nature and the world around her. she is filled with love and generosity of spirit, with no rules or expectations or judgements. she is a warm embrace, a long walk through a beautiful forest, a cozy spot by a roaring fire.

the empress embodies the strengths and spirits of all four mothers in the deck: the fierce determination of the mother of wands, the insightful tranquility of the mother of cups, the experienced and wise perception of the mother of swords, and the patient compassion of the mother of pentacles. she pushes us to use all of our senses and abilities, to open ourselves to possibility, and to step fully into opportunities. but because she also represents sensuality, fertility, and cultivation, the empress can remind us to be aware of what we’re nurturing, and who (or what) is nurturing us.

after pushing myself hard to be open and honest with those i love, the empress speaks to me of peace, rest, and contentment. today is a day for love, calm reflection, and kindness, of nurturing myself.

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.