forward motion

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.

IMG_1907i 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.

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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!

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cutting through

much like the ace/two/three of wands, i feel a bit of anxiety when i pull the ace of swords in a daily reading. clarity is coming, the truth will be revealed, and whether i like it or not, honest insight is on its way. i pulled this card just a few weeks ago, in the wake of charlottesville, and it forced me to continue to acknowledge my privilege as a white woman in a liberal city, even as i wrestle with my struggles as a queer woman whose identity is often lost or erased. what will this fearsome blade cut through today?

ace-of-swordsperhaps it’s natural as a water sign to be uncomfortable with the air, to worry about what that brilliant blade of light and truth will uncover. i’m in such a difficult place, trying not to drown in depression and working hard to not completely isolate myself, and the idea of facing the ugliness of my emotions, gazing unflinchingly at my mistakes and pride, forcing myself to acknowledge things long buried – it sounds like too much to bear. this sword has a sharp point, that zeroes in on its mark and does not miss. it lights up the darkness, offers flashes of brilliance and power and clarity, cuts to the heart of the matter. like all aces, it embodies all the strengths and challenges of the suit, harnessing the power of the air.

and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide in the darkness.

but what else can this card represent? the fountain tarot features a brilliant sword that looks to be made of glass, diving straight down into all the colors and tangles to cut a clear path forward. there’s no hesitation, no flinching, no fear – simply force, IMG_1861determination, and power. this sword cuts through everything, clearing the way for truth and strength and success. sometimes we have to clear away all that bullshit to see the soul inside. nothing about this is easy or simple, but it’s not meant to be. clearing through tangled emotions, complicated justifications, excuses and perceptions and all the ways we explain away and struggle to understand our current reality – it’s a painful process, but a necessary one. this sword demands that we assess ourselves, force ourselves to sift through everything to find the truth, and take the time to understand what lies at the heart of these issues. it also suggests powerful new ideas, flashes of insight, fresh approaches to old problems, ambition and strength and determination to see things through to the end. and those are satisfying, appealing ideas, especially in my current state.

a difficult card, to be sure. self-reflection can be a miserable process, revealing things we’d prefer not to see. and the idea of charging forward with that brilliant blade, fearless and strong, feels impossible. but after yesterday’s reading and all of its encouragement to mourn the past and then set it free, this feels like a harsh but necessary reminder to start that challenging, ultimately rewarding work.

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grief & release

though i’m very new to the fountain tarot, it’s remarkable how different it feels in my hands. when i was trying to choose my first deck, i kept coming back to the wild unknown – it felt like i had an immediate emotional connection to it, like we could have a long and fulfilling relationship, like it had wisdom and knowledge and power that it was just waiting to reveal. it felt like water, deep and dark and full of magic. but the fountain tarot feels like air to me, crisp and light and honest, ready to cut to the heart of the matter. perhaps that’s why it’s taken me so long to begin working with this deck, in spite of the fact that i bought it months ago – i had to be ready to deal with this new feeling, a new element in my readings.

true to form, my new deck is clear and concise, sharing its wisdom and waiting for me to catch up. today’s cards are judgment and the five of cups.

IMG_1852my single card draw was judgment, a card of release, reconciliation, and forgiveness. it’s looking directly at our past, understanding the pain and struggles and loss that may be there, fully acknowledging mistakes and heartache and difficulties. it’s accepting our role in those trials, honestly owning what has happened (along with what hasn’t) and our part in it, and then setting it free. i find it feels so much easier sometimes to hang on to that pain, to let it fester into bitterness and anger and frustration – but all that dwelling on the past actually takes so much energy, changing the focus from what’s in front of me back to what’s already happened. this shift isn’t always an elegant or lovely process – rather, this type of self-assessment and openness is often ugly and messy and terrifying. but setting that pain free, letting go of the past, and allowing ourselves to move on is the only way to go forward and begin to heal. there’s such intention in this card, a joyous leap up and out from that stifling cavern. she’s finally free, able to rise up and step into a new, more open future.

i don’t often acknowledge cards that jump out of the deck while shuffling, at least not beyond a quick glance, a nod, and incorporating it back into the deck. but the five of cups leapt out of the deck when i was cutting it, about to draw, which has never IMG_1854happened to me. and seeing these two cards together, i can understand what the cards wanted me to see. the five of cups speaks to grief, despair, an emotional storm. while not every cup is overturned or broken, there has been a significant loss, and it must be mourned. there is a time for sadness, and trying to ignore the sorrow can be a recipe for disaster. it can be so tempting to get lost in that suffering, to let the pain become the only thing that feels real – the man in this image is mourning those spilled cups, but there are two full ones right behind him, waiting for him to turn around and grasp them when he’s ready to move forward. we cannot get so lost in our grief that we forget that all is not lost, that we overlook that which we still have. but taking a beat to feel that sorrow is necessary – this card gives permission to feel that sadness, to move inward, to feel what we feel even when it’s dark and difficult. sometimes, we just have to sit with the despair.

 

IMG_1843together, these cards have a powerful message. the shadows are real – there has been loss, and struggle, and pain. a period of mourning is natural, normal, and acknowledging pain is an important part of moving past it. but without intention, without purpose, this grief cannot be overcome. even though i’m good at putting on a brave face, can play the role that’s required of me at times, my depression will not simply disappear just by ignoring it. and the pain of my past and present cannot be shed if i don’t acknowledge it. i have to face those demons, thoughtfully consider where i’ve been, and find a way to feel and release this pain without drowning in it. freedom is on the horizon, but i have to reach for it.

 

shadows & surrender

i love my deck, but lately i’ve been itching to explore some new interpretations. since i’m still pretty new at tarot, i don’t want to become so attached to one specific set of cards that i can’t open myself up to new readings, new possibilities, new understandings of these archetypes and images. the only way for me to grow is to connect with new decks, new artistry, and look to find the deeper meanings that i might miss with my current cards. today’s reading was done with the fountain tarot, and is a perfect card for my state of mind: the moon.

IMG_1828illuminating the dark waves and casting luminous shadows over the world, the moon glows in the darkness, gentle light that teases and tricks the eye. the card is beautiful, evocative and layered, with gorgeous monochromatic blues and greys. i love the ghostly wolves standing on the piers, the ropes and beams playing with lines, the richness of the night sky. the moon is a card of mystery, trickery, imagination – we can easily get lost in those dark shadows, our feet and minds confused without the brilliance of the daylight. there’s a wildness to this card, a sense of temptation, a longing to stay trapped in that beautiful darkness, howl at the sky, get lost and refuse to be found.

the creators of this deck call it a surrender to darkness, and write, “…there is nowhere to anchor, and everything feels confusing and deceptive, though slightly seductive and familiar. even time seems to be disappearing, but there is an urgency for you to move, or risk being lost here forever.” that resonates with me so strongly, it took the breath right out of my lungs. there’s nothing lovely about depression, no hidden benefit or secret silver lining – it’s just darkness, ugliness, a horror that paralyzes. depression takes, and takes, and takes. but the moon reveals beauty in that darkness, creates new murkiness where before there was only clarity. the moon lets us journey through those shadows, find hidden truths, and explore the depths of our own souls – good, bad, and ugly.

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i never quite know if it’s better to surrender to the darkness, to give in to the inevitable, and try to ride it out with grace – or if i should fight to the bitter end, using every last muscle to keep the monster away for as long as possible. i’ve tried both; neither works. the shadows always come, the fog always covers me, the upside-down always traps me. there’s no escaping the darkness, merely delaying it. but this time around, i’m trying to just let it be, but stay open. i’m trying to keep talking, keep blogging, keep reading my cards. i’m forcing myself to connect, to share, to seek out those who may understand and try to build something.

scary stuff, to be honest. forcing myself to be introspective, to write, to share, to connect with others honestly and openly – it’s hard, and doesn’t come naturally to me. but my hope is that if i can keep a little crack in the door, if i can focus on that softly glowing celestial beauty in the distance, if i can find ways to keep my dimming creativity alive, then maybe this descent into the shadows won’t be quite as deep.

grasping magic

depression is settling around me like a heavy fog. i can feel it thickening, its weight growing by the day, blocking out the light and making it more difficult to do basic tasks. everything becomes harder, slower, painful, requiring more energy and stamina than usual. my spoons are running low. i’m growing disinterested in the world around me.

sometimes the beginning is the worst, because i can still remember where i was just a few days ago. once i’m in it, i’m really in it – i lose track of time, days blur together, and it’s hard to tell just bad it is until i can crawl back out into the light. right now i can still make myself do things, still find joy in friends and favorite things, but it’s all a bit dulled, and i know it will only get dimmer as the days pass. i hope i’m not stuck here for too long, i think, as my head slips under the water.

IMG_0353what can the cards offer me, in their wisdom and insight and kindness? today’s draw is the magician, a card of purpose, action, energy, and empowerment. armed with his knowledge of all four minor suits, he sits in stillness, but plots his next move. he’s confident, independent, filled with awareness. he doesn’t act simply to be busy, but rather with purpose and intent, aware of his goals and the passions that drive him. the air around him shimmers with possibility, potential, something just a moment away. a brilliant sun, so similar to the radiant card i pulled just a few days ago, shines behind him, bathing him in light. his way forward is illuminated, clear, and he simply waits for the perfect moment to take that first, strong step.

i’ve only drawn this card once before, when i was weeks into the upside-down. it was a stark reminder that even small actions can have power, that simple tools can accomplish great things, that using my energy in strong, deliberate ways can have a major impact. it’s not always about huge goals, grand gestures, massive undertakings – sometimes even small steps forward is still better than standing still (or hiding underground).

i’ve been fighting this round of depression diligently, keeping myself busy with tasks and little goals even as i could feel the shadows lurking behind me. it felt like the moment i stopped, the second i turned around or acknowledged its presence, depression would consume me. and when i did, it did. but the magician tells a different story, reminds me of the tools at my disposal, my ability to cling to bits of light when i need it, my drive to find projects to fuel my passions. rather than simply waiting for something to arrive, there’s beautiful intention in this card – the magician plans his course, gathers the resources he needs, and moves forward calmly and deliberately. IMG_1803

i’m trying to keep moving, trying to stay honest, trying to keep connections alive. i’m being brutally honest on social media right now, more than ever before. i’m making sure friends and family know where i’m at. i’m connecting with the online tarot community in new ways. i have a therapist that’s aware of my mindset and is always a phone call away. i even have an emergency plan, just in case things get too dark, too heavy, too much.

but i think this is a strong card for me to meditate on and channel today. i don’t have to conquer the world, or escape my depression, or achieve every goal i can come up with – i just have to grasp a little magic. and for today, that can be enough.

on isolation

some days i wake up and know that the hours ahead are going to be difficult. call it intuition, call it fear, call it whatever you like – but today is not going to be a good day, and i know it in my bones.

i wish i knew how to navigate days like this, but i’m never sure what will help. i’ll make a to-do list, try to distract myself with mundane but necessary tasks. i’ll schedule a yoga class, take on a new project, go for a long walk with my dog. sometimes i share this feeling with those around me, but i usually just end up feeling guilty – it’s easier to isolate myself, stay quiet, hide away. nothing ever quite helps, and i know that when the sun goes down and i’m alone with my thoughts, things will feel impossible. it’s a scary feeling, an emptiness, a longing for relief that never comes.

IMG_0334hoping for some simple guidance and maybe even a bit of reassurance, i went to my cards – but my stalker card has once again reared its ugly head. the three of cups will not leave me alone, and i’m getting frustrated by the repetition. what are you trying to tell me?

this card showed up for the first time in early july, and has appeared four more times since, including in several spreads. i even did a stalker spread, and have resisted posting about it the last few times it’s popped up for daily readings. including today, that’s eight appearances in less than two months. i’m clearly missing an important element of this card, a significant message that i have to face. after so much reflection, after researching this card half to death, i’m still not sure what i don’t see.

this card represents celebration, community, accomplishment, beauty, joy, friendships, giving and receiving, compassion, sensitivity, harmony, positive energy, creativity, good times. it’s so positive, a card of contentment, understanding, feeling whole and accepted. and yet this card’s constant appearance brings a sense of dread, seems to mock my loneliness and isolation. if my community values me so much, why do i feel locked out of it? if contentment is present, why do i feel so miserable? if compassion and sensitivity are all around me, why do i feel alone and misunderstood?

reaching out is so difficult for me, and i hate doing it. everything in me resists. but this card feels like a lecture, forcing me to continue asking for help from people i feel don’t care about me very much. this card brings out shame in me, makes me feel embarrassed and contrary and just plain sad. i wish that a card with so much joy and love wrapped into its meaning didn’t make me feel completely alone, but somehow, it does.

what do you do when a card feels so wrong?

enjoying the warmth

after so many intense & lengthy spreads lately, i’m eager to get back to my single-card daily readings. they bring me such comfort, and i love their simple messages, and the opportunity to spend time meditating and considering one or two cards at a time.

IMG_0371today’s card is one of energy, life, positivity, vitality, radiance, and joy: the sun. and while it does feel a bit on the nose to draw this card brimming with light and happiness on the day after a solar eclipse, it also feels like a potent reminder to embrace the bright possibility that this card represents.

this card is positively glowing, beams of golden light streaming out from the center. the sun itself isn’t really even visible – it’s simply hinted at, hiding behind that intense and colorful glow. you can practically feel the warmth emanating from this card, and the sense of peace, comfort, and ease here is undeniable.

but for someone with darker impulses, someone who worships the moon, someone who rarely seeks out joy but instead lives in the shadows – what kind of lessons can i take from a card that’s so bright? this card feels foreign to me, even as i sit with it, drenched in sunlight from a clear blue sky. how do i learn to just enjoy that warmth, soak in the comfort, find the joy in the everyday? IMG_0305

my clarifying card offered similar advice: the three of wands. this card popped up just a few days ago in an outcome position, and also seems to be brimming with possibility. and while the idea of looking to the future, making grand plans and setting ambitious goals, doesn’t hold any real appeal – perhaps there’s joy in the unknown. perhaps even the act of considering what may be ahead is a way to make peace with it.

i’m struck by the idea of vision, and how we can’t look too closely or intently at both of these cards. the sun is too bright, too dazzling – we will literally sacrifice our vision trying to see it with the naked eye. it’s simply too intense for our human eyes to handle. and while the three of wands represents a much more ambiguous vision, that of the future, of what lies ahead, of the goals we set for ourselves, it too can be impossible to look at. stare ahead for too long, spend too much time squinting at those hazy colors, and we’ll lose sight of everything.

so where does this leave me? it seems that rather than scrambling for a project, or pouring my energy into the first thing that resonates, i should instead spend some time simply soaking up the sunshine, and enjoying each moment as it comes. finding a way to be present, rather than obsessing over past efforts or worrying about future failures, seems like the perfect way to find my path forward. and if that bright light, that colorful future, is impossible to see right now? i can still enjoy the warmth.

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don’t be surprised to see some changes in this space in the upcoming weeks – i’ll be redesigning the look of this site, changing the name to match my new instagram page (hello, fellow ‘grammers!), and working to connect with more readers in the tarot community. if you’d like to see something in this space, or just want to say hello, please give me a shout in the comments!