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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the horror inside

it’s finally come for me: the nine of swords.

as someone that’s battled insomnia and depression for most of my life, i knew when i began tarot that eventually this card would find me. and after almost a year of reading, i’m a little shocked that this is the first time i’ve ever drawn it.

IMG_0296this card is the definition of horror. disgusting, confusing images crowd this card, dark and twisted, and it’s difficult to even tell what is happening. the longer you look at it, the more revolting and upsetting it becomes. symbolizing dark visions, anguish, and the nightmares that keep us up all night, this is a card i’ve been dreading. it seems to represent everything that i hate about myself, everything i fear, all in one hideous image.

there are certain weapons against depression that i can wield during the day. they don’t always work, but when i have tasks to accomplish, a mile-long to do list, or deadlines looming, i can usually force myself to set the darkness aside for a bit and get things done. and daylight offers other comforts – friends, television, delivery food. even at my worst, daytime is always easier.

but the middle of the night, oh. that’s when it’s always harder. everyone is asleep, darkness reigns, and the world is silent and still. it’s just me, alone and anguished, trapped in the endless upside-down. once those bad thoughts start, once i fall down that rabbit hole, it can be absolutely impossible to stop, breathe, and remember who i really am. problems become unsolvable, friends seem like enemies, and everything seems utterly hopeless. i’ve had a few nights like this in the past few weeks, and they never get easier.

is there any hope in this card? carrie notes that while the nightmare itself is a tangled mess, the swords themselves are orderly and evenly spaced, attacking the beast from all sides. swords are all about mental energy, and it’s important to note that this entire hideous thing is in the mind. as beth states, this is mental self-torture. it’s completely self-created, self-inflicted. this whole ugly thing is inside my mind.

i decided to give myself the gift of a clarifying card this morning, and the energy couldn’t be more different: the ace of wands.

bold as hell, crackling with wild, fiery, passionate energy, this energetic card is all about ace-of-wandsexciting adventures, fresh creativity, and flashes of brilliant inspiration. where the swords are dark and tortured, pushing all that negativity inward towards a secret nightmare, this ace pushes inspiration outward. those colorful beams of enthusiasm seem to go on forever.

the message here seems clear – put your energy outward today. find that fire, share your enthusiasm, spread positive energy, and perhaps you can conquer the hideous nightmare waiting at midnight. make the day bright and strong, and the night won’t seem quite so dark. i keep stabbing myself with those sharp edges, letting my mental swords cut me down – but the brilliant fire of those wands can help.

the monsters never seem quite so bad in the light.

green lights

there’s so much energy humming right now, it’s actually palpable. sometimes when i’m shuffling and preparing to pull my daily reading, it feels like certain cards are almost inevitable, that you know what’s coming before it comes. with so much uncertainty, anxiety, and adrenaline going at all times these days, it feels like the only card i could possibly draw today is the one i got: the ace of wands.ace-of-wands

aces are always representative of opportunities & beginnings, a seed being planted, the purest qualities of its suit. and when combined with wands, the suit of fire, energy, action, passion, movement, adventure… this is an incredibly high-powered card. bursting life, untapped potential, exploding energy – everything in this card screams to get moving, seize that opportunity, grab that new adventure. the wand in this card literally radiates fiery energy and power and light.

we’re in the process of filling out applications for new apartments, and our timelines for this move are so tight that every decision feels urgent, like we’re constantly falling behind. things feel like they’re careening out of control, flying through non-stop green lights and hairpin turns, and all we can do is breathe deep and hang on and hope that we stay on course. this card encourages me to keep pushing, to stay focused, to harness all of that frantic, stressful energy and channel it into positive steps forward. don’t fear the speed – use it.

this card can also speak to restlessness and uncertainty, both of which i certainly am flooded with at this moment. i think that simply acknowledging emotions (as yesterday’s card reminded me) can be really helpful in difficult situations, and that taking a beat to feel what i’m feeling is always a useful exercise. i have to keep pushing to resolve this situation and plan our move, but i can also pause for breath and remember to care for myself, to pace myself, to remain focused on the final outcome.

that overflowing cup

after so many intense cards – the moon, the devil, three tens in a row – it feels extremely calming and empowering to receive an ace today in my daily reading. all those end-of-cycle cards, signaling burnout and struggles and difficulties, are in the past, and in front of me is a lovely new beginning. and as a scorpio, a water sign, someone that deeply identifies with emotion and passion and intuition, it’s especially sweet that today’s card is the ace of cups.

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i love aces. they just brim with possibility, the start of a fresh journey, a new opportunity on the horizon. looking at that beautiful cup, the golden glow around it, the varying shades of blue surrounding it: this card just oozes tranquility. and while cups don’t simply represent positive feelings but the full emotional spectrum, all the love and joy and kindness and fulfillment alongside the sadness and grief and anger and loneliness and disappointment that come with being human – this ace speaks to love and friendship, to spiritual awakenings, to a new chapter that’s marked by health and pleasure.

one aspect that speaks to me especially is the idea of an open heart, and allowing the emotions that develop to have the freedom and space to move and evolve and exist. i think that it’s so easy for us as modern people to fight our emotions, to try to put them into neat little labeled boxes or to push them aside and pretend they don’t exist. tears and anger and fear have somehow become synonymous with weakness, as if having strong emotions somehow makes us less capable of being strong people. feelings can be messy, and complicated, and can be so overwhelming at times that it’s hard to see past them.

but giving ourselves permission to experience the full range of emotions, without censoring or rationalizing or blocking or apologizing, can be such a powerful thing. surrendering to relationships or creativity or spirituality or whatever is beckoning can be a game-changer, and open us up to so many new possibilities and experiences. after so many dark, difficult, mysterious cards, it’s a joy to move into a new phase, and look to a new period of bright opportunity.

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