checking in

my mind kept going back to the eight of pentacles after my reading yesterday, trying to sift through various meanings and what this card might be trying to tell me. and while i’m not sure that i have all the pieces together, my cards clearly want me to continue to work with pentacles. today’s draw is the seven of pentacles.

IMG_0324lined up in an orderly fashion, with lines at direct angles behind them, this card is organized, thoughtful, and contemplative. this is a card for stepping back and evaluating, considering progress made and if a change of direction is needed. beth calls this an interim report card, which speaks to me in a much clearer way than yesterday’s eight. rather than doing something quickly or haphazardly, this card speaks to making long-term decisions that will work for good. putting effort into what is truly important will make all the difference in the future, and will start to pay off in ways that are even bigger than planned.

my mind is a bit confused at the moment, trying to construct the perfect words to express what i want and need. pride is this weekend, and i’m going to participate in events for the first time: a run in the park, a fun meet-up with some much-admired writers and vloggers, and of course, the big parade. i have friends meeting me at each event and am excited about finally joining the community. but the month is also drawing to a close, and while i’ve been working on drafts for the letters i still need to send to a few family members, i haven’t finalized or sent them out yet. i’m worried about commas and phrases, scared about how they might react, as if one tiny word will make the difference between their acceptance and support or a complete disaster.

pentacles typically are tied to the earth, to worldly possessions and successes, to career and home and wealth. i have trouble relating to this suit, simply because i don’t have a strong tie to money, or a particular definition of success, or a big end goal for my career. i don’t really evaluate my life this way. but if i change the meaning of pentacles to reflect what keeps me whole and grounded, what makes me feel safe and secure, what gives my life purpose and meaning, then these cards become much more significant. and while relationships and communication are traditionally tied to cups, in my current situation, my family and friends are keeping me together. not having certain people in my life know the truth about my identity feels like something that’s holding me back, like i can’t truly relax or be happy and whole. the thing i’m craving, what will bring me back to earth and let me feel strong and confident, is honesty. i want to live my truth, not just with a select few but with everyone in my life.

there is so much fear, still (and perhaps always), but i know that i’m making the right choice. this matters too much to ignore.

beauty & balance

of the four suits in tarot, pentacles are the one i draw the least – by quite a lot. i relate deeply to the emotional cups, love delving into the mental space created by the swords, and seek out the crackling, fiery energy from the wands – but those earthy, grounded pentacles rarely come up for me in readings. today’s card is one of the few in the suit i’ve drawn before: the two of pentacles.

two-of-pentaclesstrong and bold, with large, beautiful wings balancing two pentacles, this butterfly is powerful, open, and full of stable energy. the most obvious interpretation here is balance, with her asymmetrical wings and those pentacles delicately sitting on her massive wings. the rainbow lemniscate connecting the symbols adds the only touch of color, but keeps everything tied together beautifully. but this card can also indicate inevitable change, as the butterfly herself goes through a complete transformation in order to acquire those glorious wings. she may look fragile, but is much stronger than she appears – she’s able to quickly change direction, catch a slight breeze and use it to her advantage. there’s an unexpected strength along with easy flexibility that makes her unique, dynamic, and able to balance change in a beautiful way.

pentacles are tied to work, home life, possessions, finances, and earthly matters, so i can’t help but consider my career prospects whenever they come up. i have a busy week, packed with a variety of shooting gigs – live music for a singer/songwriter friend, my regular work with restaurant menus, a queer women’s cocktail event for pride, and social media images for a catering business. i love weeks like this, that push me to constantly adjust my style and perspective, forcing me to grow and adapt as a photographer, but they can also be challenging – every day is more different than usual, and it can take more energy to do everything well. this card can remind us to stay flexible, prioritize what matters, and embrace changes that may come along the way.

of course, this card could also be speaking to other types of change – perhaps a new job opportunity is coming, or another move is on the horizon. but it feels to me that balance is the message today, remembering to honor all of my commitments and approach every task with purpose, flexibility, and creativity.

the stories we tell ourselves

today’s card is a perfect reflection of how i’ve been feeling about a situation in my life: the eight of swords. and while this is not an easy card to see, it does offer a number of challenges for me to process as i work through this problem.

eight-of-swordsthe wild unknown depicts this card as a butterfly, curled up tightly into herself, dangling from a sword and surrounded by many others. she has no space to fly, no room to breathe, no obvious escape route. this card speaks of powerlessness, feeling trapped, and crippling self-doubt.

but those swords represent mental energy and conflict, that double-edged blade of creation and destruction. how much of this situation is real, and how much of it is in our minds? are we so busy seeing ourselves as the victim, drowning in feelings of fear and isolation and pain, that we can’t see that these bindings have been built only in our minds, and not in reality? if we can find a way to step back, see clearly, and reevaluate, would a solution for escape become obvious?

for the last few months, i’ve been struggling deeply with changes, anticipating a loss that feels inevitable. i see no way forward that does not lead to this suffering. and i’ve been mourning this loss, though it hasn’t yet happened. it feels completely unavoidable to me, like the wheels were set in motion long ago and now i simply have to follow this unchangeable path. there is no obvious solution, nothing i can do to alter what will happen, and i hate feeling so out of control when i can see what’s coming.

but what if my mindset is wrong? in her meditation on this card, carrie urges us to reconsider the stories that we tell ourselves, to look deeper at the situation and evaluate the personal power that we might be unconsciously surrendering. and i’ve always found it fascinating, the ways that we view ourselves versus how the world may see us. i have a very specific view of myself, that probably completely contradicts how others see me, and the complete truth of who i am lies somewhere in the middle.

but the narrative i’ve built around this particular situation could be a carefully constructed trap. i know how i think this all plays out, but perhaps by seeing this future and feeling that it’s inevitable, i’m limiting myself only to that outcome. what if there is a way out that doesn’t involve loss? what if i’ve spent so much energy crafting my own bonds that i’ve missed an obvious solution?

we need stories, narratives, a way of viewing the world and our place in it that connects us. those threads are essential, and how we see ourselves and our paths can impact everything. but focusing on only one outcome, viewing those threads as set it stone rather than flexible and shifting, can be incredibly limiting. if we can’t grow and change and learn, can’t be broken and rebuilt to be stronger, then what is the point of any of this? and if i can alter this situation, can shift my path to go somewhere new, why wouldn’t i try?

death (of the ego)

it’s been a difficult few days, and i’ve missed my morning readings. i hoped to find some clarity and calm, but instead have pulled some major, serious cards that will require a lot of processing. my card for today is death.

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rather than using more traditional imagery like the grim reaper cloaked and waiting, the wild unknown uses simple remains of a small bird. we see the literal decay, the end of life, and the change from what was a living creature into something completely different. death doesn’t have to be literal in tarot – rather, it can be a phoenix rising from the ashes, becoming reborn, changing and altering into a new being. something in my life needs to come to an end, to make way for a new chapter.

this could be a difficult card, and it’s not one i was expecting to see this morning, but there’s something so simple and final and real in this card. there’s no fighting it, no postponing it, no ignoring it – death just is. there’s a sense of letting go, of beautiful surrender, that’s unavoidable. and while i’m not completely sure what ending i should be seeking, it’s clear that i can’t pretend it’s not necessary.

hoping for clarity, i instead pulled another huge card: the devil. i’ve worked with this IMG_0367wicked one before, but as a clarifying secondary card, i think his meaning can change. i would love to read this combination as surrendering negativity and temptation, that it’s time for me to let go of the bad stuff to make way for the good, but i have a feeling that the cards are saying more than that. is my depression a crutch? do i cling to it in order to avoid dealing with my issues? have i been letting myself drown in pain and sorrow because it’s easier than seeking a solution? are there toxic people or things in my life that i’m ignoring? or is it me that’s toxic?

in researching this pairing of death and the devil, the same phrase kept emerging: the death of the ego. rather than some impending tragedy or sudden shift, death is a natural but unavoidable reality. but in tarot, death can be a choice. i can change elements of who i am, can choose to be different, can let go of my specific perception of myself and instead seek to discover who i truly am. but the devil can show fear, the temptation to run, and represents those negative patterns that we can’t escape. fear is such a strong motivator, and can be a huge barrier to change. and i have such strong, miserable patterns that i cling to, whether i want to or not.

these are big cards, strong energies, and it’s a lot to take in. but the cards are not holding back here, which means i need to be brave enough to listen to what they have to say.

 

and don’t look back

so many of my emotions lately have centered around feeling left behind. i may not consider myself someone that craves control, but i do believe that no one wants to feel helpless, like all of their choices have been taken away or that they have no say in what happens next. raising your head and realizing that everyone has moved on without you, that you’re alone and perhaps don’t even know how long you’ve been that way, is a terrible thing.

but making the choice to stand up, assess your choices, and move on alone can hold such power. there’s tremendous strength in knowing when to leave something behind. and while the eight of cups can often denote sadness, isolation, or even despair, i was glad to see it in today’s daily reading.

the wild unknown depicts a different scene than other decks – dark mountains loom eight-of-cupsunder a grey sky, while a group of cups lies abandoned. this is a card of revolution, of transition, of changing direction or perhaps even changing the journey, and many decks include a figure leaving these cups behind and moving away with purpose. what i love about this card, and what differs from other interpretations, is that these cups are completely shattered, unusable, broken. there’s nothing left to salvage, no way to repair or reuse them. the only thing to do is to leave them, and perhaps to find new cups to fill.

the cards often surprise me, because i feel that someone in my current frame of mind might find this card discouraging. there’s nothing left for me here, everything is broken, i’m beyond repair. but instead i see courage, strength, and resolution. the cups are worthless, the journey has gotten off-track, and it takes purpose and fortitude to know when to stop, adjust, and restart. why would i keep holding on to these damaged cups? they’re useless to me. isn’t it better to set them aside and seek something that i can use?

yesterday’s card was all about action, control, awareness, and knowing your strengths. today i see where i’m to channel all of that readiness – it’s time to leave all of this behind.

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days go by

and again, weeks and weeks have gone by. i’ve been drowning in depression, and every time i think the tide is coming in and i think that i might be able to reach dry land, another current catches me and i’m pulled back under. depression ebbs and flows, but my compass has been completely shattered in the storm – i usually have a better sense of how long i’ve been treading water, when i’ve reached the eye of the storm, if i’ll get a glimpse of the horizon soon. but this time around i spent so much energy pushing it away, trying to hold it back, that now i’m utterly lost at sea.

i’ve been struggling in particular with my history of self-harm, and have gone down the terrible rabbit hole of comparing my struggle to that of others. any therapist, self-help book, or rational human will tell you that this is a terrible idea, that recovery is not a race, that everyone copes differently. but when i see the love and support given to friends of mine, whether they’re surviving sexual assault, dealing with crippling anxiety, recovering from eating disorders, or learning how to embrace life after a failed suicide attempt, i can’t help but feel ugly and lonely and wrong. why is it easy for me to extend kindness and sympathy and generosity to others that are struggling, and yet impossible for me to offer myself the same courtesy? my laundry list of issues are long and growing longer by the day, and yet when i see someone that has but one item on my own list, my heart aches for them. why can’t i ache for myself? why do i constantly listen to that nasty voice in my head, the one that says that nobody cares about me, that i have to be strong and not burden anyone else, that people only like me because of what i can give them?

my therapist is kind, my husband is supportive, and the few others in my life who know the ins and outs of my struggles have been wonderful. so why this need for me? why does my heart swell with envy when i see a friend post about her suicide attempt and get endless comments and notes of support, of love, of encouragement? people telling her she’s brave, she’s strong, she’s a fighter, she’s powerful, she’s an inspiration.

i tried, and failed, twice. what does that make me? (the voice in my head says, “it makes you a failure.”)

i brought all of this to the cards today. and they didn’t let me down: i pulled the tower.

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not for the faint of heart, this card. and though the instinct is to recoil, to cower in fear, to weep and beg and sorrow, perhaps this card and this depression are markers of real, internal movement. the tower signifies a permanent evolution, irrevocable change, a deep, significant transformation. there’s no going back to what we were before – we have to move forward into that wild unknown, whether we like it or not.

and perhaps the cards are simply urging me to learn from my darker past and stop being so afraid. step into the light. reveal the scary. shed that skin. if support is what you need, stop being afraid of rejection and simply ask for it.

naturally, steeped in fear and desperate to be wrong, i pulled a second clarification card: the nine of cups. a card of satisfaction, of pleasure, of contentment. it’s all about enjoying what’s in the present, reveling in stable, calm energy, and indulging in the things that give us joy.

could there be a stranger pair? i’m not sure. but what i see is that upheaval is necessary, that change is a’comin’, that the very foundations of my world are altering. and yet, there is peace to be found. there is serenity in knowing that this evolution is extremely necessary, and that i have been stagnant for far too long.

there’s a lot to process here, with many truths that i’m not sure i’m ready to see. but i’ve let the cards be silent for far too long, and i know in my bones that it’s time to listen. maybe that means that there are others in my life who are ready to listen too.

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time to shake things up

continuing on yesterday’s theme, today’s cards are really exciting ones. and while at first glance they may tell a completely contradictory story, i think they apply to my life in a beautiful, challenging, energizing way. my first card today was the tower.

the-tower

even before i’d purchased my first set and started exploring the world of tarot, i knew about the tower. often considered one of the scariest cards in the deck, it can represent change, upheaval, destruction. it seems to be one of those cards that gets strong, dramatic reactions, and is usually perceived to be negative. something wicked this way comes. unavoidable pain, terrifying change, the ruination of all we hold dear.

and i can see that. change is scary, and nobody likes their foundations rattled. a few quick bolts of lightning are completely transforming that tree into a new creature, altering it and everything around it, and the damage that that fire causes is irrevocable. those flashes came out of nowhere, and nothing will ever be the same. this is a major, revolutionary event.

for me, the focus with this card has always been on what comes after. the tower is for change, sure, but the emphasis is on the good that develops once the flames are doused. renewal, regeneration, transformation – shaking the world up and seeing how much better things are once that beautiful chaos has passed. this card isn’t about destroying things that are good; rather, it’s about pushing through denial, breaking down self-imposed boundaries, a loss of control in the best possible way.

this card doesn’t scare me, but it certainly makes me feel a bit more alert. we have a big move planned, one that represents a lot more than our zip code changing. we’re doubling down on steve’s new job, proving our commitment, and saying to each other and his partner that we’re in this thing for real. and that brings a lot with it – already there’s talk of the next move, where we might need to go to ensure that an investment goes well and new acquisitions are running smoothly. i don’t know what the future has for us, but this is our way of leaning in and saying that we’re ready for whatever comes next.

but there’s always a sense of concern, yes? after all, one of the scariest things about the tower is that the change is unexpected. and while we’ve been planning this move for awhile, and the timing of it is now very sudden and moving incredibly quickly, it’s not entirely out of the blue. am i missing something? is there another change on the horizon that i haven’t been looking for? should i be bracing for impact?

two-of-pentacles

my clarification card is the two of pentacles. a huge, strong butterfly supports the weight of those pentacles on her beautiful wings, having transformed herself from hungry caterpillar into an elegant creature of the wind and the air. besides how pathetically grateful i am to see earthy, grounded pentacles rather than those emotionally-charged, relationship-centered cups, this card also represents change, balance, and considering multiple factors. any relocation we make is complicated, and has a ton of moving pieces to consider. both of our jobs are based here, many of our friends are here, and i don’t know that i’m ready to leave new york any time soon. but this card can indicate a need to be flexible, to prioritize, to accept change with grace and beauty.

and combined with the tower, i have a lot of anticipation for what the future may bring.