eyes wide open

i’ve been having a lot of strong, positive conversations regarding tarot lately – with both friends & strangers, experts & beginners. it’s challenging sometimes to hear what the cards have to say, to openly and honestly assess their message rather than working to twist it around, trying to make it fit in with desires and needs. and yet, seeing beyond what i want to see, forcing myself to sift through my emotional responses and truly honor the wisdom of the cards, feels like an important exercise, a way to grow and learn and continue to be open.

ace-of-swordstoday’s card is a flash of brilliance, illuminating honesty, a bright but challenging truth: the ace of swords. and while this card isn’t always an easy one for me to see, it seems to reflect my introspective mood, and my desire to continue expanding my knowledge of these cards. the sword itself is sharp and strong, confident in its potential, ushering in the beginning of this powerful suit of air and clarity and knowledge. there’s a decisive nature to this card, a choice to acknowledge what the lightning illuminates, to look beyond the darkness and clouds and rain to what is truly real. the sword is almost waiting, giving us a moment to consider if we’re prepared to wield it. are we ready to reach for that strong, unerring blade? can we handle what it may make known? or are we too afraid to grasp it, unsure of what may follow its revelations?

sometimes, we have to shield ourselves a bit. there are times for boundaries, for safety, for self-care, for acknowledging that we must remain hidden. we all have periods in our lives where the best thing we can do is protect ourselves, stay guarded, keep secrets. i don’t consider this weakness – indeed, sometimes it takes more courage than not – but there is a certain type of strength required to look directly at something scary, something ugly, something dark. uncovering truths, being brutally honest, forcing ourselves to accept something we don’t like – that’s a different kind of courage. and while some of my recent spreads have been savagely truthful, and while forcing ourselves to acknowledge the deep hatred and racism in our country is both painful and horrifying, ignoring the realities around us is not the way to find answers, or to move forward. refusing to look at what’s real and present is a huge part of what has gotten us here. i barely know how to fix the problems in my own life, let alone the institutional racism in this country (that i absolutely benefit from) – but there are people and powers out there that are far smarter than i am, that can give us ways we can help and remind us to listen to and learn from those that are disenfranchised, those that are frightened, those that are systematically oppressed.the-emperor

in search of more, i drew a major arcana card, both as a companion card and also to help kick off my week 3 exercises focusing on the major cards of the deck. the emperor is strong, practical, reliable, calm, structured, focused, grounded. he deals with problems clearly and firmly, with logic and order. and while he can be a challenging card for many, in this context he seems like precisely the type that would be able to carry the ace of swords, that could look calmly into difficult truths. the light around him is bright, the sun is burning, and his shape is bold and clear. the emperor’s strength is in his consistency, discipline, and ability to offer protection. he can teach us so much, but right now he seems to speak to my need to help, my desire to understand, my wish for those in power to actually care for and protect those that need the most protection. i’m not sure how to be the emperor today, but perhaps by grabbing the handle of the ace of swords, i can begin to learn.

IMG_1711these are huge ideas, powerful messages, and strong directives. there’s so much to be done, and i feel incredibly ill-equipped to do it. but while my little deck of cards feels like a feeble tool against such huge enemies and obstacles, today’s reminder to shine light in the darkness, to gaze unflinchingly at what’s in front of me, to refuse to cower in fear or hide behind those that are louder or shy away from the difficult conversations – that feels like a powerful place to start.

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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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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.

spreading fire

today’s card gave me the courage to finally do what i’ve been talking about for weeks – post about my (bi)sexuality on facebook. and while it is just the start (and in many ways the easiest step of project: finish coming out), i’m hopeful that this will give me courage and strength to take on what’s next.IMG_0315

thank you, mother of wands.

fiery, proud, vibrant, determined, courageous, independent, strong, charismatic, and inspiring. this queen is a force of nature, fierce and self-assured. she is not afraid to fight for what she believes in, is confident in who she is and what she stands for, and is deeply grateful for the people around her. i love these lines from carrie mallon“she holds her values dear to her heart and isn’t afraid to live in a way that lines up with her moral code. she doesn’t do anything halfway – she’s in it to win it. she pours all of her love, originality and unique energy into everything she does.”

i so often talk about the court of cups and the high priestess, but i deeply admire the mother of wands. she’s so brave, so bold, so fearless – not reckless or inconsiderate, but sure of herself in a way that gives her power and strength in the face of adversity. and of course she’s not perfect – she can be prone to stubbornness, and her intensity and determination can be off-putting sometimes. but that’s the kind of fire i need right now, and i’m grateful for the positive energy and the mentorship of this beautiful woman. i’m also thankful for this powerful piece on queering the queen of fire.

this is a step that’s just for me. i don’t anticipate hundreds of comments or thousands of likes – as of right now, my little status only has about 20 likes, and that is completely okay. i needed to know that i was strong enough to stand alone, to speak my truth, and to own my identity.

and i am.