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.

 

time to soar

i had a few moments this morning before i have to head off to work, and thought i’d pull a quick card for some advice for the day. naturally, rather than something familiar and lovely like the six of cups or the two of wands, i pulled a new card from the major IMG_0372arcana: judgement. and this requires a bit more unpacking, but it was definitely worth the effort today.

a strong, brilliantly white bird soars high above, rays of black and white energy streaming from her wings. below, bats or dark birds seem to follow, straining behind her. they grow into a tangle as we get lower on the card, until they are completely indistinguishable from the darkness below.

judgement is a strong word, and as someone from a very religious, fire-and-brimstone style background, my first instinct was fear. but the main word that the wild unknown uses for this card is forgiveness, which completely changes my feelings on this card. suddenly i see the bird not being consumed by the darkness below, but rather rising above it. perhaps instead of the bats coming up to consume her, they’re inspired by her brightness and following in her footsteps.

there’s so much to consider in this beautiful card (and i absolutely adore beth’s take on judgement on her blog), but i love the idea of letting go, of seeking truth, of not only forgiving those in our lives that can drag us down but also of forgiving ourselves. i blame myself for so much, carry so much guilt with me through my days, and seem to dwell on every terrible thing i’ve ever done. i am also absolutely one of those people that is still embarrassed about silly, thoughtless things i’ve said or done years and years ago, that probably no one else remembers but me.

this card is so close to the end of the major arcana, with only the world left in the cycle, and is an incredible symbol of how release and forgiveness is very necessary for completion and happiness. i can choose to soar into that light, to release everything unkind and stressful and judgmental. maybe it’s time.

choosing to pause

today’s card is one of my favorites, and a welcome friend in this moment: the hermit.

IMG_0361solitary, wise, strong, careful, and extremely aware of personal needs and challenges, the hermit doesn’t do anything without thinking it through. he cherishes stillness, embraces reflection, and thrives in the quiet moments. he will not be rushed, and does not push himself to simply get things done – rather, he knows when it’s essential to be thoughtful and considerate. he knows that things worth doing are worth doing well.

this card encourages us to be still, to breathe, to mediate. there’s a lovely sense of time and space here, a deep awareness of the need to be quiet and simply listen. there’s so much happening in the world and in our country and in our day-to-day lives, and so little time set aside for honest reflection. and without those quiet moments between all the loud conversations and dizzying adventures and hard choices and everyday stresses, how do we keep hold of ourselves?

i’ve written so much about my depression in this space, and my cards recently have been pushing me to act, to seize opportunities, to find new adventures and exciting beginnings and fresh starts. and i have pushed back mentally, saying to myself, not yet. i’m not totally in the clear. i’m not safe yet. the fog is still surrounding me, though i sense it’s starting to clear. but cards like the hermit, and the seven of wands, and the empress – they give me permission to stand alone for a bit, to be myself, to find a way to bring a bit of light into that darkness. there’s beauty in a pause, in a breath, in choosing to examine what matters. and i’m not afraid of stillness, not when it’s a choice instead of a trap.

the power of the wand

i’ve pulled wands in every single reading this week. today was no exception: the two of wands was my daily draw this morning. and in addition to a lot of intense fire energy, i’ve also pulled the ace, two, and three of wands this week. a lot of bright, bold, adventurous energy here.

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these three cards can tell a story about starting something new: the ace is a powerful idea, excitement, energy, readiness. the two is focus, determination, solidifying the idea and thinking through the steps and pieces necessary to make it happen. and the three is action, jumping in, envisioning that beautiful goal and going after it. it’s a powerful trio, and pulling all three cards over the last few days feels significant.

of course, i’m not really in the middle of an exciting new adventure – i’m slogging through the same old depression, wondering if it will ever end. everything is so grey and washed out right now, and all three of these cards are positively bursting with color and vitality. but the two of wands is all about taking a quick pause to determine direction and focus, to evaluate the plan, to become fully aware of everything that’s happening. there’s so much light and energy in this card, but those horizontal lines also show stability and power, ready to be harnessed and focused in whatever way we need.

this is an exciting card, but it’s also a bit overwhelming. i’m not sure what to do with all of this fire, or where to direct it. to make the choice to reach out and grab those wands – am i ready? can i handle it? will it backfire?

i’m not sure i have the answers. but the cards seems to think that it’s time to take some of that colorful power back. i hope they’re right.

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finding the color

after yesterday’s nightmarish draw, i was quite hesitant to return to the cards this morning. the nine of swords was so present in my day, and night, and i couldn’t seem to find that wand energy that i knew i needed. but today’s card seems to be continuing the energy of my clarifying card: the three of wands.

this is a powerful card, full of both intention and action. the ace and two are about IMG_0305inspiration, finding direction, and moving forward towards a specific goal. the three seems to solidify that movement, encouraging the reader to envision the future, clarify goals, and invest fully in a strong sense of self. threes reflect the power of the suit in action, and wands are all about growth, energy, and fiery passion. the wild unknown guide stresses that it’s time to “rely on yourself for guidance” and explains that “the future is infinite and it is yours.”

and the swirling colors and brilliant light depicted between the intersecting wands are indeed beautiful and infinite. there’s endless possibility here; a vibrant, colorful future that is ready to be shaped. limitless, transcendent, brimming with hope.

except.

all i can see these days is that grotesque vision from the nine of swords. and the inescapable upheaval of the tower. and the necessary abandonment in the eight of cups. and i’m so tired of writing about depression, seeing depression, being depression. i can’t escape it. it’s been dragging on so very long, consuming everything in its path, and i’m ready for fresh air, for light, for color. everything is a tangled mess of ugliness and i’m desperate to get out. how do i change the seemingly permanent hellscape in my mind into this glorious vision of a dynamic, effervescent future?

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frankly, i don’t have a clue. i don’t have fresh new ideas, or opportunities bursting forth from nowhere, or boundless energy to pour into passion projects – just getting out of bed feels like an accomplishment. i have no spoons for anything these days. the pure, blinding optimism of the three of wands feels absolutely impossible.

but maybe this card is simply reminding me that somewhere in the future, hopefully not as far away as i think, is a glimmer of light. maybe this card is a small reminder that there is life outside of depression, that the world isn’t always this dim, that eventually color will start to seep back into my vision.

tarot isn’t meant to be literal. and it doesn’t tell the future, or always answer directly. but i hope this is my deck’s way of looking into my eyes, squeezing my hand, and telling me that it’s going to be okay.

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.

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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