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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death & rebirth

i was delighted to pull the empress today, particularly after drawing the emperor for the first time just a few days ago. these cards act as a pair, yin & yang, combining the energies and characteristics of all the mothers and fathers in the deck to create complete, holistic protectors and rulers. the-empress

unlike the emperor’s tall, narrow, straight lines, embodied in the strength and constancy of the evergreen tree, the empress is colorful, expansive, and is represented by a more cyclical deciduous tree – she experiences the seasons, goes through periods of death and life and change. she thrives in the darkness, her colorful leaves and blossoms offering protection and inspiration for those around her. almost every resource i’ve seen refers to her as the earth mother, a nurturer, the creator of life and the sustainer of creative and spiritual fertility. she is mother nature; life-affirming, wise, loving, generous.

the empress’ more internal, “feminine” energy contrasts but compliments the emperor’s outward, “masculine” force, the pair of them combining the strengths of all four suits. mentally strong, emotionally aware, passionate and adventurous, grounded and steadfast. they both rule, protect their lands and their people, but their different strengths work together beautifully. and while i’m less interested in the gendering and the specificity of assigning male/female energies, i love that both are seen as strong and vital – the cards reflect each other perfectly, are completely in sync, reflect each other.

having drawn the emperor days ago, when i needed to stay resilient and structured, it’s very soothing to see the empress’ more nurturing, protective energy today. this card tells me that today can be for growth, for kindness, for caring for myself and the people i love. after days of pushing all of my energy outward, today can be a day of rest, of spiritual exploration, of quiet rebirth.

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keep calm & carry on

my cards the last few days have been pretty scattered, giving me a lot of advice on how to approach each day: keep your heart open. stay high energy. listen to your intuition. don’t be afraid of adventures. be passionate. be emotional. be strong. be courageous. (but don’t get too carried away!) rather than my usual general questions, i took a slightly different spin today and asked what kind of energy i should be channeling for myself, and which way i should be moving: and i pulled the emperor.

the-emperor

a strong, full evergreen tree stands tall and alone in the bright daylight, stable and grounded. he offers shelter to those in need, and a steady, calming presence to everyone around him. unlike the empress’ colorful leaves and blossoms, the emperor’s needles are constant throughout all the seasons, weathering every storm. his is a reassuring presence, one that denotes strength, logical, practicality, sensibility, and order. his control and strength is the yang to the empress’ yin, his outward energy harmonizing with her internal mystery and magic.

some of my resources have a lot more difficulty with this card, as he can represent an authoritarian father or ruler, someone that imposes rules and discipline and structure. as a harsh taskmaster or a stern disciplinarian, this card has less appeal – my immediate instinct is to rebel, to fight those rules and regulations, to make my own path. but i think in this case, this more organized, practical approach is best right now – moving is so complicated, and there’s so much swirling around in my head that i can barely focus on any one task. this is definitely a time when being organized, making lists, and following schedules will help me achieve my goals and not lose my damn mind.