worries, worries

all of my exercises for beth’s alternative tarot course this week focus on my personal feelings and goals for tarot: what is tarot for? what do i hope to achieve by reading? can tarot predict the future? and as i consider my connection to these cards, and why they’ve become so important to me, i have to acknowledge that i don’t see them as predictive. i seek insight, understanding, and a new perspective on questions when i read – i don’t rely heavily on the outcome cards in larger spreads or think that what the cards tell me is a guarantee. however, i do take their wisdom seriously, and meditate on their messages.

today’s card is one of sadness, worry, and hard times: the five of pentacles. and while this isn’t a particularly uplifting card to see, it does reflect some worries and difficulties i’ve been facing, and could speak to difficulties to come.

IMG_0322a vivid rose droops, stem slumped, losing a wilted petal in the darkness. in spite of her bright color and seemingly healthy leaf and stem, she is dejected, lost, carrying the weight of the world on her delicate petals. fives are related to loss, suffering, and failing to handle the suit, so as the five of pentacles this card speaks to illness, losing a job, financial troubles, or rejection. earthly concerns, a lack of that which keeps us grounded and stable and comfortable.

i wrote a few weeks ago about a worry that was consuming me, a narrative that i couldn’t see a way out of. and while in this case it was manifesting as swords, i acknowledged a very real concern, though one that i could be creating in my own mind. for me, these days pentacles feel less about money and more about the things that keep me feeling whole and strong: creative work, stories, friends, family, feeling connected to the world around me. while these things are more closely related to wands and cups, seeing a similar feeling of discouragement, worry, and loss reflected in the suit of pentacles feels like it’s hitting closer to home. IMG_0340

seeking advice, i pulled a clarification card: the nine of cups. a card of bliss, peace, and harmony, that seems to directly contradict the sadness and concern of the five of pentacles. this card represents good health, happiness, even material gains; a feeling of wholeness and satisfaction.

at first these cards felt contradictory – my tendency to read pentacles as the things that matter to me, rather than their more standard meaning as earthly possessions, makes for a confusing pairing. but just because i don’t place as much value on wealth and career as others, doesn’t mean that those things can’t still face trials. my current worries are centered on relationships, and the nine of cups speaks to that – it’s important to remember that my connection with the tarot is based in intuition, not prediction. my gut says that things will be hard, but my relationships with people will see me through – and that they are more solid than i think.

tarot’s main purpose for me is to expand my mind, help me see more deeply into myself and the world around me, and find meaning in things great and small. my cards challenge me to trust my intuition, to see beyond the superficial, to listen to my instincts and learn to rely on them to guide me. and while today’s cards aren’t shiny and happy, they reflect what’s going on in my head and my heart – and remind me to remember that what truly matters to me is not in jeopardy.

every which way

after so much beauty and strength in yesterday’s draw, today’s card initially feels a little discouraging: the five of wands.

five-of-wandsthese wands are laying haphazardly, each pointing in a different direction, with none of them touching or overlapping. the lines behind them reflect the chaos, moving in hard angles and with erratic spacing. all of this suggests a complete lack of focus, confusion, distraction – the eye wanders, unsure of where to look. rather than working together to move in one direction, they seem to be fighting each other, defensive and contrary.

i’ve been enjoying pushing myself in different directions in my photography, but it can also bring up worries about talent, ability, and stretching myself too thin. am i good enough to try all of these styles and specialties? can i make a living doing all the things i like, or do i have to choose just one? this field is so competitive, and with everyone posting images every single day from their cell phones, some good and some downright terrible, it’s impossible not to feel threatened or like i have to prove my worth and value every day.

daughter-of-cupsi pulled a clarifying card to offer additional guidance, and found an old friend: the daughter of cups. and while she can represent many things, in this context i see her quiet confidence in the full spectrum of the suit of cups. she knows that water can be clear or murky or choppy or still, bright and illuminating or dark and mysterious. even when she doesn’t understand every facet of herself, she still trusts that every emotion has value, and believes in her own instincts. knowing that she doesn’t know everything does not bother her – she finds it comforting that there is much she does not understand. there is power in wonder, in the unknown.

confusion is not always bad, as it forces us to focus on what matters. and second-guessing my career choices doesn’t make me weak, as long as i don’t allow it to stall or consume me. but these cards feel like they’re pushing me to rise to a challenge, rather than give in to distraction and fear. i am capable of riding out these difficulties, as beth from little red tarot says. this tension can make me stronger.

 

to spite the face

both of today’s cards are difficult, involving swords and the self. i’m in a tough mental place right now and the cards are certainly reflecting that. let’s start with my first pull: the five of swords.

five-of-swordsself-destruction, internal battles, personal suffering. fives are often centered on the self, and can represent challenges, even a personal hell. swords, the suit of air and mental agility, can push this card to represent a real disconnect, a severing of the heart and mind. something is missing, whether it’s simple indecision or a more complex issue of communication. am i hiding something from myself? denying an issue that everyone else can see? am i being my own worst enemy?

this is a tough card today, as i wrestle with my anxiety over our move, sore muscles from a tough run in the cold yesterday, and struggle to decide if i should head to the doctor sooner rather than later for a breathing issue that’s developing. i’m having trouble making any decisions, and really just want to sit at home all day and play video games. i want to be selfish, want to ignore the bad stuff and just get lost in my imagination for a awhile. one of my resources described this card as “cutting off the nose to spite the face” and it rings very true for this card – making a hasty, poor decision that ultimately hurts everyone, and hurts the decision-maker the most.seven-of-swords

my clarifying card gave some similar messages: the seven of swords.

i’ve pulled both of these cards recently in larger readings (the five of swords in a reader’s spread, and the seven of swords in a clarifying reading for a recurring card), but haven’t pulled either for a single-card daily reading recently. sevens are about personal attainment or practical advice, showing us how to achieve our goals. the seven of swords can point to secrecy, self-preservation, staying on guard. this fox can also speak to selfishness, but it’s purposeful – he knows that there’s a lot of danger ahead and is prepared for anything. he’s waiting for the other shoe (or one of those swords overhead) to drop.

i’m in a pretty foggy state of mind, still completely exhausted, not feeling well, overwhelmed and frustrated with myself and my situation. i think my cards are reflecting that – i want to just retreat, ignore everything happening, indulge in self-indulgent behaviors and ignore all those swords hanging over my head. the temptation is there, surely – but i need to be stronger than this. i need to be an adult, honor my responsibilities, and find ways to take care of myself through these difficult days.

pausing to breathe

i’ve been pulling a lot of joyful cups lately, reminding me to give love, to seek happiness, to experience the full range of emotions that my heart has to give. today, however, is the day for a few of those darker feelings to come in: the five of cups.

five-of-cups

this card is a bit sad, true – the poor horse looks lost and beaten-down, and stares morosely into the darkness around her. she’s so deeply entrenched in her grief and pain that she completely misses the five cups hovering overhead, full of light and comfort.

but while this five can signal challenges in emotions, difficult feelings, and disappointment in relationships, it also seems to give permission to just be sad for awhile. so often when we’re dealing with something painful, the first instinct is to say “buck up! don’t be sad! look around at everything wonderful! it’s not that bad! get back to regular life!” but i’ve found that pushing away dark feelings and pretending they don’t exist doesn’t actually make them go away – it simply allows them to hide and fester, eating away at any positive ground until they become so strong that they cannot be ignored any longer. i think acknowledging our emotions, whether they’re positive or negative, is such a difficult but important part of being human.

as someone that deals with depression, i don’t always have a choice – depression is synonymous with genuinely sad emotions like grief, regret, or sorrow. it’s painful and impossible, and it comes from a different place that’s outside of relationships and circumstances. but while it’s not exactly the same, my depression has taught me that giving myself permission to be sad, no matter where those feelings come from, can be a gift. sometimes we just need to retreat into the darkness, mourn and cry and scream, and release all of that pain. we might channel it into art or music or writing or beauty, or we might simply let it go. and when we’re ready to come back to the light, all we have to do is look around and see those bright, overflowing cups  – that previously were just out of reach.