shadows & surrender

i love my deck, but lately i’ve been itching to explore some new interpretations. since i’m still pretty new at tarot, i don’t want to become so attached to one specific set of cards that i can’t open myself up to new readings, new possibilities, new understandings of these archetypes and images. the only way for me to grow is to connect with new decks, new artistry, and look to find the deeper meanings that i might miss with my current cards. today’s reading was done with the fountain tarot, and is a perfect card for my state of mind: the moon.

IMG_1828illuminating the dark waves and casting luminous shadows over the world, the moon glows in the darkness, gentle light that teases and tricks the eye. the card is beautiful, evocative and layered, with gorgeous monochromatic blues and greys. i love the ghostly wolves standing on the piers, the ropes and beams playing with lines, the richness of the night sky. the moon is a card of mystery, trickery, imagination – we can easily get lost in those dark shadows, our feet and minds confused without the brilliance of the daylight. there’s a wildness to this card, a sense of temptation, a longing to stay trapped in that beautiful darkness, howl at the sky, get lost and refuse to be found.

the creators of this deck call it a surrender to darkness, and write, “…there is nowhere to anchor, and everything feels confusing and deceptive, though slightly seductive and familiar. even time seems to be disappearing, but there is an urgency for you to move, or risk being lost here forever.” that resonates with me so strongly, it took the breath right out of my lungs. there’s nothing lovely about depression, no hidden benefit or secret silver lining – it’s just darkness, ugliness, a horror that paralyzes. depression takes, and takes, and takes. but the moon reveals beauty in that darkness, creates new murkiness where before there was only clarity. the moon lets us journey through those shadows, find hidden truths, and explore the depths of our own souls – good, bad, and ugly.

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i never quite know if it’s better to surrender to the darkness, to give in to the inevitable, and try to ride it out with grace – or if i should fight to the bitter end, using every last muscle to keep the monster away for as long as possible. i’ve tried both; neither works. the shadows always come, the fog always covers me, the upside-down always traps me. there’s no escaping the darkness, merely delaying it. but this time around, i’m trying to just let it be, but stay open. i’m trying to keep talking, keep blogging, keep reading my cards. i’m forcing myself to connect, to share, to seek out those who may understand and try to build something.

scary stuff, to be honest. forcing myself to be introspective, to write, to share, to connect with others honestly and openly – it’s hard, and doesn’t come naturally to me. but my hope is that if i can keep a little crack in the door, if i can focus on that softly glowing celestial beauty in the distance, if i can find ways to keep my dimming creativity alive, then maybe this descent into the shadows won’t be quite as deep.

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birth cards

rather than a regular single-card drawing, today i’m meditating on a specific card: my birth card, the high priestess. there are a lot of ways to calculate birth cards, but for me, every method produces this card.

IMG_0354the high priestess is one that i really love and admire: intuitive, psychic, wise, mysterious, calm, one that is comfortable in stillness. she is able to see beyond what most are capable of, listening carefully to what is both spoken and unspoken. most people, problems, and situations have much more going on under the surface, and the high priestess’ ability to see beyond the obvious and acknowledge what is hidden gives her the ability to find the truth. she has utter confidence in her strengths, understands her power, and does not fear what she does not know. she embraces the mystery, the tension of the unknowable, and puts emphasis on things we cannot prove but that simply are.

finding and meditating on my birth card is part of my week one exercises, and beth has a bit more information on numerology to explore. to gain further understanding and connection with my birth card, i’ll be using this simple three-card spread to explore the high priestess’ energy. a getting-to-know-you spread, so to speak.

1. how do you relate to this card? what is your relationship with this card?

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the seven of pentacles, a curious card in this position. this card can be considered the report card of the tarot, a chance to step back and evaluate progress, get organized, and consider whether the path forward is correct or if a shift should take place. in terms of the high priestess, this card could be showing that while i’m taking first steps towards becoming a more intuitive person and tarot reader, than i still have a ways to go. starting beth’s course and applying more disciplined work towards my practice is certainly a shift for me, since i started in a much more casual manner – but i do tend to to rely on books and blogs for my interpretations, rather than my own instincts. i want to be a more intuitive reader, but often get caught up in the idea of a correct meaning, rather than what my mind and heart tell me when i look at the cards. the orderly, organized fashion of this card seems in direct opposition of the calm, confident mystery in the high priestess, and doesn’t represent the kind of reader that i want to be.

2. how does this particular card reflect your own relationship with yourself, and what can you learn from it?

ace-of-wandsthe ace of wands, a card i’ve been seeing more and more. a bold opportunity, an exciting beginning, the fiery crackle of energy and movement – this card represents a fresh new start with a big idea. again, the fire and passion and anticipation all seem to contradict the peaceful stillness of the high priestess, making this a challenging card in this position.

i do like quiet, but i also am a very passionate person – and my eagerness to understand and move forward with tarot could be limiting my ability to deepen my practice and meditate with cards as i work with them. i want to be a strong reader, want to feel a deep connection with the cards, but my instinct after a spread or a daily draw is not to meditate and ponder, but rather to reach for my books and resources. analyzing and explaining the cards is not a bad instinct, but to rely on my intuition is a bigger challenge for me, and one that i should be focusing on. more luna, less hermione. 

3. how can you actively and positively integrate this archetype into your own life?
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the daughter of pentacles, a child and student of the earth who radiates peace, strength,and stillness. responsible and kind, she is supportive of those around her, hard-working, detail-oriented, and resourceful.

this card is a beautiful reminder that i am just getting started, that a year is not long to be reading tarot, that focusing on details is not a downfall but rather the means to an end. i need to accept where i am in this process, using the resources at my disposal but also trusting myself to solve problems on my own. my intuition is strong and present – i simply need to consider it a resource in my tarot reading, and remember that my instincts can be just as powerful as the meaning and interpretations of much more experienced readers.

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my birth card, the high priestess, is a powerful, inspirational card – and it’s completely okay that i’m not her yet. i’m still a daughter, a student, finding my way on shaky legs. but my ability to step back and reconsider, along with my fiery passion for this practice, will help me continue to grow and learn to trust my intuition and embrace the beautiful mystery of the tarot.

dual meanings

as i continue to reflect on what tarot is and why it’s important to me, i was delighted to pull a card for my daily reading that seems to embrace all the beautiful difficulties and contradictions of this practice: the two of swords.

IMG_0289this powerful card features two dark swords, identical in strength and size, locked together. a fiery eclipse hovers over their meeting point, with dark lines of energy pulsing away from their crossing.

this depiction in the wild unknown is very different from the more traditional images of a woman standing blindfolded, holding a sword in each hand, contemplating and considering what she cannot see. where the wild unknown image feels like conflict or a stalemate, the original image feels peaceful, contemplative, like the woman featured is pushing other things out of the way to focus on what matters. i love the duality of this card, the variety of meanings that can be drawn from it. two opposing forces clashing, with no one able to move forward, all that energy stalled by an contradictory force. but they could also be unified, lending one another strength, joining those strong forces together to achieve a common goal or purpose. there’s such focus, a beautiful balance and symmetry that speaks to a completely different energy.

week one of beth’s alternative tarot course includes a lengthy list of questions, all centered around tarot, including history, meaning, purpose, abilities, and how that connects to me as a reader. and when i consider what drew me to tarot in the first place, this card is a perfect example: i love the duality, the hidden meanings, the way that every card feels full of possibilities. obviously the suits and courts, the major and minor cards, all have patterns and inherent symbolism that lends each card to specific meanings. but all of that is open to interpretation, allowing individual readers to listen to the cards and hear their message.

mother-of-cupsthe appeal of the beautiful mystery and elusive nature of tarot is what compelled me to choose the mother of cups as my personal card for the duration of this course. it was a strong influence in my reader’s reading a few days ago and is a card i’ve written about many times already. her wisdom, natural intuition, empathy, solitude, and psychic abilities are appealing and inspiring to me, and represent much of what i hope to gain from learning tarot. this card makes me feel powerful and strong, reminds me to listen and find wisdom in stillness, and gives me courage to trust my instincts and my intuition.

 

courting cups

my last few daily readings have stirred up a lot of emotion, and with so many cups and swords in play it’s no surprise that i’ve been very internal these days. today’s card seems to honor my sensitive state, while still pushing me to action: the father of cups.

father-of-cupsi’ve seen both the daughter and the mother of this suit recently, and while they’re both powerful figures, in tarot the female energy is connected to internal awareness, psychic abilities, and strength of intuition. the mother of cups is deeply introspective, powerful in her reading of situations, and intensely empathetic. in contrast, the father of cups (and in tarot, masculine energy in general) is action-oriented, pushing us to direct energy outward rather than reflecting inward. he is strong, direct, diplomatic, open-minded, sensitive, supportive, and level-headed. he is the master of his emotions, but remains immersed in them – rather than exerting control and ignoring all those feelings raging inside, he understands the power that they have and uses it to better connect with the world around him. he uses that empathy and sensitivity to navigate his emotions as well as difficult situations, remaining calm and diplomatic. his presence is stabilizing, reassuring, and he isn’t afraid to dream. while the mother of cups thrives in the darkness, using it to focus on what’s important and real, the father is comfortable in the light of day, with nowhere to hide. he is not afraid of being exposed.

cups can be a tricky suit to navigate. and as a water sign with a tendency towards hiding her emotions, i often find myself caught between identifying and sharing my feelings. it’s instinctive for me to keep them hidden, but this king has found a way to harness and use that emotional energy in a positive, balanced way. i certainly have more in common with the female members of the cups court, but seeing the father today is a strong reminder that emotions are powerful, and learning to master them doesn’t mean simply bottling them up or relying solely on intuition.

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one step at a time

after reading through a beautiful, in-depth reading from one of my favorite tarot readers, i’ve had a lot to consider this morning. it can be hard sometimes to take all of the information and insight from a larger spread and find ways to break it down into more manageable steps, to know where to go or how to begin. today’s card is a lovely reminder that we are all students: the daughter of cups.

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it’s no secret that i love this card, and all she represents: the eager innocence of the page, the tranquil, quiet spirit of the cups, the depth of emotions present in water, and the ability and desire to see all the beauty and range of her suit. there’s such hope here, an optimism and brightness and appreciation that i don’t always see in tarot. she may not have all the answers but she’s ready to find them, longing to hear the messages that the water holds for her.

after pulling the mother of cups just yesterday, and seeing the high priestess (who’s also my birth card) in a larger personal spread earlier today, this is such a sweet reminder that we all have to start somewhere. i do trust my intuition, and have even before i starting reading tarot, but exploring these cards and trying to understand them has given me an even greater appreciation for natural instincts, empathy, and the power of quiet.

and while i’d love to be the mother of cups or the high priestess, fully aware of my personal power and confident in my abilities as an intuitive presence, i’m still at the beginning of my journey. this daughter may be young, may not have as much experience or knowledge as her older, wiser family members, but she plays an important role in the court: she reminds us to keep searching, to keep being curious, to keep pulling back layers to see what lies at the heart of what matters.

sometimes not being afraid to ask questions, letting go of looking foolish, and simply embracing our role as a student is one of the most powerful actions we can take. there can be fear in the unknown, but there is such powerful freedom there too. the truth will find me eventually, and until then, i need to be kind and gentle to myself, and remember that the answers will come when it’s the right time.

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drowning in empathy

empathy is a tricky, beautiful, difficult thing. someone without enough can come across callous and cold, heartless and unkind. but someone with too much can seem fragile and sensitive, or can take on so much of another’s feelings that they seem to forget whose feelings are whose. i’ve been thinking a lot on the role of empathy lately, and what it means to be an empath, so pulling the mother of cups today feels just right.mother-of-cups

i’ve gotten this card in both daily readings and larger spreads before, and i always love to see this queen in all of her glory. i love her intelligence, her mystery, her sensitivity and strength. to me, she is the master of her own heart and emotions, but is also incredibly attentive to the needs of others. she has the gift of intuition, a deep awareness of her emotional self, and the ability to care for others in a way that seems to go above and beyond what many are capable of. there’s such kindness in this card, a tranquility and inner strength that i admire and hope i can someday find.

i don’t consider myself to be an empath, but i do find myself feeling exhausted or bogged down if important people in my life are having a tough time. my partner has been dealing with intense work stress for most of our marriage but particularly the past six months or so, it’s impossible not to feel the impact it has on my own emotions, and can sometimes even manifest into physical symptoms. similarly, when close friends or family are going through difficult periods, instability with moods, or times of stress, i have to work hard not to drown in it myself. i want to care for them and take some of that weight, but i often don’t know where to put it except onto my own shoulders.

today, the mother of cups feels like both an acknowledgement and an encouragement. compassion is generally good, empathy is generally helpful, being in touch with our emotions is generally powerful. but putting aside our own mental health to aid others isn’t something that should be done lightly, and expressing kindness to ourselves can be just as important as finding kindness for others. the mother of cups is quiet and wise, and knows when and how to use her abilities in the best way possible. it’s a lesson i need to learn, and i believe she can teach me a lot.

 

my girl

today’s daily reading is a card i’ve been anticipating diving into: the daughter of cups, and the namesake for this blog. she’s not who i am, she’s my goal girl. she’s my fantasy girl. she’s the girl i hope to someday become, on my magical intuitive journey to be queen of the universe or high priestess of the emotional realm or whatever.

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this lovely baby swan is resting serenely in still waters, gazing off into the distance, calmly paddling below but careful not to disturb the quiet. she’s lost in the world of her emotions and imagination, quietly casting a rainbow reflection onto the surface. she is graceful, calm, innocent, beautiful. she personifies stillness, harmony, and peace. she is a child of the court of cups, eager to learn, celebrating her emotions, testing the waters of her intuition. she revels in her creativity, lives for her art, struggles to stay grounded in reality. she is just beginning to understand the power of emotional strength, the importance of the full spectrum of feelings, the strength it takes to keep an open mind and heart.

in readings, the daughter of cups reminds us that we have much to learn about our personal emotional landscapes. having feelings is not bad – learning from our emotions makes us strong, intelligent, nuanced creatures. we need to embrace our emotions, keep our hearts open, and not judge ourselves for our reactions and needs. i always love to see this card, as she serves as a gentle reminder that i have much to learn about myself, but i’ve begun the journey.

let’s be clear – this girl is not me. i am absolutely not the daughter of cups. realistically, i daughtershave far more in common with the daughter of swords, or the daughter of wands. and in readings, i’m far more likely to get a mother than a daughter in positions that represent myself. i’m passionate, can be difficult, am often stubborn, and tend towards being secretive. i’m fiercely loyal, and while i’m not great at standing up for myself, i will do anything to protect the people i love. i’m practical, and sarcastic, and usually pretty cranky. i’m independent, and introverted, and inquisitive.

but cups represent water, and emotions, and intuition. and i’ve said it before, but as a
scorpio i identify strongly with the suit of cups. i may not share her grace and beauty, her kindness, or her innocence, but i feel strongly that the daughter of cups can teach us much about our emotions, and that the hidden depths within each of us can be the most significant pieces we have to offer. i value my intuition highly, and strive to develop it more and more each day. i want to be more sensitive, more kind, more generous. i want to become the daughter of cups so that i can grow into the mother of cups, and perhaps someday fully develop into my birth card, the high priestess.

i have so much to learn, but we all have to start somewhere.