burning out

i’m deep into my insomnia, going on day five of no real sleep, and tarot feels like a giant mystery right now. it’s time to begin week two of the alternative tarot course, focusing on the elements and suits of the minor arcana. and while i’m excited to keep exploring my deck and expanding my knowledge, everything in my head is twisting and turning upside-down. no surprise that today’s draw was the seven of cups, a card that perfectly mirrors my exhausted mind and tangled thoughts.

while water and cups represent relationships, connections, love, friendship, and emotions, part of my work this week is learning how the different suits overlap and interact with each other. the suits speak to each other, reference each other, and offer little hints and reminders that none of these elements exist in a vacuum. someone who’s IMG_0338intellectual and analytical might feel much more comfortable dealing with air and earth, staying connected to the world around them and focusing on knowledge and facts, rather than first considering emotional responses or passionate ideas. and though this seven deals with those watery, elusive emotions, connections to other people that we can’t usually control, depths that can be frightening to explore – i can’t help but notice the powerful celestial bodies that feature on this card, and those strong mountains in the background. this confusion may be centered on cups and water, but there are references to air and earth too. after all, when emotionally confused, when illusions feel much too real, when everything is sideways and it’s impossible to know which step to take next, don’t we try to intellectualize, find a rational solution, seek the truth? don’t we scramble to find our footing, stay grounded, find comfort in the physical world? when our hearts are disoriented and can’t find a way forward, we move to other strengths, work to solve the problem in a new way.

my personal elements are mainly water and fire, but i’m working to incorporate more air and earth into my daily life. i rely the most heavily on my instincts and intuition, rather than my intelligence or ability to recall facts and knowledge. i may live in the physical world, and relish being in nature, but i tend to get lost in my thoughts and dreams when left to my own devices. my weakest element is probably air, as my mind can be a very dark and difficult place. i’m not always comfortable solely in my head, preferring to either lose myself in the physical world or stay true to my fiery passions or swirling, complex emotions.

some larger elemental spreads will be coming later in the week, but for today i’m going to give myself permission to live in this disorienting space, and try to get my head on straight.

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.

 

always learning

IMG_1381after such a difficult and emotional june, i’m feeling energized and a bit restless. we havea lot of travel scheduled for july, and as i look forward at all of the exploring and adventures ahead, i’m also craving personal growth. tarot has become so important tome over these last ten months of reading, and i find myself wanting to dive deeper into hidden meanings, personal intuition, and feeling truly connected to my cards.

with that in mind, i’ve decided to begin beth’s alternative tarot course, an eight-week program designed to help readers develop their own style of reading and interpretation.

the course includes daily single-card readings, much like i do anyway, along with exercises and a larger weekly spread. i plan to use this space to explore the writing prompts, along with all of the readings she outlines, but i will still do my regular single-card daily readings here too. it’s my hope that sharing this journey publicly will connect me further within the tarot community, and help me continue to grow and learn.

with that in mind, i’m going to begin with this week’s weekly spread: the reader’s reading. this first week is all about thoughtfully considering what tarot means to me personally, what i believe about it, how it impacts me, and what i hope to achieve by learning this practice. i did this exact reading when i first started this blog in february, so revisiting it seems like a lovely way to begin this new portion of my tarot journey.

1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?

father-of-pentacles

the father of pentacles, king of the earth. grounded, practical, strong, observant, confident, quiet, steady, and gentle, this father is a lovely, calm soul. he stays cool under pressure, remains deeply connected with the world and people around him, and prizes his family, home, and career. he is reliable and mature, down-to-earth, known for his dependability and rationality.

i don’t always see myself in the pentacles, and don’t often draw them. but there’s something so soothing and profound about this card’s energy. i do think of myself as a hard worker, a problem solver, someone that will always jump in to help. i’m great under pressure, someone that can quickly assess a situation and come up with solutions. i like to think of myself as someone with a quick mind and a cool head. i’m the consummate emergency contact, the one who will drop everything to help out, the person who fixes things. i may not always have the answers, but i will always try to find them.

2. What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader; what are you bringing to this course?

ten-of-cups

the ten of cups, a card of harmony, balance, love, and support. there’s so much energy and positivity here, but i’m most struck by the openness, the evenness, of that colorful rainbow of light. every card gives and receives, sharing what they have and discovering something new. there’s no holding back, no stinginess or secrecy – the cups let everything pour out into the community.

as a strength, what i see here is my willingness to share and learn from others. i’m rarely 100% confident in my knowledge or abilities, even on topics where i have a lot of experience – and tarot is no different. i have so much to learn, and i think that this spirit of openness, this willingness to admit what i don’t know, and this desire to read and study and gain from the experience of others has already helped me in my study of tarot. i love my blogs and books, love finding new forums and old texts that will help expand my knowledge and push me to always find new meanings in the cards. if i can maintain that attitude of humility and sincerity, i think it will really help me grow.

3. What limits do you feel as you start this course?

four-of-cups

the four of cups: a card of discontent, apathy, an emotional slump. this card has come up for me in spreads before, and never fails to confuse me. is the rat simply hoarding the cups for himself? is he ignoring the light above, as in the five of cups? what is making him discontent, restless, selfish?

i struggle with the meaning of this card, which makes me think that the four of cups in this position is less to do with the literal meaning of this card and more what it represents to me in drawings and spreads – i don’t have a perfect, encyclopedic knowledge of every card’s meaning. i want to do this course, and i believe that it’s time, but i’m concerned that my lack of memorization is somehow going to hold me back. i want to know the more traditional interpretations, want to stay connected to the history and wisdom of the deck, but i also want to have a personal link to my own cards. the four of cups is probably the card i struggle with the most, not because i don’t like the meaning but because i always feel confused by what its message is.

4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey with tarot?

mother-of-cups

oh, my beloved mother of cups. this is one of my favorite cards in the deck, one that comes up for me often, and she is always a welcome sight in a spread. her insight is legendary, her creativity is inspirational, and her psychic abilities bring tranquility and healing to everyone she touches. she’s often compared to the high priestess, which is my birth card, and i find her deeply inspirational and aspirational.

as a lesson, the mother of cups speaks to me of openness, a willingness to listen, and a deep need to trust my intuition. being receptive to the lessons of the tarot, even when they’re difficult, is critical to understanding the wisdom and beauty of the cards. there is power in quiet, strength in stillness, and so much more to these cards than what is on the surface.

 

5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?

ace-of-cups

a brilliant and colorful card, the ace of cups is overflowing with energy and connectivity. the wild unknown calls this card love’s beginnings, and this card does usually symbolize the start of something lovely – a new crush, a new relationship, a new opportunity.

emotions have power, and while not all feelings are pleasant, they all have significance and weight. cups are not just for love and happiness, but the full spectrum of human response. in this position, i see a reminder to engage with all the aspects of emotional wisdom. just like feelings, the cards can quickly get away from me if i’m not careful – it can be easy to only see what i want, rather than remembering that there is often more than meets the eye. it’s more fun to focus on the happy emotions, the beauty and pleasure and love that swirls around us sometimes, and ignore the danger signs or the more difficult interpretations. i don’t always need to search for the most beautiful, positive meaning in each card – some cards are just difficult or ugly, because that is part of life too. i need to remember to acknowledge everything about the cards, to embrace my role as a student, and to find a way to enjoy every lesson, every emotion, every message – even when it’s hard.

6. What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?­­­

ace-of-wands

it’s fascinating to pull the ace of wands, a card that is typically associated with a new idea or opportunity, as my outcome card. this card brims with energy and fire, and while it’s a positive and exciting card to see, often overwhelms me.

however, a card of such powerful inspiration and potential is really motivating to me. if the outcome of my tarot journey is to put me at a fresh start, an exciting new beginning brimming with energy and possibilities and strength, then that’s a wonderful place to be. i don’t see this journey as one with a clear destination – i plan to read for as long as i can. there’s no end game. but if the benefit of this course is that it can put me in a new position, one that inspires me to start something else or bring tarot into a more important place in my life, how can i not be energized? this is such a fun and powerful card to see here.

 

IMG_1379.jpg

overall: four cups, one wand, and one pentacle – no swords in sight. the proportion makes sense to me – i’m a scorpio, a water sign, and identify strongly with the suit of cups. but i’m very drawn to the suits of wands and pentacles, seeing quiet and strength in the earth and often craving that crackle of fire. swords are less appealing to me, as my mental energy is usually dark and negative. and for me, tarot is all about intuition, connection, and insight, and less about structured meanings and precise interpretations.

i’m both soothed and energized by this spread, seeing so much potential in this course and what i can learn from it. i’m really looking forward to continuing my journey and growing as a reader. and please, if you find this post and feel inspired (or have worked with this course, either now or in the past), let me know! i’d love to connect to other readers.