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.

standing up

it’s been a long, hard few months. after yesterday’s post got much more personal than i usually am in this space, i spent a lot of time reflecting on where i am, where i’ve been, and where i’m going. depression is a long, winding road, with no real destination or end in sight. it’s a tough path to travel. but sometimes there’s such beauty to be found in darkness, and a poignancy to pain that can reveal harsh, but essential truths. while this isn’t a journey i would choose, it’s one i must take, and all i can do is keep my eyes and ears open to the lessons i can find along the way.

after so much introspection, i’m rather delighted by today’s card: the magician.

IMG_0353a new card for me, and one of self-empowerment, stamina, strength, and spirit. the wild unknown book describes the magician as “a card of boundless, expansive energy,” and indeed, the card is vivid, almost pulsing with light. the wildcat is strong, graceful, courageous, and wields the energy of all four suits with ease. he’s aware of his surroundings, but not afraid of them. there’s beautiful potential here, an anticipatory feeling of stillness, readiness. the magician is poised, awake, aware. he knows that he has the tools needed to conquer any situation, and the fortitude to know which skill will be needed in order to succeed.

after so many weeks in the dark, knowing that i’m still probably going to be drowning for a bit longer, this is an immensely empowering card. all about action, the magician knows what to do and how to do it. there’s no self-doubt, no confusion, no hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth or hiding in a corner. there’s such bold, quiet confidence here, such beauty and power and intensity. and while i may not feel that in myself at this very moment, pushing myself to find actions that i can take to find my own beauty and power and intensity feels like good advice.

i think it’s okay to not always be okay. but remembering that action is possible even when you feel completely and utterly powerless can be a beautiful reminder of what we are all capable of. the tools are right there – i just need to find a way to grab them and wield them with grace.

days go by

and again, weeks and weeks have gone by. i’ve been drowning in depression, and every time i think the tide is coming in and i think that i might be able to reach dry land, another current catches me and i’m pulled back under. depression ebbs and flows, but my compass has been completely shattered in the storm – i usually have a better sense of how long i’ve been treading water, when i’ve reached the eye of the storm, if i’ll get a glimpse of the horizon soon. but this time around i spent so much energy pushing it away, trying to hold it back, that now i’m utterly lost at sea.

i’ve been struggling in particular with my history of self-harm, and have gone down the terrible rabbit hole of comparing my struggle to that of others. any therapist, self-help book, or rational human will tell you that this is a terrible idea, that recovery is not a race, that everyone copes differently. but when i see the love and support given to friends of mine, whether they’re surviving sexual assault, dealing with crippling anxiety, recovering from eating disorders, or learning how to embrace life after a failed suicide attempt, i can’t help but feel ugly and lonely and wrong. why is it easy for me to extend kindness and sympathy and generosity to others that are struggling, and yet impossible for me to offer myself the same courtesy? my laundry list of issues are long and growing longer by the day, and yet when i see someone that has but one item on my own list, my heart aches for them. why can’t i ache for myself? why do i constantly listen to that nasty voice in my head, the one that says that nobody cares about me, that i have to be strong and not burden anyone else, that people only like me because of what i can give them?

my therapist is kind, my husband is supportive, and the few others in my life who know the ins and outs of my struggles have been wonderful. so why this need for me? why does my heart swell with envy when i see a friend post about her suicide attempt and get endless comments and notes of support, of love, of encouragement? people telling her she’s brave, she’s strong, she’s a fighter, she’s powerful, she’s an inspiration.

i tried, and failed, twice. what does that make me? (the voice in my head says, “it makes you a failure.”)

i brought all of this to the cards today. and they didn’t let me down: i pulled the tower.

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not for the faint of heart, this card. and though the instinct is to recoil, to cower in fear, to weep and beg and sorrow, perhaps this card and this depression are markers of real, internal movement. the tower signifies a permanent evolution, irrevocable change, a deep, significant transformation. there’s no going back to what we were before – we have to move forward into that wild unknown, whether we like it or not.

and perhaps the cards are simply urging me to learn from my darker past and stop being so afraid. step into the light. reveal the scary. shed that skin. if support is what you need, stop being afraid of rejection and simply ask for it.
IMG_0340naturally, steeped in fear and desperate to be wrong, i pulled a second clarification card: the nine of cups. a card of satisfaction, of pleasure, of contentment. it’s all about enjoying what’s in the present, reveling in stable, calm energy, and indulging in the things that give us joy.

could there be a stranger pair? i’m not sure. but what i see is that upheaval is necessary, that change is a’comin’, that the very foundations of my world are altering. and yet, there is peace to be found. there is serenity in knowing that this evolution is extremely necessary, and that i have been stagnant for far too long.

there’s a lot to process here, with many truths that i’m not sure i’m ready to see. but i’ve let the cards be silent for far too long, and i know in my bones that it’s time to listen. maybe that means that there are others in my life who are ready to listen too.

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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.

 

 

 

finding balance

there’s beauty in moderation.

temperance

…right?

today’s card is temperance, yet another major arcana card that i haven’t worked with, and what feels like the proper conclusion to my three-day stretch of intense, challenging cards. the moon, the devil, temperance – this trio of fierce, powerful cards has been pushing me hard.

i’ve read a variety of bloggers that find temperance a boring, rather uninspired card – one that can scold or nag, tell us to pull back, calm down, get it together. and while i can certainly understand that interpretation, seeing it for the first time in this context of difficult cards actually gives me a lot of hope and inspiration.

temperance can be an admonition of restraint or self-control, but the wild unknown focuses on the ideas of renewal, healing, awareness, and balance, which i find lovely. after cards that tell me to find my madness, but perhaps not overdo it, this feels like a reminder that harmony in all things is vital. diving into the hidden mysteries of the moon is a beautiful thing, but the devil tells me to be aware of the temptation to become addicted to the quiet, luscious fantasy.

as i work to find balance in my life, it’s clear to me that my default mode is one of quiet introspection. given a day or two without work or clear plans, i slip into a vague world of books, tarot, music, and very little else. i don’t take myself out to meals, find photography projects, or even cook – i simply exist in a peaceful, sedentary world of my own making. lately the days are slipping by with very little to define them, strings of beads that are all hazy and identical. what have i been doing with my time besides reading, exploring my cards, taking baths? it sounds incredibly lazy and self-indulgent, and it is – after long weeks of dealing with my dog’s illness, being sick myself, and throwing myself into work during every spare minute, i seem to have slipped into a waking dream.

i’ve thought these cards were about my tarot practice, but perhaps it’s a bigger issue at play here – my introspection seems to have reached expert level status, and i’m quite content to have little structure and next to no human interaction. and perhaps this is just a long period of healing, from so much stress with holidays and travel, the inauguration and resulting horrors, waiting every day to move to a new neighborhood, starting therapy. perhaps i’ve spent so many weeks under the moon, wandering a dark landscape that only i can see, that it’s time to pull myself out and back into the real world. i know i drift into the darkness easily, and it’s not all bad there – but it can’t be the only place i live.

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the devil in the details

apparently starting this online, open journey is bringing out some intense cards for me to work through. today’s daily reading card was a big one: the devil.

the-devil

it’s hard not to feel a bit wary of this card, in spite of my determination to not label cards good or bad. i want to be open and intuitive, and let the cards speak to me in each moment, rather than having harsh, instinctive reactions to the cards. and this devil, with his burning hooves and that sly, wicked glint in his eye, is certainly challenging those goals today.

many of my references speak of the devil in the same light: he represents ugly relationships with people or substances, can indicative negative patterns, bondage, temptation, materialism, or indulgence. and while it seems that his main mission is to point out unhealthy patterns and bring awareness to what traps we may be in, it doesn’t always have to be negative – the devil can also encourage us to challenge our assumptions, and to take a more critical look at how time and energy are being spent.

personally, this card is a bit confusing – i’ve been in kind of a haze the last few weeks, having trouble focusing on much of anything, lacking energy, feeling unmotivated and uninspired. i’ve been pushing myself to spent more time writing, and more time with the tarot, which don’t seem like negative habits on their own but perhaps are my way of escaping dealing with the realities of my life.

i’m not sure if other readers, whether new or experienced, do this, but when i pull a card that i can’t see a clear meaning in, i’ll occasionally pull a second clarification card. sometimes this becomes immensely helpful, immediately shifting my awareness to a new reading or aspect of the original card, and furthering my understanding when i take them as a pair. i pulled the son of cups.

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i’ve always identified very strongly with the suit of cups. the son is a fascinating card to pull alongside the devil, since he’s known for jumping in too fast and too deep, missing nuances and details, getting a little cocky about his abilities and perhaps rushing. cups are all about water, emotion, depth, connections, and while the son has a bit more experience and sensitivity than his younger sister, he can also turn self-indulgent, ignore the logic of a situation, and spend too much time with his emotions.

i started therapy this week, and also started two blogs – one a private journal, and one this public tarot journal. i’ve also spent a lot of time writing, both about my personal journey as well as my spiritual one. and while i don’t believe that these habits are inherently negative, the combination of the devil and the son of cups points to perhaps too much time naval-gazing. introspection can be good, and healthy, and learning to talk about my emotions and myself is something that i hate but have been trying to improve. these cards are telling me that jumping in head first, and spending so much time focusing on myself, isn’t the way to go. i still need to get outside, get active, enjoy my life, and not spend all of my time in front of my computer or buried in books. tarot is a beautiful tool, and writing can be extremely constructive and helpful, but i can’t get so lost inside these things that i forget to do anything else.