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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grasping magic

depression is settling around me like a heavy fog. i can feel it thickening, its weight growing by the day, blocking out the light and making it more difficult to do basic tasks. everything becomes harder, slower, painful, requiring more energy and stamina than usual. my spoons are running low. i’m growing disinterested in the world around me.

sometimes the beginning is the worst, because i can still remember where i was just a few days ago. once i’m in it, i’m really in it – i lose track of time, days blur together, and it’s hard to tell just bad it is until i can crawl back out into the light. right now i can still make myself do things, still find joy in friends and favorite things, but it’s all a bit dulled, and i know it will only get dimmer as the days pass. i hope i’m not stuck here for too long, i think, as my head slips under the water.

IMG_0353what can the cards offer me, in their wisdom and insight and kindness? today’s draw is the magician, a card of purpose, action, energy, and empowerment. armed with his knowledge of all four minor suits, he sits in stillness, but plots his next move. he’s confident, independent, filled with awareness. he doesn’t act simply to be busy, but rather with purpose and intent, aware of his goals and the passions that drive him. the air around him shimmers with possibility, potential, something just a moment away. a brilliant sun, so similar to the radiant card i pulled just a few days ago, shines behind him, bathing him in light. his way forward is illuminated, clear, and he simply waits for the perfect moment to take that first, strong step.

i’ve only drawn this card once before, when i was weeks into the upside-down. it was a stark reminder that even small actions can have power, that simple tools can accomplish great things, that using my energy in strong, deliberate ways can have a major impact. it’s not always about huge goals, grand gestures, massive undertakings – sometimes even small steps forward is still better than standing still (or hiding underground).

i’ve been fighting this round of depression diligently, keeping myself busy with tasks and little goals even as i could feel the shadows lurking behind me. it felt like the moment i stopped, the second i turned around or acknowledged its presence, depression would consume me. and when i did, it did. but the magician tells a different story, reminds me of the tools at my disposal, my ability to cling to bits of light when i need it, my drive to find projects to fuel my passions. rather than simply waiting for something to arrive, there’s beautiful intention in this card – the magician plans his course, gathers the resources he needs, and moves forward calmly and deliberately. IMG_1803

i’m trying to keep moving, trying to stay honest, trying to keep connections alive. i’m being brutally honest on social media right now, more than ever before. i’m making sure friends and family know where i’m at. i’m connecting with the online tarot community in new ways. i have a therapist that’s aware of my mindset and is always a phone call away. i even have an emergency plan, just in case things get too dark, too heavy, too much.

but i think this is a strong card for me to meditate on and channel today. i don’t have to conquer the world, or escape my depression, or achieve every goal i can come up with – i just have to grasp a little magic. and for today, that can be enough.

enjoying the warmth

after so many intense & lengthy spreads lately, i’m eager to get back to my single-card daily readings. they bring me such comfort, and i love their simple messages, and the opportunity to spend time meditating and considering one or two cards at a time.

IMG_0371today’s card is one of energy, life, positivity, vitality, radiance, and joy: the sun. and while it does feel a bit on the nose to draw this card brimming with light and happiness on the day after a solar eclipse, it also feels like a potent reminder to embrace the bright possibility that this card represents.

this card is positively glowing, beams of golden light streaming out from the center. the sun itself isn’t really even visible – it’s simply hinted at, hiding behind that intense and colorful glow. you can practically feel the warmth emanating from this card, and the sense of peace, comfort, and ease here is undeniable.

but for someone with darker impulses, someone who worships the moon, someone who rarely seeks out joy but instead lives in the shadows – what kind of lessons can i take from a card that’s so bright? this card feels foreign to me, even as i sit with it, drenched in sunlight from a clear blue sky. how do i learn to just enjoy that warmth, soak in the comfort, find the joy in the everyday? IMG_0305

my clarifying card offered similar advice: the three of wands. this card popped up just a few days ago in an outcome position, and also seems to be brimming with possibility. and while the idea of looking to the future, making grand plans and setting ambitious goals, doesn’t hold any real appeal – perhaps there’s joy in the unknown. perhaps even the act of considering what may be ahead is a way to make peace with it.

i’m struck by the idea of vision, and how we can’t look too closely or intently at both of these cards. the sun is too bright, too dazzling – we will literally sacrifice our vision trying to see it with the naked eye. it’s simply too intense for our human eyes to handle. and while the three of wands represents a much more ambiguous vision, that of the future, of what lies ahead, of the goals we set for ourselves, it too can be impossible to look at. stare ahead for too long, spend too much time squinting at those hazy colors, and we’ll lose sight of everything.

so where does this leave me? it seems that rather than scrambling for a project, or pouring my energy into the first thing that resonates, i should instead spend some time simply soaking up the sunshine, and enjoying each moment as it comes. finding a way to be present, rather than obsessing over past efforts or worrying about future failures, seems like the perfect way to find my path forward. and if that bright light, that colorful future, is impossible to see right now? i can still enjoy the warmth.

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don’t be surprised to see some changes in this space in the upcoming weeks – i’ll be redesigning the look of this site, changing the name to match my new instagram page (hello, fellow ‘grammers!), and working to connect with more readers in the tarot community. if you’d like to see something in this space, or just want to say hello, please give me a shout in the comments!

daily lessons

it’s been a very introspective week, as i adjust back to life in the city, try to get my bearings with my friends and family, and work to keep my depression at bay for as long as possible. i haven’t really felt strong enough to hear lessons from the cards, but today’s daily draw is a strong, passionate message that gives me much to consider: the hierophant.

the-hierophantbefore i knew much of tarot, i thought of the hierophant as simply a teacher or mentor, someone with wisdom to impart and the patience to help others expand their worldview. but there’s a weight to this card, a feeling of expectation, tradition, structure and system that makes me bristle. i grew up in a very religious household and church, and there’s so much fervor, such intensity of belief and rigidity and absolutes, that i felt completely smothered. there’s a sense of that overconfident preacher here, a fanaticism – only he holds the key, only he can wield it, and to understand the truth you must go through this messenger.

there may not be a strong presence of organized religion in my life right now, but i do have faith, and beliefs, and connections to things and energies greater than myself. my roots include so much of that structured, specific way of thinking – do this, not that; good and evil are opposites and never overlap; to be holy you must act this way and be this way. there’s so much fear in that way of thinking, a constant paranoia that you may do something wrong and not even know it. and when you’re secretly queer and growing up in the church, everything takes on new meaning. it’s impossible to be yourself – you learn to hide in plain sight, to not rock the boat, to not ask too many questions.

in addition to the more traditional meanings, this card is reminding me of a recent difficult conversation with a family member – someone with very different views than i. what could’ve been constructive and illuminating quickly became toxic and harmful, simply because we had trouble understanding each other. this family member reminds me of the hierophant in a very negative way – so convinced that his perspective is the only correct one that he’s unable to even consider any other way, any other truth. it frightened me, and it broke my heart.

but perhaps the hierophant is more than a stuffy, threatening, religious figure, desperate to convert and control, or someone with rigid, fanatical views based solely on his own experiences. perhaps instead i can take him back to that original meaning – a teacher, a mentor, or simply a way to dig deep and find meaning and truth and honesty. i feel strongly that we have to develop our own beliefs, find our own way to navigate the world and relate to the god/dess that we feel around us, and give weight and meaning to the perspectives that we have. faith is such a personal experience and expression, and sometimes the person speaking the loudest can overshadow that quiet inner voice that speaks our own truth.

(or maybe the cards are just reminding me to stop slacking on my tarot course and get back to work!)

either way, i want to be more open to the lessons of the hierophant. there is always more to learn, more to absorb, more to understand. and without challenging ourselves to find new perspectives, without continuing to read and listen and explore, we can never grow past our own limitations. i don’t want to be stifled, but i don’t want to stunt my own growth either.

keeps on turning

back in the city, back to real life. today’s card is a perfect reminder that everything is connected and the world keeps on turning: the wheel of fortune.

IMG_0362this is a card i’ve only worked with once before, but it’s one that i find very appealing. there are so many colorful threads, so many knots and tangles and loops that connect everything together. we can’t always trace the lines, don’t always see how one thing impacts another, but everything is linked. in the middle of the mess, it’s hard to see why things are happening or how it could possibly end well, but with time and perspective we can see the whole picture, learn valuable lessons, gain fuller insight into our world. and even when the wheel spins on its head, when we flip from the top to the bottom without warning, there is still a sense of something greater than ourselves, a power bigger than our own small selves.

change is inevitable. control is fleeting. most days, the world can look like nothing more than beautiful, terrible chaos. the world can be upended in an instant – whether we recognize that change or not. and this card encourages us to remember humility, to not get too high-and-mighty, to stay aware of our actions and our contributions to this world of ours. we can only do so much, control so much, change so much.

IMG_0304major arcana cards are the theme of my next week of exercises through beth’s course, and in the spirit of continuing to learn i drew a second companion card. a perfect reminder to not surrender all of my power, the two of wands is a card of willpower, determination, decisiveness, and potential. rather than cowering in fear at the wheel of fortune, seeing it as a symbol of inevitability and fate and destiny, i need to also remember that i still have agency and independence. the world may keep turning whether or not i’m here, but i still have opportunities to make my mark. i have a role to play in this life, things to create and speak and do. one of those colorful threads represents me, and what i do with my time and energy and spirit can matter. i don’t want to get too big, too arrogant, too confident – but i shouldn’t let the power of the wheel crush me either.

lost mojo

i’m feeling drained, tired, and generally uninspired. the work i’m doing is so fun and i’m proud of it, but it’s not exciting me for some reason. the cards i pulled this morning are ones i’ve drawn very recently, and aren’t speaking to me in a meaningful way. what’s a reader to do?

beth’s finding your mojo spread, of course.

1. here’s my mojo:

IMG_0362the wheel of fortune. this isn’t my birth card, or even one that i work with or feel especially drawn to, but it makes sense to me here. i do value the connections between things, the colorful threads that tie everything together, even when events seem completely random. i enjoy the mystery and chaos that lie on the surface, and feel such relief and awe when things start to fall into place on a deeper level. there is only so much that we can control, and sometimes all i can do is let things go, and let fate take over. the only thing that is constant is change, heraclitus wrote, and there’s something comforting in that. my mojo is linked to control and power, to the inevitability of change, to surrendering to destiny. i’m more at peace when i stop trying to control everything and simply follow those vibrant threads that connect every person and thing, when i accept my small role in this world and don’t try to make it something that it isn’t.

 

2. here’s what’s getting in the way:

IMG_0305the three of wands. a card so perfect in this position, it made me laugh out loud. envisioning the future, as the wild unknown guidebook says about this card, always seems to cause me problems. i don’t have huge goals for my life, often resisting the so-called five- or ten-year-plan that so many others cling to. and tied with the wheel of fortune as my mojo, of course i would struggle when considering if all of these different types of shoots are ultimately going to help or hurt my career.

while i like being constantly busy and having work coming in all the time, every “traditional” job i’ve had has left me exhausted, frustrated, and doubting myself. freelancing is difficult but i know that it truly is the right path for me – i love the freedom to pick and choose work, love challenging myself to solve problems and grow, love working with new clients and new photography styles and new events. i thrive in the unknown, succeed when things are unpredictable, push myself harder when the outcome is unclear. clarifying my goals is something i hate to do, but feeling like i should be more goal-oriented is absolutely blocking my mojo these days.

3. solution:

father-of-cupsthe father of cups. if there’s a more appropriate card for this position, i can’t think of it. open-minded, calm, sensitive, and strong, he doesn’t hide from his emotions – he thrives on them, knowing the power that they contain. rather than the more introspective, mysterious members of his court, he harnesses the power of his connections and feelings in a stabilizing, empathetic way, and pushes that energy outward. his emotions do not control him – he understands and values their strength, and allows them to connect him to the world and people that he values.

what a beautiful card for me, in this position. while the action-oriented, fiery wands can stress me out and block me, making me second-guess my drive and lack of detailed goals for myself, the cups always bring me back to center. i trust my intuition, value my emotions, and rely heavily on my ability to read and navigate difficult situations. i work best when i work by instinct, following my gut to find a solution that feels right. it’s time to stop doubting myself, stop trying to make my life fit into a neat little box, and instead enjoy the fact that i’m a bit different. so what if my goals and dreams aren’t the same as others? who cares if i don’t know where i want to be (or who i want to be) in twenty years? does it really matter if i’m unique, independent, utterly strange? what’s most important is that i’m confident and content with my choices, that i trust myself, that i follow my heart.

mojo: found.

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shifting perspective

after all of the emotion and release that happened yesterday, i wasn’t sure what the cards would have in store for me today. but a new card is always an exciting challenge, and the hanged man is an excellent opportunity to explore new facets of my deck.

IMG_0364suspended upside-down, the bat views the world in his own unique way. finding rest during the daylight hours and coming out to hunt and explore only in darkness, he comes at life from a different angle. everything is a bit off-center, new and sometimes strange, but for him this is his daily routine. the only color in this card is in his eyes, blood red and wide open.

there are a lot of interpretations for this card – sacrifice, surrender, release, struggle, restriction, suspense, retreat, meditation, resistance. it all comes back to this idea of waiting, whether intentionally or not, along with seeing things from a new perspective. he transcends what is “normal,” and instead approaches problems from an unexpected position. while being upside-down can be an uncomfortable position for us, for him it feels natural and relaxed. this card can encourage us to seek stillness, to find rest in spite of what feels difficult, or to prepare for a unpleasant or uncomfortable situation that is approaching.
son-of-wandsi may have taken a step forward, but there are much more difficult ones to come. for me, this card is a reminder to try to see the perspective of others, to find stillness and calm in uncomfortable places, and to keep my eyes open and aware.

seeking more insight into this difficult card, i gave myself an additional card for clarification: the son of wands, a card with a completely different energy. while on his own he speaks to drive, passion, and adventure, when paired with the hanged man he could be suggesting putting all of that energy and action into embracing that new perspective. rather than struggling against what could feel like a trap, relaxing into an uncomfortable position can force us to stretch and grow in ways that soon feel like second nature. like a challenging yoga inversion, sometimes pushing ourselves outside our comfort zone can ultimately strengthen us, helping us master what at first felt impossible.

i love this pairing. both the hanged man and the son of wands are independent, self-sufficient, and utterly free. they create their own perspective, push themselves to do things differently, and don’t shy away from the unknown. it’s a beautiful lesson for today.