reaching for freedom

i’m finally feeling more like myself, after a very long period of darkness and depression. rather than marinating in it, i’ve been trying to get back in touch with nature, with the world, with the people i care about. it’s been a time of healing, of reconnection, of mending some of the damage i caused while drowning in mental illness. but i want to spend more time in this space again, allowing myself room to sit with the lessons of tarot and learn from the wisdom in the cards.

instagram prompts have been helpful in challenging my practice, and today’s guidance was simple: something i should do for myself. i pulled the eight of cups, a card that popped up yesterday as well under a similar prompt (what could make me feel better right now?)

IMG_2353the eight of cups is walking away, rejecting something that isn’t working, breaking up with a person or situation that’s been detrimental. we leave behind our current reality, aware that something about it is broken beyond repair. there is nothing left to salvage, no way to turn this ship around – we have to find a new path, move into the unknown, and embrace the mystery ahead.

this card is challenging right now, since i finally feel more whole after my depression. i hope i’ve been able to repair relationships that were damaged, and i’m trying not to harbor any hurt or resentment over things that happened. but perhaps this card is speaking of something larger, something that i haven’t let myself dwell on too long. i asked for a clarifying card.

the five of swords, a card of self-harm, damage, humiliation, abuse, or a victory that IMG_2355pleases no one. some battles cannot be won by any party, and when we fight ourselves, we always lose. sometimes we have to find mercy, give ourselves a break, and work to move on from these self-destructive patterns. i wrote about some serious self-harm issues in september, but left out the phrase suicidal ideation. what i didn’t say is that i made a plan, wrote a will, chose a date, and constructed to-do lists to make my choice as easy on those left behind as possible. it broke me to do it, but i couldn’t seem to stop. and in the aftermath, the plan still exists, whether i followed through or not.

the date i chose was yesterday, and it passed without much fanfare. both my therapist and my partner inquired about my plan in general, neither knowing the actual date i had picked, and i felt seen, recognized, and loved in a way i haven’t in a long time. someone had remembered, someone cared. i didn’t go through with my plan, and that was the right choice.

combined with the eight of wands, it feels clear that i need to work to abandon these dark thoughts that keep creeping in, leave behind my self-loathing, and work to find the good in things. i am not a failure. i am not worthless. i am working hard on my recovery.

IMG_2356how do i leave all of these shadows behind? judgment, one of my favorite cards in the major arcana. the fountain tarot’s depiction especially speaks to me, as she rises forcefully out of a deep cup, overcoming adversity and challenges and pain and darkness to stretch her fingertips into the light. my scorpio heart and watery soul feel emotions so very deeply, and often my struggles are internal, self-inflicted, and feel so big i drown in them before i can even identify them. judgment asks us to be brave, to forgive ourselves, to give ourselves the chance to be reborn.

i am trying to find joy in my life right now. i’m running outside and practicing yoga, caring for my physical self. i’m meditating and reading and taking long walks, giving myself mental space. and i’m trying to be positive, to be kind to myself, and take an emotional break from all the darkness. it’s difficult, however, to not continue to beat myself up for things beyond my control. i know that i didn’t intend to hurt friends and family with my depression, never meant for them to take on responsibility for my mental illness or personal safety, but that happened anyway. i tried to ask for help, and things fell apart. and i can accept that bad things happened in spite of my efforts and release it, or i can keep stewing over the past, feeling guilty and hurt and misunderstood and abandoned, and never let anything go.

i want walk away from the pain, stop hurting myself mentally and emotionally, and show myself enough mercy to pull myself out of my shadows. i can only be responsible for so much – some things are beyond my control. planning to take my own life may have given me a sense of power, but choosing not to go through with it really is power. i am not a slave to my depression. i will not let it take my life from me.

i have overcome two suicide attempts and one period of suicidal ideation. and while i know that depression is a strong, all-consuming beast, one that i will certainly struggle with again, i also know that i am strong too. i am learning to wield tools that help me fight back. i am learning to speak my truth, and embrace real honesty. and i am learning that what feels real in the darkness looks very different in the light of day.

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i don’t know what will happen next time. given this last experience, i am more afraid to ask for help than ever before. but i hope that i can find the strength to overcome this demon, and learn to love the light again.

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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.

 

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.

son-of-cups

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.