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.

 

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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.

 

finding heart

after yesterday’s five of cups, i was rather expecting another card that would follow in the same pattern. perhaps the three of swords, or the five of pentacles, or the ten of wands. but instead i pulled a much stronger, more empowering card: the mother of cups.

mother-of-cups

having just worked with this card in a larger spread based on my career, this queen of the emotional realm is certainly a welcome sight. a far cry from the yesterday’s five, which i certainly experienced throughout the day, this card represents strong intuition, creativity, compassion, and tranquility. her psychic abilities and gentle awareness bring healing and sensitivity to those around her.

while the mother of cups is certainly a card i would work towards, today i think she is simply reminding me to trust my intuition and find heart. by being kind to myself and offering compassion to others, i can have a much more positive and constructive day than yesterday’s wallowing in sadness and pain. my intuition is strong, and while that can sometimes be a painful thing, i’m grateful for the wisdom it can bring in difficult situations. by choosing to remain  open, even in the face of the full spectrum of human emotion, i will only grow stronger and more aware.