feet in the flames

these past few weeks have involved a lot more spreads than usual, so i wanted to get back to basics today with a single-card reading. the cards had bigger plans though, getting right in my face with an intense draw: the devil.

the-devili’ve worked with this trickster before, and his general meanings are difficult. addiction, inner demons, bondage, materialism, negativity, enslavement, a prison of our own making – this card speaks to inner darkness, the temptations and wickedness that lives within us all. often this card is seen as a wake-up call, a harsh reminder to examine our own failings and make some serious adjustments. we all have secrets, challenges, inner desires that we’re ashamed of, but often the easiest way to overcome these difficulties is by acknowledging them. it seems impossible to ignore something as dramatic as feet in the flames, but as humans we’re very good at ignoring negative things, even when they may be hurting us.

and this could certainly be the message for me today. i’ve been in a weird head space lately, disappointed with myself, feeling isolated from friends and family, craving a new project or start to get me motivated and energized. i feel lazy, slow, uncomfortable. i hate the idea of blaming outside forces for my problems (“the devil made me do it” is the ultimate way to avoid taking responsibility, don’t you think?), but i think my inner devil has been having a field day with my sluggishness, my lack of motivation, my feelings of discomfort in my own world and head and body.

but is that all? a clarifying card is in order, as it so often is with major arcana cards. and my second pull has me reconsidering what the devil might be telling me: the nine of cups, a card of finding pleasure, reveling in contentment, and enjoying harmony.

IMG_0340i don’t see this card often, but when i do it’s paired with a difficult card, like the tower. it’s a lovely card, a reminder to enjoy life to the fullest and appreciate the present, but it often feels like a snarky reminder that my life is just fine, thank you very much – i have people that love me, a good relationship with my family, a fairly strong marriage, a job that i love, a safe place to live, plenty of food and clothing, enough money to occasionally buy frivolous things… i could go on, but you get the point. what do i really have to complain about? why the depression, the darkness, the moodiness and struggles and sadness?

as a clarifying card for the devil, i see something completely different: enjoy what you have, and stop taking everything so damn seriously. indulge a little. find something that brings you happiness, even if it’s just for a moment. beth writes about how the devil is not always bad – he can encourage us to live a little, embrace a bit of wickedness, let go and find pleasure in what we can.

i like fire. i’m not afraid of the dark. but i also feel stuck in a rut, tired and cranky, sad and defeated. perhaps it’s time for something new, something fun, something that’s just for me to help pull me out of this weird place that i’m stuck in.

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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.

naturally, 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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