cutting through

much like the ace/two/three of wands, i feel a bit of anxiety when i pull the ace of swords in a daily reading. clarity is coming, the truth will be revealed, and whether i like it or not, honest insight is on its way. i pulled this card just a few weeks ago, in the wake of charlottesville, and it forced me to continue to acknowledge my privilege as a white woman in a liberal city, even as i wrestle with my struggles as a queer woman whose identity is often lost or erased. what will this fearsome blade cut through today?

ace-of-swordsperhaps it’s natural as a water sign to be uncomfortable with the air, to worry about what that brilliant blade of light and truth will uncover. i’m in such a difficult place, trying not to drown in depression and working hard to not completely isolate myself, and the idea of facing the ugliness of my emotions, gazing unflinchingly at my mistakes and pride, forcing myself to acknowledge things long buried – it sounds like too much to bear. this sword has a sharp point, that zeroes in on its mark and does not miss. it lights up the darkness, offers flashes of brilliance and power and clarity, cuts to the heart of the matter. like all aces, it embodies all the strengths and challenges of the suit, harnessing the power of the air.

and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide in the darkness.

but what else can this card represent? the fountain tarot features a brilliant sword that looks to be made of glass, diving straight down into all the colors and tangles to cut a clear path forward. there’s no hesitation, no flinching, no fear – simply force, IMG_1861determination, and power. this sword cuts through everything, clearing the way for truth and strength and success. sometimes we have to clear away all that bullshit to see the soul inside. nothing about this is easy or simple, but it’s not meant to be. clearing through tangled emotions, complicated justifications, excuses and perceptions and all the ways we explain away and struggle to understand our current reality – it’s a painful process, but a necessary one. this sword demands that we assess ourselves, force ourselves to sift through everything to find the truth, and take the time to understand what lies at the heart of these issues. it also suggests powerful new ideas, flashes of insight, fresh approaches to old problems, ambition and strength and determination to see things through to the end. and those are satisfying, appealing ideas, especially in my current state.

a difficult card, to be sure. self-reflection can be a miserable process, revealing things we’d prefer not to see. and the idea of charging forward with that brilliant blade, fearless and strong, feels impossible. but after yesterday’s reading and all of its encouragement to mourn the past and then set it free, this feels like a harsh but necessary reminder to start that challenging, ultimately rewarding work.

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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.

wisdom of the eclipse

new moon energy is an intensely charged time – full of potential, a chance to start fresh, an opportunity to set new goals and intentions. and combined with the incredible energy from today’s solar eclipse, there couldn’t be a better time for a tarot spread centered around reflection, awareness, and finding direction.

1. where you stand

IMG_0299the son of swords grips the blade of his sword as he hones in on his target. everything in him is focused, utterly fixated on his destination. wings flapping, eyes forward, sword at the ready – he is completely determined, and will let nothing get in his way. as with all of the sons, their understanding of the suit is growing, and can go many ways. is his single-minded pursuit of his goal, his focus on the truth, something that makes him strong? or is he too obsessive, unwilling to see any other perspective?

i don’t feel this strong or sure about anything at the moment, except perhaps that i’m longing to channel my energy into something. i’ve been toying with new creative pursuits, itching to start a new project, eager to find something i can pour my fire into. and while this son is several steps past where i feel i am, there’s something to his passionate intensity, his fearless drive, his complete willingness to throw his entire self into this purpose, that resonates. i may not be sure where i want to go, but i do know that i want to put my whole self into something that matters to me.

2. something to leave behindIMG_0334

the card that i cannot seem to shake, the three of cups represents companionship, love, friendship, and honesty. this card has been stalking me relentlessly for the past few months, and has come to mean something very different – feelings of isolation and being misunderstood, being alone or left out, wanting something that no longer exists. but in this context, i feel that this card is asking me to leave behind not only these feelings, but also this inherent craving for approval, for support, for praise and love and inclusiveness. it’s important to have people around us that give us that unconditional love and support, that encourage us to be better, that strengthen us and help us heal. but with that comes temptation, even a desire to lean too heavily on those that we love, rather than growing and learning on our own. having a strong community is a beautiful thing, but if we come to rely on it too heavily, we can do ourselves a disservice. sometimes we have to leave the pack, strike out alone, set our own course. i have to rely on my own independence, my own strength, and listen to what my heart is craving.

3. something to receive

IMG_0293a card of hope, healing, and moving forward, the six of swords feels like a gift. i’ve been so discouraged, felt so alone, wondered what my purpose is and how to escape this feeling of restless sadness. this card doesn’t speak to all problems magically disappearing, or leaving everything behind, but instead seems to offer shelter from the storm, a chance to dry off, warm up, and set a new course.

hope and optimism aren’t traits i’m particularly known for, and they aren’t something i tend to seek – i take a rather bleak view of life, generally content to stay in the darkness. and while my gaze naturally drifts towards the pile of dark swords in the rain and the shadows, this card is really about that narrow, colorful rainbow overhead. i may not know where i’m going just yet, but that lovely ribbon of light is a potent reminder that no storm lasts forever, and that i have the power to leave this troubling sadness behind.

4. something to learnIMG_0369

the only major arcana card present, the star is a beautiful card of generosity, authenticity, peace, inspiration, and healing energy. it feels particularly poignant to see this hopeful image as the eclipse occurs overhead, a reminder of the powerful forces at work at the moment.

this card offers so much, and provides endless lessons, but one thing i’m grateful for is this card’s association with creativity, passion, and feeding that inner fire. the star reminds us to connect with what truly drives us, encourages us to look deep within and see that which keeps us strong and centered, helps us find our way. beth calls this card the north star, and i love that strong image of a guiding light, an inner compass, a distant fire that helps us follow our own path. i may not always be good at pausing to look for this gentle beacon, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been there waiting for me, ready to help me find my way.

5. something to give

IMG_0333the two of cups, a card associated with love, balance, reciprocity, and strong connections. while it seems that many see this card as a symbol for romance and romantic love, it can also speak to connections with anything that is important to us: friendships, families, pets, art, music, nature, movement, or anything else that speaks to our soul, makes us feel alive and empowered and complete.

sometimes we’re too depleted to give anything to anyone, but i find that when i’m running low on energy, on love, on encouragement, that i can often muster up some positivity for friends – even if i can’t find it for myself. it’s always astounding to me how reaching out to others, finding small ways to be kind, offering words of encouragement or support, tends to magnify and expand those feelings. those gestures feel small and sometimes seem like they can’t possibly make a difference, but they often mean so much more than expected. and though right now it feels that i can’t offer anything special, that doesn’t mean i shouldn’t try anyway.

6. your hopes and dreamsIMG_0324

an intriguing card for this position, the seven of pentacles also made an appearance in my last reading. it represents an important step in any journey – a pause, an evaluation, an opportunity to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments. this card is a reminder to look at how far you’ve come, and make sure that the path you’re following will lead you to your ultimate goal.

this card often pops up in snarky, clever ways for me – it tends to appear when i’m unsure of my direction, seeking guidance, or looking to connect with someone or something that’s challenging me. as i’ve written before, i don’t have major lifelong goals, impressive dreams, ambitious plans for my future, so this card feels like a tease. but perhaps that’s an indication that i have more ambitions than i think, that just because i haven’t set big goals for myself in the past doesn’t mean i don’t have them, buried down deep. this card may be pushing me to step back, evaluate what i really want, and consider if there is something i want, something i should be pointing myself towards.

7. your secret special skill

ten-of-swordsthe ultimate victim, the the ten of swords is a card of despair, melodrama, hitting rock bottom, and giving up. there’s no possible way to escape all of those swords – indeed, ten seems a bit excessive. this card always makes me laugh, for don’t we all feel this way sometimes? like the whole weight of the world is bearing down, everyone and everything is against us, there’s no escape from the insurmountable problems stacking up before us. it’s a card of utter defeat, getting so in our heads that we’re sure there is no solution, no escape, no recovery.

quite a secret special skill to round out my spread. and yet, these dark cards come up for me frequently when i do readings that include personal powers, strengths, and important characteristics. my scorpio nature and depression play strongly into everything, from the way i read cards to the way i approach decisions to the way i relate to others. it’s difficult to see the ten of swords as a skill, since melodrama and painting myself as a victim is rarely helpful. but this card does make me snicker, and reminds me to stay aware of those dark tendencies in both myself and others, which can certainly be a skill. it’s a lot harder to be aware of bad patterns when it’s you that’s falling into them, but i try to pay attention to how my mind operates and stay focused when i can feel myself slipping into dark, twisty places. i also have plenty of darkness in my mind and my past, and while nothing truly horrific has happened to me, i do think that those experiences have helped shape me, taught me how to survive and remove the swords that are impaling me.

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this spread was certainly a challenging one, encompassing everything from honest love and community to self-imposed isolation and leaving the past behind. there are images of hope here, encouragement, friendship, inspiration. but there are also warnings of obsession, loss, despair, getting lost in the darkness of our own minds. but there’s so much wisdom here, particularly as i seek ways to let my own creativity shine, as i reflect on hidden dreams or secret aspirations, as i crave a passion project that lets me channel my energy and knowledge and inner fire.

i’ve been doing a lot of larger spreads lately, and am eager to get back to my single-card daily drawings for a bit so that i can unpack all of the wisdom here. but if you did any special spreads or readings for the eclipse, please share in the comments!

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.

release.

as i work through and process some difficult things, it was such a gift to pull today’s card: judgement. i actually received this card a few weeks ago and found it very comforting, but today it feels like a push forward.IMG_0372

there’s so much in this card, beauty and truth and freedom and soaring towards the light, release and understanding and pure hope. this dove is so strong, fleeing that tangled darkness below to reach the bright open space above. and so often, ugliness is created by us – fear, guilt, pain, anxiety, depression. we spend so much energy worrying about what might happen when we finally release those secrets and fly free, but the dove is so much more powerful now, having shed the dark and embraced her strength. and this card feels like an incredibly powerful symbol to me, that perhaps it’s time for me to embrace my strength too.

today is june 1, the first day of pride month. as a bisexual woman, raised in a very religious family and church that was vocally anti-homosexual, pride and judgement are difficult topics for me. it’s taken me a very long time to own my identity, and to admit that while i don’t all the answers, i can no longer deny who i am. i only came out a few years ago, after i’d already been married for some time, and it was a shock to my parents and many who’d grown up with me. other friends were much more supportive and loving, including my husband, and for that i’m incredibly grateful. but there are some very important people in my life who still don’t know about my sexual identity, and in this month of pride, and this impossible political climate, it feels more essential than ever to come clean and stop hiding.

IMG_0304the cards aren’t always this on-the-nose, so i gave myself a clarifying card to make sure i was moving in the right direction: and pulled the two of wands. a bold, goal-oriented card of determination, focus, and strength… that happens to have a colorful, vivid rainbow in the background.

i think that we bring a lot of our own baggage to tarot – it can be hard to clear my mind and not project everything i want to see into my readings. but i’ve been worrying non-stop about telling these last family members about my orientation, feeling isolated and alone, and these cards give me so much strength. it will not be easy, but i can’t keep hiding in the darkness. it’s time to reach out and grab those wands, face my truth, and release some of the secrets.

it’s time to find some pride.

breathe deep

i’ve been pulling a lot of positive cards lately – ones that encourage me to look forward to what’s ahead, to seek hope and adventure, to start something new and embrace my own power through it. and it’s been lovely to feel so much strength and energy flowing through these cards – but it’s been a bit overwhelming too. today’s card, the seven of cups, seems to reflect and understand that perfectly. IMG_0338

i’ve written about this card before, and while it’s not always the most welcome sight in a
daily reading, it can also be a bit of a relief to have feelings acknowledged. this card flips everything on its head, and we don’t know which way is up, what time or place or day it is, or even how to move forward. it takes things we thought we were sure of and makes us question them. it can be an indication to stop, look around, take a breath, reassess. things are not what they seem, confusion is afoot, something is amiss.

i’ve been procrastinating, unsure, feeling simultaneously afraid to start and oh-so-tired of being stagnant. depression, especially when it lingers, is like slogging through mud, like wandering through fog, and it makes everything feel slow and heavy and exhausting. and as i attempt to stand up and stumble out of this darkness, to find my way back to who i know i can be, it’s hard to know how to get back into real life again.

the-empressin an effort to seek guidance, i pulled a second card for clarification, and got some serious female power: the empress. she’s beautiful and bold, a colorful beacon in the darkness. this strong tree is constantly evolving with the seasons, and her brilliant shades of pink and purple speak of spring, of the growth and life that come after a long period of cold darkness. she is warm, gentle, compassionate, and strong.

both of these cards are set at night, but reveal very different truths. while the seven reflects the confusion that darkness can bring, the confusing emotions and conflicting directions, the empress is solid and grounded, confident in her light and her strength. the darkness only serves to illuminate her, causing that which is insignificant to fade into the background.

and while it’s okay to be unsure sometimes, to feel hesitant or weak or confused about the next step, the empress reminds me that there can be power in the darkness. finding that inner light is not always easy, but that doesn’t mean that it has faded away.

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the power of the wand

i’ve pulled wands in every single reading this week. today was no exception: the two of wands was my daily draw this morning. and in addition to a lot of intense fire energy, i’ve also pulled the ace, two, and three of wands this week. a lot of bright, bold, adventurous energy here.

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these three cards can tell a story about starting something new: the ace is a powerful idea, excitement, energy, readiness. the two is focus, determination, solidifying the idea and thinking through the steps and pieces necessary to make it happen. and the three is action, jumping in, envisioning that beautiful goal and going after it. it’s a powerful trio, and pulling all three cards over the last few days feels significant.

of course, i’m not really in the middle of an exciting new adventure – i’m slogging through the same old depression, wondering if it will ever end. everything is so grey and washed out right now, and all three of these cards are positively bursting with color and vitality. but the two of wands is all about taking a quick pause to determine direction and focus, to evaluate the plan, to become fully aware of everything that’s happening. there’s so much light and energy in this card, but those horizontal lines also show stability and power, ready to be harnessed and focused in whatever way we need.

this is an exciting card, but it’s also a bit overwhelming. i’m not sure what to do with all of this fire, or where to direct it. to make the choice to reach out and grab those wands – am i ready? can i handle it? will it backfire?

i’m not sure i have the answers. but the cards seems to think that it’s time to take some of that colorful power back. i hope they’re right.

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