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.

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confidence & courage

i’m still struggling with writing letters to my family, and i’ve been obsessing over it all week. i decided today to do a larger spread to help me find confidence and courage, in the hopes that i can finally finish this difficult task.

this spread is from beth at little red tarot, and while it was designed to help build personal confidence on a more general level, i’m going to use it for my specific situation.

1. the root of my insecurity & fear

four-of-pentacles

the four of pentacles, a card of possession and control. this is not a card i’ve worked with before, but its themes are clear: brilliant threads hold the pentacles in tight formation, letting nothing else in. energy from the outside bounces right off, closing off the spaces between. the lines are so rigid and stiff that they do create a lot of security and protection, but perhaps this is simply an illusion. everything cannot be controlled – no one has that much power, even when we think we do.

it made me nervous to only have one card in this first position – after all, coming out as bisexual to my conservative brother and religious in-laws isn’t exactly a simple scenario, and there are many reasons for my fears and worries. but ultimately, control is a big part of this – i have to give them part of myself, hand them my heart with trembling hands, and hope that they don’t crush it. i have no control over their reaction, their feelings, their potential for anger or fear or sadness or betrayal. it’s taken me a long time to get this point, and they deserve space to think and feel and react too. but once i reveal my truth, all i can do is trust them not to destroy it.

2. how to overcome these feelings

ten-of-cups

a colorful card of harmony, light, and positivity, the ten of cups radiates energy. every cup is giving and receiving, sending out beauty and taking in love. this is a card of completion, of balance, of wholeness, and it reminds us to stay open and joyful, sharing our blessings with those around us and seeing the good everywhere.

i’m not typically known as a positive beacon of colorful light (my power cards below back me up on this), but the sense of karma and balance here is impossible to deny. and remembering how much i love the people in my life, how i try to offer kindness and support to those that need it, makes me hopeful that if i can continue to be positive and loving, i will receive that back. with only a few exceptions, when i’ve come out (which for me is always scary, every single time, to every single person) i’ve been accepted with open arms. friends and strangers alike have made me feel like i belong, and remembering their generosity gives me strength too.

3 & 4. my main sources of personal power

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seeing the devil and the hermit as my cards of personal power is, frankly, hilarious. these are some big, powerful cards, and while i imagine plenty of others might be horrified by them, these boys feel just right to me.

let’s start with the devil. i think it’s easy to recoil at the sight of this card, but i’m not afraid of his energy. as a scorpio and a water sign, there’s always a bit of darkness, mystery, wickedness present in me. i don’t seek out evil, but i definitely live in the grey areas, trying to see all sides, working the angles. and the devil can help us to challenge our assumptions, look at things differently, try to avoid snap judgements. temptation doesn’t have to be bad, as long as you understand it. making your own choices can be a strong path, one that may look wrong to others but feels right for you. and indulging can be a beautiful thing, as long as it doesn’t take over.

i can also see this card as a reference to difficulties in my life, from my very conservative, religious upbringing to my severe depression to my challenges as a married bisexual woman to my unusual sleeping problems. i’ve definitely had my feet in the fire, had to resort to deception and denial in order to keep myself safe, had to make impossible choices that weren’t always the right ones. but it’s made me stronger IMG_0361and more powerful than i was before. and while no one chooses to go through difficult things, the end result can be something wonderful.

my second strength is the hermit, a card i love. i’m definitely an introvert, someone who prefers intimate gatherings to giant parties, someone who prefers a book and a glass of wine to a loud venue, someone who needs a lot of personal time to recharge and consider. the hermit trusts his own inner light, relies on it to reveal the path he should follow. and while i do need the love and support of others sometimes, i’ve had to face most of my challenges alone. no one can make me sleep, or not hurt myself, or change my identity to something more “acceptable.” no one can take away my past hurts or my present fears or my future challenges. just like now – no one else can come out for me. i have to do this myself, on my own strength, in my own way.

 

5. how to tap into that power to build confidence

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the fool, another card i haven’t worked with before. represented in the wild unknown as a baby bird, eager to take his first steps away from his secure nest, and speaks of new beginnings, spontaneity, potential, and inexperience. this bird is excited but naive, with no idea what is ahead. she exists entirely in the present. the future is limitless, sparkling with possibility. as carrie mallon says, “this card speaks of pure, unbridled potential. in order for that potential to take shape, risks are required. taking a leap doesn’t necessarily guarantee a favorable outcome. but if you never leap, you remain stuck on the precipice, never fully immersing yourself in all that life has to offer.”

there’s a lot to unpack here. but something that i immediately noticed is that the devil and the hermit are both stationary, whether standing in flames or retreating into a shell. they’re self-aware, sure of themselves, sometimes to their detriment. the fool, however, is moving forward, even if it’s into a completely unknown place. she’s about action, taking that big leap, being open and ready and saying yes. she may be young and inexperienced, but she also isn’t shackled by fear or expectations. if i can look to that trust and love and beauty from the ten of cups, and channel the strength and assurance from my power cards, perhaps it’ll give me what i need to take that big step forward.

6. something i can do right now

ace-of-pentacles

so what do i do? the ace of pentacles is all about new beginnings and growth, planting a seed and letting it take root. this card reminds us to stay grounded and consistent, to commit to the process, to activate the resources we have and the ones we may have forgotten.

aces are always brimming with potential. and this ace of the earth, with its stable growth rings and blooming branches and tough outer layer, speaks to me of strength and balance. i need to remember that my letters are the start of something, rather than the end – i’m beginning a conversation based on truth and honesty, and need to keep faith in the process. i have resources – supportive friends, a wonderful therapist, an online community, and my beloved cards. they can give me strength and courage, and help me remember why i’m doing this at all.

this is a fascinating, complicated, challenging spread. but it reflects so much of who i am, what i need, and why i’m pushing myself to come out to my family. i’m grateful for the wisdom here, for the honesty and difficulties presented by the cards.

time to write some letters.

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spreading fire

today’s card gave me the courage to finally do what i’ve been talking about for weeks – post about my (bi)sexuality on facebook. and while it is just the start (and in many ways the easiest step of project: finish coming out), i’m hopeful that this will give me courage and strength to take on what’s next.IMG_0315

thank you, mother of wands.

fiery, proud, vibrant, determined, courageous, independent, strong, charismatic, and inspiring. this queen is a force of nature, fierce and self-assured. she is not afraid to fight for what she believes in, is confident in who she is and what she stands for, and is deeply grateful for the people around her. i love these lines from carrie mallon“she holds her values dear to her heart and isn’t afraid to live in a way that lines up with her moral code. she doesn’t do anything halfway – she’s in it to win it. she pours all of her love, originality and unique energy into everything she does.”

i so often talk about the court of cups and the high priestess, but i deeply admire the mother of wands. she’s so brave, so bold, so fearless – not reckless or inconsiderate, but sure of herself in a way that gives her power and strength in the face of adversity. and of course she’s not perfect – she can be prone to stubbornness, and her intensity and determination can be off-putting sometimes. but that’s the kind of fire i need right now, and i’m grateful for the positive energy and the mentorship of this beautiful woman. i’m also thankful for this powerful piece on queering the queen of fire.

this is a step that’s just for me. i don’t anticipate hundreds of comments or thousands of likes – as of right now, my little status only has about 20 likes, and that is completely okay. i needed to know that i was strong enough to stand alone, to speak my truth, and to own my identity.

and i am.

focus & strength

today’s card is a beautiful, encouraging one: the chariot.

9ccc795f1209e4161696b48dbb206836looking straight ahead, the beams of the sun above streaming down around her, this horse is poised, intense, and sure of herself. she radiates power and confidence, her gaze focused and ready. there’s nothing she can’t accomplish if she puts her mind to it. the wild unknown book calls her a reflection of one’s inner warrior, reflecting our personal confidence and will.

there are so many important details in this card – the moon on her forehead points to intuition, reminding me to trust my instincts and listen to that little voice inside. the pentacle around her neck shows that she is grounded, perhaps that she has gained mastery over earthly goals and is ready to conquer something new. and the sun shining overhead offers strength and new possibilities, offering illumination and happiness. she has overcome much, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that her journey is over – there is always more to do.

i think this is such a strong, lovely card, and while it’s one i’ve drawn for friends, is not one i’ve seen in a personal reading for myself. i can’t help but hope that this is encouragement for me, a reminder that i am stronger than i believe, that i can accomplish so much with focus and determination. perhaps she is answering some of the questions that yesterday’s drawing seemed to ask. the chariot represents triumph, success, overcoming adversity. and while she does not float through difficulties without effort, she is sure and strong, pushing herself to reach for those dreams and possibilities and wishes.

as i continue to wrestle with my own demons, working through a difficult choice, i’ll take her strength, experience, and wisdom and work to apply it to my own situation. if i can focus on my goal, the chariot reminds me that anything is possible.

 

protect yourself

i’ve been seeing a lot of swords and cups in my reading today, and i think it’s a perfect (if very on-the-nose) representation of my current mental state – my emotions and fears at war with what my mind is telling me i must do. today’s card is the seven of swords.

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like the four of swords, this clever creature is completely aware of the swords over her head – but unlike the lamb, channeling her power and setting boundaries for herself, this fox keeps an extra sword hidden, waiting for something big to happen. perhaps she’s aware of a threat in her midst, and doesn’t trust those around her – or maybe she’s the one with the secret, and is wary of being discovered. either way, she is on edge, keeping an eye on everything.

this card often reminds me of the seven of cups, another card that can speak of secrets, illusion, and deception – both speak to internal issues, whether they’re mental or emotional. and having seen both suits so many times in recent readings, it seems fitting to mediate on them both.

IMG_0338last week i wrote a post about coming out, and struggled with whether or not to share it on social media. this blog is not private, and i rarely write secret posts, but it also doesn’t get a lot of traffic – i write mainly for me, and while i occasionally send posts to friends, rarely share it beyond that. as i work through how to come out to some remaining family members, i’ve been wanting additional support from those that already know, along with those that don’t but will be strong allies. but i’ve been putting it off, worried that no one would care, that it wouldn’t mean anything. i’m out to almost everyone in my life – surely posting that on a site like facebook, where my connections are friends and real people i’ve met, shouldn’t be that scary. right? if i can write things that are available to strangers on the internet, surely people that care about me are less intimidating?

but oh, the fear is palpable. just considering posting this publicly (along with writing this post, right now) feels self-indulgent, self-involved, self-serving. sharing a post about my sexuality, as brief and broad as it is, feels like a huge personal step for me. and perhaps it’s the seven of swords speaking – this secret i have is impacting so many relationships, so many decisions, simply because i haven’t shared it yet. but the seven of cups looms too – is my brain pushing my heart to do something it’s not ready for? do i only think this is an important step, when it actually wouldn’t matter to anyone? will i feel better when it’s over, or simply obsess about likes and comments and fear nasty private messages?

i’m honestly not sure. but the phrase i keep seeing in blogs and forums about this card is act consciously. what’s more important – feeling calm and at peace with myself, or getting attention and support from others? do i want to tell people for them, or for me?

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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.