so this is the new year

…and what a year it’s been. today is my one-year anniversary of tarot, exactly 365 days since i purchased my first deck and began learning a new language. what drew me to tarot was a desire to feel more connected with the world, to find a method of relating to things bigger than me, to overcome my difficult relationship with the church and find a new way to connect spiritually with the world. tarot has helped me reclaim that part of myself, learn to see beyond what’s in front of me, and forced me to grow and challenge myself in ways i never expected.

i’ve been searching for a new spread, something to help me celebrate and reflect, but in the end i decided to use an old one – the reader’s reading, a spread i did when i first purchased my deck, and again six months ago, when i started this blog. i love the continuity of it, having a spread i do each year to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. one of my favorite things about tarot is that while we can continue to gain knowledge and experience, even those that have been reading cards for decades still find new lessons, new interpretations, new ways to learn and grow. it’s a beautiful language, an incredibly powerful tool, and one i’m constantly challenged and amazed by.

1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?

seven-of-pentacles

the seven of pentacles is a curious card to get in this position, but it feels like a little wink, an acknowledgement that i’ve done this spread several times before. this is the report card of the deck, a chance to stop, evaluate, and consider if a change of direction is needed. it’s so easy to set a course and then just find a groove, settling into that path and following it. but sometimes it’s essential to pause in the middle, to recheck that compass, and make sure that we’re still heading the right way.

of course, this is exactly what i’m doing right now – stopping to consider, remembering where i started and looking forward to where i’m going. i’m not a person that sets strong goals for my life, or has huge ambitions, but i do enjoy the process of introspection and assessment. the journey is what matters to me, and in tarot, that could certainly be a strong and important characteristic in my readings.

2. What strengths do you already have as a reader?

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it’s hard to imagine any other position or spread where the dreaded nine of swords would make me smile, but in this case, i couldn’t help it. nightmares, the mind attacking itself, dark visions, anguish, despair – this is not a card anyone wants to see. and yet, in some ways, this card absolutely represents my strength: it doesn’t frighten me.

as someone that battles severe depression, idiopathic insomnia, a lifetime of feeling isolated, and more run-of-the-mill (but no less crippling) self-doubt and self-loathing, this card really hits home. it speaks to my inner demons, my worst fears, my darkest moments. but in this position, the card also represents what i already know to be true: that the mind is a difficult, twisted place, and that it is capable of true darkness. even when i do readings to find courage or strength, i often get “scary” cards in places of personal power. i know what the darkness is, but i don’t shy away from it. traditionally scary or fear-inspiring cards like the tower, the devil, death, or the ten of swords don’t frighten me, because i can see that they have purpose and meaning and value. loss can lead to greater findings. change may be hard, but it’s not inherently bad. and transformation can lead to greater beauty, even if the process is painful.

i truly believe that as a tarot reader, it’s my job to unflinchingly see the messages that the cards hold. those might not always be pretty or shiny or happy – sometimes they are difficult, brutally honest, or unwelcome. but i have to be able to honestly interpret their lessons, even when i don’t receive the answers i’m hoping for. and being able to see the darkness for what it is, and remember that there can be light at the end? that’s a strength, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

3. What limits do you feel as a reader?

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the chariot is a card of strength, willpower, confidence, control, and overcoming adversity. it’s a beautiful, inspirational card, but in this position it indicates limits that i feel as a reader, which makes it a bit more difficult to read. this card speaks to control, determination, someone that’s a force of nature. as a limit, it’s easy to see how this could go awry – someone is so focused on their goal they push past other potential options, become too forceful or stubborn, need to be in complete power and control over everything and everyone in their path.

i’m probably on the other side of this card – i rarely feel in control of anything, and don’t usually seek it unless i’m scared or uncomfortable. sometimes i want to steer the ship, chart the course, but most of the time i stay focused on little challenges, taking things day by day, and seeing how things go. this can certainly be a limit or weakness for me, as i’m resistant to looking too far ahead, or setting long-term goals. and for tarot, only pulling cards for a single day or the short-term or for small questions could be limiting my abilities to grow as a reader. perhaps it’s time to start pushing myself, asking bigger questions, to stop being afraid of what i might see farther ahead.

4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey?

son-of-cups

the first card in my spread to show any real color, the son of cups is quiet, peaceful, introspective, and intuitive. he represents the extremes of the suit, shifting between poetic and insightful and dark, brooding, moody. this card really speaks to me as a lesson, since as a child of the water, i’m very susceptible to difficult, changing emotions. some days i don’t feel like i can handle what the cards may say, and other times it’s hard for me to cut past my own feelings and be honest with myself about the messages in the deck.

sensitivity is key when reading tarot, but it’s important to not let it get the best of me. i have to be able to separate myself from the deck when i’m reading for others, and it’s essential to be able to look past my swirling emotions and complicated feelings and see the heart of the matter, the reality that the cards are bringing to my attention.

but i think this card is also a reminder that emotions are not a weakness, and that they are not something to fear or avoid. the cards challenge me in so many ways, but one of the biggest lessons i’ve learned this year is that powerful emotions can make us strong, can push us forward, can reveal what we truly care about. they can take us to dark places, but they can also remind us what matters.

5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?

seven-of-swords

a card of secrecy and self-protection is an interesting one in a position of openness and development, but the seven of swords is a card that i’ve learned to love this year. i think it’s often seen as a card of deception, lies, trickery, of fooling those around you for your own gain. but for me, this card tends to pop up when there’s danger around, when i need to be on my guard, when protecting myself is key. sometimes you’ve gotta hide, and other times you have to grab a blade and be ready.

similar to the first card in the spread, i think this could be a little wink to me – a reminder that cards can be open to interpretation, that leaning heavily on books and blogs and resources to understand every single nuance isn’t always the answer, that the cards can mean different things at different times. when i first began reading tarot i was eager to memorize meanings, wanted to be sure i was aware of all the traditional implications and histories of each card. but now, i’m learning to rely more on my own intuition, to trust my inner voice and my first reactions to cards, rather than simply opening books and websites and leaning on the wisdom of others. everyone might not agree with my understanding of the seven of swords, but that’s perfectly fine.

but taking this card at face value, i think it challenges me to be aware of secrets i’m keeping while reading. it’s so much easier to just take what you want from the cards and run, rather than honestly assessing meaning and pushing yourself to understand what the cards are truly saying. i think the seven of swords can serve as a reminder to be open with myself, to not fall into the trap of self-deceit, to keep my eyes open.

6. What is the potential outcome of this journey?

IMG_0305the most vivid and colorful card in my spread, the three of wands is a card of confidence, moving forward, stepping into a bright future. this card shimmers with possibility, and it’s an incredible card to have in the outcome position.

i’ve written a lot about how the first few cards in the suit of wands often bring me anxiety, a weight of expectation that i never feel prepared to bear. but the three is about clarifying that vision, opening our eyes wide, solidifying intentions and following dreams. and while i’m not someone that necessarily has a crystal-clear vision of my future, or even an understanding of what my aspirations truly are, this card is both soothing and empowering for me. there’s such opportunity, such potential, and yet the world is wide and the possibilities are many. tarot has expanded my vision, helped me view my days through a different lens, and by continuing to follow this path, perhaps my future will also find some clarity.

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this is a very black and white spread, in more ways than one. i see definite progress here, learning and growing, leaning into challenges and understanding my own limits. and while the three of wands isn’t a card i typically like, in this position it gives me hope – i’m on the right path, and the future is colorful.

thank you for a beautiful year. now, onto the next.

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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.