the four elements spread

with travel, insomnia, and sickness all leaving me exhausted and ill, my second week of course work is spilling into two full weeks. i don’t mind, though – considering the way the suits and elements overlap and combine in tarot has been really fascinating, and has taken a lot more mental energy and consideration than i expected. it may be slow going, but i’m enjoying the process.

each week of exercises includes a spread, so naturally this week’s reading is focused on relating elements to a situation in my life. i’m working through some complicated feelings at the moment, so my spread is all about confusion and uncertainty with a particular relationship.

1. your situation at this moment

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this card, the three of cups, is perfect and heartbreaking in this first position. a card of community, friendship, honest relationships, and the family you choose, the birds and cups sit in harmony, relaxed and open, unafraid to be their true selves. this card is a perfect representation of what i’ve had and what i stand to lose, representing a relationship that has kept me feeling whole and secure but that i’m concerned is slipping through my fingers. i feel disconnected, lost, separate, but this card shows me the ideal of what i’m missing. i’ve had this before, and i don’t want to give it up. the support, love, and honesty radiating from this card is what i crave, and what i hope to return to.

2. the earth of your situation

IMG_0296the dreaded nine of swords, a card of depression, heartbreak, nightmares, and things that go bump in the night. as this card is swords and air, rather than cups or wands, it’s important to remember that this is all about what happens in our minds. this card represents terrors, fears, the worst-case scenario, but isn’t necessarily what’s actually true or real. seeing this card in the context of earth could be a reminder to stay grounded, to not get so tangled in this mental storm that i lose sight of what’s really happening.

the situation i’m struggling with is not a new one, but every time i’ve used tarot to work through my feelings on this matter, i pull swords. air is a tricky element for me, and swords are a suit that i feel the least comfortable with – but i think it’s significant that i tend to pull these difficult cards symbolizing fears and traps and depression when dealing with this relationship. i’m very in my head about this, rather than trusting my heart. and while i find comfort in the earth, its calm and stabilizing presence, there’s nothing soothing about this card – except for its emphasis on mental struggles, rather than earthly ones.

3. the water of your situation

ace-of-swordsthe ace of swords, a card of illumination, truth, and insight. there’s a harsh clarity here, an unerring revelation, that forces us to acknowledge reality (whether we want to see it or not). this is an ace of zero bullshit, a card that offers fresh revelations, a flash of insight. there’s nowhere to hide, not with that brilliant sword and bolts of lightning lighting up the sky. water can be murky and deep, distorting our reality and muddling our senses, but air is crisp and sharp, revealing the truth. in this position, this card encourages precision, honesty, and a frank reality check. my assessment of the situation is almost completely emotional, driven by a lonely heart and a tendency towards darkness and depression. i’m often alone, rarely feel accepted, and am overwhelmingly aware of my isolation and differences. this situation is drowning in water, and it’s time to grasp onto that sword, cut through the swirling emotions, and look critically at what’s really happening, rather than simply my perceptions.

4. the air of your situation

ace-of-cupsthe cards are having fun with me today. it’s too on-the-nose to get the ace of swords in the water position, and the ace of cups in the air position – particularly in an emotional and difficult elemental spread that features only cups and swords.

representing the air of my situation, the ace of cups could be signaling a fresh start, a considering of the full range of emotion present. this relationship is one that’s given me such joy, and still feels new in many ways – but that doesn’t mean it’s always been easy, and has brought out a lot of emotions (both difficult and lovely) during its run. things have shifted and changed, and we’re in a new phase now – in many ways, it’s a fresh chapter, a place to start over. combined with air, this card is also a reminder not to be completely overrun by emotions, to exercise caution and remember truth, to stay aware of reality rather than drowning in feelings.

5. the fire of your situation

six-of-cupsthe six of cups is a card of memories, stories, past experiences, longing, and kindness. it gives us an opportunity to remember our roots, reflecting on who we are and how we became this way. there’s also a yearning in this card, a feeling of needed to let go and forgive, a craving for love and acceptance. this is a lovely card, but it always gives me a vague sense of sadness.

in the fire position, this card leaves me a bit puzzled – fire represents movement and opportunity, ideas, inspiration, passion, motivation. but the six of cups feels like reflection and remembrance, sitting beneath that big, beautiful tree and tracing the pattern of the strong, colorful roots that keep it anchored and strong, that gave it life, that let it exist at all. at first glance, there seems to be little connection between burning fire and these quiet cups.

and yet – fire is often about action, outward movement, intensity. and if i push the ideas of the six of cups outwards, it can remind me to consider the roots of others, their stories and experiences and all the effort and growth that happens below the surface. this relationship was forged in trials, was strengthened by shared experience, has endured because of where our root systems connect and overlap. by remembering kindness, by forgiving that which i cannot see, by acknowledging how we connected in the first place, perhaps i can keep this relationship present, rather than simply in the past.

IMG_1573this was an extremely challenging spread for me, and is one that i’ll need to continue meditating on. i’m not convinced i’ve interpreted things correctly. but somehow, it’s still given me hope that this relationship may not be lost. having only cups and swords in this spread feels incredibly accurate – i know that my head and my heart are at war over this situation, that my tendency towards depression but desire to see the truth are battling with my craving for support and resistance to losing this relationship. i still have a lot to learn about combining elements and seeing their influence in situations and cards, but this spread has definitely given me more insight.

adding spirit

tarot is built on four suits, each representing an element that shapes who we are and is central to the world around us. heart, mind, body, and soul – each suit in the minor arcana explores the highs and lows of our experience as humans on this earth. my course this week is all about exploring these elements within my cards, and connecting them to each other and to me personally.

while beth has a number of exercises for us to follow this week, i want to include this five element spread from the wild unknown, allowing me to add in the major arcana and connect more deeply to the various elements in the deck.

1. earth

six-of-pentacles

this card represents my foundation, my home, and my sense of stability: the six of pentacles. though there is darkness around, this branch is flourishing, finding a way to grow and blossom even after difficult times. i may not have all resources available to me all the time, but making due with what is present is something that gives me courage, strength, and pride. there’s beauty in both giving and receiving, and it’s important to me that i don’t simply take and take and take without paying things forward. i feel the most grounded when i am able to give back, help friends, be strong for those that need me. and while my career is never going to make me wealthy (and may never fully support me financially, which keeps me incredibly humble when i compare my earnings to those of my husband), doing something that i love and believe in helps me to flourish personally in ways beyond riches.

 

 

2. water

IMG_0334

the three of cups represents my emotional self, my relationships, and my creative and spiritual flow. as someone that’s fairly private and doesn’t always trust others immediately, this is a lovely card to see and an important reminder – i may not have a wide circle of friends, but those i do have know me truly, allow me to be myself completely, and will stand by me through thick and thin. my relationships keep me centered and healthy, and when i remember to rely on my friends and family, when i gather my strength and trust them with my pain and my darkness and my secrets, i’m always better off. it’s not a weakness to ask for help or admit when i’m overwhelmed. and while it’s not easy to ask for support, i need to be better about doing it.

 

3. fire

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this card represents my sense of self, my soul, that inner spark that keeps me moving and motivated. the seven of wands is a card of independence and strength, a light in the darkness, a bold flame that knows what it’s burning for. i’ve always been different, rarely fit in or feel normal, but this card stands fiercely and proudly. it reminds me that knowing who i am, and not being afraid of what makes me different, is an important part of growing up and being strong. this little flame may stand alone and apart, but she’s sure of what she wants, knows she cannot be silenced, believes in her calling. when i stay true to myself, even if i’m alone, i am always stronger. my inner spark is often restless, feeling that i should be burning brighter or harder or larger – i have trouble being present, acknowledging where i am with calm and purpose. but this card feels so still, though the flame is crackling and lighting up the darkness.

 

 

4. air

daughter-of-swords

the daughter of swords is straightforward, intelligent, and embraces simplicity: an inspiring card for my air element, representing my relationship to change and inspiration. i love to travel, love to explore, love challenging myself to grow and learn in new ways. but i don’t like a lot of fuss – i always prefer to keep things drama-free. and while my scorpio nature means that i keep a lot of secrets, enjoy mysteries, and am often hard to read, when it comes to travel and adventurous i like to know what’s going on. i’m currently on vacation with my husband and his family, and the lack of planning and communication, the utter disorganization, the clear differences in the purpose of the trip, are driving me a little bit crazy. i want to know where i’m going, want to experience as much as possible, and don’t want to waste any time trying to organize those that refuse to be organized. i really identify with this child of the air: let’s not make this any more complicated than it needs to be.

5. spirit

the-empress

i’m a bit surprised to see the empress in this final position, representing my relationship to spirituality and the infinite. my birth card is the high priestess, a card i love and admire deeply for her intuition and spirituality, but the empress is far more grounded. she’s deeply connected to nature and the earth, embraces her senses and her body, understands the world around her on a visceral level. she is nurturing and wise, strong and kind, always extending open arms and caring words to those in need. and while i’m not sure that this is who i truly am, in this very moment i’m feeling extremely connected to the world around me. i’m in a beautiful place, craving time in nature, wanting to enjoy food and the landscape and everything around me with all of my senses. i just want to be, which is not always easy for me. california always feels like home to me, and i want to soak it in for as long as possible, enjoy this feeling of freedom and peace.

 

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this is a spread i want to revisit again and again, as it seems to give a really lovely insight into where i am right now, and how the elements can speak to my current state. these cards all feel calming and affirming, reflecting my current feelings of independence and solitude in the face of community, a desire for action and directness during this long and emotionally draining trip, and a craving for nature and exploration in the last days of our vacation.

i’m a bit behind on my week two exercises, but plan to do another spread tomorrow. if you’re following beth’s course too, please let me know how it’s going!

 

always learning

IMG_1381after such a difficult and emotional june, i’m feeling energized and a bit restless. we havea lot of travel scheduled for july, and as i look forward at all of the exploring and adventures ahead, i’m also craving personal growth. tarot has become so important tome over these last ten months of reading, and i find myself wanting to dive deeper into hidden meanings, personal intuition, and feeling truly connected to my cards.

with that in mind, i’ve decided to begin beth’s alternative tarot course, an eight-week program designed to help readers develop their own style of reading and interpretation.

the course includes daily single-card readings, much like i do anyway, along with exercises and a larger weekly spread. i plan to use this space to explore the writing prompts, along with all of the readings she outlines, but i will still do my regular single-card daily readings here too. it’s my hope that sharing this journey publicly will connect me further within the tarot community, and help me continue to grow and learn.

with that in mind, i’m going to begin with this week’s weekly spread: the reader’s reading. this first week is all about thoughtfully considering what tarot means to me personally, what i believe about it, how it impacts me, and what i hope to achieve by learning this practice. i did this exact reading when i first started this blog in february, so revisiting it seems like a lovely way to begin this new portion of my tarot journey.

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

father-of-pentacles

the father of pentacles, king of the earth. grounded, practical, strong, observant, confident, quiet, steady, and gentle, this father is a lovely, calm soul. he stays cool under pressure, remains deeply connected with the world and people around him, and prizes his family, home, and career. he is reliable and mature, down-to-earth, known for his dependability and rationality.

i don’t always see myself in the pentacles, and don’t often draw them. but there’s something so soothing and profound about this card’s energy. i do think of myself as a hard worker, a problem solver, someone that will always jump in to help. i’m great under pressure, someone that can quickly assess a situation and come up with solutions. i like to think of myself as someone with a quick mind and a cool head. i’m the consummate emergency contact, the one who will drop everything to help out, the person who fixes things. i may not always have the answers, but i will always try to find them.

2. What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader; what are you bringing to this course?

ten-of-cups

the ten of cups, a card of harmony, balance, love, and support. there’s so much energy and positivity here, but i’m most struck by the openness, the evenness, of that colorful rainbow of light. every card gives and receives, sharing what they have and discovering something new. there’s no holding back, no stinginess or secrecy – the cups let everything pour out into the community.

as a strength, what i see here is my willingness to share and learn from others. i’m rarely 100% confident in my knowledge or abilities, even on topics where i have a lot of experience – and tarot is no different. i have so much to learn, and i think that this spirit of openness, this willingness to admit what i don’t know, and this desire to read and study and gain from the experience of others has already helped me in my study of tarot. i love my blogs and books, love finding new forums and old texts that will help expand my knowledge and push me to always find new meanings in the cards. if i can maintain that attitude of humility and sincerity, i think it will really help me grow.

3. What limits do you feel as you start this course?

four-of-cups

the four of cups: a card of discontent, apathy, an emotional slump. this card has come up for me in spreads before, and never fails to confuse me. is the rat simply hoarding the cups for himself? is he ignoring the light above, as in the five of cups? what is making him discontent, restless, selfish?

i struggle with the meaning of this card, which makes me think that the four of cups in this position is less to do with the literal meaning of this card and more what it represents to me in drawings and spreads – i don’t have a perfect, encyclopedic knowledge of every card’s meaning. i want to do this course, and i believe that it’s time, but i’m concerned that my lack of memorization is somehow going to hold me back. i want to know the more traditional interpretations, want to stay connected to the history and wisdom of the deck, but i also want to have a personal link to my own cards. the four of cups is probably the card i struggle with the most, not because i don’t like the meaning but because i always feel confused by what its message is.

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

mother-of-cups

oh, my beloved mother of cups. this is one of my favorite cards in the deck, one that comes up for me often, and she is always a welcome sight in a spread. her insight is legendary, her creativity is inspirational, and her psychic abilities bring tranquility and healing to everyone she touches. she’s often compared to the high priestess, which is my birth card, and i find her deeply inspirational and aspirational.

as a lesson, the mother of cups speaks to me of openness, a willingness to listen, and a deep need to trust my intuition. being receptive to the lessons of the tarot, even when they’re difficult, is critical to understanding the wisdom and beauty of the cards. there is power in quiet, strength in stillness, and so much more to these cards than what is on the surface.

 

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

ace-of-cups

a brilliant and colorful card, the ace of cups is overflowing with energy and connectivity. the wild unknown calls this card love’s beginnings, and this card does usually symbolize the start of something lovely – a new crush, a new relationship, a new opportunity.

emotions have power, and while not all feelings are pleasant, they all have significance and weight. cups are not just for love and happiness, but the full spectrum of human response. in this position, i see a reminder to engage with all the aspects of emotional wisdom. just like feelings, the cards can quickly get away from me if i’m not careful – it can be easy to only see what i want, rather than remembering that there is often more than meets the eye. it’s more fun to focus on the happy emotions, the beauty and pleasure and love that swirls around us sometimes, and ignore the danger signs or the more difficult interpretations. i don’t always need to search for the most beautiful, positive meaning in each card – some cards are just difficult or ugly, because that is part of life too. i need to remember to acknowledge everything about the cards, to embrace my role as a student, and to find a way to enjoy every lesson, every emotion, every message – even when it’s hard.

6. What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?­­­

ace-of-wands

it’s fascinating to pull the ace of wands, a card that is typically associated with a new idea or opportunity, as my outcome card. this card brims with energy and fire, and while it’s a positive and exciting card to see, often overwhelms me.

however, a card of such powerful inspiration and potential is really motivating to me. if the outcome of my tarot journey is to put me at a fresh start, an exciting new beginning brimming with energy and possibilities and strength, then that’s a wonderful place to be. i don’t see this journey as one with a clear destination – i plan to read for as long as i can. there’s no end game. but if the benefit of this course is that it can put me in a new position, one that inspires me to start something else or bring tarot into a more important place in my life, how can i not be energized? this is such a fun and powerful card to see here.

 

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overall: four cups, one wand, and one pentacle – no swords in sight. the proportion makes sense to me – i’m a scorpio, a water sign, and identify strongly with the suit of cups. but i’m very drawn to the suits of wands and pentacles, seeing quiet and strength in the earth and often craving that crackle of fire. swords are less appealing to me, as my mental energy is usually dark and negative. and for me, tarot is all about intuition, connection, and insight, and less about structured meanings and precise interpretations.

i’m both soothed and energized by this spread, seeing so much potential in this course and what i can learn from it. i’m really looking forward to continuing my journey and growing as a reader. and please, if you find this post and feel inspired (or have worked with this course, either now or in the past), let me know! i’d love to connect to other readers.

a reader’s reading

 

 

now that i’ve been studying tarot for almost six months, i feel that it’s time to start reaching out a bit more to the tarot community. i’ve been journaling privately through my daily readings, larger spreads, and personal questions and challenges, and while i will probably continue to keep some things private, it seems important to me to begin reaching out to others as i continue to broaden my understanding of tarot, and the way it connects to my own spiritual growth.

i’m also planning to go through several resources, workshops, and courses, provided by blogs and books that i really  like. this seems like a wonderful place to be able to record my thoughts and easily access previous posts.

to that end, i’ve started this simple blog. i don’t expect many to read it, but i want to establish a small online presence so that those that i will hopefully meet in the future can learn more about me, and see the (very) slow progress i make as i continue to work with the cards.

in addition to my daily reading this morning, i also used a reader’s spread from little red tarot, one of my very favorite blogs. i’ve done these types of readings before, but really enjoyed the simplicity and clarity of this spread.

i was quite surprised by several of the cards in this reading, but found them to work together beautifully, and in a way that really spoke to me. i’m sure i will continue to work through this spread over the next few days, finding additional insights and deeper meanings.

1. what is my most important characteristic?

five-of-swordsfive of swords.
i may be very new to tarot, but even i know that a card that signifies self-destruction as an important personal characteristic is kind of a blow, especially first thing in the morning. i was hoping for a much more positive card, something encouraging and powerful – and instead i’m reminded that my lifelong insomnia, severe depression, and struggles to come to terms with my sexuality have had a lasting impact on my mental health and personal growth. this card relates to internal battles, hollow victories, challenges & suffering, and wondering what was actually won.

this isn’t pretty. it isn’t lovely. it isn’t glorious or empowering or flattering – but it is me. my thoughts are often dark, difficult, and not at all constructive. i don’t want this to completely define me, but it’s certainly a major part of who i am.

2. what are my strengths as a reader?

mother-of-swordsmother of swords.
one badass lady, full of sharp perceptions & keen observations. she’s seen her share of suffering, and is experienced, wise, and sharp. not afraid to speak the truth, but does so with kindness & sensitivity.

after the five of swords, this feels clear and purposeful – my self-destructive tendencies may be a big part of who i am, but they can also help shape me into a strong, perceptive reader. pain and suffering can strengthen us, feelings of isolation can make us more sensitive to the needs of others, and mental illness can encourage us to persevere and grow.

i’m known for my advice and my ability to cut through bullshit, but i think my friends also know that it comes from a place of love and a desire to help. while this mother seems much more wise and experienced that i am, it’s a very encouraging card to see, particularly in this position.

3. what are my limits as a reader?

the-hierophantthe hierophant.
beth, the creator of this spread, actually has the same card in this position – and given that i read her blog on a daily basis and refer to her words constantly for clarification and inspiration, this feels a bit reassuring.

considered a mentor or teacher figure, in this position it certainly seems like i could easily drift towards arrogance or false assurance in my readings. and given that the mother of swords is my strength card, it doesn’t seem a far reach to see how she could get out of hand. i see this as a strong reminder to stay humble, focus on always continuing to learn, and remember to listen to those wiser and more experienced than i.

4. what key lesson can i learn on this journey?

ace of pentacles.ace-of-pentacles
this card was also my daily reading card today, but while i took more specific messages towards my career and financial state earlier, in this position i feel that it’s simply reminding me that tarot is a journey, and i’m right at the beginning. it’s important to remember to stay grounded, move forward slowly but with purpose, and that there is much potential for growth.

tarot is a seed that i’m just now planting, but as i continue to nurture my practice and deepen my understanding, both will grow.

5. how can i be open to learning & developing on this journey?

mother of pentacles.mother-of-pentacles
patient & loving, supportive, secure, confident, fortunate, strong. this card relates strongly to helping & sharing with others, and is the card that encouraged me to launch this blog and begin seeking a community of fellow readers to grow with.

i need to remain mindful, seek patience, share knowledge, move forward, enjoy the resources i have, and continually strive to find new ones. this mother is nurturing and grounded, and i should be too. by reaching out to those that are more experienced, as well as trying to be more open with my own journey, i think my practice will deepen and my understanding of the cards will continue to grow.

6. what is the potential outcome of this journey?

justice.justice
i’m not afraid to admit that this card, in this position, has me a bit stumped. making decisions? discerning right from wrong? a major choice? how does this connect with my journey into and through tarot?

perhaps i should be focusing on the ideas of karma, balance, truth being revealed, conscious awareness of decisions. i strive to be fair, honest, truthful – and this card certainly speaks to that. i also can’t help but notice the sword prominently featured in the center of this card, which harkens back beautifully to the first two cards in my spread – swords, which represent the element of air, mental clarity, truth, action, change, conflict, power.

as an outcome it’s one i’ll continue to dwell on, but i like the idea that my work with tarot can provide greater clarity, help me make strong decisions, reveal truths, and maintain balance in my life.