positive & present

i’m continuing to focus on my instagram challenge, but today’s cards were so fascinating that they deserve a deeper dive.

day 17: where should i focus more on the present?

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the six of wands, a card of victory, escape, and release. this card appeared just last week to represent my personal intentions, and really spoke to me of hope. sometimes it takes a long time to untangle ourselves from the darkness, but that patience and perseverance will ultimately help us free ourselves from whatever we’re trapped in. my mess of wands is this persistent depression, a smothering of my inner fire that i cannot seem to reignite. the dark chaos below her brilliant wings reveals no easy paths through, no obvious tunnels or beams of light to follow out. the butterfly had to make her own way, and i imagine it was painful and difficult and frustrating at various moments. but this card is her triumph, blasting free and soaring up and out on her beautiful wings.

this fight is still my present, and it’s easy to lose in the hazy struggle of every day life. just getting dressed, doing my job, caring for my dog and my husband, staying in touch with friends feels like too much – i also have to fight off these miserable tangled shadows?

yes, the cards whisper. keep fighting.

day 18: what can use a more positive view?

the ten of wands, a card of heavy burdens, overload, giving up, too much of a good thing. all those brilliant burning fires have exhausted themselves, run out of fuel, been smothered by too many other wands, and everything has been extinguished. all that’s left IMG_0312is a pile of leftovers, energy that has burned out. this card was my weakness for the month of september, and has been challenging me this month.

feeling so drained of fire, utterly exhausted, and having lost passion and light and interest in even the most basic of activities – it’s miserable. and it’s hard to find positivity in such a dark and discouraging card, one that seems to reflect my mental state over the past three weeks. but saying yes to everything, smiling and acting like everything is fine, all to try and force my way out of depression – that isn’t the answer. i have to remember to find joy in one thing at a time, to relish those little victories, to focus on what’s positive in my life rather than letting myself drown in all the negatives. having opportunities is wonderful, but saying yes to every single thing is not.

i had a conversation the other day about wishes, and giving up mental illness and challenges if we could. and while my idiopathic insomnia and major depressive disorder are not characteristics that i love or enjoy, they are such massive parts of me and my life that it’s hard to imagine who i would be without them. if i slept normally, would i be more positive, more energetic, more friendly? if i didn’t deal with depressive episodes several times a year would i be more popular, more optimistic, more spontaneous? it’s impossible for me to know. and while the idea of not having insomnia or depression is certainly appealing, i’m not sure i would want to lose them both – because i don’t know who i would become. what if gaining hours of regular, uninterrupted sleep impacted my creativity? what if not descending into the shadows and darkness made me less sensitive to moods, and damaged my intuition? would those losses be worth it?

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both of these cards remind me that for better or worse, i am who i am. this dark depression, these murky shadows, the tangled branches and twisted thoughts and difficult struggles are all part of me. but fighting through it, trying to find those bits of light, pushing through all the pain and hurt and this aching, overwhelming sadness to eventually find freedom and space and room to breathe? that’s part of me, too. and staying engaged in that fight, finding one wand to wield rather than just burning them all to ashes, and remembering that i’ll escape eventually, are lessons worth repeating.

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on the three of cups

IMG_0334i’ve written before about stalker cards, and this past month i have a new one – the three of cups. it’s not hard to pinpoint why, exactly – i’ve been struggling with changing relationships, feeling left out and misunderstood, battling my loneliness and trying to learn to reach out and ask for help more often.

the three of cups is a card of friendship and community, a safe space of honesty, love, and openness. this is a beautiful, comforting card, one that represents those that truly allow us to be ourselves. and while for most it’s a very welcome card, for me it’s come to represent a particular relationship that’s shifting, and other relationships that are lost. it feels like it’s mocking my feelings of doubt, isolation, and rejection. seeing it again today, reversed, feels very pointed. rather than letting this card stand alone, it seems like time to do a stalker spread.

 

1. What is the importance of this card in my life right now?

IMG_0315the mother of wands, a card of fierce loyalty, vibrant energy, and incredible passion. strong-willed, determined, and independent, this is a card that has shown up when i’m pushing myself, and when i’m scared – she tends to reveal herself when i need an extra boost of confidence and clarity, when i’m hesitating, when i’m doubting myself. she’s a reminder to fight for what’s right, to stay true to ourselves, to practice gratitude and focus on what matters.

in this reading, the mother of wands feels like a reminder to keep reaching for what i want. i’m afraid of relationships falling apart, i don’t want to push people away that i care about, and i don’t want to be alone with my troubles – but at the same time, i hate feeling vulnerable, asking for help, sharing my feelings. it may take a lot more effort on my part, and i may need to push myself to keep being honest and working through my issues, but it’ll be worth it to get what i want and need. i can’t keep bottling everything up, hoping that the people in my life will somehow magically know what i need. my friendships and communities matter deeply to me, and right now i need to fight for them, and to make an effort to connect with friends both near and far.

2. What is preventing me from hearing the message of this card?

strength, a card of gentle courage, personal power, and true patience. this card is a reminder to tap into that well of inner strength and mastery, to learn to walk in tandem with our inner demons rather than always engaging in battle, to exercise patience and IMG_0360love when working with others. it’s a beautiful, encouraging card, but a challenging one in this position.

while strength is generally considered a positive thing, something to aspire to and work towards, the cards seem to be saying that in this case, it’s become a hindrance. i’m clinging to a specific idea, mistaking my refusal to change for patience, perhaps not taking enough responsibility for my own feelings and actions. i keep ploughing ahead with the same view of the three of cups, sure that it alludes to my sadness and isolation, that it keeps popping up to taunt me. but there are plenty of cards that represent loneliness, depression, loss, grief, discouragement, rejection. is it so hard to take this card at face value, to believe that i have a community that cares about me? can i be strong enough to see this card for what it truly is? do i truly believe that showing vulnerability and feelings is a weakness, or can i embrace it as a true strength of will?

it’s time to stop seeing stubbornness as a synonym for fortitude. sometimes, strength comes in knowing when to shift, when to regroup, when to stop and breathe and reconsider. strength can be honesty, openness, admitting weakness and fear and brokenness. and rather than clinging to old ideas, calling it patience while i wait for things around me to change, perhaps it’s time to adjust my own attitude.

3. How can I release any blockages?

the ten of wands, a card of burnout, exhaustion, scattered energy and emotion. the suit of fire and passion, enthusiasm and opportunity, has reached its natural conclusion: feeling overwhelmed and utterly depleted. there’s a sense of burden and even shame here – too many things going on, feeling stretched in every direction, unsure of where to go next or how to succeed.

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this card is a reminder to focus on what truly matters, to strip away the distractions and all the extra, to remember where joy lives and to seek it out. and right now, that feels pretty damn impossible – i can see the fog of depression creeping over the horizon, my own sadness is at higher levels than usual, my therapist is out of town, i feel lonely and strange, everything is wrong but i’m doing my usual song-and-dance that everything is fine. i don’t want to fight through this tangle of branches, choosing the one that matters most – i want to use them for a bonfire, burn it all down, start over. and perhaps this is a reflection of how i feel about the three of cups: so many tangled feelings, making something that seems so simple and lovely into something utterly complicated and dark.

the ten of wands itself is a card that demands release, that advises us to let go of all those extra burdens and instead find the joy that started the whole mess. and the joy of the three of cups is so simple: feeling understood, feeling valued, feeling heard. knowing that you mean something to the people in your life, both those you see all the time and others that take more effort to stay connected with. i am lucky enough to have both, a community of friends in my city along with old friends i’ve known for years, though they’re much farther away. and while sometimes i’m stumbling in the dark, feeling utterly lost and alone, i have a family that i’ve chosen, that somehow has chosen me right back.

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i knew this spread would be a difficult one, and it is. i clearly have trouble accepting love and friendship, leaning on others, admitting when i need help. i’m much better at reaching out to friends that are in pain than i am at reaching out when i’m in pain. i struggle with believing that people truly care about me, especially when i’m battling my demons. but the three of cups keeps popping up not to mock me or insult me, but rather as a constant reminder that i matter to someone. it’s a difficult lesson for me, but it’s one i need to take to heart, particularly in this time of challenge and change.

…& ten.

three tens in a row is not a coincidence.

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the ten of wands is a card i get a lot. dreary, disorganized, scattered, confused, lacking direction – these wands are tangled in the darkness, going every which way. it’s hard to even see the individual wands, or to tell which way they’re pointing.

tens being the end of the cycle represented in the minor arcana, and wands embodying passion, fire, purpose, inspiration, creativity – getting this card frequently seems appropriate. my daily work is creative, my brain is creative, my passions are all creative. i’m a water sign, a scorpio. i live in the dark, i trust my intuition, i thrive on passion, i feel deeply. it makes sense that a soul like mine, which tends towards strong emotions and intense cravings, would feel burned out constantly. my job is in the visual arts, so every time i’m working i need to dive into that deep well of creative energy. and my hobbies are all creative too, from the more passive ones (i love to read and lose myself in music) to  more active pursuits (writing, tarot, cooking, pretending to learn guitar). creativity and passion are what keep me whole and functional, and some days it feels like the cycle of the suit of wands and fire is one that i live every week.

while this card is very understandable and relatable for me, it also feels like a bit of an admonition. i don’t get very specific in my queries for daily readings – i almost always ask for guidance for the day, where i should focus, and how i should spend my energy. but today i found myself rambling, listing all the possibilities and inadvertently asking a million tiny questions about how exactly i should spend this quiet, rather unstructured day. the cards are giving me a clear message – you’re scattered, you’ve overwhelmed, you’re exhausted. chill out, prioritize, declutter.

so i asked for a clarification card, and boy did i get one: the lovers. what a beautiful card.

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union, joy, love, desire, contentment. it feels like the complete opposite of the ten of wands – like an overflowing cup rather than a tangle of sticks in the darkness. and while i think this card can mean so many things depending on how and where it falls, in this context it feels like advice: to be grateful for my marriage, to be content with what i have, to seek peace in going with the flow, to blend and enjoy all the facets of me. yes, i’m a dark, weird, passionate, intense person – but i’m also married to someone energetic, analytical, adventurous, bright. i need to support him, but can also learn from his enthusiasm and airy, sagittarius energy.

it’s okay to feel this dark, swirling energy constantly, and it’s understandable that i’d feel burned out a lot. but it’s also okay to push that aside, to care for myself, to focus on joy, and to put my energy into being gracious and grateful.