on isolation

some days i wake up and know that the hours ahead are going to be difficult. call it intuition, call it fear, call it whatever you like – but today is not going to be a good day, and i know it in my bones.

i wish i knew how to navigate days like this, but i’m never sure what will help. i’ll make a to-do list, try to distract myself with mundane but necessary tasks. i’ll schedule a yoga class, take on a new project, go for a long walk with my dog. sometimes i share this feeling with those around me, but i usually just end up feeling guilty – it’s easier to isolate myself, stay quiet, hide away. nothing ever quite helps, and i know that when the sun goes down and i’m alone with my thoughts, things will feel impossible. it’s a scary feeling, an emptiness, a longing for relief that never comes.

IMG_0334hoping for some simple guidance and maybe even a bit of reassurance, i went to my cards – but my stalker card has once again reared its ugly head. the three of cups will not leave me alone, and i’m getting frustrated by the repetition. what are you trying to tell me?

this card showed up for the first time in early july, and has appeared four more times since, including in several spreads. i even did a stalker spread, and have resisted posting about it the last few times it’s popped up for daily readings. including today, that’s eight appearances in less than two months. i’m clearly missing an important element of this card, a significant message that i have to face. after so much reflection, after researching this card half to death, i’m still not sure what i don’t see.

this card represents celebration, community, accomplishment, beauty, joy, friendships, giving and receiving, compassion, sensitivity, harmony, positive energy, creativity, good times. it’s so positive, a card of contentment, understanding, feeling whole and accepted. and yet this card’s constant appearance brings a sense of dread, seems to mock my loneliness and isolation. if my community values me so much, why do i feel locked out of it? if contentment is present, why do i feel so miserable? if compassion and sensitivity are all around me, why do i feel alone and misunderstood?

reaching out is so difficult for me, and i hate doing it. everything in me resists. but this card feels like a lecture, forcing me to continue asking for help from people i feel don’t care about me very much. this card brings out shame in me, makes me feel embarrassed and contrary and just plain sad. i wish that a card with so much joy and love wrapped into its meaning didn’t make me feel completely alone, but somehow, it does.

what do you do when a card feels so wrong?

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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!

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.

peace & love

today’s daily draw is a card i worked with just last week: the empress.

the-empressnurturing, soothing, radiating calm and tranquil energy, the empress is vibrant, creative, and brimming with love. she’s a caretaker, someone who makes everyone around her feel both relaxed and strong. she builds people up, cares for their needs, reminds them that they are capable and powerful, and is never afraid to let her own light shine brightly. there’s a sensual energy here, a passion and abundance that illuminates the card. she encourages us to care for others as well as ourselves, to reconnect with natural and the world around us, to offer love without restrictions or restraint. she takes us as we are, imperfections and all, and reminds us of our power.

i’ve got a lot swirling in my head these days – my husband has been pushing himself to the limit and is now sick, work has been hectic, and we’re getting ready to head out to california tomorrow for a week-long trip. it’s the first time i’ll be seeing my in-laws since coming out last month, and i’m both excited and incredibly nervous about what the next few days may bring. i’m also trying to be as loving and compassionate as possible, helping my husband get well before a busy week of travel. the empress can speak to these worries, reminding me to offer nurturing love to my partner, to remember compassion when speaking to my conservative family members, and to stay grounded and connected to the world around me so that i don’t get so lost in my mind that i drift away.

IMG_0334since i drew the empress so recently, i decided to gift myself a companion card for some extra clarification and direction: and pulled the three of cups, a card i haven’t worked with before. a card of friendship, kindness, and joy, this is a beautiful reminder of the people that i share love with on a daily basis. i have a group of girls that have saved my life in a sense this past year, and i see them here – but this card is also a reminder that i have a supportive family, a strong husband, and old friends that love me even if we don’t see each other often. i love my family, but the idea of the family you choose is something i’ve always really embraced. my chosen family keeps me grounded, keeps me centered, lets me kick and scream and cry when i need it, but also reminds me that i’m strong and brave and more powerful than i realize. they gave me the courage to come out. they encouraged me to seek a therapist for my depression and self-harm. they let me be myself, absolutely and honestly, in a way i haven’t been able to before. and that holistic, healing energy of the empress – it’s here, in real friendship and love.

there’s a lot of color, a lot of soothing energy, a lot of love in these cards today. and as someone that considers myself a dark, swirling mess of weird, it’s comforting to see so much positivity here. my main struggle with tarot is honestly reading what the cards are saying, rather than twisting them into something else – but it’s hard not to see the tenderness and warm in today’s cards. i’ll try not to fight it.

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