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?

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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.

lost mojo

i’m feeling drained, tired, and generally uninspired. the work i’m doing is so fun and i’m proud of it, but it’s not exciting me for some reason. the cards i pulled this morning are ones i’ve drawn very recently, and aren’t speaking to me in a meaningful way. what’s a reader to do?

beth’s finding your mojo spread, of course.

1. here’s my mojo:

IMG_0362the wheel of fortune. this isn’t my birth card, or even one that i work with or feel especially drawn to, but it makes sense to me here. i do value the connections between things, the colorful threads that tie everything together, even when events seem completely random. i enjoy the mystery and chaos that lie on the surface, and feel such relief and awe when things start to fall into place on a deeper level. there is only so much that we can control, and sometimes all i can do is let things go, and let fate take over. the only thing that is constant is change, heraclitus wrote, and there’s something comforting in that. my mojo is linked to control and power, to the inevitability of change, to surrendering to destiny. i’m more at peace when i stop trying to control everything and simply follow those vibrant threads that connect every person and thing, when i accept my small role in this world and don’t try to make it something that it isn’t.

 

2. here’s what’s getting in the way:

IMG_0305the three of wands. a card so perfect in this position, it made me laugh out loud. envisioning the future, as the wild unknown guidebook says about this card, always seems to cause me problems. i don’t have huge goals for my life, often resisting the so-called five- or ten-year-plan that so many others cling to. and tied with the wheel of fortune as my mojo, of course i would struggle when considering if all of these different types of shoots are ultimately going to help or hurt my career.

while i like being constantly busy and having work coming in all the time, every “traditional” job i’ve had has left me exhausted, frustrated, and doubting myself. freelancing is difficult but i know that it truly is the right path for me – i love the freedom to pick and choose work, love challenging myself to solve problems and grow, love working with new clients and new photography styles and new events. i thrive in the unknown, succeed when things are unpredictable, push myself harder when the outcome is unclear. clarifying my goals is something i hate to do, but feeling like i should be more goal-oriented is absolutely blocking my mojo these days.

3. solution:

father-of-cupsthe father of cups. if there’s a more appropriate card for this position, i can’t think of it. open-minded, calm, sensitive, and strong, he doesn’t hide from his emotions – he thrives on them, knowing the power that they contain. rather than the more introspective, mysterious members of his court, he harnesses the power of his connections and feelings in a stabilizing, empathetic way, and pushes that energy outward. his emotions do not control him – he understands and values their strength, and allows them to connect him to the world and people that he values.

what a beautiful card for me, in this position. while the action-oriented, fiery wands can stress me out and block me, making me second-guess my drive and lack of detailed goals for myself, the cups always bring me back to center. i trust my intuition, value my emotions, and rely heavily on my ability to read and navigate difficult situations. i work best when i work by instinct, following my gut to find a solution that feels right. it’s time to stop doubting myself, stop trying to make my life fit into a neat little box, and instead enjoy the fact that i’m a bit different. so what if my goals and dreams aren’t the same as others? who cares if i don’t know where i want to be (or who i want to be) in twenty years? does it really matter if i’m unique, independent, utterly strange? what’s most important is that i’m confident and content with my choices, that i trust myself, that i follow my heart.

mojo: found.

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finding the color

after yesterday’s nightmarish draw, i was quite hesitant to return to the cards this morning. the nine of swords was so present in my day, and night, and i couldn’t seem to find that wand energy that i knew i needed. but today’s card seems to be continuing the energy of my clarifying card: the three of wands.

this is a powerful card, full of both intention and action. the ace and two are about IMG_0305inspiration, finding direction, and moving forward towards a specific goal. the three seems to solidify that movement, encouraging the reader to envision the future, clarify goals, and invest fully in a strong sense of self. threes reflect the power of the suit in action, and wands are all about growth, energy, and fiery passion. the wild unknown guide stresses that it’s time to “rely on yourself for guidance” and explains that “the future is infinite and it is yours.”

and the swirling colors and brilliant light depicted between the intersecting wands are indeed beautiful and infinite. there’s endless possibility here; a vibrant, colorful future that is ready to be shaped. limitless, transcendent, brimming with hope.

except.

all i can see these days is that grotesque vision from the nine of swords. and the inescapable upheaval of the tower. and the necessary abandonment in the eight of cups. and i’m so tired of writing about depression, seeing depression, being depression. i can’t escape it. it’s been dragging on so very long, consuming everything in its path, and i’m ready for fresh air, for light, for color. everything is a tangled mess of ugliness and i’m desperate to get out. how do i change the seemingly permanent hellscape in my mind into this glorious vision of a dynamic, effervescent future?

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frankly, i don’t have a clue. i don’t have fresh new ideas, or opportunities bursting forth from nowhere, or boundless energy to pour into passion projects – just getting out of bed feels like an accomplishment. i have no spoons for anything these days. the pure, blinding optimism of the three of wands feels absolutely impossible.

but maybe this card is simply reminding me that somewhere in the future, hopefully not as far away as i think, is a glimmer of light. maybe this card is a small reminder that there is life outside of depression, that the world isn’t always this dim, that eventually color will start to seep back into my vision.

tarot isn’t meant to be literal. and it doesn’t tell the future, or always answer directly. but i hope this is my deck’s way of looking into my eyes, squeezing my hand, and telling me that it’s going to be okay.