cutting through

much like the ace/two/three of wands, i feel a bit of anxiety when i pull the ace of swords in a daily reading. clarity is coming, the truth will be revealed, and whether i like it or not, honest insight is on its way. i pulled this card just a few weeks ago, in the wake of charlottesville, and it forced me to continue to acknowledge my privilege as a white woman in a liberal city, even as i wrestle with my struggles as a queer woman whose identity is often lost or erased. what will this fearsome blade cut through today?

ace-of-swordsperhaps it’s natural as a water sign to be uncomfortable with the air, to worry about what that brilliant blade of light and truth will uncover. i’m in such a difficult place, trying not to drown in depression and working hard to not completely isolate myself, and the idea of facing the ugliness of my emotions, gazing unflinchingly at my mistakes and pride, forcing myself to acknowledge things long buried – it sounds like too much to bear. this sword has a sharp point, that zeroes in on its mark and does not miss. it lights up the darkness, offers flashes of brilliance and power and clarity, cuts to the heart of the matter. like all aces, it embodies all the strengths and challenges of the suit, harnessing the power of the air.

and it makes me want to curl up in a ball and hide in the darkness.

but what else can this card represent? the fountain tarot features a brilliant sword that looks to be made of glass, diving straight down into all the colors and tangles to cut a clear path forward. there’s no hesitation, no flinching, no fear – simply force, IMG_1861determination, and power. this sword cuts through everything, clearing the way for truth and strength and success. sometimes we have to clear away all that bullshit to see the soul inside. nothing about this is easy or simple, but it’s not meant to be. clearing through tangled emotions, complicated justifications, excuses and perceptions and all the ways we explain away and struggle to understand our current reality – it’s a painful process, but a necessary one. this sword demands that we assess ourselves, force ourselves to sift through everything to find the truth, and take the time to understand what lies at the heart of these issues. it also suggests powerful new ideas, flashes of insight, fresh approaches to old problems, ambition and strength and determination to see things through to the end. and those are satisfying, appealing ideas, especially in my current state.

a difficult card, to be sure. self-reflection can be a miserable process, revealing things we’d prefer not to see. and the idea of charging forward with that brilliant blade, fearless and strong, feels impossible. but after yesterday’s reading and all of its encouragement to mourn the past and then set it free, this feels like a harsh but necessary reminder to start that challenging, ultimately rewarding work.

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enjoying the warmth

after so many intense & lengthy spreads lately, i’m eager to get back to my single-card daily readings. they bring me such comfort, and i love their simple messages, and the opportunity to spend time meditating and considering one or two cards at a time.

IMG_0371today’s card is one of energy, life, positivity, vitality, radiance, and joy: the sun. and while it does feel a bit on the nose to draw this card brimming with light and happiness on the day after a solar eclipse, it also feels like a potent reminder to embrace the bright possibility that this card represents.

this card is positively glowing, beams of golden light streaming out from the center. the sun itself isn’t really even visible – it’s simply hinted at, hiding behind that intense and colorful glow. you can practically feel the warmth emanating from this card, and the sense of peace, comfort, and ease here is undeniable.

but for someone with darker impulses, someone who worships the moon, someone who rarely seeks out joy but instead lives in the shadows – what kind of lessons can i take from a card that’s so bright? this card feels foreign to me, even as i sit with it, drenched in sunlight from a clear blue sky. how do i learn to just enjoy that warmth, soak in the comfort, find the joy in the everyday? IMG_0305

my clarifying card offered similar advice: the three of wands. this card popped up just a few days ago in an outcome position, and also seems to be brimming with possibility. and while the idea of looking to the future, making grand plans and setting ambitious goals, doesn’t hold any real appeal – perhaps there’s joy in the unknown. perhaps even the act of considering what may be ahead is a way to make peace with it.

i’m struck by the idea of vision, and how we can’t look too closely or intently at both of these cards. the sun is too bright, too dazzling – we will literally sacrifice our vision trying to see it with the naked eye. it’s simply too intense for our human eyes to handle. and while the three of wands represents a much more ambiguous vision, that of the future, of what lies ahead, of the goals we set for ourselves, it too can be impossible to look at. stare ahead for too long, spend too much time squinting at those hazy colors, and we’ll lose sight of everything.

so where does this leave me? it seems that rather than scrambling for a project, or pouring my energy into the first thing that resonates, i should instead spend some time simply soaking up the sunshine, and enjoying each moment as it comes. finding a way to be present, rather than obsessing over past efforts or worrying about future failures, seems like the perfect way to find my path forward. and if that bright light, that colorful future, is impossible to see right now? i can still enjoy the warmth.

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don’t be surprised to see some changes in this space in the upcoming weeks – i’ll be redesigning the look of this site, changing the name to match my new instagram page (hello, fellow ‘grammers!), and working to connect with more readers in the tarot community. if you’d like to see something in this space, or just want to say hello, please give me a shout in the comments!

eyes wide open

i’ve been having a lot of strong, positive conversations regarding tarot lately – with both friends & strangers, experts & beginners. it’s challenging sometimes to hear what the cards have to say, to openly and honestly assess their message rather than working to twist it around, trying to make it fit in with desires and needs. and yet, seeing beyond what i want to see, forcing myself to sift through my emotional responses and truly honor the wisdom of the cards, feels like an important exercise, a way to grow and learn and continue to be open.

ace-of-swordstoday’s card is a flash of brilliance, illuminating honesty, a bright but challenging truth: the ace of swords. and while this card isn’t always an easy one for me to see, it seems to reflect my introspective mood, and my desire to continue expanding my knowledge of these cards. the sword itself is sharp and strong, confident in its potential, ushering in the beginning of this powerful suit of air and clarity and knowledge. there’s a decisive nature to this card, a choice to acknowledge what the lightning illuminates, to look beyond the darkness and clouds and rain to what is truly real. the sword is almost waiting, giving us a moment to consider if we’re prepared to wield it. are we ready to reach for that strong, unerring blade? can we handle what it may make known? or are we too afraid to grasp it, unsure of what may follow its revelations?

sometimes, we have to shield ourselves a bit. there are times for boundaries, for safety, for self-care, for acknowledging that we must remain hidden. we all have periods in our lives where the best thing we can do is protect ourselves, stay guarded, keep secrets. i don’t consider this weakness – indeed, sometimes it takes more courage than not – but there is a certain type of strength required to look directly at something scary, something ugly, something dark. uncovering truths, being brutally honest, forcing ourselves to accept something we don’t like – that’s a different kind of courage. and while some of my recent spreads have been savagely truthful, and while forcing ourselves to acknowledge the deep hatred and racism in our country is both painful and horrifying, ignoring the realities around us is not the way to find answers, or to move forward. refusing to look at what’s real and present is a huge part of what has gotten us here. i barely know how to fix the problems in my own life, let alone the institutional racism in this country (that i absolutely benefit from) – but there are people and powers out there that are far smarter than i am, that can give us ways we can help and remind us to listen to and learn from those that are disenfranchised, those that are frightened, those that are systematically oppressed.the-emperor

in search of more, i drew a major arcana card, both as a companion card and also to help kick off my week 3 exercises focusing on the major cards of the deck. the emperor is strong, practical, reliable, calm, structured, focused, grounded. he deals with problems clearly and firmly, with logic and order. and while he can be a challenging card for many, in this context he seems like precisely the type that would be able to carry the ace of swords, that could look calmly into difficult truths. the light around him is bright, the sun is burning, and his shape is bold and clear. the emperor’s strength is in his consistency, discipline, and ability to offer protection. he can teach us so much, but right now he seems to speak to my need to help, my desire to understand, my wish for those in power to actually care for and protect those that need the most protection. i’m not sure how to be the emperor today, but perhaps by grabbing the handle of the ace of swords, i can begin to learn.

IMG_1711these are huge ideas, powerful messages, and strong directives. there’s so much to be done, and i feel incredibly ill-equipped to do it. but while my little deck of cards feels like a feeble tool against such huge enemies and obstacles, today’s reminder to shine light in the darkness, to gaze unflinchingly at what’s in front of me, to refuse to cower in fear or hide behind those that are louder or shy away from the difficult conversations – that feels like a powerful place to start.

looking for a way out

it’s been a difficult few days. after worrying about shifts in a particular relationship for months, i finally spoke up – and didn’t get the response i was hoping for. my fears about losing this relationship feel like they’re mine alone, dismissed and overlooked. and rather than experiencing love and reassurance, i feel abandoned. perhaps this relationship isn’t what i thought it was. is there any solution to this problem? is it time to walk away? can i resolve this without losing myself?

time for the way out spread.

1. the matter at hand

six-of-cupsthe six of cups, a card of memories, stories, roots, and experiences. this card popped up in a spread just a few days ago, where i was thinking about the same situation – but here, it’s a perfect representation of my concerns. the beginning of this relationship was so lovely, felt inclusive and honest and raw in a beautiful, soothing way. i could be myself, share my fears, receive love and support no matter what. this relationship helped me find myself, helped me come out, helped me develop confidence. and while the affection is still there, while there is certainly still love and caring and support, it doesn’t feel the same anymore. intimacies have shifted, other relationships have eclipsed us, and i no longer feel the same unconditional companionship. i miss the past, though i know it’s impossible to rewind. the root of the relationship is still there, but we’re in a new season, and i’m having trouble with the change. i remember how things started, how we grew together, and i’m mourning the loss of it. i want to go back.

 

2. the blockIMG_0326

this card may seem like a strange one in this position, but it makes sense for me. the nine of pentacles is a card of satisfaction, comfort, plenty – a happy, healthy home. there’s safety, togetherness, a sense that all needs have been met. and while this is a card of contentment, for me, that’s the problem – i’m not part of it. it sounds selfish, but the relationship in question formed in part because we each craved something. we needed each other, needed support, love, someone to listen. we gave that to each other, loved each other, provided unconditional comfort and support. but work and living situations have shifted, and what brought us together now separates us. needs are being met on a daily basis, which is wonderful – love is provided, problems are solved, everyone is safe and happy and healthy and satisfied. except that i’m not helping, and i’m not heard. i’m outside the unit, living far away, working nowhere nearby, having to put in so much effort to be involved with anything. that wonderful happy job, the great home life, the parties and inside jokes and mutual friends – i’m not part of it anymore. and it breaks my heart to be so left out, especially when others are so content.

that barricade of feathers, keeping the pentacles safe and warm, clustered together, intimate and safe? i’m outside of it. 

3. the hidden jewel

eight-of-cupswhat’s the underlying truth here, the piece i don’t see? it might be time to walk away, and that’s terrifying. the eight of cups represents moving on, seeing what’s broken and leaving it behind. it’s an incredibly difficult card in this position, because this relationship is one of the most important ones in my life. it’s given me such joy, such comfort, such a beautiful feeling of belonging and love that i’ve rarely experienced in my thirty-one years. and yet… things have changed so dramatically. i’m uncomfortable in ways that are new, unsure of my words and actions, unclear if i still belong. those cups are shattered, irreparable, but i keep trying to put them back together and make them functional. is it time to set them aside, find cups that work the way they should? is it possible to leave the broken bits of the relationship behind, without abandoning it completely? my emotional energy is so drained, i feel despondent and heartbroken, unsure of my place. is it time to find a new path forward? this card seems to say so.

 

4. a shift in awareness

seven-of-swordsthat clever fox, always keeping one eye open – the seven of swords represents a needed change in perspective, adjusting my point of view in order to break through and see the way forward. this card speaks to secrecy, trickery, self-preservation, deceit, hiding from threats. it’s a card that reminds us to act consciously, to be aware of our thoughts and actions, to assess who and what we’re protecting.

i tried to act consciously a few days ago, bringing up my concerns and honestly confessing my fears. but when i didn’t get an immediately supportive response, i retreated, held back, stopped talking. my instincts for self-preservation, my fears of being hurt further, my desperation to hold onto this relationship almost certainly made things worse – without even necessarily revealing everything i needed to say. did i say enough? were my concerns even clear? was i as honest as i could’ve been, or did i hold too much back?

i’m my own worst enemy. i’ve been dreading this shift for months now, worrying and stressing, sure that my intuition was right and that my predictions would come true. and it feels that way right now, absolutely – but is this simply a self-fulfilling prophecy? am i truly trying to protect myself from further harm, or am i making things seem worse than they are?

so many questions. so how do i escape them?

5. the way out

IMG_0290representing heartbreak, betrayal, and sorrow, the three of swords is hardly the card i’d hope for in this position. the only way out is pain? must i abandon this relationship completely, leave it behind, accept the despair and regret as my due? does every way out include suffering?

this card is a still-bleeding wound, a scar that has not yet healed – but it’s also a reminder that pain can shape us, make us stronger, force us to grow. to suffer is to be human, but we can learn from the pain. in this position, it’s hard not to see this card as instructing me to just lean in – embrace the misery, accept it, find a way to get through it. abandon the relationship, try to heal, move on.

but perhaps, this card could simply be telling me to stop obsessing about the change, and instead accept it for what it is. relationships evolve, people grow closer and apart, and most friendships don’t actually last a lifetime. there are seasons for everything, and perhaps the door is closing on this particular connection. it may not be necessary to completely end everything, but i do need to accept the changes that have come, and mourn appropriately.

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this is a painful, challenging spread. reality is cruel. friendships are not easy. my mind is a dark place, and has made a difficult situation even worse. but the cards are wise, and while they haven’t pulled any punches, i don’t think they’re wrong. what’s done is done, and being sad won’t change anything.

the only way out is to accept where the relationship is, and try to stop obsessing over where it was. perhaps then i can build something new, and look forward.

the stories we tell ourselves

today’s card is a perfect reflection of how i’ve been feeling about a situation in my life: the eight of swords. and while this is not an easy card to see, it does offer a number of challenges for me to process as i work through this problem.

eight-of-swordsthe wild unknown depicts this card as a butterfly, curled up tightly into herself, dangling from a sword and surrounded by many others. she has no space to fly, no room to breathe, no obvious escape route. this card speaks of powerlessness, feeling trapped, and crippling self-doubt.

but those swords represent mental energy and conflict, that double-edged blade of creation and destruction. how much of this situation is real, and how much of it is in our minds? are we so busy seeing ourselves as the victim, drowning in feelings of fear and isolation and pain, that we can’t see that these bindings have been built only in our minds, and not in reality? if we can find a way to step back, see clearly, and reevaluate, would a solution for escape become obvious?

for the last few months, i’ve been struggling deeply with changes, anticipating a loss that feels inevitable. i see no way forward that does not lead to this suffering. and i’ve been mourning this loss, though it hasn’t yet happened. it feels completely unavoidable to me, like the wheels were set in motion long ago and now i simply have to follow this unchangeable path. there is no obvious solution, nothing i can do to alter what will happen, and i hate feeling so out of control when i can see what’s coming.

but what if my mindset is wrong? in her meditation on this card, carrie urges us to reconsider the stories that we tell ourselves, to look deeper at the situation and evaluate the personal power that we might be unconsciously surrendering. and i’ve always found it fascinating, the ways that we view ourselves versus how the world may see us. i have a very specific view of myself, that probably completely contradicts how others see me, and the complete truth of who i am lies somewhere in the middle.

but the narrative i’ve built around this particular situation could be a carefully constructed trap. i know how i think this all plays out, but perhaps by seeing this future and feeling that it’s inevitable, i’m limiting myself only to that outcome. what if there is a way out that doesn’t involve loss? what if i’ve spent so much energy crafting my own bonds that i’ve missed an obvious solution?

we need stories, narratives, a way of viewing the world and our place in it that connects us. those threads are essential, and how we see ourselves and our paths can impact everything. but focusing on only one outcome, viewing those threads as set it stone rather than flexible and shifting, can be incredibly limiting. if we can’t grow and change and learn, can’t be broken and rebuilt to be stronger, then what is the point of any of this? and if i can alter this situation, can shift my path to go somewhere new, why wouldn’t i try?

hard truths

while this blog is named after the daughter of cups, a card i hope to grow into and evolve from, today i pulled a card that i identify with very strongly: the daughter of swords.

daughter-of-swordsfrank, observant, insightful, detail-oriented, and judgmental, the daughter of swords doesn’t miss a thing. this owl is watchful and honest, careful and clear, with no room for bullshit. she’s surrounded by the night sky, with glittering, colorful stars behind her, but her grip is on the blade of the sword rather than the handle. perhaps she’s not comfortable wielding it just yet, but this could also be a warning that the sword of truth can be sharp and double-edged. she’s a student of justice and truth, prefers to keep things simple and straightforward, and deals with situations head-on, though she isn’t unkind. she relies on her intellect and her powers of observation to get through tough situations, and those around her trust her to be truthful and strong.

paired with yesterday’s card, today’s drawing feels like it’s showing me how to approach the world again. i’ve been withdrawn, hesitant, unsure of how to shake off the last of this long-lasting depression. my legs are a bit wobbly. my head is still spinning. it’s so very tempting to continue to hide, to rely on others to tell me what to do, to pull that cloak of darkness back around myself and shy away from the light. but that’s no way to live, and it’s not the person that i want to be. i am stronger than that.

this daughter may not have all the answers – but she’s looking for them, and she isn’t afraid to be herself at the same time. she knows she’s not as adventurous as her older brother or as wise as her more experienced parents, but she also knows that her wide eyes and hungry mind will go a long way towards reaching her goals. and if i can lean into that hard truth, and not shy away from what’s in front of me, i can reach mine too.

days go by

and again, weeks and weeks have gone by. i’ve been drowning in depression, and every time i think the tide is coming in and i think that i might be able to reach dry land, another current catches me and i’m pulled back under. depression ebbs and flows, but my compass has been completely shattered in the storm – i usually have a better sense of how long i’ve been treading water, when i’ve reached the eye of the storm, if i’ll get a glimpse of the horizon soon. but this time around i spent so much energy pushing it away, trying to hold it back, that now i’m utterly lost at sea.

i’ve been struggling in particular with my history of self-harm, and have gone down the terrible rabbit hole of comparing my struggle to that of others. any therapist, self-help book, or rational human will tell you that this is a terrible idea, that recovery is not a race, that everyone copes differently. but when i see the love and support given to friends of mine, whether they’re surviving sexual assault, dealing with crippling anxiety, recovering from eating disorders, or learning how to embrace life after a failed suicide attempt, i can’t help but feel ugly and lonely and wrong. why is it easy for me to extend kindness and sympathy and generosity to others that are struggling, and yet impossible for me to offer myself the same courtesy? my laundry list of issues are long and growing longer by the day, and yet when i see someone that has but one item on my own list, my heart aches for them. why can’t i ache for myself? why do i constantly listen to that nasty voice in my head, the one that says that nobody cares about me, that i have to be strong and not burden anyone else, that people only like me because of what i can give them?

my therapist is kind, my husband is supportive, and the few others in my life who know the ins and outs of my struggles have been wonderful. so why this need for me? why does my heart swell with envy when i see a friend post about her suicide attempt and get endless comments and notes of support, of love, of encouragement? people telling her she’s brave, she’s strong, she’s a fighter, she’s powerful, she’s an inspiration.

i tried, and failed, twice. what does that make me? (the voice in my head says, “it makes you a failure.”)

i brought all of this to the cards today. and they didn’t let me down: i pulled the tower.

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not for the faint of heart, this card. and though the instinct is to recoil, to cower in fear, to weep and beg and sorrow, perhaps this card and this depression are markers of real, internal movement. the tower signifies a permanent evolution, irrevocable change, a deep, significant transformation. there’s no going back to what we were before – we have to move forward into that wild unknown, whether we like it or not.

and perhaps the cards are simply urging me to learn from my darker past and stop being so afraid. step into the light. reveal the scary. shed that skin. if support is what you need, stop being afraid of rejection and simply ask for it.

naturally, steeped in fear and desperate to be wrong, i pulled a second clarification card: the nine of cups. a card of satisfaction, of pleasure, of contentment. it’s all about enjoying what’s in the present, reveling in stable, calm energy, and indulging in the things that give us joy.

could there be a stranger pair? i’m not sure. but what i see is that upheaval is necessary, that change is a’comin’, that the very foundations of my world are altering. and yet, there is peace to be found. there is serenity in knowing that this evolution is extremely necessary, and that i have been stagnant for far too long.

there’s a lot to process here, with many truths that i’m not sure i’m ready to see. but i’ve let the cards be silent for far too long, and i know in my bones that it’s time to listen. maybe that means that there are others in my life who are ready to listen too.

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