offerings

as i spend time with family, with all of the emotions and plans and struggles and confusion that goes along with traveling with lots of adults and small children, i find myself a bit drained. california is beautiful and sunny and mellow, the kind of bright, optimistic energy that everyone seems drawn to. and yet getting here was exhausting, there are a lot of people to meet and connect with, and i haven’t slept well in too long. today’s card is a reminder to be kind, both to others and to myself: the two of cups.

IMG_0333two elegant goblets, identical in form and size, rest on a dark table. roses cross over them, evenly spaced so that both cups can share in their beauty and radiance. everything about the card is symmetrical and simple, with balance and reciprocity and the sharing of something truly sweet. this is a card of love, of connection, of true soulmates.

offering a cup, a gift, an open look into one’s heart and soul, takes a lot of trust. it’s not easy to be completely honest, to offer the good with the bad, to surrender to emotion and acknowledge all the messy things that come along with connections and relationships. but true friendship, true love, true empathy and loyalty and generosity only happen when we strip everything away and aren’t afraid to reveal our true selves.

it feels that for the last month or two i’ve been so introspective, focusing on my personal goals and sharing secret parts of myself with those that i trust. it takes a lot to give so much of me away, and i’m still feeling the impact. but there’s a freedom too, a sigh of relief. i can just be myself now. i had to extend that cup, with all of its fears and joys and fierceness and mystery, to others. and now perhaps i can find some quiet.

 

dual meanings

as i continue to reflect on what tarot is and why it’s important to me, i was delighted to pull a card for my daily reading that seems to embrace all the beautiful difficulties and contradictions of this practice: the two of swords.

IMG_0289this powerful card features two dark swords, identical in strength and size, locked together. a fiery eclipse hovers over their meeting point, with dark lines of energy pulsing away from their crossing.

this depiction in the wild unknown is very different from the more traditional images of a woman standing blindfolded, holding a sword in each hand, contemplating and considering what she cannot see. where the wild unknown image feels like conflict or a stalemate, the original image feels peaceful, contemplative, like the woman featured is pushing other things out of the way to focus on what matters. i love the duality of this card, the variety of meanings that can be drawn from it. two opposing forces clashing, with no one able to move forward, all that energy stalled by an contradictory force. but they could also be unified, lending one another strength, joining those strong forces together to achieve a common goal or purpose. there’s such focus, a beautiful balance and symmetry that speaks to a completely different energy.

week one of beth’s alternative tarot course includes a lengthy list of questions, all centered around tarot, including history, meaning, purpose, abilities, and how that connects to me as a reader. and when i consider what drew me to tarot in the first place, this card is a perfect example: i love the duality, the hidden meanings, the way that every card feels full of possibilities. obviously the suits and courts, the major and minor cards, all have patterns and inherent symbolism that lends each card to specific meanings. but all of that is open to interpretation, allowing individual readers to listen to the cards and hear their message.

mother-of-cupsthe appeal of the beautiful mystery and elusive nature of tarot is what compelled me to choose the mother of cups as my personal card for the duration of this course. it was a strong influence in my reader’s reading a few days ago and is a card i’ve written about many times already. her wisdom, natural intuition, empathy, solitude, and psychic abilities are appealing and inspiring to me, and represent much of what i hope to gain from learning tarot. this card makes me feel powerful and strong, reminds me to listen and find wisdom in stillness, and gives me courage to trust my instincts and my intuition.

 

beauty & balance

of the four suits in tarot, pentacles are the one i draw the least – by quite a lot. i relate deeply to the emotional cups, love delving into the mental space created by the swords, and seek out the crackling, fiery energy from the wands – but those earthy, grounded pentacles rarely come up for me in readings. today’s card is one of the few in the suit i’ve drawn before: the two of pentacles.

two-of-pentaclesstrong and bold, with large, beautiful wings balancing two pentacles, this butterfly is powerful, open, and full of stable energy. the most obvious interpretation here is balance, with her asymmetrical wings and those pentacles delicately sitting on her massive wings. the rainbow lemniscate connecting the symbols adds the only touch of color, but keeps everything tied together beautifully. but this card can also indicate inevitable change, as the butterfly herself goes through a complete transformation in order to acquire those glorious wings. she may look fragile, but is much stronger than she appears – she’s able to quickly change direction, catch a slight breeze and use it to her advantage. there’s an unexpected strength along with easy flexibility that makes her unique, dynamic, and able to balance change in a beautiful way.

pentacles are tied to work, home life, possessions, finances, and earthly matters, so i can’t help but consider my career prospects whenever they come up. i have a busy week, packed with a variety of shooting gigs – live music for a singer/songwriter friend, my regular work with restaurant menus, a queer women’s cocktail event for pride, and social media images for a catering business. i love weeks like this, that push me to constantly adjust my style and perspective, forcing me to grow and adapt as a photographer, but they can also be challenging – every day is more different than usual, and it can take more energy to do everything well. this card can remind us to stay flexible, prioritize what matters, and embrace changes that may come along the way.

of course, this card could also be speaking to other types of change – perhaps a new job opportunity is coming, or another move is on the horizon. but it feels to me that balance is the message today, remembering to honor all of my commitments and approach every task with purpose, flexibility, and creativity.

release.

as i work through and process some difficult things, it was such a gift to pull today’s card: judgement. i actually received this card a few weeks ago and found it very comforting, but today it feels like a push forward.IMG_0372

there’s so much in this card, beauty and truth and freedom and soaring towards the light, release and understanding and pure hope. this dove is so strong, fleeing that tangled darkness below to reach the bright open space above. and so often, ugliness is created by us – fear, guilt, pain, anxiety, depression. we spend so much energy worrying about what might happen when we finally release those secrets and fly free, but the dove is so much more powerful now, having shed the dark and embraced her strength. and this card feels like an incredibly powerful symbol to me, that perhaps it’s time for me to embrace my strength too.

today is june 1, the first day of pride month. as a bisexual woman, raised in a very religious family and church that was vocally anti-homosexual, pride and judgement are difficult topics for me. it’s taken me a very long time to own my identity, and to admit that while i don’t all the answers, i can no longer deny who i am. i only came out a few years ago, after i’d already been married for some time, and it was a shock to my parents and many who’d grown up with me. other friends were much more supportive and loving, including my husband, and for that i’m incredibly grateful. but there are some very important people in my life who still don’t know about my sexual identity, and in this month of pride, and this impossible political climate, it feels more essential than ever to come clean and stop hiding.

IMG_0304the cards aren’t always this on-the-nose, so i gave myself a clarifying card to make sure i was moving in the right direction: and pulled the two of wands. a bold, goal-oriented card of determination, focus, and strength… that happens to have a colorful, vivid rainbow in the background.

i think that we bring a lot of our own baggage to tarot – it can be hard to clear my mind and not project everything i want to see into my readings. but i’ve been worrying non-stop about telling these last family members about my orientation, feeling isolated and alone, and these cards give me so much strength. it will not be easy, but i can’t keep hiding in the darkness. it’s time to reach out and grab those wands, face my truth, and release some of the secrets.

it’s time to find some pride.

the power of the wand

i’ve pulled wands in every single reading this week. today was no exception: the two of wands was my daily draw this morning. and in addition to a lot of intense fire energy, i’ve also pulled the ace, two, and three of wands this week. a lot of bright, bold, adventurous energy here.

IMG_0304

these three cards can tell a story about starting something new: the ace is a powerful idea, excitement, energy, readiness. the two is focus, determination, solidifying the idea and thinking through the steps and pieces necessary to make it happen. and the three is action, jumping in, envisioning that beautiful goal and going after it. it’s a powerful trio, and pulling all three cards over the last few days feels significant.

of course, i’m not really in the middle of an exciting new adventure – i’m slogging through the same old depression, wondering if it will ever end. everything is so grey and washed out right now, and all three of these cards are positively bursting with color and vitality. but the two of wands is all about taking a quick pause to determine direction and focus, to evaluate the plan, to become fully aware of everything that’s happening. there’s so much light and energy in this card, but those horizontal lines also show stability and power, ready to be harnessed and focused in whatever way we need.

this is an exciting card, but it’s also a bit overwhelming. i’m not sure what to do with all of this fire, or where to direct it. to make the choice to reach out and grab those wands – am i ready? can i handle it? will it backfire?

i’m not sure i have the answers. but the cards seems to think that it’s time to take some of that colorful power back. i hope they’re right.

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time to shake things up

continuing on yesterday’s theme, today’s cards are really exciting ones. and while at first glance they may tell a completely contradictory story, i think they apply to my life in a beautiful, challenging, energizing way. my first card today was the tower.

the-tower

even before i’d purchased my first set and started exploring the world of tarot, i knew about the tower. often considered one of the scariest cards in the deck, it can represent change, upheaval, destruction. it seems to be one of those cards that gets strong, dramatic reactions, and is usually perceived to be negative. something wicked this way comes. unavoidable pain, terrifying change, the ruination of all we hold dear.

and i can see that. change is scary, and nobody likes their foundations rattled. a few quick bolts of lightning are completely transforming that tree into a new creature, altering it and everything around it, and the damage that that fire causes is irrevocable. those flashes came out of nowhere, and nothing will ever be the same. this is a major, revolutionary event.

for me, the focus with this card has always been on what comes after. the tower is for change, sure, but the emphasis is on the good that develops once the flames are doused. renewal, regeneration, transformation – shaking the world up and seeing how much better things are once that beautiful chaos has passed. this card isn’t about destroying things that are good; rather, it’s about pushing through denial, breaking down self-imposed boundaries, a loss of control in the best possible way.

this card doesn’t scare me, but it certainly makes me feel a bit more alert. we have a big move planned, one that represents a lot more than our zip code changing. we’re doubling down on steve’s new job, proving our commitment, and saying to each other and his partner that we’re in this thing for real. and that brings a lot with it – already there’s talk of the next move, where we might need to go to ensure that an investment goes well and new acquisitions are running smoothly. i don’t know what the future has for us, but this is our way of leaning in and saying that we’re ready for whatever comes next.

but there’s always a sense of concern, yes? after all, one of the scariest things about the tower is that the change is unexpected. and while we’ve been planning this move for awhile, and the timing of it is now very sudden and moving incredibly quickly, it’s not entirely out of the blue. am i missing something? is there another change on the horizon that i haven’t been looking for? should i be bracing for impact?

two-of-pentacles

my clarification card is the two of pentacles. a huge, strong butterfly supports the weight of those pentacles on her beautiful wings, having transformed herself from hungry caterpillar into an elegant creature of the wind and the air. besides how pathetically grateful i am to see earthy, grounded pentacles rather than those emotionally-charged, relationship-centered cups, this card also represents change, balance, and considering multiple factors. any relocation we make is complicated, and has a ton of moving pieces to consider. both of our jobs are based here, many of our friends are here, and i don’t know that i’m ready to leave new york any time soon. but this card can indicate a need to be flexible, to prioritize, to accept change with grace and beauty.

and combined with the tower, i have a lot of anticipation for what the future may bring.

 

 

balance & blockages

some days it’s hard to find the time for tarot – i strive to do daily readings but it’s not always simple to find a quiet pocket of time to draw a card, meditate and ponder its meaning, and spend a few minutes writing and reflecting on how it can advise me on my day. but other days, like today, i seem to have endless time stretching before me, and my daily card challenges me to keep questioning and working through it. today’s card is the two of swords.

two-of-swords

this is a card that i always seem to struggle with, which is both ironic and fascinating. the card itself in traditional interpretations means blockage, stalemate, stalled progress. the swords represent two opposing forces, their energy high but forcing each other to stay in their position. the eclipse in the center beautifully illustrates shadows and confusion, the moon blocking the light of the sun, allowing us to look directly at it but making it hard to comprehend what our vision tells us.

however, when i draw this card my instincts tell me something else. i always seem to see balance, symmetry, equal forces, and steely focus. the swords may be crossed, they may be pushing against each other, but even with the stunning eclipse in the background they are single-minded in their attention and efforts.

i was delighted to read that beth sees a similar duality – and the samples of the two of swords in other decks seem to offer a variety of interpretations. whether its a willful pushing away of realities to focus on a single issue or decision, or a naive avoidance of a problem, there is both strength and withdrawal in this card. sometimes we have to push daily distractions out of our mind and put all of our energy towards preparing, making a strong decision, steading ourselves. but denial is a strong instinct, and it can be easy to mistake steady focus with putting our heads in the sand about real issues, and ignoring challenges that won’t go away until they’re dealt with. (if you’re out there reading this, i’d love to hear your interpretations and personal intuitions about this card in the comments!)

wanting more on what i may be blocking or ignoring (whether intentionally or not), i pulled a clarification card and was rewarded with an old friend: the eight of pentacles.

eight-of-pentacles

like the ten of wands or the ace of swords, this is a card that comes up a lot for me in both daily readings and larger spreads. the spider is steady, calm, and always working – she isn’t distracted by what’s around her but instead is hyper-focused on her craft and her mission, and weaves intricate, beautiful webs as often as possible. this card reminds us that hard work and perseverance are what bring us closer to our goals. for me it also represents getting out there and pushing myself to continue to improve my photography, whether by seeking new clients or creating personal projects that push me outside my comfort zone and help me develop my artistic style and professional skills.

centering the two of swords around my professional work makes this daily reading much more clear. while i love what i do, things seem to be slowing down or stalling out these days – my regular clients, while consistently providing work, seem to be slowing down this week. i haven’t shot anything new in a few months. and i haven’t been pushing myself to experiment with my camera, read about new equipment or techniques, or creating recipes or projects for myself to develop my portfolio. i’ve let myself be distracted by the myriad of other things in my life – and while these things are important, i should put my focus back into my work for a bit.

in light of this daily reading (and given my very slow work week ahead), i’d like to do an additional spread focused on developing my career. more on the way…