always learning

IMG_1381after such a difficult and emotional june, i’m feeling energized and a bit restless. we havea lot of travel scheduled for july, and as i look forward at all of the exploring and adventures ahead, i’m also craving personal growth. tarot has become so important tome over these last ten months of reading, and i find myself wanting to dive deeper into hidden meanings, personal intuition, and feeling truly connected to my cards.

with that in mind, i’ve decided to begin beth’s alternative tarot course, an eight-week program designed to help readers develop their own style of reading and interpretation.

the course includes daily single-card readings, much like i do anyway, along with exercises and a larger weekly spread. i plan to use this space to explore the writing prompts, along with all of the readings she outlines, but i will still do my regular single-card daily readings here too. it’s my hope that sharing this journey publicly will connect me further within the tarot community, and help me continue to grow and learn.

with that in mind, i’m going to begin with this week’s weekly spread: the reader’s reading. this first week is all about thoughtfully considering what tarot means to me personally, what i believe about it, how it impacts me, and what i hope to achieve by learning this practice. i did this exact reading when i first started this blog in february, so revisiting it seems like a lovely way to begin this new portion of my tarot journey.

1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?

father-of-pentacles

the father of pentacles, king of the earth. grounded, practical, strong, observant, confident, quiet, steady, and gentle, this father is a lovely, calm soul. he stays cool under pressure, remains deeply connected with the world and people around him, and prizes his family, home, and career. he is reliable and mature, down-to-earth, known for his dependability and rationality.

i don’t always see myself in the pentacles, and don’t often draw them. but there’s something so soothing and profound about this card’s energy. i do think of myself as a hard worker, a problem solver, someone that will always jump in to help. i’m great under pressure, someone that can quickly assess a situation and come up with solutions. i like to think of myself as someone with a quick mind and a cool head. i’m the consummate emergency contact, the one who will drop everything to help out, the person who fixes things. i may not always have the answers, but i will always try to find them.

2. What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader; what are you bringing to this course?

ten-of-cups

the ten of cups, a card of harmony, balance, love, and support. there’s so much energy and positivity here, but i’m most struck by the openness, the evenness, of that colorful rainbow of light. every card gives and receives, sharing what they have and discovering something new. there’s no holding back, no stinginess or secrecy – the cups let everything pour out into the community.

as a strength, what i see here is my willingness to share and learn from others. i’m rarely 100% confident in my knowledge or abilities, even on topics where i have a lot of experience – and tarot is no different. i have so much to learn, and i think that this spirit of openness, this willingness to admit what i don’t know, and this desire to read and study and gain from the experience of others has already helped me in my study of tarot. i love my blogs and books, love finding new forums and old texts that will help expand my knowledge and push me to always find new meanings in the cards. if i can maintain that attitude of humility and sincerity, i think it will really help me grow.

3. What limits do you feel as you start this course?

four-of-cups

the four of cups: a card of discontent, apathy, an emotional slump. this card has come up for me in spreads before, and never fails to confuse me. is the rat simply hoarding the cups for himself? is he ignoring the light above, as in the five of cups? what is making him discontent, restless, selfish?

i struggle with the meaning of this card, which makes me think that the four of cups in this position is less to do with the literal meaning of this card and more what it represents to me in drawings and spreads – i don’t have a perfect, encyclopedic knowledge of every card’s meaning. i want to do this course, and i believe that it’s time, but i’m concerned that my lack of memorization is somehow going to hold me back. i want to know the more traditional interpretations, want to stay connected to the history and wisdom of the deck, but i also want to have a personal link to my own cards. the four of cups is probably the card i struggle with the most, not because i don’t like the meaning but because i always feel confused by what its message is.

4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey with tarot?

mother-of-cups

oh, my beloved mother of cups. this is one of my favorite cards in the deck, one that comes up for me often, and she is always a welcome sight in a spread. her insight is legendary, her creativity is inspirational, and her psychic abilities bring tranquility and healing to everyone she touches. she’s often compared to the high priestess, which is my birth card, and i find her deeply inspirational and aspirational.

as a lesson, the mother of cups speaks to me of openness, a willingness to listen, and a deep need to trust my intuition. being receptive to the lessons of the tarot, even when they’re difficult, is critical to understanding the wisdom and beauty of the cards. there is power in quiet, strength in stillness, and so much more to these cards than what is on the surface.

 

5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?

ace-of-cups

a brilliant and colorful card, the ace of cups is overflowing with energy and connectivity. the wild unknown calls this card love’s beginnings, and this card does usually symbolize the start of something lovely – a new crush, a new relationship, a new opportunity.

emotions have power, and while not all feelings are pleasant, they all have significance and weight. cups are not just for love and happiness, but the full spectrum of human response. in this position, i see a reminder to engage with all the aspects of emotional wisdom. just like feelings, the cards can quickly get away from me if i’m not careful – it can be easy to only see what i want, rather than remembering that there is often more than meets the eye. it’s more fun to focus on the happy emotions, the beauty and pleasure and love that swirls around us sometimes, and ignore the danger signs or the more difficult interpretations. i don’t always need to search for the most beautiful, positive meaning in each card – some cards are just difficult or ugly, because that is part of life too. i need to remember to acknowledge everything about the cards, to embrace my role as a student, and to find a way to enjoy every lesson, every emotion, every message – even when it’s hard.

6. What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?­­­

ace-of-wands

it’s fascinating to pull the ace of wands, a card that is typically associated with a new idea or opportunity, as my outcome card. this card brims with energy and fire, and while it’s a positive and exciting card to see, often overwhelms me.

however, a card of such powerful inspiration and potential is really motivating to me. if the outcome of my tarot journey is to put me at a fresh start, an exciting new beginning brimming with energy and possibilities and strength, then that’s a wonderful place to be. i don’t see this journey as one with a clear destination – i plan to read for as long as i can. there’s no end game. but if the benefit of this course is that it can put me in a new position, one that inspires me to start something else or bring tarot into a more important place in my life, how can i not be energized? this is such a fun and powerful card to see here.

 

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overall: four cups, one wand, and one pentacle – no swords in sight. the proportion makes sense to me – i’m a scorpio, a water sign, and identify strongly with the suit of cups. but i’m very drawn to the suits of wands and pentacles, seeing quiet and strength in the earth and often craving that crackle of fire. swords are less appealing to me, as my mental energy is usually dark and negative. and for me, tarot is all about intuition, connection, and insight, and less about structured meanings and precise interpretations.

i’m both soothed and energized by this spread, seeing so much potential in this course and what i can learn from it. i’m really looking forward to continuing my journey and growing as a reader. and please, if you find this post and feel inspired (or have worked with this course, either now or in the past), let me know! i’d love to connect to other readers.

embers & flames

my letters are written, and i’m sending them in just a little while. i’ve been awake for hours, full of crackling energy and nervous anticipation. it’s pride, and i’m about to finish coming out. i asked for a card to meditate on, to give me energy and strength, and was given one of my favorite cards in the deck: the mother of wands.

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i’ve loved this card since i first started with tarot, but she took on new meaning for me a few weeks ago as i was gathering the courage to come out on social media for the first time. most of the people in my life already knew, but making that public declaration felt like such an important step, and helped to pave the way for me to finish coming out to my family. she represents charisma, confidence, passion and strength and ferocity. she knows what she wants and will do what it takes to get it. she is so powerful and fearless, and she inspires me to be brave.

fire is such a beautiful, changeable element. it can flare up quickly, burn low and slow, spread so fast it’s unstoppable, smolder and spark. it has many faces, can sometimes show instantaneous energy and flash, but other times creep up and spread until it’s out of control. this queen knows when to let the embers build slowly and when to let it rage with smoke and flame, and loves all of its forms. i think i’m slowly learning that it’s okay to shine brightly, to let myself crackle and glow, to embrace the heat even when it’s scary.

and as i prepare for my first pride celebration, even as the rain comes down, i know it’s okay to burn.

every which way

after so much beauty and strength in yesterday’s draw, today’s card initially feels a little discouraging: the five of wands.

five-of-wandsthese wands are laying haphazardly, each pointing in a different direction, with none of them touching or overlapping. the lines behind them reflect the chaos, moving in hard angles and with erratic spacing. all of this suggests a complete lack of focus, confusion, distraction – the eye wanders, unsure of where to look. rather than working together to move in one direction, they seem to be fighting each other, defensive and contrary.

i’ve been enjoying pushing myself in different directions in my photography, but it can also bring up worries about talent, ability, and stretching myself too thin. am i good enough to try all of these styles and specialties? can i make a living doing all the things i like, or do i have to choose just one? this field is so competitive, and with everyone posting images every single day from their cell phones, some good and some downright terrible, it’s impossible not to feel threatened or like i have to prove my worth and value every day.

daughter-of-cupsi pulled a clarifying card to offer additional guidance, and found an old friend: the daughter of cups. and while she can represent many things, in this context i see her quiet confidence in the full spectrum of the suit of cups. she knows that water can be clear or murky or choppy or still, bright and illuminating or dark and mysterious. even when she doesn’t understand every facet of herself, she still trusts that every emotion has value, and believes in her own instincts. knowing that she doesn’t know everything does not bother her – she finds it comforting that there is much she does not understand. there is power in wonder, in the unknown.

confusion is not always bad, as it forces us to focus on what matters. and second-guessing my career choices doesn’t make me weak, as long as i don’t allow it to stall or consume me. but these cards feel like they’re pushing me to rise to a challenge, rather than give in to distraction and fear. i am capable of riding out these difficulties, as beth from little red tarot says. this tension can make me stronger.

 

spreading fire

today’s card gave me the courage to finally do what i’ve been talking about for weeks – post about my (bi)sexuality on facebook. and while it is just the start (and in many ways the easiest step of project: finish coming out), i’m hopeful that this will give me courage and strength to take on what’s next.IMG_0315

thank you, mother of wands.

fiery, proud, vibrant, determined, courageous, independent, strong, charismatic, and inspiring. this queen is a force of nature, fierce and self-assured. she is not afraid to fight for what she believes in, is confident in who she is and what she stands for, and is deeply grateful for the people around her. i love these lines from carrie mallon“she holds her values dear to her heart and isn’t afraid to live in a way that lines up with her moral code. she doesn’t do anything halfway – she’s in it to win it. she pours all of her love, originality and unique energy into everything she does.”

i so often talk about the court of cups and the high priestess, but i deeply admire the mother of wands. she’s so brave, so bold, so fearless – not reckless or inconsiderate, but sure of herself in a way that gives her power and strength in the face of adversity. and of course she’s not perfect – she can be prone to stubbornness, and her intensity and determination can be off-putting sometimes. but that’s the kind of fire i need right now, and i’m grateful for the positive energy and the mentorship of this beautiful woman. i’m also thankful for this powerful piece on queering the queen of fire.

this is a step that’s just for me. i don’t anticipate hundreds of comments or thousands of likes – as of right now, my little status only has about 20 likes, and that is completely okay. i needed to know that i was strong enough to stand alone, to speak my truth, and to own my identity.

and i am.

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.

finding inner light

another wand. this suit has been with me all week – there are clearly some lessons to glean here: inspiration into action, passionate creativity, the power of important challenges. today’s card is a beautifully empowering one: the seven of wands.

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a bright flame stands alone, illuminating the darkness all around. the other wands are piled in the corners, leaning against walls, seemingly exhausted or cast aside. the others have succumbed to the darkness, but our bold seven stands up straight, on her own power. that brilliant flame is the only color here, and is not merely a spark but a full, beautiful light.

sevens are focused on personal attainment, achieving a goal, and providing some practical advice. and with so many wands in my recent readings, it’s impossible not to feel that my cards are pushing me to find that inner strength, to seek that fiery confidence of the seven of wands. she’s bold, powerful, and solitary – proud of her inner strength, unafraid to be an individual, following her heart and spirit to be as brilliant as she can. there’s so much encouragement in this card, a real “take no shit” attitude that i love. shine on, little wand.

this can be easier said that done. it’s not always easy to be brave, to be proud, to stand tall and alone. embracing our inner weird, not shying away from what makes us individuals, and having the confidence to burn alone can be a terrifying prospect. but whatever it means, for you reading and for me writing, finding that inner light can be essential to keep going. i keep writing about this darkness i’m trapped in, and this beautiful card reminds me to trust my inner fire, to let that little spark guide me through my day.

what’s next?

i was thinking a lot about the dual nature of tarot as i prepared to draw this morning’s card, particularly how sons/knights can represent the strengths and weaknesses of each suit. i find them such fascinating, difficult cards, and was intrigued that i hadn’t pulled one in awhile, particularly since i’ve been in such a challenging mental state for so long.

my cards do seem to tease me, because of course i pulled the son of wands as today’s daily draw. clearly i have more reflecting to do.

son-of-wandsoh, this charming, clever, passionate son. bold and confident, adventurous but flighty, he brandishes his fiery wand with pride and stares straight ahead, never looking back. he knows what he wants and it doesn’t even occur to him that his plan might not work out. this son of fire, of energy, of inspiration and creativity, is always on the move. he pushes forward, obsessive and driven, craving the next high and completely sure of his place in the world. i’ve written about him before, but today i think he carries a different message for me.

there’s no fear in this snake, no hesitation, no room for self-doubt. he’s ruled by his passions, by that constant need for adventure – everything in his posture is about the next big thing. wrapped around the wand, bathed in the brilliance of its light, he barely seems aware of what’s around him. he’s focused solely on what’s next.

and while this card clearly carries warnings, and there can be danger in this kind of single-minded pursuit of passion and glory and excitement, there’s something so lovely in his pure, unadulterated eagerness. he could be the captain of a ship, staring into the storm without fear. he could be a warrior, believing in the honor of the upcoming battle. he could be a firefighter, assessing the blaze and knowing it’s time to run into it. that intense focus, that readiness for whatever is around the corner – he’s not afraid of the challenge, he’s actually seeking it, anticipating the next big thing.

to actually welcome what’s coming, even if it’s unknown – there’s beauty there. and after yesterday’s three of wands, with its glimpses of a colorful future, perhaps i can begin to seek hope too.