This spread, with the Wild Unknown tarot, made me laugh. (It comes from Barbara Moore’s book Tarot Spreads.)
So, briefly (since I’m on my phone, at my sister’s house).
Left to right:
Why do I want him back? The Lovers. Yes. Fuck, yes. Oh, my heart. He is home for me, and this is my favourite representation of this card – the geese flying together in the same direction, growing together and helping each other soar. This is exactly why I want him back. Because we can have this, together.
Why do I not want him back? Reversed Four of Swords – yes! Because our relationship, as it is(n’t) right now absolutely does block my inner stillness. The Four of Swords is a really important card for me, and when I saw this reversal it really resonated. I do want him back, but I don’t want the pain and uncertainty of this limbo.
What went wrong? The Magician. I mean. Yeah! I snorted when I saw this. Because yes, The Magician is a powerful positive card, but there’s also an element of manipulation there, and a shifty side-eye from that cheetah. AND at the same time, what went wrong? Not using the positive aspects here! Not owning our personal power and making choices and taking actions that would have been positive. Hoping for the best without doing the work to make it happen. Rejecting the parts of The Magician that are good and powerful, and not moving into the balance that this card offers. The Magician is one of those cards that calls out my codependency and offers an alternative. What went wrong? Not taking that alternative.
What to let go of? Oh, my heart. Reversed Three of Swords. Let go of the heartbreak, the betrayal.
What to learn? Ten of Cups. Harmony and joy. How hopeful is that? That’s super hopeful. And I hope it loops around, and I can bring my newly learned harmony and joy into a new beginning with my lover.
I’ve had a therapy-full couple days – I saw my psychologist yesterday, and we talked about The Feels. And then I saw my cranio-sacral therapist today, and we also talked about The Feels. But different Feels. Or, the same Feels but from different angles. Right now, while things are really difficult, and since I am working so effing hard on tending my inner garden, I’ve been finding it really helpful to have the two complementary therapies working side-by-side. And I am fortunate to have a psychologist who is supportive of my queerness and my non-binary gender and my poly and my kink and on top of all that, my new exploration of some kind of spirituality. She’s basically the best.
So it was all the therapy and all the tears. Sweet baby dragons, I cried all the fucking tears. Today, with her hand on my belly, my therapist said “have you ever wanted to be a mom?” and OH MY GOD. The sobbing. The hand-on-heart, whole-body sobbing. Because there are exactly two children in this world that I have been eager to share my every-day with, and they… well. They are not in my life right now. At all. And wow. Wow. I don’t often let myself touch that particular pain, because it’s a specific form of awful. But she asked, and my body answered. It’s a complicated answer – the answer is “no, I have never wanted to be a mother and I will never have biological children” but it is also “there’s a piece of my heart that I happily handed to two tiny humans, and as much as I love the other tiny humans in my life, these two… I thought they would be in my life always and I wanted that more than anything and it terrified and bewildered me even at the time and now, without that, it’s just a them-shaped gap that I barely even comprehend.” When I first met my cranio-sacral therapist and she was asking about my state, she thought there had been a pregnancy. There wasn’t. Won’t ever be – this uterus is a baby-free zone – but there are those two little humans. Fuck, that hurts.
After all the therapy and all the tears, I had a tea-and-tarot date with one of my best friends.
We went to Chapters and I got some things for the kids’ room in my place – there are lots of little people who share time with me – and I got a gift for one of my partners, and I took a picture of some owl beanies and I bought an owl teapot and basically I am pathetic and sentimental but it was okay. And then we went back to her place and I did a reading for her and she did a reading for me.
This was mine –
That’s my new deck – it just arrived yesterday. It’s The Wild Unknown and it’s gorgeous. I’ve had a few readings done with this deck before – one of my good friends has it, and Beth from Little Red Tarot used it for my reading (which I’ll be writing up and sharing soon). Anyway.
It’s a slightly modified past-with-commentary, present-with-commentary, future-with-commentary. Modified to add that seventh card because the reading just didn’t feel done until I did that. My question was “what’s happening with my springtime love”? (Because I am predictable as fuck. *facepalm*)
So. My past. The Four of Wands. Completion and celebration. Every time I’ve done a past-present-future spread, the past is glorious. And I always think, yes. It was. It was amazing. He showed me that it was possible to be loved for all the parts of me that I didn’t think anyone would even want to share, let alone adore. He gave me back parts of myself that had been lost to trauma decades before. So, celebration? Yes.
And the commentary – Mother of Swords. Experienced, all-seeing. Because I thought that I knew what the future was going to hold. I thought I knew. I thought it would be us, always. That’s what we said, over and over. Us, always. Always, always, always. And there’s an owl on that card, just to fuck with me. Yes. That is my past. Yes.
And then the present – the Six of Cups. I’ve written about her before. In the liner notes for The Wild Unknown, this card is memories, childhood. And that also is accurate. So accurate. What I’m working on right now is undoing old habits and old patterns of relating and being, things deeply rooted in my childhood. And also reclaiming lost ways of being, rooted even more deeply in that child-self. Reacquainting myself with my child-self, relearning the lost art of feeling safe and wild and free.
The commentary – Temperance. Another card I’ve drawn a few times, and one that I struggle with. The liner notes say “healing, renewal, balance.” I am trying. Fuck, am I ever trying…
Then the future. And my breath held as the cards turn over, and I want an answer this time. I want definitive. I want to know! I don’t even believe that tarot can tell the future, but oh my god, I want to know. I want to know! This limbo, it’s awful. It’s painful. It’s confusing and it hurts and I hate it. I hate it! I want an answer.
The Mother of Wands. This is not what I want, my heart wails. I want The Lovers, or The Star, or the Two of Cups, or something. Something that isn’t – you will be okay either way. I don’t want to be okay either way. I want to be okay together. Hear me, universe?! TOGETHER! *flips table* *stomps off*
Okay, I didn’t actually flip the table. And I will be honest about the fact that hearing Beatrice talk about this card, described over at Happy Fish Tarot as:
A snake curls protectively around a nest of eggs, a wand held at an angle seems to serve as added armor. This mother is someone you wouldn’t want to mess with. Although she can be kind and warm, she is fierce and loyal, and not afraid to stand her ground.
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. She is a true artist, more mature than the son or daughter.
The background is filled with horizontal lines, colored throughout with orange and red. It gives the Mother of Wands a strong, stable energy. She is so vibrant that she almost has an energy field around her. But unlike the emanating energy of the Son of Wands, her energy is steady. She channels her energy in a more effective way.
More so than any other depiction of the Queen/Mother of Wands, this card gives me the impression of someone who holds their beliefs dearly. She’s willing to fight for what she knows is right. Even so, she knows how to have fun. She has a strong life force, a kind of palatable cheeriness that draws others to her.
In a reading, the Mother of Wands asks you to practice gratitude and protect the things that matter to you. Keep your attitude bright and good things will come your way. Live with your whole heart. You’re not here to half-ass things. Let your zest for life color everything you do!
How this card is so me. How I am living authentically and openly, more than most people she knows. I will admit that even though I don’t want to know that I’m already okay, and I will be okay, either way… still, it felt good. And right. And just like when I drew The Empress the other day, my anger again pointed to somewhere that I’m feeling powerless but actually am not powerless.
(And there was part of me, soft and vulnerable and deep in my heart, that sees hope for a future that includes those tiny humans.)
The commentary – the Ace of Wands. Inspiration, new beginnings. Here, again, a type of card that I see often when I read tarot on this topic. Opportunity, potential, hope. Not a single, specific hope, but hope none-the-less. Beatrice said that this future is all me. And very me. And I agree.
But it didn’t feel done. Right. Finished.
So I drew one more card. Where is my love in this future?
If you thought the Mother of Wands stood her ground, wait until you meet the Father! He is someone you do not mess around with. He knows his domain, and he has complete confidence in his role as the master of this territory. He is the boss here, and in both subtle ways and bold, he’ll make sure this is known.
The background of the card is black, which adds to the dominance of the snake. He stands out as a bold, striking character. He isn’t afraid of the night, or anything else. A bolt of pure red and orange descends. These are the colors of raw power.
The bolt also adds a bit of drama to the card. This Father does have a bit of a flair for the dramatic.He enjoys entertaining, and even if he wouldn’t admit it, he likes keeping others on their toes.You’re never really sure what the Father of Wands is going to do next.
But unlike the Son of Wands, the Father does have a master plan. He’s learned a thing or two, and he doesn’t take action just for the sake of it. He takes measured but bold steps, and it isn’t hard for him to find results.
In a reading, this card can remind you not to shy away from your own power. What do you want to create? How can you use your hard-earned skills to make it happen? What plan feels both solid and exciting to you? The Father of Wands invites you to try out his approach to life and watch the results as they are magnetized towards you.
When we were together, he had a lot of this energy. Playful and a trickster, enjoying the ability to keep me on my toes. I think that’s part of why we connected so well in certain areas that neither of us had been able to explore previously. He liked to be in control, and I liked the way he played with that energy. And he does have it in him to be strong, and brave, and to take “measured but bold steps.” I don’t know if this card means he’s in my future (but can I tell myself they’re a pair? Can I tell myself it means he will be?) but the thought of him finding that boldness and confidence and power and inner strength, and finding more outlets for his gleeful expressions of control… that makes me happy. I would like that for him. (I would like to share that with him, but I would like that for him either way.)
I didn’t draw a commentary card on that last one. It felt a little like I was asking too much, already. Demanding to know more than the spread was freely offering. But that last card felt necessary. It felt right to pull it, and it gave me a lot of hope. I know you can’t read for someone who isn’t there and isn’t asking, but if that’s the role he can play in my future, I will be very happy.
So now I wait. More waiting.
But I wait with the questions brought up in therapy at the forefront of my thoughts – how can I keep myself safe and whole while I wait? What do I need to do so that I am continuing on my path and not caught up in always scanning the world for any sign of his return (or any sign that he’s made a decision at all).
Even if we do end up together, I’m still writing my own story. Forgetting that is what has led to so much pain and codependency in my past, and I’m not going to lose the lessons I’ve struggled so hard to begin to learn.
Hope, yes. And that Ace, like all aces, promising something but not hinting at what. Sit with it. That’s my present – Temperance. The willingness to hold conflicting desires and states in harmony, to find balance, to find healing. That’s what I’m doing now. That’s not what I’m waiting for – if I wait for it, it will never happen. I have to keep doing it now, myself, for me. That’s how this works.
And I can hold my secret hope down deep in my heart, and think about … well. All the ridiculous things I am thinking about!
I have a lot of positive feelings about this card. For one thing, it’s the first card I ever drew for myself from this deck, and it feels welcoming and hopeful and like home. I really see myself in this Fool, with her hopefulness and willingness to take the next step. She’s brave, and it doesn’t always work out, but that’s who she is. That’s how I want to see myself.
But also, I recently did a “what is going on” spread for myself, and this is the card I drew for my springtime love, and it made me feel really hopeful. Maybe he will take on some elements of The Fool. From my companion book:
The Fool is a symbol for new beginnings and adventures, pleasure, passion. … Like The Fool you may stand upon the precipice gazing out into the unknown. … There are unlimited possibilities opening up for the seeker.
But this isn’t that reading (though I would like to write that reading up sometime, because it was lovely and hopeful), this is today. So what is The Fool for me today? Hope, still. Taking risks with the hope of new beginnings, adventures, pleasure, and passion.
Yesterday was an interesting day. I took The Empress to heart and I spent (most of) my day off of social media and thinking about what I could do to bring more creative energy into my life. I picked up supplies for a few crafts, and it felt really good. But the day was also hard, and when I went to sleep I felt drained and discouraged and ready to close doors.
Then I slept.
And I woke up, and there was hope.
So, The Fool for me, today, is the willingness to take the risk of keeping the door open and staying hopeful. She feels right.
There’s an element of action in The Fool, a willingness to take that step into the unknown and uncertain, to trust that it will be okay. That’s the part that I haven’t figured out for myself in today’s draw. I am not sure what action is presenting itself (for me, today, The Fool feels like she’s got a lot of Hanged Man energy, and that actually feels okay – hanging in is an action, and maybe The Fool tells me that it’s worth it).
I woke up sad today, discouraged, hopeless. And not the quiet sadness of “this is hard” but the frantic sadness of “this is pinning me to the bottom of the ocean and I cannot breathe.” Frantic I-can’t-do-this hopelessness. Can’t-breathe-through-this-heartbreak grief. Can’t-move-under-the-weight-of-this-pain. Can’t-see-past-this. Can’t-move.
But I am not drowning, not pinned to the bottom of any ocean. And even if I was, one of my best friends says I’m a nixie, made for water.
And I can breathe. Is the thing. I can. Deep breath in, long breath out. I can breathe.
And I can move.
So I got up, and I pet one of the cats I’m looking after and she put her two front paws on my chest and rumbled life into me, and rubbed her soft black face against my chin and it was good. And then I did my card of the day.
The Empress. She’s new to me. She didn’t resonate for me at all, at first. All openness, balanced on that wooden branch, looking upward hopefully. There’s the heart, dangling from her belt. And there’s the red thread tied around her wreath, but beyond that… this isn’t me, I thought. This isn’t my day. This isn’t what I have right now. None of this energy is present in me. I felt more discouraged. (Then I noticed all the butterflies, and thought about the metaphors I’ve been using for myself to try and get through this time of compression.)
My Shadowscapes companion book says that The Empress is “creativity, generosity, patience, love.” That she is about “abundance, experiencing the senses, and embracing the natural.”
I sort of wanted to throw my book, at that point. I don’t want to settle into my patience, the patience that this deck (and my self) keeps cautioning me is needed. I don’t want to “experience the senses” or “embrace the natural.” I want a fucking message and some fucking hope.
I am starting to notice when my readings (or other things) call up such anger in me, and recognizing how this anger is often tied to a feeling of hopelessness/helplessness, and I think I am beginning to take tiny, frustratingly slow steps towards recognizing that the anger points to where I am feeling helpless/powerless but where I am not actually helpless or hopeless or powerless. I’ve had the phrase “feeling or fearing a thing doesn’t make it real” on my wall of self-care for years, but it’s a hard one to actually turn into action. Right now I feel hopeless and helpless and powerless because I feel rejected, abandoned, hurt. But even though those feelings are totally valid and real, they’re about what’s coming in at me and although I can’t control that, I can control what I do about it. I can choose to take up the power that is within me, and act within my sphere, within my own little world, within my own life. It’s not that other people’s choices stop impacting me, it’s just that they don’t have to immobilize me. I think, maybe. After sitting with the card and with the anger it pulled up in me, that’s where I might be landing.
From this post about how The Empress and manatees are connected:
A manatee is an Empress!
They know what they need, and how to get it. They’re sociable. They know how to commit and I bet they are super loving. They’re big and earthy and beautiful and gentle and are queens of their world. They’re relatives of elephants – an animal I also associate with The Empress.
I like that. I am going to take today to figure out what I need, and how to get it. I’m going to turn off my social media for the day – shut off notifications on my phone and ipad, close the tabs on my computer, move my apps off my main page on my phone and ipad (so if you want to get me, text me!). I’m going to embrace my inner manatee today, or try anyway, and see how it goes.
I’m going to try to approach this day of reflection and inwardness like this, from this post:
It starts with an open-mindedness, an ability to see different possibilities, different sides of something, to see opportunities, to see the details and nuances. And then it’s not so much about actively pushing an idea, so much as providing the conditions for it to grow and develop, as a good parent does.
Actually, I think the parenting thing is a good metaphor for understanding the meaning of this card. It’s about nurturing that idea, and nurturing yourself, and going easy on yourself and letting things come. It’s about acting with love, it’s about being in touch with yourself. It’s about learning from your creations and letting them be what they need to be, about letting them guide you as much as you guide them. Not that I’m an artist, but I imagine that when a creative idea grabs you, the better response is not to grab it and try to mould it and make it into whatever you want, but to follow it, understand it, feed it and let it take you where it will. Acting with your instincts, with respect and love, and seeing what comes out. That sounds like nurturing to me.
I like that. I can see how that is a good way to approach a day like today, where it feels like I’m only seeing one aspect of my life and I want to open myself up to others.
So I’m going to post this, put a link up on my facebook and twitter, and then do this little mini-retreat. I might hula hoop a bit. Definitely do a lot of cleaning at the petsitting place and my own. Make tea. Write. Think. Sit outside in my lovely back yard and watch all the birds.
And then after dinner I’ll turn my social media back on because you better believe I’m going to tweet the hell out of the Nicki Minaj concert tonight. Oh yes!
1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?
The Hanged Man
I have some feelings about this. It was hard for me to interpret, to accept. My most important characteristic is my inability to move? Wow. Fuck you, tarot deck. But, as I wrote about when I drew this as yesterday’s card of the day, The Hanged Man is not just immobilization and powerlessness. There’s also a willingness to look at the world from a different perspective, and an acceptance of the “what is”ness of what is.
In this case, I read “most important characteristic” not to mean the characteristic that I already possess and that is important, but the characteristic that I am working on. And in that way, this card feels right and perfect for me right now. A willingness to accept, to allow, to “hang in there” and to take time to allow myself to really gain perspective – those are characteristics I am trying to cultivate in myself. And also, a willingness to recognize when I am not in control, to recognize that in many instances I have never been in control (of other people, for example) – that feels important. Critically important. 2. What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader, what are you bringing to this course?
King of Swords
I read this as my intellect, my careful weighing of multiple sides of an issue, my contemplative nature. The card itself feels sad and lonely to me. I’ve drawn this card twice as representative of me, my strengths, and what I bring to a situation. This feels sad to me. Lonely. Isolated. Myself and my thoughts. I am trying to reconcile myself with this as a strength, to let myself sit with this part of myself that I do not love so much – time alone, with my thoughts.
Rachel Pollack identifies the court cards in the suit of swords as “battle, powerful mind, discipline” and suggests that a hero in this suit might be Batman. When I read that, I thought – okay. Yes. I’ll take it. 3. What limits do you feel as you start this course?
But it also occurs to me, having now sat with this reading for a couple days, that perhaps the limit being highlighted here is that I am not allowing enough of the Queen of Cups in my life. I’m not trusting my heart, not listening to my heart – I mean, there is a lot of Big Feels happening in me, but where is the space to listen to what this heart really needs? Where is the calm? Where is the confidence in my intuition and my emotions and my self-knowledge? Where is my self-knowledge? Am I too attached to a specific outcome to be able to think clearly about the present situation, or other possible outcomes? The Queen of Cups is emotion, yes, but also surety in her experience of that emotion. I don’t have that right now. I think I am going to have to keep sitting with this. 4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey with tarot?
Page of Cups
From the companion book:
The Page of Cups is sentimental. She is a true romantic at heart, and in a world that is filled with so much noise and bustle, she longs for the time and space to simply breathe and to truly take in the pleasures that abound. She listens to the still voice from deep inside that speaks with understanding and intuition, and she longs to believe in the impossible.
This feels so right and encouraging for me. This feels like a very good companion card to the Queen of Cups in this journey. 5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?
When I refer to the actual sun, the one up in the sky, I call it the Evil Day Star. I’ve never had an affinity for the sun, for bright cloudless skies and hot days. No. Give me clouds and warm rain, give me moonlight.
The Sun (and the sun) are energy. Movement. Life. And I’ve got a lot of Hanged Man energy, a lot of Pentacles energy, weighing me down. Being open to some “go get ’em” isn’t such a bad thing. 6. What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?
Four of Swords
I love this. The idea that tarot can give me a space to rest, some respite from the anxiety and sadness that weighs so heavily on me… Not only does this feel hopeful and calming, it also feels accurate. So far, tarot really has given me a deep sense of calm and a focus for the chaotic, frantic, anxious energy that marks my days, and the despair and hopelessness that haunts my evenings. It helps that the Shadowscapes deck is so gentle and welcoming, but I think it’s more than that. It’s a deep immersion in metaphor, an opportunity to pause, to form a question from the chaos of my thoughts, to sit with the many possible answers that present themselves. Tarot fits beautifully with the other mindfulness practices I have started to bring into my days – meditation, and play, and a focus on more material self-care (food, and breath, and time in nature).
The card I’m taking forward with me through the course is… I don’t know. It feels like it should be the Queen of Cups for continuity, but honestly, today, feeling as low as I am and as drained and sad and discouraged… I’m going to take the Four of Swords. Give me some rest, please. Give me some respite. Give me calm. Give me the strength to stay still, to step back, to take the space I need to move more fully into my life. That’s what I need, I think. That’s what I’m hoping for.
Like with yesterday’s card of the day, I am having some capital-f Feelings about this.
The Hanged Man.
Stuck. Powerless. My thoughts about the trope are separate, I realize, from my thoughts about the card. The card itself is beautiful, even hopeful. The little fae creature in front of his face looks loving and positive, almost as if she is about to boop him on the nose. The dryads look worried, sad, but the man himself looks peaceful. Almost like he is mid-dive, rather than suspended.
The purples and browns are calming, and the ankh hanging from a red thread in the top corner… I have feelings about that too. About red threads, and soul mates, and life. Red threads.
I’m working on the week 2 exercises now, the suits and elements of the minor arcana. So I notice that he’s hanging from a wand. From the fire and action that he will eventually take? Or the action he is suspending in order to surrender to this moment?
Last night when I did my week 1 weekly reading – The Reader’s Reading, which I’ll write up later today – the card in the “About you in general: what is your most important characteristic” was The Hanged Man. I had a long, long moment with that. It resonates. And that… hmm. I don’t want it to. But it does. Metaphor, metaphor, metaphor. Fuck you, accurate metaphor.
From the Shadowscapes companion book:
Letting go and surrendering to experience and emotional release. Accepting what is, and giving up control, reversing your view of the world and seeing things in a new light. Suspending action. Sacrifice.
Letting go and surrendering to experience and emotional release. Accepting what is, and giving up control. That does mark my entire journey right now – my effort to let go, to let whatever it is be what it is, to accept it, to give up control (whether it is in my controlling codependent behaviour or in my desire to control the outcome of what my springtime love will eventually do – giving up all those elements of control that are always already illusory. Illusory, but comforting. Fuck, so comforting. The Hanged Man does not look comfortable.)
I also purchased Rachel Pollack’s book Tarot Wisdom, Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings and she writes that a fundamental meaning of the Hanged Man is:
to seem, at least, upside down, the wrong way around.
To others (who think that my holding on and holding the door open to my love is causing me pain, or who think that my spiritual journey is too woo-tastic, or whatever) but for me, now, mostly to myself. Because I think all that. Because I think this is all stupid bullshit and I should close the door on him and on this and fuck all this challenging work. I was just fine as a caterpillar. I don’t need to be a butterfly or moth or whatever I’ll be at the end of this. Fuck it all! It hurts! It’s hard! It hurts. It’s hard.
Rachel Pollack writes:
[M]any modern Tarot readers assume a negative meaning for the Hanged Man… being stuck, hung up, a painful sacrifice. To be honest, this surprises me, for I’ve always seen this card as a kind of liberation of the spirit. …
The Hanged Man… shows us at a stage where we can glimpse the great truths. We begin to understand, not just conceptually but with genuine knowing….
And that is why I’m still doing this.
That red thread, and my belief that I am not done with my springtime love, that we have more to explore together, and that the door needs to stay open in order for that to happen.
And the sense of readiness. The feeling that I am on this path right now because I’m ready to be on this path right now. I am doing this because I am ready to do this. I am ready to let go of old habits that no longer serve me. I am ready to let go of my need to control. I am ready to let go of my codependency, my old pains and traumas. I am ready. I am here because I am ready.
Yes, it sucks.
Yes, it’s hard.
Yes, it feels upside down and I hate it and I struggle with it and I don’t know how much longer I can do it for and I want to get down off this fucking tree, holy fuck, I hate this! Yes.
Yes, it’s amazing.
Yes, it’s easy, it’s right.
Yes, sometimes I stop struggle, call truce with myself, and see everything shifted and beautiful.
I love this, yes. Yes. Yes.
I’m not stuck. I’m growing.
And this, too. The Hanged Man is in a position very much like a caterpillar cocooned and ready for metamorphosis. And that’s a metaphor I’ve been using for myself for weeks now. So.