Five of Pentacles

We got a response from the speech therapist that works with both my stepkids.

It wasn’t good.

By, “it wasn’t good” I mean that it was hostile in a way I was unsurprised by and yet totally unprepared for, threaded through with a kind of viciousness that I find confusing and terrifying.

I am a genderqueer adult with a strong community around me – I have the resources to withstand the invalidations and aggressions. What about the gender non-conforming kids that she works with? The autistic community overlaps with the trans and gender non-conforming community in significant ways – some studies suggest that autistic kids are as much as 8 times more likely than the neurotypical population to be trans.

From the email:

I recognize and am in no way naïve to the fact that gender identity has unfortunately become a political and opinion based forum.  We need to be extremely careful that we are not drawing [child’s] IPP and [child’s] progress and [child’s] program delivery about a “hot-off-the-press” issue, into this uncharted reality, when there is long-standing evidence and solid research supporting the ways children (his age culture) with Autism (his ability culture) can and will be expected to participate in elementary school (his peer culture).

What she means is that acknowledging the existence of non-binary gender in speech therapy sessions would be “drawing his program delivery into a ‘hot-off-the-press’ issue” in the “unfortunately political and opinion based” realm of gender.

There is no acknowledgement of the fact that I am non-binary and am in his life. There’s no acknowledgement of the fact that he interacts with non-binary people on a regular basis even beyond his relationship with me.

She refers to me as “currently acting as a step-parent.”

It was… well. It was a thing.

I drew a card before sitting down to try and draft a response.

It was the Five of Pentacles.

I wanted it to be Wands, or Swords. I wanted permission to be sharp, permission to be fiery in my response. I wanted the deck to say “Yes! Attack! Go forth, righteous Social Justice Warrior!”

Instead, the deck said, “it hurts, doesn’t it?”

Instead of unleashing my anger, the deck laid open space for my pain and my grief.

For the loneliness, the isolation, the fear.

For the deep anxiety that pre-dates her sharp “currently acting as,” the knowledge that no matter how much I love these kids, no matter how much I love their dad, my tie to them is tenuous. If something happened to my partner, there is no guarantee I would be able to maintain a relationship with them. Would they remember me once they got old enough to keep in touch with me without facilitation? There are no guarantees. If we broke up, even less so.

Stepparenting is a difficult liminal space to inhabit.

The Five of Pentacles acknowledges that anxiety at the core of my home life.

It acknowledges the pain of invisibility and invalidation. The struggle I have felt ever since I came out as genderqueer – the way my gender identity is not ever legible except to those people who are either informed or are outside the binary with me, and even then, not always.

The Five of Pentacles was not the permission I wanted, but as I process the necessity of responding gently and non-confrontationally, responding to her attacks with a conciliatory and soft tone, I appreciate the gentle validation of how much this hurts. Maybe it is not the time to go forth as a warrior. Maybe it is the time to feel the pain and come up with strategies to move forward as a family unit despite these hostile (and unavoidable – switching providers is not currently an option) professional relationships.

Sometimes you want to fight, but what you actually need is to cry.

Gentleness: A Card and a Jumper

‘It is important to be very gentle with yourself, especially in the early days of a transition. In fact, there is no such thing as being too gentle with yourself at this time.’ – Julia Cameron

The Two of Pentacles from the Shadowscapes Tarot

I am working through Julia Cameron’s book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. It’s an Artist’s Way program for people who are in a major transition. I figured my life right now constitutes multiple major transitions, so it seemed like a good fit.

The quote above captured my attention yesterday.

I am struggling with being gentle with myself lately. I feel like a failure in most areas of my life. Even though I recognize that all of these changes mean everything is in upheaval, and it’s almost impossible to see progress in the middle of the process.

I drew a card with the question – how can I be gentle with myself during this transition?

My card was the Two of Pentacles. I saw it and thought balance, juggling all the different moving pieces, finding a balance between work life and home life and creative life.

In The Creative Tarot, Jessa Crispin says, of this card:

Sometimes when we’re feeling overwhelmed, we think we need to remove outside obligations. But it’s often those outside obligations that keep us [functioning]. We can actually improve productivity by adding to our to-do list.

Beth Maiden at Little Red Tarot says:

Another element in this card is that it represents change – new challenges entering our lives which will demand from us that we act like this juggler. Flexibility is key, being adaptable and bending to fit those changes into our lives.

Both of these feel relevant to me right now. The challenge, the need for flexibility and adaptability, and the hopeful comment that maybe my overwhelming to-do list is actually not a bad thing.

The Three of Cups from the Shadowscapes Tarot

The Three of Cups was a jumper for me, and also feels relevant. Community, connection, filling my cup while filling the cups of the people around me.

From The Creative Tarot:

This card is about community and companionship. There’s an emotional stability here, brought on by a circle of supportive friends.

I feel good about the fact that my best friend is planning on coming over for a working date today, and that I have a to-do list with a lot of things to knock off. I still feel overwhelmed, but I can recognize the gentleness already present in my life, and it makes it easier to stop beating myself up for not doing enough, well enough, fast enough.

It will be okay.

I’ll work on my balance and my flexibility, and I’ll lean on my supportive community in the meantime. And I won’t hate myself for the overwhelming to-do list.

 

Two Readings

I’ve been doing my card of the days, but I’ve also been having a really hard time and writing about them has been challenging. But this morning I did two spreads and they were intense, so here they are.

My question was “what are the outcomes if I … ?” And I couldn’t even formulate the question. Because I didn’t know if I wanted to know what happens if I let go of my love, or if I hold on. So I drew an initial card to set the question. It was the Father of Wands. Truth, self-knowledge, awareness, just, analytical, fair. I took this to mean “hold on” so the first question I asked was “what are the outcomes if I hold on?”

I did a full circle spread – a card for each element, plus support cards between.

The Wild Unknown tarot
The Wild Unknown tarot

My physical outcome if I hold on? The Son of Swords, reversed. It will be difficult to maintain my health if I hold on. I already know this. The roller coaster and the emotional pain is taking a huge toll on my physical well-being. Remembering to eat, remembering to drink, remembering to stretch – all difficult. Breathing, finding my solid centre, grounding – all difficult. Yesterday when I was writing through what I was feeling, I said this – “There’s a particular flavour of anxiety that comes with these long stretches of non-contact. It sits very specifically in my body. My hips tighten. My lower belly feels like a threatening storm, tightening and tightening and tightening and tightening. I feel a little bit queasy. My lower back tightens, everything attached to my sacrum gets sticky and tight. It pulls my mid-back out of alignment, and my scoliosis pulls my shoulders out, and it’s just everything from my shoulders to my hips, tight and out of alignment. My breath gets tight. I find myself sighing a lot. My breath stops at my solar plexus, it never gets down to clear the storm cloud in my lower torso.” This reversed Son of Swords tells me holding on means more of that.

Emotional? The Four of Swords. Stillness, peace, rest. A hopeful card. The outcome of holding on will be emotional peace. (I might have cried a bit here.) I want to believe this so badly. I want this to be true. I want to know that if I hold on, the emotional outcome will be good.

Mental? Five of Wands. Yeah, also not shocking. Confusion, feeling at odds with myself (and with him), moving in too many directions at once. But I don’t find the Five of Wands a card of misery or doom (unlike, say, the Ten of Swords). It’s possible to get the wands working together. But it’s tough. If I hold on, I will have a lot of mental gymnastics to keep myself balanced.

Spiritual? The Chariot. This also hit me like a punch to the gut. Our connection is what sparked my spiritual journey, and apparently it has the potential to keep my journey moving forward.

So physically and mentally, holding on is going to suck. Emotionally and spiritually, it’s the right choice.

Then the support cards.

Bridging my physical and emotional – The Emperor reversed. My sense of stability, uprooted. (But I couldn’t help thinking, as I looked at the tall tree upside down on the card, of the Hanged Man, and how flipping the world upside down can sometimes be necessary for growth.)

Bridging emotional and mental – Three of Pentacles. Teamwork, determination. An antidote to the Five of Wands, or support in getting through it? Or does this refer to the many people around me who keep me balanced – I am blessed with a beautiful and generous community.

Bridging mental and spiritual – The World. Completion, wholeness. Another counter to the Five of Wands, a card that comes up often in readings about our relationship, and a card that resonates even when I don’t want it to. When we are together, I do feel a sense of calm, peace, wholeness. Then we are apart, and I feel nothing but The Emperor reversed. I don’t know how to cope with it. And this reading doesn’t promise any change to that if I hold on, only that there are positive outcomes and support available if that’s my choice.

Bridging spiritual and physical – The Wheel of Fortune. It will change. It won’t always be like this. Fuck, do I ever need this to be true.

Then I reversed the Father of Swords in the centre of the reading. What are the outcomes if I let go?

The Wild Unknown tarot
The Wild Unknown tarot

Physical – The Four of Cups, reversed. Either selfishness or self-preservation, reversed. Blocked. I don’t know how to read this, because my gut says “you think that letting go will give you peace and be the self-preserving/selfish option, but it won’t – that outcome is inverted” and I feel ridiculous for that gut reaction. This card seems to tell me that letting go won’t give me the physical peace that I crave, even though I think it will.

Emotional – The Ten of Swords. Apparently, letting go would be The Literal Worst. Rock bottom. Melodrama. And here, I imagine the cards saying “you want to let go because you want to get off the roller coaster, but you already know that’s not the right answer for you. If you try it, you’re aiming for nothing but drama.”

Mental – The Ten of Cups, reversed. I don’t normally read the Ten of Cups as reversible in the Wild Unknown deck, because the numeral reads the same right side up or reversed, and the image also doesn’t change. But here it feels important to note that even though letting go would allow me to have more harmony in my mental self, there is something inverted and blocked about that. There would be more peace, but it would be off.

Spiritual – The Hierophant, reversed. Hold on – The Chariot. Move forward, keep growing. Let go? Lose that mentorship and wisdom that I have been finding as a result of this journey, lose that opportunity to grow.

Bridging physical and emotional – Seven of Pentacles. Progress, even a sense of stability. Overlaid on the reversed Emperor, this card highlights the difference between the “easy” path of letting go and getting off the ride, and the “hard” path of holding on. Which do I choose?

Bridging emotional and mental – Ace of Cups, reversed. Love, blocked.

Bridging mental and spiritual – High Priestess, reversed. Self-knowledge, blocked.

Bridging spiritual and physical – Ten of Pentacles, reversed. Again, a card that I don’t normally read as reversible in this deck because of the way the numeral reads that same both ways and the image also stays the same. And like the Seven of Pentacles and the Ten of Cups, this card shows me that there is calm and peace possible in letting go. But then, the reversal. There is calm and peace, but there’s something off about it.

So what do I do? What do I do.

I pull one more card.

The Seven of Swords from the Wild Unknown tarot.
The Seven of Swords from the Wild Unknown tarot.

The Seven of Swords. Be cautious. Watch my back. It’s not an answer as to whether I should hold on or let go, but it’s a pointer as to how I should behave while I’m deciding.

Card of the Day: Ace of Pentacles

I drew the Ace of Pentacles today. “The possibility of prosperity, abundance, and security.”

Ace of Pentacles from the Shadowscapes tarot
Ace of Pentacles from the Shadowscapes tarot

Aces are challenging cards for me right now. I want to move past possibility and into reality. But I can’t. I can’t make things suddenly be okay, be “abundant, prosperous and secure.” I can’t make any of that happen on my own schedule. I can just… fuck. Continue to do my own work, trust that other people are doing their work, and that in the end the work will bear fruit?

The little face in that pentacle looks like it’s mocking me. And I am frustrated.

Breathe. Breathe and do the work and have faith. That’s all I can do.

Card of the Day + a Jumper: Temperance and the Five of Pentacles

Temperance, from The Wild Unknown tarot
Temperance, from The Wild Unknown tarot

I drew Temperance today for my card of the day. I woke up feeling sad, uncertain, discouraged. Not sure how to balance my hopes with my fears, where to find the space for a more healthy approach to what’s happening in my life. The card seems pretty on-point.

But before I pulled Temperance, the Five of Pentacles jumped out while I was shuffling. I kept it aside as a commentary, especially because it seems so relevant. The background noise to today’s question is, indeed, the Five of Pentacles. Sadness.

I wish I had more to say today, but I feel like it’s a day for thinking and feeling, more than for saying. It’s a day to droop. But maybe to find some balance, also.

The Five of Pentacles, from The Wild Unknown tarot
The Five of Pentacles, from The Wild Unknown tarot

Card of the Day with Commentary: Death, Five of Wands, Seven of Pentacles

I was having a rough morning. Feeling anxious, tired, and deeply, deeply unloveable. Like the dark core of myself that I’ve always believed to be true, the broken bit at the base, had been confirmed. True fact: Gloom Fairy is not truly loveable.

So I did some journalling.

And then I did my card of the day.

All three of my cards – the one for my day (Death), the present moment/how I’m feeling about the situation (Five of Wands), and the background to the day (Seven of Pentacles) – were jumpers. I unwrapped my deck and the Death card flipped over as I pulled the cloth away, “hello, you are looking for me” she seemed to say. And I thought, okay. I’ll take it. I love that card. Renewal, transformation, rising out of the ashes. (On which note, I had been listening to this song all week.)

And then I started shuffling and the Five of Wands basically backflipped out of the deck. “IT’S ME! Hello, it is me.” So I thought, again, okay. I’ll take it. It makes sense. My companion book says:

In the Five of Wands, sometimes it seems the world tosses dozens of obstacles in your path. When gathered together, these minor obstructions become an overwhelming wall to over, but take heart… Answer that challenge not with despair but with renewed vigor. Appreciate the unknown strengths that are drawn forth when faced with difficulties.

And then I went back to shuffling, kind of amused and a little dismayed because I actually love the ritual of cutting my newly shuffled deck and laying the cards and flipping them, the routine of it, the ritual, the repetition of an action that helps me feel grounded and calm. But no! It was not to be! The Seven of Pentacles dropped saucily out of the middle of the deck, winking. Choices got you here, she said. She’s right.

So here’s my spread of jumpers.

Death, Five of Wands, Seven of Pentacles from the Shadowscapes tarot.
Death, Five of Wands, Seven of Pentacles from the Shadowscapes tarot.

It’s a cheeky little spread, I think. And encouraging. (I find the Shadowscapes deck is always gentle and warm and welcoming – that’s why I went there this morning rather than my usual draw from The Wild Unknown.)

This is how I read the spread –

My card of the day is a reminder of my greatest strength – my ability to go through the deep dark and come out transformed into a better version of myself. The Death card is one of my favourites in tarot, because of how it reveals the necessity of change for growth. There are some endings that are necessary. There are some endings that are beginnings. That’s what this card says, to me. Let go so you can grow. Let it die. Let it be reborn.

And I’m not really sure what this means for me, right now. What is it that I need to let die? My belief in my unloveability, maybe. That sharp thread runs danger-bright through the core of me. That’s a big death, if that’s it.

Or maybe it’s the relationship with my springtime love that used to be. The one before. Maybe I need to let that go, let that die. It’s not coming back. It’s ashes now, and gone.

The Death card says that’s okay. That doesn’t mean the relationship can’t be reborn. But it does mean the relationship has to be reborn. Made new.

And those wands. That’s a daunting task. It’s a lot of obstacles to navigate. But the Five of Wands isn’t hopeless. Far from it. Like the Death card, it’s a card of overcoming.

And the Seven of Pentacles, reminding me that the time for waiting has passed, the seeds that were planted are growing, and although there is still work in the future, there is also the opportunity to appreciate the fruit in front of me. She’s all about choices, this card. And about reaping the rewards of hard work. She’s the background to the Death card and the Five of Wands in this spread, the reminder that growth is slow but rewarding, that choices lead places, that our efforts do bear fruit.

So let it burn down, and then build it back up. Let it go. Let it come back. It’s daunting, but it’s worth it.

Week 2 Reading: The Four* Elements

I’m still working my way through Beth’s wonderful Alternative Tarot Course over at Little Red Tarot. You can read about my week 1 reading here.

This week was all about the elements in the Minor Arcana suits. It had me thinking about balance, and looking for where I’m connected to the elements in my own life. Today was a day of particularly emotional … emotions … so it seemed like it was about time to do the Four (except I added Spirit) Elements reading.

And hoo boy, these cards, man. These cards.

So.

The Four Elements Spread from the Alternative Tarot Course.
The Four Elements Spread from the Alternative Tarot Course.
  1. Your situation at this moment
  2. The earth of your situation
  3. The water of your situation
  4. The air of your situation
  5. The fire of your situation
  6. The spirit of your situation (added by me, haha, sorry Beth!)

And this was my spread –

IMG_0852
Four* Elements Spread with the Wild Unknown deck.

The heart of the situation – the reversed Two of Pentacles. Blocked from being balanced. And there’s so much in this card that resonates for me in my situation with my springtime love. The butterfly, which is the metaphor I’ve constantly been drawn to for what we are both going through. The reversal – being blocked from becoming that fully realized butterfly. I think that he is currently in the process of deciding whether coming out of his cocoon is a risk he’s willing to take, and all I can do is hope that he does. And the infinity symbol there… A lot of feelings. A *lot* of feelings.

Then my earth. My foundation. The Five of Pentacles. Oh, yes, the Five of Pentacles indeed. Sadness. Grief. Loss. And that rose is so alone. This card, as soon as I flipped it, hit me hard in the heart. This is my earth right now. Deep grief, heavy loss. Is it the same rose as in the Two of Cups? I think so. My heart says yes. My heart says that if he came back, we could transform this dropping flower into something vibrant and alive. But that’s not the present. The present is sadness.

Then my water. My emotions, my heart. The Chariot, reversed. Another blockage, another instance where there is something stopping me from moving forward, from progressing. The Chariot is such a hopeful, positive, powerful card and I feel, just like in the reversal of the Two of Pentacles, that we are *so close* to movement, and yet still so far away.

Then my air. My intellect, my wide-open spaces, my expansiveness (that’s how I picture air, anyway, maybe because all my guided meditations end with picturing your mind emptying into a clear sky). The Ace of Wands. Again. Always this card! It tells me there is hope, there is growth coming, there is beauty up ahead. But it doesn’t tell me whether that happens with or without him, and I hate the cards for that (even though I don’t believe they tell the future. Still, I want them to! God, I want them to). Again, the anger that points to where I’m feeling trapped and helpless and off balance and out of control. That anger is becoming a very useful tool for recognizing the spaces where I’m letting myself down.

Then my fire. My spark, my drive. Temperance. Balancing fire and water, holding seemingly incompatible elements in balance with each other. This feels hopeful, and accurate. I am good at this. Feeling fear and acting despite it. Sitting with discomfort and doing the work of processing it. I am willing to do this work. And I am good at it. It’s part of what makes me who I am.

Finally, my spirit. The Wheel of Fortune, reversed. And an owl there, of course. Because I am on this path because of my love, because our connection made me feel that there is, perhaps, something ineffable between us and within me, and I wanted to explore that. But reversed, because again there is that something blocking forward movement. That’s the whole spread, right there. So much potential, and something blocking any movement forward.

But a reversed card isn’t permanent, I don’t think. Blocks can be moved. And if I flip them all, it looks like this –

FullSizeRender

Still a reading with sadness in the foundation, but look at all the movement, all the progress. Finding balance, finding peace, moving forward. And when I look again at this spread, I see how the drooping flower in the Five of Pentacles is given new life in the Ace of Wands. And I can see the Wheel of Fortune up there in the corner, with that owl, and I think that whatever happens, there is a connection here. And it’s good.

If I read the spread top to bottom, this is what jumps out at me –

I start in this sadness. Yes, I can’t deny that and I can’t change that. That card is solid, and that card is my foundation right now. Five of Pentacles, I see you. I acknowledge you.

But then up, to the Two of Pentacles and to the butterfly – coming out of the cocoon and into balance, into an “always”ness that was already present, but needed to be recognized and accepted.

And up again, to the Ace of Wands and to a new beginning, to the flowers blooming, to the bright potential there.

And up, once more, to the Wheel of Fortune and the owl that will always be my love, and to moving through difficult times into better ones and then back into difficulty (but maybe together, this time?).

It feels hopeful.

Things may be stuck right now, but they won’t stay stuck forever. And once they unstick, they will be amazing.