Almost every day I add “tarot reading” to my to do list, and rarely do I follow through.
Unlike any of my three day jobs, or my coaching work, or my editing work, or the work I’m doing for the Patreon, the tarot is just for me, and because it’s just for me, it’s the easiest to abandon. Like stretching, eating well, and getting enough sleep, my tarot practice (and my connection to any sense of ritual and inner work) is the first on the chopping block when I run out of time and energy. And I am always running out of time and energy.
But it’s important to me. This practice, this connection. It’s important to me. And so I start again. Restart. Restart. Restart. Stall out and start again. (I love the coaching, editing, and, especially, the work I’m doing with the Patreon. I love it. But I need this, too. I need the inner turn and the ritual, and the insight that the cards offer.)
I was going to do a draw a day for the first 21 days of the year, and didn’t. And then felt ashamed and didn’t do any. Didn’t want to come back to this space and see my failure.
But restarting is not failing. It’s just one way forward.
So, another card today.
Just a single card.
A card for where I’m at right now.
I pull out my Fearlessness and Confidence annointing oil, that I bought in San Francisco over a year ago and have never used, and dot it on my hands. I put some peppermint and eucalyptus in the diffuser.
I shuffle my cards for the first time in a month and a half. (My Shadowscapes deck, of course.)
The Five of Swords.
Mmmhmm. Looking at the fae creature in flight, looking back defensively, black swans on either side, I think – yes. Indeed. Fighting. Choosing your battles, and choosing how you fight them.
Beth Maiden at Little Red Tarot writes, “Whilst this card can tell you that, if you fight hard enough, you can win your battle, it raises questions about your motivations…. this card asks ‘is this fight worth it? What are you trying to achieve?’ – and questions whether I should be entering into this battle at all. It suggests to me that it may not be a fair fight. Someone – perhaps myself, or my opponent, won’t be playing straight.”
I’m fighting a lot lately.
I’m fighting my own exhaustion, all the time. And that’s a fight that I should lose – I should be letting myself rest more. But there’s just so much to do.
And, more sharply to this card, I’m fighting my stepson’s autism therapy team, in this ongoing year-long struggle to have my non-binary gender recognized and acknowledged in speech therapy sessions where pronoun drills are common. It is exhausting. It is overwhelming and discouraging and depressing.
I look at this card and wonder if there are ways to approach this issue that involve less fighting.
Not giving up, of course. Gender is not a binary and pretending that it is doesn’t actually do my kiddo any favours, because he knows that I’m genderqueer, and he knows other genderqueer people too.
But maybe I can find a way to move forward with a little less defensiveness and fear.
I don’t know.
The card feels right – that is how I feel right now. Like I’m clawing for every scrap of victory and I’m exhausted by the fight and I’m defensive and afraid and vulnerable and weakened.
I’m going to have to sit with that for a while and see how it feels, see if any new ways to move forward present themselves.
The question Beth presents – “at what cost?” – associated with this card feels relevant. I need to sit with that.
Interestingly, I just wrote yesterday about the difficulty and fear associated with making choices that turn away from an option in order to fully pursue other options. That feels relevant, too.
My homework from my counsellor for last week was simple, but challenging. Make a list of the things I want when it comes to my work and financial life.
What do I want out of this new career that I’m proposing to launch?
What do I want for my life, when it comes to my money?
How much money do I want to make?
(Why am I so resistant to the idea of making a “decent living” doing something I love and am good at? Why do I think it’s only good work if I do it for free or if I suffer for it?)
The whole week before, I had been rolling the questions around in my mind. Every time I came up to an answer, I shied away from it. The answers are terrifying! I want… I want a lot. And I feel ashamed of that.
So, at 1 pm, an hour and a half before my appointment (because procrastination! Because those are big questions!) I pulled out my Wild Unknown deck, and my amethyst and quartz moon set, and my blue goldstone, and my White Light and Catalyst oils, and I shuffled my cards, and drew five.
Representing myself: Father of Swords
Representing my wants, needs, hopes, and fears: Five of Pentacles, Two of Wands, Nine of Swords, Father of Cups – all reversed.
All reversed! No wonder I couldn’t get a clear answer from myself, something big was in the way. So I drew a card for that, and it was (unsurprisingly) the Ten of Wands. Yeah, of course it was.
My sense of myself in my career was clear, and my desire to use my skills to be a leader and to create change within my communities – that Father of Swords resonated so strongly. But all my desires around that, what I want within that clearly defined role, and especially how I want money to factor in… murky. Too many branches in the way, too many trees, carrying too much, trying to do too much.
So I picked the cards I felt resonated positively – the Father of Swords, Two of Wands, and Father of Cups. I read them all upright.
That left the three cards that resonated negatively, or as challenges to be acknowledged. The Ten of Wands, Five of Pentacles, and Nine of Swords.
I paired the Father of Swords with the Ten of Wands – that sword of truth and self-awareness to cut through the branches, to clear a path, to prune back the overgrowth of anxiety and self-doubt that was getting in the way.
I paired the Two of Wands with the Nine of Swords – swords and wands again, but this time the action and movement of the wands moving through the paralyzing fear of those nine swords. I loved this paralleling – in one pair, it is the self-awareness and airy quality of the sword that calms the wands, and in the other, it is the warm light and action of the firey wands that lights the way through the trapped-in-my-head swords.
Last, I paired the Father of Cups with the Five of Pentacles. Grief with the space for grief. Pain with space for pain. An open invitation to feel every feeling, to fill the cup and let it overflow, to allow that Fiveness to exist. To hold space for myself, and to create within my practice and my vision for my business the space for my clients to also bring their grief and fear, their loneliness, their lack. This, in some ways, solidifies most clearly for me what I want from my career as a narrative/life coach – not to simply clear the path for my clients, but to show them how to gently and lovingly hold space for the dark parts of themselves and their situations.
As a final piece, I shuffled the reversed cards back into the deck and left myself with a gentle, hopeful, powerful three card spread – the Father of Swords, Two of Wands, and Father of Cups. With my crystals on either side of the spread, it felt balanced – air, fire, water, with the crystals grounding and anchoring.
I wrote my list of what I want from my career and in my finances, and I felt good. Not only did the process of working actively with the cards to find the story that was right for me feel empowering and stabilizing, it was also practice in the kind of narrative coaching I want to do in my work as a coach. It felt like storytelling. Like using narrative to shape my sense of myself and who I am as a character in my own story.
It was really good.
I am really grateful for these cards, and for this practice. Although I still struggle with feeling like it’s “too woo” sometimes, and I know my evangelical family members would be horrified, when I let go of my expectations for myself and my fears about other people’s judgement, it just feels good, and right, and helpful.
And I do feel that strong Father of Swords energy so deeply. There are moments when I know that potential is within me, and I love it.
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.
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?
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. 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.
I’m not sure what to do with her. When I look at the card, the first thing I see is the pentacle-stars all around her, and it makes me think about home, about safety, about being grounded. And there’s the air of her element, she’s way up high with those swans. It feels hopeful, open. And she has that tiny little cygnet on her chest.
Honestly, I know exactly what this card makes me think of, what it makes me feel, and I just don’t know if I have the energy or the personal resources or the inner strength to feel these things and not break down. Because she feels like home, she feels like my springtime love and his little humans. She feels like peace, and calm, and home. And I don’t know why she’s showing up today, with that energy. Because I’m not there. And I don’t know when I will be or if I will be.
So a little reading. What I see in the card isn’t actually a common reading for the card at all.
The Page of Swords is almost like a green light to say, “Go for it”. There are always going to be challenges with whatever option you choose and not everyone is going to be happy with your choices but when it comes down to it, you need to follow your passions and go where your true energy lies. This Page encourages you to move forward and to get the wheels in motion, despite any challenges or setbacks that may potentially stand in the way.
Vigilance, honesty and truthfulness, scrutiny of beliefs, a strong sense of purpose.
So there’s an element of action here, not just home. And that swords-suit dedication to intellectual rigor, to honesty and the scrutiny of beliefs.
I feel like that little cygnet is my heart, and my hope. And I’m trying so hard to keep her safe, but things are hard right now. (All those feathers falling down around the Page – her ability to stay aloft being compromised the longer she stays up there without being able to come down to safe ground.)
Anyway. I’m probably reading way too much into it. But I barely slept last night and I am feeling profoundly off balance these days. And I don’t know how to manage it.
The Two of Cups shows the sharing and growth that we experience through our connections.…This shows a sense of reciprocity and mutually exchanged beauty.
… One of our most basic needs as human beings is to feel seen and valued. In a reading, the Two of Cups can encourage you to reach out to others. Tell someone you appreciate them, make an effort to strengthen a bond or offer a kind word. Despite the complications and conflict that accompany human interactions, this card shows our ability to forgive, bond, heal and encourage one another.
This is love.
It’s not The Lovers, it’s not the Ace of Cups.
For me, it’s the Two – of cups, bottles, chalices, water – that really represents what love feels like when you make it real.
What’s happening is an exchange. This version of love is like, you hold this cup, this bottle, which contains all of your water – your feelings, your heart, your soul – and then you offer it to someone else. And, hopefully, they’re offering theirs to you. You offer with complete trust, with the genuine desire to connect. So you can each take the cup of the other, offered so willingly, and drink deep. It’s about saying yes, about saying ‘let’s explore this, together’, and ‘here is my heart, here is what it needs – do you think we can do it?’
So that was Wednesday. And then I ran into him at the science centre. And I wasn’t able to offer anything – I didn’t even make eye contact with him. But I texted him after, and said that I still love him, and there were FEELINGS. Feelings. There were feelings. And I thought, of course I saw him on the day I drew this card. Of course. Of course.
And I did a larger spread with this card as the base, and I’ll write that up next.
Thursday, I drew the Daughter of Wands.
And I had another of those “eff you, tarot deck, you don’t know my life” moments that I’m really starting to pay attention to. Because the Daughter of Wands, according to Happy Fish Tarot,
is a sweetly charming character. She is coiled around a blossoming wand, her body forming a figure 8, or the lemniscate symbol (representing infinity). She looks graceful and flexible, ready to incorporate into her environment whatever suits her fancy.
She is colored with red and yellow, making her stand out from the harsh black background. The tip of her tail curves gracefully, giving her an artistic flair. She is a creative and original character, someone with an infinite imagination. She lives life in her own fresh, original way – she is not bound by the status quo.
There’s an innocent confidence to this card. The Daughter of Wands moves not with a cocky arrogance, but with a quiet assurance. She has sweet faith that things will work out for the best.
…You are being asked to step forward into something that resonates with your authentic self. You have the ability to make the world a more beautiful place. Use your charm to your advantage and cultivate a belief that you’ve got what it takes to succeed.
On Thursday I felt hopeless. Discouraged. All that Two of Cups energy and still I wake up without my springtime love and with no confidence in any future for us, and I don’t want to have “sweet faith that things will work out for the best” and I don’t want to “live life in [my] own fresh, original way.” No. Fuck that. Much like my reaction to drawing The Empress a while ago, my reaction to this card was a temper tantrum and a strong desire to retreat. Couldn’t I pull the fuckin’ Hermit or something? Fuck.
But I sat with this “you do you” creative energy for the day, and I still hated it, but I started to see how the wand here looks so similar to the Ace of Wands that I keep getting. And I thought about how maybe that wand blossoms because she is willing to step into that creative, authentic energy of her self. And I thought, okay. Fine. So I expressed myself. I expressed the hell out of myself, and said way more than I probably should have, but it was the right thing to do. And just like when I closed my eyes and jumped into the Empress energy before, this also felt like a necessary catharsis. I was pretty upset after, and my friend offered to come over, and I told him what I’d done and said, and his reaction was to say “Yeah, well, that’s you. That’s all the way you.” It was what I needed to hear.
It’s a bit funny, today’s card, given yesterday’s card.
It’s the Two of Swords.
I described it to someone this morning as a “shut up, doofus” card. I know that’s a fairly flat interpretation of a card with quite a bit of nuance, but given the context it seemed appropriate. “You’ve said your thing, now be quiet and think.”
I’m not good at that. At all. I’m just better at saying my thing, and then saying more, and then more, and then more, and then a little more, and then, after that, a little bit more.
And the Two of Swords is also a card of emotional withdrawal, of defending the way in to the heart. Another thing that I am really, really not the best at. And something that feels relevant right now, today, because my heart feels wide open and I am trying, so hard, to remember how to maintain boundaries for myself and not slip back into negative patterns of behaviour and thought. So I need those swords, intellect and analysis, thought and memory, awareness of self and other. I need those. I need to be quiet, to think, to guard this wide-open heart just a little bit. To set boundaries requiring balance and reciprocity in my relationships (that’s from the spread I did last night – I’ll try to write that up today too!).
That’s where my days have been at. It’s been a lot! I am thankful for tarot as a lens through which I can view this tumultuous time in my life. It gives me something physical and tangible to ground myself down into. I need that, have needed that. And I appreciate it.
I woke up early this morning. I couldn’t sleep. Anxiety and hope fluttering in my belly. I thought about forcing myself to go back to sleep, but I decided that was silly. Got up, turned on the kettle, drew my card (also checked social media and my horoscope, because, anxiety).
So the Eight of Swords, reversed.
There’s the cocoon. The keywords for this card in the liner notes are “trapped, powerless.” I like that I got it reversed. That the time of feeling trapped is almost done, it’s coming to an end. There is forward-moving energy, and this feels like such a hopeful card. The swords do, as Happy Fish Tarot says, appear to be threatening the butterfly. But sometimes you have to come out of your cocoon even if you feel like the swords are threatening. Sometimes you have to make a choice to move towards freedom, even when it’s terrifying.
This card shows those times where there seems to be no solution in sight, no matter how hard we try to think of one. The harder we think, the more trapped we believe we are.
The imagery here draws some similarities to the Waite-Smith depiction, which shows a woman bound and blindfolded. The butterfly is bound up around itself, unable to find a way to navigate the surrounding swords and stretch its wings.
This card shows those times when we feel stuck, and worse yet, we doubt our own ability to disentangle ourselves. It can become tempting to give up our personal power and wait for another person or an outside circumstance to offer assistance.
In a reading, this card can ask you to look at the stories you are telling yourself about your options. If you seem to be stuck or entrenched in mental fog, this card can remind you to take steps towards reclaiming your personal power.
Of course, this is easier said than done! You can begin by changing your thoughts, updating your stories. Instead of focusing on your confusion and lack of clarity, train yourself to look for steps – even small steps – towards freedom. When you consciously choose to loosen your mental constraints, a path forward will begin to emerge.
I read the reversal as indicating that this process has begun. This energy is present – both the feeling of being trapped, and the encouragement to move beyond it.
I’ve used the metaphor of the butterfly a lot lately for myself and for my springtime love. I think that the traumatic break in April forced us both into cocoons, and now we each have a choice as to whether we emerge or stay trapped and powerless.
I want to choose expansiveness. I want to choose to fight my way out of this fog, out of this cocoon, to continue to grow. Shake these wings off and fly. I want him to do the same, to meet me there (and now the image of The Lovers from The Wild Unknown seems even more clear). I can’t make that choice for him, though. All I can do is make the choice for myself and trust that if we’re meant to fly together, we will. We were pretty rad caterpillars together. And they’ve shown that butterflies remember what they learned as caterpillars, despite the cataclysmic change of metamorphosis (is there anything more emblematic of the cataclysmic change than turning to goo and then reforming, mind intact? I don’t think so.).
This cocooning has been awful. Painful. Hard. But I am grateful for the opportunity to grow into my better self.
I think it’s time to come out of the cocoon. It’s time to become this new self.
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’ve drawn this card before, so I knew that it’s supposed to be a negative thing. But this morning, when I sat with the card itself and forgot what I’ve already read in the companion book, this card felt so hopeful.
I think it felt so hopeful because she’s looking up into that bright sky above, and the red thread is tangled around her hands – there’s light at the end of her dark tunnel, and she hasn’t lost her connection to her path and to the one she’s meant to walk it with.
Am I reading way too much of myself into this card? Obviously.
Traditionally, this is the card of nightmares and despair. …
[But] it’s an opportunity to choose action over anxiety.
I believe what’s happening here is a call to bravely face our fears and move forward despite the whispering voices of doubt.
We are called to see how much of our fears are illusions. Let the light in by taking action to further your goals. Focus not on the distant future; plan instead to accomplish what you can do NOW. Adopt the “one step at a time” method. Look to the near future and seize the opportunities of today.
Trust your gut instead of your mind, which can fall prey to worry and doubt and fear and therefore inaction.
You can do this. Everything is more doable than it seems. All you have to do is take one. step. And if your fears worries and doubts are too much, if they are blocking your forward movement, then you can sit with them. Write them down. Talk them out. What are you afraid of, and why?
I really like this interpretation, and it fits with my own gut reaction to the card this morning. It feels encouraging, actually. It’s not about things being easy, but it does seem to be about finding some ease – some comfort from the feeling of being stuck and trapped and unable to move, beleaguered on all sides by Things That Suck. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. There’s help from all those lovely crows. There’s a place to go and a way to get there, and despite all the anxiety hanging heavy around, there are actions to take and choices to make.
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.