14: Balance

My card for today is Balance.

The write-up in the guide is all about how humanity has destroyed the balance with nature and it is a crime beyond comprehension. It was a rough read first thing this morning.

As I sit with this card and this thought and this day (which will be full of meetings and admin work and catching up on all the things I don’t want to catch up on), I feel the anxiety in my belly.

I know I need balance but I don’t know how to achieve it.

I know I need to take the time to reflect, to introspect, but I don’t know how to find that time.

I know I need to find my inner peace and stillness, but I don’t know how to find that while I’m also struggling so hard to make ends meet.

This feels like the right card but I don’t know how to act on it.

And I feel sad about that.

(It’s also interesting that this is the first card outside of the Arrows and it’s still a very airy card. Up in my head? Indeed.)

Three of Arrows: Jealousy

My card today is the Three of Arrows: Jealousy. The guidebook describes a ‘tension of emotions creating fear, jealousy or envy between people.’ I really appreciate that the guidebook includes acknowledgement of how jealousy can have its origin in lack, scarcity, and injustice. It even references broken economic systems.

When I pulled the card this morning, I felt immediately let down.

Yesterday’s draw of the Kingfisher was so encouraging, and the guiding questions actually did shape the discussion my sister and I had of our project.

Later in the day, in a moment of emotional struggle, I pulled another card. The Five of Arrows: Frustration. The write up spoke directly to my experience – ‘Take a deep breath and steady your mind and see clearly what the goal is.’ I did, and it helped.

But what do I do with today’s card?

I can’t see where it applies to this day, to this moment.

As I write this, I realize that I’ve said, ‘I just feel so much envy lately’ about twenty times in the last two months. Envy and jealousy, growing out of my own sense of financial precarity (which is getting worse) and physical pain (also getting worse) and to-do list overwhelm (also getting worse, especially with my Masters program starting now) and my business not taking off as quickly as I want (and feel that I need) – I have been struggling. Every time a friend has a success, I feel that stab of envy. And it mixes with my joy for them in a way that feels so overwhelming. I am sincerely happy for my communities and for the people around me who are finding stability and success and ease. And also I am deeply sad for myself, and I want that for myself.

Life feels hard lately.

The financial stuff especially. It just feels so hard.

So… hmm.

The guidebook suggests that:

The healing balm for envy is humility, acceptance, and forgiveness, even in the face of bitter rivalry and anger, just as the constant refocusing of your energy into a positive and creative momentum in your own life is the best healer for the effects of jealousy.

I can definitely stay focused on my positive and creative momentum. And I guess I’ll watch for opportunities to practice acceptance, forgiveness, and humility today.

It is such a hard topic and a hard feeling, and it has been with me for so long – this feeling of being deep within scarcity.

Do I read this card as validation of my struggle?

Do I read it as condemnation?

It definitely feels judgemental and hurtful, and I think maybe that’s the best opportunity in front of me right now to practice finding a new narrative. Because it doesn’t have to be condemning. It can be validating and encouraging.

So, I’m going to try to reach for that.

King of Arrows: Kingfisher

This is the first card I’ve drawn from my new Wildwood Tarot.

I’m in Canmore right now, with my sister, working out the logistics for a new collaborative project. I opened my deck last night, looked at all the cards, read the intro. They weren’t ready to shuffle yet, so I left them overnight.

This morning, I journaled and it was a hard process of coming back to the page, bringing my anxiety and fear and shame and overwhelm, writing about how I feel so lost – I wrote, ‘I want to sink deeply into the peace of this moment – this is exactly the kind of thing I want to bring more fully and more often into my life. This moment, this setting. But instead of sinking into this, I am tossing around on the stormy surface of my mind, thinking about everything I need to do, everything I am behind on, everything coming up that I am going to fail at. I am thinking about failure a lot.’

After journaling, I was going to get to work. But I walked past the coffee table and there was that deck. Waiting. Ready now.

First, I divided it up.

The core of me, and then my elements. Air, fire, earth, water.

I split the core of me across the elements. Starting with fire – finding myself in my passions. Then earth. Then water. Then air, last.

I split my earth across the stacks. Bringing grounding into every part of myself.

I split my fire, lending passion to each piece of me.

Then my water.

Last, my air. Finally able to see how this thinking/overthinking self is still a part of each piece of me.

Then I combined them all and shuffled, split the deck, and pulled this card for today.

From the guidebook:

This tiny bird, both sexes covered with the colours of the rainbow, is equally at home in the air or in the water. …

You may need to exercise judgement, power, force of will. …

Finding a way through chaos by calm clarity. Being watchful. The need for good counsel. Discerning the truth of a situation. Finding an impartial standpoint. Being fair/unfair. An urge to buck the system. …

What must you focus upon clearly? Who can give you good advice? What wise words will help this situation? What is your duty to society?

Considering how much I struggled to accept any air this morning, how I was seeing my mind as the stormy surface and the threat, this feels powerful. It is possible to be in my mind and still access my intuition and my heart.

The bird is bright and strong and determined.

The questions are relevant to my day and to this work.

It feels good.

Finding the way forward

The last week has been brutal. I haven’t touched my cards since the election (and the subsequent email from Kellie Leitch up here in Canada – we are far from safe, far from clear of the poison of white supremacy and xenophobia and misogyny and racism and hate).

have been working. A lot.

My coaching page is up on Facebook – you can find it here – and I’m posting daily self-care tips. I’m working on content for upcoming workshops and getting my website ready to launch. I have a business account, my business name is registered, and I’m prepping hard for an official launch in the new year.

But it’s been a rough week. Holy wow, it’s been a rough week.

This morning I finally felt centred enough to do some tarot.

I did my favourite five card spread. First, the situation, then the right path and the wrong path, then cards for why each path is what it is.

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So, the situation. The Wheel of Fortune, reversed. Big, bad change. Cataclysmic change.

The right path: The Fool. Moving forward, having faith, taking risks. Foolish bravery. And, for me, this is my heart card. This is the card that comes up again and again when I need a reminder to be true to myself. So, risk-taking, movement, leaps of faith, and being who I am. I will not retreat into a closet again. I will be wide open to this world, even when it’s turning to the dark.

Why: Page of Cups. Because this is where I will find the “well of love,” as Beth Maiden at Little Red Tarot calls this card. This is where I will find:

a sort of making-it-right quality. And within that, I find an accepting-wrongdoing quality. Because accepting and trying to heal our mistakes is an act of love, and a creative act. It requires us to look into ourselves for that well of love, and put aside self-motivated, petty, angry thoughts.

It’s a hard ask in a time when I want to be angry and petty. (And, to be clear, I think there absolutely is a need for anger right now – deep anger, anger that motivates us to act, to stand up against hate and violence and bigotry. But this card is a reminder that anger can be wielded in many ways, and petty anger right now is not helpful.)

The Page of Cups as the “why” for The Fool as my right path speaks so gently to me about deep love, about making space for the overflowing cup of emotions in my self and my communities. Moving forward heart-first and with love. Finding healing.

These cards tell me a story of moving forward bravely and authentically, engaging my emotional self in the work.

In contrast, the wrong path: The Hanged Man. Motionless, trapped, upside down, disoriented. This path is so tempting, because that Wheel has turned and the world does seem so upside down (it seems that way to me, from my position of privilege. I know that for many people of colour, and especially Black women and Indigenous communities, this is not a turning of the Wheel but an acknowledgement of the rubble they’ve been buried under for generations. My shock betrays my privilege.)

Why is this the wrong path: Two of Swords. Because now is not the time for weighing both sides of the debate. Allowing myself to be bound by the feelings of helplessness and horror, and trying to intellectualize an understanding of how this happened rather than moving forward along the path. It will lead to a stalemate, an impasse, an inability to engage with the emotions that need to be felt. In so many ways, it is the exact opposite of the Page of Cups and her watery wholeheartedness. This sharp, airy, arid immobilization is why letting myself hang upside down in horror is not the response right now.

I am reminded, again, of the talk I saw late last week with G. Willow Wilson, the fantastic creator of the new Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan – Marvel’s first Muslim superhero. Wilson said that sometimes, the mess stays messy. Sometimes there is not a way out, but there is always a way forward. This sentiment has become the guiding principle in how I’m shaping all of my coaching materials – moving away from the victim-blaming “law of attraction” model of coaching and towards something that acknowledges systemic oppression, takes into account the ways in which there is not always a way out, and offers tools and support for moving forward.

I am going to keep moving forward.

I’m grateful for the power of narrative, and the ability of stories to provide hope and inspiration. When I look at the Page of Cups and the Two of Swords, I know which character I want to inhabit. When I look at The Fool and The Hanged Man, I know which one I want to be right now.

Let’s go. Foolishly, bravely, forward.

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Emergency tarot

Sitting in the car, kids cranky, both of us stressed and grumpy, heading to the zoo. Feeling overwhelmed and stretched too thin. Shuffling tarot with an inner scream of ‘help!!!!’

Nine of Wands for myself. It’s heavy but it’s not too heavy. You’ll make it. You’ve got the resources. The elf warrior on the Shadowscapes Nine of Wands is full of resolve. The colours are strong. It will be okay. I read this for this moment and also for the wider moment. I have spent the day panicking about to do lists and endless obligations. A messy house, paperwork, deadlines already missed. The Nine of Wands sees it, breathes into it, reassures. 

And Judgement for my partner. The choice is made and it will be okay. A big card for a small moment. Is it a terrible idea to go to the zoo on so few resources with cranky kids? It doesn’t matter, says Judgement. The decision is made, and it will be okay. Breathe. Breathe and keep breathing. 

Shuffle my deck with a sigh of relief, put it back in my jacket pocket just as we pull into the parking lot. 

Post this, because sometimes it’s enough to do a thing even if it’s just a small thing. 

Thirty five

It was my thirty fifth birthday two days ago and I started this post in the bathroom that evening, supervising a splashy five year old kid – a kid I love – while my partner carved crockpot chickens for supper and the two year old watched Super Why. 

I got one sentence written before the bath was done. Dinner took over an hour, and at no point did the four of us sit at the table together. I tried to make my birthday cake three times before I finally succeeded once both kids were in bed, and it came out of the oven at 9 pm, shortly after my friend came over to talk about poly and navigating non-normative relationships while being saturated in endless normativity in our media and societal assumptions. 

Then it was the morning, more than twelve hours after I started this post. I was awake with the kids, since my partner got up with them the last few mornings. Step parenting is tough, but I love it. I love these kids, and I love being on such a functional team with my partner. But it’s hard to find time to write, time to think, time to do the self-care that is so important to me. It’s hard to find time for tarot, or tea, or much of anything. I’m always busy these days, it seems. With the kids, and seemingly endless part-time jobs – data entry and petsitting and admin work and anything else that comes up that can knock a few hundred off the credit cards. 

The lead up to this birthday was tough. 

I’ve been feeling like a failure – so many parts of my life are in transition and it’s hard to see progress in the middle of the process. 

I got this far in the post and then the kids needed food and my partner was awake and I was making brunch for friends and I didn’t get back to it for another day. I’m finishing it in the car while the two year old sleeps. Once she wakes up, we will join her cousin’s birthday party, happening at the park just outside the car door. Life offers so many metaphors. 

I’m thirty five now. 

This year feels important, and challenging. My goal is to have thirty five moments of celebration, and to keep track of them here. To fill my cup, to inhabit my Queen of Cups self. 

Onward!


Week 1 Reading: The Reader’s Reading

The Little Red Tarot "Reader's Reading" spread, using the Shadowscapes tarot
The Little Red Tarot “Reader’s Reading” spread, using the Shadowscapes tarot
The Reader's Reading from the Little Red Tarot Alternative Tarot Reading course (highly recommended!)
The Reader’s Reading from the Little Red Tarot Alternative Tarot Reading course (highly recommended!)

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?

Queen of Cups

I wrote about the Queen of Cups before, and it was difficult to think of this as a limit. I’m still processing this. My emotionality limits me here? Yes, I suppose so.

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?

The Sun

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.

But.

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.