Today I drew the Nine of Wands. ‘Inner strength, stamina.’
I don’t know if I have that in me, today.
Today I drew the Nine of Wands. ‘Inner strength, stamina.’
I don’t know if I have that in me, today.
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.
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.
So, apparently today is all about the feels. I mean, this is not surprising. But this spread really resonates.
The Six of Cups has come up for me a few times. Reclaiming things lost from my child-self, healing old traumas, processing. In this card I see the bright colour and energy that the tree draws up from its roots, and I am reminded that I, too, have deep and vibrant roots that I can draw on.
The Ten of Cups is my present situation/what’s on my mind. In this deck, I read this card (along with the Three of Wands and a few others) as non-reversible. The numeral is legible in either position and the image stays the same, too. This is a card about balance, reciprocity, abundance. And it is on my mind. How to give and receive freely and openly, with generosity and without shame.
In the background to the day I have the reversed Father of Cups. Support being blocked, the opposite of that Ten of Cups. There are ways in which my offering of support is being rejected right now, and it does background all my feelings about today, but there are also ways in which I am not allowing myself to feel supported. Particularly, I think, in how I am not allowing my own roots to support me.
In the last couple days I have felt myself move hard into the swords – up in the air and heavy in sorrow. This spread reminds me to come back to the cups that are my more balanced home, and to the earth and grounding that I have worked so hard to find.
There’s a lot of colour in this spread. A lot of hope. I just need to open myself to the support that is already there.
Excuse me, but did you see that Beth at Little Red Tarot has published a book of tarot spreads? Because you might want to buy it.
On Wednesday, I used the “Begin now, with what you have” spread, with the Two of Cups that I drew as my card of the day as the goal. Because yes. That is my goal. And I thought I would use the energy of that card coming up in my daily draw to help me figure out what I need in order to get there.
The bottom row is my foundation, my “what you have.”
The Six of Wands, which has been coming up often in my spreads. The liner notes key words are “victory, rising up,” and Happy Fish Tarot says:
The six wands below throw back to the discord and hassles of the previous card. They look like a chaotic trap, a sticky situation that our butterfly was able to rise above (both literally and metaphorically). The wands below descend into the dark, while the butterfly ascends to the pure, clear white. She is victorious.
The Six of Wands shows times of triumph. This card encourages us to follow the butterfly’s example and tap into our strength of spirit when we are faced with adversity. Remember that life is on your side, know that you were born to soar.
Justice, which has also been coming up a bunch. Those cats, man. That swords. Everything in that card moving towards the diamond in the centre, the hard decision to be made. Happy Fish says:
The sword above the diamond is a reminder that decisions must be made even when there isn’t a “black and white” answer. The point of the blade rests directly above the center of the diamond, showing that true Justice takes into account all the complexities and nuances of a situation. The base of the sword is elegantly decorated. It’s positioning, high above the cats, suggest that the power of the blade comes from a higher, spiritual realm.
The symbolism in this card shows that ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.’ This is the ideal traditionally associated with the Justice card – karma, truth, decisions and morality.
And the Ace of Cups. Love’s beginnings, according to the liner notes. But I, like Carrie at Happy Fish, tend to see the cups as holding all the emotional states, and this ace, like all aces, holding the potential for any emotional beginning.
So, in the foundation, I see hope and caution. Balance. Hope, though, A lot of hope, And the need for a decision, which isn’t surprising in the least, but is a good reminder.
Okay, the second row. “Begin now.” These are my next steps.
Strength (patience, mastery of emotions, courage) and the Two of Wands (determination, willpower).
So, let me tell you what my heart did when I turned these cards over. I saw the rose in the lion’s teeth, mirroring the rose in the Two of Cups. And I saw the position of the wands, mirroring the stems in the Two of Cups, and my whole stupid, hopeful, battered-and-still-beating heart just… My whole heart just took a deep, deep breath. “Yes,” she said. “Yes.”
And then, before I even did any serious reading about what these cards mean, I sent pictures of this spread to two of my tarot friends and said “am I missing something super obvious, because this looks really hopeful to me and I don’t want to be hopeful if I shouldn’t be” and they both said “yup, looks hopeful” and then I put my feet back down on the ground and kept thinking.
So, my next steps towards the goal that is embodied in that Two of Cups, the goal of reaching a reciprocal, mutual, fulfilled love relationship, are to find my courage, continue to work on mastering/learning/observing/witnessing/experiencing my emotions, and to be willing to do the necessary work.
Beth at Little Red Tarot has this to say about Strength, and it really resonates for me in this context:
The strength in this card is about facing your fears head-on, understanding all the joys and pains in the world that make you who you are, and transforming these into something useful, something that can benefit you. It’s all there inside us, the good and the bad. Some of it was invited in, some of it came anyway, and it’ll keep on coming. But it can all be resources for self-awareness, and thus change.
True strength is about how we react to the stuff life keeps chucking at us, and choosing to respond with something positive, powerful and useful. It’s about taking responsibility for our actions. We’re not just silent recipients of pleasant experiences, passive victims of pains inflicted from outside ourselves. All that stuff that’s made you YOU…what are you going to do with it?
And of the Two of Wands, Carrie at Happy Fish Tarot says this:
Two Wands point towards the horizon – the angular positioning suggests we can reach right out and take ahold of them! The Wands beckon us forward. What might we find if we embrace their power (which is really our power)? What waits for us off the beaten trail? Are we ready to embark on our unique path, even when it holds struggles and dangers?
The horizontal lines in this and other cards in the Wild Unknown (such as Temperance and the Fool) suggest energy which is currently stable and untapped. This energy is powerful, but can’t reach its potential until we come in and direct it. This imbues the Two of Wands with an energy of potential.
This card shows the moments when we realize our own ability to direct our energy, to shape our lives. We are all creators, this card reminds us of our ability to harness our power and make bold moves. Experiencing the Two of Wands can be exciting, but it can also be overwhelming. We have the opportunity to grab ahold of the wands, but will we make the move?
In both these cards is the question – you are invited to step into the moment, to take responsibility, to face fears and take actions, so, will you?
And I want to say yes.
Because I want to get to that goal.
And then the last card, the “new insight” card.
The Wheel of Fortune (and there’s the owl, of course. Of course.)
Beth, at Little Red Tarot, says this:
It is about hope in the face of adversity, humility in the face of great fortune, and just as importantly, about knowing where and how to be master of our own fate. The Wheel of Fortune points out that we are at a turning point in our own lives, and asks us to assess this position responsibly, acknowledging all of the influences that come to bear on it, not least our own.
This card promises change – inevitable change. One of the meditations from the Stop, Breathe & Think app that I use most often is the 6-minute “change” meditation. It helps to know that nothing stays the same. Especially because if my springtime love and I are able to find our way to the Two of Cups-ness that I truly feel we’re capable of, I want that relationship to incorporate intentional space for growth and change. I want us to ride the wheel together as long as our paths allow us.
And it’s also a hopeful card for me, right now. Because I want this situation to change. I want that a lot. And maybe I can get there. Maybe we can get there.
(Also, entering my tags, it occurs to me that this spread is all cups and wands and major arcana. Emotion and action and big things happening. Feels right.)
I’ve had a tumultuous few days, and I couldn’t write. Or didn’t write. Whichever. Mostly moped around.
On Wednesday, I drew the Two of Cups. This was a bit of a mind-fuck, because… Because! Because of the situation that precipitated this whole journey.
Carrie over at Happy Fish Tarot says this about the Two of Cups in this deck:
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.
Beth at Little Red Tarot says this about the Two of Bottles (Cups):
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 was going to skip my card this morning. Do it later. I’m tired (one of the dogs I’m looking after barked basically non-stop from midnight to four, despite being let out and cuddled. Turns out he wanted to sleep in the living room instead of the kitchen. What a twerp.)
I did it, though, because I really appreciate the moment of calm and the reflective pause that it offers. So I fed the dogs, sat down, shuffled and drew.
Mother of Wands.
This card is everywhere for me these days, but always in a spread to do with relationships. I think on its own, it’s an invitation to think about what this card might mean for me, myself. The liner notes say that the Mother of Wands is ‘attractive, vibrant.’ That’s one aspect of the card that doesn’t usually resonate so much for me. Usually when I see this card, I see more of what Happy Fish tarot describes – the willingness to know and defend what’s best for her and her loved ones.
Today, though, I’m thinking about vibrancy and attractiveness. Specifically, I’m thinking about those parts of myself that I find most attractive. My courage, my open-heartedness, my enthusiasm.
I think I’m going to take today to think about the person that I most want to be, and how I might invite that person more into my daily life.
Ah, the eights. So much work in the eights.
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.
From Happy Fish:
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.