I have a lot of positive feelings about this card. For one thing, it’s the first card I ever drew for myself from this deck, and it feels welcoming and hopeful and like home. I really see myself in this Fool, with her hopefulness and willingness to take the next step. She’s brave, and it doesn’t always work out, but that’s who she is. That’s how I want to see myself.
But also, I recently did a “what is going on” spread for myself, and this is the card I drew for my springtime love, and it made me feel really hopeful. Maybe he will take on some elements of The Fool. From my companion book:
The Fool is a symbol for new beginnings and adventures, pleasure, passion. … Like The Fool you may stand upon the precipice gazing out into the unknown. … There are unlimited possibilities opening up for the seeker.
But this isn’t that reading (though I would like to write that reading up sometime, because it was lovely and hopeful), this is today. So what is The Fool for me today? Hope, still. Taking risks with the hope of new beginnings, adventures, pleasure, and passion.
Yesterday was an interesting day. I took The Empress to heart and I spent (most of) my day off of social media and thinking about what I could do to bring more creative energy into my life. I picked up supplies for a few crafts, and it felt really good. But the day was also hard, and when I went to sleep I felt drained and discouraged and ready to close doors.
Then I slept.
And I woke up, and there was hope.
So, The Fool for me, today, is the willingness to take the risk of keeping the door open and staying hopeful. She feels right.
There’s an element of action in The Fool, a willingness to take that step into the unknown and uncertain, to trust that it will be okay. That’s the part that I haven’t figured out for myself in today’s draw. I am not sure what action is presenting itself (for me, today, The Fool feels like she’s got a lot of Hanged Man energy, and that actually feels okay – hanging in is an action, and maybe The Fool tells me that it’s worth it).
I woke up sad today, discouraged, hopeless. And not the quiet sadness of “this is hard” but the frantic sadness of “this is pinning me to the bottom of the ocean and I cannot breathe.” Frantic I-can’t-do-this hopelessness. Can’t-breathe-through-this-heartbreak grief. Can’t-move-under-the-weight-of-this-pain. Can’t-see-past-this. Can’t-move.
But I am not drowning, not pinned to the bottom of any ocean. And even if I was, one of my best friends says I’m a nixie, made for water.
And I can breathe. Is the thing. I can. Deep breath in, long breath out. I can breathe.
And I can move.
So I got up, and I pet one of the cats I’m looking after and she put her two front paws on my chest and rumbled life into me, and rubbed her soft black face against my chin and it was good. And then I did my card of the day.
The Empress. She’s new to me. She didn’t resonate for me at all, at first. All openness, balanced on that wooden branch, looking upward hopefully. There’s the heart, dangling from her belt. And there’s the red thread tied around her wreath, but beyond that… this isn’t me, I thought. This isn’t my day. This isn’t what I have right now. None of this energy is present in me. I felt more discouraged. (Then I noticed all the butterflies, and thought about the metaphors I’ve been using for myself to try and get through this time of compression.)
My Shadowscapes companion book says that The Empress is “creativity, generosity, patience, love.” That she is about “abundance, experiencing the senses, and embracing the natural.”
I sort of wanted to throw my book, at that point. I don’t want to settle into my patience, the patience that this deck (and my self) keeps cautioning me is needed. I don’t want to “experience the senses” or “embrace the natural.” I want a fucking message and some fucking hope.
I am starting to notice when my readings (or other things) call up such anger in me, and recognizing how this anger is often tied to a feeling of hopelessness/helplessness, and I think I am beginning to take tiny, frustratingly slow steps towards recognizing that the anger points to where I am feeling helpless/powerless but where I am not actually helpless or hopeless or powerless. I’ve had the phrase “feeling or fearing a thing doesn’t make it real” on my wall of self-care for years, but it’s a hard one to actually turn into action. Right now I feel hopeless and helpless and powerless because I feel rejected, abandoned, hurt. But even though those feelings are totally valid and real, they’re about what’s coming in at me and although I can’t control that, I can control what I do about it. I can choose to take up the power that is within me, and act within my sphere, within my own little world, within my own life. It’s not that other people’s choices stop impacting me, it’s just that they don’t have to immobilize me. I think, maybe. After sitting with the card and with the anger it pulled up in me, that’s where I might be landing.
From this post about how The Empress and manatees are connected:
A manatee is an Empress!
They know what they need, and how to get it. They’re sociable. They know how to commit and I bet they are super loving. They’re big and earthy and beautiful and gentle and are queens of their world. They’re relatives of elephants – an animal I also associate with The Empress.
I like that. I am going to take today to figure out what I need, and how to get it. I’m going to turn off my social media for the day – shut off notifications on my phone and ipad, close the tabs on my computer, move my apps off my main page on my phone and ipad (so if you want to get me, text me!). I’m going to embrace my inner manatee today, or try anyway, and see how it goes.
I’m going to try to approach this day of reflection and inwardness like this, from this post:
It starts with an open-mindedness, an ability to see different possibilities, different sides of something, to see opportunities, to see the details and nuances. And then it’s not so much about actively pushing an idea, so much as providing the conditions for it to grow and develop, as a good parent does.
Actually, I think the parenting thing is a good metaphor for understanding the meaning of this card. It’s about nurturing that idea, and nurturing yourself, and going easy on yourself and letting things come. It’s about acting with love, it’s about being in touch with yourself. It’s about learning from your creations and letting them be what they need to be, about letting them guide you as much as you guide them. Not that I’m an artist, but I imagine that when a creative idea grabs you, the better response is not to grab it and try to mould it and make it into whatever you want, but to follow it, understand it, feed it and let it take you where it will. Acting with your instincts, with respect and love, and seeing what comes out. That sounds like nurturing to me.
I like that. I can see how that is a good way to approach a day like today, where it feels like I’m only seeing one aspect of my life and I want to open myself up to others.
So I’m going to post this, put a link up on my facebook and twitter, and then do this little mini-retreat. I might hula hoop a bit. Definitely do a lot of cleaning at the petsitting place and my own. Make tea. Write. Think. Sit outside in my lovely back yard and watch all the birds.
And then after dinner I’ll turn my social media back on because you better believe I’m going to tweet the hell out of the Nicki Minaj concert tonight. Oh yes!
1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?
The Hanged Man
I have some feelings about this. It was hard for me to interpret, to accept. My most important characteristic is my inability to move? Wow. Fuck you, tarot deck. But, as I wrote about when I drew this as yesterday’s card of the day, The Hanged Man is not just immobilization and powerlessness. There’s also a willingness to look at the world from a different perspective, and an acceptance of the “what is”ness of what is.
In this case, I read “most important characteristic” not to mean the characteristic that I already possess and that is important, but the characteristic that I am working on. And in that way, this card feels right and perfect for me right now. A willingness to accept, to allow, to “hang in there” and to take time to allow myself to really gain perspective – those are characteristics I am trying to cultivate in myself. And also, a willingness to recognize when I am not in control, to recognize that in many instances I have never been in control (of other people, for example) – that feels important. Critically important. 2. What strengths do you already have as a tarot reader, what are you bringing to this course?
King of Swords
I read this as my intellect, my careful weighing of multiple sides of an issue, my contemplative nature. The card itself feels sad and lonely to me. I’ve drawn this card twice as representative of me, my strengths, and what I bring to a situation. This feels sad to me. Lonely. Isolated. Myself and my thoughts. I am trying to reconcile myself with this as a strength, to let myself sit with this part of myself that I do not love so much – time alone, with my thoughts.
Rachel Pollack identifies the court cards in the suit of swords as “battle, powerful mind, discipline” and suggests that a hero in this suit might be Batman. When I read that, I thought – okay. Yes. I’ll take it. 3. What limits do you feel as you start this course?
But it also occurs to me, having now sat with this reading for a couple days, that perhaps the limit being highlighted here is that I am not allowing enough of the Queen of Cups in my life. I’m not trusting my heart, not listening to my heart – I mean, there is a lot of Big Feels happening in me, but where is the space to listen to what this heart really needs? Where is the calm? Where is the confidence in my intuition and my emotions and my self-knowledge? Where is my self-knowledge? Am I too attached to a specific outcome to be able to think clearly about the present situation, or other possible outcomes? The Queen of Cups is emotion, yes, but also surety in her experience of that emotion. I don’t have that right now. I think I am going to have to keep sitting with this. 4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey with tarot?
Page of Cups
From the companion book:
The Page of Cups is sentimental. She is a true romantic at heart, and in a world that is filled with so much noise and bustle, she longs for the time and space to simply breathe and to truly take in the pleasures that abound. She listens to the still voice from deep inside that speaks with understanding and intuition, and she longs to believe in the impossible.
This feels so right and encouraging for me. This feels like a very good companion card to the Queen of Cups in this journey. 5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?
When I refer to the actual sun, the one up in the sky, I call it the Evil Day Star. I’ve never had an affinity for the sun, for bright cloudless skies and hot days. No. Give me clouds and warm rain, give me moonlight.
The Sun (and the sun) are energy. Movement. Life. And I’ve got a lot of Hanged Man energy, a lot of Pentacles energy, weighing me down. Being open to some “go get ’em” isn’t such a bad thing. 6. What is the potential outcome of your tarot journey?
Four of Swords
I love this. The idea that tarot can give me a space to rest, some respite from the anxiety and sadness that weighs so heavily on me… Not only does this feel hopeful and calming, it also feels accurate. So far, tarot really has given me a deep sense of calm and a focus for the chaotic, frantic, anxious energy that marks my days, and the despair and hopelessness that haunts my evenings. It helps that the Shadowscapes deck is so gentle and welcoming, but I think it’s more than that. It’s a deep immersion in metaphor, an opportunity to pause, to form a question from the chaos of my thoughts, to sit with the many possible answers that present themselves. Tarot fits beautifully with the other mindfulness practices I have started to bring into my days – meditation, and play, and a focus on more material self-care (food, and breath, and time in nature).
The card I’m taking forward with me through the course is… I don’t know. It feels like it should be the Queen of Cups for continuity, but honestly, today, feeling as low as I am and as drained and sad and discouraged… I’m going to take the Four of Swords. Give me some rest, please. Give me some respite. Give me calm. Give me the strength to stay still, to step back, to take the space I need to move more fully into my life. That’s what I need, I think. That’s what I’m hoping for.
I woke up sad. Yesterday was a tough day, and I didn’t sleep much – I went to bed still hanging, and I woke up exhausted. I want some encouragement. I want some reassurance. I want to know that things will be okay, and I want to know that the definition of “okay” will include me and my springtime love reunited, and I want that reunion to be soon – not as long, this time, between hugs. There are just a lot of questions begging for answers and not a lot of space to be present in the now. I woke up with all that weighing heavy on my heart.
And I know that I can’t make his choices for him. And I know that I can’t ignore my own choices while I wait. So I got up, instead of doing my card of the day draw in bed like I often do. I checked my social media sites to see if there was anything, any post or hint or flicker of hope. There was not. I sat down on the couch and took a bit of time with this.
I got out my peacock ore – it’s so beautiful and hopeful. I chose Middle Pillar and Anthelion from my Twilight Alchemy Lab oils. Middle Pillar to help “find your center, recover and maintain internal balance” and Anthelion to “[d]rive off despair and grief, and enable you to find hope and joy in life again.” A drop of Middle Pillar on my left hand, and a drop of Anthelion on my right, and then I rubbed them together and smelled the sharp, resiny, warm scent and then I shuffled my cards, and then I drew.
The Six of Cups.
It feels like such a hopeful, peaceful, encouraging card. She’s hosting a tea party, with her red sash (and me, still clinging to the idea of the red string of fate, and hoping our hearts are tied together). She looks like me, when I was little. And the card is so balanced. There’s water in the stream, and fire in the lanterns, and earth sending up those strong trees, and the calm blue air. And there’s abundance, too. There’s not one or two fish in that stream, there’s a wealth. There are mushrooms and trees and grasses, dryads and all sorts of fae folk, and there’s her stuffed animals – her imagination bringing even more life to the moment.
And there’s that one teacup, down there by the stream. And I think, that’s for my love. That’s space at my table, and he can join whenever he’s ready, but I can keep pouring tea while I wait. There can be holding on and holding space and being open, without being rigid and joyless and full of despair. That’s what I got from the card when I first saw it.
The companion book says:
The Six of Cups is a reminder of childhood innocence, good intentions, noble impulses, simple joys and pleasures. It is not meant to be overly sentimental, but more an urging to remember the open-mindedness of a child’s perspective, and to push back the narrowness that folds in on you over time, with the complexities of life and responsibility.
I get a lot of “be child-like” cards, it seems. And they resonate for me. There was something magical about child-me. She was fae and hopeful and generous and loving and I loved her, and I lost a lot of her to depression and anxiety and trauma. Or, not lost. It’s all still there. I’m just in the process of rediscovering and reclaiming it.
I have this vivid memory from the week before I left my husband. I had the place I was moving to already arranged, and everything was done. We were in the car. I forget what was said, but I laughed, and he said, “I will always miss you. There’s nobody else like you, the way you can be so much like a child, in a good way.”
It was a really generous, loving moment in a really difficult time for both of us. There was a lot of grief and a lot of hurt. But that was a gift. The way he saw the spark in me and named it and honoured it. That was a gift. I am grateful for it.
The Six of Cups tells me that I will be okay. That the strong, resilient child I was is still there, and she has come through so much. She will come through this too. She’ll do it with tea and with friends and with creativity and with joy.
I have a deep well of sadness in my soul. Dark depths of grief. And it is all present in this moment, my longing and my homesickness for my love and the intense feeling that this separation is wrong on a soul-deep level, that when we are together it is right. But I can’t make that happen. I can’t. I can’t summon him to the cup. I don’t have that power and I don’t want it. It has to be him. It has to be his choice.
There’s another side to the well of sadness in me. There’s the wide capacity for joy. That’s present too, if I let it be.
Leave the cup for him, he does have a place at this table. But pour the tea for myself and my friends and my other lovers in the meantime.
Like with yesterday’s card of the day, I am having some capital-f Feelings about this.
The Hanged Man.
Stuck. Powerless. My thoughts about the trope are separate, I realize, from my thoughts about the card. The card itself is beautiful, even hopeful. The little fae creature in front of his face looks loving and positive, almost as if she is about to boop him on the nose. The dryads look worried, sad, but the man himself looks peaceful. Almost like he is mid-dive, rather than suspended.
The purples and browns are calming, and the ankh hanging from a red thread in the top corner… I have feelings about that too. About red threads, and soul mates, and life. Red threads.
I’m working on the week 2 exercises now, the suits and elements of the minor arcana. So I notice that he’s hanging from a wand. From the fire and action that he will eventually take? Or the action he is suspending in order to surrender to this moment?
Last night when I did my week 1 weekly reading – The Reader’s Reading, which I’ll write up later today – the card in the “About you in general: what is your most important characteristic” was The Hanged Man. I had a long, long moment with that. It resonates. And that… hmm. I don’t want it to. But it does. Metaphor, metaphor, metaphor. Fuck you, accurate metaphor.
From the Shadowscapes companion book:
Letting go and surrendering to experience and emotional release. Accepting what is, and giving up control, reversing your view of the world and seeing things in a new light. Suspending action. Sacrifice.
Letting go and surrendering to experience and emotional release. Accepting what is, and giving up control. That does mark my entire journey right now – my effort to let go, to let whatever it is be what it is, to accept it, to give up control (whether it is in my controlling codependent behaviour or in my desire to control the outcome of what my springtime love will eventually do – giving up all those elements of control that are always already illusory. Illusory, but comforting. Fuck, so comforting. The Hanged Man does not look comfortable.)
I also purchased Rachel Pollack’s book Tarot Wisdom, Spiritual Teachings and Deeper Meanings and she writes that a fundamental meaning of the Hanged Man is:
to seem, at least, upside down, the wrong way around.
To others (who think that my holding on and holding the door open to my love is causing me pain, or who think that my spiritual journey is too woo-tastic, or whatever) but for me, now, mostly to myself. Because I think all that. Because I think this is all stupid bullshit and I should close the door on him and on this and fuck all this challenging work. I was just fine as a caterpillar. I don’t need to be a butterfly or moth or whatever I’ll be at the end of this. Fuck it all! It hurts! It’s hard! It hurts. It’s hard.
Rachel Pollack writes:
[M]any modern Tarot readers assume a negative meaning for the Hanged Man… being stuck, hung up, a painful sacrifice. To be honest, this surprises me, for I’ve always seen this card as a kind of liberation of the spirit. …
The Hanged Man… shows us at a stage where we can glimpse the great truths. We begin to understand, not just conceptually but with genuine knowing….
And that is why I’m still doing this.
That red thread, and my belief that I am not done with my springtime love, that we have more to explore together, and that the door needs to stay open in order for that to happen.
And the sense of readiness. The feeling that I am on this path right now because I’m ready to be on this path right now. I am doing this because I am ready to do this. I am ready to let go of old habits that no longer serve me. I am ready to let go of my need to control. I am ready to let go of my codependency, my old pains and traumas. I am ready. I am here because I am ready.
Yes, it sucks.
Yes, it’s hard.
Yes, it feels upside down and I hate it and I struggle with it and I don’t know how much longer I can do it for and I want to get down off this fucking tree, holy fuck, I hate this! Yes.
Yes, it’s amazing.
Yes, it’s easy, it’s right.
Yes, sometimes I stop struggle, call truce with myself, and see everything shifted and beautiful.
I love this, yes. Yes. Yes.
I’m not stuck. I’m growing.
And this, too. The Hanged Man is in a position very much like a caterpillar cocooned and ready for metamorphosis. And that’s a metaphor I’ve been using for myself for weeks now. So.
I have a lot of feelings about today’s card of the day draw. A lot. A lot.
When I first drew the Ten of Wands, and sat with the card, I felt such a strong resonance and sense of encouragement. My initial thought was that this card means “if you do the work, it will be okay.” She’s building that whole beautiful city up there! It’s gorgeous. All those little people, they’re living in such a lovely space because she’s supporting them. (Dude, I can’t even type this shit without recognizing how bad it is… because, what is she getting from that??? Where are her needs being met?)
I saw myself in the Ten of Wands, and I thought, yeah. The world should be on my back, because I can support it and then everything will be lovely and good and glowing and look at that! That’s right.
And then I read the companion book about it.
This dryad bears the weight of what seems to be a miniature world upon her back. Her branches are weighed down, bent beneath the heavy structures. The support and welcome of the beings who inhabit those towers are hers to nourish with the flow of life’s safe through her branches and leaves. … But the gray cold seeps into her roots, and it is a hard burden to bear. She pushes and strains upwards, reaches towards the sun for the fire that can help to sustain through dark times.
Overextending, taking on far too much, burdened with overwhelming responsibility, being held accountable, doing things the hard way. Perhaps those little beings who live among her branches do no need the constant watchfulness and nourishment that she believes must be her duty.
I struggle with codependency. The way I enact my codependent tendencies is to prioritize other people’s well-being over my own, to give more than I can afford to give, to pay closer attention to others’ needs than to my own and to be most comfortable when I am meeting other people’s needs rather than meeting my own. Lest that sound like a good thing – “oh, boo hoo, you’re kind and generous and empathetic” – it’s not. Because I don’t do it to be kind or generous or because I’m empathetic (I am all of those things, I think. But when I’m acting out of codependency those positive traits get twisted.) When I’m acting out of codependency – out of fear – I do those things because I am trying to control the situation. I am trying to make sure that I won’t be abandoned. I am trying to make myself indispensable so that I won’t be dispensed with. I am trying to manipulate my friends and lovers into needing me.
It’s all about need.
It’s all about wanting to know that I’m needed, because you can’t get rid of something you need.
But that’s bad. It’s bad on so many levels. (And it’s also not true. The sense of control is false.)
It’s disrespectful of my friends and lovers. It’s disrespectful of myself. It treats the people that I love as incompetent and it treats my needs as irrelevant.
That little city that the dryad is holding on her back in the card – there’s nowhere else for those little beings to go. That city is contained to her branches. And if I am honest, there is a dark part of me that wants that. That is willing to make that trade. I will give you every drop of my life, but you have to need me. You have to need me. I need to be needed.
Admitting it is so gross.
But as I work through this codependency stuff, and learn how to observe my motivations for behaviours and when I’m acting out of fear, pause and maybe choose another action, and when I’m acting out of my generous and empathetic nature without the strings attached, celebrate those moments… as I work through this, I’m also working with Brenè Brown’s research and insight into shame resiliency and vulnerability. So even though admitting this feels gross, I can do it. Because I don’t have to be ashamed of these maladaptive patterns, I can just choose to see them, turn a compassionate eye inward, accept that these behaviours, at one point, kept me safe, and let them go.
She can put that city down.
She can let it put down roots for itself, and she can stand up. She can stretch. She can trust that those little beings she loves so much will choose to stay close, and that if they don’t, that’s still okay. She can offer help without offering herself. She doesn’t have to always do it the hard way, she doesn’t have to always drain herself, overextend herself, hurt herself.
(This is copied from the downloadable form that I got with the course. You can sign up for the course here, and so far I would highly recommend it.)
The Alternative Tarot Course
Week 1: What is tarot?
I first came across tarot when…
I don’t honestly remember. It’s one of those background awareness things, like palm reading and roasting a chicken, that I don’t really remember initially coming across. It’s such a common part of popular culture.
The reason I want to learn tarot is…
Because I have been struggling significantly in the last little while, and I feel like I really need some ritual, and some externalization of my inner turmoil, and some help focusing and figuring myself out. It also feels like something that can become an important part of my spiritual practice, and I’m looking forward to that.
Here’s how I feel about learning tarot in three words:
Excited, ambivalent, awkward.
Tarot’s main purpose (for me) is…
Providing a physical, emotional and mental space for looking at challenges from different angles, and for seeing myself and my situation with new perspectives, and as a way to engage mindfully with myself and the world around me, and the challenges that I’m facing. Tarot has also been hugely helpful for me in interrupting anxiety spirals and panic attacks, because it forces me to slow down, think through what I’m actually anxious about in order to ask the question, and look at the situation with a bit of calm observation as I read the cards.
Here are some things I don’t believe about tarot:
I don’t believe tarot is magic. (I don’t believe in magic, but I do believe in metaphor.) I don’t believe it can predict the future or set a path.
I think the most important qualities for a tarot reader are:
Compassionate interpretation, and a willingness to sit with uncomfortable realizations.
In learning tarot, I hope to…
Learn more about myself, and become more comfortable with the things I can’t control. To learn how to “allow, allow, allow” and to welcome ease and grace into my life. To become more observant, and more mindful in my actions.
I think my main challenges will be…
Honestly, I think my main challenge will be that I want a specific future for myself and I want to read that future into each spread. My biggest challenge will be remaining open to what is, rather than trying to force my situation to be something that it isn’t.
But I will try to overcome them by…
Being mindful of this desire, and trying to gently let go when I notice myself clinging tightly.