I drew the Ace of Pentacles today. “The possibility of prosperity, abundance, and security.”
Aces are challenging cards for me right now. I want to move past possibility and into reality. But I can’t. I can’t make things suddenly be okay, be “abundant, prosperous and secure.” I can’t make any of that happen on my own schedule. I can just… fuck. Continue to do my own work, trust that other people are doing their work, and that in the end the work will bear fruit?
The little face in that pentacle looks like it’s mocking me. And I am frustrated.
Breathe. Breathe and do the work and have faith. That’s all I can do.
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.
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.
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’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.
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).
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.