Book Review: Five Quarters of the Orange

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

Five Quarters of the Orange
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

This book is a first-person narrative of a woman, Framboise, reflecting on both her childhoodΒ in Nazi-occupied France andΒ her present life. The past holds a terrible secret, and Framboise slowly reveals what she knows over the course of the story.

I was riveted by this book from the first page. Something about Joanne Harris’s writing style immediately pulled me in and made me want to devour every word that she wrote. She was able to bring intense emotions to the smallest of looks, movements, and thoughts. She captured very well the mindset of children, with their imagination, determination, and lack of adult-like understandings of some quite complex issues.

Harris also captures the complexity of human beings. No one is all good or all bad, but that doesn’t mean that actions cease to have consequences — at times irreversibly so.

Secrets can weigh on our souls and change the entire course of our lives:

Five Quarters of the Orange - tarot
Six of Cups, The Devil, Ten of Wands from the Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition, U.S. Games, copyright 2009

I deeply enjoyed reading this book. It was intense and moving, and it made me reflect on both the darkness and the light that lies within each of us. And as someone who can have a tough outer shell, even when I’m not trying to be defensive, it made me reflect on my own experiences and expression of self.

 

A Respite

Four of Swords
Ostara Tarot: Four of Swords

It’s a busy time! We close on our house in a week, move after that, and I have some serious personal exploration to be doing right now about a number of things.

So it’s time for a respite from the blog for a few weeks.

Once I have ushered a few of my ducks into a row, I’ll be back πŸ™‚

Monday Meditation

A meditation for the week ahead: May 16 – May 22

16 - Monday
Golden Tarot: The Chariot, Three of Cups, Death

May I control what I can, celebrate whenever possible, and accept that change is inevitable.

May I actively seek out that which is good in my life.

May I look for the blessings that come with change — the birth of something new after the death of something old.

May I honor what is no longer useful in my life, not by clinging to it, but by recognizing the purpose it once served and letting it go.

Monday Meditation

A meditation for the week ahead: May 9 – May 15

9 - Monday Meditation
Golden Tarot: Five of Coins, Ten of Wands

May I focus on one thing at a time rather than further overwhelming myself by pondering all projects and needs at once.

May I recognize that some of my “problems” are good problems to have — problems of privilege and personal desire.

May I appreciate what I have rather than wishing for more.

May I be gentle with myself during times of burden, difficulty, and sadness. May I remember that I am worthy of compassion and patience.

Do Nice Folks Finish Last?

I have had a really rotten day today. I’m already dealing with the depression issues, of course, but I’ve had three different instances of being treated really poorly today. Like really, really poorly. It’s got me wondering, do nice folks really finish last? Because today it sure feels like it.

I try my best to be a good person. To remember that everyone is fighting their own battles. To come from a place of care and understanding. And boy, do I feel like I come up with the short end of the stick awfully often. It feels like being the “bigger person” just allows others to take advantage of me, or to take me for granted.

So I thought I’d ask tarot “Do nice folks really finish last?” I wanted to see what perspective I might see in the cards.

5 - Reading
Smith-Waite: Two of Cups, Eight of Wands; Arthur Rackham Oracle: Guardianship

Two of Cups, Guardianship: Protection of the Vulnerable, Eight of Wands

I wasn’t sure what to expect in this spread, but immediately these cards gave me pause.

Community and care are not passive activities. They’re greatly important and shouldn’t be dropped by the wayside when they aren’t reciprocated. But care and compassion should also be directed inward. So when a relationship is consistently negative or toxic, a different kind of action is needed. That could take a few different forms. One possibility is voicing concerns with the person or people involved. If they are invested in the relationship, they should care how you feel. It might not be an easy message to receive, and perhaps they’ll be defensive at first. But change should happen if they truly value you in the same way you value them.

And if you find out that you are not valued, it might be time to bow out. Which might be harder on you than the offending party! Unless of course they’re using you, in which case they may be in for a shocker when they stop receiving whatever satisfaction they’re sucking fromΒ your life force.

So I guess nice folks finish last when they never value themselves. But if we stand up for ourselves and leave toxic relationships, we don’t have to come out last.

Of course that’s in a nutshell. Living it out can feel much more gray than that, but this is the reminder I needed today. I can absolutely be a kind and caring person. But when it becomes clear I’m being taken advantage of, it’s time for a new action. And that is a-okay. It doesn’t make me a bad person.

Lost In A Depression Hole

Oh goodness. It’s been real dark and gloomy over here in my head. I’ve let myself fall off the wagon of daily routines which help me keep my sanity. Like tarot! I even missed my Monday Meditation this week. Not good!

So I pulled out the deck I’m getting to know this month (Golden Tarot) and asked “How can I get back on the wagon?” I know this won’t make things better or sweep away the gloom, but I just need to get up and get back to my daily things: tarot, exercise, cooking. Things like that. Without those I’m kind of a sad lump.

3 - Reading
Golden Tarot (in not-so-great lighting since it’s night!)

Page of Cups, Queen of Swords, Two of Cups

Child-like wonder, self-discipline, self-love.

Nice and clear today!

When I’m doing them, I really enjoy daily tarot practice, cooking, and general self-care. Think about it as fun, because it is! Don’t mope around. Say, “Donkey, get up! Go do a spread, go try a new recipe, go for a walk!” And then do it. And remember I’m worth this fun and this care. These are good things and enjoyable things I’ve let slip from my daily routine.

Well, maybe not let exactly. Depression is tricky like that. But I’ve fallen into a rut, I’m recognizing it, and it’s time to crawl out. And it’s okay to start small as long as I’m starting.

Magical Animal Messenger

29 - Owls
Top: Animal Wisdom Tarot. Left: Animal Totem Tarot. Right: Animism Tarot.

Last night I had the most wonderful visit from a beautiful Barred Owl. I followed her on foot as she flew from rooftop to treetop around the apartment complex. She was stunning and didn’t seem to mind my company. It was a truly magical experience.

When I returned to the apartment, I decided to pull out all of the owl cards from my animal-themed tarot decks to ponder the message she may have had for me.

The Hermit. The High Priestess. The Moon.

Intuition. Darkness. Alone. Mystery. Introspection. Fear. Confusion. Guidance. Searching.

Perhaps the message I can take from this beautiful visitor is, “I feel your pain. I know it’s a hard time right now. There’s no denying that. There’s also no rushing it. The dark night will pass, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find small joys in the meantime. Night isn’t as scary as some folks think. There’s magic to be found. Maybe healing magic. Listen and learn. Don’t rush yourself and don’t be down on yourself. Healing will come at its own pace. Be present where you are, even if it is dark.”

Monday Meditation

A meditation for the week ahead: April 25 – May 1

25 - Monday Meditation
Animal Totem Tarot: The High Priestess, Death, Nine of Wands

May I look inward for wisdom and strength.

May I trust my intuition as things around me change.

May I be true to my convictions, and may I recognize what battles are worth fighting.

May I remember that I am the writer of my own life story.

 

Monday Meditation

A meditation for the week ahead: April 18 – April 24

17 - Monday Meditation
Animal Wisdom Tarot

May I take time this week to build my self-confidence.

May I take pride in what my body can do and what my mind can learn.

May I appreciate that mastering a craft takes patience and dedication.

May I find enjoyment in the tasks that lay ahead of me this week.

Monday Meditation

A meditation for the week ahead: April 11 – April 17

10 - Monday Meditation
Animal Totem Tarot

May I understand that change can be difficult, but that it is inevitable.

May I recognize that sometimes the hardest thing about work is patience.

May I appreciate the fruits of my labor and milestones along the way.

May I step up to the challenges ahead of me with a positive attitude and an appreciation for the opportunities they bring.

May I both keep in mind my family of choice and my own needs and desires as I move through these changing times.

Wow! These cards seem particularly personal to my life right now. It is a time of incredible change. Death and two Tens speak to the end of an era and the birthing of a brand new beginning. Beautiful πŸ™‚