The tradition of “family” has affected my life in multiple, conflicting ways. For the majority of my life, family was a obligation and a system where I had to be obedient. This was a joyless tradition since it was all work and no spiritual fulfillment. I had no concept of family as a positive, safe place for spiritual and emotional support.
I have finally begun to assimilate with my family of choice, and this took a lot of learning and unlearning (the Hierophant as education in a tradition). It has been a healing process and, as I am becoming more confident, an enjoyable kind of “work” as portrayed in the Eight of Pentacles. In fact, I’m bringing some of my own “traditions” to the family, particularly holiday traditions. Before I became an active member of the family, they didn’t celebrate a lot of holidays even though they recognized them. This has been a really enjoyable experience, bringing these holidays to life and making them our own.
Each eight card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot contains a lemniscate, representing cycles and patterns. Traditions are shared patterns of actions and beliefs.
Position Two: What have I learned?
Dog, Ten of Fossils (Pentacles)
This new way of experiencing tradition has taught me how to play and be happy, to feel fulfilled. Now, of course it’s a learning curve and I still experience fear and inhibition a good bit of the time as well. But that doesn’t diminish this incredible lesson which I continue to grow with.
While the traditional RWS depiction of the Ten of Cups shows a family joyful in only needing each other’s company, the traditional Ten of Pentacles can be said to be more structured and rule-based. In this context, the Ten of Pentacles can represent family tradition. And that doesn’t mean less loving or more strict. Tradition, when done “right,” can be a warm and beautiful shared experience. That is what I am learning to be a part of.
This card appeared in my reading for the High Priestess regarding what is deep within me. So maybe I’m just learning to let it out 🙂
Position Three: How have I broken with tradition?
Scarab Beetle, Ten of Branches (Wands)
This card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot can can represent “conscious transformation.” In the traditional RWS depiction, it can represent excess and burden — the person in the card carrying the ten wands has their arms full and can’t see the road in front of them. I can relate to both sides of this card. The old “tradition” of family life for me was very much like the person weighed down with so many branches she can’t see anything else. But like the Animal Wisdom Tarot’s interpretation, I have made a conscious choice to do something else with those branches, and the road ahead is clear, even if I’m not sure exactly where it leads.
Position Four: What do I have to teach others?
Bat, Master of Suspension (The Hanged Man)
The Hanged Man shows us that a drastic change in perspective and/or a pause can bring great transformation or enlightenment. Not only do bats hang upside down, but they can “see” with echolocation. While I am by no means a “master of suspension,” I have made huge strides in my life from being utterly trapped with no sense of my own power to embracing my power, making choices that are far outside my comfort zone, and creating a new life for myself, starting with my inner world. I can teach and encourage that in others.
Position Five: How can I fulfill this role?
Salamander, Two of Branches (Wands)
Twos represent duality and balance, as symbolized by the yin-yang symbols on the twos in the Animal Wisdom Tarot deck. And while the salamander is a symbol of fire, she also lives on both the earth and in the water. A fiery spark with a balance of emotion and reality. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says that this card “illustrates the tension between stability and mobility” (148). So perhaps I can fulfill this role by carefully choosing when to remain still (like the Hanged Man) and when to move forward. A balance between the creative action of the Magician and the quiet contemplation of the High Priestess.
Today my Efflorescent Tarot deck arrived! It’s really beautiful.
What do I need to understand about communicating with my family of choice?
Eight of Pentacles
Methodical and diligent. Perseverance and dedication. Communicating effectively is not something that can be done without concerted practice and hard work. Relationships are indeed work, but the rewards of this job well done are priceless. In this card, the painter has many brushes. This could represent the different tools needed to be a good communicator. Just one brush could not capture the image the artist wishes to paint. The pentacles the model reclines on are orange, while in the painting they are yellow. This could represent some things as being lost in translation. Or not lost necessarily, but messages could be received not quite as they were intended. This could also represent how people can be changed through communication / relationships.
Additionally, it takes both the model and the painter to create this work of art and both are reflected in different ways within the painting. Communication requires all parties to be involved. In order for each person to feel valued and heard, communication (including listening) should be undertaken with both dedication and joy. The model is nude, and this could represent vulnerability. It takes trust to bare oneself in front of others, and it is a great responsibility to respect the vulnerability of others and to cultivate a safe environment where this vulnerability can be transformed into un-self-conscious confidence.
Nine of Pentacles
Independence and solitude, but also loneliness. I’m an introvert and a bit of a loner. I need solitude to re-charge my batteries, and I’m perfectly comfortable being alone for long periods of time. It’s a good thing to be able to find comfort in my own company, but I can’t be my only company. To train a bird to rest on her hand must have taken great patience. Just as she could not expect the bird to “befriend” her right way, I should be patient cultivating these relationships. It will require some give and take, even when these relationships are solidly established. Perhaps it is also a reminder that it is okay to retreat for short amounts of time to reflect, recharge, and to think before responding in a difficult situation.
Three of Cups
It’s kind of funny, I was going to just draw two cards and felt like I ought to pull one more. And here’s my new friend the Three of Cups! This time around, I think I’ll interpret it a little more literally in light of the current situation. In addition to my experience with a serious trigger last weekend, there was another situation. There were plans to decorate for an upcoming fall party, but that didn’t happen for a few reasons. My feelings were really hurt since I thought we had planned a family activity together. I felt like (admittedly still feel like) these plans weren’t a priority or weren’t valued by others in the family. In my already extremely fragile state, this crushed me. In my hurt feelings I had pondered cancelling the family fall party. Maybe this card says, “Throw the party! It might be tinged with hurt this year, but you’ll regret it more if you don’t.” In fact, the card seems to depict a somewhat gloomy day. Darker sky and a tree with no leaves. But these women have gathered anyway. Maybe now is not the time to retreat.