Continuing through Susannah Conway’s workbook, I’ve done a spread for the year ahead. I don’t subscribe to the idea of future-telling, but I do like the idea of a little message or tidbit to keep in mind for each month of the year ahead. So I’ve gone through and created a short message from each card, focusing on the particular messages in the little white book for the Ostara deck.
January – Queen of Coins
I love that this card came up first, especially since it is one of two cards that I chose to help guide me in courage through the year ahead.
“Cherish home and family, focus on and nurture the world immediately surrounding me.”
February – Justice
“Be mindful that all actions have consequences. Choose wisely.”
March – Seven of Coins
“Enjoy the little things. Don’t miss out on these small things by being distracted by impatiently expecting ‘more.'”
April – Four of Coins
“Protect what is mine, but don’t neglect those around me. Share and be generous.”
May – Wheel of Fortune
“Appreciate the good in my life, and don’t let any bad events take me down. Remember that I control my emotional reaction to what happens around me.”
June – Queen of Cups
“Be imaginative and trust my intuition. Continue to be kind and empathetic, but don’t let myself be emotionally drained by others.”
July – Seven of Swords
“In seeking independence, don’t isolate myself. I can be my own person within community.”
August – Knight of Coins
“Hardship can bring valuable lessons. Don’t quit.”
September – Eight of Swords
“Be careful not to get stuck in my own head. Look realistically at situations and seek additional perspectives.”
October – Four of Wands
“Celebrate with family. Be happy.”
November – Queen of Wands
“Trust my creative vision. Be passionate.”
December – The Empress
“Appreciate the abundance of good in my life. Embrace my creative powers.”
Judgement is a card of renewal and rebirth. Duality is a theme that has been explored throughout much of the Major Arcana. Here, we see a child between the man and the woman. This symbolizes the birth of a new self. From duality comes a new whole.
The cross in the sun on the Efflorescent Tarot (and on the angel’s banner in the RWS version) can represent a cross-roads. Judgement signals a need to leave something old behind in order to take this new path or in order to be resurrected. It can also represent the coming together of world and the universe.
Justice and Judgement seem to have a lot in common, but Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom says that, “With Justice the experience and the response were personal, based on your actions in the past. Here a force greater than yourself is leading and calling you, and the Judgement is not simply on the meaning of your own life but on the true nature of existence, and the way in which you and all beings are a part of it” (135). So while Justice is about inner balance and truth, Judgement seems to be an awakening to the larger recognition that we are a part of the universe or a call to or recognition of change. Pollack tells us that this change can be mundane or divine and that the other cards in a spread can help to illuminate the change we’re called to or the change we need to recognize.
While the Sun is about unity and self-acceptance, Judgement speaks to unity and community. We are all integral parts of the universe. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says, “The Trump unites the fluidity of the High Priestess (2) with the ego-unencumbered wholeness of the Fool (0). The combination initiates the process that will lead to the spiritual homecoming symbolized in the World. … Judgment’s angel breaks through the density of mass consciousness with the revelation that we are all one in spirit. … Therefore, the Angel of Judgment does not seek to judge us (as the name of the card might imply) but to lift us out of our judgmental conscioussness” (133, emphasis in original).
A shadow of Judgement could be waiting for someone else to rescue us. An opposite or reverse meaning could be uncertainty about how to implement change or an unwillingness or inability to heed the call.
If I were to assign an element to Judgement, it would be fire and water: fire for the inspiration of the call and water for the spiritual unity we see through Judgement.
I think I’ve been called to take better care of myself for many, many years, but I only just answered that call a couple of years ago. Oh, I wish I’d listened earlier, but absolutely better late than never. I’m still working on heeding the call. I finally stopped letting people stomp all over me, but I’m still working on believing that I’m important and valuable — just as valuable as everyone else (like the Judgement card reminds me).
One of Paul Quinn’s reflection questions for this card is, “What ‘angels’ have awakened you to greater possibilities?” I’ve got to say my sweetie is one. He always believes in me even when I absolutely 100% do not. And like an angel, he hasn’t given up on me even once. He models the possibility of loving myself unconditionally.
It has supported my intellectual gift. I have nurtured this side of me because it was the safest piece of myself to grow in that environment.
Position Three: How has it confined me?
I can often have a skewed or confused sense of justice. I am both acutely aware of inequality and injustice, and I struggle with whether my expectations and ideals of justice are fair or if I “rule” too harshly. I lack self confidence in decision making and my sense of true self.
Position Four: What will break it apart?
Queen of Pentacles
My gentle friend the Queen of Pentacles is back to remind me: true joy in the world around me. Surrendering to what is beautiful and joyful in this world. Accepting the love and nurturance of those who encourage this in me.
Position Five: What will emerge?
Page of Pentacles
A new me. A curious and enthusiastic woman happy to explore the world around her for no other reason than the joy of learning.
This reading is for a conflict situation, so I’ll just keep in mind what upset me last night as I do this reading.
Position One: What is outer justice?
Four of Cups
Huska’s description of this card fits this reading well. A balance in a relationship. This balance is made of respect and fairness and is needed to avoid dissatisfaction or resentment.
Position Two: What is the wisdom of pursuing it?
Clarity. If things are not clear, miscommunication can easily happen, and that can upset the balance.
Position Three: What action is best?
It may seem the opposite of the Sun above, but the Moon speaks to the mysteries of the unconscious. Both our own unconscious and the mind of whoever we are in a relationship with are mysterious places. Sometimes we have to dive in and explore these unknowns before we can reach clarity. The light of the moon may help us to see things we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Position Four: What is inner justice?
The Hanged Man
A new perspective. The same old viewpoint can become torturous. Self-honesty and fairness can come through trying a new viewpoint. The Moon and the Hanged Man together in this reading might speak to the importance of this new perspective.
Position Five: What part do I play?
King of Pentacles
Pentacles represent the physical world, and the King of Pentacles can be read as a provider or a master craftsman. My role could include caring for (providing for) my body so my mind can do its necessary work.
I love Huszka’s depiction of this king. He’s not a rich businessman on a throne with all of his monetary wealth. He walks through the world and seems to have fruit falling from the basket/bag her carries. Fruit for everyone! Sustenance and health for all through this king. To provide this kind of care also takes love and dedication. I should feel those things for myself as I seek inner justice.
Position Six: How will justice come about?
The Chariot is a card that, like Justice, speaks to balance. But the Chariot is a more conscious and controlling balance. A less practiced and less natural sense of balance, but a balance nonetheless. Justice will come through practicing balance willfully. In the Major Arcana, we can’t get to Justice without first visiting the Chariot. Conscious effort and practice.
Position Seven: What is the link between inner and outer justice?
King of Wands
Fire of fire. This king is a creative leader, and while fire can suggest spontaneity, as a king he is responsible for his choices to more people than just himself. Passion and creativity can help to both facilitate communicate without giving up and to see things from a new perspective. And people in a relationship are responsible to each other. I can see creativity and responsibility being a link between inner and outer justice.
Four major cards and two kings! I’m not sure what that may mean, but that piece of the reading certainly stood out to me. With more practice I’ll be better able to think about what things like this may signify or communicate.
This card symbolizes honesty with one’s self, truthfulness, and, well, justice. In the position of card 11, it is directly in the middle of the Major Arcana (if we set the Fool aside). This further speaks to the balance indicated by this card. Justice takes both the action of the Magician and the intuition and introspection of the High Priestess in order to make decisions.
Once we make decisions in our life, they often cannot be revoked. Because of this, we are shaped by the choices we make and must be willing to look inside ourselves honestly in order to make better choices as we continue on our journey. This is where we take responsibility for the choices we have made on our Wheel of Fortune. If we assume nothing is in our control, we take no responsibility for who we are and have become because of our various choices. Justice asks us to look closely and own what we have indeed controlled and chosen. This is what will keep us from patterns that we can in fact change. Justice reminds us of free will.
Part of the balance of Justice is also continuing to acknowledge that which we do not have control over. Take responsibility for what we do control and don’t torture ourselves by trying to control what we can’t.
In addition to being honest with ourselves, Justice reminds us to be fair and honest with others as well. Just can serve as a reminder to right a wrong.
I like some of the questions Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life suggests Justice might ask us: “‘We partner with the Justice archetype whenever we pause for a self check: “What do I need to do to right myself and be kinder to my body?” “Is my behavior in harmony with the loving capacities of my Highest Self?” “How am I ‘off kilter’ right now, and what will bring me into alignment?”‘” (87) All this responsibility might make us feel guilty, but Quinn reminds us that Justice is also about giving ourselves unconditional love, which will help us to be honest and then move forward, rather than be trapped in shame (88).
A shadow of Justice would be judging too harshly or with bad intent. The opposite / reverse of the card could be imbalance, refusal or inability to see the truth, inequality, or failing to take responsibility for one’s actions.
At position eight, Justice could symbolize the honesty and balance needed to journey with the Hermit. Strength at position eleven is another form of balance, but a strength that would come from having moved through the Justice and Hermit cards rather than the strength needed to move on to the Hermit. I’d like to look into this more, but right now I don’t have a great grasp on how their two possible positions might change their meanings. A research post for another day perhaps.
If I were to assign an element to Justice, it would be air since air directly involves issues of truth and justice.
This card isn’t an easy one for me. I’m often honest with myself, sometimes brutally so. It’s Paul Quinn’s reminder about loving myself anyway that I really struggle with. When my life is the most out of whack, when I am a truly hot mess, I am getting better at being both honest and compassionate with myself. But it’s the climb back to equilibrium that is the hardest. When I’ve fallen so far, it takes a little while to get back to a good place, and I am much better at being gentle with myself in this transition period. However, it feels like many times this is exactly when I am scolded from the outside. Which crushes me since I’m rebuilding self-esteem and feeling good about the baby step progress that is happening. This happened tonight, and I am not in a good place right now. When I’m slowly but surely climbing back up the mountain, I really don’t need people pointing at the peak and saying, “Why aren’t you there right now?” I know I am screwing up. But I also know that I did better than yesterday. I can’t snap my fingers and create balance in an instant.
This is the first time I’ve examined the Five of Swords, and I really like Huszka’s portrayal. I have a wall built up around myself, and rather than just cowering behind it, I think I can sometimes go on the “offensive” and appear mean so that I won’t be hurt. The two women in front of the wall are not very welcoming. They stare out at the viewer in a harsh and condescending way seeming to say, “Keep moving, this place isn’t for you.” While there is a small doorway in the wall, who wants to get on their hands and knees and crawl through there under the hateful gaze of these women? These women may feel victorious in protecting whatever lies behind the wall, but at what cost?
However, a snake raises its head up from behind the wall. Snakes can symbolize rebirth, so it seems like a hopeful element in the card. I have to decide on my own to let these walls down. I can accept the help and support of my loved ones, but only I can choose to dismantle my defensive walls.
Position Two: What or who is my teacher?
Like the Hermit, Justice also asks us to look honestly at our own lives. Truth, fairness, and justice are indeed my teachers, and they encourage me to reinstate balance in my life.
Position Three: Where will I find my light?
I think I will find my light in working on a Chariot-like balance in my life. The Chariot’s sense of balance is very conscious and will-based, but I have to practice this kind of balance before I can reach a more “natural” feeling, integrated sort of balance.
Position Four: What will it reveal?
Two of Pentacles
Well, balance! There may be ups and downs, and I may waver, but it will reveal balance.
Position Five: What question does the Hermit want me to ask?
Maybe the Hermit is asking, “Where’s you inner Fool? Let’s find her!”
The Ten of Pentacles can represent excess, financial security, and social standing and responsibilities. I don’t think these are the meanings intended for me in this position. I think the magic of the world around us, rules, and loyalty are at the root of this card for me. The word loyalty was used in many of the texts I referenced, but never as the central or core meaning of the card. However, since the word appears in multiple places, it must have some sort of central role in the Ten of Pentacles.
I am deeply loyal to those I choose to love. In return, I do expect a certain kind of rule-oriented loyalty in return: take my feelings into consideration as I do yours is my main “rule.” Many sources contrasted the Ten of Pentacles with the Ten of Cups. In the Ten of Cups, the family only needed each other to feel great happiness. In the Ten of Pentacles, there is more structure to the family. This is a fair assessment of my inner expectations and approach to relationships. Togetherness is important, but so is mutual respect.
The little fenced off house in Huszka’s depiction of the Ten of Pentacles may signify this more structured approach to family and love. In this same depiction, I find the affection between the two characters shown as very clear. They do not seem stand-offish or aloof. They wrap their arms around each other and press their faces together. A very intimate expression of love and togetherness.
Additionally, I deeply value the magic of the world around me, even if (as implied by the Ten of Pentacles) I often take it for granted because it seems so “ordinary.”
So deep within me is intense loyalty, a need for respect, and a love of ordinary “magic.”
Position Two: How can I know it?
Knight of Pentacles
This card can represent dedication and persistence to the task at hand. Undistracted focus. Knights are air, and pentacles are earth. At times, the knight loses focus of the earth around him by being overly focused on air-centered practicalities. Huszka’s knight is surrounded by clouds/air and looks up toward the sky, blindfolded. His feet don’t quite seem to touch the ground, illustrating this disconnect between his knightly qualities and his suit’s qualities — he can forget the source of his strength: the earth.
Perhaps I can know my inner depths by not rushing to action as the other three knights would, but by taking contemplative action. However, I need to remember to stay grounded in the source of my power, the magic of the world around me, which the Knight of Pentacles struggles with.
Position Three: How can I be true to it?
This card can represent clarity, simplicity, and happiness. When unconscious knowledge is brought to the surface or to the world around us, it becomes physical, simple, and joyous. The inner and outer, spiritual and earthly are joined together in harmony.
Huszka’s Sun is a woman surrounded by radiant light (enlightenment) as well as green branches (symbol of physical, earthly joy). The holy light that lives within each of us will remain trapped there unless we seek it out and free it.
I can be true to my inner truth by letting it out and not keeping it locked up inside. Find the goodness of my inner self and free it so I can live its simple, joyous truth.
Position Four: What do I need to give to others?
This card may imply that I need to look honestly at myself, take responsibility for myself, free myself from the baggage of my traumatic past, and give my best and most free self to others.
This is also a card of decisions, and once made many decisions/actions cannot be revoked. The beads on the necklace around Huszka’s Justice’s neck may represent the physicality of decisions. This is also a warning to be thoughtful and make sure I understand the choices at hand before making a decision.
Position Five: What do I need to keep within?
The High Priestess
What an interesting card for this position! I think I’ll keep it short and sweet: I need to determine and understand that which is sacred within myself and protect it. Huszka’s depiction of The High Priestess looks so comfortable wrapped in a blanket sitting in what looks like a comfortable bed propped up by fluffy pillows. This cozy representation speaks to the good of keeping that which is sacred private.
This reading wasn’t what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it. It provided some excellent insight into my inner self and how to live my inner truth in a meaningful way. The spread contained only pentacles and majors, which can represent the importance of a union between the larger spiritual and experiential realm (the majors) and the “mundane” physical world around me (pentacles).
I recently read an article for class called “The Mundanity of Excellence” by Daniel Chambliss. While he spends much of the article discussing Olympic swimmers, his underlying point is powerful: that which creates excellence isn’t some large abstract concept such as “talent.” It is the mundane things we do every day that lead to success and excellence. It is practice, dedication, precision, and mindset. So that which is deep inside of me can reach excellence in the world through the mundane ways that I bring its truth to the world.