As I’ve talked about many times before, I identify strongly with the Nine of Wands and its defensive meaning. Tonight I decided to draw nine cards to represent the nine wands of my little defensive fortress. I don’t have any particular question in mind. I just thought I’d practice trying to see the spread as a whole. Baby steps. And I’m not in the mood tonight to look on the bright side or to think of how I can respond positively in this current situation. I’m holed up in my fortress, and that’s the way it is right now. Maybe these nine card can give me some insight or validation about my little fortress or how I end up here.
Well, the first thing I noticed is the three fives. Struggle, conflict, and pain. The Two of Swords speaks to a difficult choice. The Eight of Cups is leaving something behind, while the Devil is being trapped. The Page of Swords is rational and assertive, but may be too quick to judge. The Knight of Cups is dreamy and romantic, and the Ten of Pentacles is about abundance and family. So, putting these all together …
Three of the cards that jump out as part of the same narrative to me are the Devil, the Two of Swords, and the Eight of Cups. A difficult decision is being pondered behind these fortress walls: Do I abandon something I’ve worked very hard at? And am I at risk for some kind of imprisonment either way? If I walk away, am I trapped by my own inability to stick it out, resulting in a Five of Pentacles (hurt) and/or Five of Swords (hollow “victory”) situation? Or if I stay, am I trapped by my emotional intensity (Knight of Cups) in being too invested in something I don’t get emotional returns on?
Part of me wants to Five of Wands the situation. Open up my gates and come out swinging. Sharing some characteristics with the Page of Swords, I could be effective at that particular approach, but is that the approach I want to take? And will that lead me to the abundance of life of the Ten of Pentacles?
The cards certainly reflect the conflict waging within myself and in my outer world. Not only conflict, though, but intense confusion and mixed emotions. The Knight of Cups and the Page of Swords don’t seem to see eye to eye about how to do things, and they’re both certainly fighting within me. I also, against my better judgment, hold out a wee bit of hope for wholeness and happiness (Ten of Pentacles). Do I stay, do I go? Do I love, do I fight? I do recognize that these things are not necessarily either/or. They’re still very uncomfortable to mix and balance. Too much of one and I damage myself. Too much of another, and I do unnecessary harm to someone else. What a mess!
I’m not sure how “well” I did at interpreting this, but this seems to have helped me to articulate some of my conflicting emotions about this situation. So I’ll call it a success! These cards all did really hit home, and when I put them in direct conversation with each other the conflict and confusion really seemed apparent to me.
And I’m certainly open to any help or suggestions as I awkwardly wiggle into the stage of trying to see the spread as a whole 🙂
Today I was forthcoming about my emotions, but I also kept my snark to myself on the occasion or two I was feeling moody. I thought about it before I spoke, and decided my comments would be more hurtful than expressive. I stuck to productive honest sharing. I’ve ended the evening a bit moody, so I may do an additional reading about that shortly. But, I’m proud that I’ve not let this mood take over my night. I can feel it, but it isn’t owning me or controlling me.
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Three of Coins
Two of the keywords associated with this card in the Ostara Tarot are “learning” and “patience.” Tomorrow I can continue to research setting up a business and work on my business plan. It has seemed overwhelming the last few times I’ve pulled it up, even though I don’t plan to actually open for several months. I can be patient and take it one thing a time. I can also be patient with those around me (I do have a tendency to be impatient at times) and be open to learning new things from others.
I discovered this incredible resource via Emily N. Howard. Susannah Conway has a super cool workbook that helps you to reflect on the past year and to look ahead to the upcoming year. She calls it “Unravelling the Year Ahead,” and rather than setting traditional new year’s resolutions, she talks about choosing a word for the year. Like a theme.
I’m still working through the book, but so far it has been super useful. This last year has been quite a roller coaster of sorts. I’ve both discovered how to trust myself and carve my own path and discovered how many deep-seated fears still live inside of me. So for 2016, I settled on the word “courage.” Courage to continue to trusting myself as I start a new journey and courage to fight my fears that keep me emotionally isolated.
Once I chose a word, I decided to pick some “supporting” cards from tarot. I did this non-randomly. I consciously chose two cards I thought might be helpful to me as I take on the theme of courage in 2016. I decided on the Knight of Cups and the Queen of Pentacles.
The Knight of Cups, though usually considered pretty passive (for a knight), will remind me to be brave with my emotions. Let them out there! Showing emotion and having and sharing dreams is quite a brave thing to do, for me anyway. The Queen of Pentacles will be a reminder to have the courage to nurture and create the home and relationships I value and desire. Is there anything more fundamental and valuable than a safe and loving home and family?
I look forward to bringing courage with me in the coming year and to working through the rest of Susannah Conway’s workbook 🙂
This reading called for 1-3 cards for each position. So I decided to use the two decks with my favorite Star cards and to pull one card from each deck per position.
Position One: Hope
Three of Pentacles & Ace of Cups
Teamwork and a new emotional beginning. Perhaps these are good places to pin my hopes. Not so much in very specific ideas (the Star has told me a couple of times already I’m too idealistic), but more in the process itself. Opening myself up to accepting help and cooperation and feeling hopeful about this new emotional beginning.
Position Two: Guidance
Six of Cups & The Lovers
Generosity and connection. The guidance here may be, “Give more of yourself to those you trust. Foster a closer connection, strengthen that trust into something more solid. And don’t forget to include generosity toward yourself.”
Both cards are sixes, speaking to harmony. A true harmony is not possible if I am always holding something back.
Position Three: Peace
The World & Knight of Cups
Slow down and appreciate the interconnectedness of everything. Take time to make myself whole. Be the dreamy Knight of Cups and take in the World with love and wonder.
Position Four: Healing
Knight of Swords & Three of Swords
Healing actually takes a great deal of courage. As I’ve spoken about a few times recently, even when I know change is possible it can be difficult to take the steps necessary to make it happen. The unknown is scary, and the “bad” present suddenly looks like a safe bet. So it takes courage to change, and at the same time I will always carry some degree of hurt and trauma with me. As much as I would absolutely love there to be a final threshold to cross and be able to yell, “I’m all better!”, that’s just not going to happen. There will always be damaged parts of myself, but I have to be brave and to mend those parts that can be put back together or remade.
Animism Tarot message
A major theme of connection: teamwork, generosity, and the universe. All followed by courage. Connection is vitally important, but there’s an acknowledgment that it’s not always the easiest thing to accomplish.
Gypsy Palace Tarot message
Love is a major theme: love as beginning, love as connection, love as slow and dreamy-eyed, and love as pain. Again, love is important, and the acknowledgement that it’s not always easy either.
This has been such an interesting spread, especially when I looked at the two decks’ cards separately. Such a similar message!
This reading is a little abstract for me, but I’ll do my best! I think I’ll look at it like where I’m at in my own life cycle.
Position One: What turns the Wheel?
Queen of Wands
Position Two: What outer change will come?
Page of Wands
Adventures will come my way. I may not know what exactly they will be or when they’ll come, but they’ll be available. I just have to choose which ones to tackle!
Position Three: What inner change is possible?
Six of Wands
Victory! While I’ll never feel totally “fixed,” I contain the possibility of victories on my journey of self-healing. The Wheel of my journey rolls on, but I can celebrate the victory of a full turn, a new revolution.
Position Four: What new situation will I face?
Knight of Cups
I’m entering a new era of my life that calls for emotional action. For a long, long time I’ve been very reserved. I’ll be experiencing similar situations, but the new cycle I am in calls for me to offer up more of my emotional self. My action doesn’t have to be fast or reckless. The RWS Knight of Cups isn’t galloping away at high speeds. But I do need to be moving forward.
I like the depiction here of the hippo diving. She’s exploring emotional depths.
Position Five: What rises?
Folly rises. Silliness rises. I’m letting loose my inner prancing llama! (Or trying anyway, there’s a series of smaller ups and downs in this process.)
Position Six: What falls?
This card keeps showing up in kind of negative positions, which has me a little confused. But I’ll go again, then, with the shadow meaning: too high of expectations / ideals. These overly high ideals are falling away. Not all at once, but they are.
Position Seven: What is at the center?
Ten of Wands
Hard work is at the center! Hard work and motivation. The Wheel isn’t going to turn itself. Well, maybe it would, but I might not like where it would go. I’m pulling the strings I have control over to help guide it.
I just received Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook: Master the Meanings of the Cards. After each Major Arcana card description, she provides a reading about that card. So I thought doing these readings after I explore each card would be a perfect way to work my way through the majors. So here is the first one: The Fool’s Reading.
Position One: How have I been a Fool in my life?
This one has taken a lot of thought and reading, and I’m not sure I’ll get it “right.” Good thing practicing tarot isn’t about one right answer! 🙂
As I’m skimming through the majors, I’m beginning to get a sense of the story or path that they show. Of the different experiences and lessons we all go through or need to achieve on our “fool’s journey.” Frankly, I haven’t mastered a lot of things along the way. I didn’t have a lot of guidance, and so I think this card here might represent that. I was “chained” by my longtime assumption that I was responsible for the emotions of all of my family (of origin) members. I was chained by the assumption that I had to have these people in my life, even when they sucked my own life energy away. Silenced by the assumption that I couldn’t stand up for myself.
How have I been a Fool in my life? I think the problem is: I haven’t. At least, not in a long, long, long time. So I’m a Fool who has lost my intuition, but I am aware of my chains. Not the world’s happiest thought. But it’s true.
Position Two: How has it helped me?
Being aware of these chains, the little Fool inside me is not content to sit down and remain chained forever. This could be a choice that The Lovers represent. In addition to representing choice, The Lovers also represent connection. I see my chains, and I can choose to chip away at them by forging connections. So while my past certainly hasn’t “helped” me, my awareness of the damage it has done is essential to leaving it behind. And love is essential for this process: love of my myself, love for my family of choice, and love from my family of choice.
The Lovers can represent a (very delayed!) adolescence of sorts for me. A getting to know myself, which means letting go of these proverbial chains and going out into the wide world — like The Fool.
Interestingly enough, the number of The Devil (15) reduces down The Lovers’ number (1+5 = 6). I’m not sure what that means here, but it is interesting.
Position Three: How has it hurt me?
Nine of Pentacles
The woman in the Nine of Pentacles is able to enjoy the success of her hard work. Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom says, “‘Success’ here means not so much worldly achievement as success in ‘creating’ ourselves out of the material given us by the circumstances and conditions of our life” (243).
I think I’m going to go with a double-negative here since my answer to Position One was that I haven’t really played The Fool. So I’ll say that not playing The Fool often enough has made it difficult to obtain and enjoy a successful self-creation. This is something I am currently working on now. Through The Lovers’ influence of love for self, for others, and from others, I am taking ownership of my own life by being less serious and creating myself through joyful (“foolish”?) exploration.
Position Four: Where in my life do I need to be more foolish?
Queen of Pentacles
Pollack in The New Tarot Handbooks says this queen “brings passionate love to the living world” (255). The Animal Wisdom Tarot says, “Pig encourages us to dig up lost, vulnerable, or despondent selves” (80). I should be more foolish both out in the living world and in my inner world to free my lost (Fool) self. Get silly, think silly, be silly. The Queen of Pentacles takes joy in the small things in life. Things don’t have to be complicated to be beautiful and bring happiness.
Position Five: Where will the Fool not serve me?
Knight of Cups
This knight is dreamy and prone to fantasizing. The Fool also is not action-oriented. To successfully unchain myself, I will definitely need to take definitive action. I can certainly take time for introspection and thinking and dreaming, but these things alone will not free me.
Position Six: What gifts does the Fool bring me?
Ace of Pentacles
Aces are representative of beginnings, and so is the Fool. Pentacles represent earth energies, which are the things of our physical world: friends, family, home, work, money, sex, pets, nature, activities. The Fool freely explores whatever strikes her fancy. She can gift me this ability to lovingly explore and experience the world around me with excitement and childlike wonder.
This was a really hard reading for me, and while I’m not totally confident in the interpretations of each of the individual cards, this has been a good exercise for thinking about my inner Fool.
Additionally, three of the six cards were pentacles. In my exploration of The Fool, I assigned her the elements of earth and fire. I absolutely have the drive (fire, wand) in this situation; it’s putting it into action in the world that is tough. So perhaps this was another nudge to not think so much about my motivation and desire, but to manifest these desires physically.
This card can represent guilt, despondency, depression, self-pity, grief, or anxiety. My main books take two different views of this. One says that the Nine of Swords is a shadow of the Hermit: introspection gone too far. We are torturing ourselves with our thoughts. The other book says that this card represents situations that are largely out of our control.
I don’t read reversals and don’t plan to. I like to look at each card and take the light and the shadow into consideration based on the situation the reading speaks to. So my current situation as described by the Nine of Feathers is a shedding of this great anxiety and depression that I have been enveloped in for the last couple of weeks.
The booklet that accompanies the Animal Wisdom Tarot supports this idea. There is a very positive spin on this card. The crow helps us to find our inner light and to integrate the disparate parts of ourselves. The Nine of Feathers can speak to awakening and awareness.
I have been depressed and un-confident, but the last couple of days I have really been pulling it together. The commucation about the event that set off my trigger was extremely productive. I had been tortured both by my own mind and by the actions of another person, but this communication has been a healthy way to share awareness of where each of us is coming from. I’m waking from my depression and waking from some of the persistent negative thoughts that have been haunting me.
Position Two: Bottom, Earth of the Situation
Seeker of Shells (Knight of Cups)
Knights represent air, and shells are water. This card can indicate spirituality, romance, dreams, self-sacrifice, serving others, forgiveness, charm, and sensitivity. This knight is altruistic and romantic, but her feelings are easily hurt.
A shadow for this knight could be discouragement, disillusionment, being not in touch with reality, or failing to express our feelings with another person.
I admit I struggle with the earth element because I so often live in my head, but I’m going to give this a go. So what might this air and water card have to do with my earth experience? This weekend is our fall party, and this celebration with food and decorations and movies is happening because I finally shared my feelings with BB, was able to get out of my head, make/repair/deepen an emotional connection, and let go of my sadness and anger. This mind/emotion work was necessary in order for this party to be able to happen successfully. I’m really looking forward to it 🙂
Additionally, now that this issue is resolved, I have fewer headaches and tummy aches and have been able to enjoy watching the World Series, going for walks, and cleaning my home. My physical world has been returned to me since my mental/emotional troubles have been resolved.
Position Three: Left, Water of My Situation
Seer of Shells (Page of Cups)
Pages represent earth, and shells are water. This card can indicate dreams, sensitivity, tenderheartedness, immaturity, emotion, trust, goodness, loyalty, and imaginativeness. She is curious and enjoys discovering things in her unconscious. She is trusting and can go with the flow.
A shadow could be an inability to see when others are taking advantage of her since she is so trusting. Because of this, the shadow could be fear of connecting with people for worries about being hurt. In this way, she warns us to be careful of who we trust.
This card could relate to my water element in this situation by reminding me that even though I have trouble trusting people (shadow side of the card), I am beginning to do better at trusting in the goodness of others and not retreating so far when a relationship issue arises. And since this card is a combination of earth and water, it can show that I am approaching my emotions and emotional connection with others in a more grounded way.
Position Four: Top, Air of My Situation
Two of Feathers (Two of Swords)
This card can represent a difficult decision and/or polarities like good and bad, light and dark. In the traditional RWS card, a woman sits blindfolded holding two swords crossed. Her blindfold can represent either an unwillingness to see the truth or a retreat into her inner being to seek truth.
This card can also represent holding two seemingly opposing ideas at the same time or seeking a compromise between two things. It can be a reminder to listen to “both sides of the story,” so to speak.
The shadow of this card could be indecision or procrastination in making a decision. Doubting one’s ability to make a good decision. It could also represent having to choose between two bad options or a stalemate.
This could represent the fact that it has not been an easy decision to let go of the hurt I felt and to move forward in solidarity and connection. I feel I made the right decision, but it wasn’t an easy one given the emotional trauma I have suffered. In this case, I went with mind over emotion, which my emotions will eventually benefit from since I am choosing love and connection over artificial safety and loneliness. This is also the holding of contradictory ideas at the same time: I am afraid and I choose connection anyway.
Position Five: Right, Fire of My Situation
Seeker of Feathers (Knight of Swords)
Knights symbolize air, as do feathers.
This card has very clear light and shadow. She can be idealistic, rational, and intelligent. She will fiercely defend those who need defending. The Knight of Swords can also serve to stir us to action if we are being too timid or lacking commitment.
However, she can also be vengeful, argumentative, domineering, self-righteous, and aggressive. She may remind us to listen before acting.
Rather than allowing my thoughts to be filtered through fear and other negative emotions, I have taken a more rational approach with personal growth and interpersonal connection in mind. I am determined (fire) to create positive change in my life, and tarot has been an invaluable tool so far by helping me to both stand up and defend myself and by stopping to acknowledge the experience and feelings of others. And I am genuinely excited about where my life is going, particularly in my new approach to relationships.
This spread contained three swords and two knights. Very air heavy. While the last two weeks were painful, I have been able to wield my mind in a much more healthy and productive way than usual. Rather than obsessing and engaging in negative self-talk, I have been more rational and chosen a path that will, in the long run, lead to a happier me and a deeper connection with my loved ones. There will be difficult decisions along the way (Two of Feathers), and sometimes I will despair (Nine of Feathers), but I am actively working (Seeker of Feathers, Seeker of Shells) toward a life defined more by trust and ease (Page of Shells).