This morning I was particularly sad. I’m taking a break in communicating or spending time with someone, which is something I need to do while I figure out what I want or what to do. But that doesn’t make it easy. I’m sad! I miss them! This ache was, for some reason, rather acute this morning.
I wanted to do a reading but wasn’t sure what to ask, so I decided to do a four card open reading. Then I couldn’t decide on just one deck, so I decided to consult two of my tarot “friends.”
Ostara Tarot’s Message
Ace of Coins, The Hierophant, Four of Wands, Seven of Coins
The Ace of Coins says to me that there is an opportunity for a new beginning. In this scenario, I’ll consider that beginning as encompassing most of my world: work, family, relationships, home. While this can be a good thing or lead to a sense of stability and joy (Four of Wands), it is not an easy thing. I am having to question many of my currently held beliefs (The Hierophant), and it’s not quick work (Seven of Coins). The colors in this spread seem very mellow. This feels like it emphasizes the slow nature of the work I’m doing right now and reminds me that many wonderful things grow out of slow processes. This wait is part of what makes the end result so valuable or special.
The Ostara description of the Ace of Coins mentions the garden as growing “organically” — things will happen as they unfold. I can tend my proverbial garden, but I can’t make a rose a watermelon or make a sprout flower overnight.
The Hierophant represents not only belief systems, but larger systemic structures. I can search for outside wisdom and inspiration during this time. For example, I’m reading my new book The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren and it is already giving me so much to think about as I process my emotions in this situation. The Ostara depiction is my favorite Hierophant because there’s a book and pages. A plant grows out of the Hierophant’s head here — another hint at organic unfolding.
The carrots in the Four of Wands offer a similar hint.
The Ostara depiction of the Seven of Coins with the little raccoons snuggled in their tree reflects the need to patiently cultivate the world around me. The coins seem to magically grow out of the tree, representing where true treasure lies.
Here, the Ostara Tarot is reaffirming the slowness of this transition in my life. It is what it is. I should use this time well.
Gypsy Palace Tarot’s Message
Two of Wands, Nine of Wands, The Empress, Ten of Pentacles
I’m feeling trapped in a “stay or go” cycle of questions in my mind. Huszka’s depiction of the Two of Wands warns us that if we wonder for too long, stagnation and decay will set in. While I wait for the things that need to unfold organically, I can throw some fire energy into other things, like planning for my tarot business and being a good partner to my sweetheart.
I think in this situation, the Nine of Wands can represent not only my current sense of defensiveness but also my questioning and restructuring of personal boundaries. Particularly emotionally. This is one of the things that I feel will unfold as a combination of organic, subconscious happening and concerted, conscious work. Right now I feel like the grumpy woman guarding her fenced-in property!
The Empress reminds me to be nurturing and compassionate, which I think I’m doing a pretty good job of lately with myself. With others it feels tricky because of my unsureness about where and how to set boundaries. Before, I’ve always put others before myself, so it feels strange to put myself first and to leave others be on their own. I look forward to striking some kind of balance between the the Nine of Wands defensiveness and the Empress’s outward love and nurturance.
Where the Ostara Tarot gave me the Ace of Coins, The Gypsy Palace Tarot shows me the Ten of Pentacles. In fact, the Ace is the first card in my spread, and the Ten is the last! Perhaps here the Ten may indicate the end of an old cycle of being and thinking. One that worked for a while but isn’t functioning in a healthy way anymore. It can also represent a hopeful peek into the future: a joyous Ten of Pentacles representing success and fulfillment.
Each deck gave me one major card and a combination of coins/pentacles and wands. No swords, no cups. Much of what is happening feels like emotion and thought, but perhaps this spread indicates these are actions that are unfolding organically around and within me. The two major cards symbolize, broadly, love (The Empress) and beliefs (The Hierophant). I feel that these two things are really at the core of what is happening in and around me right now. I am full of love, but I just have to figure out what I really believe is the best way to share that and to protect my heart.
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 🙂
I’m still in pain, but I think I have handled the situation well. I have communicated my feelings clearly, and I have also made sure to continue connecting with my sweetheart in meaningful ways even though I’m feeling so bad. We’ve spent some quality time together, and this has helped me to stay buoyed.
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Nine of Wands
This seems very fitting. As I’ve described before, I identify very strongly with this card as symbolic of defensiveness and perhaps not being quite as strong as I am seem or try to be. Perhaps this card is saying, “You are in so much pain right now, and you’ve sent your walls shooting right back up. That’s understandable. Just be a teeny bit open. Send down a tin can telephone or accept messenger pigeons. Don’t totally lock yourself away.”
I almost didn’t do a reading tonight, but I’m glad I did. I would be lying if I said a human hasn’t already told me the same thing the Nine of Wands did, but it’s easier to accept messages from tarot sometimes. Because it really is coming from deep inside myself, and I don’t feel like I’m following advice for anyone else. These conversations with myself and these beautiful cards has been such a blessing in my life.
Both cards today are ones that I don’t have super positive associations with, so this reading will be a good challenge and learning experience!
I know the Chariot has a generally positive meaning, but “control” and “willpower” are just keywords that make me feel icky at first glance. And I strongly identify with the Nine of Wands, but not for positive reasons. Time to do some exploring within myself and within the meanings of these cards.
Position One: What did I excel at or learn today?
Perhaps the reason I don’t have really positive feelings about the Chariot is that I often try to cling to control and assert my willpower when there’s just no good reason to. Today I did nothing at all, and while that seems to be the opposite of the Chariot, it did restore a type of balance to my life. I chucked my desire for control and just lounged watching too much Grey’s Anatomy and feeling zero guilt for not accomplishing anything. And it was delightful!
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Nine of Wands
I identify with this card so strongly because I’ve fought many battles in my life and, like the fellow on the RWS card, I stand guard — even if my fort is actually much flimsier than I admit. So actually this card could pair pretty well with the Chariot today. This card might follow up and say, “You’re a tough gal, but there is no one around here waiting to pillage your little fort. Take a break. Go play. Let your guard down. It worked out fine today. Why not tomorrow?”
I found this great Thanksgiving spread I’d like to try out. I’m doing it a day early because we’re getting ready to head over to spend the next couple days with family, and I won’t have anywhere private to do this. (I’m not exactly “out” yet about my tarot reading.)
This seems a lot more gloomy than I was anticipating. Time to dive in and see what some of this might mean.
Position One: What sustains me (Turkey)
Five of Pentacles
This seemed like a tough card in this position, but I pulled out Joanna’s little white book, and some of the key words she uses for this card can certainly fit here: “truth, adaptation, endurance.” These little kiwis have been through a lot, but they still have each other and they know this moment is not the end. Better things will come. They just have to endure the present moment. I think it is fair to say that this sense of endurance is something that sustains me. I’ve been through bad times, but I’ve learned to stick with those who love me and to know in the midst of sorrow and hardship that better things will come.
Position Two: What completes me (Stuffing)
The Wheel of Fortune
A change in my life for the better. The period of my life defined by pain has ended. A new era has dawned, and even though some of it is mysterious and beyond my control, it’s a much better place to be. I love the image of a spider web as the Wheel. This can symbolize the interconnectedness of all things. I may only be a thread in the web, but I am both an essential piece (valuable, with purpose) and connected to the others (attached, not in control). Additionally, spider webs look pretty delicate, but they’re quite strong.
Position Three: What I don’t get enough of (Green Bean Casserole)
Ace of Swords
At first I was confused by this card in this position since I tend to be a sword-heavy person. But perhaps in this place it means clarity and courage. I think a lot and rely on my mind a lot, but it doesn’t mean I’ve felt brave about some of the changes I’d like to make, or clear on how to create these changes. I’ve not been seeing with the clear sight of the eagle.
I like what Joanna says, “Let the world speak. What we find may not be what we wanted, but it may be what we needed after all.”
Position Four: What I get too much of (Cranberry Sauce)
Ace of Wands
Well, I’ve already established that it’s not courage. I think with this Ace in this position, I think I’ve had too much fire and drive with too little direction to send it in. I want change, I’m ready for change, but I’ve got all this pent up energy. Without the clarity of the Ace of Swords, I can get burned by this energy.
Position Five: What I need to share (Bread)
One of the many meanings that the Magician conveys is “as above, so below,” and so also “as within, so without.” I have moments of confidence and pride in who I am on a deep level. I need to share that. I need to share myself, my talents, and my skills to create the “as within, so without” balance represented in the Magician.
Position Six: What I should enjoy more (Pie)
Nine of Wands
This is a card of defensiveness. When I first discovered this, I immediately related to it. The RWS depiction of someone with their flimsy fort of sticks was a symbolic depiction that spoke directly to me. In the Animism Tarot, we can see that this elephant had good reason to fight. She was being held captive. However, if we look closely, we can see that her chains are broken. She can run away now. I should enjoy my freedom more, rather than feeling like I’m still in the middle of a fight.
Position Seven: What my blessing is in life (Blessing)
Three of Swords
While this card represents heartbreak and pain most clearly, it also speaks to healing. I wouldn’t necessarily call my pain a blessing, but the sunrise after the storm is something a lot of people don’t get to see. For folks who live out their lives in mostly sunny days, a sunrise may not be something special. But as someone who spent the first two decades of her life in a dark and scary storm, the sunrise after was and continues to be a huge blessing. My blessing is that I escaped my pain (or the source of my pain, anyway), and I get to journey to greener pastures. I get to revel in the joy of many small kindnesses that others may take for granted.
That turned out much less gloomy than I thought it might at first glance. My pain is a part of me, but that doesn’t mean the pain itself stays central to who I am. It may shape me, but my life is about more than dwelling in the hurt.
Note: I swapped green bean casserole and cranberry sauce from their original positions in Arwen’s spread to better fit my Thanksgiving taste buds 🙂
After hearing about The Alternative Tarot Course through the fox and the otter (a really lovely blog about tarot), I decided to give it a try. One of the first things I’m tackling is the “Reader’s Reading.” I actually did this twice. Once I went through the deck and chose cards for each position, and then I shuffled and let tarot do the choosing. Both ways were really fun and engaging 🙂
Position One: My Most Important Characteristic
I said Three of Cups. This is one of the few cards I’ve been able to explore so far in my tarot journey and while it isn’t quite so obvious that it might represent a part of me, when I am able to let go I can feel so connected and joyful. And this is my favorite thing about myself.
Tarot said Three of Wands. This could mean that am already taking steps to create the kind of change or outcome I want. I’m a go-getter. I don’t sit around and wait for things to happen to me or for me. If I’m unhappy with something I am already thinking of ways to make it better, and as soon as I have a plan of action I begin work.
They are both threes! Threes can represent creation, creativity, happiness, optimism, the death of something old to bring forth something new, and pleasure. The creative and happy parts of myself are what I believe my best characteristics are.
Position Two: What Strength I Already Possess As A Tarot Reader
I said Four of Cups. I almost chose the Hermit because they are both about about introspection, but from what I have read so far, the Three of Cups says more about dissatisfaction. I’m not saying dissatisfaction is a strength at face value, but as I stated above, I don’t sit around when I don’t like something. So far I am understanding this card to mean a willingness to look inward for solutions to dissatisfaction. The strength I bring to tarot is a willingness to examine my own inner self in my quest for a more connected and meaningful life.
Tarot said King of Pentacles. This one was tough for me, but the keyword that finally jumped out at me was “commitment.” The King of Pentacles did not achieve his worldly success without commitment. Similarly, I will not achieve my emotional, mental, and spiritual successes without commitment. And committed I am! The King of Pentacles takes measured, well-thought-out risks. Like this, I do not tend to jump headlong into a risky situation without weighing all risks and alternatives. Perhaps the strength I bring to tarot is my commitment to learning the practice of tarot and my thoughtful analysis which helps me to choose a realistic and measured plan of action in many situations.
Position Three: What Limits Do I Bring To My Study Of Tarot
I said Eight of Swords. It might be sort of an obvious and not terribly creative choice, but it certainly fits. When I am feeling particularly bad I lose sight of my thoughtful steps forward and feel trapped and alone. I become blind to the many resources and forms of support that can free me, even when they are in fact right next to me. This blindness would be a limit in my study of tarot, but even in the short time I have been learning tarot I can already tell it is a good tool to help me see through my blindfold.
Tarot said King of Swords. Anthony Louis in Tarot: Plain and Simple says, “You may be acting in an overly cool and intellectual manner to the exclusion of feelings and softer ways of relating to others. … You need to consider whether you are out of touch with your feelings and perhaps afraid of entering into an intimate relationship with another” (292). Benebell Wen’s Holistic Tarot says that the King of Swords “has a tendency to be too rigid … a man firm with friends and firm with enemies … [he] expects himself to uphold a rigid code of conduct, but he does not stop there; he also expects everyone around him to uphold the same rigid code” (208-209). Those are all 100% fair statements about myself. I have been told by more than one person on more than one occasion that I have extremely high expectation of others. These are indeed the same high expectations I hold for myself. And this is indeed rigid. This is the stubborn, unbudging part of myself as the Tarot Donkey. I expect others to put the same amount of thought and analysis into their treatment of me that I put in for my treatment of others. This is actually pretty rare. I think far more often than others. Like all traits represented in the tarot, this is a characteristic with a light side and a shadow side. This makes it hard for me to embrace the Three of Cups part of myself. Fun doesn’t usually involve analysis. Like the King of Swords I understand some situations are gray and I try to assess what would be best in each scenario. But like the King of Swords, once I have made my ruling it often solidifies to stone like the crystals on his crown. In this card, he looks over a yellow-brown landscape with rigid columns. It looks pretty lonely. But the tree might represent the softer more nurturing piece that can emerge when hard, logical analysis is not given priority in all situations.
Both of these cards were Swords. In a future post I plan to write about my strong identification with the Queen of Swords, but in a nutshell Swords can speak about loss, aggression, and warriors. After the losses I experienced in childhood I can be quite the “tough cookie.” And that is, of course, not always the best course of action.
Position Four: A Key Lesson I Can Learn From Tarot
I chose The Moon. I think a key lesson I can learn is how to be better in tune with my subconscious, to work through my darker aspects of self. As I said above, I share many not-so-wonderful characteristics in common with the King of Swords. The Moon symbolizes the deeper and more intuitive parts of the mind and how these parts influence us when they surface. Louis says, “Your gut feelings may be more reliable than logical analysis. … The Moon card asks us to reflect on our primitive origins in the animal world and in the collective unconscious” (106). There are some more negative connotations associated with The Moon, such as deceitfulness, but this card made me think about a greater awareness and synthesis between the conscious and unconscious, so that is what I am considering a possible key lesson.
Tarot said the Nine of Wands. Another eerily appropriate message from tarot! Benebell Wen tells me, “The Seeker feels like he or she is in a defensive, protective mode; like he or she has to fight to defend his or her territory. … It is worth noting that the Seeker’s protective fortress is not quite as impenetrable as the Seeker believes. Note how far apart each of the wands is set” (142). Despite the fact that I desire close and trusting relationships, particularly with my family of choice, I am very often still standing behind my (not all that effective) fortress of emotional walls. Last weekend alone is a good indicator of how weak my defenses really are. I put up a good front, but send a strong wind my way and down I go. A key lesson I can learn from tarot could be how to disassemble my walls rather than fearfully and stubbornly hold my ground.
Position Five: How I Can Be Open To Learning And Developing
I chose the Seven of Pentacles. Hard work and patience have to go into something before I can enjoy the fruits of my labor. The card depicts a woman waiting with scythe in hand. I can be impatient, and I think an important thing for me to remember on this journey is to enjoy the journey. Enjoy the wait. Enjoy the process. Take pride in watching my skills and abilities grow rather than impatiently wanting to just have all my problems solved (ha!). This spring I planted a garden, and it was so hard to be patient! I wanted to see the flowers and the peppers and the squash, but I had to wait. There was no shortcut. I had to provide tender loving care and let the plants grow on their own timetable. I began taking pictures of the plants every few weeks, and when I compared pictures it was easier to see the wonderful progress that had taken place. It made it exciting and fun! I think this journal will be something like those pictures. Snapshots for me to look back on when I’m feeling impatient to show me or remind me how far I have actually come.
Tarot chose The Devil. At first I wasn’t sure what to think when this card came up. After looking through my books I have an idea about what this could represent. It might be my inability to let go. In my case not of material things, but of my “hang-ups.” To let go of my sad little fortress and to stand vulnerable to allow real connection. If I am unable to connect deeply, is my so-called “safety” worth it? It’s not an easy thing. That reminds me of the saying, “The devil you know is better than the one you don’t.” Apparently I’m clinging to the devil I know — a lonely but “safe” place — rather than leaping into the arms of what I fear could be another devil: to give myself freely and to be emotionally battered or rejected all over again. I can be open by letting go, bit by bit. Above, the devil’s coat is full of things like masks, a jawbone, a fly, a watch, bat wings, a ring. Maybe I can take off my coat one thing at a time. Drop a mask and later a bat wing and later something else.
Position Six: The Potential Outcome Of My Tarot Journey
I chose the Six of Swords. This represents a journey away from something bad and on to a better place. The child in the front of the boat represents hope while the swords in the back can represent the baggage I still have. No big life journey like this is every really over, so for me in this card the outcome is getting further away from the bad place and heading toward something better. As I achieve some goals, I can set sail for ever nicer lands. Like in the devil card above, maybe I can throw some of those swords off the boat along my journey. It might not be realistic to think I’ll never carry any baggage with me, but I can lighten the load as I grow and learn.
Tarot chose The Magician. When I was choosing my own cards for this spread, I almost chose The Magician for a few different positions, but he didn’t make the cut. So I’m pleased to see him here! The Magician represents the constructive power of the creative mind. What a wonderful way to see my outcome! Tarot is a little more happy or optimistic in this position than my choice of the Six of Swords, and I’m glad. It seems like an wonderful outcome for my hope in The Moon of connecting my conscious, unconscious, and collective unconscious. He has all four elements laid out on his work table and seems confident and connected with each of them; this seems to reflect not only skill, but balance. The Magician’s creative powers also reflect both of my position one cards, which were each threes. What an uplifting card to end this reading with! And I also really, really love his little hat and his little mouse/rat friend perched on his shoulder.
I think because The Magician is such a hopeful card for me in this spread that I will choose him to carry with me through the rest of this course. 🙂