In addition to mimicking the shape of the full moon, I also drew the shadow card to represent what the light of the full moon may cast a shadow on.
The Full Moon
Six of Wands, Eight of Wands, Queen of Pentacles, The Hierophant, Six of Pentacles
What I see here is that even though it doesn’t feel like I’ve really accomplished much, I should stop thinking about what I think I “should have” accomplished and look instead at the real progress that has been made. I have been much more compassionate and forgiving with myself. I’m seeking balance and deeply examining my beliefs. What do I wish to hang on to and what do I wish to let go of? What do I need to rewrite? These things are actions and are successes.
Five of Pentacles
The work I’m doing isn’t easy, and it can often leave me feeling defeated. A definite shadow. If I keep in mind that what I’m doing is important and is valuable and necessary, perhaps that can help mitigate the feeling of defeat.
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.”
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 🙂
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.
I am strong at taking quiet time to retreat from the world and allow inner contemplation and exploration of my unconscious.
Position Two: How am I weak?
Three of Pentacles
I am weak at allowing others to join me and help me on my journey. I can often be too fiercely independent.
Position Three: When do I need to be strong?
Queen of Pentacles
This card keeps coming to me in positions of encouragement! I need to be strong in being a part of and taking pleasure in the world around me. Balance my High Priestess strength with the Queen of Pentacles.
Position Four: When do I need to be weak?
Seven of Wands
I need to be weak at being defensive. My defense mechanisms are often impressively overactive. Like the little hedgehogs in this depiction, I see a large and scary shadow coming my way, and my spikes go right up. But maybe the shadow is deceiving.
Position Five: What strengthens me?
Six of Swords
I am strengthened by the journey I am on away from the person I used to be and toward a healthier and happier me. As I reach different milestones, they give me the strength to keep going and remind me that change is possible. “Old” me will always be a part of me, but I can bandage her wounds, feel compassion for her, and bring her along on the journey.
Position Six: What weakens me?
This is the first time I’ve ever encountered the Star. I think perhaps what would fit here is the shadow of the Star: sometimes I can become disheartened and upset when my ideal outcome doesn’t occur. Of course, this is pretty often because such is life. This idealism weakens me by making it difficult to go with the flow. Or a reverse meaning: pessimism. When my depression starts to get the upper hand it’s awfully hard to see the stars shining.
At this transitional moment in my life, I think this card can have two meanings. (1) My life has been structured by pain and grief. I can’t say whether I’ve built it that way or whether I “let” it happen, but either way pain and grief have been my life’s scaffolding for a very long time. (2) As I seek to take control of my life and rebuild my self and my approach to the universe (a possible “reverse” reading of the card), I am taking the Emperor’s role of both creating structure and stability and of protecting myself. I am stepping up to the throne, so to speak.
Position Two: How am I not an Emperor?
I am not an Emperor when I use tarot to grow my spiritual understanding of myself, the world, and the universe. I am an Emperor by choosing a form of study to help me on the path of self-care, but I do not let structure get in the way of exploring tarot. I am able to not worry about what is “right” or “wrong” and to delve into the cards with an open mind and heart. A curiosity and openness that isn’t very Emperor-like. And I think that’s a good thing!
This card also appeared in my reading for The High Priestess. In that reading, The Sun spoke to letting my inner truth shine forth. By not over-Emperor-ing my approach to tarot, I can facilitate that happening.
Position Three: Where do I need to take charge?
Queen of Pentacles
The Queen of Pentacles loves nature, values hard work and simple pleasures, and brings love out into the world. She is a queen (water) within the suite of pentacles (earth). Perhaps I need to take charge of consciously finding the simple pleasures the world offers and anchoring my life’s structure around these things. I also ought to take charge of making sure that I am giving love into the world as well. The Emperor hold his orb representing his responsibility to the Whole. Part of this responsibility could be making sure my love is not hidden away. Share it consciously.
This is the third time she has shown up in five Major Arcana readings! First in my reading for The Fool for where I can be more foolish and last in my reading for The Empress for what nurturing gives me. All extremely positive positions.
Position Four: How am I weak?
Knight of Swords
Knights are air and swords are air. As I’ve said numerous times, I can be an overly-air-heavy person. My weakness is in placing too much value on intellect and “right” and “wrong.” This would lead an Emperor to be rigid and domineering, punishing or abusive even. I can work on overcoming this tendency by following the advise of the previous card: The Queen of Pentacles as a guide for where to take charge in my life: water and earth. I should just be careful to not take charge in such an “air-like” fashion. Take charge in some ways by giving over to water and earth. Letting water and earth take charge within me.
Huszka’s Knight of Swords looks like kind of a mess. A storm rages behind him, ships fly through the air, he has one leg and no pants. He keeps trudging forward, but maybe he needs to stop and reevaluate for a bit.
Position Five: How am I strong?
Ace of Swords
The Ace of Swords in this position may remind me not to demonize my air qualities so much. They are a strength. They just need to be directed in an appropriate manner so I don’t cut myself or those around me. My mind is strong. Use that strength in a positive and productive way.
Position Six: What rules, conscious or unconscious, govern my life?
Ace of Pentacles
Even though I am sword/air-heavy, there is a little Ace of Pentacles beating in my chest begging to be set free and planted in the ground. It feels like a bit of my “true self” that is trapped at times. I think that the rules that govern my life boil down to the interconnectedness of all things. People, animals, plants, the universe. The physical things that surround me are things I am intimately tied to, and so I want to be in harmony with these things. In loving harmony with my family of choice, in loving harmony with the creatures and plants that fill my world, in tune with the greater spirit/web that connects us all.
This card also appeared in my reading for The Fool regarding what gifts the Fool can give me.
I enjoyed this reading very much as it was a great way to see both the ways that I take power and control within my own life and the way that I either need to let go of power and control or need to take control in a different way/realm.
The presence of two Aces might suggest the great potential that lies before me as I take charge of my life.
My passion is my journey to a becoming a healthier, happier person. I have experienced pain, and I am ready to move forward.
In the Animism Tarot, the swords appear to be under the water, pointing toward the sunrise. So the swords are still present, but they are submerged and provide direction to something beautiful and warm. A sunrise also symbolizes a new beginning. Creator Joanna Cheung says, “The journey is almost over, and your destination is close.” Keywords include both fortitude and tranquility, strength and peace.
Swords are air, but both this depiction and the traditional RWS card are filled with water. The water (emotion) can successfully carry the mental anguish symbolized by the swords. In the traditional card, the ferryman uses a pole (wand) to push the ferry along. This represents the drive to create change and move on.
Position Two: How have I expressed it?
I have expressed this by reevaluating my worldview and creating spiritual practices that feed my soul. As I quoted in my first encounter with the Hierophant, Paul Quinn says in Tarot for Life: “Our task is to keep the ones [the ideas] that expand out spirit and retire the rest. … the Hierophant represents not only what one has learned or must learn, but also what one must eventually unlearn to nurture the heightened consciousness beckoning in the World card” (62, emphasis in original).
I am learning tarot and meditation, both spiritual practices with communities and long histories, in the hopes that these will facilitate my journey. In the traditional RWS depiction, the Hierophant raises his hand with two finger pointed up and two pointed down, symbolizing “as above, so below.” I am expressing my passion for forward movement on my journey by acknowledging the spiritual elements of my life and incorporating them into my daily practices.
Position Three: How can I express it more fully?
Four of Cups
While many interpretations of the Four of Cups are about dissatisfaction or the need to reach out for an offered opportunity, I also like the interpretation that states that the man in the traditional RWS card is not dissatisfied, but is content with the three cups that already sit in front of him and is taking care of himself by not accepting a fourth cup, which might be too much for him to take on at this point in time.
I can live my passion of creating my true self by not taking on too much. I can appreciate what I have and recognize when to say, “No thank you.” This will allow me to dedicate more energy to the task at handn.
Position Four: What blocks me?
The High Priestess
I can be blocked when I stay in my own head for too long. Introspection has its place and is certainly valuable, but there comes a time for action. I am blocked when I become trapped inside myself and won’t or can’t turn my intuition and thoughts into action.
I am free when I am able to “let go” in the company of my family of choice. Their stable love creates an environment where I am occasionally able to forget myself and really be the person I am journeying toward.
I nurture and celebrate success in others, and am beginning to do the same for myself. This card can also represent a balance of fire energy: enough to keep the fires burning bright, but not so much that they rage out of control. I am nurturing this sort of control or moderation in my journey.
Position Seven: What does nurturing ask of me?
Joanna, creator of the Animism Tarot, says, “Ferocity and gentleness, freedom and control, passion and compassion: there is balance here, one that requires a delicate touch, one without fear, but with understanding. With balance, comes peace.” Nurturing asks that I temper my passion with compassion and be confident in the knowledge that I do not have to be aggressive to achieve my goal.
The Strength card reminds me that “nurturing” with my dominant air qualities is not actually reflective of true strength. Knowledge and power are most effective when wedded to compassion and gentleness.
Position Eight: What does it give me?
Queen of Pentacles
Joanna says, “She is balanced in life, understanding the value of hard work as well as the importance of simple pleasures.” Through nurturing both myself and others, I will reap the benefits of this labor and be able to to partake in the simple pleasures that life offers by recognizing when to stop and smell the roses — which is in itself a form of self-nurturance.
Position Nine: How can I bring together my passion and my nurturance?
Two of Pentacles
The Two of Pentacles is a card that speaks to balance. This card acknowledges that balancing acts are not always the easiest: life comes with ups and downs. While the Four of Cups in this reading spoke to not taking on more than I can handle, this card may say, “But you must handle the balance between your passion and nurturing. Don’t neglect one in favor of the other, and work to tend both of them.” This card also implies that this juggling act doesn’t inherently have to be tedious or boring: I can make it joyful if I choose to approach it with a good attitude.
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.