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.
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.”
A false reality of sorts. The abuse I experienced was real, but I expect it to continue even though I’m in a completely new environment with completely different people. My subconscious has had me trapped in a not-nice dream world where I feared constantly. I still do fear, but I am aware now that it’s a bad dream.
Position Two: Where am I stepping to?
Penguin, Seer of Shells (Page of Cups)
A world of my creating. While sensitive (which I definitely am!), the Page of Cups is also creative and intuitive. By toning down my fears, I am able to tune in to my creativity and intuition. I am stepping into a wonderful world that’s actually been here all along, but I’m seeing it with new eyes.
Position Three: What do I hold for myself?
Deer, Seven of Fossils (Seven of Pentacles)
I have learned to hold patience for myself. This allows me to take joy in the process of creation. For example, rather than harrumphing and saying, “Why can’t I just know all these tarot cards yet??”, I am truly enjoying reading each word as I learn about the cards, examining each version of each card, and practicing readings. I delight when I make a breakthrough and feel like I’m really beginning to understand a particular card. I’ve planted my seeds, and I’m taking pleasure in watching them grow and produce fruit.
Position Four: What do I give others?
Vulture, Ten of Feathers (Ten of Swords)
The Animal Wisdom Tarot emphasizes this card as one of transformation, rebirth, and rising above. In this card, the Vulture is the focus, not the poor dead creature on the ground. As much as I write about my insecurities, I think I am actually quite confident in areas that others are not. So while I can use all the help and support I can get for my own fears, I also have a lot to offer others. Animal Wisdom Tarot says, “Vulture rides thermals to soar high and see far, encouraging us to rise above collective opinion and test larger views” (91). I can help provide new perspectives and outlooks.
Position Five: What new thing awaits me?
Swan, Angel of Alchemy (Temperance)
This is the first time Temperance has come up in a reading for me, and I think it is just delightful in this position! Balance. An acceptance of the contradictions I hold within myself. An acceptance of myself as enough as I am. Loving myself!!
Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom says it perfectly: “The card implies that whatever has been built up (including relationships between people) has reached a point where it can grow by itself, and the person can step back from it without it collapsing” (246). Yes! For me, it is definitely the relationships. When I can exist so comfortably in a relationship with someone that I’m not constantly doing “work” or feeling self conscious, it is indeed magic.
Position Two: How does magic act in my life?
Queen of Wands
Queens are water, and wands are fire. I would say that magic acts a bit like both of these seemingly contradictory elements. It can act quickly and unexpectedly like fire, but it can also act smoothly and soothingly like water. The Queen of Wands is also considered attractive, and this magic in my life shows me very attractive ways of being in or seeing the world.
Position Three: Where do I look for it?
Four of Wands
I absolutely look for magic in the loving bosom of a stable home. While the number four denotes structure, fire (wands) cannot be easily contained. So this can speak of an expansive, joyous stability. The “warm fuzzies” of stability. This lack of constraint can be seen in the Animism Tarot’s depiction of the Four of Wands as two joyous hummingbirds. While they make their home in the (stable, wand-like) branches, they also fly through the air and feel the warm glow of the sun on their wings.
Position Four: How do I find it?
Page of Cups
This card represents contemplation and imagination, a newly emerging consciousness. She notices synchronicities and feels intuitively. This page is not bogged down by the pressure to make decisions or organize her desires. She happily ponders. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life provides this Mark Twain quote to open the discussion of the Page of Cups: “One learns through the heart, not the eyes or the intellect” (199). I can find magic by quietly and contentedly watching what emerges from my subconscious. Don’t judge or feel the need to take immediate action. Allow this magic to manifest itself without accidentally squashing it or altering its course. Like the happy otter in the Animism Tarot swimming alongside the flower watching and enjoying its magic.
Position Five: How do I use it?
Five of Cups
At first I wasn’t sure what to make of this card in this position, but I think it’s actually a very cool card here. It offers a realistic view of using magic in my own life. I have absolutely suffered loss and grief. And that will surface from time to time, but in the traditional RWS depiction, two cups remain upright. My life isn’t over or all sorrow. There is hope and goodness. I can grieve when I need to, but when I don’t I can use the “magic” in my life to turn around and take joy in the two full cups. My life can be full and beautiful even if some of my “cups” have been spilled, and if I use the magic in my life to good ends I can have that full and beautiful life.
I think the Animism Tarot depiction is wonderful for this. The Marbled Salamander sits in his cave. “Rain falls softly as he finds solace in the shadows. He mourns for his losses, and there have been many. But as the rain starts to fade, the sun slowly rises.” The sun after a storm is quite magical, just as joy after great sorrow is.
The elements that showed up are the cups, wands, and pentacles. It feels like tarot might be saying, “You may have assigned The Magician the element of air, but if you want to emulate her, you’d better make sure you’re including these other elements.” Additionally, they were all Minor Arcana cards, which could serve as a reminder that I need to remember the grounded, earthly, downward facing arm of The Magician rather than getting stuck in the clouds. Her power is in manifesting her magic in the world around us. Not in thinking about or seeing the spiritual alone.
This card speaks to a pause after great labor. It can be a time of appraisal, evaluation, and assessment or of patient nurturing and dedication. It can be a time of leaving things alone.
The shadow of this card can be second-guessing the work you have put in by overthinking or of leaving behind something that didn’t happen on your own timeline. If you are a workaholic, it can also be a reminder that there is more to life than work.
The Efflorescent Tarot card shows a somewhat expressionless woman ready to reap the harvest. The pentacle-fruit grows on the bush, some larger than others and all in varying warm colors.
Huszka’s card shows a woman looking happy and satisfied at the break of dawn. She holds a chicken and wears a dress decorated with the same trees she stands next to. Clouds move across the sky, and a crescent moon holds a sphere with a crescent moon on it. The woman looks perfectly content to wait.
The Animal Widsom Tarot’s deer mimics the bush with fruit, and the Animism Tarot shows a peacock sitting in a tree as snow and icicles melt. Waiting for spring?
Waiting for fruit to grow, waiting for the sun to rise, and waiting for the spring. Waiting! Waiting can feel many different ways. It can feel exhilarating when we’re waiting for something good. It can be awful if we’re anticipating something bad. It can make us restless or impatient. We can feel sad if what’s coming means change. Or wary.
Depending on what kind of interim care the seeds we’ve planted and cultivated need during this time of waiting, our action or inaction might affect the outcome. Or if we cut the waiting short and try to harvest early, we may compromise the outcome or not get what we were hoping for.
Additional LWB tidbits:
Hastiness can damp out creative fire
Recognize what is good
Waiting can be a challenge, but it is worth it
Today, the Seven of Pentacles might say to me, “Yes, you have to wait. You have said what you needed and what you could. You may be uncomfortable and scared. But you still have to wait. The harvest will be ready when it’s ready. Don’t second-guess yourself.”
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. 🙂