Book Review: Five Quarters of the Orange

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

Five Quarters of the Orange
Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

This book is a first-person narrative of a woman, Framboise, reflecting on both her childhood in Nazi-occupied France and her present life. The past holds a terrible secret, and Framboise slowly reveals what she knows over the course of the story.

I was riveted by this book from the first page. Something about Joanne Harris’s writing style immediately pulled me in and made me want to devour every word that she wrote. She was able to bring intense emotions to the smallest of looks, movements, and thoughts. She captured very well the mindset of children, with their imagination, determination, and lack of adult-like understandings of some quite complex issues.

Harris also captures the complexity of human beings. No one is all good or all bad, but that doesn’t mean that actions cease to have consequences — at times irreversibly so.

Secrets can weigh on our souls and change the entire course of our lives:

Five Quarters of the Orange - tarot
Six of Cups, The Devil, Ten of Wands from the Smith-Waite Tarot Centennial Edition, U.S. Games, copyright 2009

I deeply enjoyed reading this book. It was intense and moving, and it made me reflect on both the darkness and the light that lies within each of us. And as someone who can have a tough outer shell, even when I’m not trying to be defensive, it made me reflect on my own experiences and expression of self.


Monday Meditation

A meditation for the week ahead: April 4 – April 10

3 - Monday Meditation
Animal Totem Tarot

May I practice walking a path that includes both playfulness and self-protection. I understand this is not an easy task, but both are essential to my health and well-being.

May I communicate clearly to others what I need, whether it be support or space.

May I pay close attention to what in my surrounding environment requires active care to remain in good working order.

May I be vigilant of my own physical and emotional needs.

May I connect with others in a way that is mutually meaningful.

Evening Read: 11 Jan 2016

Reading 2016, Jan 11
Dreaming Way Tarot

Position One: What did I excel at or learn today?

Six of Cups

Today I learned (again) how much my past experiences have a hold on me. It’s not a nice thing, but it’s a good thing to know. The more I know and acknowledge it, the more I can chip away at it and build new ways of understanding and being in the world. Mostly it’s trust issues, so this is much easier said than done. But it’s important I know so I have a chance to try and change things.

Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?

Ten of Cups

Tomorrow I can take steps (or a single step) toward familial harmony. This doesn’t have to be anything extreme or grand. Just a baby step or an openness to healing and togetherness. Even just within my own head would be a good step in the right direction. Pondering the issue at hand and brainstorming ways to grow through this experience. Or just being open to a positive healing process even if I don’t yet know what that will look like. It is emotional work, and I can’t expect my logical (sword-y) mind to be able to think my way out of it. Feel it.

In the Six of Cups, the image of the young boy handing the girl a cup full of flowers speaks loudly to me right now. Be receptive to the flowers that are offered to me.

Reading: The Star

Reading 2015, Dec 2
Animism Tarot and Gypsy Palace Tarot, A Reading for the Star from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handobok

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.

Overall Reflection

This has been such an interesting spread, especially when I looked at the two decks’ cards separately. Such a similar message!


Reading: The Hanged Man

Reading 2015, Nov 22
Animism Tarot, A Reading for The Hanged Man from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

Position One: How am I different from the people around me?

The World

This is a really tough card in this position for me, but I’ll do my best after consulting all my books. I think I am more aware of the interconnectedness of all things, I have high hopes and goals, and I am (or try to be) very aware of my unconscious. However, unlike the World, I am not able to transcend the dualities that make up life. The people around me I think are less self-aware, but in being less caught up in trying to balance pieces of themselves, they transcend those issues.

Position Two: What are my deep values?

Six of Cups

The Animal Wisdom Tarot sums up some of my deep values well: “practice giving and receiving; celebrate togetherness; choose peace. … find pleasure in simply joys” (59).

Position Three: What brings me pain?

Seven of Cups

This card can symbolize imagination and daydreams. I am brought pain at times when my fantasies do not materialize into reality.

Position Four: What brings me joy?

Six of Pentacles

Equality, respect, and fairness. I try my best to always consider others’ feelings before speaking and acting, and it makes me really happy when I can tell someone has paid me the same respect. In Joanna’s depiction of the alligator and plover in the Animism Tarot, she says, “Life is a journey of give and take, and when they work as one, they both come out richer.” I agree 🙂

Position Five: What can I discover?

Nine of Cups

There are a wide array of interpretations of this card in my different books and little white books. One of these is enjoying the pleasures of life. I can discover how to live out my deep values of enjoying earthly pleasures. By embracing my imagination but accepting that not all I hope will come true, and through loving respect, my values can come to fruition.

The Hanged Man is a temporary state, so this spread reminds me that while there may be a pause needed before change can occur, I do have to move forward and put my plan into action at some point!

Daily: Six of Cups

6 of Cups
Efflorescent Tarot

Today’s card is the Six of Cups.

Pre-Research Reflections

The card looks very cozy and intimate. Two people in a little flower cave with earth symbols everywhere. That could just be that this is the Efflorescent tarot deck, but not every card is packed with flowers. Cups are water/emotion, so perhaps this card may have something to do with emotional closeness?

Huszka’s Six of Cups looks very different to me though. A woman looks into a tub of water or a well and sees a reflection. The woman looks sad, but her reflection waves and doesn’t exactly smile, but doesn’t look sad either. There’s a purple night sky with moon and star. A cat leans against the woman while a crown floats above its head. A cup sits on a stool. This card makes me think more of self-reflection or a disconnect between parts of self. In my animal decks, the deer and manatee look happy.

6 of Cups
Gypsy Palace Tarot

Reflection After Research

This is a card about nostalgia, reminiscence, and sentimentality. And the traditional card does indeed have cups full of flowers. It can also represent affection, giving or receiving friendly gifts, or enjoying the small pleasures of life. As a shadow, this card can represent clinging to the past. So this card can definitely encompass ideas of intimacy and sadness within the context of childhood memories or loving sharing of gifts between friends.

My own childhood memories are more reflective of Huszka’s representation of the Six of Cups. Of course there are happy memories, but there is also a sense of mourning that I did not truly have a childhood as it was stolen from me through the chronic trauma of emotional abuse. I was the “adult” in the house. So my reflections are more a mourning for what could have been. I recall one day my sweetheart was talking about some song lyrics that mention “the good old days” when things were easy as a kid. He can relate to that, but mentioned that it occurred to him that I couldn’t. Indeed, they were not the good old day. But to put a silver lining on it, I’m living the good old days. The good old days are right now!

6 of Cups - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

I’m a big believer in enjoying the small pleasures in life, even if I’m not always great at living it. A cool breeze, a hot shower, a good book, happy pets, cuddling on the couch.

More tidbits from the various little white books:

  • Deer: childhood wonder
  • Manatee: slow down
  • Nurture connections with loved ones through demonstrations of kindness and small surprises.
  • Forgive what is in the past and move trustingly into the future.
  • What hopes and dreams from the past can we revive in the present?

Today, the Six of Cups might say to me, “Yes, slow down. You are right to reorganize your life to prioritize the small pleasures and are taking steps to lessen the effect the past has on you. Remember to do the little kind things that tell people you love them.”