Wow! I’ve been absent a while. I’m still mired in this emotional confusion, but I need to get back into my tarot routine. It helps keep me grounded and gives me confidence.
Position One: What did I excel at or learn today?
Ten of Wands
I had plenty to do today, all of which in the past I would have told myself I “have to” or “ought to” do. Today I did some things, but I also let myself relax. I slept in, I read for pleasure, and shortly I’ll be settling in with some popcorn and a movie with my sweetheart. There’s always something to do, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t make myself a priority and be kind to myself. Self-care and breaks are important!
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Accept the contradictory parts of myself and others. Don’t see the world in black and white. I think I can best work on what Temperance represents by keeping in touch with my inner self and making sure I don’t ignore my needs in my desire to reach a solution to my current conflict. I want things to be better, but if I rush it I know it won’t create any long-term change and will lead to me feeling overwhelmed and having a meltdown. Which won’t help anyone!
At this new moon, what opportunities are available to me?
The World, Temperance, Seven of Wands, Knight of Pentacles
Wholeness and balance are available for me to strive for, but it doesn’t mean they’re some low-hanging fruit I can just nab and enjoy. To begin with, I have to decide what “wholeness” and “balance” mean to me exactly. What type of wholeness and balance I will strive for. Then I have some tricky terrain ahead of me where I will have to try my best to remain true to myself and to be persistent. I will have to try and walk the line between my head and my heart, which right now is a confusing thing indeed. This new moon reading really reflects the simultaneous possibility and conflict I feel. The Knight of Pentacles in this deck isn’t even wearing shoes! I feel like that now. Dressed for battle, but not actually prepared for what’s coming my way.
While this new moon reading hasn’t cleared much up for me, it has validated my feelings about my situation. Full of potential but not at all easy.
Balance! I am much closer to emotional stability than in the previous days. Much less angry, a little less sad. A little more forgiving. Having to live, at the moment, with some contradictory feelings and thoughts. I’ve done a good job of handling these contradictory feelings today and not letting myself spiral out of control trying to bring everything into alignment. That just isn’t happening at the moment, and I can’t force it.
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Four of Wands
Family and happiness! Keep working to get back to this place. I’ve laid some of the groundwork on my end tonight. Tread carefully, but move in the right direction — toward connection and renewal.
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!!
The Devil is the first card of the third row in the Major Arcana, a row about moving our spirit from darkness into light — enlightenment. The Devil can represent materialism, oppression, imprisonment, temptation, and illusion.
It may seem strange that this card comes so late in the Major Arcana, immediately following Temperance. But when we keep in mind the three rows in the Fool’s Journey, it makes sense as the starting card for row three regarding the spirit and enlightenment. Row one is about learning about the world around us, row two is about inner growth, and row three zooms out to the ultimate big picture: the spirit in relation to the universe (or however you might like to call the divine). We need the inner victory of Temperance to be able to face the challenges represented in the Devil card.
I really appreciate two quotes that Paul Quinn uses to discuss this row of the Major Arcana and the Devil card:
“One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. – Carl Jung” (107)
“If thou has not seen the devil, look at thine own self. – Rumi” (108)
In the traditional RWS depiction, a man and woman are chained to a box the Devil sits upon. However, when examined closely their chains could be easily removed. The Devil creates the illusionthat the materialistic or oppressive world is truly all there is. Also in the RWS depiction, the Devil mimics the arm and hand motions of the Hierophant and the Magician. Rather than having two fingers pointed up and two down (indicating that there is more to life than what we see) on his raised hand, his fingers are all open. In this way, the Devil communicates that the world we see is all there is. The wand he holds in his other hand is pointed to the earth. Where the Magician’s wand pointed to the sky, the Devil’s points to earth, once again speaking to the illusion that this world is all that exists.
While the pentacle represents the human body (with arms raised to the side and legs spread apart), the reversed pentacle seen in the traditional RWS depiction and the Animism Tarot depiction can indicate sexual obsession (genitals above the head). This doesn’t mean that sex is bad. There is power in sex, and we must be careful to not abuse this power or let it be the only power we draw on. The upright pentacle can be seen in both the Efflorescent Tarot and the Animal Wisdom Tarot. Since pentacles speak to the physical world, they could be another indication of only seeing the physical world.
Huszka’s Devil shows four figures: a red figure is the Devil who lulls a woman (white figure) into submission while a pink figure shows the pain experienced in the grip of the Devil and the green figure clings to a security blanket and refuses to see another possible world hushing the pink woman. Huszka’s description of this card is here.
The Devil can also symbolize “demons” from our past that we have not been able to leave behind or suppressed parts of ourselves we are ashamed of, fear, or deny. I appreciate that Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life points out that this can vary from person to person and that an attribute that may be embodied in the Devil for one person may be a liberating attribute to someone else. For example, I was listening to a meditation about compassion the other day, and I had to stop part way through because of the way it was worded. I didn’t like being told to let go of so-called selfishness because that is a trait I’ve had to cultivate a bit of in myself for self-preservation, self-protection, and self-care. Compassion to an extreme (for everyone except myself) was the only world I knew for a long time, and a dose of “selfishness” is freeing me from those particular chains.
I really like the Efflorescent Tarot’s depiction of the Devil. The coat the Devil wears is full of different things: bugs, bones, a ring, a watch, masks, and more. These items represent all of the things we carry with us that imprison us, including the “masks” we wear. The Animal Wisdom Tarot reminds us of the concept of “scapegoat.” We need to seek out and liberate our own shadows rather than projecting them on to others.
The Devil card itself is a portrait of the shadow in ourselves. An opposite or reversed meaning of the card could be liberation
If I were to assign an element to the Devil, it would be earth since it speaks to worldly attachments and entrapments within the physical world.
One demon I have conquered is the misunderstanding of compassion as something that requires me to put myself last forever and always. That view of the world was a painful imprisonment which I thankfully discovered was only a illusion which I had the power to free myself from.
One view that still imprisons me is the idea that I have to be on guard in order to minimize my vulnerability and therefore to minimize any chances of being torn down or ridiculed by my loved ones. I’m in a weird place with this belief: I don’t exactly believe it anymore, so the prison door is open. It’s just awfully scary to actually walk out into an unknown world. As the saying goes, “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” This fear creates a powerful hesitation even though I know where I’m at is a type of prison.
This reading is about a choice or situation with extreme contradictions. I will keep in mind my internal conflict between people pleasing and intolerance for what I consider unacceptable behavior.
Position One: Current Situation
Falcon, Seeker of Feathers (Knight of Swords)
Air of air, the Knight of Swords can represent battle. I definitely have an internal battle being fought in a very air-like way (logic, thoughts). I think this card in this position is representative of this internal battle rather than me rushing forward, because I keep wavering back and forth, which is not a courageous run forward.
Position Two: Alternative
Bat, Master of Suspension (The Hanged Man)
Funnily enough, I think this card is an indication that the time for contemplation is over. At least until I reach a new place worth contemplating. It’s time to have my world turned upside down, to surrender control and see what happens. I have thought so much, but the remaining question is how others will react to me when I stop being so quiet and passive. And their reaction is something I cannot control. So surrender and jump into this new world. Then I can ponder where I’ve found myself.
Position Three: Possible Middle Way
Gorilla, Six of Fossils (Six of Pentacles)
I particularly love the Animal Wisdom Tarot interpretation of this card: “Six of Fossils highlights the harmony of exchange. Gorilla advises balance, to share freely and take just what you need. Release judgments of pride or shame; learn to give and receive” (73).
This could imply a more conscious back and forth. I may need to recognize when an olive branch or gift is being extended my way, even if it isn’t being presented in the way I might want or expect it to. And I can communicate what I need. I don’t have to only change my behavior and then fearfully wait for a reaction or response. This doesn’t have to be entirely in my head. I can keep these loving gorillas in mind and try to emulate their give and take, their loving care for all: others and themselves.
Position Four: Needed Approach
Hippo, Ten of Shells (Ten of Cups)
Happy, harmonious, and loving. Approach from a position of assuming the best and of loving those around me rather than imagining the situation as antagonistic or dangerous.
Position Five: How to let energy flow
Heron, Two of Feathers (Two of Swords)
Don’t assume my choice is between either the logical path or the emotional one. They are not actually mutually exclusive. It will be a painful choice if that is the choice system I create. The energy will flow better if I slowly lower my defenses.
Position Six: What commitment is needed
Monkey, Two of Fossils (Two of Pentacles)
I need to commit to the journey, knowing there will be ups and downs. I need to commit to staying in the process. This might take creativity, flexibility, and a playfulness I often keep buried.
There are an abundance of cards that speak directly to balance in this reading! I’m hearing that message loud and clear — both in the spread itself (a reading for Temperance) and in the cards that showed up (The Hanged Man, Six of Fossils, Two of Feathers, Two of Fossils). That may be my new mantra for a while: “Balance. Share like the gorillas. Choices aren’t all mutually exclusive. Go with the ups and downs. ”
This card stands for inner balance, calmness, synthesis, control, and moderation. It is the last card of the second row of the Major Arcana, and as such, represents the success of self-discovery and self-confidence. Where the Chariot stood for a willed balance of worldly success, Temperance is about inner equilibrium, and seems to feel more “natural” than the balance of the Chariot. It’s more of a comfortable mixing of one’s self with the outer world. We can see this in the Efflorescent Tarot depiction: the angel has one foot on the water (inner, emotional self) and the other on earth (the physical, outer world). It can also be a symbol of peacemaking or mediation.
Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says that Temperance helps us to accept the contradictions inherent in not only life, but within ourselves: “selfish and generous, deliberate and spontaneous, forceful and gentle, caring and cruel … Temperance reminds us that we are already ‘enough’ as well as works in progress” (102-103).
A shadow of Temperance could be fearing extremes. An opposite or reverse of Temperance could be existing in extremes, losing control, or an excess or lack.
If I were to assign an element to Temperance, it might actually be all four as Temperance speaks to a balance in seemingly contradictory parts of ourselves. I may place an emphasis on water and earth as symbols of a balance between inner and outer worlds.
This is a card I can relate to as a goal I can see in my future and that I wish to attain. But certainly not one I already have a good grasp on.
I think my two biggest contradictory personality traits are being a people pleaser and not tolerating bs. My biggest challenge here is both being kind and compassionate and remaining true to myself and not getting walked all over. I tend to vacillate between the two, but it’d be awfully nice to find a peaceful middle where I was confident in my ability to both be a good, kind person and to be honest and respected. To get there I have to accept that I can’t please people at all times and still have a voice of my own, nor can I be intolerant of other people’s blunders or eccentricities and be an understanding person.
As far as the symbol of being a peacemaker or mediator, that is a role I have played to an extreme for much of my life. Even mediation can be done to an extreme! I poured my whole self into attempting to balance the emotions of others and in the process completely missed out on getting to know myself or creating balance in my own life. Since I didn’t have appropriate boundaries, I’m now learning what it means to balance my own needs with others. It’s a weird experience, and I feel selfish sometimes, but I have to remind myself that taking care of myself is a part of the balance of life if I’m going to have a quality life.
One unlikely relationship pairing in my life was very uncomfortable for many years. We were a part of each other’s lives, like it or not, and we finally both decided to try making our relationship a positive thing. It was a process the required creativity, patience, perseverance, and compromise. But through this process, it has become an incredibly rewarding relationship. We seemed like oil and water, but once we finally were able to get beneath our outer personality presentations, we actually have a good bit in common on a deeper level. It doesn’t mean it’s always roses, but there’s a lot of goodness I would have completely missed out on had I not participated in this process. Temperance may sound like a boring concept, but it can be hard work, and the outcome can be extraordinarily fulfilling.