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: May 9 – May 15

9 - Monday Meditation
Golden Tarot: Five of Coins, Ten of Wands

May I focus on one thing at a time rather than further overwhelming myself by pondering all projects and needs at once.

May I recognize that some of my “problems” are good problems to have — problems of privilege and personal desire.

May I appreciate what I have rather than wishing for more.

May I be gentle with myself during times of burden, difficulty, and sadness. May I remember that I am worthy of compassion and patience.

Monday Meditation

A meditation for the week ahead: April 11 – April 17

10 - Monday Meditation
Animal Totem Tarot

May I understand that change can be difficult, but that it is inevitable.

May I recognize that sometimes the hardest thing about work is patience.

May I appreciate the fruits of my labor and milestones along the way.

May I step up to the challenges ahead of me with a positive attitude and an appreciation for the opportunities they bring.

May I both keep in mind my family of choice and my own needs and desires as I move through these changing times.

Wow! These cards seem particularly personal to my life right now. It is a time of incredible change. Death and two Tens speak to the end of an era and the birthing of a brand new beginning. Beautiful 🙂

Evening Read: 16 Feb 2016

Yikes! It’s been a while since I’ve done an evening read. There’s no time like the present to get back on the wagon, I suppose 🙂

Reading 2016, Feb 16
Joie de Vivre Tarot

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

Ten of Wands

I felt very overwhelmed earlier this morning about an obligation I really did not want to take care of. In this case, putting down the bundle of sticks was not an option, so I pushed through. I wouldn’t say I “excelled,” exactly. I was a grump about it. But I got it taken care of and was able to enjoy the rest of the day. I didn’t drag my feet all day. I got it done and I got on with my day. Sometimes the only way out is through!

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

The Chariot

This card showed up yesterday in my Monday Meditation as well. I like the Joie de Vivre depiction of the Chariot because even though the seahorses are trying to go in opposite directions, Madam Chariotte is not daunted or upset. She knows she is in control and that with skill and focus she’ll get her shell-chariot moving in the right direction. I can strive to be my best tomorrow by harnessing the best of my focus and motivation and really work on accomplishing some goals. These can be related to my business plans, my family, my home, my spiritual practice, my care of my body. Be confident and get down to business!

Evening Read: 20 Jan 2016

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.

Reading 2016, Jan 20
Joie de Vivre Tarot

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?

Temperance

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!

Reading: Death

Reading 2015, Nov 23
Gypsy Palace Tarot, A Reading for Death, based on the White Rose (designed by Paula C. Scardamalia) from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

Position One: What has already died?

Six of Pentacles

I’m learning this card is much more nuanced and complex than I first thought (that’s starting to happen a lot lately as I get a better grasp of tarot). While Huszka’s depiction does not show the merchant and beggar of the RWS Six of Pentacles, the merchant and beggar symbols are both important in this position for me. I have given up on being so rigid I will not ask for help. Like the beggars, I am not too proud to ask for what I need. However, as a shadow, I do at times feel like I’m begging. I’m in the midst of the mystery of this death of pride where I’m not yet comfortable in a position of expressing need.

Huszka’s depiction seems very optimistic, perhaps pointing to the good that will come as I complete this passage in my life.

Position Two: What killed it?

Ten of Wands

I couldn’t carry my load alone anymore! I like the symbolism in the RSW depiction, but I really like Huszka’s vision of this card. I’ve pushed so many rocks on my path that I became trapped. They all piled up and I couldn’t move forward. I became completely overwhelmed, and now I’m having to say, “Yes, I do need help. Will you please help me out of this situation?”

Position Three: What needs to die?

King of Cups

While I am able to ask for help, I still keep a pretty good poker face about it all. Rachel Pollack in The New Tarot Handbook says, “The King of Cups may indicate someone with deep levels of feeling who does not show this side to others lest it rise up and flood him” (233). While it’s good to have boundaries, a perpetual refusal to allow people to see my emotions is not a good way for building deep loving and trusting relationships. This fear of vulnerability needs to die.

Position Four: What will release it?

Five of Cups

The traditional RWS depiction is a figure cloaked in black looking at three spilled cups while two upright cups stand behind them. This speaks to grief and loss as well as the hope that remains. I also like Huszka’s interpretation: without sufficient rest or love or trust, our fears can grow and overtake us, making it difficult to see the good. Using both of these depictions, I can say that release from my fear of vulnerability will come from turning around and picking up the two upright cups in the RWS version and in surrendering to the rejuvenating love that is being offered. Both require an act of will. I have to make that choice.

Position Five: What is buried?

Two of Wands

This is a tough card for me to interpret in this position. The Two of Wands can speak to a motivation for change, but an uncertainty about staying put (security) or moving forward (adventure). I have the spark, but what is buried is the confidence to throw myself into the adventure. I peek my head out the door, but I haven’t made a run for it yet. But as Huszka’s depiction of this card shows, stagnation can lead to rot.

Position Six: What can be born?

The Hanged Man

A higher level of peace and acceptance with vulnerability. That word, vulnerability, is what I always think of when I see Huszka’s Hanged Man. And yet she does not look sad or distraught or afraid or uncomfortable. She returns my gaze without shame.

Reading: The Wheel of Fortune

Reading 2015, Nov 18
Animism Tarot, A Reading for the Wheel of Fortune from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

This reading is a little abstract for me, but I’ll do my best! I think I’ll look at it like where I’m at in my own life cycle.

Position One: What turns the Wheel?

Queen of Wands

Love.

Position Two: What outer change will come?

Page of Wands

Adventures will come my way. I may not know what exactly they will be or when they’ll come, but they’ll be available. I just have to choose which ones to tackle!

Position Three: What inner change is possible?

Six of Wands

Victory! While I’ll never feel totally “fixed,” I contain the possibility of victories on my journey of self-healing. The Wheel of my journey rolls on, but I can celebrate the victory of a full turn, a new revolution.

Position Four: What new situation will I face?

Knight of Cups

I’m entering a new era of my life that calls for emotional action. For a long, long time I’ve been very reserved. I’ll be experiencing similar situations, but the new cycle I am in calls for me to offer up more of my emotional self. My action doesn’t have to be fast or reckless. The RWS Knight of Cups isn’t galloping away at high speeds. But I do need to be moving forward.

I like the depiction here of the hippo diving. She’s exploring emotional depths.

Position Five: What rises?

The Fool

Folly rises. Silliness rises. I’m letting loose my inner prancing llama! (Or trying anyway, there’s a series of smaller ups and downs in this process.)

Position Six: What falls?

The Star

This card keeps showing up in kind of negative positions, which has me a little confused. But I’ll go again, then, with the shadow meaning: too high of expectations / ideals. These overly high ideals are falling away. Not all at once, but they are.

Position Seven: What is at the center?

Ten of Wands

Hard work is at the center! Hard work and motivation. The Wheel isn’t going to turn itself. Well, maybe it would, but I might not like where it would go. I’m pulling the strings I have control over to help guide it.

Reading: The Chariot

Reading 2015, Nov 13
Gypsy Palace Tarot, A Reading for the Chariot from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

This reading serves as an overall reflection of sorts on the first row of seven in the Major Aracana.

Position Zero: Fool. What am I leaping into at this time in my life?

Three of Pentacles

I am leaping into a cooperative era of my life that is quite new for me! This includes both a conscious cooperation with those around me to make emotional connections and a conscious cooperation between my body, mind, and spirit.

Huszka’s portrayal of the Three of Pentacles is more reflective of the frustration of having an idea that you aren’t quite sure how to put into action. In this position in the spread, I think the traditional meaning fits best, but it’s also good to remember that a breakthrough will come if I am feeling frustrated.

Position One: Magician. Where is the energy, the magic?

Three of Wands

The magic is in taking my dreams and fantasies and turning them into reality.

Position Two: High Priestess. What is secret or hidden or unspoken?

The Chariot

Like the individual / ego represented by the Chariot, as I reach the end of my delayed emotional adolescence, I still have much of my unconscious or “true self” to discover. As I come to a sense of balance with the ideas in the first line of the Major Arcana, I look forward to delving deeper on my journey.

Position Three: Empress. What is my passion?

Ace of Swords

My passion is truth and fairness.

Position Four: Emperor. What are the rules I follow (possibly hidden or unconscious)?

Five of Cups

A rule I follow is being realistic about what life brings: some sorrow to be sure, but there are always good things if you know where to look. Mourn that which is lost and don’t miss out on what you still have.

Position Five: Hierophant. What is the path laid out for me?

Ten of Wands

The path laid out for me is not the easiest path in the world, but it is worthwhile. I may feel burdened at times, but as long as I take time to rest and make sure I’m still on the right path, I’ll end up somewhere good.

Huszka’s portrayal can also represent having pushed rocks ahead of us on our path, but at some point they pile up so high we have to stop and dig ourselves out if we’re going to be able to keep moving.

Position Six: Lovers. How do I express my passion?

Eight of Wands

I may ponder something for a while, but once I’ve decided on something I ACT! Sometimes a bit obsessively.

Position Seven: Chariot. Where is it all heading?

The Empress

What a huge question! The Empress, within the context of the other cards in the spread, may be saying that I am on the road to being able to joyfully and passionately experience the outer / physical world. While my passion is truth and fairness, this doesn’t mean only internal contemplation. There are truths related to the world around us that I’m missing out on. It won’t always be the easiest journey, but the end of the road sounds wonderful! I can accomplish this by using my passion and drive to turn my dreams of this end result into a reality, and I don’t have to do it alone. And once I’ve reached a balance in the outer world I can better journey through the second row of the Major Arcana.

Reading: The Hierophant

Reading 2015, Nov 11
Animal Wisdom Tarot, A Reading for the Hierophant in Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

Position One: How has tradition affected my life?

Beaver, Eight of Fossils (Pentacles)

The tradition of “family” has affected my life in multiple, conflicting ways. For the majority of my life, family was a obligation and a system where I had to be obedient. This was a joyless tradition since it was all work and no spiritual fulfillment. I had no concept of family as a positive, safe place for spiritual and emotional support.

I have finally begun to assimilate with my family of choice, and this took a lot of learning and unlearning (the Hierophant as education in a tradition). It has been a healing process and, as I am becoming more confident, an enjoyable kind of “work” as portrayed in the Eight of Pentacles. In fact, I’m bringing some of my own “traditions” to the family, particularly holiday traditions. Before I became an active member of the family, they didn’t celebrate a lot of holidays even though they recognized them. This has been a really enjoyable experience, bringing these holidays to life and making them our own.

Each eight card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot contains a lemniscate, representing cycles and patterns. Traditions are shared patterns of actions and beliefs.

Position Two: What have I learned?

Dog, Ten of Fossils (Pentacles)

This new way of experiencing tradition has taught me how to play and be happy, to feel fulfilled. Now, of course it’s a learning curve and I still experience fear and inhibition a good bit of the time as well. But that doesn’t diminish this incredible lesson which I continue to grow with.

While the traditional RWS depiction of the Ten of Cups shows a family joyful in only needing each other’s company, the traditional Ten of Pentacles can be said to be more structured and rule-based. In this context, the Ten of Pentacles can represent family tradition. And that doesn’t mean less loving or more strict. Tradition, when done “right,” can be a warm and beautiful shared experience. That is what I am learning to be a part of.

This card appeared in my reading for the High Priestess regarding what is deep within me. So maybe I’m just learning to let it out 🙂

Position Three: How have I broken with tradition?

Scarab Beetle, Ten of Branches (Wands)

This card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot can can represent “conscious transformation.” In the traditional RWS depiction, it can represent excess and burden — the person in the card carrying the ten wands has their arms full and can’t see the road in front of them. I can relate to both sides of this card. The old “tradition” of family life for me was very much like the person weighed down with so many branches she can’t see anything else. But like the Animal Wisdom Tarot’s interpretation, I have made a conscious choice to do something else with those branches, and the road ahead is clear, even if I’m not sure exactly where it leads.

Position Four: What do I have to teach others?

Bat, Master of Suspension (The Hanged Man)

The Hanged Man shows us that a drastic change in perspective and/or a pause can bring great transformation or enlightenment. Not only do bats hang upside down, but they can “see” with echolocation. While I am by no means a “master of suspension,” I have made huge strides in my life from being utterly trapped with no sense of my own power to embracing my power, making choices that are far outside my comfort zone, and creating a new life for myself, starting with my inner world. I can teach and encourage that in others.

Position Five: How can I fulfill this role?

Salamander, Two of Branches (Wands)

Twos represent duality and balance, as symbolized by the yin-yang symbols on the twos in the Animal Wisdom Tarot deck. And while the salamander is a symbol of fire, she also lives on both the earth and in the water. A fiery spark with a balance of emotion and reality. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says that this card “illustrates the tension between stability and mobility” (148). So perhaps I can fulfill this role by carefully choosing when to remain still (like the Hanged Man) and when to move forward. A balance between the creative action of the Magician and the quiet contemplation of the High Priestess.