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.

 

Reading: The Fortress

As I’ve talked about many times before, I identify strongly with the Nine of Wands and its defensive meaning. Tonight I decided to draw nine cards to represent the nine wands of my little defensive fortress. I don’t have any particular question in mind. I just thought I’d practice trying to see the spread as a whole. Baby steps. And I’m not in the mood tonight to look on the bright side or to think of how I can respond positively in this current situation. I’m holed up in my fortress, and that’s the way it is right now. Maybe these nine card can give me some insight or validation about my little fortress or how I end up here.

Reading 2016, Jan 13
Dreaming Way Tarot

Well, the first thing I noticed is the three fives. Struggle, conflict, and pain. The Two of Swords speaks to a difficult choice. The Eight of Cups is leaving something behind, while the Devil is being trapped. The Page of Swords is rational and assertive, but may be too quick to judge. The Knight of Cups is dreamy and romantic, and the Ten of Pentacles is about abundance and family. So, putting these all together …

Three of the cards that jump out as part of the same narrative to me are the Devil, the Two of Swords, and the Eight of Cups. A difficult decision is being pondered behind these fortress walls: Do I abandon something I’ve worked very hard at? And am I at risk for some kind of imprisonment either way? If I walk away, am I trapped by my own inability to stick it out, resulting in a Five of Pentacles (hurt) and/or Five of Swords (hollow “victory”) situation? Or if I stay, am I trapped by my emotional intensity (Knight of Cups) in being too invested in something I don’t get emotional returns on?

Part of me wants to Five of Wands the situation. Open up my gates and come out swinging. Sharing some characteristics with the Page of Swords, I could be effective at that particular approach, but is that the approach I want to take? And will that lead me to the abundance of life of the Ten of Pentacles?

The cards certainly reflect the conflict waging within myself and in my outer world. Not only conflict, though, but intense confusion and mixed emotions. The Knight of Cups and the Page of Swords don’t seem to see eye to eye about how to do things, and they’re both certainly fighting within me. I also, against my better judgment, hold out a wee bit of hope for wholeness and happiness (Ten of Pentacles). Do I stay, do I go? Do I love, do I fight? I do recognize that these things are not necessarily either/or. They’re still very uncomfortable to mix and balance. Too much of one and I damage myself. Too much of another, and I do unnecessary harm to someone else. What a mess!

I’m not sure how “well” I did at interpreting this, but this seems to have helped me to articulate some of my conflicting emotions about this situation. So I’ll call it a success! These cards all did really hit home, and when I put them in direct conversation with each other the conflict and confusion really seemed apparent to me.

And I’m certainly open to any help or suggestions as I awkwardly wiggle into the stage of trying to see the spread as a whole 🙂

Reading: Winter Solstice

Despite being a sad lump today, I’d like to try this winter solstice spread I found over on The Inner Atlas.

Reading 2015, Dec 21 (2)
Ostara Tarot

Whoa! My first all majors spread. That feels kind of heavy. To best understand what I’m thinking about here, I read up on shadow work here at Teal Swan.

Position One: Shadow Work, a shadow aspect to work on

The World

I really believe in the interconnectedness of the universe and all things in it, but I do not trust others enough to foster and fully live out this interconnectedness in direct ways. I assume I will be let down and rejected. It does leave me feeling lonely and incomplete, which is of course not a nice way to feel.

Position Two: In Store, a lesson learned in the last year to help with the shadow work

The Devil

A lesson I have learned and continue to learn and will probably never stop learning: let go of what doesn’t work. As I talked about in my discussion of the Devil card, this is easier said than done. As the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the one you don’t. I may know that some habits or beliefs are not helpful for me, but it can be terrifying to try something else. I at least know what the consequences are in my current rut. What if it’s even worse on some other path?

Of all of the tarot depictions I’ve seen of the Devil, the Ostara Tarot one is my favorite. It captures so well the feelings and meanings this card holds for me.

Position Three: The Fire, wisdom or advice for moving forward and avoiding psychological burn-out

The Fool

The Fool may be saying to me, “You know, ‘let go’ means more than just letting go of what isn’t working. Sometimes you just need to let go … as in stop thinking so much and just be. Just experience. Just do. Just exist. Be silly. Lay your worries and burdens down and embody my philosophy of life — jump first, think later … or not at all.”

Position Four: Hope, a message of hope to lift my spirits

Strength

This has become one of my favorite cards in the tarot deck, so I felt a sense of relief when it popped up in this position. It reminds me that emotion is not a weakness and that I do have the inner strength to persevere and create a positive life for myself. It reminds me to tame but not abandon my inner lion (or dragon, in this card) — which for me speaks to my inner Fool. I really love the Ostara Tarot depiction of Strength. She has clearly been through battles, she carries two whole cities on her shoulders, and she holds her heart in front of her. For me, it really communicates a balance of strength and vulnerability. Even more than than, it shows them as being able to serve the same purpose. Emotion and vulnerability can be power, can be strength. This card does make me feel hopeful. I’ve seen battles, and I sometimes feel the weight of the world on my shoulders, but I am still a person with feelings and an inner beast that wants to play (and sometimes roar).

Overall Reflection

I really enjoyed this reading. So thank you to Bianca Lucine for sharing! I definitely needed this on such a glum day. The shortest, darkest day of the year! Oh, how I look forward to the days getting longer. In the meantime, I have my work cut out for me, but I know that with Strength I can tackle the job.

Courtroom Drama

Now that I’ve explored the Major Arcana, I can jump back into the Alternative Tarot Course! This is a majors only spread, and the question is: How can I become a truly brilliant tarot reader?

Reading 2015, Dec 6
Gypsy Palace Tarot

Position Five: The Center

The Hierophant

This card is looked at first since it is the center of the issue at hand — everything else depends on this. It is not drawn randomly from the deck, but is determined by adding the numbers of the other cards in the spread.

While this card still gives me icky feelings much of the time, I’m going to practice seeing it with a positive angle: my dedication to my beliefs are central. And this does not mean blind, dogmatic beliefs. Because I can be insecure, I do tend to second-guess myself. The Hierophant here might be saying, “Stand strong in your beliefs. That’s not inherently a bad thing.”

Position One: In my favor

The Lovers

A lovely card of love and connection! I have external support, and I also feel a great connection to others and would love to help them through tarot. Even though I am not usually super confident, I am on the same page with myself here. While that’s no deep and stable self-love, it is a step in that direction. So I have great support, I have an intense desire to help and connect with others, and I’m actually on my own team!

Position Two: Against me

The Devil

The illusion of unworthiness. I often think I don’t deserve success or I just am not good enough to achieve success. This little devil does lurk in the background.

Position Three: The judge

The Sun

Clarity as judge seems awfully fitting. Keep my vision clear and don’t let myself get tripped up by illusions or self-doubt. Be confident, embody “as within, so without,” and let my own light shine. As long as I keep the point of view of the Sun, she doesn’t see any reason that the Devil should win out. She says, “Love can be so much powerful than doubt.”

Position Four: The decision

The Magician

Maintain a balance, and keep in mind “as within, so without” and “as above, so below.” With a sense of higher purpose and a creative, action-oriented vision, there is no reason I shouldn’t be able to become a brilliant tarot reader.

XIX. The Sun

The Sun
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Sun symbolizes clarity, joy, simplicity, knowledge, and openness. When considering the third row of the Major Arcana as a whole, the Sun is significant: from darkness (in the Devil and Tower) to light (from the Star, to the Moon, to the Sun). What was in shadow in the light of the Moon is now clearly seen.

The Sun is a card of self-confidence. It can represent a harmonious joining of our eternal selves and our mortal selves or the discovery of our own inner Garden of Eden. When we have made the connection between our inner light or eternal self and our mortal self, how could we be anything but confident? To know that such beauty and power lies within us is empowering and joyful indeed! The joy of the Fool has been transformed into a joy bred of self-knowledge and experience.

I love this statement by Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life: “‘Light is above us, and color around us,’ observed Goethe, ‘but if we have not light and color in our eyes, we shall not perceive them outside us.’ The brighter our inner Sun, the more apt we are to see the Sun in the world (as within, so without)” (128). Quinn also relates the card to our inner child and says this is not a refusal to see that which is painful or bad in the world — but rather the knowledge that goodness burns brighter and will outlast these things (129). One of the keywords the Animal Wisdom Tarot assign the Sun is “radiance.”

The Sun
Gypsy Palace Tarot

As card 19, 1 and 9 make us think of the Magician and the Hermit. The Magician reminds us of the “as within, so without” adage, and in the Sun, the Hermit has climbed out of his cave radiant and whole. 1 + 9 = 10 (The Wheel of Fortune), which indicates that even though the Sun might seem like the end of the Fool’s Journey we still have some changes in store.

As the sun in the sky is a source of life, the Sun card might lead us to ask “What is sustaining me and supporting me right now?” And if we are full of Sun energy ourselves, what are we doing to help sustain others?

A shadow of the Sun could be being a little too cocky, perhaps in assuming the world revolves around you. Another shadow could be false cheer, only as an outward performance. An opposite or reverse of the Sun could be refusing to see the light and good of things, keeping your own light from the world, or having low self-esteem.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Sun, it would be fire, air, and water. Fire for joy, air for knowledge, and water for spiritual harmony.

The Sun
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

Personal Reflection

Honestly, the most Sun-like part of my life is practicing tarot. I’ve tried many things (all kinds of hobbies, not only spiritual practices) and enjoyed them, but nothing has gotten me so fired up and excited and sure that I can be awesome at something as tarot has. I’m loving every second of it. I have the privilege of staying at home right now, and I spend probably four hours a day usually studying tarot. And the time flies! I mean seriously flies. I already have plans in the works to set up an online reading business, but I’m waiting to learn more and save up for starting costs. Even so, I think about it every day. I look into logos and LLCs and how others do email readings and all kinds of things. Tarot makes me confident in a way I don’t think I’ve ever been. I feel empowered and good at something and wildly enthusiastic! Tarot is my Sun-place, and hopefully that will eventually leak out into other parts of my life that could use a little more self-confidence.

Reading: The Devil

Reading 2015, Nov 28
Efflorescent Tarot, A Reading for The Devil from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

Position One: What illusory chains hold me?

The Hierophant

A set of beliefs that don’t serve me well.

Position Two: How can I see through the illusion?

Three of Cups

By seeing the joy that can come from another way of seeing and being in the world and being cognizant of the lack of joy that comes from this damaging set of beliefs.

Position Three: How do I free myself?

Two of Cups

By giving trust and accepting love.

Position Four: What will I discover?

The World

Fulfillment and wholeness 🙂

Position Five: What is the first step?

Two of Swords

Stop mulling things over, stop doubting myself.

Reading 2015, Nov 28 (2)Shadow card

Two of Pentacles

The reading didn’t call for a shadow card, but I’ve just recently learned about this concept (the bottom card on the deck), and I thought this would be a good reading to pull it and see what it might say.

The reading was pretty straight forward, and I didn’t feel the need to write at length about the different positions, but this makes the third two in this reading. Balance, balance, balance. I’m reading you loud and clear, tarot. The Two of Pentacles reminds me that yes there will be ups and downs, but that’s no reason to quit. I don’t need to rejoin the “devil I know” when things get scary. I just need to know that things will be on the upswing soon and to hang in there. I’ll get my footing or sea legs — it just might take practice and a few tumbles.

XV. The Devil

The Devil
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

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 illusion that 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.

The Devil
Gypsy Palace Tarot

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

The Devil - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

Elemental Association

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.

Personal Reflection

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.

Reading: The Fool

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.

Reading 2015, Nov 6
Gypsy Palace Tarot, The Fool’s Reading

Position One: How have I been a Fool in my life?

The Devil

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?

The Lovers

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.

Overall Reflection

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.

The Reader’s Reading

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

3 of Cups
3 of Cups

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.

3 of Wands

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

4 of Cups

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.

King of Pentacles

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

8 of Swords

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.

King of Swords

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

The Moon

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.

Nine of Wands

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

Seven of Pentacles

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.

The Devil

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

Six of Swords

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.

The Magician

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. 🙂