Last night I had the most wonderful visit from a beautiful Barred Owl. I followed her on foot as she flew from rooftop to treetop around the apartment complex. She was stunning and didn’t seem to mind my company. It was a truly magical experience.
When I returned to the apartment, I decided to pull out all of the owl cards from my animal-themed tarot decks to ponder the message she may have had for me.
Perhaps the message I can take from this beautiful visitor is, “I feel your pain. I know it’s a hard time right now. There’s no denying that. There’s also no rushing it. The dark night will pass, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find small joys in the meantime. Night isn’t as scary as some folks think. There’s magic to be found. Maybe healing magic. Listen and learn. Don’t rush yourself and don’t be down on yourself. Healing will come at its own pace. Be present where you are, even if it is dark.”
I laid this spread out the night of the new moon, but I’m a couple of days late sitting down and interpreting it in detail. I found this spread at Little Red Tarot, and I pulled the shadow card as well.
Position One: Where I stand
Things are certainly changing all around me. I wasn’t surprised or taken aback at all to see this card in this position. Job, home, town, certain relationships. So much change at once! But really most of it is good. Old things are falling down as new things sprout forth. But it does feel turbulent just because it’s so much at once!
Position Two: Something to leave behind
Four of Swords
I’ve been a bit frozen as I watch the Tower crumble. Again, mostly good things, but it’s BIG and a bit overwhelming. I haven’t been accomplishing much lately, including things I value very much (like keeping up with practicing tarot daily!) because I’m like a deer in the headlights. Some of these changes will take a while to take full effect. Sitting here frozen isn’t going to help the process along or make it go faster. Carrying on won’t either, but at least I’ll be doing things I enjoy! Time to get off my tush. I do have a life to live between now and when the full effect of these changes happens. I can’t just sit and watch the world go by for the next few months. How sad would that be!
Position Three: Something to receive
Ace of Pentacles
An absolute abundance of opportunity! Smile and welcome it 🙂
Position Four: Something to learn
Two of Pentacles
Balance. Thanks Two of Pentacles. Like I didn’t know that. I’m always sassy to this card when it shows up. It’s so darn practical and obvious. But that doesn’t make it any less true! Balance these huge, slower moving changes with my day-to-day life stuff.
Position Five: Something to give
Ace of Swords
I’m a smart lady. I need to be sharp and give my knowledge and thoughts during these super big changes. It’s really important to be on my toes and active in these large decisions. This next month is not a time for brain relaxation.
Position Six: My hopes and dreams
A home to call my own! Mr. Donkey and I are planning our own little cave. Our own get-away from the world. A safe and cozy and family-oriented space to thrive and grow.
Position Seven: My secret special skill
King of Swords
I don’t do bullshit. And like I said earlier, now is a time to be on top of things. Don’t let anyone pull the wool over my eyes. Don’t get tricked. Stay sharp, speak up, and be a commanding presence.
Page of Cups
My emotional bits are still bruised and sore. There will for sure be some incredibly difficult emotional moments and stretches during these changes. It’s just the way it is. It will happen, and it’s better to acknowledge that than to pretend otherwise and be knocked flat when it happens. There will be really bad days. But hopefully there won’t be many of them.
At this full moon, I decided to try a spread from New Age Hipster. I used the Animal Totem Tarot and the Mirrors of the Heart oracle deck.
Position One: What’s going on in my life right now
King of Cups, Gentleness
The King of Cups has great control over the watery element of emotions. I am barely hanging on to control, but I suppose the key is that I haven’t let my emotions overtake me. There are many changes happening right now in my life. My business plans are moving along, Mr. Donkey just got a new job, we’ll be moving, and I’m having trouble with a particular relationship. While most of these are good things, I still don’t handle change super well. So it’s good that I’m still tenuously in control of my emotions. I have to be gentle with myself when I stumble and gentle with myself by allowing myself to feel some of the intense emotions that are headed my way. They aren’t inherently bad. Just observe, feel, and don’t lose control.
Position Two: What to release, it no longer serves me
The Hermit, Movement
At first these cards seems to be contradictory. But in the position, perhaps I need to let go of the expectation that others will go within themselves, reflect on certain issues, and take action based on their introspection. As much as I would love this, I certainly can’t make it happen. And if I expect it I’ll be disappointed quite regularly. It’s a hard thing to release, though, because I just don’t think it’s asking a lot for people to think before they act when their actions are potentially harmful or damaging. Having this expectation brings a lot of pain.
Position Three: Lessons
Page of Cups, Awakening
I’m not even sure yet. I feel like I’m in the middle of many lessons right now, but I’ve not yet quite “learned” them. Time will tell. Pages are the youngest and least developed of the court cards, and the Awakening card depicts little fetuses in the earth. I’m still in the beginning stages of many lessons during this crazy transitional time in my life. So who knows? Like the seal, I just need to go with the flow and have as much fun as I can along the way.
Position Four: Blessings
Two of Wands, Peace
It’s been a blessing to start taking some big steps in my business plans. I’m finalizing a logo at the moment, and when we move I’ll be creating a brand new work space. I have many choices ahead, and being able to create these plans is a blessing in itself. I’m much more at peace beginning this work than have been at other work. This work will allow me to care for myself and to create a peaceful environment in ways I could not with a more “traditional” job. A privilege and a blessing indeed.
Position Five: What my heart wants
Nine of Pentacles, Sanctuary
Sanctuary! It’s been a really rough go for a while. My soul aches some days. I wish for peace and contentedness. A nice slow pace of life and quiet place to seek peace. I want sanctuary from heartache. But I don’t want to isolate myself.
Position Six: Big step to take to reach my dream
Ten of Cups, Voice
Speak up in my family of choice. If I show up without my voice, I’ll never feel like myself — which means I’ll never feel like I really belong. Show up, speak up.
Position Seven: What to focus on next
Two of Pentacles, Stillness
One thing at a time without overburdening myself or over- or under-focusing on any one area. Make small goals, all the while maintaining an inner sense of quiet stillness. One day that might be to pack several boxes. Another day that could be to revise my code of ethics, to walk in nature, or to read and journal. Focus is needed during this time, but I need to focus on only focusing on one thing at a time. Focus on not getting overwhelmed.
Today, I’ll interpret this card pretty literally. I’ve been solo most of the day and will be tonight and tomorrow. My sweetheart is out of town, and I have done a really good job of being alone. I’ve enjoyed my own company, I’ve taken care of my home and my fur babies, and I haven’t felt stressed out or bad about what I haven’t been able to accomplish. It’s been some very comfortable me-time. Peaceful and safe.
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Six of Swords
This is such a different depiction than the Smith-Waite Six of Swords. A winged girl or angel holds up a ram, and six swords are stuck into the ground. The lwb description speaks of sacrifice as right only when freely given. So rather than a journey, which in some ways could be a sacrifice even if you are headed somewhere better, this deck is about willingly giving something up. I have finally recently been able to begin releasing my anger. It didn’t feel good, but I couldn’t let it go until I’d fully processed it. Now that I’m in a better place, that anger is a wonderful thing to place on the sacrificial altar. Really, under the anger was and is pain and fear. I can sacrifice this fear for the joyful warmth of loving connection. It’s scary, but it will ultimately make life better and make me happier and more open and loving.
Of all the days to pull this card, today seems like an odd one. We had a full day of holiday company, and will for the next several days! My quiet world and comfortable routine will cease to exist until some time around the new year. In this case, I think the Hermit indicates that I did a good job today of not feeling overwhelmed by outside sources. I maintained a safe inner space and did not let all of my energies get sapped by feeling the need to constantly please others. My own little private cave inside of myself remained intact and un-intruded upon.
Position Two: How can I strive to be my best tomorrow?
Ace of Wands
I can maintain a positive outlook and creative energy for entertaining guests. I shouldn’t be easily discouraged, and I shouldn’t be afraid to make a decision when others seem unsure of what to do. Be a leader and create a positive environment. Trust myself rather than second-guessing my decisions and worrying about whether others are having a good time.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
I’m having a craptastic afternoon, so I found a spread I’d like to try out. It’s from tarot in a teacup.
Row One: What is the root cause of my anger?
The High Priestess, The Star, The Sun
The High Priestess is about the subconscious. While I try to be conscious of the baggage I carry around and how it affects me, I can be dragged under when it reaches up from my subconscious and catches me unawares. The High Priestss also indicates my tendency to immediately retreat inward when I am angry. I retreat from the world, including those around me. However, I’m not exactly listening to my inner intuition or unconscious. Just fleeing. When I have retreated so far into myself, I lose clarity (The Sun) or any glimmer or sense of hope (The Star). This makes it difficult to climb out of the deep hole of anger I’ve fallen into.
The Star can also indicate my tendency to have high ideals. When they are not met, I can become angry. Both my total withdrawal (The High Priestess) and my overly high ideals (The Star) block my ability to think with clarity (The Sun), so I become trapped in anger.
Row Two: What I need to do to heal/resolve my anger issues.
Page of Swords, Page of Pentacles, The Hermit
Pages are not active (like, for instance, knights), and the Hermit speaks to conscious introspection. These cards seem to be saying, “Stop!”
The Page of Swords says, “Stop and evaluate your state of mind.” The Page of Pentacles says, “Stop and evaluate the situation that surrounds you.” The Hermit says, “Stop and look within yourself. Be honest and learn from what you see.” Just stop. Evaluate, and then choose a different way to move forward rather than staying put in such an ugly emotional/mental place.
Pages also represents earth. So they can also be saying, “Stay grounded. Don’t float away on your sea of anger. Stay here.”
Four major cards and two court cards! This may speak to this as a larger developmental / spiritual issue for me. Of course it affects my daily, more “mundane” life, but it’s something I need to tackle on my Fool’s Journey (majors) in order to make real progress on my family (court cards) aspirations.
This is the first time I’ve examined the Five of Swords, and I really like Huszka’s portrayal. I have a wall built up around myself, and rather than just cowering behind it, I think I can sometimes go on the “offensive” and appear mean so that I won’t be hurt. The two women in front of the wall are not very welcoming. They stare out at the viewer in a harsh and condescending way seeming to say, “Keep moving, this place isn’t for you.” While there is a small doorway in the wall, who wants to get on their hands and knees and crawl through there under the hateful gaze of these women? These women may feel victorious in protecting whatever lies behind the wall, but at what cost?
However, a snake raises its head up from behind the wall. Snakes can symbolize rebirth, so it seems like a hopeful element in the card. I have to decide on my own to let these walls down. I can accept the help and support of my loved ones, but only I can choose to dismantle my defensive walls.
Position Two: What or who is my teacher?
Like the Hermit, Justice also asks us to look honestly at our own lives. Truth, fairness, and justice are indeed my teachers, and they encourage me to reinstate balance in my life.
Position Three: Where will I find my light?
I think I will find my light in working on a Chariot-like balance in my life. The Chariot’s sense of balance is very conscious and will-based, but I have to practice this kind of balance before I can reach a more “natural” feeling, integrated sort of balance.
Position Four: What will it reveal?
Two of Pentacles
Well, balance! There may be ups and downs, and I may waver, but it will reveal balance.
Position Five: What question does the Hermit want me to ask?
Maybe the Hermit is asking, “Where’s you inner Fool? Let’s find her!”
This card its below the High Priestess in the Major Aracana’s three rows of seven, and these two cards are certainly similar. While the High Priestess represents intuition and the unconscious, the Hermit seems to represents a more conscious withdrawal into the unconscious or into one’s self for the purpose of contemplation related to a particular circumstance or issue. The Hermit also represents a wise guide helping us on our journey, which could be our own inner voice, or the voice of a person in our life. In this way, the Hermit is more connected to the outside world than the High Priestess and more focused on the exploration of the self, and she represents a temporary withdrawal from the outer world. If others wish to follow her into introspection or seclusion, she will welcome them and teach them.
The six-pointed star in the Efflorescent Tarot’s Hermit represents the combination of fire and water. The owl in the Animal Wisdom Tarot (“Keeper of the Light”) represents vision in darkness. I’m curious about the headless fish in Huszka’s portrayal, but I don’t have any ideas at this point for what they may represent. I love Joanna’s red panda Hermit!
A shadow of the Hermit could be feelings of isolation or fear of other people. The opposite / reverse of the Hermit could be a refusal to examine oneself, or it could indicate a “coming out of one’s shell” and taking life less seriously.
If I were to assign an element to the Hermit it might be water, air, and fire. Fire for the courage needed to honestly examine oneself; water for the unconscious aspect of the self exploration; and air for the wisdom represented by the Hermit.
I am intensely “Hermit-ing” in my own life right now. And I think I’m doing a pretty decent job of not being completely withdrawn. I retreat from the world to reflect and I go back out and try to put into action what I’ve learned about myself. While there’s still plenty to learn, I think this is the best I’ve done in a long time of being more Hermit-like than High Priestess-like (being trapped in my inner world, even when I need to leave).
I think at this moment in time, I also embody both the shadow and the reverse of the Hermit. Isolation and fear of others and trying to come out of my shell anyway.
This card can represent guilt, despondency, depression, self-pity, grief, or anxiety. My main books take two different views of this. One says that the Nine of Swords is a shadow of the Hermit: introspection gone too far. We are torturing ourselves with our thoughts. The other book says that this card represents situations that are largely out of our control.
I don’t read reversals and don’t plan to. I like to look at each card and take the light and the shadow into consideration based on the situation the reading speaks to. So my current situation as described by the Nine of Feathers is a shedding of this great anxiety and depression that I have been enveloped in for the last couple of weeks.
The booklet that accompanies the Animal Wisdom Tarot supports this idea. There is a very positive spin on this card. The crow helps us to find our inner light and to integrate the disparate parts of ourselves. The Nine of Feathers can speak to awakening and awareness.
I have been depressed and un-confident, but the last couple of days I have really been pulling it together. The commucation about the event that set off my trigger was extremely productive. I had been tortured both by my own mind and by the actions of another person, but this communication has been a healthy way to share awareness of where each of us is coming from. I’m waking from my depression and waking from some of the persistent negative thoughts that have been haunting me.
Position Two: Bottom, Earth of the Situation
Seeker of Shells (Knight of Cups)
Knights represent air, and shells are water. This card can indicate spirituality, romance, dreams, self-sacrifice, serving others, forgiveness, charm, and sensitivity. This knight is altruistic and romantic, but her feelings are easily hurt.
A shadow for this knight could be discouragement, disillusionment, being not in touch with reality, or failing to express our feelings with another person.
I admit I struggle with the earth element because I so often live in my head, but I’m going to give this a go. So what might this air and water card have to do with my earth experience? This weekend is our fall party, and this celebration with food and decorations and movies is happening because I finally shared my feelings with BB, was able to get out of my head, make/repair/deepen an emotional connection, and let go of my sadness and anger. This mind/emotion work was necessary in order for this party to be able to happen successfully. I’m really looking forward to it 🙂
Additionally, now that this issue is resolved, I have fewer headaches and tummy aches and have been able to enjoy watching the World Series, going for walks, and cleaning my home. My physical world has been returned to me since my mental/emotional troubles have been resolved.
Position Three: Left, Water of My Situation
Seer of Shells (Page of Cups)
Pages represent earth, and shells are water. This card can indicate dreams, sensitivity, tenderheartedness, immaturity, emotion, trust, goodness, loyalty, and imaginativeness. She is curious and enjoys discovering things in her unconscious. She is trusting and can go with the flow.
A shadow could be an inability to see when others are taking advantage of her since she is so trusting. Because of this, the shadow could be fear of connecting with people for worries about being hurt. In this way, she warns us to be careful of who we trust.
This card could relate to my water element in this situation by reminding me that even though I have trouble trusting people (shadow side of the card), I am beginning to do better at trusting in the goodness of others and not retreating so far when a relationship issue arises. And since this card is a combination of earth and water, it can show that I am approaching my emotions and emotional connection with others in a more grounded way.
Position Four: Top, Air of My Situation
Two of Feathers (Two of Swords)
This card can represent a difficult decision and/or polarities like good and bad, light and dark. In the traditional RWS card, a woman sits blindfolded holding two swords crossed. Her blindfold can represent either an unwillingness to see the truth or a retreat into her inner being to seek truth.
This card can also represent holding two seemingly opposing ideas at the same time or seeking a compromise between two things. It can be a reminder to listen to “both sides of the story,” so to speak.
The shadow of this card could be indecision or procrastination in making a decision. Doubting one’s ability to make a good decision. It could also represent having to choose between two bad options or a stalemate.
This could represent the fact that it has not been an easy decision to let go of the hurt I felt and to move forward in solidarity and connection. I feel I made the right decision, but it wasn’t an easy one given the emotional trauma I have suffered. In this case, I went with mind over emotion, which my emotions will eventually benefit from since I am choosing love and connection over artificial safety and loneliness. This is also the holding of contradictory ideas at the same time: I am afraid and I choose connection anyway.
Position Five: Right, Fire of My Situation
Seeker of Feathers (Knight of Swords)
Knights symbolize air, as do feathers.
This card has very clear light and shadow. She can be idealistic, rational, and intelligent. She will fiercely defend those who need defending. The Knight of Swords can also serve to stir us to action if we are being too timid or lacking commitment.
However, she can also be vengeful, argumentative, domineering, self-righteous, and aggressive. She may remind us to listen before acting.
Rather than allowing my thoughts to be filtered through fear and other negative emotions, I have taken a more rational approach with personal growth and interpersonal connection in mind. I am determined (fire) to create positive change in my life, and tarot has been an invaluable tool so far by helping me to both stand up and defend myself and by stopping to acknowledge the experience and feelings of others. And I am genuinely excited about where my life is going, particularly in my new approach to relationships.
This spread contained three swords and two knights. Very air heavy. While the last two weeks were painful, I have been able to wield my mind in a much more healthy and productive way than usual. Rather than obsessing and engaging in negative self-talk, I have been more rational and chosen a path that will, in the long run, lead to a happier me and a deeper connection with my loved ones. There will be difficult decisions along the way (Two of Feathers), and sometimes I will despair (Nine of Feathers), but I am actively working (Seeker of Feathers, Seeker of Shells) toward a life defined more by trust and ease (Page of Shells).