My First Baseball Tarot Spread

I haven’t done a personal reading in quite a little while, other than daily draws. I was excited about my new Baseball Tarot deck and feeling a little funky, so I sat down and made up a spread using my neat Deck of 1000 Spreads (it has lots of cards that can represent different positions, so it’s easy to go through and build a spread when I’m feeling stumped). The Baseball Tarot did not disappoint. This spread really hit home in a lot of ways, and I’ve been thinking it over for days!

19 March 2016
Baseball Tarot

Position One: The Situation

The Pitcher (The Moon)

Here the moon speaks to me of trauma, which is tricky and not straight-forward. Trauma lives deeper than the conscious mind — in the unconscious and in the bones. The situation is steeped in trauma.

Position Two: Attitudes & Thoughts

Four of CupsFour of Mitts: Foul (Four of Cups)

While I usually connect more strongly with a more positive-leaning interpretation of this card, today it fits well with withdrawn and isolated. I wonder if now is when “enough is enough.” I’ve begged for the outstretched cup (of the Waite-Smith depiction) for so long it’s become degrading. And it’s only now being offered once I’m past the point of feeling like I have any dignity left.

I don’t feel able to reach out and take the cup because I’m trying to cling to any sense of dignity or self-worth I may have left in this situation. I am a human being worthy of some minimal degree of respect and consideration, and I’ve been fooling myself into thinking for some time now that I’m being patient and understanding when really I’ve just pathetically been begging for the kind of treatment I’m clearly not worth to another person. It makes me feel a sort of self-loathing and patheticness to have allowed this to happen.

Position Three: Positive Influences

Three of Mitts: Triple Play (Three of Cups)

There is now a willingness on the part of the other person to cooperate and actually take an active role in this relationship. As I alluded to above, however, I fear it’s too little too late as I try to nurture the remaining shreds of self-respect I have left.

Position Four: Blocking or Covering

The Team (The Lovers)

What is blocking this positive influence is that I’ve been made to feel such an outsider from “the team” for so long while jumping and pleading to be allowed to play that I don’t know if I can join with any dignity now that it may be possible. Even if I “join,” I will always know what it took to be allowed inside — and that is nearly unbearably painful.

Position Five: Heart of the Situation

The Manager (The Hierophant)

The principle of it. I understand that the Hierophant can in some circumstances stand for rigid dogma, but I’ve done a lot of soul searching and self-questioning. At the heart of the situation is my absolutely core set of beliefs which I have reexamined many times and which remain true to me. Someone trespassed and hurt me at this deepest level of beliefs. Is this something I can move on from? Is the relationship salvageable in any meaningful way, or is carrying on a superficial relationship as good as it can be now?

Position Six: Relationship

Five of Mitts: Error (Five of Cups)

Error after error after error. I feel like I’ve been 110% invested in improving “the play,” but the other person has just not taken it seriously at all until I finally threw my hands up and left the field crying. While on the field I said over and over why this was important, but it didn’t matter. Not until I said I just can’t do it at all anymore.

The quote that starts this entry in the book for this deck says, “I cannot get rid of the hurt from losing. … But after the last out of every loss, I must accept that there’ll be a tomorrow. In fact, it’s more than that there’ll be a tomorrow. It’s that I want there to be a tomorrow. – Sparky Anderson” I want there to be a “tomorrow” for this relationship, but I don’t know whether or not I’ve suffered a career ending injury during the final, massive error.

I’ve been willing to learn from mistakes and grow and accept imperfection. But I was the only one really, really trying for a long time. And now I don’t know if I want to try anymore.

Position Seven: Advice

Three of Bases: Safe (Three of Pentacles)

In this position, I think this card offers two separate pieces of advice:

  1. Work together as I am able at attempting to reconstruct the relationship. If I 100% withdraw, there’s no chance of the relationship healing.
  2. As an individual, throw myself into my own crafts. Tarot, crochet, writing, cooking, cleaning. Continue to build ways to feel good about myself and to do work I’m proud of.

Position Eight: Outcome

Two of Bases: Pickoff (Two of Pentacles)

The Two of Pentacles is not one of my favorite cards because I feel like it’s such an unwelcome reality check. Every time I see it I feel like it says, “Listen, life has ups and downs. It ain’t always easy. What else do you expect?” Egh, thanks for the reminder that life sucks sometimes.

However, I do really enjoy the Baseball Tarot’s description of the card. So perhaps a possible outcome is the ability for the relationship to feel less like work and more like play, though coordination is needed either way. And whether that’s to be a real, substantive relationship or a superficial, unclose relationship remains to be seen.

Overall

While I don’t exactly feel better after this reading, I feel like many things were articulated I’ve had trouble with. This reading really affirmed what I’m feeling while also casting things in a light that helps me to make better sense of my feelings. I’m still unsure, afraid, sad, hurt, angry, and confused. But it’s been a really good examination of all of these messy emotions that have been rolling around inside of me, tangled up and yucky.

Gray Day, Open Reading

This morning I was particularly sad. I’m taking a break in communicating or spending time with someone, which is something I need to do while I figure out what I want or what to do. But that doesn’t make it easy. I’m sad! I miss them! This ache was, for some reason, rather acute this morning.

I wanted to do a reading but wasn’t sure what to ask, so I decided to do a four card open reading. Then I couldn’t decide on just one deck, so I decided to consult two of my tarot “friends.”

Reading 2016, Jan 25
Top row: Ostara Tarot, Bottom row: Gypsy Palace Tarot

Ostara Tarot’s Message

Ace of Coins, The Hierophant, Four of Wands, Seven of Coins

The Ace of Coins says to me that there is an opportunity for a new beginning. In this scenario, I’ll consider that beginning as encompassing most of my world: work, family, relationships, home. While this can be a good thing or lead to a sense of stability and joy (Four of Wands), it is not an easy thing. I am having to question many of my currently held beliefs (The Hierophant), and it’s not quick work (Seven of Coins). The colors in this spread seem very mellow. This feels like it emphasizes the slow nature of the work I’m doing right now and reminds me that many wonderful things grow out of slow processes. This wait is part of what makes the end result so valuable or special.

The Ostara description of the Ace of Coins mentions the garden as growing “organically” — things will happen as they unfold. I can tend my proverbial garden, but I can’t make a rose a watermelon or make a sprout flower overnight.

The Hierophant represents not only belief systems, but larger systemic structures. I can search for outside wisdom and inspiration during this time. For example, I’m reading my new book The Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren and it is already giving me so much to think about as I process my emotions in this situation. The Ostara depiction is my favorite Hierophant because there’s a book and pages. A plant grows out of the Hierophant’s head here — another hint at organic unfolding.

The carrots in the Four of Wands offer a similar hint.

The Ostara depiction of the Seven of Coins with the little raccoons snuggled in their tree reflects the need to patiently cultivate the world around me. The coins seem to magically grow out of the tree, representing where true treasure lies.

Here, the Ostara Tarot is reaffirming the slowness of this transition in my life. It is what it is. I should use this time well.

Gypsy Palace Tarot’s Message

Two of Wands, Nine of Wands, The Empress, Ten of Pentacles

I’m feeling trapped in a “stay or go” cycle of questions in my mind. Huszka’s depiction of the Two of Wands warns us that if we wonder for too long, stagnation and decay will set in. While I wait for the things that need to unfold organically, I can throw some fire energy into other things, like planning for my tarot business and being a good partner to my sweetheart.

I think in this situation, the Nine of Wands can represent not only my current sense of defensiveness but also my questioning and restructuring of personal boundaries. Particularly emotionally. This is one of the things that I feel will unfold as a combination of organic, subconscious happening and concerted, conscious work. Right now I feel like the grumpy woman guarding her fenced-in property!

The Empress reminds me to be nurturing and compassionate, which I think I’m doing a pretty good job of lately with myself. With others it feels tricky because of my unsureness about where and how to set boundaries. Before, I’ve always put others before myself, so it feels strange to put myself first and to leave others be on their own. I look forward to striking some kind of balance between the the Nine of Wands defensiveness and the Empress’s outward love and nurturance.

Where the Ostara Tarot gave me the Ace of Coins, The Gypsy Palace Tarot shows me the Ten of Pentacles. In fact, the Ace is the first card in my spread, and the Ten is the last! Perhaps here the Ten may indicate the end of an old cycle of being and thinking. One that worked for a while but isn’t functioning in a healthy way anymore. It can also represent a hopeful peek into the future: a joyous Ten of Pentacles representing success and fulfillment.

Broader Observations

Each deck gave me one major card and a combination of coins/pentacles and wands. No swords, no cups. Much of what is happening feels like emotion and thought, but perhaps this spread indicates these are actions that are unfolding organically around and within me. The two major cards symbolize, broadly, love (The Empress) and beliefs (The Hierophant). I feel that these two things are really at the core of what is happening in and around me right now. I am full of love, but I just have to figure out what I really believe is the best way to share that and to protect my heart.

Full Moon Reflection

Reading 2016, Jan 23
Prisma Vision Tarot

In addition to mimicking the shape of the full moon, I also drew the shadow card to represent what the light of the full moon may cast a shadow on.

The Full Moon

Six of Wands, Eight of Wands, Queen of Pentacles, The Hierophant, Six of Pentacles

What I see here is that even though it doesn’t feel like I’ve really accomplished much, I should stop thinking about what I think I “should have” accomplished and look instead at the real progress that has been made. I have been much more compassionate and forgiving with myself. I’m seeking balance and deeply examining my beliefs. What do I wish to hang on to and what do I wish to let go of? What do I need to rewrite? These things are actions and are successes.

Shadow

Five of Pentacles

The work I’m doing isn’t easy, and it can often leave me feeling defeated. A definite shadow. If I keep in mind that what I’m doing is important and is valuable and necessary, perhaps that can help mitigate the feeling of defeat.

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.

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.

VI. The Lovers

Lovers
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Lovers can represent relationships, love, connection, and choice. In the Fool’s Journey, it can be representative of adolescence: the Magician and High Priestess are archetypes of “feminine” and “masculine” energies; the Empress and Emperor represent parents; and the Emperor and Hierophant represent larger social structures. From this perspective, the Lovers indicate a time of making choices based on one’s own desires, such as when a teenager begins to question the authority of those around them and to experience romantic / sexual feelings.

While the Lovers in the traditional RWS deck and here in the Efflorescent deck are presented as male and female, this doesn’t inherently have to be heteronormative in regards to the sexual/romantic element of the card. Male and female are used as archetypes, but really we each contain a mix of so-called “male” and “female” characteristics. The Lovers represent the “wholeness” that comes when we connect with others. The characteristics I have are complemented / completed by the characteristics of my sweetheart. This creation of wholeness is not limited to a romantic couple. Romantic partnerships come in many numbers and formations. The lovers represent connection in a broader sense as well, so our families and friends are essential relationships / connections. Together, we are more than pieces of archetypes; we come together to create a wholeness that does not exist when we are alone. Human are social creatures.

Lovers
Gypsy Palace Tarot

I said in my first exploration of the Lovers:

I like the way that Paul Quinn explains love and connection within this card. “Sifted down to its essence, the Lovers Trump is not only an exclusive representation of the union of sweethearts and sexual partners (eros), it embraces the deep connections between soul mates and friends (philia). And at the other, less personal, end of the spectrum, the Lovers encompasses the unconditional, universal love for all beings (agape)” (66).

He also frames the cards as union or integration between “head and heart, conscious and unconscious, light and dark” (65). This again speaks to a balance of duality within our own selves. Reason constrains, so alone it would not facilitate advancement on our spiritual journeys. Passions frees, but without direction who knows where we’d end up. Joined together reason and passion are powerful.

Lovers - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

I think the Animal Wisdom Tarot’s honeybee is a beautiful representation of not only partnership, but with a wider, universal connection / love. Bees work together for the good of the hive and are communally connected in ways that humans are not.

The shadow of this card could indicate codependency, possessiveness, and over-reliance on others. The opposite / reverse of the Lovers could be a lack of connection, unwillingness to connect to others through a lack of trust or fear of intimacy, or antagonism or lack of cooperation.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element the Lovers, it would be water and earth since they speak to a meaningful (emotional, water) connection with others (outside ourselves, earth). It could probably just as easily be fire and air when it speaks to the balance between passion and intellect. At this moment in time, the water/earth assignment speaks most to me, but that could change with time! So depending on the context of this card, really it could be any of the four elements.

Personal Reflection

For such a long time, I kept myself at an arm’s distance from others because getting any closer seemed like a guaranteed way to get hurt. And really, it still feels that way, but I can’t be so lonely anymore. I do crave connection, and I desire it enough to travel into “unsafe” territory to try and make those connections. By unsafe territory, I don’t mean actually dangerous situations: I am allowing myself to get closer to the people I already love, which feels “unsafe” because of my background. Sometimes I make good steps, and sometimes I retreat pretty quickly when I feel I may be rejected.

Within myself, I am certainly a combination of “masculine” and “feminine” traits. I can go back and forth between periods of intense activity and deep introspection. I am very reason-oriented, but I am also passionate. Those two overlap quite a bit. My sweetheart is more silly and mellow, and I’ve learned many good lessons from him.

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.

V. The Hierophant

Hierophant
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Hierophant is similar to the Emperor in that he represents social structures and rules. While the Emperor is fatherhood, physical protection, and government, the Hierophant speaks more to religion, spirituality, and ideology. So there is overlap in social pressure and expectations, but they are certainly two different pieces of the same pie. Rachel Pollack in Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom draws our attention to the separation of church and state.

The Hierophant can represent social education within a spiritual, religious, or ideological tradition. While this tradition is supposed to represent that which is larger than us (God, the collective unconscious, the universe — whatever you call it), this education takes place within human institutions, which means there is always the possibility for corruption, error, and less-than-good intentions. I think Huzska’s depiction of the Hierophant does a good job of showing his humanness. 

The Hierophant
Gypsy Palace Tarot

The High Priestess, on the other hand, is an inner connection with the spiritual / unconscious. Her flaw, however, is in failing to connect with the outside world. A balance must be struck between following the doctrine taught by others and listening to one’s own inner voice of intuition.

The Hierophant can also represent one way of balancing, or attempting to balance, the duality of the Magician and of the High Priestess. This doesn’t inherently have to represent a religion with a figurehead. It can also represent a spiritual tradition that doesn’t necessarily ask for obedience: like tarot. Tarot has a long history, a few different schools of thought (regarding, for example, divination or reversals), and it offers a path to enlightenment for those who wish to practice it.

I like how the Animal Wisdom Tarot says that the bull can represent sacred knowledge passed though generations “through custom, ritual, symbol, myth, and beliefs.” This, to me, is the most beautiful thing about the Hierophant. Dogma is rigid, but a rich symbolic history of our beliefs can be a pillar for us.

Hierophant - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

As I stated in my last exploration of the Hierophant:

This card can also represent conformity/convention or deception, which can be thought of a few different ways:

  • A deception. A covering up of one’s true self in order to conform to better fit in.
  • A deception. A covering up of knowledge or information because you might think it best. This assumes you know what is best and can decide that for others. (Or the opposite, someone trying to hide something from you and deciding they know what is best for you.)
  • Conformity. Authoritative orthodoxy. Institutional and cultural expectations. Persecution or punishment for failure to conform.

The pillars represent the strength of the Hierophant’s philosophy. But pillars are man-made and can crumble like the Tower. This card may urge us to pay heed to the balance between our belief system and the truths we hold and openness to new ideas. To not be afraid to question how we came about some of our ideas. A rigid and dogmatic approach to life or to others is a refusal to understand the social location of others. Or perhaps we are feeling punished or persecuted by a “hierophant” in our lives: an institution, social pressures, religion.

Shadows of this card include gullibility or complete surrender of personal responsibility to a dogma. The opposite / reversal could be independent, original thought or it could also be an unwillingness to receive the help or support of a spiritual, religious, or ideological tradition when it could be a positive force.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Hierophant, it would be earth. He doesn’t represent passion or drive, intellectual thought, or emotions. He represents a doctrine or tradition outside of ourselves.

Personal Reflection

This morning as I ate breakfast, I watched a documentary on the liberation of Dachau and cried the entire time. That is the most horrible, soul crushing side of the Hierophant. Blind obedience to unspeakably evil ideology. The light and dark of this card are no small matter; the Hierophant can create Wholeness or he can tear apart humanity.

Reading: The Empress

Reading 2015, Nov 9
Animism Tarot, A Reading for the Empress from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

Position One: What is my passion?

Six of Swords

My passion is my journey to a becoming a healthier, happier person. I have experienced pain, and I am ready to move forward.

In the Animism Tarot, the swords appear to be under the water, pointing toward the sunrise. So the swords are still present, but they are submerged and provide direction to something beautiful and warm. A sunrise also symbolizes a new beginning. Creator Joanna Cheung says, “The journey is almost over, and your destination is close.” Keywords include both fortitude and tranquility, strength and peace.

Swords are air, but both this depiction and the traditional RWS card are filled with water. The water (emotion) can successfully carry the mental anguish symbolized by the swords. In the traditional card, the ferryman uses a pole (wand) to push the ferry along. This represents the drive to create change and move on.

Position Two: How have I expressed it?

The Hierophant

I have expressed this by reevaluating my worldview and creating spiritual practices that feed my soul. As I quoted in my first encounter with the Hierophant, Paul Quinn says in Tarot for Life: “Our task is to keep the ones [the ideas] that expand out spirit and retire the rest. … the Hierophant represents not only what one has learned or must learn, but also what one must eventually unlearn to nurture the heightened consciousness beckoning in the World card” (62, emphasis in original).

I am learning tarot and meditation, both spiritual practices with communities and long histories, in the hopes that these will facilitate my journey. In the traditional RWS depiction, the Hierophant raises his hand with two finger pointed up and two pointed down, symbolizing “as above, so below.” I am expressing my passion for forward movement on my journey by acknowledging the spiritual elements of my life and incorporating them into my daily practices.

Position Three: How can I express it more fully?

Four of Cups

While many interpretations of the Four of Cups are about dissatisfaction or the need to reach out for an offered opportunity, I also like the interpretation that states that the man in the traditional RWS card is not dissatisfied, but is content with the three cups that already sit in front of him and is taking care of himself by not accepting a fourth cup, which might be too much for him to take on at this point in time.

I can live my passion of creating my true self by not taking on too much. I can appreciate what I have and recognize when to say, “No thank you.” This will allow me to dedicate more energy to the task at handn.

Position Four: What blocks me?

The High Priestess

I can be blocked when I stay in my own head for too long. Introspection has its place and is certainly valuable, but there comes a time for action. I am blocked when I become trapped inside myself and won’t or can’t turn my intuition and thoughts into action.

This card also appeared in my Reading for the High Priestess as well.

Position Five: What frees me?

Four of Wands

I am free when I am able to “let go” in the company of my family of choice. Their stable love creates an environment where I am occasionally able to forget myself and really be the person I am journeying toward.

This card appeared in The Magician’s Reading as well.

Position Six: What do I nurture?

Six of Wands

I nurture and celebrate success in others, and am beginning to do the same for myself. This card can also represent a balance of fire energy: enough to keep the fires burning bright, but not so much that they rage out of control. I am nurturing this sort of control or moderation in my journey.

Position Seven: What does nurturing ask of me?

Strength

Joanna, creator of the Animism Tarot, says, “Ferocity and gentleness, freedom and control, passion and compassion: there is balance here, one that requires a delicate touch, one without fear, but with understanding. With balance, comes peace.” Nurturing asks that I temper my passion with compassion and be confident in the knowledge that I do not have to be aggressive to achieve my goal.

The Strength card reminds me that “nurturing” with my dominant air qualities is not actually reflective of true strength. Knowledge and power are most effective when wedded to compassion and gentleness.

Position Eight: What does it give me?

Queen of Pentacles

Joanna says, “She is balanced in life, understanding the value of hard work as well as the importance of simple pleasures.” Through nurturing both myself and others, I will reap the benefits of this labor and be able to to partake in the simple pleasures that life offers by recognizing when to stop and smell the roses — which is in itself a form of self-nurturance.

The Queen of Pentacles showed up in The Fool’s Reading as well

Position Nine: How can I bring together my passion and my nurturance?

Two of Pentacles

The Two of Pentacles is a card that speaks to balance. This card acknowledges that balancing acts are not always the easiest: life comes with ups and downs. While the Four of Cups in this reading spoke to not taking on more than I can handle, this card may say, “But you must handle the balance between your passion and nurturing. Don’t neglect one in favor of the other, and work to tend both of them.” This card also implies that this juggling act doesn’t inherently have to be tedious or boring: I can make it joyful if I choose to approach it with a good attitude.