Magical Animal Messenger

29 - Owls
Top: Animal Wisdom Tarot. Left: Animal Totem Tarot. Right: Animism Tarot.

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.

The Hermit. The High Priestess. The Moon.

Intuition. Darkness. Alone. Mystery. Introspection. Fear. Confusion. Guidance. Searching.

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.”

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While I usually connect more strongly with a more positive-leaning interpretation of this card, today it fits well with withdrawn and isolated.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.

Reading: The World

Reading 2015, Dec 5 (2)
Animal Wisdom Tarot, A Reading for the World from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

Position One: Where am I coming from?

Rabbit, Moon Dreamer (the Moon)

A false reality of sorts. The abuse I experienced was real, but I expect it to continue even though I’m in a completely new environment with completely different people. My subconscious has had me trapped in a not-nice dream world where I feared constantly. I still do fear, but I am aware now that it’s a bad dream.

Position Two: Where am I stepping to?

Penguin, Seer of Shells (Page of Cups)

A world of my creating. While sensitive (which I definitely am!), the Page of Cups is also creative and intuitive. By toning down my fears, I am able to tune in to my creativity and intuition. I am stepping into a wonderful world that’s actually been here all along, but I’m seeing it with new eyes.

Position Three: What do I hold for myself?

Deer, Seven of Fossils (Seven of Pentacles)

I have learned to hold patience for myself. This allows me to take joy in the process of creation. For example, rather than harrumphing and saying, “Why can’t I just know all these tarot cards yet??”, I am truly enjoying reading each word as I learn about the cards, examining each version of each card, and practicing readings. I delight when I make a breakthrough and feel like I’m really beginning to understand a particular card. I’ve planted my seeds, and I’m taking pleasure in watching them grow and produce fruit.

Position Four: What do I give others?

Vulture, Ten of Feathers (Ten of Swords)

The Animal Wisdom Tarot emphasizes this card as one of transformation, rebirth, and rising above. In this card, the Vulture is the focus, not the poor dead creature on the ground. As much as I write about my insecurities, I think I am actually quite confident in areas that others are not. So while I can use all the help and support I can get for my own fears, I also have a lot to offer others. Animal Wisdom Tarot says, “Vulture rides thermals to soar high and see far, encouraging us to rise above collective opinion and test larger views” (91). I can help provide new perspectives and outlooks.

Position Five: What new thing awaits me?

Swan, Angel of Alchemy (Temperance)

This is the first time Temperance has come up in a reading for me, and I think it is just delightful in this position! Balance. An acceptance of the contradictions I hold within myself. An acceptance of myself as enough as I am. Loving myself!!

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 Moon

Reading 2015, Dec 3
Gypsy Palace Tarot, A Reading for the Moon from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

Position One: What phase of the moon am I in — waxing, full, or waning?

The World

When I first read this question I was really worried about how to read waxing, full, or waning from a card. But the World clearly says full!

Position Two: What benefits does it bring me?

The Moon

It should give me the power and light necessary to explore the mysterious world of my unconscious during this new time in my life.

Position Three: How does it challenge me?

Two of Cups

As I’ve spoken of before, giving freely in love is a new and challenging experience. But the metaphor of a full moon certainly describes where I’m at as far as being ready to really give it a go. So it’s a challenge, but one I’m up for.

Position Four: How can I meet the challenge?

Eight of Cups

By leaving behind my carefully constructed walls and assumptions about the world and how love works (or doesn’t). The Eight of Cups acknowledges that it’s not the world’s easiest choice, but the choice is made and I am moving forward.

Position Five: What will come next?

Three of Swords

Go away, Three of Swords! I’m tired of seeing you! And what are you doing in this position?

Huszka’s little white book frames this as a card of letting go. While I am using logic to overcome my deeply emotional fears regarding relationships, it doesn’t mean it will be a painless transition. So perhaps this is a reminder that a new direction won’t automatically make it all sunshine and rainbows. There will be discomfort and possibly pain. This card also features a moon. So in this position I read that as deception. Any pain that comes will likely result from the irrational beliefs that I hold, so when it happens I should stop and examine the pain and the beliefs behind the pain.

 

XVIII. The Moon

The Moon
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

The Moon is a card of intuition, the unconscious, and mystery. The Moon symbolizes the deeper and more intuitive parts of the mind and how these parts influence us when they surface. It can represent our “gut” or “animal” instincts.

The moon is our primary natural source of light at night, and by the light of the moon things may or may not be as they seem. In the same way, our unconscious can bring our attention to important things by showing them to us in a new light. But it can also distort reality. The crawdad coming up from the water can symbolize the “monsters” hiding deep within us. When we get a peek at them, we can be frightened or disgusted.

I adore this insight from Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life: “The French idiom entre chin et loup (literal translation: ‘between dog and wolf’) describes the time just before nightfall when the light makes these two animals indistinguishable.” He tells us that the Moon communicates to us to equally value the “friendly and familiar” part of our mind (the conscious mind / the dog) and the “unknown-and-seemingly-dangerous” part (the unconscious / the wolf) (125).

The Moon
Gypsy Palace Tarot

Both the Animal Wisdom Tarot and the Animism Tarot use the rabbit to represent the Moon. I particularly like how Joanna’s rabbit peers into the water and sees not her own reflection, but another rabbit and another moon. While the world seen through the light of the Moon may be magical, we have to be careful not to lose our way. Huszka’s depiction seems a bit more ominous, perhaps speaking more to the warning of deception, including self-deception.

A shadow of the Moon can be deception, lunacy, or spending too much time in the depths of the unconscious. An opposite or reverse of the Moon can be a fear of the unknown/mysterious, a refusal to explore the more mysterious parts of our consciousness, or the inability to handle the creatures we may find there.

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to the Moon, it would be water since the Moon represents the mysteries of the unconscious.

Personal Reflection

I like to peek at the “Questions for Reflection” in Quinn’s Tarot for Life when doing this part of my posts, especially when I’m not sure how to relate to a card. One question for the Moon is, “What are your recurring dreams, and what is their message?” (127)

The Moon - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

I don’t have recurring dreams, per se, but I do have recurring things that happen in dreams from time to time. The plot totally differs, but these three things pop up as pieces of my dreams with some frequency:

  1. Gum is stuck in my teeth and I spend the dream (no matter the plot) picking gum out of my teeth. I can really feel the gum in my teeth and a relief when I snap a piece out. But there’s a never-ending supply in there :p
  2. I am smoking, and it is incredible. I am what you might call a goody-two-shoes, so between that and my responsibilities as a teen / young adult, I have never so much as taken one tiny puff of a cigarette or really even desired to. But in my dreams, oh! I sit on a porch or a curb and light up and there’s nothing like it.
  3. I am trying on clothes to go somewhere, and I can’t find anything to wear. I spend the entire dream trying clothes on, taking them off, and digging through drawers or closets. It’s amazingly frustrating.

And I have no idea what any of this means. I am a believer in past lives, so sometimes I wonder if I was a smoker in one (or more!). I don’t tend to put much stock in my dreams as having meanings. Sometimes one will come along that is packed with symbolism and I think, “Okay, I know what that means,” but most of the time I just assume it’s my brain firing off doing its night time filing.

I admit the Moon card is still a bit of a mystery to me, but considering its nature, I’m okay with that 🙂

XIII. Death

Death
Efflorescent Tarot

Card Meaning

Death is a card of change and rebirth, despite its scary name. (Though I’d be just as scared of a card  named “change.” I’m not good at transitions!) One thing must end (or “die”) for something new to begin.

Why isn’t the card just called “Rebirth” or something similar then? Because Death is the moment of transition we need to heed in this card. It can be scary and uncomfortable and we may not know what lies beyond, but it is an essential step for many transformations.

There are several ways we can respond to death: we can be defeated, we can face it without fear (through innocence or through a belief system), or we can be afraid. Or perhaps a combination of these things is more likely.

I really like the Efflorescent depiction of Death. I find it super scary! But there’s the reminder of rebirth in the sunrise. The sun comes up between two towers, which are also seen in the High Priestess and the Moon. Both the High Priestess and the Moon symbolize mystery. We have to pass through mystery to get to our rebirth in the Death card. I suppose the sunrise could also be seen as a sunset, but even so the sun “dies” each night and is “reborn” every morning.

Death
Gypsy Palace Tarot

Huska explains much of the symbolism in her depiction of Death here. I like how the woman shows the suffering of a person in the face of death, and how the cat and orange face actually make a boat, signaling a transition to a new place.

I think the Animism Tarot depiction of Death is really beautiful. A raven brings a white rose to a group of three bird skulls, and the sun rises in the background. Joanna ends her description of this card with, “Be ready for the light” and includes these keywords: self-awareness, adaption, wisdom, truth, loss, passage. Not as scary when seen this way. The Animal Wisdom Tarot offers the keyword “metamorphosis.”

As number thirteen, one and three point us to The Magician and the Empress, both cards of creation.

Death can also say, “Let it go.” Let go to something that needs to go, but that we’ve been hanging onto nonetheless. Death can be a door closing which will not reopen behind us. We have to move forward.

A shadow of Death could be letting go of things too early or refusing to create attachments to begin with, for fear of loss. An opposite or reverse of Death could be refusing to let go of something when it is time or, on a more positive note, of not letting a good thing die.

Death - animals
Animal Wisdom Tarot, Animism Tarot

Elemental Association

If I were to assign an element to Death, it would be water since it is so deeply felt emotionally. I might add a dash of fire as a spark for the beginning precipitated by Death.

Personal Reflection

Change is not something I am very comfortable with, though I am working on that with some degree of success. I quit my job back in July to go back to school. I’ve discovered that school is not for me at this time in my life, so I will be leaving that behind to create a new me at home. I feel good about these transformations.

I have been mourning the loss / absence of my childhood for some time now. The grief comes and goes. Most days I am good at living in the sunrise, but some days I am overtaken by the sadness I feel at being robbed of a fundamentally valuable part of my life. A part of my life that would have given me a much more stable adulthood. That was a loss I had no control over, though I control now how I respond to that loss.

One of the ways I have responded to this loss is by cutting contact with some people from my family of origin. It was a long road to that decision, and I held on much longer than was healthy. But oh how beautiful the sunrise is! It’s been over two years since that decision, and they’ve been the happiest years of my life. That doesn’t mean there haven’t been ups and downs and hardships, but my life is so much more full of light. That was a loss that needed to happen for me to live. And I’m proud of myself for being strong enough to finally take care of myself.

Reading: Justice

Reading 2015, Nov 20
Gypsy Palace Tarot, A Reading for Justice (for conflict situations) from Rachel Pollack’s The New Tarot Handbook

This reading is for a conflict situation, so I’ll just keep in mind what upset me last night as I do this reading.

Position One: What is outer justice?

Four of Cups

Huska’s description of this card fits this reading well. A balance in a relationship. This balance is made of respect and fairness and is needed to avoid dissatisfaction or resentment.

Position Two: What is the wisdom of pursuing it?

The Sun

Clarity. If things are not clear, miscommunication can easily happen, and that can upset the balance.

Position Three: What action is best?

The Moon

It may seem the opposite of the Sun above, but the Moon speaks to the mysteries of the unconscious. Both our own unconscious and the mind of whoever we are in a relationship with are mysterious places. Sometimes we have to dive in and explore these unknowns before we can reach clarity. The light of the moon may help us to see things we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Position Four: What is inner justice?

The Hanged Man

A new perspective. The same old viewpoint can become torturous. Self-honesty and fairness can come through trying a new viewpoint. The Moon and the Hanged Man together in this reading might speak to the importance of this new perspective.

Position Five: What part do I play?

King of Pentacles

Pentacles represent the physical world, and the King of Pentacles can be read as a provider or a master craftsman. My role could include caring for (providing for) my body so my mind can do its necessary work.

I love Huszka’s depiction of this king. He’s not a rich businessman on a throne with all of his monetary wealth. He walks through the world and seems to have fruit falling from the basket/bag her carries. Fruit for everyone! Sustenance and health for all through this king. To provide this kind of care also takes love and dedication. I should feel those things for myself as I seek inner justice.

Position Six: How will justice come about?

The Chariot

The Chariot is a card that, like Justice, speaks to balance. But the Chariot is a more conscious and controlling balance. A less practiced and less natural sense of balance, but a balance nonetheless. Justice will come through practicing balance willfully. In the Major Arcana, we can’t get to Justice without first visiting the Chariot. Conscious effort and practice.

Position Seven: What is the link between inner and outer justice?

King of Wands

Fire of fire. This king is a creative leader, and while fire can suggest spontaneity, as a king he is responsible for his choices to more people than just himself. Passion and creativity can help to both facilitate communicate without giving up and to see things from a new perspective. And people in a relationship are responsible to each other. I can see creativity and responsibility being a link between inner and outer justice.

Overall Reflection

Four major cards and two kings! I’m not sure what that may mean, but that piece of the reading certainly stood out to me. With more practice I’ll be better able to think about what things like this may signify or communicate.

Halloween Reading

I wanted to do this yesterday, but we were awfully busy and I wasn’t able to. So I’m doing my Halloween reading one day late. I found this spread at The Daily Tarot Girl.

Reading 2015, Nov 1
Efflorescent Tarot

Position One: The Costume, who do I want to be this year

Four of Cups

The Four of Cups speaks to dissatisfaction and inner contemplation. I like to consult all of my little white books, and the Animal Wisdom Tarot book says, “Isn’t it time to come out of your shell?” Yes, that’s who I want to be this year. Someone who can let go of the supposed stability (really, rigidity) that keeps me dissatisfied, feeling trapped in myself. While it’s good to look inside myself for contemplation, I can’t stay there forever. It’s time to crawl out of my shell and be a freer, and happier, person. The guide for the Animism Tarot mentions a fear of change. I acknowledge that this fear exists, even as I so wish for change to happen.

Position Two: Possessed, what drives and inspires me

The Moon

The Moon speaks of the unconscious, how it affects us, and sometimes deception.

The moon is our primary natural source of light at night, and by the light of the moon things may or may not be as they seem. In the same way, my unconscious can bring my attention to important things by showing them to me in a new light. But it can also distort reality and make me feel fearful or drive me mad. I am driven by a desire to be a healthy and whole person. To understand my unconscious and how it and my traumatic past influence me so I can take conscious control and grow as a person. It feels like a tightrope pretty often: incredibly empowering and incredibly scary. Are those friendly dogs or hungry wolves under that moon? I’m not sure, but I keep going.

Position Three: Candy, how to get more sweetness out of life

Ace of Pentacles

The Ace of Pentacles represents opportunity. I can get more sweetness out of life by taking hold of more earth-centered opportunities. Create and accept physical comfort, the feeling of home, the wonders of nature, and the presence of my loved ones. I can get sweetness from putting down roots rather than retreating so often when things feel scary. Stay put, ride out the storm, and enjoy the physical joys that come from being in the world.

Position Four: Haunted, ghosts from the past

Ten of Cups

My past is the opposite of the Ten of Cups, which represents unconditional love, family, and bliss. I absolutely did not have a stable support system, and any time I thought things were going well, the rug would be violently pulled out from under me. I desperately want what the Ten of Cups represents. Who doesn’t, right? But any time I feel like I’m getting close to a life that might resemble the happiness contained in this card, I am absolutely gripped with fear that it will all be taken away and that the people I thought could be my loving family aren’t really invested in me and that I’m replaceable and unimportant. It is indeed the ultimate ghost from my past.

Position Five: RIP, how to banish those ghosts for good

The High Priestess

This is a tough one for me. The High Priestess represents intuition, the unconscious, and keeping secrets. Perhaps she is an indication to keep moving along my moonlit path, even though it’s a bit scary. She may also be saying to use my intuition more and my conscious intellect less. Feel my way along the path rather than think my way. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says, “that wisdom cannot merely be handed to us; we must feel our way toward it” (46, emphasis in original).

Position Six: Monsters & Goblins, fears and negative habits I’m ready to let go of

Ten of Swords

The Ten of Swords represents defeat. I’m tired of being depressed! I’m tried of fearing that my family of choice doesn’t love me as much as I love them. I’m tired of being afraid to show that love and appearing overly cool with them. Animals Wisdom Tarot’s Ten of Feathers is the vulture which can represent bringing life from death and flying high to shift the way we see the world. I’m ready to do that. I’m not assuming it will be easy, but I’m so ready.

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. 🙂