Continuing through Susannah Conway’s workbook, I’ve done a spread for the year ahead. I don’t subscribe to the idea of future-telling, but I do like the idea of a little message or tidbit to keep in mind for each month of the year ahead. So I’ve gone through and created a short message from each card, focusing on the particular messages in the little white book for the Ostara deck.
January – Queen of Coins
I love that this card came up first, especially since it is one of two cards that I chose to help guide me in courage through the year ahead.
“Cherish home and family, focus on and nurture the world immediately surrounding me.”
February – Justice
“Be mindful that all actions have consequences. Choose wisely.”
March – Seven of Coins
“Enjoy the little things. Don’t miss out on these small things by being distracted by impatiently expecting ‘more.'”
April – Four of Coins
“Protect what is mine, but don’t neglect those around me. Share and be generous.”
May – Wheel of Fortune
“Appreciate the good in my life, and don’t let any bad events take me down. Remember that I control my emotional reaction to what happens around me.”
June – Queen of Cups
“Be imaginative and trust my intuition. Continue to be kind and empathetic, but don’t let myself be emotionally drained by others.”
July – Seven of Swords
“In seeking independence, don’t isolate myself. I can be my own person within community.”
August – Knight of Coins
“Hardship can bring valuable lessons. Don’t quit.”
September – Eight of Swords
“Be careful not to get stuck in my own head. Look realistically at situations and seek additional perspectives.”
October – Four of Wands
“Celebrate with family. Be happy.”
November – Queen of Wands
“Trust my creative vision. Be passionate.”
December – The Empress
“Appreciate the abundance of good in my life. Embrace my creative powers.”
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.
The Tower represents sudden or surprising change, upheaval, revelation, chaos, crisis, or spiritual awakening. Spiritual awakening is particularly relevant when considering the Tower’s location within the Major Arcana’s third row of cards. The Devil was illusion, materialism, and imprisonment. In the Tower, the illusion is shattered.
If we compare the Tower to the Tower of Babel, it speaks to the idea that human constructions (be it buildings or even language itself) cannot ever reach or describe the divine. Language, for example, can blind us to the fact that the worldly and the divine are intertwined. This same idea that language divides the world and therefore the very way we see the world is also a sociological idea. The Tower shows (at least some of) these constructed ways of seeing or understanding the world being destroyed. The lightening can represent the divine spark which instigates change or enlightenment.
Like the Wheel, there is water at the bottom of the Tower, but the change in the Tower is perhaps more sudden and certainly not as anticipated as changes indicated by the Wheel. The water below both indicates a deeply spiritual and/or emotional experience of change. The waters below the Tower in the Efflorescent deck are much more turbulent than the waters in the Wheel. The Tower seems perhaps like a forced and much less peaceful Hanged Man. If we refused to or were unable to reach victory in row two of the Major Arcana, our perspective may be changed anyway, and it will be jarring and scary. (The people falling from the Tower are getting a new perspective whether they like it or not.)
Huszka’s depiction shows a women whose body is out of proportion and who looks pretty dismal. This is a great representation of the disorienting feeling of a Tower experience. At the very bottom of the card, we see some stairs leading down into the water (or into the unconscious). If we take these stairs and explore the meaning of our Tower experience, we may be reborn, so to speak, like the figure emerging from behind the woman. The Animals Wisdom tarot depicts a winged snake helping to destroy the Tower, and snakes can be a symbol of new beginnings and rebirth. I like the name of this card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot as well: “The Quickener.”
Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life reminds us of the saying, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable” (114). That is what we see in the Tower. (Though of course the Tower could at times represent a more positively felt revelation.) However, we have to acknowledge our Tower-like experiences as such or else we may set to work rebuilding the very same tower over and over instead of seeing that there is something better or bigger to be attended to.
Joanna’s description of the Tower imagines we are standing on the crumbling structure: “Beware. Watch each step and be forewarned: one must tread cautiously here. So pause, and calculate each step carefully, because one wrong move and everything will collapse, bringing with it a world of chaos.” This brings to mind our agency. Even when it feels like we’re being thrown through space and our foundation is gone, we do still have choices. And these choices can greatly influence how the Tower falls and what the ultimate outcome will be.
A shadow of the Tower could be this refusal to learn from these experiences. An opposite or reversed meaning could be preventing or trying to prevent a Tower-like experience.
If I were to assign an element to the Tower, it would be fire and water. Fire for the power and transformation of the card, and water for the intensely emotional and/or spiritual experience of this transformation.
Much of my life has been so traumatic, I think I actually expect most things to end is a horrible and chaotic Tower moment. Thankfully, things don’t work out that way much anymore, but even the expectation of my world crumbling around me kind of ruins (or seriously mars) many experiences. It makes it hard to enjoy living in the moment when I “know” it won’t last and will end horribly. It’s not a super helpful way to live. So I think I need to stop seeing Towers in the distance where there are none. I’ll find out later what the remaining Major Arcana cards might say about that.
I found this great Thanksgiving spread I’d like to try out. I’m doing it a day early because we’re getting ready to head over to spend the next couple days with family, and I won’t have anywhere private to do this. (I’m not exactly “out” yet about my tarot reading.)
This seems a lot more gloomy than I was anticipating. Time to dive in and see what some of this might mean.
Position One: What sustains me (Turkey)
Five of Pentacles
This seemed like a tough card in this position, but I pulled out Joanna’s little white book, and some of the key words she uses for this card can certainly fit here: “truth, adaptation, endurance.” These little kiwis have been through a lot, but they still have each other and they know this moment is not the end. Better things will come. They just have to endure the present moment. I think it is fair to say that this sense of endurance is something that sustains me. I’ve been through bad times, but I’ve learned to stick with those who love me and to know in the midst of sorrow and hardship that better things will come.
Position Two: What completes me (Stuffing)
The Wheel of Fortune
A change in my life for the better. The period of my life defined by pain has ended. A new era has dawned, and even though some of it is mysterious and beyond my control, it’s a much better place to be. I love the image of a spider web as the Wheel. This can symbolize the interconnectedness of all things. I may only be a thread in the web, but I am both an essential piece (valuable, with purpose) and connected to the others (attached, not in control). Additionally, spider webs look pretty delicate, but they’re quite strong.
Position Three: What I don’t get enough of (Green Bean Casserole)
Ace of Swords
At first I was confused by this card in this position since I tend to be a sword-heavy person. But perhaps in this place it means clarity and courage. I think a lot and rely on my mind a lot, but it doesn’t mean I’ve felt brave about some of the changes I’d like to make, or clear on how to create these changes. I’ve not been seeing with the clear sight of the eagle.
I like what Joanna says, “Let the world speak. What we find may not be what we wanted, but it may be what we needed after all.”
Position Four: What I get too much of (Cranberry Sauce)
Ace of Wands
Well, I’ve already established that it’s not courage. I think with this Ace in this position, I think I’ve had too much fire and drive with too little direction to send it in. I want change, I’m ready for change, but I’ve got all this pent up energy. Without the clarity of the Ace of Swords, I can get burned by this energy.
Position Five: What I need to share (Bread)
One of the many meanings that the Magician conveys is “as above, so below,” and so also “as within, so without.” I have moments of confidence and pride in who I am on a deep level. I need to share that. I need to share myself, my talents, and my skills to create the “as within, so without” balance represented in the Magician.
Position Six: What I should enjoy more (Pie)
Nine of Wands
This is a card of defensiveness. When I first discovered this, I immediately related to it. The RWS depiction of someone with their flimsy fort of sticks was a symbolic depiction that spoke directly to me. In the Animism Tarot, we can see that this elephant had good reason to fight. She was being held captive. However, if we look closely, we can see that her chains are broken. She can run away now. I should enjoy my freedom more, rather than feeling like I’m still in the middle of a fight.
Position Seven: What my blessing is in life (Blessing)
Three of Swords
While this card represents heartbreak and pain most clearly, it also speaks to healing. I wouldn’t necessarily call my pain a blessing, but the sunrise after the storm is something a lot of people don’t get to see. For folks who live out their lives in mostly sunny days, a sunrise may not be something special. But as someone who spent the first two decades of her life in a dark and scary storm, the sunrise after was and continues to be a huge blessing. My blessing is that I escaped my pain (or the source of my pain, anyway), and I get to journey to greener pastures. I get to revel in the joy of many small kindnesses that others may take for granted.
That turned out much less gloomy than I thought it might at first glance. My pain is a part of me, but that doesn’t mean the pain itself stays central to who I am. It may shape me, but my life is about more than dwelling in the hurt.
Note: I swapped green bean casserole and cranberry sauce from their original positions in Arwen’s spread to better fit my Thanksgiving taste buds 🙂
This reading is a little abstract for me, but I’ll do my best! I think I’ll look at it like where I’m at in my own life cycle.
Position One: What turns the Wheel?
Queen of Wands
Position Two: What outer change will come?
Page of Wands
Adventures will come my way. I may not know what exactly they will be or when they’ll come, but they’ll be available. I just have to choose which ones to tackle!
Position Three: What inner change is possible?
Six of Wands
Victory! While I’ll never feel totally “fixed,” I contain the possibility of victories on my journey of self-healing. The Wheel of my journey rolls on, but I can celebrate the victory of a full turn, a new revolution.
Position Four: What new situation will I face?
Knight of Cups
I’m entering a new era of my life that calls for emotional action. For a long, long time I’ve been very reserved. I’ll be experiencing similar situations, but the new cycle I am in calls for me to offer up more of my emotional self. My action doesn’t have to be fast or reckless. The RWS Knight of Cups isn’t galloping away at high speeds. But I do need to be moving forward.
I like the depiction here of the hippo diving. She’s exploring emotional depths.
Position Five: What rises?
Folly rises. Silliness rises. I’m letting loose my inner prancing llama! (Or trying anyway, there’s a series of smaller ups and downs in this process.)
Position Six: What falls?
This card keeps showing up in kind of negative positions, which has me a little confused. But I’ll go again, then, with the shadow meaning: too high of expectations / ideals. These overly high ideals are falling away. Not all at once, but they are.
Position Seven: What is at the center?
Ten of Wands
Hard work is at the center! Hard work and motivation. The Wheel isn’t going to turn itself. Well, maybe it would, but I might not like where it would go. I’m pulling the strings I have control over to help guide it.
This is a card that speaks to cyclical changes that we do not control. The way that Jeanne Fiorini describes this card makes a lot of sense to me. She provides the example of the seasons as a type of change symbolized in the Wheel. She also uses the example of graduating high school. That is the end of a cycle, and we can’t go back. We have to move forward with a new plan, perhaps beginning a new cycle.
I also like the way she describes the change that comes from the Wheel as amoral — not good or bad. It just is. It is good to learn to not take all changes personally.
Our lives are filled with cycles. But it’s important to remember that some are in our control. If we find ourselves experiencing a pattern that affects us in negative ways, we can evaluate the circumstances under which this pattern occurs and, if possible, change the pattern or leave the pattern behind. These patterns may have felt Wheel-like, be we need to recognize those things that are indeed in our control.
In either type of pattern — those in our control and those out of our control — we always have the power of adaptation. Will we adapt to these cyclical patterns in our lives, or be run over by the Wheel? If you stand still on a moving treadmill, you’ll land on your face pretty quickly. There are many things out of our control, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t active agents in our own lives. Sometimes it will be hard work and sometimes it will be fun.
I really like how both the Animal Wisdom Tarot and the Animism Tarot use a spider web to illustrate the Wheel. The threads of our lives are interconnected and our actions roll on beyond the present moment. We may not be the spider weaving the web, but we can admire the beautiful creation.
A shadow of the Wheel of Fortune is giving up all agency and leaving your life to “fate” or being trapped in a repetitive cycle you get no joy from. An opposite / reverse meaning is failing to recognize change or cycles or remaining motionless when movement is necessary.
If I were to assign an element to the Wheel, it would be earth since it represents change outside of ourselves.
Right now, the biggest lesson I can take from the Wheel of Fortune is to not take everything so personally. Change happens, and even though I’m a part of the greater web, that doesn’t mean all changes around me are about me. This is one of several irrational beliefs I am working to overcome.
For a long time I was in a cycle that I thought was totally out of my control: the cycle of managing the ups and down of the emotions and relationships of my family of origin. I thought I had no choice but to fulfill the role. Finally, finally I realized I do control that cycle. In fact, I don’t even have to participate at all. So after a lot of practice, I am finally totally out of that pattern of what really amounted to abuse. I no longer take their emotional cycles personally. I am at peace that their instability has nothing to do with me. I can’t fix them or make them kind.
Depression, anxiety, and c-ptsd are cycles that I have less control over. I can work to have better control over my life, but I also have to roll with the punches. I will have depressive episodes and I will experience trauma triggers. These things will happen. I can learn ways to adapt, and sometimes I can head off an emotional breakdown if I see it coming soon enough, but many times I have to adapt and survive. Part of doing this is through embracing non-normative ways of being in the world. Not working a regular 40 hour a week job (which is absolutely a privilege, and one I am eternally grateful for), not having children, taking days at a time to lay on the couch so I don’t go over the edge. Allowing myself some not-quite traditional ways of being makes the world a better place and makes these mental health cycles easier to bear.
I love the seasons. Actually, I really don’t care for winter, but even winter can be beautiful. Watching the seasons blend one into the next is a wonder. I love my pets, even though I know their life cycle is shorter than my own. I love the part of my life cycle where I get to spend every day with my sweetheart. That’s a wonderful part of my Wheel 🙂