As I’ve talked about many times before, I identify strongly with the Nine of Wands and its defensive meaning. Tonight I decided to draw nine cards to represent the nine wands of my little defensive fortress. I don’t have any particular question in mind. I just thought I’d practice trying to see the spread as a whole. Baby steps. And I’m not in the mood tonight to look on the bright side or to think of how I can respond positively in this current situation. I’m holed up in my fortress, and that’s the way it is right now. Maybe these nine card can give me some insight or validation about my little fortress or how I end up here.
Well, the first thing I noticed is the three fives. Struggle, conflict, and pain. The Two of Swords speaks to a difficult choice. The Eight of Cups is leaving something behind, while the Devil is being trapped. The Page of Swords is rational and assertive, but may be too quick to judge. The Knight of Cups is dreamy and romantic, and the Ten of Pentacles is about abundance and family. So, putting these all together …
Three of the cards that jump out as part of the same narrative to me are the Devil, the Two of Swords, and the Eight of Cups. A difficult decision is being pondered behind these fortress walls: Do I abandon something I’ve worked very hard at? And am I at risk for some kind of imprisonment either way? If I walk away, am I trapped by my own inability to stick it out, resulting in a Five of Pentacles (hurt) and/or Five of Swords (hollow “victory”) situation? Or if I stay, am I trapped by my emotional intensity (Knight of Cups) in being too invested in something I don’t get emotional returns on?
Part of me wants to Five of Wands the situation. Open up my gates and come out swinging. Sharing some characteristics with the Page of Swords, I could be effective at that particular approach, but is that the approach I want to take? And will that lead me to the abundance of life of the Ten of Pentacles?
The cards certainly reflect the conflict waging within myself and in my outer world. Not only conflict, though, but intense confusion and mixed emotions. The Knight of Cups and the Page of Swords don’t seem to see eye to eye about how to do things, and they’re both certainly fighting within me. I also, against my better judgment, hold out a wee bit of hope for wholeness and happiness (Ten of Pentacles). Do I stay, do I go? Do I love, do I fight? I do recognize that these things are not necessarily either/or. They’re still very uncomfortable to mix and balance. Too much of one and I damage myself. Too much of another, and I do unnecessary harm to someone else. What a mess!
I’m not sure how “well” I did at interpreting this, but this seems to have helped me to articulate some of my conflicting emotions about this situation. So I’ll call it a success! These cards all did really hit home, and when I put them in direct conversation with each other the conflict and confusion really seemed apparent to me.
And I’m certainly open to any help or suggestions as I awkwardly wiggle into the stage of trying to see the spread as a whole 🙂
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?
Fulfillment and wholeness 🙂
Position Five: What is the first step?
Two of Swords
Stop mulling things over, stop doubting myself.
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.
This reading is about a choice or situation with extreme contradictions. I will keep in mind my internal conflict between people pleasing and intolerance for what I consider unacceptable behavior.
Position One: Current Situation
Falcon, Seeker of Feathers (Knight of Swords)
Air of air, the Knight of Swords can represent battle. I definitely have an internal battle being fought in a very air-like way (logic, thoughts). I think this card in this position is representative of this internal battle rather than me rushing forward, because I keep wavering back and forth, which is not a courageous run forward.
Position Two: Alternative
Bat, Master of Suspension (The Hanged Man)
Funnily enough, I think this card is an indication that the time for contemplation is over. At least until I reach a new place worth contemplating. It’s time to have my world turned upside down, to surrender control and see what happens. I have thought so much, but the remaining question is how others will react to me when I stop being so quiet and passive. And their reaction is something I cannot control. So surrender and jump into this new world. Then I can ponder where I’ve found myself.
Position Three: Possible Middle Way
Gorilla, Six of Fossils (Six of Pentacles)
I particularly love the Animal Wisdom Tarot interpretation of this card: “Six of Fossils highlights the harmony of exchange. Gorilla advises balance, to share freely and take just what you need. Release judgments of pride or shame; learn to give and receive” (73).
This could imply a more conscious back and forth. I may need to recognize when an olive branch or gift is being extended my way, even if it isn’t being presented in the way I might want or expect it to. And I can communicate what I need. I don’t have to only change my behavior and then fearfully wait for a reaction or response. This doesn’t have to be entirely in my head. I can keep these loving gorillas in mind and try to emulate their give and take, their loving care for all: others and themselves.
Position Four: Needed Approach
Hippo, Ten of Shells (Ten of Cups)
Happy, harmonious, and loving. Approach from a position of assuming the best and of loving those around me rather than imagining the situation as antagonistic or dangerous.
Position Five: How to let energy flow
Heron, Two of Feathers (Two of Swords)
Don’t assume my choice is between either the logical path or the emotional one. They are not actually mutually exclusive. It will be a painful choice if that is the choice system I create. The energy will flow better if I slowly lower my defenses.
Position Six: What commitment is needed
Monkey, Two of Fossils (Two of Pentacles)
I need to commit to the journey, knowing there will be ups and downs. I need to commit to staying in the process. This might take creativity, flexibility, and a playfulness I often keep buried.
There are an abundance of cards that speak directly to balance in this reading! I’m hearing that message loud and clear — both in the spread itself (a reading for Temperance) and in the cards that showed up (The Hanged Man, Six of Fossils, Two of Feathers, Two of Fossils). That may be my new mantra for a while: “Balance. Share like the gorillas. Choices aren’t all mutually exclusive. Go with the ups and downs. ”
This card can represent guilt, despondency, depression, self-pity, grief, or anxiety. My main books take two different views of this. One says that the Nine of Swords is a shadow of the Hermit: introspection gone too far. We are torturing ourselves with our thoughts. The other book says that this card represents situations that are largely out of our control.
I don’t read reversals and don’t plan to. I like to look at each card and take the light and the shadow into consideration based on the situation the reading speaks to. So my current situation as described by the Nine of Feathers is a shedding of this great anxiety and depression that I have been enveloped in for the last couple of weeks.
The booklet that accompanies the Animal Wisdom Tarot supports this idea. There is a very positive spin on this card. The crow helps us to find our inner light and to integrate the disparate parts of ourselves. The Nine of Feathers can speak to awakening and awareness.
I have been depressed and un-confident, but the last couple of days I have really been pulling it together. The commucation about the event that set off my trigger was extremely productive. I had been tortured both by my own mind and by the actions of another person, but this communication has been a healthy way to share awareness of where each of us is coming from. I’m waking from my depression and waking from some of the persistent negative thoughts that have been haunting me.
Position Two: Bottom, Earth of the Situation
Seeker of Shells (Knight of Cups)
Knights represent air, and shells are water. This card can indicate spirituality, romance, dreams, self-sacrifice, serving others, forgiveness, charm, and sensitivity. This knight is altruistic and romantic, but her feelings are easily hurt.
A shadow for this knight could be discouragement, disillusionment, being not in touch with reality, or failing to express our feelings with another person.
I admit I struggle with the earth element because I so often live in my head, but I’m going to give this a go. So what might this air and water card have to do with my earth experience? This weekend is our fall party, and this celebration with food and decorations and movies is happening because I finally shared my feelings with BB, was able to get out of my head, make/repair/deepen an emotional connection, and let go of my sadness and anger. This mind/emotion work was necessary in order for this party to be able to happen successfully. I’m really looking forward to it 🙂
Additionally, now that this issue is resolved, I have fewer headaches and tummy aches and have been able to enjoy watching the World Series, going for walks, and cleaning my home. My physical world has been returned to me since my mental/emotional troubles have been resolved.
Position Three: Left, Water of My Situation
Seer of Shells (Page of Cups)
Pages represent earth, and shells are water. This card can indicate dreams, sensitivity, tenderheartedness, immaturity, emotion, trust, goodness, loyalty, and imaginativeness. She is curious and enjoys discovering things in her unconscious. She is trusting and can go with the flow.
A shadow could be an inability to see when others are taking advantage of her since she is so trusting. Because of this, the shadow could be fear of connecting with people for worries about being hurt. In this way, she warns us to be careful of who we trust.
This card could relate to my water element in this situation by reminding me that even though I have trouble trusting people (shadow side of the card), I am beginning to do better at trusting in the goodness of others and not retreating so far when a relationship issue arises. And since this card is a combination of earth and water, it can show that I am approaching my emotions and emotional connection with others in a more grounded way.
Position Four: Top, Air of My Situation
Two of Feathers (Two of Swords)
This card can represent a difficult decision and/or polarities like good and bad, light and dark. In the traditional RWS card, a woman sits blindfolded holding two swords crossed. Her blindfold can represent either an unwillingness to see the truth or a retreat into her inner being to seek truth.
This card can also represent holding two seemingly opposing ideas at the same time or seeking a compromise between two things. It can be a reminder to listen to “both sides of the story,” so to speak.
The shadow of this card could be indecision or procrastination in making a decision. Doubting one’s ability to make a good decision. It could also represent having to choose between two bad options or a stalemate.
This could represent the fact that it has not been an easy decision to let go of the hurt I felt and to move forward in solidarity and connection. I feel I made the right decision, but it wasn’t an easy one given the emotional trauma I have suffered. In this case, I went with mind over emotion, which my emotions will eventually benefit from since I am choosing love and connection over artificial safety and loneliness. This is also the holding of contradictory ideas at the same time: I am afraid and I choose connection anyway.
Position Five: Right, Fire of My Situation
Seeker of Feathers (Knight of Swords)
Knights symbolize air, as do feathers.
This card has very clear light and shadow. She can be idealistic, rational, and intelligent. She will fiercely defend those who need defending. The Knight of Swords can also serve to stir us to action if we are being too timid or lacking commitment.
However, she can also be vengeful, argumentative, domineering, self-righteous, and aggressive. She may remind us to listen before acting.
Rather than allowing my thoughts to be filtered through fear and other negative emotions, I have taken a more rational approach with personal growth and interpersonal connection in mind. I am determined (fire) to create positive change in my life, and tarot has been an invaluable tool so far by helping me to both stand up and defend myself and by stopping to acknowledge the experience and feelings of others. And I am genuinely excited about where my life is going, particularly in my new approach to relationships.
This spread contained three swords and two knights. Very air heavy. While the last two weeks were painful, I have been able to wield my mind in a much more healthy and productive way than usual. Rather than obsessing and engaging in negative self-talk, I have been more rational and chosen a path that will, in the long run, lead to a happier me and a deeper connection with my loved ones. There will be difficult decisions along the way (Two of Feathers), and sometimes I will despair (Nine of Feathers), but I am actively working (Seeker of Feathers, Seeker of Shells) toward a life defined more by trust and ease (Page of Shells).