Tag Archives: personal practice

A different sort of Ally draw

Most of my tarot draws this year have been about finding an ally for myself for some period of time. Generally, that’s been for a week, but sometimes for a particular event, a conversation, or a longer period of time. I like this relationship with the card images because it makes me feel like I have another tool at my disposal, someone or something else in my corner. Even if that someone/something else is my own exceptionally limited interpretation of the cards, just asking for aid and reflecting on what I see is a powerful act.

Yesterday I did something different, and drew a card with the intention of learning about being an ally. I’m am a pretty privileged person, and what with us being four weeks away from swearing in a racist Cheeto-in-chief, it occurs to me that I would be well advised to turn more of my awareness and action outward.

Question: What do I need to know about being a better ally?

Card: Ace of Cups

First Impressions: I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I like cards with people, which is why I use this deck. Basically, any time I draw a card without people I mutter something very professional and timeless under my breath like, “Stupid cards.” That said, I quite LIKE this card, and I had one of those, “Hey, this is cool!” moments when I first saw it.

About the card: So there’s this big cup, see? And it’s in the palm of a spectral hand that, I swear, looks like some of the animation from Monty Python. We also have a dove holding a host just above the cup (okay, fine, it’s a chalice). There are five funnels of water coming out of the chalice and into what I’ll call a lake or pond below. Also, some lily pads, which I’m sure mean something very insightful but that I will ignore as I don’t know what they might actually mean.

But what does it mean*? The placement of the hand feels important to me. It’s not gripping the chalice in a way that is exerting control. I grabbed a wine glass and tried holding it this way (I don’t have any chalices in my house, which I’m sure is another sign of my limitations in reading), and it was hard to carry it steadily without being very, very aware of my movements. Contrast this with, say, the Knight of this suit, who is holding the hell out of that cup. He clearly intends to use the cup – as a symbol, as a weapon, as something. Whatever his intention, I think it’s safe to say that that card is more about the knight, and less about the cup that he holds.

Similarly, note the water coming out of the chalice. The hand’s placement, again, is crucial here. It’s really in the only position it can be to not be in the way of the funnels coming out of the chalice. So again, there’s great care being taken.

In the context of this question, I’m reading that as a reminder that to be an ally is, in part, to be clear and careful about one’s own movements and intention. To support, not to direct. To be present without co-opting the message or the action.

As usual, I’m sure there’s a lot here that I’m not noticing, but this feels like a good starting point both for the card and for my understanding of the question.

*Remember, this is through the lens of my question, not anything like an interpretation of the card’s intrinsic meaning.

A year of Justice? Sure, why not?

My birthday was a week ago, which means that it’s time to offer some ill-informed ramblings about my new year card. Last year, as I talked about here, was a Wheel of Fortune year for me, and I certainly experienced a good deal of that on-the-edge whirling throughout the past twelve months. I feel like I navigated the year fairly well, all things considered, and I’m curious about stepping into the next twelve months. I use the Rider-Waite-Smith deck (because it has a lot of people in it, and I like cards with people because I suck at interpreting any image that’s remotely abstract), so for me the “eleven” year is Justice.

So let’s take a look at this thing, shall we?

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It seems straightforward enough. We have an androgynous person sitting on a stone chair, wearing a golden crown. There are pillars on either side, and the figure is holding a set of scales in their left hand and a sword in their right. They’re wearing formal-looking red robes with yellow/gold trim. This feels like a very aptly named card, since we have the scales of justice and a sword of judgement/punishment at the ready. I note that a lot of other images associated with justice include a blindfold, and I find it interesting that this one does not.

Within the context of personal work, though, that fits. This isn’t about passing judgement on someone else, after all. This isn’t IMPARTIAL justice – it’s about weighing things in my own life. That stuff is sometimes out of balance; hell, I’d argue that it’s almost always out of balance to some degree. The sword, I think, is a tool for cutting away what doesn’t serve and bringing those things back into balance. But I think the eyes are open because discernment of this sort requires looking at things openly and clearly. I might see that something in my life is out of balance, and if my eyes are open and clear, I can decide what to do about that. Do I choose to just deal with it, which sounds terrible but frankly is sometimes the best option? Do I use what I learn from my examination of the situation as a starting point to negotiate? Or do I say, “fuck this noise,” and bring the sword down and cut it away entirely?

All of these things are possible, and I believe they all have their place. The critical thing, I feel, is that I use my objective tools (the scales) and also my subjective tools (my eyes, my heart, my personal experience) to examine the situation from as many angles as I can, and then take action. In this image, it looks like the only “action” tool available is the sword, but that’s never true. The mind is a tool for action. Words are a tool for action. My body is a tool for action. For me, the sword is a reminder to DO SOMETHING, not a suggestion that there is only one thing to be done.

Here’s another thing that I’m finding interesting with this viewing. There’s a cloth behind the seated figure, sort of draped between the pillars. Now that’s…weird. I’ve seen the card a number of times, but my eye has never been drawn to that before. It gives me a very “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain” feeling, and that’s very curious. Is it a suggestion that this is just a piece of theater that’s playing out before me, and it’s not real? That doesn’t feel quite right, but I’m really not sure. I’m going to sit with that for a while and see what comes up.

Even with that last piece of uncertainty, I’m pretty good with starting a Justice year. After a year of being on the Wheel (and sometimes way out on the edge of it), I feel like I’ve gathered a lot of information, but without a lot of time and space to integrate it. This feels like a good time to look carefully at what I’ve learned, identify those points of imbalance, and take some decisive action.

Tarot Ally #5

I’m still sitting with a couple of recent draws, so this one is actually from this week – so the post is either on time, or from the future, depending on your perspective.

Ally Draw: An ally for abundance
Card: 5 of Swords

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Well, this is interesting. So we have several people in this card and one who is, to my eye, collecting the swords that others have thrown down or have been forced to surrender. I know that the faces in these cards are generally set in a neutral expression, but this dude looks really happy with himself, doesn’t he? I’ve worn a satisfied smirk more than once, and let me tell you – dude is smirking. It makes me want to smack him upside the head a little bit.

This card speaks to a way of being that I struggle with. Namely, the assumption that what I get must be at the expense of another. It’s pervasive in our culture and I believe that it’s the root of so many of our problems (and so many of my problems, for that matter). Here’s the thing about that view of the world: it has as its fundamental belief the idea that there isn’t enough for all of us, so you’d damn well better grab what you can and let everyone else hang. Maybe get enough for your family and kids while you’re at it, but outside of that, the world isn’t to factor into your thinking at all. That is one messed up way of looking at the world, isn’t it? And naturally it works the other way, too. When I come from that place of scarcity, of the knowledge that there isn’t enough, then I look at what others have and I’m angry that they have it…because it came from me, or at least a hypothetical me, see? Everything that you have is a thing that I can’t have. And if there’s not enough to go around, then I’m damned well going to stockpile these swords, y’know, even if I only need the one.

Something of note here, sort of as an aside: out of the 5 draws that I’ve posted here, this is the third Swords card that has come up. Swords represent the element of Air, so we’re looking at words and stories, and while words and stories are awesome, they’re not always true. So what I think I’m looking at here in this card is a certain way of framing the idea of abundance and scarcity, not the reality of it. That’s an important consideration.

This image, at least today, embodies the opposite of abundance for me. Instead, it embodies that “I’ve got mine” attitude that sickens me…and that I fall pretty to all too often when I’m worried about my own resources, whether that worry is rational or not. So if I’m looking at this card as an ally, that makes things a little more complicated. I think it’s important to note that allies don’t always need to be friends, and the best teachers sometimes are here to demonstrate what we should avoid.

“(Insert something wise about toxic capitalism here.)”

Tarot Ally #4

Still running these a couple of weeks behind the actual draw. I’d like to say that that’s because I am taking the extra time to reflect, but mostly it’s because I don’t get around to publishing the post right away.

Ally Draw #4: An ally for optimism
Card: Ten of Swords

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WELP. That happened.

A little context here, first. I drew this card on June 12th, the day that reports came in about dozens of people being shot and killed on Latin night in the Orlando nightclub Pulse. This is a horrific act of violence against the LGBT community, and I don’t have anything approaching a coherent response other than to be angry, shocked, and frightened on behalf of the people most deeply affected. During the same time, some close friends also received bad news of a more personal nature, and I was (and still am) struggling to find much of worth in this world that we inhabit. The ally I asked for wasn’t for good news, or a sense of well-being, or anything as direct as that. Rather, it’s a need for a shift in myself – to be able to sit with the darkness, and yet still see some glimmer of light, even if it’s faint.

So then we get this card, which…I guess it’s something, eh?

It’s funny, but there’s actually something here that kind of works for me. Dude doesn’t have three swords in him, or eight. He has ten. One of them is in his ear, for fuck’s sake. I mean, really? Doesn’t that seem like a little bit of overkill? Anyway, here’s an important deal for me. I’m not the world’s most optimistic person. When I get in a mood, I’m in a mood. I don’t respond well to someone trying to cheer me up, either. Rather, I’ve found that when I’m really irrationally angry or upset, I need to just ramp it up. Exaggerating the feeling, particularly as it relates to those petty annoyances and bullshit, feels a lot like this card looks. When I do this, I’ll mutter to myself about all of the other things that are apt to go wrong, the next dozen or so indignities that I’m certain to experience – generally up to and including being fired, being set on fire, and descending to the fiery depths.

The deal is, once I set on this path of embracing and exaggerating my frustrations, I can’t stop until I make myself, or at least snort with something close to laughter. It’s not the best or most mature way to handle those waves of anger, probably, but much of the time it does the job. Once I can laugh…it’s not that the anger or frustration goes away, exactly, but a little bit of its power is taken away.

So that’s what I’m thinking about this card at the moment. I mean, LOOK at it. Wouldn’t, like, five swords be enough? And doesn’t the, erm, the corpse look kind of resigned to its fate? Okay, maybe that’s just me. But listen, I have to think that the amount of overkill here is intentional. As an ally for optimism, it’s not my first choice, but I’ll take it as some support that my so-called ‘coping mechanism’ maybe isn’t the worst idea in the world.

“Gods, no, not in the ear! Not in the ear!!!”

Tarot Ally #3

For this draw, which came a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t have a specific request from the cards. Just an ally for the week, a symbol to refer back to when I needed a reminder of…well, whatever it is that this ally has to teach me.

Ally Draw #3
Card: Page of Pentacles

page-of-pentacles

Oh, the Pages. In some ways, they are my favorite cards because they seem to be absolutely in love with the symbol that is represented in their card. For this one, it looks like almost a religious reverence. The page is holding the pentacle aloft, focused completely on it.

It’s one of those things that I really never do myself. I’m so quick to look ahead and seek out ways to apply my gifts, if that makes sense. I’m a terrible apprentice, and that’s a shame, because if this card is any indication, it looks like a pretty good gig, to really fall in love with the tool before me.

So if this page is telling me anything, I think it’s a reminder to truly give myself over to a single task and a single desire from time to time.

“You contain multitudes, and your love is abundant. But for now, for this moment, embrace one thing. Your other loves are not diminished by your dedication to this one.”

Tarot ally #2

In my second weekly draw, I found myself in need of an ally for clarity around a few challenging conversations that needed to happen. Nothing terribly stressful or troubling, but those conversations were up for me when I was drawing the cards that Sunday.

Ally Draw #2: An ally for clarity
Card: Four of Swords

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Newsflash: This image seems to be all about silence and space. We have four swords decorating a crypt, which seems maybe a little morbid, but actually kind of rocks. I’m good with words – I’m a decent writer, and an excellent speaker. Words are the tools I use to effect change in my communities and, in very small ways, in the world. But I know, too, that I can forget about the power of silence, of taking a breath and pausing from time to time. The image in this card is a needed reminder of that. I’ll take the opportunities to allow time to pass, to breathe and use my words more sparingly. Clarity isn’t just about making my own needs and messages understood, after all. It’s just as much about (or, if I’m doing this well, even more about) understanding others. It’s hard to do that when the only words I’m focused on are my own.

“Allow space. use discernment, and cultivate the gifts that can only come in the quiet places of your life.”

 

Tarot ally #1

Now that the remodeling is done at home, I’ve been feeling more time and space to relax and breathe. In addition to wandering around the apartment and saying, “Look! There are multiple rooms available to me!” I have started doing a weekly tarot draw on the weekends – just a single card, asking which ally I might work with in the week ahead.  I might not share all of those here, but it’s been a nice little practice for me so far, and I find that being more public about what I’m doing helps me continue to do it. This just started a few weeks ago, so it’s just a matter of making a few catch-up posts here.

As I’ve noted before, I am nothing like a Tarot expert, and my knowledge of what any given card REALLY means is accidental at best. My interpretation of these draws, such as it is, is very much through the lens of the lens of the ally I’m seeking.

So. Disclaimers aside, here we go.

Ally Draw #1: An ally for peace
Card: Queen of Cups

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I am so fortunate in my life that when I talk about a time that isn’t peaceful, I’m not talking about physical violence, or a lack of survival-level resources, or housing instability, or anything like that. In my privileged existence, peace – or the lack of it – is very much connected to my emotional state. I’ve had some stuff going on of late, and it’s good to note that “stuff” for me isn’t major, terrible upheaval. But I’ve still felt disquieted, like there’s something on the horizon that’s concerning.

So I’d like some more calm and interior peace, if you will. And if I’m going to ask for advice or help, who better than this queen to approach? She is sitting on her throne, but so close to the water that is her domain. Is the tide coming in, or going out? Either way, what it tells me is that the emotion is not something that she is divorced from, that she keeps separate. Rather, she welcomes it and its gifts. They bring riches to her, and yet she remains who she is.

The queen is not emotion, is not water herself, but instead she accepts it – takes in what is needed, fills her cup for when times will be dry, and allows it to flow away in its own time.

“Stop trying to control, to corral.
Instead: trust, and accept, and have faith.
Do not forget who YOU are. You are a being of love and connection. You must allow the water to soak down and feed your roots as well as quench your thirst.”