Tarot Stories #3: 8 of Wands

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What do you see?

Missiles launched to repel the invaders. Brave defense of our people, our lands and castles, our way of life and our traditions. Victory. Justice.

 

What do you see?

Incoming weapons from those who mean to destroy us. The precursor to an occupation, meant to soften our defenses and our will. Terror. Helplessness. Another horror to endure.

 

What do you see?

A stream, clean and blue, winding along the base of a hill. Peace, of a sort.

 

What do you see?

A house on a hill. Its inhabitants far away from my problems, from our problems. Their doors perpetually shut to us.

 

Good. All of that is there, and more. Next question, everyone:

Why do you see what you see?

 

 

(for more about this little writing project, click here)

Tarot Stories #2: 10 of Pentacles

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He was the sort of man who often said, “Being rich is almost as good as being King.” And he pulled together the trappings and symbols of that “almost” around him like the cloak he wore. Fine those symbols were, and well-made, without a doubt. He spent his life and his industry accumulating those trappings, curating them with great care and indeed he made it his life’s work to do so. What he failed to realize, as so many of us do, is that dedicating one’s life to the pursuit of “almost” is a powerful work of magic. I will not tell you that we live in a world where everything is possible at all times, or that everyone has the freedom to accomplish anything they set their minds to. But what I will say, and what the man failed to consider, is that there is a sort of ceiling that comes into place when “almost” is a part of one’s daily spellwork.

And so what the man never quite learned is that devoting his life to the pursuit of “almost” is rather like polishing a piece of glass again and again and again, waiting for the moment that it transforms itself into a diamond. And of course it’s not that he believed that it would really happen, not deep down. Rather, after spending so much time on the activity, it felt very important to him that others believe (or at least behave as if) it were true. And so the old man hired a guard and gave strict instructions that he was not to be bothered in his very fine house – while carefully positioning himself to be seen by those who he made such a point of not admitting into his presence.

The dogs, naturally, were having none of it. They never do, do they?

(for more about this little writing project, click here)

Tarot stories #1: Page of Wands

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Once upon a time, there was a young person who was ready to set out from their village for the first time, and as is so often the case, the village gathered the night before to feast and offer advice.

“What you need, young one,” the old man said, “is a good hat. If you have a good hat, then the sun will fear to burn you, the rains will avoid your face unless you turn your head upward, and anyone who passes will know that you are a person to be reckoned with. Here. Take mine – it’s never let me down, and it won’t let you down, either.”

“Nonsense. Why you really need,” said the old woman, “is a stout walking stick. With a stout walking stick, you can climb hills with ease. You can check for dangers ahead. And a really good one will remind you of the strength of your spine when you might have forgotten. Here. Take this one. It has served me well, and may it do the same for you. ”

“They’ve both got it wrong, you know,” hissed the sinuous snake (for this was the sort of traveler who listened to advice from all sorts of beings, not just those that looked like them). “No, what you really need on your journey is a fine cloak. A cloak will keep you warm at night, will be a shelter from the falling rains. And best of all, when the time comes and you’ve outgrown it or it just doesn’t suit you? Why, you can just slither right out of it and leave that cloak by the side of the road lickety-split. That’s what you need, sure enough.”

“A good hat, a fine cloak, and a stout walking stick. Those are all wonderful things,” whispered the young traveler’s dream. “But what you really need – all you really need – is the firebird’s Feather. Keep it near your heart, to crack open with passion, or keep it near your head, to set your thoughts aflame with inspiration. Wherever you keep it, keep it, and it will lead you where you most need to go.”

And so the traveler set out on a grand adventure.

 

(for more about this little writing project, click here)

About Tarot Stories

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I am currently in the Raleigh airport, waiting to fly back to Chicago from an amazing exploration of myth and story facilitated by Martin Shaw. It’s been such a great experience, and this morning I woke inspired To begin a new writing project here. Still using the tarot, but focusing on a card as a narrative prompt rather than as an interpretive exercise. Not that anyone is looking at what I write to learn what the cards “really mean,” but I’ll just note for the record that I’m doing my best to ignore everything I can about a card’s meaning or interpretation and just focus on the picture itself. I also don’t intend for these to follow a linear narrative, one post to the next, but rather to be a little snippet based on what jumps out at me when I look at the card’s image. As much as anything, I’m hoping to keep a spark of the weekend’s magic alive in my life at home, which feels like a useful endeavor.

 

As always, we’ll see how long this notion actually sticks around (I am appropriately skeptical about my ability to follow through on a project like this), but it’s nice to be excited about a creative endeavor, however small.

 

Some final thoughts about an imaginary friend

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Note: After wrapping up a close to two year RPG campaign yesterday (where our heroes saved the world from certain doom – you’re welcome, world), I found myself thinking about the eventual fate of my character. That’s not a typical thing for me, but this wasn’t a typical campaign, either. So, apropos of nothing, I give you the rest of the life of Dorim Ironheart, bloodmaiden of Haela Brightaxe:

 

He always meant to return to the surface, of course. The holiest day of the Lady of the Fray all but required it. When the sun shone brightest, the bloodmaidens looked into its glare and saw Her sword. It was not a ritual of memory of action, but simply to bear witness to Her, and to make what promises one may in their own heart. Axe Held High Day it was known, and Dorim intended to attend it as was his duty.

Only there never seemed to be time. Not once he had returned to the Underdark with the deep gnomes, fulfilling the promise he made to his onetime companion who had sacrificed all to aid in the great battle. There were walls to be built, an armory to be organized, and borders to be defended. He always intended – each year – to return and see the sun, and bear witness. “Next year,” he told himself, and returned to his work training the small ones who had pledged themselves to the defense of their people.

Dawnbringer he had left in the keeping of the dwarves above. She had spent too long belowground, and the darkness frightened her. She tried to argue with him, but not that hard, and Dorim expected that wherever she was, her light shone brightly indeed. It was better this way, he reasoned. She had her work, true, but she also deserved peace. Better chance to find it above than down in the depths with him.

The closest he came to the surface was an annual visit from a trading caravan, bringing much-needed materials for the rebuilding settlement. The prices were good – suspiciously so, but the caravan came from Bruenor Battlehammer, and Dorim supposed that he had earned a discount for the work he had done, after all. Still he intended to return one day. Perhaps next year. Once the Duregar learned to leave the city alone. Once the Drow demonstrated that they could honor a treaty for more than a week. Once the gnomes stopped dying in such numbers in each battle. Once he trusted that Senni wasn’t putting on a brave face when she urged him to return above for a season, a month, a week.

Next year for certain.

It was all Kyris’ fault, really. Who would have imagined that a minotaur would show him what it meant to be bound by a vow? Damn fool nearly got them all killed when they first escaped, but he came back at the end, sure enough.

Time passed, and Dorim’s responsibilities remained much the same. He regretted much, but little so much as this mistrust of the tiefling there at the last. While she was of a fell race, she had lived up to her name, and when he allowed himself to think of it, he was ashamed of his actions. Once, he thought to write to her but how would he do so? He spent time in contemplation, and stopped himself before scrawling his lifeblood into a book the way he remembered seeing her do at times. It was hard to recall which of those memories were true and which were nightmares. Some were both.

Dorim remembered his rituals, and if Axe Held High was lost to him (next year), Greengrass and its Time of Spawning was always honored. The gnomes didn’t shatter captured weapons with quite the vigor that Dorim would have preferred, but their clever devices got the job done, and they understood the purpose – to chant and boast of their own deeds, and prepare for the next onslaught. There was always another battle to come. They would be ready.

There were times when the dwarf could forget that he was a legend in his own right, that he had helped to lead these people – well, mostly their parents and grandparents, now – to safety, and back again to their homes. Those times of forgetting were peaceful, and seductive, and he knew they couldn’t last. Usually the hum of their song of flight was what brought him back to reality, and he remembered the horrors that led up to that moment of desperation. The bare escape from the Drow. The grim moment of facing Demigorgon for the first time. The druid who had risked his own skin to carry Dorim away. Wyn, the thief whose fear of losing herself had driven her to madness and a horrific end. The others who stood beside him and who he had failed to protect. The fallen angel who had been redeemed through his own bravery. Dorim could almost forgive that one for not letting him rest in the Beholder’s lair, the first time he had dared to call to his Lady and had – somehow – been heard. It would have been a hard way to die, but a pure way. It was the last moment of untarnished joy that Dorim could remember.

He considered a journey through the other places of the Underdark where he might be welcome – the freed slaves of the Beholder’s realm, or the myconoid settlement where his comrades had stopped a wedding and saved a people. Perhaps even to the surprising ally who had sent them on that last series of impossible-but-inevitable errands. But in the end only one journey called to him, and it was time. His most promising sparring partner finally defeated him three times out of ten. The healers learned the prayers to return their fallen allies to health, and they would continue to improve. Senni, of course, had departed some time before. And most of all, after so long in the dark, he was ready to face Her once more.

It wasn’t the day of Axe Held High when he emerged, but even the winter sun brought tears to his eyes after so long, and he swore that the Luckmaiden’s blade shone above him. Whatever day the calendar read, it was time for one last observance, and he was well-prepared. He began the Commemoration of the Fallen, reciting the ritual from memory, and if he got some of the words confused, well, that seemed only appropriate. He had been away for a while.

The recitation of names took some time, and the dwarf felt tears roll hotly down his cheeks without shame. It was good to remember, even when it hurt to do so. That was the burden of having lived through it, and honoring those who had preceded him was his work now.

At length, his words ran out, and he murmured one last prayer for those he’d failed to name, whose deeds had nonetheless been worthy. The sun, dimmed by the season, crept out from the clouds, almost – but not quite – too bright for him to bear.

And so it was one hundred twenty seven years after the return, that Dorim Ironheart, hero of the Exodus, ally of myconoids, witness to the great march, inspiration to Bruenor Battlehammer, slayer of demons, second sheriff of Blingdenstone, and last remaining member of the Steadfast, again heard the voice off Haela Brieghtaxe, and returned at last to Her embrace.

Tarot Allies galore

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I recently returned from a much-anticipated and somewhat-feared solo retreat at Christ In The Wilderness, a retreat center located near Stockton, Illinois. It’s a really lovely space, and offers what is (for me, at least) something particularly precious: solitude. I spent four days and three nights there, alone with a journal, music, some books, a walking stick, rubber stamp carving tools, and my Tarot deck. It was a challenging time, but one that brought a great deal of peace and some renewal that I really needed. All in all, I feel really privileged to be able to give myself this gift.

While there, I did a series of ally/lesson draws. I began with an overarching ally for the retreat, and then looked at the subsequent cards with that first one in mind (essentially: with **insert first card here** as a larger guide, how does today’s ally/lesson speak to me?). I don’t want to forget the cards or the initial responses I wrote at the time, so here we go, for posterity:

Day 1 (about an hour after arrival): What card is my ally for this time here?

Card: Nine of Wands

So, if wands are fire and passion, here we have this dude literally injured by passion. He’s standing in front of eight wands, each taller than him, and he has a bandage wrapped around his head, presumably where he has been struck. He’s also holding tightly (to my view, anyway) to one other wand. He’s not holding it defensively, but instead seemingly to support himself, to remain upright. His expression has a very slings-and-arrows vibe about it, all wide eyed and cautiously looking over his shoulder.

I note that while the wands behind him aren’t set at exact intervals, it seems to me that the one he’s holding did come from that row off wands standing behind him. What does that mean?

I think it means that he has chosen what passion he will claim for his own. He’s navigated other worthy pursuits, and has – eventually – said no to them. They are as worthy as his, but they are not his. He carries the scars of those “nos,” but I think they will fade. This isn’t the end of his story, but the start of a next chapter. The passion and fire he holds will strengthen his spine even as he provides the fuel for its manifestation.

What is mine to do? That which inspires me to reach for it. That which draws forth my sacred ‘yes’.

Day 2, morning: What card has the lesson I most need today?

Card: The Hermit

I didn’t even get to shuffle the cards properly for this one. I held the question in my mind for a second, began to shuffle, and this card just fell out, face up in front of me. I decided that this was an obvious enough signal that I ought to just go with it.

So, another Nine. Another staff, or wand. He’s an old man, our Hermit, lighting the way with a star lantern and standing straight and tall with his staff for as support. He’s looking down…to find his way? To rest? To question his purpose? I’m going to wonder about that one for a while. It’s interesting that the Major comes on the second day, not as the larger intention of the trip but in service to it. I like that – the Major 9 in service to one of the minors.

Okay, let’s look at him more closely. His eyes are closed, and he’s standing alone on a rock. Not moving, at least right now, and he doesn’t appear to be in preparation to move. There’s not a sense of…anticipation, for lack of a better word. He’s standing still, straight, holding up a lantern, but not using the lantern.

Oh. He’s a lighthouse. Warning passers-by and sailors of danger. Showing those same travelers a path to safety. But he’s not, I don’t think, concerned with whether they head that way or not.

How is the Hermit my ally today? I think he’s reminding me that my inspiration and illumination move beyond me, whether I realize this fact or not. I can be alone, as he is, and I’m still casting both light and shadow.

I’m here. This light I hold illuminates this spot. Use that information if and as you will.

Day 3, morning: Who is my ally today?

Card(s): Page of Wands (and Strength)

Goodness, it’s a Fire week, isn’t it? I love the Pages so much, and particularly this one. He is so in love with the wand he’s holding. It’s as if he intends to memorize every part of it, to take in all that it can teach him. I always have that sense of joyous apprenticeship from this card, and it stands in some contrast to my own relationship with tools. I often say that it doesn’t matter which tool or which model one uses – only that one uses it consistently. I think that’s true to a large extent, but this philosophy seems more appropriate for a King or Queen, not a Page. The Page says, “What can I learn?” while the King asks, “How can this serve?”

I love that this Page isn’t armored. He looks like I’d like to feel when learning something new – excited, full of anticipation. This story is so different from the one shown in the 9 of Wands, in large part because of the Page’s youth.

Also along for the ride today (the cards simply would not separate, so…again, let’s go with it) is the Strength card, the 8 in the major arcana. It’s the Lady and the Lion, with an implication that she’s taming that beast, that passion. She’s all in white, with flowers in her hair and at her waist – purity and nature both? The lion is all fiery, passionate orange, seemingly being calmed into quiescence by the woman.

Here’s a thought. What if it’s in reverse? What if the Lady needs the Lion’s passion in the same way that we may first see the Lion as needing her direction? I can imagine her walking through the countryside shown here to do her duty, to perform her task – as priestess, as symbol of nature or fertility, as whatever. She has that look of ceremony about her, at the least. And then along comes this powerful, wild, passionate creature that knows nothing of ceremony but is filled with life. And the beast inspires her to pause, to reconnect with that wildness and that untamed spirit. No longer just doing her solemn duty, she moves forward with a joyous, almost feral, inspiration to do her Work.

Day 4 (taking a pause while packing up): Who is my ally for manifestation and integration of my experiences here?

Card: Judgement

Wow. Another major, eh? I don’t get this card at all, to be honest. It’s the calling forth of the dead that I’m freaked out by, since it’s so not how I see the universe working. I’m no angel sounding the trumpets, but that’s for sure. But okay…let’s think.

What’s coming forth from the water and the crypts here? The naked dead. So, nakedness is vulnerability. We don’t bury people naked, we put them in their Sunday best. But here, they are whole and nude and opening themselves to the heavens, to the Sacred. And it’s interesting that they’re in the water, too. Softening, washing away rough edges, healing. Sustaining.

What if all of the parts of myself that I’ve locked away have been held and sustained by healing and love all this time? What is now ready to come back out into the light? Do I dare to find out?

You may have had good reason to lock away these parts of you, but now it’s time for some of them to emerge once more. Welcome them with the same joy they have in being returned to the light.

A different sort of Ally draw

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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?

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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?

maj-11.jpg

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

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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

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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

swords10.jpg
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!!!”

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