Posts tagged tarot
In a little less than three weeks, I will leave my job at the bank for a couple of days so I can head to Kansas City to present at an event called “The Seduction of Spring: Persephone Ascends.” I will stop teaching clients about an updated corporate credit card management system (and stop teaching my coworkers about how to behave like reasonable human beings) in favor of joining a team of amazing teachers to facilitate workshops on personal growth, cycles of the natural world, myth and magic, and, with a little luck, assist in offering a little bit of life-changing spiritual work. You know, like you do.
(I will also, for those couple of days, take about a 90% pay cut. But that’s neither here nor there.)
In any case, we’re very much in the midst of planning the details of the event. Don’t get me wrong – the broad strokes and theme were settled months ago, but as we get closer to the big day and get a sense of how many people have registered (and who they are), it’s time to put some more form into place and shape the theme into something more concrete. This is the point in the process that is either a lot of fun or a little terrifying. Or both.
While doing some brainstorming today, I remembered that it’s been approximately forever since I wrote up a tarot draw here. I’ve been working with the cards a little more often recently, but none of those questions have been particularly fit for public consumption. I figured that this was a good time to
Question: What should I keep at the front of my mind while planning the Persephone event?
Card: The World (no shit, The World)
First impressions: Well, I suppose a more perfect card could have come up, but I’m not sure what it would be.
About the card: We have an almost-naked woman floating in a bright blue sky, in the center of a green ring. Surrounding her are four clouds, each with a different head in it. From the top left and working around, there’s a man, an eagle, a lion and a bull. The woman is holding a wand (?) in each hand and has a long piece of fabric sort-of draped arond her. Her hair and the cloth are both blowing back over her shoulder, as if caught in the wind.
The story without words: It’s difficult for me to put a narrative on this particular card. With only one person there, and that one pretty obviously not, you know, a run of the mill human being, I find myself jumping pretty quickly from “What’s the story?” to “What does it mean, man?” One thing I will say, though. The lady isn’t standing still. She looks like she’s running, or dancing. She seems to be pretty pleased with herself. I imagine that if I was able to fly, I’d feel much the same.
Okay, and one other interesting note. The imagery here is actually very similar to that of the Wheel of Fortune, where we have similar images in the corners of the card, and of course a circular pattern in the center. But while that card draws attention to the edge of the circle, The World seems to be all about being right there in the center, where one isn’t in danger of being thrown off the wheel entirely.
But what does it mean?: Well, if we consider the cards in the Major Arcana as a single trip through life, The World is at the end of that journey. I like to imagine that way back at the beginning, the Fool (or Jason) took a tumble off the edge of the cliff and entered life, learning lessons from each of the cards along the way. And now, at the end, what do we find? Dancing, and flight, and magic, and joy.
And also mystery, I think. Persephone’s story is one of cycles. She returns to to the Underworld for half of the year, and then to the world Above for the other half. The pattern repeats itself every year, and the world is changed by it. Her movement from Above to Below is, in that myth, the explanation for why the Earth has seasons. So this looks like a card of fulfillment, and journey’s end…but isn’t that also the beginning of another journey? What will Persephone learn in the next cycle? What will the Fool learn in his next life? What draws each of us over that cliff?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m pretty geeked about this event now.
One of the greatest experiences I’ve had in the past several years is the opportunity to offer leadership training and mentoring to a group of committed students at Diana’s Grove Mystery School during my time as a staff member. I never really expected to be particularly good at this, but I’ve found rather to my surprise that it not only fed me, but that I brought something to that work that seemed to be really positive for others. Now that I’ve moved on from that affiliation, I know that I want to find a way to offer something similar – not to replicate that experience, but to create something new that meets that need in a different way.
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past couple of months thinking about what form that might take. While I haven’t reached clarity on the form, I have developed at least a partial list of what it might include (Warning: Some sort of rambling on this topic will likely be coming here fairly soon.) Since this has been on my mind so much lately, I decided that it would make for a fine question for my next tarot draw.
Question: What do the cards have to tell me about my intention to start a leadership and mentoring group?
Card: Knight of Wands
First impressions: Wow. That’s a big damn horse, isn’t it? And a very well-armored knight, to boot. Interesting that his visor is up, though. If I really knew something about the tarot, I’d probably have some great insight into that.
About the card: The image here is pretty straightforward, at least on the surface. In the foreground are the aforementioned Big Damn Horse and knight. The horse is rearing back and appears to be kicking out with its front hooves. The knight is wearing full plate mail and is holding a long wooden staff in his right hand while he uses his left to guide the horse. He has a yellow and black tunic over his armor, and fiery plumes on his helmet and at the back of his arm (not really shocking, what with wands being about fire). In the background we can see that the knight is in a desert, and there are either pyramids or large sand dunes in the far background.
The story without words: It’s interesting…if I imagined what a knight looks like, it would pretty much be this picture. Warhorse rearing back, the knight wearing his standard front and center, eyes forward toward whatever might be coming over the horizon…this sounds weird even in my own head (which is saying something) but the description that comes to mind is that this looks like a…hm. A recruiting poster, of all things, or a piece of propaganda. I almost expect there to be a caption about supporting our troops, or the war at home, or something.
Anyway. Let’s put that aside for a moment, because it’s bizarre, and explore two other aspects of the image that strike me as interesting:
- Here’s the thing about the knight’s armor – it’s freaking heavy. Contrary to what my misspent youth (and adulthood) playing tabletop RPGs taught me, one does not wear full plate armor to walk around in. Heck, one does not put the armor on in the first place without a lot of assistance.
- It still seems odd that the knight would be in full plate armor while presumably in the midst of battle or entering battle and not have his visor down. When I look at the card, I can’t help but imagine my mother lamenting that he might put an eye out. Never mind the fact that my mother has never, to my knowledge, suggested that any activity might put out an eye. It just seems like the sort of thing that ought to be said. My mother’s fictional concerns aside, the point here is that it seems weird.
But what does it mean?: Well, these last two points are interesting to me. I’ve been pretty well fixated on the idea of collaboration lately – of engaging in projects and work that involve excellent people who share their talents and knowledge freely with one another. I truly believe that amazing things come from that sort of arrangement. I’d like to believe that collaboration is ultimately the key to sustainability. I’m aware that the idea of the knight being helped into his armor doesn’t really speak to collaboration, as such – that’s more properly service, and not service among equals. But it’s my draw, and my question, so I’m going to interpret it however I want, thank you very much. 😉
About that visor, now. Looking at that aspect of the card through the lens of my question, I’m given to believe that the knight needs to have a clear view of what he’s approaching more than he needs to be protected. I’m hoping to help create something pretty unique in my experience, and a key component in doing that is to have my eyes wide open from the beginning. But even so, I note that the knight isn’t really free to look everywhere. He can’t look back, or really even to the sides. His field of vision is limited to what lies ahead of him. I’m not a proponent of tunnel vision, mind you, but there’s something to be said for focus. Usually, that something includes me saying, “I really need to figure out how to be more focused.” I like the idea of entering into a new project with my attention focused like the Knight’s here. Not tunnel vision, but with my eyes forward.
Side note: I find it at least vaguely interesting that I’m thinking about the idea of focus while writing my first post using FocusWriter, a minimalist word processor that helps remove distractions by the rather simple expedient of taking up the entire screen with a background and text window. I’m actually a little embarrassed to see how much difference that makes for me – just the fact that I can’t see my open browser tabs and other applications in the taskbar puts them out of mind really effectively. Obviously I’ve just started using it, but so far I really like it.
Well, it’s 2012. Now begins the period of time where the nights get colder, good Chicagoans have reason to complain about the weather, and I write the wrong year on my checks for the next couple of months. Happily, this time of year lends itself to a rather obvious focus for a tarot draw. So, let’s do this – tarot draw #6, at last.
Question:What card will be an ally in the coming year?
Card: The Wheel of Fortune
First impressions: Um. Shit. My lack of expertise in the Tarot is, I think, well-documented here (enough so that I’m tempted to create a template along the lines of, “I don’t know a damn thing about these cards, but…” to go with each post), but even I have some reaction to this card. When a friend who’s inclined to tell me what their year card is tells me that they’re entering a Wheel year, I know enough to shake my head and say, “Oof.”
About the card: There’s a lot going on in this card. Let’s start in the middle and work our way to the edges. In the center of the cards is, um…a wheel. Go figure. There are a number of symbols on the wheel that I have to confess I don’t recognize at all. A sphinx is atop the wheel, holding a sword. On the left is a snake, and to the lower right there’s an Anubis-like creature. In the corners of the cards, in the clouds, we have four winged creatures – a lion, a bull, a bird that I kind of want to call a phoenix and a person (my Catholic upbringing wants me to call any person with wings an angel, naturally). Each of these creatures has an open book.
The story without words: With the center of the card dominated by a non-living image, I don’t get an immediate story to attach here. I’m sort of intrigued by the creatures in the corners, though. I note that none of them appears to be writing in the book they hold, which leads me to conclude that they’re reading instead. Either that or they’re each holding a book and wondering, “Why the hell am I up in a cloud with an immense wheel in front of me? Also, is that sphinx going to whack me with that big damn sword?”
Okay, let’s go with reading.
But what does it mean?: So what I “know” about the Wheel is that it symbolizes change. There are things that happen in the world that we can’t control. Many people view those things as the hand of god, or of fate – that is, they view it in the context of something that’s directed in some way. I don’t really go in for that, as a rule. I note that the card is called the Wheel of Fortune, not Fate. I believe pretty strongly that we all face challenges in the world and our circumstances, not because of some divine structure but because stuff happens. Some of that stuff is good, some is decidedly not good…but most of it simply falls in between. Most stuff exists in a sort of quantum state that both sucks and is awesome – our observation of that stuff, and what we do with that stuff, has some impact on it, of course, but in my experience most “stuff” has impacts that aren’t so easily categorized until much later.
That said…stuff happens, and none of us can be fully prepared for it. But the point of the card seems to be that just because I’m not completely prepared doesn’t mean that I’m helpless. I have tools – the sword that the sphinx holds can be seen as that sharp edge of discernment that I can use to cut away what doesn’t serve me (or some of it, anyway). Apparently there are flying bulls with books I can borrow, too. I have knowledge, and stories, and symbols, and from time to time I have the sense to make use of all of these things to deal with what’s happening around me. The world is rich in tools and lessons, if I but have the wit to realize that what is going on now is not what will be going on then.
Not a bad ally to have in a year that promises to include a whole lot of change, now that I think about it.
So, it’s been about 2 weeks since my last tarot post. That whole “I’ve missed posting here and I want to do more of it” thing hasn’t exactly led to an upswing of writing so far, apparently. I’m clearly still struggling a little bit with setting a routine around regular writing for the website, though I’ve managed to finish a couple of other non-website related pieces of late.
In any case, I actually drew a card last week and just haven’t gotten around to writing anything about it until now. In a shocking development, the question is job-related. I’ve spent some time recently reflecting on what kind of work I really want to do, and this draw was related to that reflection.
Question: What’s one thing my next job needs to include in order for me to be content?
Card: Two of Cups
First impressions: Huh. This card has always screamed “Relationships” to me. I certainly haven’t looked at it through a professional or otherwise work-related lens before.
About the card: The card contains just two people, a man and a woman. They’re both well-dressed and are facing each other in the center of the card. Each of them is holding a big damn cup – the woman is holding hers in both hands, while the man is holding onto his cup in his left hand and reaching out to hers with his right. Between the couple there’s a caduceus and above that a winged lion’s head. In the background there’s a pretty little scene with low hills and a building that looks to me like a cottage or house.
The story without words: The scene here reads pretty strongly as a wedding. There’s clearly something ceremonial about the way the way the cups are being held…or exchanged, really, now that I look at it again. Rather than the man reaching out toward the woman’s cup, maybe he’s just handed it to her and is pulling his hand back instead. That makes quite a bit more sense, actually (I mentioned before that I’m slow, didn’t I?). The caduceus symbolizes balance and healing, which certainly fits with the notion of this being a commitment ceremony of some sort.
But what does it mean?: Looking at the card, I’m reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s words about marriage in The Prophet, which include the following:
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.
Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Gibran’s words speak pretty clearly to my own feelings about partnerships of any sort – be they romantic, platonic, or professional. My best relationships have always been about exchange, and the best projects I’ve worked on – professionally or not – have ultimately been about collaboration. What really feeds me, what I really crave, is that sense of working with a team of excellent collaborators. And that’s really what I see in this card – individuals coming together to create something new, something unique. The fact that there are just two individuals in the card and they’re pretty obviously getting hitched is, at least in the context of my question, beside the point. Mind you, I don’t know if my next paid work will include this kind of collaborative exchange, but even if it doesn’t, this card is a good reminder that that is something I want in my life.
As I settle into my job search (it’s going fairly well, all things considered, and thank you to those of you who have asked), I’m finding a somewhat surprising lack of perceived time for writing. I have a bit of freelance work going on at the moment, and that’s work I can do from home – which is a blessing that I’ve never had before, and in a lot of ways I love it. In some ways, though…well, I’m realizing just how set some of my patterns are. The computer I use for the freelance project is one that’s never really been used for work before. It’s a happy little netbook that I’ve used almost exclusively for either writing or (let’s be honest here) futzing about on the internet. And while I can take a break from work at any time, I’m finding that I have a curious block when it comes to actually writing for pleasure in the physical space where I’m working.
All of which is to say, it’s been 8 days since my last post, and I’ve missed it. I’ll try and do better.
Recently, an idea was posted to the email list used for Mystery School – basically, the suggestion was made to use the Tarot to look for something to take into the mysteries of the coming year. That felt like a good place to go with my next draw, so without further ado…
Question: What is one thing I can take with me into the coming year?
Card: Ten of Pentacles
First impressions: Wow. There’s a lot going on in this card. People and dogs and buildings, oh my! This is one of the (many) cards that I have no background with whatsoever, so this should be interesting.
About the card: In the foreground, we have an old gentleman sitting down, facing away from us. He’s sitting down and wearing what look like very lavish (and certainly very colorful) robes. I’m not sure what all of the designs on the robes are, but there are what appear to grapes in the design somehow, though this might just be me looking for something that isn’t really there. Anyway, our old guy is petting a dog and looking out through an archway upon what feel to me like his holdings (we can see a field and some trees in the background, along with some buildings). On the inside of the arch are a couple of banners, one with a castle in the design – it feels like a coat of arms of sorts, so I’m reading the old guy to be either a lord or at least the most influential person around these parts.
There are 3 other people in the scene: A younger man, facing away from us and toward a woman, who has a small child standing beside her. The child is petting the rump of another dog.
The story without words: When I look at a card, generally I’m waiting a day or so before writing about it. Mostly that’s out of laziness and lack of time, but this time that delay was kind of useful, because I missed something rather obvious on the first viewing. At first, I read the younger man and the woman as a couple having a conversation. The obvious narrative conclusion was that they were the parents of the small child. But when I looked at the card again today, I saw that the man is actually holding a spear. Noticing one item changes “husband” into “guard”. More to the point – it changes the younger man from being “the woman’s husband” to “the old man’s guard”.
Funny, how adding a weapon shifts the narrative so fundamentally.
The story I’m seeing here, now, is that the woman is seeking entrance to the older man’s home for some reason, and the younger man is at least questioning her, and perhaps keeping her out entirely. The presence of the child makes it *feel* like she’s looking for aid of some sort, but I’m not sure why. The older man is dressed rather extravagantly, to be sure, but nobody in this image is wearing a beggar’s rags or anything.
I think I liked the card a little better before I saw the spear, actually – then it was an old rich guy watching a couple talk outside his house. Now, I’m wondering about whether or not he’s even going to give the woman the time of day.
But what does it mean?: I’m not getting a whole lot from the card, honestly, other than a general sense of material wealth on the part of the older man. There also seems to be…hm. This is harder to define, for me. A sense of propriety, or convention, I guess. It doesn’t seem like the woman and her child are being turned away out of hand, but I do get the idea that there’s a particular way that one is expected to approach those with wealth, and the older man wants those forms to be followed.
How that actually speaks to my question about the future, I have no idea. I don’t feel like I’m taking a lot of material wealth and plenty into this coming year, and I’d like to think that part of what I can do with the coming year is to set aside some convention. I’d like to find ways to do more of what I love and have less of a sense of obligation. I’d like to feel at ease with less, rather than feel like I’m trapped in a particular job because of the perceived financial security it offers.
They aren’t all going to smack me upside the head with obvious insights, apparently. Also, one of these days I’ll stop turning all draws into questions about my job search. Probably not anytime soon, mind you, but one of these days.
So, my big news this week is that I lost my job last Tuesday. As will surprise nobody, I am more than a little freaked out by this development, for any number of reasons. The fact that my health insurance is scheduled to lapse on November 30th (that’s tomorrow, for those of you keeping score at home) is among those reasons, but certainly not the only one.
It’s no surprise, then, that this has been on my mind for the past few days. After I tried to approach the topic through last week’s failed draw, I decided to try a different approach with my next question.
Question: What gift should I take away from my recent job loss?
Card: The Fool
First impressions: My whining about ending up with a major on the previous draw was, unsurprisingly, nowhere to be found. I actually laughed out loud when I turned this card over. I love the card – not only that, but I love the idea of The Fool.
About the card: This is one of those cards where it will be difficult to focus exclusively on the image itself, but I’ll at least start there. So, we have a guy dressed in colorful, festive garb with a bindle his right shoulder, and a white flower in his left hand. He’s looking up into a completely clear sky, the sun shining down on him…and he’s about one step from stepping right off a damn cliff. In the background we see a steep, sharp range of snow-covered mountains, and at his feet there’s a cute white dog. Said dog is up on its hind legs, apparently excited about something.
The story without words: There’s lots of narrative juice for me in this card – or lots of questions, actually, which is even better. Here are some of the questions that jump out at me immediately…
Where did the flower come from? The Fool travels light. I mean, here’s this guy walking along with what I have to imagine are all of his worldly possessions. Not only do they fit in two hands…they actually fit in one hand, which left the other hand free to either pick the flower or receive it as a gift from someone. Looking at the card today, I find myself wondering which it is – whether he saw it and picked it himself, or if it was given to him. I don’t think the answer particularly matters, to be honest. What stands out here for me is that he had a hand free for it, and it was important enough to bring along. He carries so little with him, I have to imagine that each item he has is important to him.
What’s going through his mind right now? Is he lost in thought? Does he know he’s close to the edge of the cliff? If so, why is he looking up instead of looking ahead? Perhaps he’s just basking in the sun and is otherwise unaware of where he is, but…I don’t know. Somehow I tend to believe that he knows exactly where he is, and is willfully ignoring what will happen when he takes that next step. I think that’s the only way he can enter a new life, or start a new adventure. Otherwise, he’ll just see the same things over and over again. Maybe the only way to really experience what comes next is to not really see I coming.
What about that damn dog? Man, I’ve never known about that dog. When I’ve looked at the card in the past, the lasting impression I’ve had is that it’s close enough to nip at The Fool’s ankle and send him over the cliff if he hesitates. Studying the card today, I don’t think that’s actually true. I’m still wondering, though…when The Fool takes that next step, does the little dog jump after, or shake his head in pity?
But what does it mean?: I’m biased as hell on this one, but today I can’t see anything bad or scary in the card, despite the fact that the idea of being without a job for any length of time scares the bejeezus out of me. I’m aware that I’ve spent a whole lot of time with my career taking up both hands, as it were. My most recent job included a commute that had me on the road anywhere between 2 and 3 hours a day, and also featured exciting things like the occasional 12 hour day in the office and at least half a day of work each weekend. I don’t mind working hard – I really like it, in fact – but I really haven’t had a free hand for the Fool’s white flower in a long time.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m about 95% as worried about the prospect of being jobless for months today as I was when I got the bad news a week ago. Drawing a card I see as hopeful doesn’t change that – or at least, it doesn’t change it for me. What it does do, though, is remind me that I have some choice in how I choose to view the situation. I have some prospects that will keep the mortgage paid and keep me fed for a few months, at least, and while it won’t be exciting work, shelter and food are a pretty good start for the moment.
The card in music: As most everyone who knows me is aware, my favorite musician is a guy named Stuart Davis, who I’ve followed for close to 15 years. He’s a brilliant songwriter, and a few years back he released a song that immediately made me think of The Fool. It’s called Already Free. Some of the lyrics that stand out for me when I think of the card include the following:
But I needed a push to get me to see
Wherever I am, I’m already free
And if that’s not enough, the one that feels like a sledgehammer tapping me lightly on the back of the head:
I dug a tunnel when I needed a lift
Such a fool just afraid of a gift
Something subtle when it started to shift
now I’m soaring over cliffs
To be clear, I have no idea if The Fool factors into the song at all for Stu. I could probably ask (he’s the sort of musician who might well get around to responding to a question like that) but I’m not sure if I really want to know. For me, it’s enough to say that if I ever make a Tarot mix (not likely, but it’s an idea I’ve kicked around a couple of times), this song will be the first track. Give it a listen, if you’re so inclined: Already Free.
I attempted another draw this morning, thinking that I could let the card percolate for a while during the drive home to Chicago and maybe even get it posted from the car (while someone else drives, I promise). Somehow, though, it just isn’t happening today. In unsurprising news, my mind is really full of job-related worries at the moment (or, rather, lack-of-job-related worries), so I drew a card with a question related to that.
Almost immediately, I found myself wanting to draw a different card instead. Not because the card I drew felt terrible or anything, but because it didn’t immediately fit the story I had in my head…or at least the story I WANTED to believe was true at the moment. I tried sitting with the card for a little while, but still couldn’t see past the block of the apparent image versus the desired story.
So, screw it (for today, anyway). I’ll give it another day or so and see if another draw allows me to see something different. In the meantime, I’m almost halfway home from my Thanksgiving trip and am really looking forward to sleeping in my own bed in a few hours.
I’ve been a staff member at Diana’s Grove Mystery School for the past two years (and a member of that community since 2006), and recently I made the decision that it was time to step away from that role. Lots of reasons why that’s true, none of which are immediately germane here. But earlier this week, I had the final ‘official’ meeting with an amazing group that I’ve been mentoring in leadership, community and ritual arts, and facilitation skills. That work has been a highlight not only of my time in Mystery School, but a highlight of my life during the time that I’ve been doing it. Fresh off the bittersweet experience of saying goodbye, I did my second tarot draw.
Question: What should I consider as I exit my role in my current spiritual community?
First impressions: “Damn it, a Major.” Clearly I shouldn’t have expressed my gratitude for having drawn a non-major, non-court card the first time. On the other hand, this is a card I don’t know much at all about, so of the majors it’s not a bad one to end up with.
About the card: Okay, so let’s look at this thing. I see a nude woman with blonde hair. She’s down on her left knee, with her right foot resting on the surface of a lake. She’s also pouring water out of two jugs – one into the lake, and the other onto the ground nearby. The water being poured onto the ground is going in a few directions, including a small trickle that’s feeding into the lake.
In the background, there’s one tree with a bird in its uppermost branches, and a mountain range way off in the distance. In the sky, there are eight 8-pointed stars – seven smaller ones and one big damn star in the middle. My brain wants to make the large one the Sun, but given that this card is The Star, I’m going to resist that impulse on the assumption that it’s stupid.
Some other things I notice, here: First off, the woman is huge. It could just be perspective, but I don’t think so – she looks like a giant. Clearly not just a random woman traipsing through the countryside with a couple of water jugs. Second, the water being poured out onto the ground isn’t going the right direction. I mean, part of it is trickling into the lake, but more of it is moving in other directions – including uphill. Finally, there’s the fact that the woman’s foot is resting on top of the lake – not in the lake, on top of it. That seems kind of important.
The story without words: With only one person in the image, it’s harder for me to see a narrative in the card. I’m struck by the fact that the woman is doing something that seems ridiculous, though, in watering the lake. I mean, most people don’t go to the lake and add water to it, right? It’s usually the other way around. One thing I “know” about the Tarot is that an unclothed form symbolizes vulnerability. I tend to translate that as “purity,” instead. Maybe this figure is watering the lake and the ground because at her heart, that’s what she does – she brings emotional connection with her wherever she goes. Whether it’s “needed” by the lake or not is immaterial to the fact that this is who she is and what she does.
But what does it mean?: Through this lens, I’m aware that I’ve compartmentalized my life in some ways that I’m not thrilled with (that’s part of the larger purpose of this new site, to bring more of those compartmentalized parts of my life together, but that’s a topic for a later post). I tend to see myself as a leader, a mentor, a ritual artist, a partner, a writer…all of these things, but any one of them only in certain limited contexts. I find that I often wouldn’t really think of bringing my gifts to a place where they seem like they either don’t fit or are already present. Perhaps like the woman in this card, I would do well to have fewer barriers between myself and the world that surrounds me. Maybe the point of offering my self isn’t to find the perfect venue where that self is most needed or will be most appreciated, but simply to offer those gifts wherever I go.
This all feels like a very tenuous connection to the card itself. I have a feeling I’ll be coming back to this one again to see what else comes up for me.
Water is needed in the desert, but it is also needed in the whole world.
After a long day at work yesterday followed by a lovely dinner with a friend, I went home to unwrap my new deck. I’ll admit to a little trepidation as I pulled out the cards. While I’ve done a few exercises with tarot cards in the past, I’ve never really felt like I had any particular insight into the per se. The specter of, “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” crops up for me fairly often, even when it has no particular reason to make an appearance. That voice was quietly present last night.
I mixed up the cards by the simple expedient of dumping them on my bed and shuffling them about for several minutes. I’ve talked to folks who say that they are often (or at least occasionally) drawn to a particular card when shuffling, but that didn’t happen for me this time. I was about to pull a card when I remembered that it might be useful to, you know, have a question to focus on for the draw.
Hey, I’m new at this. 🙂
After a bit of reflection, I decided that the most honest question on my mind at that moment was something like, “What do I need to know about this writing project I’m starting?” Not the most life-altering question, but it felt right in the moment. Some more shuffling, and then…
First impressions: Thank goodness the first draw wasn’t one of the Majors. What little I “know” about the Tarot is really focused on those cards, and I suspect I will find it more difficult to set aside those preconceptions and focus exclusively on the card for those than I will for non-majors. Non-court cards will be the easiest, I imagine, so I was grateful to have pulled one of those to start with.
About the card: So what I’m seeing here is three people in what appears to be a church, cathedral or monestary of some sort. One of them is standing on a bench and wearing what looks to me like a workman’s apron, and I imagine if he were facing the other way I would see a few tools arranged there. Standing nearby are two other folks. one of them is clearly either a monk or someone blessed with a love of brown robes and the kind of hair style that I will have in a few short years. The other is rocking a fabulous orange robe. The gender of this third character is unknown, but I noticed that my mind filled in “female” immediately for some reason. Given the setting, I want to say that it’s a nun from an order with a great sense of humor, fashion-wise.
The Orange Nun is holding what scans to me like a set of plans for the cathedral/church/whatever. I really like the level of detail in the image, here – there’s just enough to make it pretty clear that that’s what it is, with just a few lines on the parchment she’s holding.
The story without words: My gut read here is that the guy on the bench is talking over his work with the other two. I imagine that he’s pretty busy, given that he’s still working while they talk about it. What’s interesting to me is that my initial feeling is one of empathy for the worker, as if there’s something going on here…not an argument, necessarily, but a discussion about whether or not he’s manifesting the plans as expected.
But what does it mean?: Looking at it through the lens of my question, I’m struck by my assumption that there must be some conflict going on here between the “vision” and the “implementation”, between the planners and the artisan. There’s nothing in the image to directly suggest that (nothing I’m seeing consciously, anyway) but I went there awfully quickly. If all of the characters in the card are me (my double Leo self LOVES that idea, by the way), then there’s a pretty clear parallel with my discomfort around actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) when I’m not sure if I’ll be able to bring what I have in mind into the world as I had originally hoped. I’m really wondering what I’d see if I had drawn this card with a different question in mind. Would I have seen three people collaborating over a shared vision instead of the tension between vision and action? Interesting stuff.
So, there we have it. First card drawn, first rambling post complete. Success!
So, um. Welcome, to the tens of people who might at some point read this. How’s it going?
It should be noted, I think, that sometimes I struggle to find clever things to say when I begin writing. It should also be noted that this affliction often continues well past the beginning.
As 2011 winds down, I realize that I feel adrift in some important ways. Adrift, and somewhat scattered. There are reasons for each that I will likely natter on about at some length sooner rather than later, but for now I’ll simply say that these things are true, and leave it at that.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I’d like to craft some kind of a regular intentional practice. I’m not sure I’ll call it a spiritual practice, because that term feels like I should be doing something more important than rambling in a blog (even if it is a blog whose title and URL that I spent an embarrassing amount of time pondering). So it’s not that I don’t feel like this is an important thing – I do…or at least I feel like it can be potentially important. My reluctance hasn’t been a lack of motivation, exactly, but rather a nagging, irrational worry that one of two things will happen. Those worrisome things include:
- When I inevitably fail to meet my internal standards for said practice (and really, it is inevitable that I will do so at some point), I will feel shame for my momentous failure and simply cease trying.
- Regardless of my success or failure, I can’t help but wonder if anything I try to manifest along these lines will really be important. It somehow feels like such a thing should be something…I don’t know. Momentous, I guess, and I don’t particularly imagine myself doing that.
I’ll avoid the “spiritual practice” label, then, because…well, just because. But an intentional practice –that feels like something that can be important to me even if it isn’t Important in the larger sense. This past weekend, I came up with the rather surprising idea of doing a regular tarot draw, just one card, and writing about that card, what it says to me, and the process of doing this regularly.
Why tarot? Well, that’s a little complicated. I’m kind of surrounded by people who know more about the tarot than I do (which is to say, they reliably know more than, “Hey, that’s a pretty picture,” which is about where I am much of the time). I certainly have no great insight into the tool, and I’m not particularly drawn to develop any deep expertise in it. Like astrology, or personality tests, or any of a number of other predictive or descriptive tools, I think there’s a lot of “eye of the beholder” going on here. With tarot cards, as well, there’s also the inherent randomness of shuffling the cards and drawing one. While journaling a bit about this notion over the weekend, I wrote:
“The universe is random, but my soul is not. A single card drawn from a deck of 78 is random, but what I see in that card is not.”
Or, you know, maybe it is. I have no idea what I’ll find to be true for me here, whether I’ll develop a deep appreciation for the cards or uncover a hidden talent for interpreting them (that, I can pretty much assure you, will not happen) or if I’ll simply get a couple of weeks into the process and say, “Huh. It turns out I really don’t know anything about this after all. What a completely unsurprising development!”
In any case, I’m kind of excited to get started. Of course, I somehow managed to forget the fact that I don’t actually own a tarot deck of my own. I could borrow one, I suppose (there are at least 3 in my household that I can think of) but I don’t know. It feels like if I’m going to be writing about some number of cards before I get distracted by a shinier project, I should own a deck. Last night, I visited that great home for spiritual development, the Commonwealth of Amazonia, and ordered a deck (standard Rider-Waite deck, for anyone who’s curious. I know there are a lot of other options out there (many of them freaking beautiful) but I know that I tend to process visual information pretty literally, so simple is better for this guy.) As I am a Prime Member of the Amazonian Commonwealth, said deck is winging its way to me as we speak and should arrive tomorrow evening.