samhain

as someone raised in a very conservative protestant tradition, i've been slow to adopt the pagan wheel of the year that so many witches follow. it isn't that i feel that it clashes with how i was raised - on the contrary, i love celebrating the seasons and honoring the past, present, and future, and i really enjoy having holidays and celebrations that are separate from my christian roots. but i have a bit of imposter syndrome, as i rarely cast spells, light candles, or use an altar. i don't generally refer to myself as a witch, even though i want to. for me, praying feels like setting intentions and spell casting. my desk feels like an altar, a place where i can sip tea and consider each day. and reading tarot cards feels like daily magic. my approach may be simple, but i'm slowly learning to make these new traditions feel like my own.

samhain feels like a beautiful time to start fresh. this is my favorite time of year - the crisp air, the sense of change, the slow cold creeping in. the thinning of the veil feels tangible, impossible to ignore. and as a scorpio, with my birthday just around the corner, i can't help but feel like this time of year was made just for me.

with that in mind, i'm using this simple tarot spread to celebrate samhain, the witches' new year.

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what have you accomplished this past year? queen of cups. introspective, kind, generous, caring, creative, empathetic - this mother of water is sensitive but strong, deeply trusts her own instincts, and takes endless joy in both giving and receiving. she takes time for herself, gives herself space to consider and recover when needed, but still honors those around her as often as possible. the depth of her spirituality and emotions are as bottomless as the sea. for me, seeing this lovely archetype fills me with gratitude. last year at this time, i was coming out of a deep depression, having damaged relationships and feeling that i was fully unloveable. a group of friends i deeply cared for seemed to fracture, all because of my selfishness and inability to communicate. but now i have people in my life that understand me, and i have a better understanding of what i can do for others and what i cannot help with. i'm learning to trust my intuition in a way that makes me feel both empathetic and powerful. i feel calm, but there's a little bubble of joy in there too.

what lessons are to be learned from the spirits of the past? five of coins, a card of loss, hard times, illness, lack of resources. it's felt in the past that my depression and insomnia have severely limited what i can accomplish, the amount of energy and empathy i can provide - and that's still a reality, whether i like it or not. but growth can come from challenges, and experiencing those difficult times is a reminder that it's okay to take care of myself. i don't have to fully deplete myself in order to show others that i care for them, especially when it leaves me with nothing. sometimes it takes courage to prioritize myself, and to honor what i need rather than giving too much away or asking someone else to provide for me.

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what advice can we take from the spirits for the upcoming year? ten of cups. fulfillment, connection, overflowing love, boundless gratitude, profound joy. this is a card of completion, of true acceptance. we've fallen in love with ourself, found our chosen family, navigated some difficult decisions, discovered a spiritual path that brings comfort and joy, and now we feel whole, true, content. this is a lovely card under any circumstances, but as advice it encourages me to keep diving into community. going to a-camp earlier this year was a huge risk for me, but it paid off in spades, both in terms of helping me find true friends as well as giving me confidence to put myself out there, make new connections, and open myself to people that feel safe and right. this upcoming year can be one of true community, as i continue to build my chosen family and creating lasting, meaningful friendships with those i trust.

it was a simple spread, but a beautiful one. i feel so blessed by the cards that appeared, and i know i'll be thinking on them in the coming days.

thank you for reading, and have a blessed samhain! i would love to hear how you celebrate in the comments - do you make an altar, cast spells, leave out an offering? do you combine the sabbats with other traditions?

full moon in pisces

i'm not always very good about doing spreads to follow the moon cycles, but it's something i would really like to connect with more regularly. i even bought a workbook to follow along with cycles this year, but i drifted out of practice, forgetting to use it. but today feels like the right time for a full moon in pisces spread, and i immediately responded to this one created by the.word.witch on instagram.

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the bed: what needs rest. four of wands. this is typically a card of celebration, joy, a milestone within a larger project. perhaps i've spent too much time and energy being pleased with how far i've come, and now it's time to refocus on what's ahead rather than behind. i think sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to be pleased with where we are, and don't always give ourselves the space to open, to look further.

the pillows: how to surrender. six of swords. a new beginning is here, but it requires me to leave something old behind. right now i'm in a very transitional place, leaving my freelancing life behind to embrace a new, high pressure career. there's some mourning happening for the freedom i've lost, as well as a feeling of surrender to what i've gained. the waters are calm, and what's ahead is beautiful, but i have to let it happen and enjoy the journey.

the dream: how to receive what wants to come through. eight of swords. it feels now that i'm trapped in this new place, that i've made choices that have led me somewhere i cannot escape. but instead of seeing this new job and my decisions as a closed room, i instead need to recognize the many options that are now in front of me. i'm only trapped in my own mind - i need to open myself to the potential and possibilities that already exist.

the dark: what scares you but you do not need to fear. seven of cups. i don't like being confused or unsure about what to do next - i feel more secure when i have control, when my path is clear, when the choice is obvious. but having many wonderful options in front of me doesn't have to be something i fear.

the dawn: how to trust that you are on the right path. ace of swords. this sword is full of power, illumination, truth. its brilliant light reveals the true path forward, my honest wants and needs. it can sometimes be difficult to see clearly, but the ace is a reminder that i already know what to do - i just have to trust in myself and my intuition.

the day: how to carry the dream into the reality of day. ace of cups. so much of the spread is about being open to possibility, being able to acknowledge potential and receive joy, and the ace of cups in some ways is the truest form of that message. for me to be able to fully understand my own dreams, to be able to carry it forward into the light of day and beyond, i have to be open to whatever comes next. unafraid to see my options, willing to examine my own dreams in truth and honesty, able to walk away from what may hurt me, willing to both work past the joy of current success and not get lost in the darkness of what could be ahead - the full spread is captured in the ace of cups.

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i've been seeing a lot of wands lately, but now i need to put the fire away - this is the time for my head and my heart to come together.

reaching for freedom

i'm finally feeling more like myself, after a very long period of darkness and depression. rather than marinating in it, i've been trying to get back in touch with nature, with the world, with the people i care about. it's been a time of healing, of reconnection, of mending some of the damage i caused while drowning in mental illness. but i want to spend more time in this space again, allowing myself room to sit with the lessons of tarot and learn from the wisdom in the cards. instagram prompts have been helpful in challenging my practice, and today's guidance was simple: something i should do for myself. i pulled the eight of cups, a card that popped up yesterday as well under a similar prompt (what could make me feel better right now?)

IMG_2353the eight of cups is walking away, rejecting something that isn't working, breaking up with a person or situation that's been detrimental. we leave behind our current reality, aware that something about it is broken beyond repair. there is nothing left to salvage, no way to turn this ship around - we have to find a new path, move into the unknown, and embrace the mystery ahead.

this card is challenging right now, since i finally feel more whole after my depression. i hope i've been able to repair relationships that were damaged, and i'm trying not to harbor any hurt or resentment over things that happened. but perhaps this card is speaking of something larger, something that i haven't let myself dwell on too long. i asked for a clarifying card.

the five of swords, a card of self-harm, damage, humiliation, abuse, or a victory that IMG_2355pleases no one. some battles cannot be won by any party, and when we fight ourselves, we always lose. sometimes we have to find mercy, give ourselves a break, and work to move on from these self-destructive patterns. i wrote about some serious self-harm issues in september, but left out the phrase suicidal ideation. what i didn't say is that i made a plan, wrote a will, chose a date, and constructed to-do lists to make my choice as easy on those left behind as possible. it broke me to do it, but i couldn't seem to stop. and in the aftermath, the plan still exists, whether i followed through or not.

the date i chose was yesterday, and it passed without much fanfare. both my therapist and my partner inquired about my plan in general, neither knowing the actual date i had picked, and i felt seen, recognized, and loved in a way i haven't in a long time. someone had remembered, someone cared. i didn't go through with my plan, and that was the right choice.

combined with the eight of wands, it feels clear that i need to work to abandon these dark thoughts that keep creeping in, leave behind my self-loathing, and work to find the good in things. i am not a failure. i am not worthless. i am working hard on my recovery.

IMG_2356how do i leave all of these shadows behind? judgment, one of my favorite cards in the major arcana. the fountain tarot's depiction especially speaks to me, as she rises forcefully out of a deep cup, overcoming adversity and challenges and pain and darkness to stretch her fingertips into the light. my scorpio heart and watery soul feel emotions so very deeply, and often my struggles are internal, self-inflicted, and feel so big i drown in them before i can even identify them. judgment asks us to be brave, to forgive ourselves, to give ourselves the chance to be reborn.

i am trying to find joy in my life right now. i'm running outside and practicing yoga, caring for my physical self. i'm meditating and reading and taking long walks, giving myself mental space. and i'm trying to be positive, to be kind to myself, and take an emotional break from all the darkness. it's difficult, however, to not continue to beat myself up for things beyond my control. i know that i didn't intend to hurt friends and family with my depression, never meant for them to take on responsibility for my mental illness or personal safety, but that happened anyway. i tried to ask for help, and things fell apart. and i can accept that bad things happened in spite of my efforts and release it, or i can keep stewing over the past, feeling guilty and hurt and misunderstood and abandoned, and never let anything go.

i want walk away from the pain, stop hurting myself mentally and emotionally, and show myself enough mercy to pull myself out of my shadows. i can only be responsible for so much - some things are beyond my control. planning to take my own life may have given me a sense of power, but choosing not to go through with it really is power. i am not a slave to my depression. i will not let it take my life from me.

i have overcome two suicide attempts and one period of suicidal ideation. and while i know that depression is a strong, all-consuming beast, one that i will certainly struggle with again, i also know that i am strong too. i am learning to wield tools that help me fight back. i am learning to speak my truth, and embrace real honesty. and i am learning that what feels real in the darkness looks very different in the light of day.

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i don't know what will happen next time. given this last experience, i am more afraid to ask for help than ever before. but i hope that i can find the strength to overcome this demon, and learn to love the light again.

september, september

reaching for my cards has been difficult lately. the cards are wise, comforting, and challenging, but they take a lot of energy to interpret correctly - i have to be in an place where i can hear anything, where i'm willing to see the messages and lessons that are intended, rather than looking for what i want or what i fear. i haven't felt strong enough, but i'm trying to push myself today. i mentioned in my last entry that i'm beginning a september tarot challenge on instagram, and i'm already a few days behind. it felt like fear (and it partially was), but i also liked the idea of tackling the first three days together - my theme for the month, my strength this month, and my weakness this month. i'm not sure how much the challenge will spill over onto this blog, and am honestly not sure how many days i will get through, but starting with these three cards felt right to me.

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armed with rose quartz for healing, compassion, and love, i laid out cards from both of my decks. deep breaths, quiet prayers, trying to enjoy the stillness rather than feeling trapped by it. it's been a long, difficult few weeks. please, cards, be kind.

1. my theme of the month card

the fountain, a major arcana card unique to the fountain tarot, representing oneness, clarity, ultimate connection, enlightenment, surrender, understanding and acceptance. it was designed to be separate from the cycles of birth, death, time, and form, IMG_1926and while it appears after the world in the major suit, also exists outside of it - similar to the fool, with its 0. this card is infinite, whole, separate. this card is complete on its own.

it's a stunning card, with sparse, abstract patterns of light and shadow. a brilliant white beam cuts through the center, allowing the edges and swirls to play on either side in their own natural, beautiful way. the card is not perfect, not symmetrical, not flawless, but it is whole, complete, and gorgeous. there's a peace, a tranquility about this card - it feels confident, calm, aware in its stillness. the text for this card includes the phrase surrender to that which you are, which really resonates - i spend so much time struggling against my own self, my desires, my wishes, my preferences, my needs, my demons. i judge myself daily, especially when my depression is wrapped around me, cutting me off from the world, making it hard to breathe. this idea of unity, of being utterly connected with the universe simply by tapping into everything that makes me me, feels huge, powerful, uncomfortable. but surrender, embracing who and what i am, understanding that even my flaws are essential to my self? what a lovely, complicated idea, and a beautiful challenge and theme for my month.

2. my strength this month


a card of self-preservation, conscious action, and full awareness, the seven of swords represents the strengths that i can draw on this month. this has always been a challenging card for me, feeling like it could have a number of interpretations based on the situation at hand, but i don't normally see deception or deceit here - at least, not as secrets with wicked or damaging intentions. rather, this feels like a card of protection, staying alert, keeping one eye open and aware of possible danger, trouble, obstacles. our seven-of-swordsfox is a clever trickster, yes, but he's using his mental energy and clarity to stay sharp, to make a plan, to keep himself protected and safe, even if that means withholding information from others.

i prefer to keep things close, private, personal. it's hard for me to share thoughts and feelings and dreams, even when they're positive - i'm an introvert, but i'm also pretty secretive. i don't let just anybody in. and in these shadowy days, this fox feels exactly like me - i've driven everyone away with my depression and my irritability and my darkness, and am utterly alone, clutching my sword, sad and afraid. everything hangs overhead, and it's up to me to keep my secrets, stay aware, protect myself. i don't know if my solitude is helping or making things worse - i hate feeling that i don't matter to anyone, but i also truly believe it, way down deep. it's all up to me, because who else is there?

can this be a strength, this tendency to hoard personal details, this unwillingness to share, this desperation to stand on my own even when i've already fallen flat on my face? perhaps it can. i've seen others write about this card in terms of tact, diplomacy, keeping secrets to protect ourselves and others from unnecessary harm - and that i can do. and as i approach my theme of the month, learning to surrender to my true self, perhaps a bit of caution, protection, full awareness, wouldn't go astray. these are big, scary themes - knowing how to keep myself quiet and safe could come in very handy this month.

3. my weakness this month

my weakness this month is the ten of wands, a card of burnout, exhaustion, too many projects, scattered passions, stagnant energy. these wands, which once pulsed with fire and flame, are now piled high, their light extinguished. too much of a good thing, IMG_0312overwhelmed, a burden of enthusiasm. we can't say yes to every single thing - we have to pick and choose where to invest our time, our energy, our passion, or we run out of steam, and things fall apart.

the creator of the wild unknown deck talks about mental and physical burdens, missing the wood for the trees, a weight on ones' spirit that leads to hopelessness and depression. and that all rings so true right now - i feel heavy, yet empty. hope feels out of reach. my body hurts, my soul aches, i can't see things that are right in front of me. my depression is a weakness, to be sure, but it's also a challenge. every single thing i do takes too much energy, and i have to push to complete the smallest tasks. my everyday household chores, caring for my beloved dog, setting up work for the future, trying not to drive my husband completely insane - it's so much harder than usual.

i hope september isn't only defined by my depression. i hope i'm not stuck here for too long, trapped in this heavy haze of sadness and loneliness and frustration. i hope i come out the other side stronger, that i haven't permanently damaged my relationships, that i haven't alienated too many people, that i haven't lost work or contacts or momentum. but even if i come out of the storm soon, this card reminds me to not jump back in too quickly, to stay focused and passionate, to channel my energy into the places and projects that truly matter to me. taking the time to reconnect with the world, and working to maintain balance, will be essential for me this month.

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there are challenges here, to be sure. life is difficult right now. but that pulsing light in the center, the wholeness and quiet power of the fountain, is a lovely guiding light for my september. even with swords overhead, with depression and fear and sadness weighing me down, if i can keep moving towards that beautiful surrender, perhaps my september will bring me some peace and healing.