the magician & the empress

cards one and three in the major arcana are the early action cards, encouraging us to envision what we desire, harness our personal magic, and begin creating with abandon, enjoying the raw potential and potent dreams that we carry. everything in these cards urges us to embrace our natural gifts, to recognize just how many kinds of magic we have access to, and to embrace a spirit of abundance and joy. and since both of them have been coming up for me a lot in personal readings, it seems like the right time to do a deeper dive on these cards, what they have in common, and the journey they speak to.

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the magician is usually represented with symbols of the four suits of the tarot, reminding us that we are made of these elements. we all carry heart, body, mind, and spirit, and while we don’t always all identify strongly with every suit, we all still have access to those gifts and skills, and are probably more adept at wielding them than we think. the magician pushes us to ask ourselves what we dream of, what we desire. what does our heart cry out for? what does our body crave? what does our mind keep returning to? and what speaks to our spirit on the deepest, more personal level? this card gives permission to explore, to feel confident in our abilities, to be willing to experiment in ways we perhaps wouldn’t have tried before the fool’s leap.

in the fool, we say yes to the universe - and in the magician, the universe says yes back to us.
-bakara wintner

while i tend to focus on the magician’s aspects of inspiration rather than action, this card absolutely tell us to get to work. it’s not all dreaming and envisioning what’s possible, but also being willing to take chances, to start combining things together, to seeing what happens when we stop putting limits on ourselves and instead invite the magic we carry to blend with the resources in our hands. above all, this is a card of manifestation, taking those first steps to bring our dreams into reality.

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the high priestess lingers after the magician, in that endless in-between, reminding us to listen to our deepest inner wisdom, not shy away from our shadows, and trust our intuition above all else — and then we’re in a full space of abundance, joy, and inspiration with the empress. powerful, divine, sensual, complete within, the empress asks us to accept ourselves, to celebrate our magic, to let it inspire us further to creation and power. she’s not afraid to let her emotions guide her, to put everything out into the world, and refuses to be held back by fear. where the magician utilizes resources, the empress is self-sustaining, infinitely generous, able to nurture and flow endlessly. she is creation without limits, without expectation, without shame. there’s an awakening in this card, the recognition of how deep personal magic flows, a celebration of the self and all it contains.

the empress encourages reverence for physicality, and a profound gratitude for all that life has to offer.
-carrie mallon

what i love about the empress card is that she’s so whole and complete within herself, finding nothing lacking. she may not actually be perfect, but the empress doesn’t hide her flaws or imperfections, instead embracing them for the unique perspective they provide, the insights and loyalties they inspire. the empress loves so fiercely, both herself and others, and pours all of that generosity and richness and abundance into everything she builds. where the magician is all cool calculation and awareness, the empress is fire and heat, welcoming others into her arms and pouring her passion into the world she creates.

both cards inspire manifestation. both cards urge us to create. both cards remind us of the magic we carry, the inspiration we hold, the potential we can shift into more. the magician starts us on this path to action, pushing us to keep embracing the risk and possibility within the fool, urging us to look at what we have and get to work. and the empress keeps tugging us forward on our journey, welcoming us into her embrace, helping us recognize the beauty and power and magic that have always been within us. in neither card do we see a need for perfection or polish — the emphasis here is instead on the act of creation itself, the willingness to take chances, the strength to put our dreams into the world and see what they look like.

the magician and the empress appear right at the beginning of the fool’s journey through the major arcana, and it’s impossible not to feel inspired when we draw them. we have a chance to be honest, to be generous, to share our visions of potential and possibility with the world we inhabit. this is a time to build something completely new, to pour ourselves into it, to relish every detail and spark of inspiration and then look at that first draft, that first effort, and decide where to go next.

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these cards don’t know fear. they give us a chance to play, to dream, to learn, and then they tell us that we are worthy. our magic is worthy. our vision is worthy. our ability to manifest is worthy. all we have to do is be willing to take that chance, to carry those dreams forward and see what they can become.

and after seeing these cards appear for weeks in readings, i’m eager to get started.

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what lessons have you learned from the magician and the empress? how do they make you feel when you draw them? what cards from the minor arcana remind you of these two archetypes?

full moon in sagittarius

as we come to the end of energetic, creative gemini season and begin to move into the time of sensitive, emotional cancer, this moon in sagittarius inspires high energy, exploration, and movement. and yet full moons often ask us to be still and reflect, to honor how far we’ve come, to consider where we’re going. this is not a moon for intense work or forward motion, but instead a chance to assess the personal truths we’re carrying, the movement we’ve made, and the ideas we are ready to leave behind.

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i draw single cards for my patrons during every new and full moon, and this cycle began with the empress - a beautiful card of creation, transitions, honoring the process. she is all about raw magic, putting ideas into the world and seeing how they look once they are made manifest. there’s no need for perfection, but rather the empress offers a chance to play, to celebrate the process, to honor where we are. when we are able to create without expectation, we can find so much unexpected beauty and inspiration, and build new starts that we can continue in the future.

we’ve had some intense moon phases lately, and this one felt like a lot of mixed energy - gemini and sagittarius begging for movement and active work, cancer wanting dreamy introspection and self-care, and the moon phase itself craving quiet celebration and deep release. i created a simple spread for this full moon, hoping for insight into this particular cycle as well as advice on what to bring forward and what to leave behind.

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where is this full moon inviting celebration? the sun: celebration itself, bringing truths into the light, honoring a childlike spirit of joy and the community that surrounds me. after returning from a-camp and processing a lot of emotions and experiences, i still feel a sense of hope. this camp wasn’t easy, especially after multiple deaths in the family and a second cross-country move this year, but i’m finding such joy in being back home, in reconnecting with my friends, in envisioning my possible futures. this full moon asks me to dance in sunlight and fire, to honor where i am, and to rejoice with those that care for me.

where might i be overdoing it? the lovers: balance, freedom, partnership. i may be relying too much on others for assurance that i’m doing the right thing, encouragement about my work and choices, support for my needs and desires. having chosen family, rich friendships, and a supportive life partner are all wonderful, powerful things, but i also need to be able to rely on myself, to find balance within, and to move with purpose and steadiness. i think of myself as strong and independent, but am often very unsure of my path, or doubt my choices. i need to leave some of that uncertainty behind and be willing to take chances alone, to stand behind my work and put myself out there in new ways.

how can i channel this passionate, exploratory energy? the hierophant: ritual, magic, spirituality, history. i need to spend more time considering how i harness and utilize my own personal magic, to understand my connections between physical and spiritual, to respect my history and see how it shapes my future. this card can so often represent structure and power, feel like boundaries or restrictions, and yet when i create rituals for myself and celebrate the faith that i have found as an adult, i feel more free than i ever did in organized religion. small spells, working with crystals, daily tarot readings, and feeling peace when i spend time in nature - this faith looks so different than what i was raised in, but it feeds my spirit and encourages me constantly.

what impact will this moon have on my future? the hanged man: shifting perspectives, surrender, intention. with so much intensity in the previous cards, this full moon will alter the way i see my future, and could usher in some powerful and essential transitions. i have a very particular narrative around my past, my personality, and my trauma, and while these cards invite celebration in community and taking control over who i am becoming, they also ask me to do a lot of heavy, internal work and processing. when we dig deep and take an honest look at our shadows, it’s not unusual to make unexpected discoveries that alter the way we see ourselves or our path. the hanged man asks us to breathe in the moment, surrender to our inner self, and be willing to let go of expectation until a situation changes.

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four major arcana cards in a spread is a lot, and means i have much to work through and work out this full moon. and while it can be intimidating to see this many majors in a full moon spread, i know that i’m working through a lot internally, processing and shifting, dreaming and creating. even though full moons so often ask us to release and celebrate, honoring the height of a cycle, what i see in these cards is just a beginning. and with the hanged man on the end, signaling an oncoming shift in perspective, i feel release and surrender just around the corner.

how is this full moon feeling for you? are you enjoying celebration, or anticipating a letting go? if you use the spread above, please tag me or let me know how it went in the comments. happy full moon!

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.

shadows & surrender

i love my deck, but lately i've been itching to explore some new interpretations. since i'm still pretty new at tarot, i don't want to become so attached to one specific set of cards that i can't open myself up to new readings, new possibilities, new understandings of these archetypes and images. the only way for me to grow is to connect with new decks, new artistry, and look to find the deeper meanings that i might miss with my current cards. today's reading was done with the fountain tarot, and is a perfect card for my state of mind: the moon. IMG_1828illuminating the dark waves and casting luminous shadows over the world, the moon glows in the darkness, gentle light that teases and tricks the eye. the card is beautiful, evocative and layered, with gorgeous monochromatic blues and greys. i love the ghostly wolves standing on the piers, the ropes and beams playing with lines, the richness of the night sky. the moon is a card of mystery, trickery, imagination - we can easily get lost in those dark shadows, our feet and minds confused without the brilliance of the daylight. there's a wildness to this card, a sense of temptation, a longing to stay trapped in that beautiful darkness, howl at the sky, get lost and refuse to be found.

the creators of this deck call it a surrender to darkness, and write, "...there is nowhere to anchor, and everything feels confusing and deceptive, though slightly seductive and familiar. even time seems to be disappearing, but there is an urgency for you to move, or risk being lost here forever." that resonates with me so strongly, it took the breath right out of my lungs. there's nothing lovely about depression, no hidden benefit or secret silver lining - it's just darkness, ugliness, a horror that paralyzes. depression takes, and takes, and takes. but the moon reveals beauty in that darkness, creates new murkiness where before there was only clarity. the moon lets us journey through those shadows, find hidden truths, and explore the depths of our own souls - good, bad, and ugly.

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i never quite know if it's better to surrender to the darkness, to give in to the inevitable, and try to ride it out with grace - or if i should fight to the bitter end, using every last muscle to keep the monster away for as long as possible. i've tried both; neither works. the shadows always come, the fog always covers me, the upside-down always traps me. there's no escaping the darkness, merely delaying it. but this time around, i'm trying to just let it be, but stay open. i'm trying to keep talking, keep blogging, keep reading my cards. i'm forcing myself to connect, to share, to seek out those who may understand and try to build something.

scary stuff, to be honest. forcing myself to be introspective, to write, to share, to connect with others honestly and openly - it's hard, and doesn't come naturally to me. but my hope is that if i can keep a little crack in the door, if i can focus on that softly glowing celestial beauty in the distance, if i can find ways to keep my dimming creativity alive, then maybe this descent into the shadows won't be quite as deep.