wisdom of the eclipse

new moon energy is an intensely charged time - full of potential, a chance to start fresh, an opportunity to set new goals and intentions. and combined with the incredible energy from today's solar eclipse, there couldn't be a better time for a tarot spread centered around reflection, awareness, and finding direction.

1. where you stand

IMG_0299the son of swords grips the blade of his sword as he hones in on his target. everything in him is focused, utterly fixated on his destination. wings flapping, eyes forward, sword at the ready - he is completely determined, and will let nothing get in his way. as with all of the sons, their understanding of the suit is growing, and can go many ways. is his single-minded pursuit of his goal, his focus on the truth, something that makes him strong? or is he too obsessive, unwilling to see any other perspective?

i don't feel this strong or sure about anything at the moment, except perhaps that i'm longing to channel my energy into something. i've been toying with new creative pursuits, itching to start a new project, eager to find something i can pour my fire into. and while this son is several steps past where i feel i am, there's something to his passionate intensity, his fearless drive, his complete willingness to throw his entire self into this purpose, that resonates. i may not be sure where i want to go, but i do know that i want to put my whole self into something that matters to me.

2. something to leave behindIMG_0334

the card that i cannot seem to shake, the three of cups represents companionship, love, friendship, and honesty. this card has been stalking me relentlessly for the past few months, and has come to mean something very different - feelings of isolation and being misunderstood, being alone or left out, wanting something that no longer exists. but in this context, i feel that this card is asking me to leave behind not only these feelings, but also this inherent craving for approval, for support, for praise and love and inclusiveness. it's important to have people around us that give us that unconditional love and support, that encourage us to be better, that strengthen us and help us heal. but with that comes temptation, even a desire to lean too heavily on those that we love, rather than growing and learning on our own. having a strong community is a beautiful thing, but if we come to rely on it too heavily, we can do ourselves a disservice. sometimes we have to leave the pack, strike out alone, set our own course. i have to rely on my own independence, my own strength, and listen to what my heart is craving.

3. something to receive

IMG_0293a card of hope, healing, and moving forward, the six of swords feels like a gift. i've been so discouraged, felt so alone, wondered what my purpose is and how to escape this feeling of restless sadness. this card doesn't speak to all problems magically disappearing, or leaving everything behind, but instead seems to offer shelter from the storm, a chance to dry off, warm up, and set a new course.

hope and optimism aren't traits i'm particularly known for, and they aren't something i tend to seek - i take a rather bleak view of life, generally content to stay in the darkness. and while my gaze naturally drifts towards the pile of dark swords in the rain and the shadows, this card is really about that narrow, colorful rainbow overhead. i may not know where i'm going just yet, but that lovely ribbon of light is a potent reminder that no storm lasts forever, and that i have the power to leave this troubling sadness behind.

4. something to learnIMG_0369

the only major arcana card present, the star is a beautiful card of generosity, authenticity, peace, inspiration, and healing energy. it feels particularly poignant to see this hopeful image as the eclipse occurs overhead, a reminder of the powerful forces at work at the moment.

this card offers so much, and provides endless lessons, but one thing i'm grateful for is this card's association with creativity, passion, and feeding that inner fire. the star reminds us to connect with what truly drives us, encourages us to look deep within and see that which keeps us strong and centered, helps us find our way. beth calls this card the north star, and i love that strong image of a guiding light, an inner compass, a distant fire that helps us follow our own path. i may not always be good at pausing to look for this gentle beacon, but that doesn't mean it hasn't been there waiting for me, ready to help me find my way.

5. something to give

IMG_0333the two of cups, a card associated with love, balance, reciprocity, and strong connections. while it seems that many see this card as a symbol for romance and romantic love, it can also speak to connections with anything that is important to us: friendships, families, pets, art, music, nature, movement, or anything else that speaks to our soul, makes us feel alive and empowered and complete.

sometimes we're too depleted to give anything to anyone, but i find that when i'm running low on energy, on love, on encouragement, that i can often muster up some positivity for friends - even if i can't find it for myself. it's always astounding to me how reaching out to others, finding small ways to be kind, offering words of encouragement or support, tends to magnify and expand those feelings. those gestures feel small and sometimes seem like they can't possibly make a difference, but they often mean so much more than expected. and though right now it feels that i can't offer anything special, that doesn't mean i shouldn't try anyway.

6. your hopes and dreamsIMG_0324

an intriguing card for this position, the seven of pentacles also made an appearance in my last reading. it represents an important step in any journey - a pause, an evaluation, an opportunity to assess progress and make any necessary adjustments. this card is a reminder to look at how far you've come, and make sure that the path you're following will lead you to your ultimate goal.

this card often pops up in snarky, clever ways for me - it tends to appear when i'm unsure of my direction, seeking guidance, or looking to connect with someone or something that's challenging me. as i've written before, i don't have major lifelong goals, impressive dreams, ambitious plans for my future, so this card feels like a tease. but perhaps that's an indication that i have more ambitions than i think, that just because i haven't set big goals for myself in the past doesn't mean i don't have them, buried down deep. this card may be pushing me to step back, evaluate what i really want, and consider if there is something i want, something i should be pointing myself towards.

7. your secret special skill

ten-of-swordsthe ultimate victim, the the ten of swords is a card of despair, melodrama, hitting rock bottom, and giving up. there's no possible way to escape all of those swords - indeed, ten seems a bit excessive. this card always makes me laugh, for don't we all feel this way sometimes? like the whole weight of the world is bearing down, everyone and everything is against us, there's no escape from the insurmountable problems stacking up before us. it's a card of utter defeat, getting so in our heads that we're sure there is no solution, no escape, no recovery.

quite a secret special skill to round out my spread. and yet, these dark cards come up for me frequently when i do readings that include personal powers, strengths, and important characteristics. my scorpio nature and depression play strongly into everything, from the way i read cards to the way i approach decisions to the way i relate to others. it's difficult to see the ten of swords as a skill, since melodrama and painting myself as a victim is rarely helpful. but this card does make me snicker, and reminds me to stay aware of those dark tendencies in both myself and others, which can certainly be a skill. it's a lot harder to be aware of bad patterns when it's you that's falling into them, but i try to pay attention to how my mind operates and stay focused when i can feel myself slipping into dark, twisty places. i also have plenty of darkness in my mind and my past, and while nothing truly horrific has happened to me, i do think that those experiences have helped shape me, taught me how to survive and remove the swords that are impaling me.

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this spread was certainly a challenging one, encompassing everything from honest love and community to self-imposed isolation and leaving the past behind. there are images of hope here, encouragement, friendship, inspiration. but there are also warnings of obsession, loss, despair, getting lost in the darkness of our own minds. but there's so much wisdom here, particularly as i seek ways to let my own creativity shine, as i reflect on hidden dreams or secret aspirations, as i crave a passion project that lets me channel my energy and knowledge and inner fire.

i've been doing a lot of larger spreads lately, and am eager to get back to my single-card daily drawings for a bit so that i can unpack all of the wisdom here. but if you did any special spreads or readings for the eclipse, please share in the comments!

so this is the new year

...and what a year it's been. today is my one-year anniversary of tarot, exactly 365 days since i purchased my first deck and began learning a new language. what drew me to tarot was a desire to feel more connected with the world, to find a method of relating to things bigger than me, to overcome my difficult relationship with the church and find a new way to connect spiritually with the world. tarot has helped me reclaim that part of myself, learn to see beyond what's in front of me, and forced me to grow and challenge myself in ways i never expected. i've been searching for a new spread, something to help me celebrate and reflect, but in the end i decided to use an old one - the reader's reading, a spread i did when i first purchased my deck, and again six months ago, when i started this blog. i love the continuity of it, having a spread i do each year to reflect on the past and look forward to the future. one of my favorite things about tarot is that while we can continue to gain knowledge and experience, even those that have been reading cards for decades still find new lessons, new interpretations, new ways to learn and grow. it's a beautiful language, an incredibly powerful tool, and one i'm constantly challenged and amazed by.

1. About you in general: what is your most important characteristic?

seven-of-pentacles

the seven of pentacles is a curious card to get in this position, but it feels like a little wink, an acknowledgement that i've done this spread several times before. this is the report card of the deck, a chance to stop, evaluate, and consider if a change of direction is needed. it's so easy to set a course and then just find a groove, settling into that path and following it. but sometimes it's essential to pause in the middle, to recheck that compass, and make sure that we're still heading the right way.

of course, this is exactly what i'm doing right now - stopping to consider, remembering where i started and looking forward to where i'm going. i'm not a person that sets strong goals for my life, or has huge ambitions, but i do enjoy the process of introspection and assessment. the journey is what matters to me, and in tarot, that could certainly be a strong and important characteristic in my readings.

2. What strengths do you already have as a reader?

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it's hard to imagine any other position or spread where the dreaded nine of swords would make me smile, but in this case, i couldn't help it. nightmares, the mind attacking itself, dark visions, anguish, despair - this is not a card anyone wants to see. and yet, in some ways, this card absolutely represents my strength: it doesn't frighten me.

as someone that battles severe depression, idiopathic insomnia, a lifetime of feeling isolated, and more run-of-the-mill (but no less crippling) self-doubt and self-loathing, this card really hits home. it speaks to my inner demons, my worst fears, my darkest moments. but in this position, the card also represents what i already know to be true: that the mind is a difficult, twisted place, and that it is capable of true darkness. even when i do readings to find courage or strength, i often get "scary" cards in places of personal power. i know what the darkness is, but i don't shy away from it. traditionally scary or fear-inspiring cards like the tower, the devil, death, or the ten of swords don't frighten me, because i can see that they have purpose and meaning and value. loss can lead to greater findings. change may be hard, but it's not inherently bad. and transformation can lead to greater beauty, even if the process is painful.

i truly believe that as a tarot reader, it's my job to unflinchingly see the messages that the cards hold. those might not always be pretty or shiny or happy - sometimes they are difficult, brutally honest, or unwelcome. but i have to be able to honestly interpret their lessons, even when i don't receive the answers i'm hoping for. and being able to see the darkness for what it is, and remember that there can be light at the end? that's a strength, even if it doesn't always feel that way.

3. What limits do you feel as a reader?

IMG_0359

the chariot is a card of strength, willpower, confidence, control, and overcoming adversity. it's a beautiful, inspirational card, but in this position it indicates limits that i feel as a reader, which makes it a bit more difficult to read. this card speaks to control, determination, someone that's a force of nature. as a limit, it's easy to see how this could go awry - someone is so focused on their goal they push past other potential options, become too forceful or stubborn, need to be in complete power and control over everything and everyone in their path.

i'm probably on the other side of this card - i rarely feel in control of anything, and don't usually seek it unless i'm scared or uncomfortable. sometimes i want to steer the ship, chart the course, but most of the time i stay focused on little challenges, taking things day by day, and seeing how things go. this can certainly be a limit or weakness for me, as i'm resistant to looking too far ahead, or setting long-term goals. and for tarot, only pulling cards for a single day or the short-term or for small questions could be limiting my abilities to grow as a reader. perhaps it's time to start pushing myself, asking bigger questions, to stop being afraid of what i might see farther ahead.

4. What key lesson can you learn on your developmental journey?

son-of-cups

the first card in my spread to show any real color, the son of cups is quiet, peaceful, introspective, and intuitive. he represents the extremes of the suit, shifting between poetic and insightful and dark, brooding, moody. this card really speaks to me as a lesson, since as a child of the water, i'm very susceptible to difficult, changing emotions. some days i don't feel like i can handle what the cards may say, and other times it's hard for me to cut past my own feelings and be honest with myself about the messages in the deck.

sensitivity is key when reading tarot, but it's important to not let it get the best of me. i have to be able to separate myself from the deck when i'm reading for others, and it's essential to be able to look past my swirling emotions and complicated feelings and see the heart of the matter, the reality that the cards are bringing to my attention.

but i think this card is also a reminder that emotions are not a weakness, and that they are not something to fear or avoid. the cards challenge me in so many ways, but one of the biggest lessons i've learned this year is that powerful emotions can make us strong, can push us forward, can reveal what we truly care about. they can take us to dark places, but they can also remind us what matters.

5. How can you be open to learning and developing on this journey?

seven-of-swords

a card of secrecy and self-protection is an interesting one in a position of openness and development, but the seven of swords is a card that i've learned to love this year. i think it's often seen as a card of deception, lies, trickery, of fooling those around you for your own gain. but for me, this card tends to pop up when there's danger around, when i need to be on my guard, when protecting myself is key. sometimes you've gotta hide, and other times you have to grab a blade and be ready.

similar to the first card in the spread, i think this could be a little wink to me - a reminder that cards can be open to interpretation, that leaning heavily on books and blogs and resources to understand every single nuance isn't always the answer, that the cards can mean different things at different times. when i first began reading tarot i was eager to memorize meanings, wanted to be sure i was aware of all the traditional implications and histories of each card. but now, i'm learning to rely more on my own intuition, to trust my inner voice and my first reactions to cards, rather than simply opening books and websites and leaning on the wisdom of others. everyone might not agree with my understanding of the seven of swords, but that's perfectly fine.

but taking this card at face value, i think it challenges me to be aware of secrets i'm keeping while reading. it's so much easier to just take what you want from the cards and run, rather than honestly assessing meaning and pushing yourself to understand what the cards are truly saying. i think the seven of swords can serve as a reminder to be open with myself, to not fall into the trap of self-deceit, to keep my eyes open.

6. What is the potential outcome of this journey?

IMG_0305the most vivid and colorful card in my spread, the three of wands is a card of confidence, moving forward, stepping into a bright future. this card shimmers with possibility, and it's an incredible card to have in the outcome position.

i've written a lot about how the first few cards in the suit of wands often bring me anxiety, a weight of expectation that i never feel prepared to bear. but the three is about clarifying that vision, opening our eyes wide, solidifying intentions and following dreams. and while i'm not someone that necessarily has a crystal-clear vision of my future, or even an understanding of what my aspirations truly are, this card is both soothing and empowering for me. there's such opportunity, such potential, and yet the world is wide and the possibilities are many. tarot has expanded my vision, helped me view my days through a different lens, and by continuing to follow this path, perhaps my future will also find some clarity.

IMG_1728.jpg

this is a very black and white spread, in more ways than one. i see definite progress here, learning and growing, leaning into challenges and understanding my own limits. and while the three of wands isn't a card i typically like, in this position it gives me hope - i'm on the right path, and the future is colorful.

thank you for a beautiful year. now, onto the next.

birth cards

rather than a regular single-card drawing, today i'm meditating on a specific card: my birth card, the high priestess. there are a lot of ways to calculate birth cards, but for me, every method produces this card. IMG_0354the high priestess is one that i really love and admire: intuitive, psychic, wise, mysterious, calm, one that is comfortable in stillness. she is able to see beyond what most are capable of, listening carefully to what is both spoken and unspoken. most people, problems, and situations have much more going on under the surface, and the high priestess' ability to see beyond the obvious and acknowledge what is hidden gives her the ability to find the truth. she has utter confidence in her strengths, understands her power, and does not fear what she does not know. she embraces the mystery, the tension of the unknowable, and puts emphasis on things we cannot prove but that simply are.

finding and meditating on my birth card is part of my week one exercises, and beth has a bit more information on numerology to explore. to gain further understanding and connection with my birth card, i'll be using this simple three-card spread to explore the high priestess' energy. a getting-to-know-you spread, so to speak.

1. how do you relate to this card? what is your relationship with this card?

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the seven of pentacles, a curious card in this position. this card can be considered the report card of the tarot, a chance to step back and evaluate progress, get organized, and consider whether the path forward is correct or if a shift should take place. in terms of the high priestess, this card could be showing that while i'm taking first steps towards becoming a more intuitive person and tarot reader, than i still have a ways to go. starting beth's course and applying more disciplined work towards my practice is certainly a shift for me, since i started in a much more casual manner - but i do tend to to rely on books and blogs for my interpretations, rather than my own instincts. i want to be a more intuitive reader, but often get caught up in the idea of a correct meaning, rather than what my mind and heart tell me when i look at the cards. the orderly, organized fashion of this card seems in direct opposition of the calm, confident mystery in the high priestess, and doesn't represent the kind of reader that i want to be.

2. how does this particular card reflect your own relationship with yourself, and what can you learn from it?

ace-of-wandsthe ace of wands, a card i've been seeing more and more. a bold opportunity, an exciting beginning, the fiery crackle of energy and movement - this card represents a fresh new start with a big idea. again, the fire and passion and anticipation all seem to contradict the peaceful stillness of the high priestess, making this a challenging card in this position.

i do like quiet, but i also am a very passionate person - and my eagerness to understand and move forward with tarot could be limiting my ability to deepen my practice and meditate with cards as i work with them. i want to be a strong reader, want to feel a deep connection with the cards, but my instinct after a spread or a daily draw is not to meditate and ponder, but rather to reach for my books and resources. analyzing and explaining the cards is not a bad instinct, but to rely on my intuition is a bigger challenge for me, and one that i should be focusing on. more luna, less hermione. 

3. how can you actively and positively integrate this archetype into your own life?
daughter-of-pentacles

the daughter of pentacles, a child and student of the earth who radiates peace, strength,and stillness. responsible and kind, she is supportive of those around her, hard-working, detail-oriented, and resourceful.

this card is a beautiful reminder that i am just getting started, that a year is not long to be reading tarot, that focusing on details is not a downfall but rather the means to an end. i need to accept where i am in this process, using the resources at my disposal but also trusting myself to solve problems on my own. my intuition is strong and present - i simply need to consider it a resource in my tarot reading, and remember that my instincts can be just as powerful as the meaning and interpretations of much more experienced readers.

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my birth card, the high priestess, is a powerful, inspirational card - and it's completely okay that i'm not her yet. i'm still a daughter, a student, finding my way on shaky legs. but my ability to step back and reconsider, along with my fiery passion for this practice, will help me continue to grow and learn to trust my intuition and embrace the beautiful mystery of the tarot.

checking in

my mind kept going back to the eight of pentacles after my reading yesterday, trying to sift through various meanings and what this card might be trying to tell me. and while i'm not sure that i have all the pieces together, my cards clearly want me to continue to work with pentacles. today's draw is the seven of pentacles. IMG_0324lined up in an orderly fashion, with lines at direct angles behind them, this card is organized, thoughtful, and contemplative. this is a card for stepping back and evaluating, considering progress made and if a change of direction is needed. beth calls this an interim report card, which speaks to me in a much clearer way than yesterday's eight. rather than doing something quickly or haphazardly, this card speaks to making long-term decisions that will work for good. putting effort into what is truly important will make all the difference in the future, and will start to pay off in ways that are even bigger than planned.

my mind is a bit confused at the moment, trying to construct the perfect words to express what i want and need. pride is this weekend, and i'm going to participate in events for the first time: a run in the park, a fun meet-up with some much-admired writers and vloggers, and of course, the big parade. i have friends meeting me at each event and am excited about finally joining the community. but the month is also drawing to a close, and while i've been working on drafts for the letters i still need to send to a few family members, i haven't finalized or sent them out yet. i'm worried about commas and phrases, scared about how they might react, as if one tiny word will make the difference between their acceptance and support or a complete disaster.

pentacles typically are tied to the earth, to worldly possessions and successes, to career and home and wealth. i have trouble relating to this suit, simply because i don't have a strong tie to money, or a particular definition of success, or a big end goal for my career. i don't really evaluate my life this way. but if i change the meaning of pentacles to reflect what keeps me whole and grounded, what makes me feel safe and secure, what gives my life purpose and meaning, then these cards become much more significant. and while relationships and communication are traditionally tied to cups, in my current situation, my family and friends are keeping me together. not having certain people in my life know the truth about my identity feels like something that's holding me back, like i can't truly relax or be happy and whole. the thing i'm craving, what will bring me back to earth and let me feel strong and confident, is honesty. i want to live my truth, not just with a select few but with everyone in my life.

there is so much fear, still (and perhaps always), but i know that i'm making the right choice. this matters too much to ignore.