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?

imbolc

poised halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, imbolc is the time when we begin to release the dark rest of winter and look to spring's renewal. we can let go of some of the pain or restlessness we may have experienced over the last few months, and instead look forward to fresh starts, new beginnings, a clean slate. in the spirit of release and renewal, i used liz worth's simple tarot spread for imbolc this morning to better understand my own growth and potential for this new season.

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what is beginning to grow within me now? the emperor. i've been working on multiple projects lately, with my tarotscopes for autostraddle, creating a new website on another platform, intense instagram challenges through the major and minor arcana, and a project for readings that i hope to announce in a few more months. i'm learning that structure is so important in keeping me organized and focused as i tackle all of these various tasks, and that when i have a framework in place to help me remember deadlines and ideas, my work itself becomes better. i love everything i'm doing and am so excited to devote more time and energy to my tarot business and work this year, but i know that in order to be successful and satisfied i have to maintain boundaries and awareness.

what can it become by springtime? the magician. raw potential, endless manifestation, powerful resources, boundless vision - for me this card is the promise of creation, showing me that if i continue on this path of attention and structure i can do literally anything. i'm deeply inspired by this card here, as it seems to open my eyes and mind to the infinite possibilities surrounding me. i love the connection between the emperor and the magician, the ways in which they support each other - magic needs rules to function at its best, and structure must be challenged and flexible to be effective. by harnessing one i can utilize the other, and both will be essential for me this spring.

what change might this growth bring? eight of wands. i've been trying to maintain space for myself, taking time to rest and recover from the chronic pain i've been dealing with and spacing out challenges and work in an effort to not burn out. but the eight of wands is a card of rapid movement, charging forward and believing so deeply in the self that others are drawn to our work and want to join. it could be that the work i'm doing helps to create a community, sparks interest in others or draws new folks into my circle. it could also be that i'm creating at an intense clip, moving forward effortlessly and relentlessly towards my goals. i need to monitor this, make sure i don't go so quickly that i leave things behind or get off course.

what divine guidance surrounds me in the process? seven of wands. a spirit of independence, confidence, and pride will help to guide me during this season of renewal and output, reminding me that i am worthy, i can do this, and the work is valuable.

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what are your imbolc rituals? how to you celebrate this time of rebirth? and what are you looking forward to in this coming season?

grasping magic

depression is settling around me like a heavy fog. i can feel it thickening, its weight growing by the day, blocking out the light and making it more difficult to do basic tasks. everything becomes harder, slower, painful, requiring more energy and stamina than usual. my spoons are running low. i'm growing disinterested in the world around me. sometimes the beginning is the worst, because i can still remember where i was just a few days ago. once i'm in it, i'm really in it - i lose track of time, days blur together, and it's hard to tell just bad it is until i can crawl back out into the light. right now i can still make myself do things, still find joy in friends and favorite things, but it's all a bit dulled, and i know it will only get dimmer as the days pass. i hope i'm not stuck here for too long, i think, as my head slips under the water.

IMG_0353what can the cards offer me, in their wisdom and insight and kindness? today's draw is the magician, a card of purpose, action, energy, and empowerment. armed with his knowledge of all four minor suits, he sits in stillness, but plots his next move. he's confident, independent, filled with awareness. he doesn't act simply to be busy, but rather with purpose and intent, aware of his goals and the passions that drive him. the air around him shimmers with possibility, potential, something just a moment away. a brilliant sun, so similar to the radiant card i pulled just a few days ago, shines behind him, bathing him in light. his way forward is illuminated, clear, and he simply waits for the perfect moment to take that first, strong step.

i've only drawn this card once before, when i was weeks into the upside-down. it was a stark reminder that even small actions can have power, that simple tools can accomplish great things, that using my energy in strong, deliberate ways can have a major impact. it's not always about huge goals, grand gestures, massive undertakings - sometimes even small steps forward is still better than standing still (or hiding underground).

i've been fighting this round of depression diligently, keeping myself busy with tasks and little goals even as i could feel the shadows lurking behind me. it felt like the moment i stopped, the second i turned around or acknowledged its presence, depression would consume me. and when i did, it did. but the magician tells a different story, reminds me of the tools at my disposal, my ability to cling to bits of light when i need it, my drive to find projects to fuel my passions. rather than simply waiting for something to arrive, there's beautiful intention in this card - the magician plans his course, gathers the resources he needs, and moves forward calmly and deliberately. IMG_1803

i'm trying to keep moving, trying to stay honest, trying to keep connections alive. i'm being brutally honest on social media right now, more than ever before. i'm making sure friends and family know where i'm at. i'm connecting with the online tarot community in new ways. i have a therapist that's aware of my mindset and is always a phone call away. i even have an emergency plan, just in case things get too dark, too heavy, too much.

but i think this is a strong card for me to meditate on and channel today. i don't have to conquer the world, or escape my depression, or achieve every goal i can come up with - i just have to grasp a little magic. and for today, that can be enough.

standing up

it's been a long, hard few months. after yesterday's post got much more personal than i usually am in this space, i spent a lot of time reflecting on where i am, where i've been, and where i'm going. depression is a long, winding road, with no real destination or end in sight. it's a tough path to travel. but sometimes there's such beauty to be found in darkness, and a poignancy to pain that can reveal harsh, but essential truths. while this isn't a journey i would choose, it's one i must take, and all i can do is keep my eyes and ears open to the lessons i can find along the way. after so much introspection, i'm rather delighted by today's card: the magician.

IMG_0353a new card for me, and one of self-empowerment, stamina, strength, and spirit. the wild unknown book describes the magician as "a card of boundless, expansive energy," and indeed, the card is vivid, almost pulsing with light. the wildcat is strong, graceful, courageous, and wields the energy of all four suits with ease. he's aware of his surroundings, but not afraid of them. there's beautiful potential here, an anticipatory feeling of stillness, readiness. the magician is poised, awake, aware. he knows that he has the tools needed to conquer any situation, and the fortitude to know which skill will be needed in order to succeed.

after so many weeks in the dark, knowing that i'm still probably going to be drowning for a bit longer, this is an immensely empowering card. all about action, the magician knows what to do and how to do it. there's no self-doubt, no confusion, no hand-wringing or gnashing of teeth or hiding in a corner. there's such bold, quiet confidence here, such beauty and power and intensity. and while i may not feel that in myself at this very moment, pushing myself to find actions that i can take to find my own beauty and power and intensity feels like good advice.

i think it's okay to not always be okay. but remembering that action is possible even when you feel completely and utterly powerless can be a beautiful reminder of what we are all capable of. the tools are right there - i just need to find a way to grab them and wield them with grace.