finding hope

i swear i don't only use tarot spreads from beth at little red tarot - but i'll gladly admit that hers are some of my favorites. they're consistently challenging, direct, and encouraging, and i always learn something new about tarot and about myself. her spring equinox spread looks like just what i need this morning. it's the spring equinox, and i'm trying to be optimistic. after feeling a bit lost the last months, doubting myself and my relationships, i'm trying to be stronger, more resolute, and make some real decisions about friendships i've been holding on to for too long. i'm a very loyal person, and a very lonely person. it's hard for me to connect, takes time for me to open up - but once i do, those connections are forever.

but that's just me, and i know that's not how everyone functions. it's so hard to recognize when a friendship has turned sour, when someone doesn't value you anymore, but for my own well-being it's time to change my inner narrative around a particular person. i'm taking my heart back, rescuing it from someone who hasn't treated it well. it'll take time for my heart and i to heal. but isn't spring all about renewal, new life, a fresh start? it's what i'm craving. and while the cards aren't as interested in my interpersonal struggles, they do have a lot of advice and encouragement for me.

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what is coming forth in my life right now? what is emerging, what is just beginning to pierce the surface and peek through? the mother of swords. perceptive, sharp, experienced, powerful, determined, with some suffering in her past and present. she's wise and intelligent, but can be prickly and defensive too. she's been hurt many times, and has learned to guard her heart, keep others at a distance, and stay cautious. but she also knows when to laugh at the world, when to not take life or mistakes or pain too seriously. she's not afraid to face the truth, even when it sucks.

i really feel the spirit of this queen these days. i'm sifting through painful memories, trying to let go of hurts, making myself harder and stronger and more independent. i crave community and hate being misunderstood, but perhaps i'm just someone that's meant to be alone. i have a wonderful partner and a few friends that truly know and love me, and that will have to be enough. i hope the arrival of this fierce, proud lady is an indication that i will find strength, power, and respect in hardening myself, that i can make my pain into something that gives me clarity and wisdom and pluck.

IMG_0304how might I really honour this emergence? how might I frame what is happening for me right now, so as to truly understand and integrate? the two of wands, the first of three fire cards in my spread. determination, focus, direction, moving forward. rather than lingering in the painful memories i'm holding, it's time to channel that strong female energy and move into the next stage of my life. by embracing my inner fire, letting passion drive me, and keeping my thought patterns positive and forward-facing, i can find that core of strength and power that i know is inside of me. doing the work to channel that fire into something real, something tangible, is so hard - but it's what's necessary to truly create something new and powerful and inspiring.

this card can also speak to partnerships in creative endeavors - and while i haven't spoken to a single soul about the details or vision for my private project, perhaps one day i'll find someone that will give me the same encouragement and inspiration that i've always tried to spread.

IMG_0311what is the work of the coming months? what does it look like? the nine of wands. this is such a beautiful, inspiring card to me, speaking of strength, confidence, stamina, and focus. the end of the journey is near, hard work is about to pay off, and we just have to rally our power and keep our eyes on the prize.

seeing the nine of fire brings me a lot of hope for the future of my creative work, that i may grow weary or frustrated but it doesn't change the fact that i'm on the right path. there will be challenges in the future, times that i'm too tired or confused or lost to keep going, but i hope i'll remember this card and see it as a light in the darkness. my project has merit, it's important and worth fighting for, and i have the creative spirit and vision and power to do the damn thing. i just need to keep on going.

IMG_0359what do I need to clear or let go as part of this work? the chariot, the only major card in my spread. this beauty represents courage, strong will, determination, and triumph, an inner warrior with the drive and focus to conquer her demons. she may be a little naive, a little inexperienced, but she knows what she wants and will push herself hard to get it.

there are a few ways to interpret this card in this particular position: perhaps i need to pace myself, not make snap decisions, ease into my projects and not cut people out too quickly. or perhaps i need to focus on what i want, let go of my worries and fears and instead put all of my energy into reaching for success. either way, this card asks me to believe in myself, release doubt, and channel my strength. i need to be wary of obsessive behaviors, both in creative work and in spiraling thoughts and doubts about relationships and my own self.

IMG_0303what ‘fertilizer’ do I need right now? What is the most nourishing food I can offer myself, how can I show myself love as I begin this chapter of my journey? the ace of wands. energy, expansion, inspiration, growth, enthusiasm, adventure. that flash of fire, bursting life, untapped potential. scrambling for a pen to write down the words that jumped into your mind, scribbling a quick sketch to finalize later, texting a friend with a brilliant idea for collaboration, recording a melody that turns into your favorite piece of music - it's powerful creative energy, and it's right at your fingertips.

i love seeing this card. i can show myself love, build myself up, make myself stronger by channeling that inspiration into something new, something beautiful. rather than cutting something out, cutting someone off, cutting myself up, i should be building, creating, growing. it's time to shift my focus to my own projects, let that fire feed my soul and help me find a new adventure. that buzz of possibility is everywhere, and i'm craving it.

 


 

IMG_3351spring brings with it new life, possibility, opportunity. this spread really gives me hope that this year will be less about transitions and more about owning my power and passion, being honest with myself, and finding ways to express my creativity that really honor my personal vision. i want to be more than my depression, than my loneliness, than my pain - i want to make something beautiful, inspire others, and offer something new. perhaps i'll always be understood and feared by others - but if that gives me the space and strength to create something powerful, maybe it'll be worth it.

supermoon

early this morning, the moon was an intense combination of magical happenings: supermoon, blue moon, blood moon, and lunar eclipse, all at once. as a leo moon and a scorpio sun (and gemini rising, if you're curious), i knew this combination would hit me particularly hard. i've been feeling lots of creative energy, but have also been oddly drained and irritable. today's spread calls back to august's eclipse spread, answering questions and beginning new journeys. in many ways, this eclipse is the end of a cycle, wrapping up what the first one opened. a lot of the issues that popped up for me last summer are absolutely reflected here, which feels like it confirms a lot of my struggles from several months ago.

1. personal power: where is my power during this full moon?

IMG_0324seven of pentacles, a card that also appeared in my last eclipse spread. this is a card of stepping back, taking responsibility, evaluating progress, and making a plan for the future. not the sexiest card in the deck, but taking time to take stock of where i am and where i want to go will help me achieve my goals in a way that's real.

lately i've been beginning some new creative and physical projects - a tarot writing and photography series that's challenging the way i approach the cards, and my first full marathon in november (on my 33rd birthday, no less). but the way i've approached both projects is radically different - i already have most of my marathon training plan complete, including long races, training groups, running tools, and trips that will keep me motivated. but with my creative projects, i've done almost no planning, and have been frustrated with my lack of progress.

it's fun to think of creative projects as just bursting forth: someone typing frantically, painting wildly, music pouring out of them, as if art just manifests itself and we are simply vessels to get it into the world. but in reality, creating art takes the same level of patience, planning, and persistence as anything else. if i really want this project to develop into something meaningful and complete, i need to step back and make a real plan for how to achieve it - and now seems like the perfect time to start.

2. drop the drama: what belief, relationship, or habit no longer serves me?IMG_0304

two of wands, a card of power, excitement, and collaboration. the spark is there, and now we're taking the next steps to plan, sharing our passion with others, feeling a connection and motivation to continue.

receiving positive feedback and support from others is incredible, and knowing that someone believes in your vision and your abilities can really bolster confidence. it's a beautiful thing to share your heart and soul with someone, and receive love back. but seeking approval too much can stop everything in its tracks, and keep us from pushing forward with a vision we truly believe in.

my creative project may still be taking shape, but i need to believe in it enough to move forward, even if no one is there on the side, cheering me on. i can't keep relying on others to give me the passion and motivation that i need - i have to find that within myself. i have to believe that my voice, my vision, my creative abilities, are strong and unique enough to be worth the effort it takes to build something beautiful.

3. take a risk: what area of my life could benefit from a risk taken?

ace-of-swordsace of swords, representing a flash of truth, the potential for something real, a fresh start. swords are often connected to writing, as a sharp mind is needed to put together words in just the right way. i can't help but feel that this card is continuing the message from the first two in the spread, urging me to seek honesty and take risks in this creative project.

air is a difficult element for me, as my mind can be a dark and challenging place. those flashes of lightning don't always illuminate truths i want to see, or am able to grapple with. but perhaps my creative project and my tarot work will continue to blossom if i can push myself farther, seek those difficult realities, and not be so afraid to delve inside my mind. i know that i'm capable of completing this writing project, but i have to believe that my own truth is worth exploring and sharing.

4. be creative: how am i being challenged to be creative and think outside the box? IMG_0298

the daughter of swords is intelligent, cunning, observant, cautious, wise, fair, loyal, honest, and can be a bit of a buzzkill. she doesn't miss anything, even when you want her to. when i pull this card, i see the part of myself that is critical but truthful, that cuts to the heart of the matter and calls out the shit we were hoping nobody would acknowledge.

how can this analytical, cynical voice help in my creativity? i need to take a hard look at my project, see where it doesn't make sense, and keep pushing myself to do better. i know where ideas are weak, where i've been lazy, where things don't really match up. by bringing a critical eye to my work, i can make it better, challenge myself, and create something that will really resonate. there is a path forward, and it's time to stop living in my fear and doubts and instead figure out a way to make progress.

5. my needs: where am i seeking validation in my  life?

eight-of-swordseight of swords, a card of fear, paralysis, and a feeling of being trapped. the dangers aren't necessarily real, but it feels that there is no way forward, that we are surrounded on all sides by that which hurts us the most.

i'm trying to be more comfortable with being alone, with not sharing myself, with keeping things close and hidden. it's not fair to others to share how dark things can be for me - i need to handle my shadows alone, and not burden others with my struggles. but it's scary to go it alone, to not let anyone in. and while i know that staying this private probably isn't permanently sustainable, it feels like the only possible answer right now. i know it may be damaging to me, but i can't seem to help it - i don't trust anyone to really hear me anymore.

i have some opportunities that will help me meet new people, and there's always the chance that there's someone (or several someones) out there that could handle my darkness, could really understand me, would be willing to stay even when things get scary. but rather than reaching for possibilities, i'm retreating in fear. i need validation that i'm not alone, that i'm not impossible to understand, that i'm not too dark for friends, but i'm not sure i'm brave enough to find it.

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no cups but three swords - it's time to stop letting my emotions dictate everything, and be more methodical. i need to get real with my creative ambitions or they won't go anywhere: make a plan, stop looking outside of myself for encouragement, channel that inner spark into an exploration of truth and realness, and perhaps begin to consider the possibility that i don't have to be so isolated.

reclaiming my masks

today is the beginning of the last quarter moon, a time of releasing burdens, acknowledging struggles, and forgiving ourselves. i've been reflecting a lot on the challenges of last year, and the cards i drew today feel very encouraging, both in light of 2017 and in the face of a new year. IMG_2883.jpg

what to accept: three of pentacles. cooperation is not a dirty word. finding a community, learning from and leaning on others, discovering strengths and weaknesses - combined power is how we get shit done. collaborating with friends and neighbors, strangers and new acquaintances, gives us fire and energy and passion. it can give us that push towards a new goal, and help us actually reach it. this is a time for finding others with similar passions, and seeing how we can work together.

what to forgive: ace of swords. there's so much potential in this gorgeous, powerful card - but truth can be brutal sometimes, can cut through what we think we know to the beating heart of the matter. this past year brought a lot of difficulty, but it also forced me to be honest with both others and myself about what i need. i may not flawlessly execute every idea, and i may not always express my truth well, but i'm trying - and i need to forgive myself for the mistakes that were made.

what to learn: five of cups. there is a place for grief. there is a place for sadness. there is even a place for loss. but learning to let go is something i've struggled with my whole life. as a scorpio (and a half, honestly, i'm such a scorpio it's ridiculous) i find it nearly impossible to put hurt aside and forgive graciously and fully. my sadness and pain and anguish run so deep, they're a part of me. but honestly? maybe that's okay. maybe i can find strength in it. maybe the pain will make me better, more empathetic, more kind.

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like so many others, i felt that 2017 was an intensely difficult year. i vacillated between checking the news obsessively and working to ignore it, finding myself constantly drowning in the political horrors that seemed to occur by the minute. it was a tough year for all of us, but especially women, people of color, lgbtq+ folks, immigrants, muslims, the disabled community, the lower classes - basically anyone that wasn't a rich, straight, white "christian" man woke up with a feeling of dread each morning, wondering who would be on the chopping block.

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personally, 2017 was also a major struggle. i worked hard last year to open myself up, to shed some of my protective layers, to be more honest and real with the world. i came out to friends and family, even those that i worried would shun me. i attended my first pride, and pushed myself to find a place for myself in the queer community. i began working with a therapist, had several sessions with a psychiatrist, practiced yoga, started a tarot instagram, and gave myself permission and space to find new ways of healing that resonated.

but being open comes with a heavy cost. i've worn masks my entire life - not out of choice, but out of necessity. growing up bisexual in a very conservative church plant, with a pastor that was vocally anti-homosexual in our church and community, meant that i had to hide in plain sight. navigating a lifelong chronic sleep condition means pushing myself daily to perform normal activities, to stay alert, to remain focused - often while simultaneously accepting advice and judgment from well-meaning friends and strangers about a form of insomnia that most don't really understand. and suffering from major depressive disorder means i face a daily battle between being honest about how hard things are and locking the darkness up inside, where it can only hurt me.

in 2017, i pushed myself to remove some of the masks. not all the time, not with everyone - just with a trusted few, when it felt safe and right and accepted. and at times, it felt amazing. when my conservative family members accepted my bisexuality with open arms, when i walked into queer public events and nobody told me i didn't belong, when i opened up to my therapist about the Things i never talk about - it was such a relief to stop hiding, even for a few moments.

IMG_0296unfortunately, i also learned a devastating lesson in 2017 - my masks are absolutely necessary almost all of the time, and especially when dealing with my depression. reaching out for help is hard, but stretching out a hand and finding that no one is there? it's impossible. i made the mistake of being honest about how tough my depression was, and it scared friends and family away to the point that i thought i'd lost everyone. when i finally emerged from the darkness, i found myself terribly alone. and if i'm being perfectly honest, i still feel that way. i've apologized, made amends, acknowledged my errors, but i know now that i can't be my whole self with anyone, that i have to wear masks to protect others, that i don't have a safety net to fall back on. maybe i never did.

2018 offers so much promise. i have new goals in mind, new things i want to accomplish, new ways i want to push myself. but i'm also giving myself permission to lock certain things back up, to smother them in heavy blankets, to hide again. my depression is a dark, scary part of me, and while i wish i could find relief in sharing it, i know that it's too much of a burden for anyone to bear. i have to hope that the practices i've put into place, and a lifetime of experience wearing masks, will keep me safe this year.

in the meantime, i will greet this new year with strength, humility, and a hope for something better. and if you're reading this, i hope you find those things too.