Protection and solitude seem to be my keywords today. The Queen of Swords reversed suggests that its time for me to sheath the sword a bit. Intellect and objectivity are useful tools to a point but they aren’t helpful right now. I think the weather. the situation and the sense of isolation are all wearing down on me. I just don’t have the ability to take a walk and get away for a bit. The snow has become a huge blanket coating the world and wrapping me in white oppression. I feel as isolated as the Queen of Swords is often portrayed.
Looking at Mama Badger on the 4 of Pentacles I get the sense of being sheltered, protected and secure. In many ways I’ve been playing Mama Badger and now I think I want someone to embody that energy for me. Her young are hidden beneath the earth’s protective layer. She guards them and tends to their needs because they are too defensive to care for themselves yet. If I have to be isolated and alone I’d love to be babied too (for a little while at least).
This reading also reminded me that I’ve never really been mothered in that way. It’s not my mother’s fault – she was hoping to find simple, unconditional love from her children. Instead she had me with my angles, attitude and vague air of judgment. I think my mother always felt that I found her wanting in some way; that she disappointed me. As a child this was likely true. The younger I was, the more certain I was of my correctness and more judgmental I was.
I’m sure I was something of a trail for my mother. I have often said that I have always known she loves me but sometimes she doesn’t like me very much and she doesn’t truly understand me. So there were often times I wanted to be nurtured but didn’t know how to ask and she didn’t know how to offer. The Mama Badger on the 4 of Pentacles brings this back to mind. I may yearn for nurturing, but like a badger I can be dangerous and off-putting if approached. So even if I wanted to feel protected and nurtured, I often resented the restrictions that came along with that.
The other day I pondered what conflicts me about more assertively pursuing a career as a professional Tarot reader. One of my main issues is the need to promote and market myself. Another is that I’m not fully comfortable accepting reading requests when I know there will be times I’m not in the mood to proffer the requested service. I’ve reached out to several friends about the issue and received some very helpful advice many of which involve changing my mindset about the entire process.
So today I decided to take another look at how to works towards settling this matter. I drew the 6 of Swords which reminds me of a faceted gem or panes in a window. On one level this image speaks to me of being a piece of a bigger whole; to make sure that Tarot readings are one part of who I am and what I do. It’s a reminder that I can compartmentalize aspects of my life so that they create a comprehensive and complementary mosaic.
The 9 of Disks reminds me that no one can do it alone. I need to make sure I have a community of friends and loved ones that can help me through times when I’m frustrated, annoyed or feel like a failure. I need to build a safe space, whether virtual or real, where I can be myself and let it all hang out without worries that I’ll upset someone or be perceived in a negative light.
The two of these cards together remind me that life if a puzzle, a patchwork quilt of different experiences, different relationships and different desires. I don’t have to always be “on” or in the mood to do readings for clients but what I must do is treat it as a profession and provide services to the best of my ability. Even if I am not feeling in the mood the client has been brought to me by the Universe for a reason. I own the client and the divine my respect and diligent efforts to give the best possible service. My ego needs to be taken out of that equation. It might be easy but at least now I have a clearer and more realistic attitude and approach to the situation.
Generosity, giving, abundance and prosperity as well as the opportunity to give and be generous with others are the gifts that appear to be offered by Tsonokwa. I have always loved the idea of potlach practiced by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. I don’t remember when I first heard of it but it appealed to me. There is something very liberating about being able to distribute all of one’s wealth and possessions to others. It is also a bit scary because giving up those things can also symbolize giving up who you are as a person right at this moment. In American culture we often are our things. The joke “he who has the most toys wins” has much more truth to it than we admit. How many of us in this consumer society consider ourselves a success when we can buy whatever we want and can afford to discard items that are out of date? We become greedy and hoard our possessions. We want more. As soon as the newest iPhone is released people flock to grab up a new one even if their current iPhone is working fine. How many people fight and claw their way into stores on “Black Friday” to purchase items for themselves? Tsonokwa reminds us that giving to others is often more satisfying than giving to ourselves. Something I think we often lose sight of in our current world.
Gaia the Earth mother reminds me that I don’t near to fear that giving will leave me drained. I can recharge and find new and abundant ways to recharge my batteries. Looking at Gaia surrounded by the beauty and bounty of the earth, the idea struck me that spending some time each day just quietly sitting in nature might help me relax and recharge. Even on the coldest day I can take a few moments outside to just seek the quiet and stillness.
The thing I find most frustrating about much of what I’m dealing with right now is that I know what I should or could do but I don’t do it. I’m incredibly unmotivated. I need to nurture and tend to myself and not lose sight of the fact that it’s not selfish to make sure I’m not exhausting all my resources. They key to a successful potlach or the 6 of Earth is that there is reciprocity. You may give a lot but you can expect others to give to you when you need it. Perhaps I’m not being clear enough that I could use help. Sometimes I make light of the situation rather than making clear statements. If I want to manifest these changes then I need to change how I approach the situation too. Otherwise I’ll find myself left in an empty, barren garden with nothing left to give.
This is the third time I’ve drawn Strength from this deck. Twice she has been reversed which suggests that while I have the inner strength to endure and survive a variety of experiences, sometimes that strength is too much. It holds me back and prevents me from seeking or accepting advice, aid or support. I get very caught up in standing on my own two feet. I’ve always been proud of the fact that no one has ever handed me anything. I’ve had to work for everything I’ve achieved. That’s part of what makes it so difficult for me to admit I need help now. The reality is that I do need help – I’m just not clear what type of help I need or maybe I just don’t know where to begin looking for it.
The Empress speaks to me of nurturing, prosperity, abundance and mothering. It’s an amalgam of needing to be mothered myself and needing the financial resources to make some of this easier to handle. I am The Empress to my in-laws right now and I hate it. I never, never wanted to be anyone’s mother. I know my limitations; the temperament, traits and skills necessary to be a mother are not in my repertoire. Hell, I didn’t even like baby dolls when I was a child. I have the utmost respect for women who stay home to raise their children, but I feel as though I’m slowly suffocating. I have no time or energy for my own interests. I don’t have the money to meet friends for lunch and even when I manage to find the cash I feel rushed and don’t enjoy myself. I’m selfish and jealous of my time. Having to devote myself to the care and nurturing of an ailing mother-in-law is something I feel that I need to and should do but it’s not something I enjoy.
So then what the hell are these two cards trying to tell me? Strength reversed I rather think I know already – stop trying to be so strong on my own. The Empress in this deck is the Black Madonna, a rather radical version of the Virgin Mary. So her message to me might be that I need to take a radical approach towards nurturing and caretaking. In some ways what I am doing is similar to raising a toddler however my mother-in-law will not improve and will never get better. All I can do now is try to ensure she is comfortable and ease the years that remain to her while trying to maintain my own sanity. I don’t know the answer to how I can achieve this but if I focus my energies on the issue perhaps I’ll find a solution. Or maybe I can brainstorm with some friends and see what they suggest.
The 9 of Water shows the Lady of the Lake, she who gave Excalibur to King Arthur, beguiled Merlin and reared Lancelot du Lac. She is both of the water and above the water. Ellen describes her as the British Goddess of the Quest. She is a key figure in many versions of the Arthurian legend and in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Mists of Avalon the Lady of the Lake is a title born by the leading priestess who keeps the old ways at Avalon.
The Lady of the Lake may grant our heart’s desire but there is often a price that must be paid in return – a gift calls for a gift. She is mysterious and in some ways beyond our understanding because she is not human. She is fae, otherworldly and her priorities are not our own. That does not mean she is to be feared but her power must be respected. If we make a vow to her, it must be kept.
She is reversed for me which suggests that the vow I must keep is one I made to myself. She is reminding me that the essence of my heart’s desire need to water my own heart. How often we put ourselves out to help other achieve their dreams or hearts’ desires while we ignore our own. It is so easy to put aside our dreams and desires because we aren’t important. Why do we do this to ourselves? I’m not sure but I’m certainly as guilty of it as many others (especially women)
Strength reversed reinforces her message of a few days ago – inner strength can become a trap when it prevents us from admitting we need assistance or can’t do something alone. Even the wildest nature sometimes needs a harbor from the storm and might benefit from a helping hand. I know I’m strong enough to endure whatever life tosses my way but who wants to endure? I want to thrive and live my life to the fullest. Perhaps that’s only truly possibly when one can admit no matter how strong we are, everyone can use support, sympathy and guidance.
Looking at the image of Somavila on this card I was struck by how pert she looks standing with her hands on her hips behind a large bear. She is unafraid and even seem amused that we might fear the bear. She knows its heart and is confident it will not harm her. Perhaps she reminds me that knowing what is in my own heart will not harm me either.
The combined forces of these two ladies tell me that I need to work on keeping vows I made to myself. They are important and vital to maintaining my wild, succulent juiciness (yes I’m a SARK fan). I need to embrace those vows and let them help transform my life from one of endurance to one of exuberance. They also remind me that even the greatest legendary heroes and heroines had help on their journeys. There is no shame in seeking aid and guidance. The shame is not availing yourself of what is available because of a false sense of pride.
So today I started working with my new and fabulous Dark Goddess Tarot. I decided to focus on what I need to release from last year. Using Ellen’s Substance and Shadow spread from the LWB, I drew the 4 of Earth reversed (The Sphinx) as the Substance of the matter and Strength (Somavila) as the Shadow.
According to the reversed 4 of Earth, the action required is to take a look at how I define my life, how I’m limiting myself. This card also makes me recall the Greek legend of Oedipus and The Sphinx. That tale has always fascinated me because it encapsulates the concept of self-fulfilling prophecy and the futility of trying to avoid our fate. Of course I don’t subscribe to the idea that fate is our entire lives written out at the moment we’re born. I prefer to view fate or destiny as a series of stops we must make in life but how we get there is left entirely up to our choices. The Oedipus legend has always made me wonder if these events would have played out the way they did if his father hadn’t tried to prevent the prophecy.
In my case I think the 4 of Earth reversed is a reminder that what is currently going on in my life was not pre-ordained and does not need to limit me or become set in stone. I think my focus needs to be on breaking free of those expectations and patterns. I’ve rarely found it useful to follow someone else’s path. My innate knee jerk reaction makes me resistant to learning from someone else’s mistakes. In fact this was probably the bane of my mother’s existence when she was trying to teach me life lessons. So simply because one (or many) people in a similar situation handle it in one way, that doesn’t mean I need to do so. Looking at the image of the Sphinx on the 4 of Earth I was struck by the idea that instead of sitting and brooding over the current state of things in my life, I need to spread my wings and look at things from a different angle. It’s time to break out of the expected and try the unexpected.
Strength’s hidden influence is that I often find myself falling into the mindset that I’m too strong to need help. My own arrogance is one of my biggest stumbling blocks. I have really imbibed the “rugged individualist” doctrine to the point that I see it as weakness if I need help. Or at least I used to feel that way. These last few years have taught me that it’s not weak to need and seek help, it’s smart. In a situation like this, not seeking help means you burn out and your life becomes a prison. That tends to make me lash out – at my hubby, my mother-in-law, pretty much any one who stands around too long. It’s not pleasant to experience or to manifest.
In this reading, the cards have pointed out to me that I don’t need to stick with whatever script might have been written by and for others who experienced this situation or by the expectations of others in my life. It’s my life and I’m the one who decides how to live it. At the same time, I’m being foolish trying to do it all alone. That doesn’t mean I’ll change overnight but at least I might become more open to the prospect.
So many choices! Such a variety of delectable delights to experience and enjoy! The 7 of Cups offers all this and more but the reality is that some of these choices are imaginary or illusory. They seem sweet and tempting but a long-term diet of them would prove disastrous. So the first step I can take is to weed out the choices that might look appealing but are truly not. I need to be cautious about getting tempted by unhealthy options or non-beneficial possibilities. I don’t need to explore options that will ultimately only make the situation worse.
The World card reminds me of the Elton John/Bernie Taupin classic “Tiny Dancer”. Like the ballerina dancing in the sand, this woman stands amid a profusion of light candles hovering around her and dances to her own music. She doesn’t worry about being burned by the candles because she is sure of herself and confident in her moves and rhythm. She doesn’t worry that her movements aren’t perfect or pleasing to the eyes of others. She dances to please herself. She is the cosmic dancer whose movements dance the world into being.
Her reversed nature is letting me know that I need to find my own inner dance. I need to learn what movements and rhythms please me. In fact looking at this card brings Gabrielle Roth’s concept of dancing meditation or using dance to enter an ecstatic trance-like state. Maybe that is a tool I can use for both spiritual and practical purposes. Meditation, dance and other physical activities might be a way to break free of this funk in which I find myself. I sometimes find it too easy to get stuck in my head and I think this card is a reminder that if I never trust myself enough to dance the steps, how can I expect to create the reality I desire?
For additional insights I drew one more card – the Queen of Cups. This a card with whom I’ve had a long-term love/hate relationship. It took me many years to becomes comfortable with her energies because growing up she often negatively manifested in my life. Instead of love and support she displayed emotional manipulation and dangerous weakness. Over the years, especially since I have begun caring for my mother-in-law, I have grown to appreciate the Queen of Cups’ strengths and gifts. In this sense I have a feeling she is reminding me to seek counseling and guidance from those I trust; friends and relatives whose continued support and love have helped me endure this situation. She’s a reminder that I don’t have to drink tea alone. I can share it with loved ones and have a more joyous experience that might help me find the answers I seek. I don’t need to stumble through this by myself when I have friends who can help me see the patterns or suggest options I might not see.
Okay, so some of the hard work is over and now is time to take a bit of a breather and consider what I’ve gained and learned. Over the past 3 weeks we’ve been running ourselves ragged dealing with family responsibilities. Sleep deprivation had become the norm. Luckily that has finally ended (at least we hope it has).
Something about the heifer with her horns adorned with flowers suggests an offering to a sacred cow at a temple or the Biblical golden calf. It brings to mind the concept of enshrining actions or perhaps honoring actions. She might be reminding me that it’s important to honor and respect what I’ve done for the family. Caring for ailing family members may not win any recognition from the outside world but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be appreciated. It needs to be viewed as sacred. What is more sacred than caring for loved ones.
The reversed Ace of Swords suggests that part of what often prevents me from viewing my behaviors and actions in a sacred light is that I need to find a new paradigm. I need to start thinking about these things in a new light and not only viewing them as obstacles to living my life. I know there is a lesson to be learned from this experience but I also have a feeling that I won’t be able to fully grasp all the nuances until I’ve gained some distance from it.
The last few years have truly forced my brain to consider things from different perspectives and gain a new language for describing my life. I also need to think about how I can make this knowledge and experience I’m acquiring benefit others as well.
I know it has given me a much deeper, more empathetic appreciation for the experiences of women who stay at home to care for children or other family members. The sense of isolation, obligation, and lack of intellectual challenge can sometimes make me feel as though my brain cells are dying at a rapid pace. There is also the relentlessness of it all – there are no sick days, no vacations. It’s no wonder so many mothers experience post-partum depression and other psychological illnesses.
This experience has also made me appreciate my social networks and supports – family and friends who are willing to listen to my rants or allow me to vent and cry have been invaluable. I cannot stress how much they have helped me keep my sanity. It helps me realize I’m not alone. There are people out there who are willing to help in whatever way they can. They are also the ones who remind me that there is value in what I am doing and that it should be honored, appreciated and respected rather than see as a waste of time or a blockage to doing “real work”.
I think these cards are a reminder that I can only do so much by myself. I think I’m reaching the limits of my strength and fortitude. I have endured and hung in there but I’m burning out. I’m still fighting the same battle and almost nothing external has changed. However I do think I’ve finally learned some useful techniques to deal with this situation.
Instead of trying to tame things and bend them to my will, I’ve become more flexible and fluid but I still prefer a slightly more organized, orderly and structured life. I like clear boundaries and they don’t exist in this situation.
The 6 of Cups points out that on one level I’m still seeing things through the eyes of the past, of memories & nostalgia. My mother-in-law will never again be the woman she was when I first met her. I have to stop reacting to her as though she is that woman. On another level it’s pointing out that our roles have been reversed. She has become the child in this relationship and we’ve become the parent. That is a difficult transition to navigate – for all of us.
As The Eagles once sang “take it easy, take it easy, don’t let the sound of your own wheels drive you crazy”. That’s what I thought of seeing this card today. The Dance of Life’s 4 of Health shows someone wrapped in a red shroud standing alone in a desolate, barren, lunar-looking landscape. Barbed wire separates us from this figure. the keyword for this card is “emotional burdens”. The is a sense of isolation and despair about this figure. She is cut off from everyone who might be able to help her. Is this by choice? What experiences have caused her to imprison herself in such a way?
I don’t know about this shrouded figure, but I know in my cast it’s a combination of things. On the one hand are concrete family issues that cannot be changed at this time. I am the primary caregiver for an ailing mother-in-law. By definition, that isolates. My life revolves around her needs and her timetable. I cannot make definite plans because they may change at a moments notice due to a family crisis. In many ways it’s like having young children except she will never improve or get better. This is basically a death watch and all I can do is make sure she’s well-taken care of, comfortable and aware that she is loved for the time remaining to her. It may be years (she’s in very good physical condition) or months but that’s out of my control.
On another level this card is also referring to the self-imposed isolation I’ve managed to create. I have friends and loved ones out there but I hesitate to reach out to them. They all have their own problems and I don’t want to burden them with mine. It’s not about being a ‘rugged individualist”, it’s about the fact that they’ve all got their own issues to handle. Aside from that, there is also the fact that when I’m dealing with weight/health issues I sometimes feel anti-social. It’s not that I don’t want to be around others, simply that I feel as though I shouldn’t subject other to my grotesque appearance. (Okay, in the interest of full disclosure I must admit I don’t think I’m grotesque – fat maybe but not grotesque). It’s as though I just don’t want to talk about my issues anymore so I prefer to just avoid people and then I don’t have to think about them.
The image on the Witches’ 4 of Swords is different than the traditional one associated with this card. Instead we see a woman standing near a brick wall (perhaps the side of a castle) with 3 swords resting against the wall, a 4th in her right hand and a bunch of twigs in her left. Her expression is rather odd, as though she’s been caught doing something she should be doing. Has she collected these swords after a battle and now she is honoring the fallen? Did she gather them from fallen foes to gloat over the victory? Or perhaps she’s stolen them so that the soldiers are forced to take it easy and relax for a day. I’m not sure but to me this card is reminding me that I need to pace myself. I do need to plan and prioritize and get my head screwed on right but that doesn’t mean I can’t take some time to relax and have fun too.
Because finances are very tight right now, I’ve been limiting my visits with friends to a bare minimum. I keep running a cost/benefit analysis in my head and if it seems that a get-together will be too expensive, then I cry off. However I also need to consider the benefits to my spirit and emotions. Humans are social animals, even though of us with occasional introvert streaks. I do need to see friends. Companionship and emotional support needs to be as important as finances. So I’ll need to find a way to keep those connections open even if I can’t be in the same room with the person.