This is the second time I’ve drawn this card this week. I guess I need to listen to its message more closely. Looking at the two “ghetto smurfs” (I love this phrase from the Gone in 60 Seconds movie) on this card the one thing that strikes me is that they’re together but not together. They aren’t touching each other. The girl has her arms wrapped around herself and the guy, with his foot wrapped in a bandage, is reading what appears to be an arrest warrant. A 40-ounce bottle rests in the snow alone with other pieces of litter. The girl seems to be glancing hopefully at a closed door nearby while the guy seems wrapped up in himself. There is a loneliness and sadness to this card that goes beyond their apparent poverty. They seem so isolated and disconnected from their world and from each other. All one would need to do is reach and touch the other and offer comfort but their body language suggests that not going to happen.
It seems that as a society we are more disconnected and isolated. Although we have perpetual access to each other via cell phones, text messaging and online social media sites, we rarely connect on a physical and human level. How many people have hundreds of Facebook friends and yet would consider themselves lonely? How many times do we yearn for a simple hug or comforting touch on the arm and instead we are offered a plethora of platitudes on Facebook? I think this card serves as a reminder that all we really need to do is reach out and touch somebody’s hand (to quote the song).
I’ve recently found myself pondering this tendency in myself. Over the years I’ve lost contact with many friends. Some of this is simply the natural process we often go through as we grow and change, realizing we no longer share interests. Some of if is because I feel as though I no longer have anything to offer in a relationship. My world is so narrow that all I have to talk about is caring for the in-laws (okay, that’s a bit of an overstatement but not much). I also have a tendency to feel as though I’m interrupted people’s lives when I call them. I think I need to make more of an effort to keep connected with friends and loved ones. If they can’t talk to me then I have to hope they’ll feel comfortable enough to let me know. Of course this says more about me than anything else.
On another level I think the reversed nature of this card is telling me that even though finances are tight and we are in a physically restrictive environment (we just don’t have the freedom to come and goes as we’d like), hubby and I do have each other. We do support each other. We try to give each other much needed breaks and work through our frustrations. It’s not easy but we manage. We may not be in the best shape financially but at least we are there for each other and care for each other. Our shared experiences, even the miserable ones, have created a strong, enduring bond. That’s the important thing right now.
The woman on the 6 of Cups is up to her breasts in dark blue water. She seems calm and at ease. She is obviously there by choice and in no danger of drowning. Flowers float atop the water all around her. She seems contemplative as though pondering deep issues.
The 4 of Wands shows a quartet of rather rag-tag musicians. They seem to be engaged in an impromptu jam sessions for flute and violin. I get a sense of untamed, enthusiasm. They are channeling their creativity and in the process drawing us into this magical energy.
I was struck by two things as I looked at these cards. The first is that the reversed 6 of Cups is reminding me not to get overwhelmed by the past; don’t let the negative emotions still lingering drown my dreams. I need to gain some distance, the ability to view them as learning experiences but not let them still hurt me. I need to be able to keep my head above the water and not feel like the water will soon be over my head. What’s past is past and it’s time to move forward.
The 4 of Wands reminds me that I need to improve my networking skills. The 4 musicians remind me that playing with others is always more fun than playing alone. It’s a great way to improve my skills, trade ideas and build a support network. In the past I’ve found it difficult to network. It often required me to act more outgoing than I felt at the time. I do love attending events such as Readers Studio but sometimes in smaller venues I have a hard time feeling comfortable.
My friend E-M has been hosting a gathering of like minded women at her house every few months. The women share ideas, create vision boards and things like that. They support each other and apparently have a lot of laughs. I’ve manage to miss them so far. Perhaps this is telling me that I need to cut it out and find ways to create this kind of energy for myself.
I think the difficulty is in letting my guard down and trusting. In the past when I’ve created what I thought were support networks with friends (or at least friendly colleagues), I’ve learned that when the chips were down I could not count on them. That hurt more than anything else about my firing from my last job. I felt abandoned and as though once my usefulness to these folks ended so did our network. That left a bad taste in my mouth. I can use that experience as a lesson and find ways to be cautious without being cut off completely. Otherwise I’m making things more difficult for myself than they need to be.
When I read Ellen’s interpretations for these two cards in her companion book, two sentences jumped out at me. For the 9 of Disks Ellen speaks of community and sharing. She points out the the antidote to isolation is sharing and that struck me. I’ve been feeling so isolated and detached lately and I’ve also been avoiding friends and group activity. How can I expect to feel like part of a community and overcome this sense of isolation if I withdraw? It’s counter-intuitive. For so long I’ve felt like the outsider watching through a window as others embrace and share experiences. Part of that is due to my childhood – my branch of the family was something of an embarrassment to the rest so we often weren’t invited to family events. This gave me the sense that every other branch of the family was close. With age sometimes comes wisdom and enlightenment. In the last few years I’ve had some conversations with cousins that made me realize my belief was an illusion. Some of them might have been closer to others but that was due to being of a similar age with similar interests. Unfortunately that sense of otherness and outsider status is still in my bones.
The 5 of Wands has that bright, fiery, dancing star at it’s center. Ellen’s descriptive phrase for this card shouts “Look at me. I’ve got something to say!” Oh brother do I feel like that right now. For Simpsons fans, I feel like Lisa when the teachers go on strike. She stands in the kitchen near Marge begging “Rate me, evaluate and rank me. I’m ever so smart.” That’s how I feel now that I’m no longer in the workforce or attending classes. I feel as though I have no external validation or recognition. One way to lessen that sense is by participating in group activities and becoming part of a community of folks with similar interests.
Okay so I get it – the way to maintain my momentum is to find support groups or special interest groups that will nourish my spirit and provide me with folks of a like mind with whom to share ideas and trade experiences. If I don’t have some sort of support group I’ll eventually run out of steam and become distracted. so for my own benefit and healing, I need to stop trying to do things alone. This message has been coming through loud and clear over the past few weeks. Now I need to actually listen and do something about it.
The first thought that struck me looking at the black pig on the Beast of Disks I heard the phrase “the Cutty Black Sow” in my head. I wasn’t sure what that meant so I looked it up. The primary reference is to an old Tales from the Darkside episode. There are also some indications that it was a mythical creature used to scare children in Wales on Halloween. I’m sure it has its roots in older legends of wild boars and dangerous pigs but the majority of references using this specific term refer back to the old TV show. And how appropriate to draw this image on the night of a full moon. I seems symbolic – as though I’m giving birth to new dreams.
Looking at the Shadow of Swords the phrase “shattered self” drifted through my mind. This was a concept I learned about in psychology class. It occurs when someone who has experienced a traumatic experience manages to cope for many years but the psyche eventually shatters because the trauma was never healed. I also get a sense of someone who has become crystallized in an effort to separate from the pain and isolate the emotions. That is one way to survive and make it through traumatic experiences but eventually it can cause a split from one’s emotional nature that results in deeper trauma. It reminds me a bit of what Voldemort must do to his soul in the creation of Horcruxes. Eventually what is left is barely human.
So with these two rather bleak images in my head, what do I think these cards are telling me? That I need to allow myself to devour and destroy those areas in my life that are unhealthy and no longer useful so that I can give birth to new possibilities. Yes, the Cutty Black Sow devours what she catches but sows are also quite prolific breeders. Sows may eat almost anything including their young but they also produce litters larger than most mammals. The potential to manifest something amazing is unlimited. The Shadow of Swords is reminding me that I have to stop living in my head. I need to interact with people and start picking away at those shards of crystal forming on my skin.
It’s ironic that as I was reading The Dark Goddess: Dancing with the Shadow by Marcia Starck and Gynne Stern I connected with something Gynne wrote about her experience meeting Inanna. She describes how she felt more of a connection to Erishkigel because she always saw herself as an outsider. She writes about avoiding participating in group activities and then regretting it because she ends up creating the very situation she dreads.
How many times have I done this very thing? I talk myself out of participating in group activities unless I know all the participants. Then I have regrets because it sounds like everyone had a wonderful time. That is the Shadow of Swords manifesting itself. It keeps me isolated and safe behind crystal walls. I need to shatter those crystal walls and allow myself to wallow in every experience like the black sow. Sounds a little gross but maybe I’ll learn more that way than by thinking everything through to the point that I’m mentally paralyzed.
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”.
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.
I departed Readers’ Studio a little over 12 hours ago and I am still processing all the wonderful information, experiences and moments I enjoyed.
There are lots of other blogs out there that have detailed the specifics of each day’s events. So instead of focusing on that, I’ll share some of my highlights from Readers Studio 2013 (the 11th such even hosted by The Tarot School).
“A-ha moments” ranging from realizing that one of my biggest stumbling blocks to become a successful professional Tarot reader is that I don’t see myself as a successful, professional Tarot reader
Laughing until my sides hurt at various moments (usually accompanied by my companion in crime Ellen-Mary aka Coneflower Tarot. I believe we managed to corrupt quite a few intrepid souls at this Readers’ Studio and thus have swelled the ranks of the Bad Girls’ Club.
Managing to swap decks and bags in a way that allowed me to acquire two new decks that I wanted and 3 new bags
Winning a print of Strength from Rachel Paul’s Dark Carnival Tarot (and of course I then had to have a copy of the deck – weird appealing and darkly quirky)
Rachel Pollack, who is a generous, warm and wonderful human being and the creator of amazingly powerful necklaces.
Seeing sneak peaks of some upcoming Llewellyn releases including the brilliant Illuminati, the intriguing So Below and the eye-popping Tarot 3-D thanks to the beauteous and generous Barbara Moore.
Wonderful giggly midnight girl chats with my favorite Readers’ Studio roommate – Sasha Graham.
All of the amazing instructors, our guides to some previously unexplored realms.
Those in-between moments when sharing ideas and experiences with other readers lead to profound and life-altering epiphanies. These moments helped me find what might prove to be a new niche I can explores as a professional reader, techniques I hadn’t tried before and new decks that must now be added to the collection.
The magical, powerful and transformative energy raised when that many people of like minds come together to change the world for the better.
There are many more highlights that I’m sure I’m neglecting right now but the bottom line is that I came away from Readers’ Studio feeling energized, enthusiastic and eager to restart my Tarot practice. That is why I always look forward to Readers’ Studio every year – it allows me to Sharpen my Saw (to borrow an idea from Stephen Covey)
I was browsing television channels today and saw a scene in a movie the perfectly illustrated the energy of The Lovers card (at least for me). In a movie called Into the Blue (which I’ve never seen and probably never will watch in full). In this scene, Jessica Alba is speaking to her boyfriend (Paul Walker) who has just agreed to deep sea dive to retrieve cocaine for some drug lord. Scott Caan and another character are on the boat waiting for him while Jessica Alba is chastising him, saying that a few days before he had too much integrity to work for another scuba company and now he’s working for a drug lord. She walks away.
He rushes after her and tries to convince her that it’s one time and then they’ll be able to do what they want. She looks at him sadly and tells him it’s already too late before walking away. Paul Walker stands on the pier watching Jessica Alba walk away, clearly torn between following her (and thus his higher self) or returning to the boat with his friends and following his lower self.
That moment encapsulated the energy of The Lovers card for me – a choice between lover and friends, between our noblest, highest self and our lowest self, between a connection with the Divine or the mundane.
My initial reaction to these cards is that my message from the Tarot is that I need to spend some time finding ways to reconnect with that side of me that still has a child-like sense of whimsy and fun. Sometimes it is so easy to get bogged down in the day to day responsibilities and obligations in life that I lose sight of the simple joys such as seeing a bear walking across my backyard at 2AM (which happened a little over a week ago), and watching the leaves change color and fall. Even reconnecting with friends brings a lightness and joy to my heart that I didn’t realize I was missing.
Last week I was able to spend two days reconnecting with friends. We had wonderful times (well I had wonderful times – I can’t vouch for what they felt). I got to see a rather quirky, short play with one and had dinner at a fabulously funky cafe in the East Village (one of the last lingering remnants of what the East Village used to be before gentrification struck). One day I met a friend for lunch at Le Pain Quotidien – a place which always makes me feel marvelously continental.
I also visited some of the few brick & mortar bookstores in the area. They are dying breed and I want to try to keep them open as long as possible. I always love The Strand – both for the challenge of finding books there and because I stumble across books I have never heard of before. I stopped at Barnes & Noble on Union Square but it has become obvious that I am no longer their target demographic. It seems as though their Nook is gaining space and their children’s section has been expanded but their cookbook section is smaller and I couldn’t bear to visit their Pagan/New Age section. That has been depressingly limited for some time. When I realized the entire second floor is being transformed into Kiddie Land I was both happy and horrified. I think it’s wonderful that B&N are trying to attract children while they are young (presumably with the hope that they will stay customers as adults) but why the second floor? You can’t avoid passing it who wants to hear hoards of screaming kids while looking at books (and trust me – no matter how much they are told to quiet down, kids get restless and fidgety after a while). It seems to me that putting the children’s section on the top floor – where they won’t negatively impact other patrons, makes more sense. Then again I realize I’m becoming more curmudgeonly as I get older.
Anyway, I think my message is that I need to stop and watch the bears sometimes. I need to have fun, play like a child and let myself laugh, remember and smile. There are days when that’s not such as easy thing to do but those are probably the days when it’s the most important.
Looking at the two images on these cards I was struck by the idea that no one cares, no one is watching out for me or seeking to help me. The female figure on the Deviant Moon card (described as a fallen woman in the LWB) is straggling through the streets in search of succor and it seems she can find it at the church. However that one big eye peering out at her is unnerving and seems to be watching her struggles and judging her. So the question becomes – will she be allowed into the sanctuary of the church or condemned for her lifestyle and turned away? There is often help available but when we ask for it we are asked a series of questions and judged as to our worthiness to receive aid. It is discouraging and demoralizing to go through this process and be denied. How many people in the US right now are in need of assistance but cannot receive it because they don’t meet the criteria?
On the Dark Grimoire 5 of Pentacles, a lone man sites in an alley watching cloaked and hooded figures parade by him. At his side is a bottle – could it be alcohol? He has the appearance of a man haunted by his dreams or perhaps his nightmares. Are these hooded figures searching for him? Perhaps he was expected to participate in these rites but his fears and conscience would not let him. Or perhaps this is the first time he has been made aware of this group and their practices – could they hold the answers he seeks? Although there is something vaguely repellant and frightening about these figures, it does not necessarily follow that they are evil. Or maybe he is just trying to convince himself of this because he so desperately wants what they seem to offer. How often have we ignored our better judgment, not listened to our inner voice because it was telling us not to do something which we truly desired. In retrospect we often come to regret our impulsiveness and wish we had heeded our inner wisdom but it is often too little too late.
Combined these cards present a portrait of a lonely figure who is seeking answers, the way, assistance or simply shelter from the cold. Sometimes we are afraid to ask for the aid we need, other times we do ask and are denied or judged wanting and do not meet the standards imposed by those providing the aid. Looking at them reinforces my sense of being alone and helpless in an uncaring universe. However I refuse to dwell on these feelings. There are people who care and who will help if they can. Unfortunately bureaucracies are often useless in times like this (for example, how is FEMA’s arranging loans for flood victims to have lost everything actually helpful?) but where bureaucracies fail, human kindness and generosity often makes up for the lack. Maybe that is what I need to see today – there is assistance out there but I need to seek it from individuals and small good Samaritan organizations rather than NPOs and government agencies. There is often assistance, succor and support available if we look in the right places.