The one year anniversary of my husband’s death is next week. On one hand, I can’t believe it’s been a year. On the other, hand it feels like he’s been gone far longer than that. My husband and I were together for 38 years when he died and it was very challenging learning how to deal with things on my own. I didn’t realize how many things he took care of for the both of us. I’m sure it would have been the same situation if I had died and he lived because we tended to divide up our responsibilities that way. There’s something both terrifying and reassuring about the fact that I’m able to handle a lot of this without John even if I wish I didn’t have to.
April 1, 1986 is the day John and I went down to City Hall in New York and applied for our marriage license. 36 years ago – seems like such a long time ago and yet I remember it like it was yesterday. In honor of this anniversary I pulled two cards from my Tarot deck while asking John for a message. This was his response
Seeing these cards I burst into tears because they are truly both such John energies, especially as they pertained to the way he cared for in about me. The Chariot suits John for many reasons: it’s his birth card; he was a car guy who loved tinkering with his vehicles; and he refused to let anyone else tell him what to do. He steered the course of his life, for better and worse. With this card John is reminding me that I need to be sure to take up the reins and guide my life going forward. I can certainly seeks advice and guidance from others, but I’m the charioteer now.
The 9 of Pentacles is John’s way of reminding me he always wanted to be sure I would be in a good financial place if anything happened to him. He has definitely done this. In fact, he could have retired but he continued to work. He wanted to be sure there would be enough in his pension to take care of me if something happened to him. Ironically that is what happened. He is visually showing me that he wants me to enjoy what I have and the time I have left. He wants me to be happy and healthy and take care of myself. I think the best way to honor John’s memory is to do that
So, since my husband died I find myself trying to speak with him every night before I fall asleep. I ask him to give me some kind of sign that he’s still with me in some way and I’ve never gotten one. It frustrated me because I believe in the afterlife and in the soul traveling to the Otherworld after death; and I felt like I was being cheated. I was rather angry about it. It was bad enough that he died on me but now I had no connection, no sense that he was still there at all. Until the other night.
I dreamed I was in my house, not a house I have ever actually owned but I knew it was my house. I also knew that my husband was there. I’m not sure how I knew this because I couldn’t see or hear him, but I was sure he was there. I was getting ready for something but I don’t know what. Then I heard footsteps walking through the house and knew that it was John coming my way. He finally stood in the doorway where I could see him. I took one look at him and turned away towards the wall screaming in horror. I was so terrified that I woke myself up and began sobbing. The figure I saw standing in the doorway bore almost no resemblance to my husband and in fact reminded me more of a Frankenstein type monster. I was shaken by this dream for days afterwards.
So, I processed this dream the way I process anything that bothers me – I did a tarot reading. Using Sasha Graham’s Haunted House Tarot, I pulled 3 cards:
What is the dream telling me? Knight of Wands Rx
Why did my husband appear that way? The Wheel of Fortune Rx
What terrified me? Justice
After looking at these cards, this is my interpretation of this reading. The first sentence that popped in my head upon seeing the reversed Knight of Wands is from the original Planet of the Apes movie. Dr. Zaius warns Taylor to be careful what he looks for because he might not like what he finds. I think that’s what this card is showing me. I’m trying to reach out beyond the veil for some type of reassurance from my husband but now might not be the time for that. What I discover might be more disturbing than I’m ready to handle. I have no idea how time flows in the afterlife or how a human soul processes transitioning to that level. Perhaps the living aren’t supposed to know these things or at least I’m not supposed to at this time.
The reversed Wheel of Fortune tells me that John appeared the way he did because he’s not finished transitioning yet. He hasn’t fully adapted to his new reality and so he looks like an unfinished science experiment. At the same time I can’t help but feel touched and reassured that despite this he still reached out to reassure me because he always tried to do that.
Justice was a little trickier for me to interpret. It wasn’t until I looked at the actual image on the card that a connection was made. The dream terrified me because if I had been able to fully connect to my deceased husband I think it would have thrown me off balance; so off balance that there would have been psychological and physical health repercussions. The female figure in the forefront of the Justice card looks like an old fashioned nurse. This makes me think that as things are right now my health would be endangered and that’s what terrified me. My soul was protecting itself.
When I first woke up from the stream I was so upset and disturbed. It really shook me. However, upon further reflection it has calmed me and helped me move forward in my grieving process. I realize now it’s not that my husband doesn’t want to connect with me; it’s just not advisable right now. Just knowing that he was willing to make the attempt, even if it wasn’t ultimately in either of our best interests, is reassuring and reminds me how much he loved me. I know now that I will reconnect with him someday; if not in this life then in the next. That makes me feel lighter.
Last night I attended a Tarot Meetup at the fabulous Crystals of Quartz store here in Greenwood Lake. These monthly meetups are led usually by Meghan and Jem but this month Syd, who owns the store, was the co-facilitator. It was a lively Meetup filled with a very diverse group of women ranging from two very mature and insightful young ladies of 9 and 13, to us more allegedly mature types in our 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and eternal.
We did a few different spreads and got some interesting messages. The one I’m sharing and focusing on here is a new moon spread exploring “What is the new moon teaching me?” Using Sasha Graham’s wonderful Haunted House Tarot, this was my answer: 3 of Cups Rx, Ace of Wands Rx & King of Wands Rx
The first thing I noticed is that everything is reversed which suggests to me that these are all areas which I haven’t fully manifested yet. The second thing is that two of the cards are wands suggesting my inner fire has been dampened, perhaps by the water the figure in the 3 of Cups is submerged beneath (my grief). I also think what I’m learning is how to shift this current circumstance so that I can activate the energies of these cards.
The 3 of Cups Rx reminds me that even if I can’t embrace it right now, I do have friends ready, willing and able to provide emotional support for me as I process my new status in life. The Ace of Wands reminds me that no matter how much I might wish to douse my own candle (in a vague, apathetic way) that’s not who I am. That’s really not who I want to be and that’s not who my John would want me to be. I think the King of Wands shows me what lies in wait once I can activate the candle shown in the Ace. The woman in his arms is Queen Debbie who was part of the ruling couple. Now she is morphing into a King in her own right; a Debbie who is master of her own fate and the final authority in her own life.
Quite honestly this felt very profound for me and it’s something I think is going to take me awhile to fully process. I’m both terrified and energized by the possibilities and potential that awaits as I move forward.
The root of the matter, what you need to do to keep both your feet on the ground? 5 of Swords
Career, attitudes about work – are you following your heart’s desire or just surviving? Page of Swords Rx
Finances, attitudes about money – Money is energy; is your energy blocked or does it flow freely? Queen of Swords Rx
Connections and sharing – how do you let your guard down to share with others? The Star
Health & healing; how do you nurture & care for yourself? The Sun
First harvest you have planted, the garden and the seeds of your life – What are you reaping for yourself based on your attitudes and behaviors? What are you harvesting? 8 of Pentacles
Fruition achievements maturation fulfillment satisfaction success – what are you thankful for? Life Renewed (Judgement)
The figure on the Five of Swords is fierce and determined. She looks like she’s going into battle convinced of the rightness of her cause and that others will follow her. In the context of this reading, I think she reflects that fighting for our truth, fighting for what we believe in, fighting for our ideals can help keep us grounded. The world is a very scary place right now and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by what’s going on. I think the Five of Swords shows that defending what we believe in gives us purpose. The unfortunate flip side to this is that those who disagree with us will be equally vehement in defending their beliefs and ideals. Sometimes, that’s the way it goes.
The reverse Page of Swords suggested right now might be a time to reassess what you’re doing on a professional level. Something isn’t sitting right for you at the moment. Perhaps you just don’t believe in the value of your job the way you once did. You’ve lost your sense of purpose. In the context of this spread it suggests that you’re letting the logical path (staying in a job you may no longer be passionate about because it’s a secure income) outweigh your desire to feel committed to your work; to feel that it has meaning and value.
The reverse Queen of Swords shows that right now your energy is blocked, especially as it pertains to finances. If we connect this to the Page of Swords reversed, perhaps this Queen is reflecting that you’re blocked because, although you’re getting paid, your current job not nurturing your inner self; it’s not allowing you to live up to your ideals and your beliefs. If that is one of your core values, then this might be an area that you address so all that blocked energy can be freed.
The Star reflects the hopefulness and trust we might need to bring to connecting with others. Let’s face it any relationship requires a certain amount of faith because we open ourselves up to others as reflected by the childlike figure on this card. That also leaves us vulnerable to being hurt and betrayed. What The Star shows us is that even if this is the case, hope will remain as a light in the darkness to guide us through it. As many public service announcements remind LGBTQ+ youth, it will get better. In this reading, I think The Star reminds us that if we close ourselves off to meeting new people, to exploring relationships with those that seem unfamiliar or have different viewpoints, we risk becoming isolated and rigid.
This was an interesting card in this position. The Sun is usually symbolic of celebrating ourselves and embracing our successes but in this case it’s reversed. I think that’s telling us that we can’t celebrate ourselves and embrace our achievements until we can value ourselves. Perhaps this ties in with the reversed Page and Queen in terms of one’s attitude towards their career and money. If someone sticks to a job they detest in order to maintain a secure income it might impact their self-esteem and sense of self; cause untold levels of stress that negatively impact one’s health. It’s hard to celebrate yourself and acknowledge achievements if these things have no value to you because they’re in a field that you no longer find fulfilling. So maybe the key to unblocking this energy is free the stuck energy reflected in positions 2 and 3.
The 8 of Pentacles is a reminder that we get out of this life what we put into it. If we continue forcing ourselves to pursue a path that no longer brings a satisfaction it’s going to impact our relationships, our health our sense of self. I love the energy reflected in this card because it seems a perfect melding of Earth and fire; of the physical and the energetic; of money and career. In order to get to this place perhaps we need to look at the other blocked areas and get them unstuck.
Life Renewed reminds us that there is a way out of the darkness. We can emerge from all this blocked energy filled with dissatisfaction and self doubt by changing our mindset. We need to reassess and reevaluate what we’re doing and see if it’s providing the benefit we desired. We don’t always have to work at a job that is our hearts desire as long as it fulfills a need and only you can decide what that need truly is. The important thing is to recognize whether you’re feeling trapped by the situation and if so what can you do to change it because only you can lead yourself out of the shadows and into the light.
The three Swords cards at the core of this reading suggest that healing this situation is going to depend upon changing our perspective and mindset. We need to communicate more effectively with ourselves and listen to our inner voice. We might also find it useful to communicate more effectively with others in our lives so they understand our thoughts about a situation and whether we are truly satisfied and fulfilled. And if not, what they can do, if anything, to help us change it. It’s useful to remember that others in our lives cannot read our minds. If we don’t tell them what we’re thinking, we can’t become upset when they don’t fulfill our needs.
This card was actually drawn on January 23rd but it took me a couple of days to process it. I see it as the flip side to The Devil card that I drew on the 22nd and the reading I did in my previous post.
Having The Star appear so closely after The Devil shows that hope and healing are still possible even after such a harrowing experience. We can still find a light in the darkness no matter how how intense and overwhelming that Darkness might seem.
So, in exploring The Star’s message I pulled chords to answer the following questions:
How can we reinforce the thread of Hope offered in The Star? 2 of Cups Rx
What will heal the wounds left by The Devil? Temperance
How can we shine brightly again? 6 of Cups
What is the bright side to be found in this experience? The Magician Rx
What struck me about the reverse 2 of cups is that the image digests one way to re-enforce The Hope and healing shown in the store is by sharing our love and emotions, which we might usually keep between close friends and family or romantic partners, with others. We need to learn to embrace those that might be different and love them anyway. I may no longer practice Catholicism but the energy of this car reminds me very much of Jesus’s teachings to love one another as we would want to be loved; to turn the other cheek and forgive those who have hurt us. Such a simple but powerful message and one that I think will ultimately serve us all in the long run.
Temperance speaks of being forged into a stronger people. Using our differences as strength instead of a method to divide us. if we can move past the need to assign blame we can instead work to respect each other’s opinions and appreciate what we eat bring to the table two for joy nation into a place stronger, better and healthier than it has been in the past. It will not be an easy process and will require a lot of pounding out issues, smoothing disagreements and cooling tempers but if we truly wish it to be it can be done.
The 6 of Cups reminds us that we can shine brightly by growing up and accepting that the past is the past. We can’t allow nostalgic tunnel vision to blind us to the fact that things are different now and we need to adjust. The good old days were probably not as good as we remember and we can make a future that will be brighter as a result of facing that reality. We can also look at who we once were and try to become the person that our younger, more idealistic, self hoped and thought we would be. Or more simply put, be the person your dog thinks you are. Sometimes we let reality beat us down and loose sight of our better, higher selves. If this experience has taught us nothing else, it’s shown us how important it is to hold onto that side of our nature rather than wallowing in our most venal petty nature.
And finally we have The Magician Rx. I can’t think of a clearer way to show that the bright side we can find in this experience is to not submit ourselves to the will of others. Even if we agree with the beliefs and dictates of the people in power, that doesn’t mean we should unquestioningly follow their lead. The unfortunate truth is that people in positions of authority can quite easily abuse it. If we do not challenge them and hold them accountable, we might as well be cult members or living in a dictatorship. It has been said by wiser minds than mine that “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” and I think that’s the message The Magician Rx offers us. We can’t rest on our laurels and trust those in positions of authority to always have our best interests at heart. We can’t let them drive things forward without demanding accountability and explanations. We can’t be mindless sheep or we risk losing everything we claim to value.
One of the visual themes that struck me in all of these cards is the transferring of energy. Whether it is energy coming from the universe to us, from us to others, or from us to the universe, each card seems to show this exchange in one form or another. To me, this represents the beauty and simplicity of “as above so below” and “as below so above”. We reap what we sow. The wolf we feed is the one that grows larger. These are warnings we have heard at various points which I think are very appropriate right now. if we want to heal as a nation then that’s where we need to focus on energy not on continuing to demonise or villainize one side over the other. This doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t be called to account for the wrongs they have perpetrated simply that we need to focus as much or more energy on moving forward and healing. I guess at it’s core, that’s what The Star offers us – the chance to move beyond The Devil’s traps and temptations towards healing and light.
“Only you can truly free yourself from this Nightmare. Balance needs to be found and a way to tread carefully between the different interests that must be served. At the end of the day, changes may occur but Justice will probably not be served.”
Okay, clearly my ancestors are trying to shake me from some bad habits which they also possessed.
Their message “Life is filled with give and take; with giving aid and receiving it. Being willing to accept help is not a sign of weakness. It shows you’re mature and self-aware enough to realize you can’t do it alone. It’s a sign that you are healing and able to be vulnerable enough to risk rejection. It also shows that you retain hope of gaining more autonomy and freedom. The truth is people are often willing to help if you’re able to ask. So stop being so stubborn!”
So, today while drawing my two cards I asked where I need to focus my energy; what needs my attention? I drew the Ace of Wands Rx and 2 of Wands Rx. I immediately thought of creative energy being stifled; of incomplete, unfulfilled projects. Then, while browsing through Christine Jette’s Tarot for the Healing Heart I read a passage focusing on clearing blockages and connecting with our divine spark in order to facilitate healing and felt like a lightning bolt struck me. This was my message!
It’s time to clear away all those damned blockages I’ve allowed to build up that prevent me from fully healing. It’s time to embrace that divine spark and re-experience the magic and wonder all around me. So I’m going to start working my way through this book and see where it leads. I have a feeling it will be an enlightening journey!
I’ve been reading Alice Miller’s “The Body Never Lies” I felt it resonate within me. In the book, Miller addresses the damage abusive parenting can cause in our lives. Specifically, she connects diseases in adulthood, ranging from asthma to mental illness, to harsh, cruel parenting styles. Miller uses the histories of well-known writers to support her theories and, while I think she makes some overly enthusiastic leaps of logic, her premise rings true.
One of the points Miller makes that I find intriguing is that we block these abuses from our memories because adherence to the 4th Commandment (honor thy father and mother) is so prevalent in our society that we don’t even realize its impact. We can’t reconcile our need to honor our parents with the realities of the abuses we experience and this manifests in physical and mental ailments. Our souls and psyches are broken on the wheel of obedience to our parents’ wills and societal demands that we honor our abusers.
I know in my own life I was frequently told not to speak ill of my parents; that I didn’t’ understand what they had gone through. Depending upon my age and attitude at the time I might ignore the comments or I might choose to unleash a rage-filled diatribe against the offender, explaining to him or her that they were talking out their ass. In some respects I consider myself blessed because I seem to lack that personality trait that requires me to absolve my parents of their sins against me. I may have learned to forgive my parents but it doesn’t ameliorate the abuses to which they subjected me. However, my goal here is not to revisit these abuses or even to explore Miller’s theories. Instead, I want to use Tarot to explore my own responses to this childhood abuse and how I can heal from it.
So my question is: How have childhood traumas impacted me: Physically? Dancer of Money & the Material World Emotionally? Muse of Self Psychologically? Sage of Money & the Material World Rx How can I move forward and heal this damage? Muse of Money & the Material World Rx
Looking at these cards the initial message I receive is that as a result of my childhood experiences I have a chip on my shoulders; always struggling not to lose myself beneath the weight of those experiences. I can also be emotionally closed off and protective of my heart. At the same time, I am willing to keep struggling uphill and I’m comfortable exploring those dark places within myself; to explore my shadow side. I’ve also put a lot of time and effort into mastering and exploring my psyche so the damage has been exposed, explored and expunged.
Moving forward, I think the key to dealing with this is to remember that it is in the past, it can’t hurt me anymore. I know how to balance the anger and betrayal I feel towards my parents because of those traumas against the love I genuinely do bear them. I can understand some of what damaged them and lead to this abuse but that doesn’t exonerate them. I think the primary difference between my experience and those Alice Miller writes about is that I never accepted it was okay. I never forgot or tried to downplay those memories. I was also fortunate enough to have a husband who bore witness and reinforced that I had every right to hate my parents for what they did to me. So, although I am certainly damaged by my childhood trauma I have also healed and learned to move forward.
The Star is often interpreted as a card of hope, of darkness waning and returning light, of healing and positivity. When we consider how stars can light the darkest sky and bring a sense of wonder and curiosity, we can see those traits reflected in this card.
It’s interesting that three of the four cards I chose have an image of a female pouring fluid from a pitcher into a body of water. The fourth Star card offers a completely different image of a spider in a web dappled with stars. The images offer a sense of healing waters pouring into the pool; blessed fluid that can offer healing to all those who choose to drink. The spider in the web on the Transformational Tarot Star suggests that we should be tenacious and keep weaving our destiny even when things seem dark because hope is woven into the warp and weft of our lives. Even when it’s web has been destroyed, a spider will often rebuild it creating a beautiful work of art. There is strength and beauty in these images. They remind me of a mother sacrificing it all to continue nourishing and healing her children.
Despite the positive messages I can see in these Star cards, I can also see the negative. How long should someone pour their heart and soul into caring for others? How many times can we rebuild what has been destroyed by careless, thoughtless actions? When is enough enough? Of course, that is the beauty of Tarot cards, they can comfortable embody both these meanings as well as others and force us to face these issues head-on.
The rather bizarre image on the Deviant Moon Star card reminds me that even the most oddball, unfamiliar and even frightening creatures have the capacity to nurture and care for loved ones. It shows me that sometimes what is a monster to one person is another’s maternal figure. The spider on the Transformational Star card brings to mind Charlotte, the spider in Charlotte’s Web. She went out of her way to help and protect Wilbur the pig and in the end sacrifices her own life so that her children will thrive. She reminds us that this is the cycle of life and no matter how much we might wish it otherwise, everything needs to, and should, die. Perhaps the very transitory, fragile nature of a spider’s web and life is what makes them so beautiful.
The RWS and Golden Star cards show a nude woman pouring out healing waters. To me, they speak of needing to strip away all our illusions and delusions, rid ourselves of the trappings of “success”, the distractions with which we surround ourselves in order to avoid facing some truths. If we truly wish to heal, the Star shows us that we need to bare our souls and face the reality of who we are. It reminds me of Inanna’s journey into the underworld. She emerges stronger and with a deeper understanding of things but the process was humiliating and painful. The Star reminds me that this process will be beneficial and healing but no walk in the park.
Even though they use different imagery and I see different messages in them, these Star cards complement each other and add a layer to the overall meaning of this card. Just as nothing in life is all good or bad, all light or dark, no Tarot card is all positive or all negative. The Star offers a hopeful message of healing and light but getting to that place might lead us to the darkest recesses of our souls.