The Hag of Earth reversed – this is the second time this week I’ve drawn her staring, pitiless gaze. Today she speaks to me of secrets hidden and denied over the years. Familial secrets, community secrets, those deep, dark secrets that impact everyone even they are unaware of its existence. It makes me think of tales told in my community about neighbors whom “everyone knew” were living in dangerous circumstances (abusive husbands being the most prevalent) and yet no one did anything. I often believe that the tellers feel guilty about not helping in any way and tell the tale in an effort to make it seem less serious. At the same time the guilt leaves a scar on the person’s psyche and on the community’s psyche. The Hag of Earth observes these actions or lack thereof and records them on our souls. She does not judge or shame, simply watches with her pitiless, blank eyes.
The Cailleach, old woman of the mountains who drops stones from her skirt to build them. Her blue skin and red hair combined with having only one eye in the center of her forehead give her a strange, frightful appearance. She seems to move lightly across the mountainous peaks, her stone-filled apron no real burden to her. She is the crone of winter, cold and darkness. Although she often uses those stones to make the mountains higher, I think in this instance she is removing some of the boulders for me. She is clearing the way to help me move forward on my healing journey.
The Hag of Earth tells me that my tale is recorded in the very stones of the earth. I can choose to ignore it but that will not make it go away. Denial is not the way to heal from this situation. The Cailleach on the 8 of Earth reminds me that the stones must be moved in order for me to progress. She can help take them away but I must decide to move ahead once the way is clear. She Who Watches sees the scars on my psyche, even if I try to deny or ameliorate their impact. The Cailleach can help me remove the boulders upon which these scars are inscribed but I need to ask for her help and actually do the work once she had cleared them.
That scares me – I’ve had these scars for so long I’m not sure I can let them go. They are part of me and yet they aren’t. They are the me I am now. If those scars had never formed who knows who I might have become? Maybe removing those scars, healing those wounds, will allow me to find out the answer to that question. These darkly divine ladies offer the terrifying vision of hope. Hope and the possibility of healing can be frightening and overwhelming, especially to somehow who has abandoned all hope. I think these two tough ladies are showing me that I can heal – it might not be easy but it can happen if I’m willing to do the work.
So my guides for today are the loa of the cemetery and a barbed woman. That doesn’t sound especially helpful or hopeful, at least not initially. Upon further reflection (and if this deck does nothing else it encourages further and further reflection) it occurred to me that these powerful, somewhat frightening figures of the darkly divine feminine offer interesting insights.
The Hag of Fire, Maman Brigitte sits upon a headstone with a rooster at her feet. She stares at a flame that dances above her skeletal finger. She is reversed today suggesting that whatever issue she is addressing is within me, possibly something from my past. Considering the other messages and issues I’ve gotten from other readings from this deck, I’m guessing it’s a combination of the two; a revisiting of childhood issues that have not been resolved. I get the sense that I need to dig up this grave upon which Maman Brigitte perches. I need to strip away the burial shroud and reveal the bones of the issue.
When I first read Harionago means “barbed woman” I thought it appropriate and even chuckled a bit. After all even on my best day that term could be used to describe me. I also can appreciate a woman who stings men who laugh at her (then again I’m a Medea aficionado too). In fact I have a feeling that to some who knew me as a teen, I might very well have embodied Harionago. I was sharp tongued and very quick to sting anyone who insulted or hurt me in any way. I was an open nerve sensitive to the least little insult. Unfortunately the victims of these stings were often not truly the cause of this sensitivity and defensiveness.
Looking at these two figures in combination it struck me that what I need to get to the bottom of, to bare the bones of, is not only what happened to me but what I did to others as a result of this abuse. There are people I hurt while trying to deal with what was going on in my life. I think sometimes what I find it difficult to accept is what I did to others. I understand that what was done to me was not my fault and there was nothing I could do to influence, control or stop it. However I hate that because my head was so screwed up and my priorities so out of whack, I damaged others. That’s the sore spot that has never healed.
So moving forward I need to look at how I can make amends. Some of the issues are stupid “kid stuff” and n many cases I have apologized but I’m not sure how sincere I was or if I fully understood the potential harm I caused these folks. It’s all well and good to say I’m not really responsible because my psyche was damaged and didn’t appreciate the pain it inflicted on others; the victim became a bully in some ways. That’s all well and good but it’s also a bit self-serving. If that is what is bothering me then I need to find the way to heal the situation so I can live with myself. I don’t want to be a barbed woman anymore. I want to be able to face the skeletons in my past and feel that I’ve done my best to put them to rest.
I was reading an interesting article about the Black Madonna in the book The Moonlit Path in which the author describes how tube worms living over thermal vents in the deep ocean transform the toxic emissions into energy. He compares this to how the Dark Madonna can force us to transform the toxins in our own lives into something useful and beneficial. This made me wonder about the toxins in my life that I haven’t transformed yet. Toxins that are still festering inside me and poisoning all they touch.
Then I looked at the two cards I drew from the Dark Goddess Tarot. The 9 of Air shows a Banshee, an Irish spirit that wails in warning at the impending death of a loved one. She is a fearsome figure who cannot be bargained with because she does not cause the loss, she simply mourns it. As I looked at this image it struck me that she was that part of my spirit that wails and mourns the childhood innocence I lost. She is the piece of my soul that has not recovered from the loss of trust and faith that childhood abuse caused me. In fact I don’t think I even realized that was the case until I looked at this card and pondered her message. She is stripped bare, a mere wraith with no visible signs of femininity. Yet she is powerful; a harbinger of loss and sorrow whose message cannot be denied. Her message to me is shrouded in mist but becoming clearer.
Hag of Earth shows She Who Watches, a reddish stone face carved into a pile of rocks. At first I didn’t understand her message, her blank staring eyes didn’t connect with anything for me. Then I considered it further and her very lack of expressions spoke to me. She is the one who observed and recorded the abuse and chaos I suffered as a child. She is the one who watched and validated what was done to me. She reminds me that none of this was in my imagination. None of it was my fault. I was a child deserving of protection, love and support. Nothing I did brought any of this on me and nothing I did could have stopped it. She could not take me in her arms and comfort me but she did record it for me.
Considering this powerful message made me cry. I have long thought that I left this behind me but obviously I did not. I may have moved on but I haven’t healed. There is still much I need to release from my past in order to restore a sense of wholeness to myself. I don’t need validation or recognition from anyone else and even if I got that it would change nothing. These dark ladies have ripped open the wound and caused the blood to flow afresh. Now it’s up to me to allow the poisons to drain away and bandage it up once the toxins are gone.
What lovely cards to receive today! Upon drawing them I thought “Don’t let memories of the past get in the way of enjoying the present” This is especially appropriate for me at this time of year. Christmas has always been a rough time for me. As a child, Christmas often proved to be a stressful family holiday filled with fighting and bitterness. As an adult I carried the memories of those negative past holidays and they tainted the present. Then over the years I lost family and friends (many much too soon) and the holidays just reminded me of who was no longer with us anymore. It tends to put me in a nasty funk. Even decorating the house or putting up a tree made me cranky and tearful.
Over the years I’ve gotten a bit better about this but not much. Very often by the day after Christmas I want to tear down all the decorations and put away the tree, leaving no memories of the holiday to linger. Each yet I get more put off by the ridiculous and often dangerous antics of people seeking amazing discounts on Black Friday. The fact that so many people have no problem curtailing their Thanksgiving festivities to go shopping says a lot about our consumer culture and our familial relationships (at least that’s my opinion).
These two cards, one with an pale eerie ghost and the other with a soaring, kindly spirit, offer insight into some of my issues. The ghosts of Christmases Past lingers in the air like a stale cigar. Its vaporous influences may not be seen but they are felt. Their pale, ectoplasmic fingers wrap themselves around my heart and won’t give way. The only way to break free of these influences is to be aware of them and fight them. Instead of focusing on the sadness of missing loved ones I can focus on the fun and joy they gave when they lived. In some ways I suppose I dishonor their memories by letting them become a source of bitterness, sadness and unhappiness.
The North Wind can help me clear away all those cobwebs filled with sadness and sorrow and help me fill those spaces with light and laughter and joy. If I don’t allow myself to make newer, happier memories then how can I stave off the sadness? What happy memories will I have in the future? In truth, remembering only the sad or painful memories just deepens those wounds. If I want to heal I need to release them to time and replace them with joy-filled, laughter-filled new experiences that can be a bulwark against their ghostly pull.
Friday the 13th – one of my favorite days! Friday the 13ths always seem to be relatively calm, peaceful and even lucky days for me. I may not win the lottery but I usually find that things just go smoothly for me.
Drawing the Ace of Wands reinforces the messages I’ve been receiving that I need to get started, get moving, get my ass in gear. Call it what you will but I think the rather intimidating masked figure on this card is warning me that the time for procrastination is at an end. If I don’t want to get my head handed to me (and perhaps even put on a stick) then I need to light a fire under my lazy behind. Perhaps not the gentlest, kindest message one can receive but it certainly is appropriate. I am a world class procrastinator (perhaps I’ve mentioned this before?).
The image on the 3 of Swords is an interesting take on this card. The “betrayal” is not intentional but no less deep. The beloved one had died but still influences the living partner. The heart aches but can do nothing to change the situation and that is the message this card offers. As sad as this current situation makes me, as betrayed as I may feel, it’s not going to change. So I need to let go and move forward.
I think what is keeping me from energizing myself and getting my ass in gear, is that I haven’t fully let go of the sense of betrayal – by life, by the Universe, by fate. I’m still working on accepting that sometimes shit just happens and there is nothing I can do to change it or make it better – at least not right now. I need to work on accepting, releasing and moving forward. I have to stop focusing on what others have done and look at changing my perceptions of these situations. It’s not a great solution but it’s the only workable one I can come up with right now.
Elopement of Skill (aka 8 of Wands) shows the reclamation of Etain by Midir. In Irish legend, Etain is the second wife of Midir. His jealous first wife changes her into a fly and after some mishaps she is swallowed by Etar and reborn as her daughter. Midir realizes she is his true love reborn and pursues her despite the fact that she is married to another. Despite all efforts to stop him, Midir reclaims Etain and they escape rising through the smoke hole and becoming swans.
The Courtship of Battle (3 of Swords) shows the first meeting of Nessa (mother of King Conchobar of Ulster) and Cathbad the Druid. According to legend, Cathbad was part of a raiding band that killed Nessa’s foster parents. Nessa vowed revenge and pursued the assailants. Cathbad manages to entrap her at her bath and coerce her into becoming his wife. (although some version don’t report a marriage but rather an assignation) This union would eventually produce King Conchobar – a legendary Arthurian-style king of Ulster.
So considering the message of these two cards what I take away from this reading is that I need to focus on reclaiming my true self; finding the me I’ve lost over the years. Instead of focusing on the heartache and betrayal that may have helped bury this me, I need to let those feelings get washed away and emerge reborn and spiritually cleansed. I have the energy and skill needed to manifest this but I have to change my mindset otherwise it will continue to hold me back. I can achieve great things as long as I refuse to focus on what was lost. What is gone cannot return and we can’t turn back the clock. It’s time to look to the future and let go of the past. As Raul Julia’s character says in the 70s movie Gumball Rally, “What is behind me is not important”.
The reversed 7 of Wands tells me that it’s okay to let my guard down; be less defensive. Instead of getting my back up and hissing at folks, I might find it more helpful to relax a bit and be less aggressive. Of course that may be easier said than done. I learned the hard way that it’s best to prepare for the worst even as I hope for the best.
The reversed Ace of Discs (repeated from yesterday) is also reminding me that I can’t move forward and manifest new prosperity until I released this defensive posture. It is blocking me from moving forward and focusing on new projects. If I want to work on prosperity and abundance then I can’t funnel all my energies into holding on to old patterns, old defensive habits. I’m not a porcupine and need to stop behaving as one.
I see my message today as reminding me that if I keep clinging to outdated and worn patterns and responses then I can’t create new ones. I can’t build new prosperity and abundance in my life if I’m clinging to a scarcity mentality. I can’t keep blocking out the world to protect what I have and believe I’ll be able to manifest anything new. I won’t be able to fit it past the blockades and defenses I’ve built.
Wow! What a scary thought – tearing down my defenses and baring myself to the world. I’m not sure if I can do it but I have to give it a try.
I don’t know, I just don’t know. These two court cards are throwing me for a loop. My initial reaction/interpretation is that my inner student is being blocked by my need to be in control and master my life. On a superficial level there is nothing wrong with this interpretation but somehow I get the sense there is more to it than that.
Looking at the Page of Discs my eye is drawn to the item she holds in her hand. At first glance I thought it was a huge eyeball. It made me think that I need to “eyeball” myself from a new perspective; turn my previous perceptions on their heads. When I looked more closely at the card I realized she’s actually holding a DVD or CD. However I don’t think that changes my initial interpretation of this card.
This Page of Disks also had an edgy energy to it. The figure on the image had short, choppy dark hair, eyes rimmed with black liner and dark clothing – rather Goth in appearance. This is very different look than I have or have ever donned. There is something about this figure that tells me she has a tough outside, very much an “I don’t take crap” persona, covering a very sensitive and possibly wounded interior. That could certainly describe me, especially when I was a teen. I was one of the walking wounded who donned a suit of porcupine quills for protection and camouflage.
The King of Wands seems almost weary and pensive as he sits with his head resting on his fisted hand and a skull beneath his chin. Is he pondering all the actions he has needed to take to achieve his present position? Does his flame still burn bright or has it died down to glowing embers? Right now I’m certainly feeling more glowing embers than roaring flames in my life. He still carries the banner of his achievements but perhaps he has learned more effective and efficient ways to use his energies. Instead of always blazing forth at full blast he has master tempering his fiery energy with sense and logic.
For additional insight and clarity I drew one more card and got the Queen of Wands – me. Or at least she is who I have the potential to be. Perhaps she reminding me that before I can fully manifest her energies in my life I need to reconnect with the Page of Discs and King of Wands energy; getting from one to the next. Maybe once I can embrace my Porcupine Girl I’ll have a better understanding of how to channel my energies and stop scattering them in a wasteful fashion.
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.
I had an interesting response today while reading SARK’s Great Life Letter #16 which addresses the issue of self-forgiveness. As I was reading her letter I felt myself tearing up and becoming emotional (verkplempt is a great Yiddish word for this experience). Looking at these cards today I can see how they fit in with this theme too.
The Secret Forest 3 of Pentacles reversed shows a small bird surrounded by a vine of leaves or a wreath extending from branches on a nearby tree. It looks like the bird has quite a task before it to break free of the vine/wreath. I think this card symbolizes where I am right now – I’m a damaged, wounded bird who isn’t sure how to get free of the harsh self-judgment that surrounds me. For so long I’ve looked at self-help books that focused on healing from the harsh words of others but my biggest challenge is my tendency towards being judgmental. I find it hard to forgive myself when I screw up because it means I’m human – flawed and imperfect. That’s often difficult for me to accept.
This is further complicated by the fact that, much like the Knight of Wands, I prefer to charge ahead, to do rather than to be introspective about things. Why spend time reflecting on the wounds of the past when they can’t be changed? Why keep going over the same ground when the battle is done?
That can only carry me forward for so long. My self-defenses are pretty strong but not against myself. I’m my own Trojan horse. I’ve set booby traps in my psyche and they explode at unexpected moments. Why is it so hard for me to forgive myself? To be as kind to myself as I might be to someone else? Or (to paraphrase a Catholic prayer) “forgive me my trespasses as I forgive those who trespass against me”. That’s easier said than done but I have taken some baby steps in the right direction and I’ll continue to do so. That wounded bird does still need some protection to survive the harshness in the world but soon she’ll grow strong, spread her wings and fly to the sky.