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.
As soon as I saw this card appear I knew that the answer is “my father” or rather the part of me that behaves as my father did. His alcoholism, emotionally scarred and scarring behaviors, his wounded inner psyche, all combined to make him someone who caused damage because of his need to be loved and his fear that no one really did love him. He had a wounded heart that never healed so he medicated it with alcohol and drugs.
I have a wounded heart that I medicate with food and sweets. Initially these behaviors might not seem as damaging and destructive as my father’s but when one adds in the fact that I have Type II diabetes, these behaviors become very self-destructive indeed. I have often wondered if I have a death wish. Not something conscious which would drive me to commit suicide but a quiet, deeply ingrained sense of worthlessness that makes me feel my death would end my suffering and cause no major ripples in the world. I don’t to believe this is true but I guess on some level it is human nature to feel this way.
This situation is also complicated by the relationship I had with my father and the fact that many of the emotional scars I bear are the result of his behavior towards him. The sexual molestation and physical abuse left me feeling worthless but defiant. I might bend to his will because he was bigger and stronger than me but I would never give in and become my mother. I refused to subsume my personality to his in order to avoid beatings. That is not who I am nor is it who I want to be. Beatings only tend to make me more determined, defiant and angry.
And yet, by continuing to behave in ways that damage my health and may ultimately threaten my life, I am subsuming myself to him. I’ve given him mastery and control over my emotions and self-worth. I’m accepting and embracing his self-destructive behaviors as though they are my own. They are not. I want to live (no matter how much of a struggle that might be). I want to have healthy, loving and supportive relationships in my life and I won’t compromise or sell myself short in order to get them. I am not a coward nor am I weak. I can overcome this. I cam beat this emotional inner demon just like I overcame many of the other challenges in my life. In fact if my life were a movie right now Helen Reddy’s classic 70s feminist anthem “I Am Woman” would begin swelling up right about now. As she sang, “Oh yes I am wise, but it’s wisdom born of pain. Yes, I’ve paid the price but look how much I gained. If I have to, I can do anything.” That pretty much says it all.
Liberation is how Arnell Ando titled this card in the Transformational Tarot. It’s Awakening in the Gaian Tarot. Both seem so appropriate to the transformation I’ve been experiencing lately. I do feel as though I’ve come back into the light after a long time in the dark. I’ve been freed, changed and re-born. I really do feel like dancing in the sunlight (which is ironic considering how cloudy it’s been for the last few days).
I’m not sure where this is going and I don’t know how long it will take but it’s given me a sense of hope and lightness that I’ve been missing in my life. I actually feel lighter – spiritually and emotionally. It’s as if I finally let go of baggage that has been weighing me down for years; baggage I didn’t realize I had. It’s wonderful and scary at the same time. I’m still not sure how to handle it. I’m like someone who has been in dark for so long that it takes a while to adjust to the light. The temporary blindness is frustrating but I know it will soon clear.
Healing is a scary process and I guess it’s not for the faint of heart. Picking at wounds that have been scabbed over for years hurts but ultimately frees up the wounded area to continue healing. Sometimes scars are left behind but in the end it was a necessary part of the healing process. That’s how I feel right now – I may be a bit scarred and scabbed but I’m healing. That gives me hope and makes me feel rejuvenated and cleansed. It’s such an odd feeling that I’m not sure how to handle it just yet. It’s the continuation of a journey that is not close to its end just yet.
Hmm, The Hermit. This is a card with which I am not very well acquainted. As I’ve often joked, introspection is not one of my better skills and that certainly seems to be one of the meanings of this card. In fact it is called Introspection in the Transformational Tarot. This is one of those cards that I have a relatively neutral attitude towards. I appreciate the benefits of solitude and introspection. I can also understand that the Hermit is also able to bring back these gifts to help others find their way through the darkness. Who knows, maybe whatever insights I gain from my introspection might help others as well.
This card really ties in beautifully with some other messages I’ve received from the Tarot lately. My first epiphany was when I realized that at the core of some of my issues is not self-esteem (I’m sure I have some self-esteem issues, but then again who doesn’t). My issues stem from trust. I didn’t realize this until I was reviewing some of the questions Sasha Graham asks in her 10 of Swords exercise in Tarot Diva. The questions revolved around negative images we developed based on things people have said to us over the years (“you’re too fat”, “too ugly”, etc.). As I was reading the questions I realized that I can’t point to a specific incidence of that type of insult that stuck in my psyche. It wasn’t resonating with me.
As I pondered this a bit further I realized that most of the experiences in my life that caused damage to my psyche were the result of people praising me with an ulterior motive, their own agenda. I could often sense the resentment or envy underlying the compliment and it bothered me. I began to mistrust any positive feedback I got from people because I began to assume that there was something mean-spirited or negative underlying it. For example I had a friend in school who would always ask what score I had gotten on a test or on my report card. If my grades were better than hers, she would be envious. In various ways I experienced situations where older men would flatter me, calling me beautiful or sexy or whatever and then hit on me. At the time I was about 15 and although I found such attentions flattering I was in o way emotionally able to handle them.
I think The Hermit is going to be my guide to look within myself and help me decide how to process this new insight and where to go with it. It’s interesting that I haven’t realize this before. Something just clicked in my brain when I realized this fact. It also explains why I have a low tolerance for hypocrisy or lying. Honesty is a huge issue for me. In fact sometimes it’s a real problem because even marketing (which smacks a bit of lying to me) can become a problem for me. It makes so much sense why I’ve always felt an affinity for the Queen of Swords and Swords suit in general. To me they have always represented cutting through the bullshit; getting to the truth of the matter. My aversion to Cups is the result of the fact that people claimed to love me while abusing me in some way. I’m a bit of a slow learner (possibly because I’ve avoided introspection) but not that I realize it, I know myself well enough to know I will continue poking at this sore spot until I let all the pus and gore out. Then the healing can begin and ultimately I think that’s what this is about for me – healing.
Victorian Trade Card Haiku
My window shattered
I’m vulnerable, exposed
Nothing blocks my view
The fall cracks his shell
Revealing what was hidden
Can I recover?
Ah, the Queen of Cups, my old adversary. She and I have come a long way over the last two years or so. I have come to appreciate her gentle strength and loving, supportive nature. Growing up I associated her type of energy with emotional manipulation, weakness and neediness. I was unable to see her nurturing and loving energies in a positive light. It is only as I’ve come to need these energies in my own life that I’ve begun to appreciate and embrace her.
Looking at the Art Postcard Queen of Cups I was struck by the sense that she is telling “Cry on my shoulder. It’s okay. I’ll comfort you and help you through this.” Her outfit even looks as though its collar would serve as a creditable napkin with which to dry one’s tears. She seems supportive but not one easily overwhelmed by emotions. She understands and realizes that every so often, we all need a good cry. It enables us to cleanse and purge the pain that might otherwise paralyze us.
The Whispering Queen of Cups offers a different perspective. She bobs in the water, beneath a full moon, holding a chalice in one hand and a white orb in the other. She seems to be offering us the key to our intuition, our inner wisdom and our emotional nature. She shows that we can be part of that world without being subsumed in it. We have the ability to tap into our deep, vast emotional wisdom without allowing ourselves to get swept away by it. At the same time the water surrounding her reminds us that sometimes it’s easy to allow ourselves to drift along on the tides of our emotions, eventually losing our way because we let ourselves lose control.
I think these lovely ladies are telling me that my lesson today is that sometimes it’s okay to let myself be emotional about the things I’m dealing with in my life. Sometimes being stoic, strong and silent is helpful but sometimes it just bottles up things that need to be expressed. Right now I could certainly use the Queen of Cups shoulder to cry on but I find it difficult to let go and cry. Partly because what I’m dealing with is tough but a lot of people are dealing with difficult situations in their lives. I feel as though my issues and problems are just not that serious. And perhaps that is my biggest challenge – believing that my feelings are valid and deserve to be recognized. At least I do have my hubby, mother, sister to provide emotional support. My friends are supportive too – the issue is that I still feel guilty crying to them. Perhaps that is what the Queen of Cups reversed is reminded me of today – that if my friends cannot provide some emotional support when I need it they are close enough to let me know that. It’s not a sign of weakness on my part and I would hope they feel able to ask the same of me if the occasion ever calls for it. Another lesson I am learning to integrate into my life.
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.
Oh my do I feel like the figure on the Blue Rose 10 of Swords. Taken from a Salvador Dali work, this figure looks as though it is not only being pierce but that pieces are being taken out of her. I know that feeling. There are days when I feel like the Universe is slicing pieces of my skin and there is nothing I can do but bleed. Like the hunched figure on the Infinite Visions 10 of Swords, I feel a sense of impending doom. Even the dog seems to sense his mistress’ distress and despair. What I’m unsure of is whether the doom is for me personally or merely reflecting how I’ve been feeling lately.
The weather also contributed to this sense of gloom and doom I have been having. Between the devastating storms and the lingering gray and gloomy landscape outside my window, it’s been difficult to be positive and cheerful. It’s as though the sword of Damocles dangles overhead and the least movement will bring its sharp point in contact with my head – not a pleasant sensation.
I had to take a break while writing this to clear my thoughts – I was starting to depress myself. While pondering these cards anew I was struck by something; how often have I been the swords in another’s 10 of Swords experience? I am the first to acknowledge that I have a wicked wit and vicious tongue. Comments that I might consider witty and humorous can and often are taken by those at whom they are aimed as daggers stabbing at them. That is often not my intent (although sometimes it is) but I sometimes go for that kind of sharp-tongued repartee that is usually more humorous to those listening than to the one at whom it is aimed.
This card is reminding me that I need to be more judicious in how I apply my wits and tongue to various situations. Mocking others or humiliating them with alleged witty “jokes” is often just mean and not well done of me. Just as I prefer not to be the butt of someone else’s jokes or snide remarks, so most people do not enjoy being the butt of mine. I need to use my wicked wit and vicious tongue for more worthwhile pursuits and try to avoid causing pain to others. I may never achieve perfection in this area but I think it’s worth the effort.
For some reason today I am feeling quite restored and healed on a spiritual level. For the past few days I’ve been in a moody, lousy, depressed funk. It ebbed and flowed like the tide and I had no clear idea what triggered it. My life, while challenging and sometimes exhausting, is far from miserable. I realized that part of the problem was that I needed to change my perceptions. I’m not going to go all New Age here (because that’s really not my thing) but I have to admit that there is some truth to the statement that you can’t always change your circumstances but you can change how you face them. The problem wasn’t that my life had become so dramatically different in the past few days or weeks, it’s that I was focusing on the negative.
I let myself get caught up in my own drama and was preparing quite a nice pity party for myself. I can host pity parties like nobodies business. Then at 3AM while searching for meaning in various Tarot books, I had an epiphany (which I already shared in my COTD essay on Tuesday). Something about the mind-shift or metanoia (as I remember a former religion teacher explained means “a transformative change of heart”) left me feeling renewed and cleansed. It was as though a great weight had been lifted off my shoulders and allowed me to return to my usual bubbly, extroverted, opinionated self. I don’t like feeling down, depressed or sulky. As I have joked on numerous occasions, I have no use for depression in my life because depression is often defined as anger turned inward and I’m very comfortable turning my anger outwards. Of course in the current situation there was no outlet for that anger and frustration. It is rightly aimed at the Fates, destiny, the Norns, Wyrd – whatever you choose to call it. The reality is that a number of decisions made years ago by my in-laws has led to this pass and since I cannot change the past, there is nothing I can do to change the situation. What I can change is how I handle it and taking steps to improve it. Once I was able to accept that on a deep, spiritual level, I was able to let go of the anger and depression.
It is really amazing that I drew this card today because in some respects I have felt like the lone figure wandering through the woods on the Wildwood Pole Star. Only instead of looking up at the night sky for guidance and enlightenment, I’m seeking it within myself. The forest I’m wandering through is my own tangle of self-doubts, frustration and confusion. My own lack of clarity about many things was leading me deeper and deeper into the thicket of briars but now I think I’m back in the clear. I think the healing waters being poured out by the woman on the DruidCraft Star are spilling through my soul and helping cleanse and heal whatever they touch. I’m not usually comfortable sharing this level of anything online but today I’m feeling so cheerful that I just need to let the world know. I’m sure by tomorrow I’ll be back to my snarky self.