Aly

Four of Pentacles

pents04

I know it sounds strange
But I used to count change
On the counter at Pick ‘n Pay
Or Shoprite-Checkers
No butter on my broodjie [bread]
Geen koeldrank nie, net my strootjie [no cooldrink, just my straw]
But then I got my game on
Like flame on
Now I’m a rich bitch
-“Rich Bitch,” Die Antwoord

Anyone who has never or rarely had enough money knows exactly how fucking important and liberating it is to have money. There is a giddy exuberant viciousness in paying even the minimum amount on your bills, in buying brand-name soap, in having things that you want when you want them. Money is the fucking best, and anyone who says otherwise has too much and can send it this way, quite frankly.

The Four of Pentacles is the money card. When you see the Four of Pentacles, you should feel a tiny bird open its wings in your heart and flap them hard, because the Four of Pentacles is the card of financial stability. This card means you have reached a place where you are comfortable, a place of self-sufficiency, a place of enough. And you have gotten to that place through your own devices. Whether you’ve been practical and frugal your whole life or have recently picked up better spending habits, they are paying off. You got your game on.

Money don’t buy everything, it’s true
But what it don’t get, I can’t use
Give me money
-“Money,” the Beatles (performed by Josie & the Pussycats)

The dark side of the Four of Pentacles is easy to guess – greed. You may not be sitting perched atop your treasure breathing smoke just yet, but when you see the Four of Pentacles you need to ask yourself whether there is possessiveness and greed in your life. I know I said money is important, and I stand by that, but your possessions and your material value should never become something that you measure your self worth by. Don’t let yourself become too attached to what you own.

Yes there were times I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out, I faced it all
And I stood tall and did it my way
-“My Way,” Frank Sinatra

The other thing that the Four of Pentacles may be drawing your attention to is a fixation on stability. This often manifests as a too-strong desire for control, not only of your financial situation but of every aspect of your life. Essentially, your success doing things a certain way can make you unwilling to accept or initiate change – first with regard to money, but then in all areas of your life. Because you have achieved this place of financial success, this enough-ness, you may fear doing anything that could change your current situation. Consistency is not in itself a bad thing, but it can isolate you – you can’t always do things your own way, and the Four of Pentacles asks you to accept that.

You have achieved great things, and the Four of Pentacles appears in order for you to recognize that. But it also serves as a reminder that you are more than your possessions. Remember that worth and value are two different things. Remember that you can’t control everything, in your finances or in life. Keep your mind open to new methods of doing things, and listen – you got yourself to where you are, and that matters. All things require balance, and the Four of Pentacles is one of those cards whose light and dark qualities are separated by the thinnest of lines.  Trust yourself, but keep an eye on the dragon.

Page of Swords

download (2)It’s taking me over
I don’t wanna play this game no more
All you gotta do is tell me right now
You want me right now
Come on
Give me the green light
We could have all night
If you just say the word
Tell me it’s alright
Give me the green light
Greenlight,” 5 Seconds of Summer

 

There are times in your life when you are just brimming, boiling, electric under your skin and in your bones. Everything is fireworks, sparks shooting burning pinwheels, tumbling, racing, breathless and all you want is more. You are the ocean. You could unhinge your jaw and swallow the sun. You are unstoppable, incredible, a riotous explosion of light and color and pure unfettered energy. All you need is the crack of the starter’s pistol.

The Page of Swords is your starter’s pistol. It is the signal that you are waiting for. The Page of Swords is an identification card, a picture of you at this moment – young, idealistic, passionate. This card – this is your moment. The Page of Swords is giving you the green light, but it has a task for you as well. This is a card that demands immediate action, okay, and because of that you can’t wait for circumstances to unfold themselves. This is a card that asks you to make your own circumstances. What are the aspects of your life that are already conducive to starting your endeavor? What do you have to do to tailor the others? Gravitate toward the parts of your life where you feel your efforts are nurtured, where you feel that you’ll be able to open up that creativity. This will help you start to revamp the others.

I know, I know, I know you got the key
And you know, you know, you know that it’s for me
It’s not up to you, you know it’s up to me but
Curiosity will never let me go
-“Curiosity,” Carly Rae Jepsen

The Page of Swords is a mentally-focused card, but not an introspective one. Instead, it’s a card of intelligence, of perception and insight. The ideas and feelings that you are so anxious to express are coming from a place of sensitivity and curiousness – the Page is a young card, remember. Take care, when you see the Page, to wonder whether your questioning is unproductive and perhaps cloying. The Page of Swords can signify a lack of maturity – ask yourself how you can direct your curiosity in a productive way and what you can learn from others’ experiences. Directionless communication is the trap of the Page of Swords: knowing this, you should watch for it. Swords are the most powerful suit – they are action, force, power. Make sure that you are acting with purpose as you go forward – the Page is a communicator, and building on others’ ideas and input will only enhance your own.

I heard that you were talking shit
And you didn’t think that I would hear it
People hear you talking like that, getting everybody fired up
So I’m ready to attack, gonna lead the pack
Gonna get a touchdown, gonna take you out
That’s right, put your pom-poms downs, getting everybody fired up
-“Hollaback Girl,”Gwen Stefani

The Page is a lot of good things, but these good qualities can quickly veer into dangerous territory if left unchecked. Your penchant for communicating, combined with the relative youth and eagerness of the Page, can get gossipy quick if you’re not careful. Be careful that your communication with others doesn’t get unproductively negative and, on the other side of that, be careful with what you share about yourself, and with whom. Reticence comes with age, but the Page of Swords is your reminder to practice it. Youth, again – when I say this, I don’t mean that you are necessarily young, or that you have to be young, or any other thing that implies physical bodily youngness. What I mean is mental youth, which is a state that comes and goes and exists in flux at all times within all of us. When you see the Page of Swords, it means that you are in a youthful state of mind, and there are complications that go along with that if you’re not careful. The big one here, past gossip, is defensiveness, which is honestly part of the same package. The part of you that lacks experience, the part that wants to know more – make sure that it is still humble! There is no shame in not knowing something, in being inexperienced. Bristling when someone tries to impart knowledge to you hurts you both, and the Page of Swords should be your reminder to accept the intellectual gifts you are given, so that you can use them well. You can be youthful without being childish.

The Page of Swords and you are young, so young, and so full of fire. Keep feeding that flame – ask questions! Learn things! Talk to everyone about everything, chase the dream until you catch it. The Page of Swords has given you the go ahead. Go forward in your chosen task and be brave. Remember that enthusiasm and intelligence and curiosity are incredible qualities, and you possess them in spades. Remember that it is not weakness to corral these things into more directed forms. Just control that fire; make it work for you. Don’t burn yourself, don’t burn others. Don’t burn out.

XII. The Hanged Man

tarot-hangedman

Put your lips close to mine
as long as they don’t touch
Treacherous,” Taylor Swift

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
-The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot

You remember this, I hope. Maybe it hasn’t been that long since you felt it. Talking and laughing and everything is normal, everything is fine, and then all of a sudden you look up and you’re too close, you’re not blinking, you’re not breathing, you realize you can’t even see each other clearly because your lips are just that close to touching, and you start to breathe again but it’s in shallow sips and you think about how their eyelashes might feel fluttering against your face, in the hollow of your neck, and you realize you’re actually trembling with how badly you want to close that gap, that fraction of an inch between you that is somehow wider than all the oceans in the world, but you can’t, you can’t be the one who moves because that is irrevocable, you have to be swept away, but that in itself is a move, you know, and all of this happens in the interminable half-second between “here, look at this-” and the rest of your life, whatever happens, here, now, on the carpet in a beam of sunlight in your childhood bedroom, in a booth in some darkened bar, against your car door in an afternoon parking lot, here, now, the whole shimmering world in the palm of your hand if only you can close your fingers, treacherous, perfect.

The Hanged Man is a card of pause, of suspension, of indecision. It is often the card that is chosen by inept TV writers when someone leaves a calling card at their occulty murder, because it has an ominous name, but it is really an exceptionally beautiful card that has mainly good implications. The Hanged Man is hung by his own free will – he is in that position voluntarily, serenely. He’s not struggling. In its upright position, the Hanged Man is telling you to step back and assess your situation calmly and – this is important – without yet doing anything about it. The Hanged Man lives entirely in the Shadow, between the thought and any action, and that is where you must be. It asks you to suspend yourself in the question you are asking, to hang frozen in the snowglobe and look around you in every direction.

Stop there and let me correct it
I wanna live a life from a new perspective
-“New Perspective,” Panic! at the Disco

The Hanged Man’s secondary question is one of introspection. You need to look at yourself and your surroundings in a new light – from upside down, almost. This is less assessing the situation as it is and more assessing it as it could be, as it has the potential to be. What are you like viewed through a different lens; what is your life like? Sometimes turning things around can shake something loose, show you places where new things can sneak through the cracks. Different angles are always useful. Whatever question you’ve asked the cards is a many-faceted one, and the Hanged Man is reminding you not to lose sight of those many glittering sides.

No one knows where the ladder goes
You’re gonna lose what you love the most
You’re not alone in anything
You’re not unique in dying

If I gotta go first
I’ll do it on my terms
-“Ladder Song,” Lorde

The Hanged Man is, finally, a card of sacrifice – you have to give up action for inaction; you have to give up your old way of looking at things for a new angle. Sometimes the Hanged Man asks a lot of you – if you have any goals that you’re working toward, know that the Hanged Man means for you to sacrifice for them. Be it blood, sweat, tears, or time, the Hanged Man asks you to invest in yourself, prioritizing your long-term goals over your immediate surroundings. He may also be asking you to find places in your own life where you can be more selfless – sacrificing for others instead of yourself. There is here the danger of sacrificing past the point of usefulness, of becoming a martyr, and this is the dark side of the Hanged Man. When you see this card you have to ask yourself if you are being honest with yourself about your intentions, with your sacrifices.

It is difficult to examine your life removed from your life. The Hanged Man asks a lot, I know. Inaction is often more difficult than action, especially in areas of stress and turmoil. This is all the more reason to heed this card well; the times when you most want to charge in are often the times when you most need to take a step back and examine the situation with a cool head. Let the Hanged Man direct you inward; use your focus and clarity to better assess your current situation. Understand your own intentions and your relationship to what surrounds you before you move again.

Seven of Cups

download (1)Ain’t no question if I want it, I need it
I can feel it slowly drifting away from me
I’m on the edge, so why you playing? I’m saying
I will never ever let you live this down, down, down

Not for nothing I’ve foreseen it, I dream it
I can feel it slowly drifting away from me
No more chances if you blow this, you bogus
I will never ever let you live this down, down, down
-“Gorgeous,” Kanye West feat. Kid Cudi, Raekwon

You can build yourself everything you want, in your mind. You can have the cars, the status, the money, the happy ending, the new beginning. You can dream yourself anything and everything you ever wanted, and I know it seems as bright and as real as the sun in the sky but it’s dreams, it’s just dreams. Turn your cup upside down and nothing pours out. Dreams can only sustain you for so long, and if you let them they’ll eat you alive.

The Seven of Cups is a warning. I don’t want to tell you not to dream – Christ, I would never tell you that, I never want to tell anyone that. But the Seven of Cups is an indication that you’re getting carried away with it. The Seven of Cups is a sign that you need to try looking for places in your life where you can start to make those dreams real. At a certain points, dreams can become a refuge, a retreat – an excuse not to move. Ask yourself what is stopping you – what is it that is preventing you from making these dreams a reality? The Seven of Cups is an indicator that you are being sidetracked. Figure out which of your dreams are real, and which are distractions – illusions.

I been thinking about the nights
And the dangerous tricks
People play on the eyes of the innocent
-“Illusion,” One Direction

It is important that you focus, now, when you see this card. Seven cups is a lot, okay, and each of your cups is full. This can be paralyzing, and it’s the reason that this card is the card of unfulfilled wishing. If you can’t focus on one cup you’re going to spill them all. Which of these dreams are deserving of your time and your energy, your pure focused effort? Which are smoke and mirrors? Think now about what you are working toward in your life, what efforts your current situation will benefit from. A lot of dreaming is escapism, which is extraordinarily beneficial – I am not at all knocking escapism here. But if you don’t know what you are working for in your real, tangible life, you run the risk of trying to bring your more impractical dreams to life and failing.

Someone once told me that the scariest thing in the world is having all of your dreams come true. He was my eleventh-grade English teacher and he was, generally speaking, a very strange dude, but he wasn’t wrong about this. Not every cup holds something good. This card is a wish card, and this is your monkey’s-paw reminder: be careful what you wish for. The Seven of Cups is a sign that you need to be thinking through your desires, making sure that they’re as good an idea as they seem at the outset. A lot of the danger in wishing and dreaming comes from distraction, from following bad ideas down the rabbit hole, and there is no harm at all in examining what you want a little more closely.

Let’s pretend we’re eight years old playing hookey
I’ll draw on the wall and you can play UFC rookie
Then we’ll grow up
Take our clothes off
And you remind me that I wanted you to kiss me when we find some time alone
And then we can do anything we want
Anything We Want,” Fiona Apple

Knowing concretely what you want is the first step to being able to get it. There is so much good that comes from dreams, and from dreaming, but a lot of that is the drive to make those dreams a reality. The Seven of Cups wants you to examine your dreams, to understand them, to make sure that they’re good for you. It wants you to use them as blueprints, as road maps, as directions toward the dreams of the future. The Seven of Cups doesn’t want you not to dream – far from it. It wants you to dream in such a way that everything you dream can be yours.

The Legend of Chavo Guerrero

“A song about my childhood hero, Chavo Guerrero, may he live a thousand years and all his days be filled with joy.”

John Darnielle could honestly write an album about watching laundry spin in a dryer and I would listen to it and I would love it, and I would probably cry. The reason I say this is because I don’t care about pro wrestling, at all, despite the fact that my good friend Aria insists that my love of boy bands means I would love it. I’ve just never gotten into it. But – here is this. John Darnielle, the brains and the heart and the mouthpiece of the Mountain Goats, is writing an album about pro wrestling called Beat the Champ, which is coming out later this year and which I will be talking about extensively. And crying about. Extensively. I know this because he released the album’s first track this January, and despite the fact that is about a pro wrestler that I have never heard of I cried about it. So! Let’s chat.

Look high
It’s my last hope
Chavo Guerrero, coming off the top rope

I don’t know what kind of childhood you personally had, but I know you had a hero. I know there was a shining beacon of goodness and righteousness and safety in your life, no matter who it was, no matter if they were real or imagined or simply your parents. Children are so small, and so brave, and so much smarter than they ever get credit for. They are small people, and that is something I often forget, which sounds bad. What I mean is that they are often more perceptive than we realize; they contain everything that we contain in smaller, less developed doses. They are us as we were, we are them as they could be. (I have a lot of feelings about children.)

So. Young John Darnielle. JD has made no secret of the fact that his upbringing was a tormented one, and I love that, quite frankly. I used to be someone who thought that being cool about things was the way to be: never show that you are hurt, never acknowledge the wrong someone has done to you. I used to not like Taylor Swift, is what I’m saying. I used to think that there was anything other than righteous fury in publicly denouncing those who have wronged you, and I know better now. I love that JD is vengeful; I love that he never offers forgiveness. Some people don’t deserve it. Some people you survive and you keep surviving and your anger is a beautiful and perfect thing and it keeps you warm. I hope someday I write an entire album about everyone who ever hurt me and I hope that it buoys someone the way that the Mountain Goats’ music has done for me. John Darnielle has taught me so much about owning your feelings, particularly your hate. I’m getting sidetracked.

Chavo Guerrero is a pro wrestler who is, to my knowledge and based on the lyrics of this song, still alive. When JD was a kid he was famous, and he was JD’s hero, and so he was more than a wrestler. Darnielle talks a lot about pro wrestling, both as a fixture in his current life and as something incredibly important in his young years, and one thing that always sticks with me when he does is the idea of wrestling as a delivery of justice.

Defender of the downtrodden, king of the hill
Tag-team champion with Al Madril
Before a black and white TV in the middle of the night
I’m lying on the floor, I’m bathed in blue light
The telecast’s in Spanish, I can understand some
And I need justice in my life
Here it comes

Darnielle’s late stepfather abused him; I hope my use of the active voice conveys my disgust and my contempt and my condemnation. I don’t know the particulars and I never will, but the pieces of his childhood that JD chooses to share paint a picture that I don’t like. I don’t think anyone deserves forgiveness, but I think there is a special place in hell for those who hurt someone they’re supposed to protect. This song is about pro wrestling but what it’s really about is young John Darnielle, lying on the floor in front of a flickering TV screen in a dark room, imagining a world where evil is punished. Being given that world, in the form of pro wrestling; being given a defender. Watching vengeance “descending like fire on the people who deserved it most.” Chavo Guerrero defeats his enemies; so too shall I defeat mine, in time.

He was my hero back when I was a kid
You let me down but Chavo never once did
You called him names to try to get beneath my skin
Now your ashes are scattered on the wind

I heard his son got famous, he went nationwide
Coast-to-coast with his dad by his side
I don’t know if that’s true but I’ve been told
It’s real sweet to grow old

This verse kills me. It’s so triumphant, so beautifully, bitterly vengeful. Your ashes are scattered on the wind; it’s real sweet to grow old. You are dead and I am alive and I will grow old where you did not, because I am still alive, because I have survived you. It is a cruel and terrible thing that outliving someone is often the only victory you have over them, but it is no less real and no less important for its cruelty. I wonder how John Darnielle thinks of Chavo and his son, traveling the world. I wonder if he imagines a world where that could have been him, a world where he felt like someone’s son. I wonder how it feels to him to be his own son’s hero. I wonder how it feels to call himself a father, and to know that he has succeeded in some intangible but excruciatingly important way. I am projecting here, I’m sure, but still I don’t think I’m wrong.

This song might mean more to me if I knew anything about pro wrestling, but somehow I doubt that; somehow I don’t know if it could. This song is about vengeance; this song is about the pure cold spiteful fire of survival, and everything that holding that fire in your chest makes you feel. Pro wrestling is the lens for it, and like, maybe I should start watching, I guess, but I have the justice that I need in my life. I have the Mountain Goats.

Kat Dahlia – My Garden

Is Kat Dahlia a witch? Short answer: Yes. Long answer: She is a witch, and she is a girl, and she is a lovestruck teenager and a streetwise woman, she is a thousand different shades in a single body and she is amazing.

“My Garden,” the title track on this album, is a slinky, grinding incantation, and I wouldn’t say that this video sets the tone for the album as much as it sets the tone for Kat Dahlia’s presence in your life. She’s a terrifying goddess, just look at her – wrapped in snakes, wreathed in flowers, crowned and darkly radiant. I feel like Kat Dahlia is really into Medusa, and I feel like she should be.

The album itself is sultry, I think. It reminds me of dark red flowers, the ocean at night. There are bright upbeat threads running through it, moments of pure sweetness like “I Think I’m In Love,” and they don’t conflict with the velvety darkness that is the rest of it; they somehow make it more complete. Even those brighter songs have that soft roundedness to them, a roundedness that I hesitate to call darkness, because it isn’t. They feel grounded, I think is the word that I want, and a lot of that is Kat Dahlia’s incredible voice.

As a girl who has a relatively deep voice I am drawn, perhaps selfishly, to other girls with deep voices as sort of a validation. So much of pop music is dominated by a certain type of voice (which I love! I am not at all opposed to it!) that it is nice, sometimes, to hear someone in a lower octave. And I think that depth offers something different, something that I find very soothing and appealing. Kat Dahlia has a deep voice. More than that, though, she has this incredibly expressive, dynamic, weird voice. It’s weird! And I mean that in the best way. Listen to “My Garden” again, listen to the way she stutters out that my flower bed’s callin’ your na-a-a-ame, na-a-a-ame. It’s the vocal equivalent of static, of some kind of heart palpitation, a quick dark flutter that almost sounds robotic but isn’t. Every single song on this album manages to sound entirely different from the last one, which can be a challenge for a pop album, and I think that is primarily a credit to Dahlia’s voice. She has a mesmerizing ability to twist her vocals into living, breathing, glowing things.

Kat Dahlia contains many different women, and all of them are present on this album – well, okay, a bunch of them are present and maybe when she writes more music we’ll learn that there are even more sides to her. But she is multifaceted and complicated and very aware of that, and she writes to highlight it. “Gangsta” is an anthem of her youth, growing up in Miami as the first-generation child of Cuban immigrants. It is weary, somehow, but defiant, and it feels like clenched teeth as you walk forward into blinding light. I do it all on myself, I ain’t gettin’ help from no one – from no one. She released that one early, before the album, and it put her on the map. As well it should have! I think Kat Dahlia is tough before I think anything else about her, and that is calculated on her part but that doesn’t make it untrue. “Gangsta” situates her as a young woman of color in the musical world she inhabits, and it puts her agenda on the table. It’s so good; it’s so powerful. And then you trip forward a few tracks and suddenly everything is sweetness and light, bubblegum and Sunday swings.

“I Think I’m In Love” is notable, for me, because it is such a good encapsulation of the weird line between posturing and genuineness in emotions, like, the no-man’s land between “we don’t have a label, we’re just figuring things out” and anything you’re willing to call real. I make fun of your belly and tell you to do some crunches and you say “yeah well, your ass jiggles, go and do some lunges,” I say “FUCK YOU” while I’m thinkin’ of you as my husband. Like. Liiiike. Listen to that little lilt her voice does, thinkin’ of you, listen to the smile in it. We’re teasing each other, that smile says, because we’re too afraid to say how in love we are. But she can’t stop herself from thinking it, and that smile says she knows he thinks it too. How perfectly incredible, how small and sweet and simple, how utterly charming, how painfully real.

I could go on and on about this multiplicity, this presentation of so many different selves. We see the Kat Dahlia that lives in two worlds as a Cuban-American in “Tumbao”, we see the brokenhearted bitter girl in “Just Another Dude”, we see an aching, yearning lover in “Walk on Water”. Each new song is another facet of this gem and no two are alike. Every track on this album occupies a radically different space in the conception of Kat Dahlia as a whole, and I think that is such a feat, such an incredible demonstration of self-understanding and of musical ability. I appreciate this effort so much, is what I’m saying, this presentation of a self that is both calculated and shockingly honest. I came across this album literally a week ago, but already I know it by heart. Kat Dahlia is a new presence in my life but I have a feeling she’s going to stick around, and I really can’t wait to see what she does next. I really can’t wait to see what other magic she contains.

King of Wands

downloadI know exactly what I want and who I want to be
I know exactly why I walk and talk like a machine
I’m now becoming my own self-fulfilled prophecy
-“Oh No!,” Marina and the Diamonds

An arrow flies straight and true and deadly when it’s fired by someone hungry. Killing to eat is a way of life, and I mean that in a literal and a metaphorical sense. There is no shame in hunger, in the bare open want that you feel, that grasping driving need. Hunger has many forms, and many names, and your arrows are limitless. They will travel miles for you, over time and space, and they will strike any target you fix yourself on.

The King of Wands is a motherfucking go-getter. He is on a mission and he is about his business. Wands are primarily a fire suit and this card is a blazing, flaring comet. Fake it ‘til you make it is the phrase here, and there is no card more suited for it. The King of Wands asks one thing from you: set your goals. Know what you want and pour yourself into it. It wants pure, clear objectives to focus that fire energy on. It demands intent and vision; it is very much a long-term card. For this reason, it’s good to see the King of Wands when you’re facing trouble – know that any current hardships are short-term, and know that you have the drive to move through them. The King of Wands thrives on problem-solving, and his appearance means you will have the opportunity to do so as well. Fix your eyes on the horizon and don’t lose sight of what you want.

The sun has gone down and the moon has come up
And long ago somebody left with the cup
But he’s driving and striving and hugging the turns
And thinking of someone for whom he still burns
-“The Distance,” Cake

The King of Wands’ strongest trait is not goal-setting, but follow-through. Anyone can set a goal: the King of Wands carries it out. This card is telling you that there is an opportunity presenting itself in your life – you can take it, but you have to see it all the way through. Knowing where you want to go is only half the fight – you have to keep the ship on course through all kinds of weather. When the King of Wands shows up, it’s asking you if you are lacking follow-through in your life. Keep track of your goals, and know them intimately, but more than that be aware of your progress toward them. It’s not enough to simply know what you want – you have to be actively moving toward it.

One-track mind, one-track heart
If I fail I’ll fall apart
Maybe it is all a test
‘Cause I feel like I’m the worst, so I always act like I’m the best
“Oh No!,” Marina and the Diamonds

You’re so vain
You probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain
I’ll bet you think this song is about you, don’t you
Don’t you
-“You’re So Vain,” Carly Simon

The downside of being really, really good at accomplishing what you want is that your constant success and awesomeness can go to your head. I mean this in the best way, in total seriousness – the King of Wands is a very successful and auspicious card, and it generally means very good things. But it is worth it, when you see it, to ask yourself whether or not you’re being as humble as you can be, and whether you’re being too aggressive in your current pursuits. Fake it ‘til you make it is all well and good, but don’t fake yourself into feeling like you’re the only one who knows to achieve something. It’s not all about you – don’t let your drive for success cloud your vision, and don’t let your achievements take your humility. A pure focus on your goals will bring you what you want, but make sure the cost is worth the reward.

String your bow, now, and think about your target. Think about what you want, and why you want it, and how you are going to get it. Remember – others can help you. Remember – success is not inevitable, and killing yourself to get it helps no one. Set your goals with a clear mind; examine them honestly. Stay hungry.

O. The Fool

Hello! Welcome to the witchsong tarot column. My name is Aly, and I am not a professional.

This column will run weekly and sometimes twice-weekly, highlighting one card per post. My goal here is not to do tarot readings for you, or to teach you the mechanics of tarot reading, but to familiarize you with the cards in a way that is hopefully more grounded and meaningful to you than just memorizing things. To that end, I’ll be selecting songs for each card as a way to personify them to you, the reader, and to help you remember the cards’ meanings when doing your own readings. Knowing the cards more personally was, for me, a huge step forward in my tarot practices. Having something to associate the cards with – in this case, some songs that you’ll hopefully enjoy – makes the process of reading a lot more fluid and intuitive, which often leads to more focused and productive readings.

Again, I just want to reiterate – not a professional! What I’m doing here is presenting my own understanding of the cards, focused through the lens of (mostly pop) music. If this isn’t the mnemonic for you, that is fine, and if the cards speak differently to you, that’s fine too. This is only one way of many that you can use to get closer to the cards; I just hope it’s one that works for you. So! Without further ado, here is the beginning of our journey together.


 

RWS_Tarot_00_Fool

You are standing at the edge of a great precipice. You are standing on a low plain, thunder rolling in the distance. You are standing in the middle of an empty road and the world stretches infinite around you. Close your eyes and breathe in, now, in this moment, this moment before, this moment that is just another moment but that is also the beginning of everything. Don’t be afraid.

Walkin’ through the heavy light
The streets are empty and you don’t feel right

You didn’t wanna let yourself down, so don’t be scared to get out
There’s a thousand voices saying
The time is now
-“The Great Unknown,” Jukebox the Ghost

The Fool is, most simply, a card of beginnings. It is an answer to a question you have not yet asked, but it is also a question in itself. The time is now; are you ready?

When the Fool shows up in your readings, it’s letting you know that you are at a juncture in your life that requires initiative, and a decision – the start of a journey is upon you. The Fool is the card of potential, waiting to be realized. When you see it, you have to ask yourself if you are ready to walk forward into whatever is waiting for you, out there in the great unknown. A lot of times, you might not be – one of my favorite depictions of the Fool is as a baby bird, which I find apt. Think about that tiny bird; how unsure, how small and fragile! But – remember – how full of potential. Seeing the Fool should remind you that you are going somewhere, that incredible things beyond your knowledge are awaiting your discovery. That baby bird will spread its wings and own the sky.

There is always the temptation to say that “the journey begins with a single step,” or some iteration of that tired, tired sentiment. It’s true – you literally have to take one step – but like, come on. Anyone who has ever embarked on anything new knows that it’s not one step but a series of steps, sometimes in the face of insurmountable odds, sometimes through sleet and uphill and in dark cold nights. The baby bird can leap and fly, and then its life will change forever, and it will persist onward. And its life will keep on happening, and that is the journey. Not the initial leap, but all the flight that follows.

We’re young and we’re reckless
We’ll take this way too far
It’ll leave you breathless
Or with a nasty scar
-“Blank Space,” Taylor Swift

The Fool presents a warning, too, and it’s one that you should make note of every time you see it. A tarot card’s secondary, often darker qualities technically come into play when the card makes its appearance reversed (upside down), but it is always helpful during readings to keep this darkness in mind no matter how the card presents. Each of these cards has all of its qualities inherent in it, and although different contexts will elicit different meanings, keep in mind that lightness and darkness are two halves of one whole.

In darkness, the Fool stands alone. Remember: spontaneity is not the same thing as recklessness. Remember: unpredictability is productive only to a point. The Fool may be asking you to look for the consequences of any actions you’re considering taking – where is your journey leading you? The danger lies in plunging headlong down the road, over that cliff. There is no journey that you should embark on without regard for the consequences or for others around you. Don’t leap before you look, before considering where you will land. The Fool’s naiveté is something you must guard against – those opportunities that seem too good to be true, that ex-partner that really seems to have changed – remember to trust your instincts. The Fool is the card of beginnings, of adventure, this is true, but look back – he has packed supplies for his adventure. Don’t leave yourself behind.

Where, where do we go?
Where the, where the wind blows
We’re the youth on our own
Waiting for our call
Where, where do we go?
Where the, where the wind blows

-“No Mythologies to Follow,” MØ

So, the Fool is the beginning of a journey. It is possibility, it’s new experiences, it’s the unpredictable. Will you fly? Will you fall? You have to trust yourself enough to acknowledge what the Fool is asking you, and you have to be honest enough with yourself to answer. When you are prepared, when the time for you to take that flight is right, there will be something for you to land on – a person, a place – something will catch you. Be brave, and know that you have all the tools you need to make this journey safely, with purpose and clarity. There’s something waiting for you in the great unknown.

February (January) 2015

HELLO! Welcome to witchsong horoscopes. This is going to be a monthly column written by Aly, and we are starting the year late and pretending we didn’t. Forgive us. Or don’t, we’re not your boss.

You’ll get one playlist a month, one song for each sign, along with some advice that you can choose to take (if you want). Again, not your boss. Each month’s playlist is hosted at 8tracks.com/witchscopes.

Art for witchsong horoscopes is done by the beautiful and talented Briana Finegan of advicecollage.tumblr.com, and her work is available for purchase at Society6.

jan 27 horoscopes

WITCHSCOPES, FEBRUARY (& JANUARY, I GUESS) 2015

PLAYLIST

Capricorn: If I told you everything, you’d turn to run, I know that you would. “Midwest”, Grand Falconer.

You are holding all your cards so close to your chest right now that you’re choking yourself with them. It takes faith in yourself and in the world to let anyone else see them, but the path you have walked has honed your judgment to a stinging razor-sharp point. Now it’s time to trust yourself. You don’t have to let everyone in – you don’t have to let anyone in, if you don’t want to. But your instincts are those of the hunted and the hunter, and they are much keener than you give them credit for. Listen to your heart this month.

Aquarius: There are some things that beg to be said without subtlety. “Ur the Shhh”, Amel Larrieux.

It is tempting – especially when you are as good with words as you are, Aquarius – it is tempting to use language as a barrier, as a shroud, as illusion. Don’t let it hide you. Nothing you think or feel is less valid for being unspoken. Spend time this month inside your own head; examine yourself honestly and straightforwardly. Think about what it means to share something with someone, and to not share it with anyone but yourself. Choose the pieces of yourself that you give away, and then give them wholeheartedly.

Pisces: You’ve spent many nights sleeping facedown again, for fear – for fear that your heart might leap clear. “All for Love”, Jukebox the Ghost.

Try not to be afraid this month. Try not to let your idea of yourself get in the way of yourself. Stop saving your love for certain things – I know sometimes it feels this way, but you won’t run out. No one cares who you’re supposed to be except you, and it’s tempting to let the past define the future, but you’re more than that. You are growing and blossoming and opening into something beautiful. You are what you love – love everything you want. Your heart is bigger and braver than you think it is.

Aries: I got your letter in the mailbox today, and I said thank you for your thoughts but I am done. “Coney Island,” Good Old War.

You are holding onto your hurt like you are clutching barbed wire. It stings, and it reminds you, but you can’t go anywhere else. It is the bravest thing you can do, to remember what you have suffered and to continue surviving it. You will always be surviving it. But there is a difference between remembering it and carrying it on your back. That barb will cut your palm until you let it go. The fence will still be there, but you can walk away from it. Don’t let them win after all you’ve been through.

Taurus: We are all our hands and holders, beneath this bold and brilliant sun. “Don’t Carry It All,” the Decemberists.

Open yourself up this month. It is so often your way to do everything yourself, to go it alone, and you have been walking down a narrow, lonely corridor of your heart for some time now. It is not weakness to share your burden. It is not weakness to need other people. Think about trust this month; how you get it, how you lose it. How you give it to others. There are those out there who are worthy of yours, Taurus, but you have to be willing to let them carry you for a bit.

Gemini: But I don’t regret falling for your fool’s gold. “Fool’s Gold,” One Direction.

This is a month for coming to terms with yourself; with the things you have done and the person you have been. There is no use in regret. The best and truest thing you can do in this life is to meet the things you have done face-to-face and learn from them, and you are strong enough to do it. Every part of the perfect creature that you are now is your past, pressed into the diamond that is you. You alone can choose the parts of your narrative that you wish to keep, to learn from, to weave into song, to never regret.

Cancer: He takes the day, but I’m grown. “Tears Dry on Their Own,” Amy Winehouse.

Don’t burn yourself out with anger; don’t let it eat you alive. You are bigger than the battles you fight. Things have a way of seeming so permanent, so endless, and it is easy to lose yourself down that rabbit hole, but licking your wounds for too long will infect them. This too shall pass, they say, and sometimes they are wrong but more often than not they aren’t. Sometimes there is a deeper victory than the one you think you want, and if you can keep hold of that thought through the red in your vision you may win it.

Leo: We thought we lost you. Welcome back. “Adventures in Solitude,” the New Pornographers.

It is a long winter, and you are buried in the soil of yourself like a seed, hibernating, waiting. You are always waiting, it seems. It’s never going to be as warm as you want it to be out there, but remember: you are the sun. You have such power within you, such a bright shining core. Take this month and think about your light, your warmth, what you give to everyone around you. It is easy to forget your value, but you are a marvel. Don’t run, don’t hide; don’t stay buried.

Virgo: My mind holds the key. “My Body is a Cage,” Arcade Fire.

Examine things closely and honestly this month. A lot of what troubles you is inside you – do you remember the Hunger Games? Do you remember real/not real? This is your task, this month: to play this game with yourself. There is enough that you have to fight in this world without fighting yourself, but it can be the most difficult thing there is, to be your own ally. Take small steps into caring for yourself this month, mentally and physically. Listen to Taylor Swift; think about “I was there.” Think about your truth.

Libra: I’m fully grown, but I’m on tenterhooks. “French Navy,” Camera Obscura.

No one is watching you this month. No one is watching you ever. I mean this in the best way, in a way that should be freeing and soothing and terrifying to you all at once. The spotlight that you feel on you is one of your own making, and it’s so bright that it’s obscuring you. It hides your ideas, your thoughts, and your feelings. It is a light that burns – the light of comparison, of fear, of insecurity – and it is one that you have the power to turn off. Hold yourself up, exactly as you are, in the pure light of day.

Scorpio: You can do what you like to please me. “Sexy Mistake,” the Chalets.

Paint your eyelids gold this month. Paint everything gold; gild your heart. Think about how elemental you are, how perfectly structured. Gold can be fragile, but it’s beautiful, and it bends before it breaks. Don’t let them break you. Melt for them a little; let them show you their cards. Let them think it was their idea. When they say something is “malleable” what they really mean is “adaptable.” Think about what you want this month, from the world, from others, from yourself. You know how to get it.

Sagittarius: It’s never winter when it’s Donna Summer all year long. “Disco Love,” the Saturdays.

You have started to learn, this last year, about independence. About how love doesn’t compromise it, when it’s right. About friendships deeper and wider and stronger than the ocean. You are one person, complete and whole, and you have always felt that way. But there is wholeness in being together, too, and completeness, and it’s this new feeling that I want you to explore this month. You have always been fiercely apart – now use that fierceness in being with others.