tarot

X. Wheel of Fortune

No matter how fast a wheel spins, no matter what direction it spins in, no matter where it goes, its center remains the same. And no matter where your life takes you, up or down or through a hurricane, you are still your own small boat, weathering it all. The sun always comes out again.

For every failing sun
There’s a morning after

Stop your crying, helpless feeling
Dry your eyes and start believing
There’s one thing they’ll never take from you
-“The World Is Ugly,” My Chemical Romance

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The Wheel of Fortune is a card of change, of cycles, of growth and decay and the growth that follows. Everything along a circle is by necessity leading into the next thing, a continuum. You may not be at a point that you love in the wheel’s journey, but all you can do is hang on and wait for it to keep turning. The bad things in life will pass; the flip side of that is that so will the good things. This is the nature of the wheel. Remember: no feeling is gone forever, but no feeling is here to stay forever either. Remember: there is a reason they say “this too shall pass,” because it will, because everything passes and changes and becomes something entirely different – not new, necessarily, but different. Even the love that you feel for others takes on a new character and dimension every day that it lives in you.

Sometimes the Wheel is depicted as the Fates, but the meaning is the same: the inexorable force of the universe continuing, whether you like it or not. I know this sounds kind of maudlin – the end is nigh, and all that – but it’s honestly one of the most promising cards you can turn up in a reading. The Wheel indicates that change is coming, which, I mean. You could turn that card up in every reading you did for a month and it would still be true. Change is always coming – that is the whole point of the wheel, of the wide vast turning world. What the Wheel of Fortune is good for, when you turn it up, is to remind you that although you can’t change the course of the wheel, you can prepare yourself for what’s to come. You can take stock of the things you want to remember. You can look for the things you want to change.

You can dance in the middle of a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye
-“The Eye,” Brandi Carlile

Remember: you are at the center of a vast wheel that is spinning whether you like it or not. In a world that affords you little control this feels like the ultimate insult, to have something show up to tell you, well, it’s just going to happen, sorry, live with it, but this is actually a challenge and a blessing both. The Wheel wants you not to mourn your lack of control, or to lash out and try to jam things in the spokes, but to learn to roll with it. To adapt, to find the good as it comes to you, even in the midst of something largely terrible. The Wheel is a gift, is what I’m saying, but it’s a gift that you have to assemble and it doesn’t come with any of the tools so you have to run out in the middle of the party and buy a flathead screwdriver. But it is still a gift.

Despite the fact that you can’t change the wheel’s course, you can change how you react to it, and you can try to influence it. If the Wheel comes up when you’re feeling low, then Bob’s your uncle – good things are coming! But more often, the Wheel comes up when you’re feeling pretty okay, and it can be disheartening to realize that change is coming for you. The thing to keep in mind in this situation is that you have agency within the larger scope of the wheel. What I mean is that you can’t stop your situation from changing, and changing possibly for the worst, but you can prepare for it. You can figure out how to hit the ground running, to start working as hard as you can to get back on top. The Wheel is impassive, which is probably the most frustrating thing about it – it just turns, and goes where it pleases, and doesn’t really care how you feel about it. But that is what allows you so much freedom within it, to react and recoup and create new plans of attack.

(I’m so sorry for this one, but it had to be done.)

I GET KNOCKED DOWN! BUT I GET UP AGAIN! YOU’RE NEVER GONNA KEEP ME DOWN!
-“Tubthumping,” Chumbawamba

The Wheel itself doesn’t necessarily care, but its message is one that is filled with love, and one that you should try your best to remember when you see it. The Wheel is about optimism, about keeping positive, about finding every bit of silver in whatever clouds come your way. In this life, so much will happen to you that is beyond your control, and that is one of the hardest things in this world to bear, but the thing that is always within your control is how you react, how you create your own luck. What goes up will come down, but it will go up again. The one constant you have in this life is you, yourself, your center, your small boat. The best thing you can do is to keep yourself above water however you can, knowing that eventually the tide will turn and flood back out to the sea and you’ll be on dry land, at least for a little while. Like Battlin’ Jack Murdock said: It’s not how you hit the mat. It’s how you get up.

 

Page of Pentacles

If Aces are the cards of beginning, Pages are something before that. The spark before the match flares, the sharp sweet intake of breath before you say what you’ve been gathering the courage to say. The Page of Pentacles, in particular, is this way – a card of dreams, of longing, of the exact moment between wanting and getting everything you want and finding that it is better than you thought it would be.

Tonight we are young
So let’s set the world on fire
We can burn brighter than the sun
“We Are Young,” Fun. covered by Little Mix

This idea is exactly the Page of Pentacles, this feeling like something electric vibrating off your skin. I am young, I can do anything. I can burn so bright. Pentacles are the earth suit, remember, so it’s not just money – it’s the material world as a whole. Your body, the ground under your feet, your home. The physical trappings of your life. The Page of Pentacles, when it appears, is letting you know that it is time to undertake something new, something that will thrill you. This is important: this is not a card of fulfillment. This is a card of the very barest bones of something, something that you will have to nurture and nudge and feather all on your own, but. It is a signal that you are ready to do that, and that if you do it – if you put yourself to it meaningfully – you will be so successful, more successful than you ever imagined.

The Page of Pentacles is a starting gun, a flag waving at you to embark on whatever it is you’ve been thinking about. Remember: a card of dreams. Remember: pentacles are the suit of tangibility. The Page of Pentacles is essentially letting you know that you are in a position to make your dreams – previously nothing more than smoke and glitter – into a very real presence in your life. To manifest them physically. The Page of Pentacles is telling you that now is the time for action. You are a coiling spring, something poised and taut, and you have to take that momentum forward consciously. When I say that you are going to make your dreams real, I mean it, but you have to go about it thinking in terms of the earth suit, of materiality. You have to stop dreaming and start thinking in terms of what you must do now in order to make those dreams real. If you keep your head in the long-term, thinking about your eventual goals, you’ll never get there, but if you heed the Page and pull back to your immediate next steps, you will be there in no time. The Page demands concrete action, and planning; that’s why it is the spark before the flame rather than the flame itself: you have to get there. So when you see it, think about what your goal is and hold it tightly in your mind, and then get to work figuring out how you can make immediate, real moves toward it.

(I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’m not at all sorry. Make your dreams come true. Ooo-oo-oo.)

It’s difficult to take something as nebulous as a dream and make it tangible, I know that. But the cards will help you out here, if you let them. The Page of Pentacles is a card of learning as well, of acquiring new skills and pursuing new things, and this is probably a good first place for you to start. What will you need to do in order to make your dreams real? What do you need to know that you don’t already? What do you need to do that you haven’t done? It also may be asking you to consider your situation in a different way, learning a new perspective, as it were. All of these things are part of the physicality of working toward your goal, of keeping yourself grounded and rational and actively reaching for what you want. Being young and enthusiastic, full of optimism and confidence and the knowledge that you are fire in your bones, is often dismissed because it lacks commitment, follow-through, dedication. The Page of Pentacles is the signal that it is time for you to marry those two things, to light the fire and then control it, direct it, make it work for you.

The Page of Pentacles reversed means that something is hindering you, getting between you and your dreams, and it could be external or internal. It’s possible that there are things in the world that are physically stopping you from moving toward what you want, but more likely you are sabotaging yourself. It’s easy to dream big, and harder to pin down the weird elusive butterflies of how do I get that thing, and after you try and fail enough times it seems almost prudent to give up. The Page reversed is not an admonition per se, but it is absolutely telling you that you need to first cut yourself some slack, and then get it together. I know that seems annoyingly counterintuitive. I just mean that flailing away at a brick wall and then being upset with yourself for not succeeding is not going to help you succeed. You may need to step away from the situation and reassess what it is you are working toward, and why you thought that thing you were doing would help, and whether you still think that. If you do, and you can figure out where you’ve gone wrong, then Bob’s your uncle, but if you’re having trouble figuring out your next steps, cut yourself some slack. Let yourself breathe and settle, and then look at the situation with fresh eyes.

I’ll be fine, once I get it
I’ll be good
“Pursuit of Happiness,” Kid Cudi ft. MGMT

Five of Pentacles

download (4)Ah summer, when a young girl’s thoughts turn to freaking the fuck out because why are there no apartments available except for the ones that are somehow 700 square feet and ten dollars a foot. Ah, what a beautiful time. Ah, the crippling fear of Craigslisting a roommate. I digress, but again, my column and I get to choose the cards, so I just wanted to give you a little insight into what’s in my head/why I picked this one. So! Here we go.

Pentacles are such a frustrating suit. It’s either “You’ve made it! Don’t worry, here’s some money!” or “You’re ruined forever, bye!” There seems to be no in between. The Five of Pentacles is no exception, and unfortunately, it’s one of the depressing ones.

You’re screwed up and brilliant, look like a million dollar man
So why is my heart broke
-“Million Dollar Man“, Lana del Rey

The Five of Pentacles is about a loss, a financial blow that knocks you off your feet, but it’s more about the devastating consequences that such a loss can have. We live in a world where your worth is tied to selling your labor, and it’s hard to shake the internalized mindset of, like, I don’t make a lot of money and therefore I am worthless. A loss like the Five of Pentacles indicates – loss of a job, illness that prevented you from work, unexpected huge expenditures – that can be such a difficult thing to recover from, not only financially but emotionally. When everything in this world costs money, including simple, basic survival, it’s impossible not to feel crushed by the weight of not enough, never enough. The slightest financial misstep – what the people who have more money don’t understand – can throw your whole world completely out of balance, because there is just no margin for error. No wiggle room. So the Five of Pentacles is this devastating loss, and then it has the nerve to tell you the next thing.

The Five of Pentacles indicates that you may have an unhealthy relationship with money. (Pause for laughter) It indicates that you may be placing too much emphasis on the money you have or don’t have, and what that means about you as a person, and that you are essentially stunting your inner growth by fixating on this external concern. So what this means is that unless you are the richest person in the world, or one of them, the Five of Pentacles is always gonna be true for you. Like, wow, card, I’m stressed about money? What a novel, previously unrealized idea. Let me get to work fixing that. But listen, and I’m writing this as much for myself as I am for you – the Five of Pentacles is an indicator that something is really wrong. Like, okay, you’re always stressed about money. Yes, and. But that’s a baseline all the same, even if it’s a shitty one, and the Five of Pentacles means you’re not even holding it together there, on that level. What this card is trying to keep you from doing is losing faith in yourself, which is easy at the best of times and damn near inevitable when something like this occurs. Self-blame is common in financial loss, and while there may be some truth to it – for instance, I personally have racked up hilarious amounts of credit card debt – there is a point at which it becomes unproductive rather than motivating. Like, yes, I have to pay off these bills and I shouldn’t have opened ANOTHER card on top of the ones I have, bad Aly, but I am not a fundamentally worthless human being because of that. It’s a hard thing to remind yourself, but that’s why the cards exist. Tarot cards, not credit cards.

I wanna be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever, I don’t care about funny

and I am a weapon of massive consumption
and it’s not my fault, it’s how I’m programmed to function
-“The Fear“, Lily Allen

 

Essentially, the Five of Pentacles is telling you to reexamine your relationship to the loss you’ve had, to your financial worries. They are daunting, yes, but they shouldn’t be paralyzing. They shouldn’t make you doubt your personhood, or hate yourself, or think that you don’t deserve help. That’s the other part of the Five of Pentacles, the part that can be really difficult to face – there is a light somewhere, a small glimmer of hope, even in the darkness of this current situation. It may not be the one you want – for instance, I may have to live with a WEIRD STRANGER – but it is nonetheless a solution, a small measure of success in the face of a larger and more intractable difficulty. By the same token, there is also the potential here for personal growth, which is a kind of success as well. If I ever climb out of this hole of debt I will have learned so much about myself as a person, as someone with a hair-trigger for stress-buying crystals and shoes and Japanese candy, and I will know better. You know what I mean? This horrible situation is going to teach me how to budget better, and that sucks, and it doesn’t mean I’m not still going to be poor as all hell, but it is something out of nothing, out of less than nothing. The Five of Pentacles is about steps forward, even if they are tiny, tiny steps. It’s about getting yourself out of a place where all you can do is blame yourself and suffer and be afraid. Financial worries are very isolating, because of these terrible feelings of self-loathing and shame and general badness, and it’s easy to make yourself feel worse in this situation by denying yourself the comfort of others. You deserve support, no matter how you got into your present dilemma, and that is the most important thing, the silver lining in the cloud that is the Five of Pentacles. You are not your money, or lack thereof. Your worth as a person is not derived from your ability to earn, no matter how much our society insists on telling you that. This card is a reminder that no matter the situation you’re in, you still deserve support and comfort from yourself and from those around you.

Five of Wands

This is a weekly column, but I am human and sometimes not even very good at that, so last week I failed completely and this week I failed a little. I’m sorry. But I’m back, and I’m here, and we’re gonna get to the weekend alive. sportscaster voice Let’s go to the caaaaaaaaaaaaard!

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The Five of Wands isn’t not what I’ve been dealing with the past few weeks. I don’t mean to make this about me, but it’s my column, and that is the only sentence I’m going to say about my actual self, so. Sorry. The Five of Wands is a card of turmoil, of confusion and difficulty, of a thousand different voices all saying something at a volume that drowns out everything else.

Never thought I’d live to see the day
When everybody’s words got in the way
-“Everybody Talks,” Neon Trees

Sometimes the voices are internal; however, a lot of times when you see the Five of Wands it means that you’re in this place externally, this place of conflict and tension with those around you. This could be at work, at home, or in social circles – it just means that you’re at odds with a lot of people at the same time. This could also mean competition, which is a sort of controlled conflict, isn’t it? The important thing about the Five of Wands is that it wants you to stop talking and listen.

Listen to the voices, whether they’re coming from somewhere else in your brain or from someone outside of you entirely. The Five of Wands is an opportunity to learn, if you are willing to take it. This doesn’t mean I don’t want you to stand up for yourself; of course I do. But I want you to do so in a way that allows for the possibility of growth, of change. Of a different viewpoint being of value to you. The Five of Wands is often seen as the diversity card, the card of acceptance – looking at difference, at a source of potential conflict, and being okay with it. This card is a very good reminder of other peoples’ personhood, their lived experience. It is tempting to fear what you don’t understand, and to put yourself at odds with it, but the Five of Wands asks you to try a different approach.

Try to see it my way
Only time will tell if I am right
Or I am wrong
-“We Can Work It Out,” the Beatles, covered by Big Time Rush

No matter where it’s coming from, being challenged is stressful, and painful, and can bring up a lot of things that you don’t want to know or acknowledge about yourself. Being forced to really articulate, either to yourself or to others, what you believe and care about can be taxing beyond what you’d expect, but it is good for you. I feel like I say this every week, but I want you to remember it: the cards only appear when you’re ready for them, even if it doesn’t always feel that way. Knowing that you are in the midst of turmoil gives you the armor you need to sort it out productively, with respect for yourself and for everyone else involved. It doesn’t necessarily make it easier to go through, but this is what I can promise you. There isn’t ever going to be a way to resolve everything so that everyone is happy, and sometimes the person who isn’t happy is going to be you. What you have to do in this situation is to find the path that will make you as comfortable as you can be where you are. You are a constantly changing thing, a learning breathing living thing, and it is not unlikely that you are different now than you were, and than you will be. It is not a fault; it is not a failing. Conflict is a source of stress and confusion but it is also a source of change, and if you are willing to put in some work you will get something good from that change.

You’ve got to give a little, take a little
And let your poor heart break a little
That’s the story of, that’s the glory of love
-“The Glory of Love,” Bette Midler

The Five of Wands reversed indicates an aversion to conflict, a sore spot in your life that you’re avoiding. Recognize this warning for what it is, and find the source of your trouble. Don’t keep pushing it down, away; remember that the temporary discomfort of whatever confrontation may arise will be quickly replaced by something better. Don’t let yourself compromise when it won’t be productive for anyone involved – the momentary calm isn’t going to fix the underlying problem. Remember that.

XIII. Death

death

There are thirteen moons in a year; Taylor Swift was born on the 13th. It’s good luck, it’s bad luck, it’s what you make of it. It’s Death.

The Death card is similar to the Hanged Man in that unversed TV writers will often have their murderers leave it as a calling card, an ominous portent of yet more murdering to come. But Death, like the Hanged Man, isn’t what it appears to be on the surface at all.

Death is a card of change, a card of endings. It is a symbol that something in your life is about to become vastly, markedly different, but – this is so, so important – this change is one for the better. It’s what I would call a necessary ending, I guess – something giving way to make room for something different and new and ultimately better. This isn’t without pain, though; Death doesn’t take things lightly. Resisting what’s coming will only make it hurt more, and that’s the reason that Death shows up, in the end. Sometimes you’re holding on so tightly that you don’t realize the thing you’re clutching is burning you, and Death comes and unfolds your fingers and lifts it gently from your grasp. It’s terrifying to let go of what is known, of the things you were once certain of, but think about renewal. The sun sets and rises again in the morning, reborn out of the night, out of its temporary death. So too will you rise, no matter how much it seems like you are plunging forward into darkness.

Death is a card of transformation, of an unstoppable force, and I know it feels like you are being battered by the waves of what is coming for you but if you just pick up your feet and let it carry you, you will not drown. An ending is not a failure, and a loss isn’t always not a win. That was ungainly but hopefully you see what I mean, which is this: it hurts but it is for the best. A lot of times when Death shows up you don’t know what you need, what kind of change is coming for you, and my advice to you in this time is simply to let it all in, let everything happen. Death is the card of change for the better – no matter what happens now, it is taking you somewhere that will be good for you. Embrace whatever change is brought your way, even if it hurts, especially if it hurts. Starting over completely is daunting and sad and scrapes at your heart; the feelings of “I did this already,” of “how can it be different,” of “how can it be better?” – I know. I know. But you have to trust that this change will be good for you.

So let go, let go
Just get in
It’s so amazing here
It’s all right, cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
Let Go,” Frou Frou

I talked about it a little bit but I want to reiterate this now: Death is the card of letting go, of ending certain attachments. I’m not just talking relationships, although of course they’re included, but I’m talking everything. Anything that is bad for you that you can’t let go of – spending, drinking, whatever. Your life is your life and you do what you need to in order to survive, I will never ask you to give that up. But Death showing up is a signal that maybe you are ready to let go after all, to release the things that are dragging you down, the things that make you heavy. You are always rising, I think, like from the depths of some great dark ocean, and the sun is always overhead breaking down through the water. And there are beautiful things everywhere in the ocean, in every part, even in the depths there are those glowing jellyfish, you know. So as you’re rising it’s okay for it to take some time; it’s okay for you to hang out in the depths for a while. But you’re still rising, all the time rising, and there are things you take with you that buoy you upward and there are things you take with you that weigh you down. Death is a signal that there are some things you need to let go of, some things to release and kick away from, even if it feels like you are weightless without them. Weightlessness is terrifying, I know, and directionless and smothering, but it is also freedom. It is also a blank slate. The pain of change gives way before the bright limitless potential of the future.

Maybe it’s not my weekend
But it’s gonna be my year
Weightless,” All Time Low

Two of Pentacles

All Twos are cards of decision. They are two halves, two paths. When you see a Two, your first consideration is its suit – where will your choices lie? What paths will there be for you to take?

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Pentacles are the money suit – the material world, the physical trappings of your life. The Two of Pentacles, when it appears, is letting you know of the necessity of balance. Remember, Aces are cards of beginning: the Ace of Pentacles is a new job, a business venture – and the Two is what comes after. It is a continuation, yes, but it is a sort of smoothing-out, a moderation, a folding-into of your life as a whole. It means that whatever you’ve set in motion in your life: the new job, the promotion, the great idea you’ve just had – you now have to find a way to make that a part of your life, rather than your sole focus.

The Two of Pentacles is about balance in terms of your focus, your priorities. This new thing, this venture, this source of income – it’s exciting, and it’s worthwhile, but it can’t be your everything. You still have family, friends, the emotional trappings of your physical life, and these things have to be nurtured. The Two of Pentacles is a juggling act, a weighing of certain things against others. It is hopeful, though, which is what I want you to remember: it’s telling you that this balancing act is within your grasp. There is a happy medium for you somewhere; all you need to do is find it.

So. Priorities. You have your larger, more exciting, more demanding goals, but you also have your day-to-day stuff – laundry, bills, cat food. This stuff is just as important – that is the whole point I’m making here. I know it’s not thrilling and glamorous, but this is what creates balance. This is what does it. You can’t look at the big picture, the long-term pie-in-the-sky stuff, without first getting your house in order, literally and metaphorically. Time management is key here, as much as that fully sucks. Do you have a planner? Get a planner. Think about to-do lists, stuff like that. Prioritizing mundanity seems like the worst, and it kind of is, but there is such a sense of like, baseline accomplishment and calm that you will feel when you have sort of gotten your busy-ness in order. You know, organizing your chaos a bit. You don’t have to throw your larger goals to the wind – indeed, that’s basically the opposite of what I’m saying – you just have to make sure you’re giving everything the time it needs and deserves. This is important because it keeps you from putting all your eggs in one basket – it keeps your options open. Rather than pouring all your time and energy into one thing, that may or may not benefit you in the future, you’ve listened to the card’s core meaning – balance, choice, multiple paths – and given yourself a variety of ways to move forward.

“Hard rain’s gonna fall”, means something’s gonna happen.
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall“, Bob Dylan

The Two of Pentacles indicates that change may be coming, whether internally or externally, and that’s why this balance is so important. You can’t know what will happen, and you know what they say about best-laid plans. It’s not a definite, mind you, which I know is frustrating, but it’s more of a reminder. Eventually, somewhere, change is gonna come, and either you will have prepared yourself for it or you won’t. The Two of Pentacles is alerting you to hone your weapons – flexibility, rolling with the punches. Keep your eyes open for new things on the horizon – the juggling act never ends, and someone might be about to throw you an apple (or whatever fruit your’re juggling, I don’t know).

That’s the way it is
You gotta roll with the punches
That’s the way it goes
You gotta bend when the wind blows
You live, you learn
You crash and burn
It’s hit or miss
And that’s the way it is
That’s the Way (Roll With the Punches)“, Jo Dee Messina

The reversed Two of Pentacles is essentially the Two of Pentacles but… more intense. Like, earlier I was like, get a planner? The reversed Two is like GET A PLANNER, GET A PLANNER YESTERDAY. Rather than telling you you need balance, it’s telling you you NEEDED balance awhile ago, and now you’re all out of whack. It means you’re actively in the throes of imbalance, of not managing things well, and you have to recognize that and start trying to get your head back above water. This means getting a planner, starting a budget, doing whatever it is that works for you to get your shit together. Again, I want you to remember: the appearance of any card means that you can do what it asks of you. I know it’s overwhelming, but the solution is literally presented in the problem. The cards don’t come up when you’re not ready for them, even if you feel like you aren’t, and that can be something to lean on when you feel like you can’t cut it. Somewhere inside you is the strength to do what you need to, always.

III: The Empress

Congratulations! You’re pregnant. No, I’m kidding. Well – okay – I’m not kidding, but it may or may not be an actual baby. This is one of those times where you’ll have to look at the context of the card, or possibly just at the odds of you having a baby inside you right now. The Empress is the card of pregnancy, of being on the verge of creation, but it’s not necessarily literal. (Take a deep breath. Sorry I scared you.)

I looked for that gif for eighty years. If you haven’t seen Jupiter Ascending you should, but also, sorry. Appreciate me anyway.

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The Empress is a big hug. That’s how it feels to me. It’s this incredibly nurturing, safe, protective presence; it is literally Demeter. It is capable of so much destruction, but it only exercises that awesome, terrifying power in times of extremity. It is first and foremost a mother, and I mean that not in a gendered sense but in the sense simply of a caretaker, a protector, someone that would rear up on hind legs and bash in the head of anyone who dared challenge the safety of their loved ones. The things you create – whether they are people, or paintings, or songs, or words – all of these things are yours, part of you given to the world, and you are their fiercest defender. The Empress is therefore a card of beginning, but not quite like an Ace (although Aces in your readings will give you clues as to what the Empress is here about!). It is a card that symbolizes creation, in its myriad forms. Creativity, nurturing; planting something and watching it grow. The Empress is about potential, both realized and waiting to be realized.

No one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Unwritten“, Natasha Bedingfield

When the Empress demands creation, it is generally in the form of art – beauty is the hallmark of the Empress. But the thing here is that everything created is art, when it is done with an eye toward nourishing some part of you. When what you create fulfills you, pleases your soul, it is art, no matter what it is, and the Empress rejoices in it.

The Empress also demands a return to nature, a re-appreciation of the natural world and your place in it. Remember, Demeter: think grain, think flowering, think the turning of the world into seasons where everything is lush and green and living. The appearance of the Empress is a sign that you need to spend more time in nature, that you need to appreciate the natural world. I know it’s hard – trust me, I spend my days indoors, and not by choice – but it is necessary. The Empress is a card of balance, and when she appears it means that your life lacks balance. But in the same breath, she tells you how to fix it – create. Go outside. Inhabit the world, and give to it however you can.

I know this seems a little woobly-hands date-a-girl-who-travels lifestyle-blogging nonsense, but I promise, that’s not what I mean. I know you’re busy, and I know it’s hard to have hobbies, especially as a working person, especially when those hobbies are “create a beautiful thing out of your brain”. Like, where is the spark for that! We were talking about that last night, the witchsongs and I, and I said “a lot of times what I am doing is just slamming hands on keyboard, like,” which is self-deprecating but honestly not untrue. A lot of times I sit down to write and I’m like, I can’t possibly, I have nothing left to say. But I make myself type things, and even if those things are terrible they sort of open the door a little bit for better things to slip through. So what I’m saying here isn’t just, go paint a masterpiece today while sitting in a verdant field for eight hours and you will have attained peace. Like, get out.

What I’m saying here is that there is a lack in your life, an imbalance, and it’s coming from the place in your heart that nurtures things, that feels protective and fierce and warm. The place in your heart that loves the things you create and fights for them. It’s out of practice, is what I’m saying, and any practice is better than none. I know time is short – when you’re walking from your car to work, try and look at what’s around you. Appreciate the sad, small tree in its little sad tree-ring on the sidewalk. Smile at a pigeon, I guess. Let the world know that you see it, and that you see yourself in it. It can be such a small thing, I promise, but it will make such a difference – that is literally the point of the Empress. It shows up to say, “You could feel better than this, and this is how,” and it’s not putting any kind of pressure on you, it’s not an ultimatum, it’s just – it’s very cognizant of your worth, the Empress. It’s very aware of how much you have to give, even when you yourself aren’t. And giving can seem scary, losing parts of yourself, creating little things to go out into the world and be received in some way you can’t predict, but that’s part of it too, the part that flexes the mama-bear muscles of your heart and says no, that is mine, it came from me and I have worth and it does too. It’s hard, to create things, and it’s even harder to be proud of those things once they’ve slipped out of you. But it is so good for you, and I promise you it is worth it. The Empress is asking you to allow the universe to be present in your life, in you, to do good things for you. To ground you, and raise you up, and remind you that you are alive in the day.

and I will go downtown
Stand in the shadows of the buildings

and button up my coat
Trying to stay strong, spirit willing
and I will come back home
Maybe call some friends
Maybe paint some pictures
It all depends
Get Lonely“, the Mountain Goats

The Empress reversed is a warning, a signal that you are overextending yourself. There is a difference between nurturing something, someone, keeping it safe through the night, and micromanaging it to the point that you crush its flame out entirely. You can’t spell smother without mother, ha, ha ha ha, but there’s a small ridiculous grain of truth there. The Empress is about faith, and the reversed Empress means you’re doubting yourself, doubting the things you have made, doubting your place in the universe. It can mean you’re pushing down your own emotions to deal with someone else’s, or that you are experiencing some kind of creative block, or that you are overlooking your own beauty, your own radiant nature. You feel rootless, you know. The Empress reversed is reminding you that you are everything you need, deep down in the little acorn of your heart, tiny fibers ready to branch out and through you. Return to yourself, draw yourself inward. Stoke the flame inside you until it is ready to really burn. Feed it small scraps of paper, encouragement. Nurture yourself, the parts of you that you don’t think are worth anything, because they are. They are. Listen to your soul, and remember: balance, balance.

Breathe it out and breathe it in
Trust the light that shines within
Let it burn ’til you learn to love yourself
Breathe it out and breathe it in
Trust the light that shines within
Let it burn ’til you learn to love yourself
Learn to Love Yourself“, Olivia Newton-John

Ace of Wands

Everything has a beginning, a seed, a tiny growing thing to be nurtured. Aces are cards of beginning, of first steps, of budding. The Ace of Wands is maybe my favorite ace, I don’t know, I am a sucker for Wands in general. But it is a good card, one that I love, a sweet and gentle thing.

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The Ace of Wands is still flowering, still growing. It is a baby, a tiny sapling, something to be sheltered and coaxed out of its shell. It is a spark, primarily, most importantly. The Ace of Wands at its purest core is a symbol to you of genesis, of the beginning of something new and great. It is a card of passion, of pursuit, and its appearance indicates inspiration: now is the time to go. The spark is lit, when you see this card – whatever project you have been thinking about, whatever project or idea has been gently tumbling around the back of your head – now is the time. The spark is bright but it’s small, and it’s more important now that you nurture it into a full-blown flame than it is to make sure you don’t get burned. Am I making sense? This card is a signal for action, even a small one – it’s crucial and it is time-based, sorry, but it is. Inspiration strikes like a bolt of lightning, and sometimes it starts a fire where it hits but that fire goes out quick if it’s not fanned, right? This card is essentially telling you to turn all your attention to that little flame. This is a time for doing, rather than planning, so be careful. Whatever you do now doesn’t need to be long-term, doesn’t need to be researched and thought-out and planned. Your first steps now just need to be taken, and taken decisively, and once that flame has a hold of some kindling you can take a step back and start to think more big-picture, but for now it’s important that you just get moving.

 

I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes, I saw the sign
No one’s gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong
But where do you belong
-“The Sign”, Ace of Wands Base

Strike while the iron is hot, you know? I don’t know if you know where that phrase comes from so let me tell you: when you are making a sword or a tool or whatever, we’ll say a sword because swords are great, when you are first shaping it – when you are literally creating it at the most basic level, we’re not talking engraving or points or anything, we’re talking literally making a piece of metal into a certain shape – you have to heat it, okay, in a fire, and when you pull it out of the fire you have to hit it! Right then! While it’s still hot and malleable, while it can still be shaped into something. If you miss the opportunity you can put it back in the fire but, like, repeated heating and cooling isn’t good for it, and the point I’m making is that the Ace of Wands is telling you that the sword just got yanked out of the fire. Someone yanked it out for you, maybe, sorry, but you don’t get to choose – it’s happening now, whether you like it or not, and so you can grab your, whatever, blacksmith hammer, and make a damn sword or you can not. It’s up to you, but the Ace of Wands is a sign that conditions are favorable – it feels scary and maybe even irresponsible to just do a thing without reservation or planning, but it’s just the first few steps of the thing, and the cards won’t lie to you. The most important thing is to start the process, to jump out of the plane. You have so much time to hit the target on the way down, to adjust your trajectory, but you have to jump out at the right time.

It takes a leap of faith to get things going
It takes a leap of faith, you gotta show some guts
It takes a leap of faith to get things going
In your heart you must trust
Leap of Faith“, Bruce Springsteen

The Ace of Wands is a lot about energy, about passion, and I want you to be careful now to recognize that. There is so much inspiration and light and fire in you, and it’s time to unleash it. Try as hard as you can to do it in a way that’s going to be good for you long-term. I know I literally just said this isn’t long-term, and I meant it, so don’t freak out. What I mean is just – you  know, you want the sword to be a sword, so you probably wouldn’t hit it so hard that it breaks in half or something. You don’t know what the sword will look like or act like yet, but you have a very basic conception of a sword that you are pointing yourself toward. The same thing applies here – you don’t have to know exactly where you are going, but try to point yourself in a direction that you think will bear fruit.

The reversed Ace of Wands is pretty straightforward – all this energy, this tiny spark, this little seedling? The reversed Ace of Wands means you have none of that. You might have a goal in mind, but – is it one that you want? Is it one you’re excited about? The reversed Ace means that you might just be toiling away toward something without necessarily knowing why, without it being something that you truly want, without it being something that you’re truly passionate about. If this card appears to you reversed, it might be time to examine what you’re doing, on as small or large a scale as you want. I’m not one of those people that insists you have to love what you do, etc., but I think there is certainly room in everyone’s life to do what you love – not necessarily as a career, but on some level. There has to be room somewhere for you to nurture your soul, to fan the flame of what excites you and makes you happy to be a person.

You are what you love
Not who loves you
“Save Rock and Roll”, Fall Out Boy

Two of Swords

This is neither here nor there, and strictly non-tarot-related, but I want you all to know that I am currently typing this literally through my cat Sadie’s floof. She is sitting somehow on both of my arms, and I am still typing. She weighs thirteen pounds. I love you all a lot.

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We all make decisions, every day of our lives. Sometimes, most of the time, they’re small, inconsequential. This t-shirt, this bagel. There is rarely one of those massive, life-altering choices, those forks in the road, those decisions that you wish you could play out like the timelines episode of Community. What if you accidentally stroll into your own darkest timeline? What if the choice you make is irreversible?

In a lot of cases, it is tempting to wait, to put it off. Arriving at a fork in the road doesn’t necessarily mean you have to choose one of the forks, right? You can hang out at the corner, set up a little picnic, open a blacksmithing shop, find a wife, live and die at the crossing of these two roads. It’s fine. It’s good. The other option that is pretty popular, and is one of my personal favorites, is the shriek-and-dash method. This is the one where you get so overwhelmed by the possibility of failure and doom that you literally just pick a road to have picked a road, and then fling yourself down it headlong because now you’ve picked it and at least there’s that dealt with. This has gotten me into many, many terrible scrapes and is generally not a method I would recommend but like, hey, I’m not your boss. You do you, and if that requires lunging ahead without planning or foresight, lunge away. I can’t deny it works sometimes.

The Two of Swords is the card that you are dealt at the fork of two very important roads. This is not the card of what should I wear today but the card of who will I become. This card is the coinflip that divides your timelines. You are blindfolded at the intersection of two great and terrible things, and the only thing that can guide you is your soul. The Two of Swords, when you see it, is letting you know where you are. Letting you know that now, right now, in this ordinary moment, you are on the verge of something new and different.

The Two of Swords is like the Hanged Man in that it is a card of pause and a card of reflection. A lot of times these cards appear when you are pelting along, not thinking too hard, and their intent is to pull you up short, stop you in your tracks. The Two of Swords is not a warning, necessarily, but it is something on the way to one. It is the clearest signal you can get of one very important thing, which is this: you have to make a choice. The Two of Swords heralds a situation that will definitely be made worse by avoiding it. When you see the Two of Swords, know that it is time to bite the bullet and address whatever difficult choice you’ve been skirting around.

I gotta
Take a risk
Take a chance
Make a change
And break away
Breakaway“, Kelly Clarkson

It is also, in a weird way, a relief. The Two of Swords is essentially a validation of what you’ve been feeling, which is that this decision is incredibly difficult to make. It asks you why, though – it demands that you figure it out. What is making this so hard for you? Is it a lack of information? Is it fear of the unknown, fear of consequences, fear of shutting doors, fear? What don’t you know about the situation? Swords are the suit of logic, remember, of rationality and clearheadedness, and that is what this situation calls for. Take a step back and look at the fork in the road, and assess it as neutrally as you can. This card asks for balance: these crossed swords, this forked path. You may need to pull yourself back farther than usual, farther than is necessary or comfortable. I am very firmly not a person who cares about what the devil’s advocate has to say, so know that I’m not telling you that, but listen. The Two of Swords indicates a need for balance. It tells you that you aren’t looking at everything, you don’t have all the information. And because of that, because of that imbalance, you may have to look at alternate ideas, different viewpoints. You might have to compromise, which is one of the most difficult things that we have invented, but the Two of Swords is your indicator that it will be worth it. This means personal conflicts, too – sometimes your choice is simply how to relate to others, and the Two of Swords tells you that you cannot move forward until you lay this down, and the only way to do that is simply to agree to disagree and move past it.

I say it once
You say it twice
You know I like a little competition from time to time
You think I’m wrong when I know I’m right
You lose this ain’t no kinda competition
I like a man with ambition
But when you gonna know it’s time to let go?
‘Cause I think I’m about to lose my mind
Competition“, Little Mix

The reversed Two of Swords indicates that your decision is a terrible one, sorry, and what I mean by that is that neither choice will make you happy. The lady or the tiger, so on and so forth. You still have to pick one, though, and the sooner you do the sooner you can begin to deal with the consequences. It can also indicate that you have too much information, rather than too little, and at that point what I’ll do is (sorry again) direct you to Whitman – dismiss whatever insults your soul. If you are flooded with information to the point that it’s paralyzing you, try and wade through to the heart of it, find what resonates with you best, and make the choice. Remember: this card is about action. Even when it is reversed, it demands that you move.

The hall remains, it still contains a pair of doors, a choice.
Behind one door, a muffled roar, behind the other, a voice.
The Lady and the Tiger“, They Might Be Giants

(A note: A helpful thing I have learned is to do a separate reading on the Two of Swords when it comes up – just one additional card for each side, each sword. Each fork in the road. This may give you more insight into what it is your choices could bring, what they mean to you, and help guide you better.)

Ten of Cups

I have seen a lot of really good movies lately. Let me start there. I am a big crier; let me add that. I evaluate things not by any standards other than my own soul. Let me finish with that.

What I mean is that my taste in things, specifically movies, is often the butt of jokes. I don’t do things ironically, anymore, and I have confused a lot of people with my genuine investment in “objectively” “bad” things. What I’m about to tell you is one of the less confusing things, I think, at least to me – the internet tells me that I’m less alone in this than I thought, although face-to-face with others it’s hard to remember. But, okay. I am going to say it and you are going to read it, and then I am going to explain why this is happening in the freaking tarot column. Are you ready? Here it is: I cried at the end of Furious 7, a movie during which cars are driven out of a plane and then parachute down onto a road and drive away. I cried then, and I’m still crying a little still when I hear the credit song on the radio. And that’s where we’re going to start – at the end of Furious 7 – and then we’re going to talk about the Ten of Cups.

(I guess this is where some sort of disclaimer goes, although I am not sure what to warn you about. What I want to talk about here is basically the last five minutes of a years-long franchise, but as a tiny microcosm of what the franchise as a whole actually is. So like, I don’t know– read at your own risk if you haven’t seen it yet?)

Paul Walker is dead, and the very harshness of that as I wrote it made me wish for the passive voice, for something softer. His life has ended. All things end. That doesn’t make it easy. The end of Furious 7 is the closing of this huge sprawling generally ridiculous chapter of our lives – The Fast and the Furious came out in 2001! There are people alive today who are younger than The Fast and the Furious as, like, a cultural thing. And I don’t know if the franchise will go on, and I’m sure it probably will because $$$$$, but the end of Furious 7 is the end of it, for me, and I think for everyone to whom it matters even a little bit. Listen.

The Fast & Furious movies are, above and below and throughout anything else, about friendship. They are about friendship so deep and abiding that it transcends the law and space and time and more explosions than seems possible or necessary. Friendship that is more important than blood, and darker, and richer and more precious. Friendship that is the truest kind of family. And I am not wrong and I am not projecting when I say that the actors in this franchise love each other just as much offscreen as they do in two-hour cinematic installments. The Fast & Furious people loved Paul Walker like he was their own because he was, and I cannot imagine the loss that they felt and still feel. Imagine making that movie! Imagine the time and effort that went into everything that came before, the years and years together. Imagine everything making you remember; the difference that loss creates in a picture that has been the same for so long. The glaring center of everything. We are getting to the tarot I PROMISE. Stay with me. It will all come together.

Paul died suddenly, and violently, and unexpectedly. Death is death is death but there is a difference between ripping off a Band-Aid and having the Band-Aid washed away in the sea someday when you are laughing and licking salt off your lips. The end of Furious 7 was a gift to him, an imagining of what should have been his, of what was his for years and years. I think, too, in a lot of ways, it was a gift to everyone that was left, a way to say goodbye, to negotiate things, to imagine him standing on the beach with his wife and child, alive somewhere in the world, apart from them but happy, but alive. I would allow you to leave my life forever before I would see you dead. It is better that I should never see you again than that I should cause you pain, that I should take from you what is deservedly yours. Vin Diesel gets up and he doesn’t say goodbye because it’s never goodbye, because he never had a chance at goodbye, and then he looks up from the steering wheel and there is Paul. And they drive under the sun and their paths follow each other for so long, wild animals streaming through the world next to each other and they are so alive in their love, their joy in each other, and the roads diverge. And that is all.

The Ten of Cups is the card of peace, of fulfillment, of the life that they wished for Paul Walker. It is the beach, it is the wife and child, it is the knowledge of many years to come in the warm bright air of the future, slowly wrinkling and softening and still the same bright spark in the eyes. It is contentment, it is everything that you’ve ever dreamed of, and there is no catch. It is an endless steady thing, friends around a table, driving fast cars, wind in your hair. It is the card of family, in whatever form it takes for you, standing around you with love in their eyes. It is a moment of pause, and I want you to take it, snapshot, he stands on the beach and his face is turned from you but you know he is happy, and you want him to stay that way forever. The Ten of Cups is a harbor, an idyll, clear still water that reflects what you have loved, what has loved you, everything bound up growing together like vines, holding each other. Together. It is the end of a long road, twisting and turning and dappled with sun and shadow. It is the product of a lifetime, of many lifetimes, of small moments that are bigger than the world. Corona, and your best friend’s children, and your wife in white, and porch steps at night. What I am saying is that this is such a blessing, this card, such a small gift that is so much of everything. The family you make, the family you choose. The love in you that is absorbed and reflected by everyone around you, keeping you warm. The road is long but you drive next to someone for as long as you can, and you can look at each other and somehow not crash your cars into each other and in that moment you are alive forever, in this bright incredible love, the sun fills your car and you smile, and you will have that love always, always, and your roads diverge. And that is all.

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