tarot

Eight of Wands

 

 

 

 

Wands are a suit of energy, of passion, of a sort of unbridled, boundless vibrating potential. Think lightning, think tidal waves, think unstoppable forces. Now think about the destructive potential of those things. Think about recklessness, and carelessness, and the need for channels. We have arrived at the Eight of Wands.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Eight of Wands is an amazing card, simple but powerful. You are that lightning, that tidal wave; your energy and passion in your pursuits is literally a force of nature. And in this instance, specifically, you are channeling that energy into a tool of diamondlike precision, aimed at your goals like a hawk dropping from the sky. Your mind is clear, your focus is pure; there are no distractions, nothing between you and this thing that you will achieve.

The window’s open and the world is yours; go attack
‘Cause when the wind is right and the tide is high
It’s time to fly

Oh if I want it
I’m gonna get it
And I’m just sayin’
I’m just sayin’
I’m Just Sayin’“, Karmin

The Eight of Wands is a card of productivity. It means that not only are you in the process of achieving something right now, but that as soon as you have reached that peak you’ll be off once again, racing toward something equally incredible. This is a card that heralds a time of intense work in your life – I won’t lie to you, you will be busy. This is not a card that you’ll see when you’re not ready for it, though. Rather, the Eight of Wands shows up when you are in the throes of your struggle, working toward something that has maybe begun to seem like it is too far away, to renew your energy.

The most important thing to remember when you see this card is that it is essentially a starter’s pistol, a cracking whip, a spur in the side. Except, no, not really, because all of those things are cruel and terrifying, and the Eight of Wands should feel like a blessing. It’s like… it’s like you’re swimming laps, I guess, and you’re almost done, and you feel like you’re just ready to stop moving and drown, like, death would be kinder at this point than continuing to flail through this dumb water, but then! All of a sudden you get this surge of energy, this weird blinding joy and motivation that washes over you, and your muscles don’t ache anymore and your head is clear and filled with light and it’s like this unbelievable knowledge, washing over you, that you can keep swimming and you will keep swimming and when you are done you will have achieved something incredible. The Eight of Wands is like that. It is a balm, a soothing breeze, it is anything and everything that has ever given you a renewed sense of purpose. It is essentially the universe telling you not to give up, because not only will you continue, you will succeed. It is a signal that your time to act is now, right now, and what’s more and what’s better is that it implicitly says that you will be able to take advantage of that. What I mean is that the Eight of Wands doesn’t show up when your cause is hopeless. It’s not ever lying to you. The Eight of Wands is a promise that not only will you succeed if you move, but that you have the ability to move in the first place.

Just when you think I’m at the end
Any second imma catch my second wind

An airplane’s only paper ’til it finds a breeze
But don’t you know that it’s the low that makes the high so sweet?
When they try to break, break, break you
That’s when you get your break, break, breakthrough, yeah
-“Second Wind“, Kelly Clarkson

The Eight of Wands reversed can have several meanings. The most common, and the one you should think of first, is that there are distractions in your life preventing you from getting where you need to go. You have the energy, but the channel is blocked. More accurately, I guess, the channel has a bunch of leaks, and it’s letting all of your focus shoot off in other directions. You know when a pipe has leaks and the overall force of the water eventually gets low enough that it stops moving? That is the reversed Eight of Wands. You have all of this momentum, this passion, but there are too many things that you’re trying to focus on and as a result you’re not being effective. Take this as a sign to draw back a little, and consider how to better control and aim your energies.

The other thing that the Eight of Wands reversed may be telling you is that you’re moving too fast, taking on too much at once or simply hurtling too quickly toward what it is that you want. It is sometimes worth it to evaluate the situation from afar, when you see this card – look at the bigger picture and see what it is you might be missing in your haste. Is this goal what you really want? Is it conducive to longer-term success and happiness? Are you ignoring other parts of your life in your headlong charge toward it?

My dad has told me a lot of things of varying usefulness in the course of my life, but the one that I routinely tell myself, the one that I find most comforting, is this: How do you eat the elephant? One bite at a time. It’s so simple, but it has saved my life more times than I can count. How often are you confronted with something that seems impossible? How often do you feel as though you’re being crushed under the weight of everything you have to do to achieve what you want? The only way forward is one bite at a time. The Eight of Wands reversed is telling you exactly this. Sometimes when you know you have six hundred things to do it is awful to the point of paralysis, and instead of doing anything at all you just freak out and sit on your couch and go I HAVE SIX HUNDRED THINGS TO DOOOO. Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. But the only thing you can do in that situation is to simply take a bite, and I promise you, from personal experience and from the cards themselves, it works. It doesn’t matter where you start, once you start. The task transforms from something monolithic and dreadful to a series of smaller things, and the trick here is to do one thing to completion before starting another. It doesn’t matter if your first bite is “put everything into a stack”. If that is your bite, you take it and you do it and you don’t do anything else until it’s done. Remember your channel, your leaky pipe. The way to fix it is to go inch by inch and stop up the cracks.

Remember: you can do this. The Eight of Wands appears when you are ready for it, and that includes when it appears reversed. It is a signal that you need to act, but more importantly, it is a reminder that you have all the strength you need to do so.

 

Ace of Pentacles

HELLO, WITCHES. It has been a weird and trying week and I am in the middle of trying to refinance my student loans and, like, we’re all approaching death, so we’re going to do an #aspirational card this week and hopefully our focusing on it will bring it the fuck into our lives. Also, I have been listening exclusively to Fifth Harmony this week and, perhaps not coincidentally, their new album works really well for this card, so.

The Ace of Pentacles is the beginning of the money suit, the hand of heaven descending upon you and making it rain. Less simplistically: Aces are the cards of beginning, remember, of fresh starts and innocence and new things. Pentacles are the earth suit, technically, but what that means is that they are the cards “of the world”, the physical world, its materials and trappings and what is in it. So – the money suit. The new beginning, the start you have been waiting for – the Ace of Pentacles  is a sign that there is about to be new energy in the financial parts of your life. This could be new investments – if you’re thinking about it, this is the time – or literally just money from the sky. The Ace of Pentacles is essentially the herald of prosperity, so if it turns up, start figuring out where to put all your new stuff.

Every day is payday
Swipe my card, then I do the nae nae
Workin’ for the money
‘Cause that’s what my mama taught me
“BO$$”, Fifth Harmony

Again, remember: pentacles are earth, not just money. When the Ace of Pentacles tells you that new opportunities are out there, it doesn’t only mean financially (although that is, of course, what we’re hoping for). It means new opportunities and fresh starts in general, in your worldly life, in whatever form that takes. It’s about abundance, about having enough – if there are areas where you feel unfulfilled, however that is affecting you – this card is a symbol to you that that feeling is on its way out. Look for places where you feel like you’re missing something, and know that the Ace of Pentacles means that you will find something to stitch them up soon enough. Like most of the positive Pentacles, the Ace is also a reminder that you deserve the goodness that is on your way, and you would do well to remember that. Looking at this card with an open mind and heart, and trying not to think “this is impossible” or “no way will this happen to me” is the first step toward welcoming what the universe is going to bring into your life. This whole thing is bigger than you, remember, and you can take the card and ignore it or you can try and work with it. I’m not saying someone is going to literally drop money into your lap, although I guess that is not out of the realm of possibility. What I’m saying, what the Ace of Pentacles is saying, is that financial opportunities are going to arise in your life where there weren’t any before, and if you’re not looking for them because you don’t believe they exist, you will miss them.

Give it to me I’m worth it
Baby I’m worth it
Uh huh I’m worth it
Gimme gimme I’m worth it
Give it to me I’m worth it
Worth It“, Fifth Harmony

Finally, and possibly most importantly: pentacles are the suit of goals. The Ace is a signal that it is time to do something about yours, whatever stage they are in. If you don’t have any, now is the time to set them. If you do have them, know that you need to kick into high gear and start working. I mean concrete, logistical plans, because the time for action and success is knocking on your door. Planning doesn’t come easily to everyone, and trust me, I know, but the Ace of Pentacles is telling you that you can do it. There is a window opening for you, and like I said earlier – you have to look for it and clamber through it as fast as you can. The Ace of Pentacles means that it is time to move, on your dreams and plans and ventures, and you never know how long these opportunities will last. You need a new perspective when it comes to the Ace of Pentacles. This is a card that offers joy and stability and hope and comfort, but it’s not going to do the work for you. It is, rather, a signal that conditions are right for you to make positive changes in your material life, and you need to believe that those changes are possible in order to start effecting them. Look for your window, is what I’m saying. Find whatever crack exists and smash it apart, climb through it. This is an exercise in belief – the opportunity exists. You only have to look for it. Work hard (for the money).

Nine of Pentacles

The Nine of Pentacles is the card of luxury, of maturity, of a sort of rounded, ripe fullness. It is a branch heavy with fruit, ready to be plucked and eaten; it is a symbol of your hard work.

Three little birds sat on my window
And they told me I don’t need to worry
-“Put Your Records On,” Corinne Bailey Rae

The Nine of Pentacles shows up when it’s time for you to stop for a second, to look around and take in everything you’ve accomplished – to enjoy the fruit of your labor. You work hard, and that’s how you’ve gotten to where you are, but if you don’t lift your head and look around at everything you’ve earned, what’s the point? Some people warn against vanity, against overindulgence, against preening and fluffing your lil feathers about everything you own. But you worked for it! You worked for it and you earned it, and there is no shame in being present and proud in it. In fact, the Nine of Pentacles reversed literally means that you might be feeling too reticent about enjoying what is yours. Obviously, I’m not telling you to go out and start shrieking in everyone’s face about how rich and amazing you are, but don’t be afraid to appreciate what is yours, and – this is the sort of terrifying part – to continue to acquire things. Remember, card of luxury: the Nine of Pentacles means it’s time for you to surround yourself with beautiful things that make you happy. More importantly, it’s a symbol that it’s time to stop and reward yourself for what you’ve already accomplished. I hope you’re familiar with the concept of self-care, but if you aren’t, this is the card for that. What I mean is that you should not be afraid to treat yourself in some way – clothes, fragrances, massages, mimosas, fine leather goods. Things that make you happy, small or large. Take a bath, take a walk alone, get yourself something you’ve been eyeing – this card is your green light to stop worrying for a moment and just revel in what you have done and what you have earned.

The shoes on my feet, I bought it
The clothes I’m wearing, I bought it
The rock I’m rockin’, I bought it
-“Independent Women Part 1,” Destiny’s Child

The Nine of Pentacles is not a card of completion, though, if that makes sense. Just because you pick some fruit doesn’t mean your work in the orchard is done. Many times, when the Nine of Pentacles shows up, it’s to let you know that your hard work is paying off – what you’re doing is working – but that you need to keep it up, keep pushing forward. Don’t be discouraged, if that is the case: the Nine of Pentacles means you are close to success and that all you need is just a little more of the self-discipline you have already shown.

This is also a card of nature, counterintuitive though it may seem. It is a card of harmony, like I said earlier, and that means not only with yourself and your earnings but with the world around you. It is a good time, now, to go outside, to be in nature in whatever way you choose, to reconnect with the universe that you are a part of. Use that connection to bring more joy into your life, more things to luxuriate in – again we come back to self-care. Plant something, take a walk outdoors, simply sit and let the sunlight fall into your lap. The Nine of Pentacles asks only that you remain aware of your place in things.

Blue as the sky, sunburnt and lonely
Sippin’ tea in a bar by the roadside
(just relax, just relax)
“Put Your Records On”, Corinne Bailey Rae

The Nine of Pentacles reversed is essentially a signal that you are no longer working productively; you’re not in harmony with yourself and the things around you. It can be saying to you that you are too focused on one aspect of your life and forgetting the others, throwing everything out of balance. More specifically, it means that you are working too hard and neglecting the reasons why you work – to be able to play, to be able to surround yourself with beauty and pleasure.

The reversed Nine always means disharmony, but that takes many shapes. Sometimes what it means is that your focus is too much on your standard of living. There is a baseline income that we all need, of course, but once past that, you may find that you are so focused on acquiring more things, living the most luxurious life possible, that you are neglecting to actually enjoy any part of it.

I’m going to say it one more time, because I think it is important: don’t be afraid to spend when you are able. Spending money is a horrible, guilt-ridden process, at least for me, and sometimes you need a little angel on your shoulder that says you know what, you work sixty-hour weeks, you should take a vacation. And it doesn’t even have to be that big! It doesn’t have to be a vacation; it doesn’t even have to be a day off. It can be a fancy coffee, or a new book, or whatever. Again I’m coming back to self-care: don’t spend if it will be destructive to you, financially or emotionally. But know that the Nine of Pentacles is the tiny shoulder angel. It is essentially a signal that you work hard for what you earn, and that as long as you are responsible with it you’re allowed to kick back a little and enjoy what you have earned. It’s not any fun otherwise.

Working so hard every night and day
And now we get the pay back
Trying so hard saving up the paper
Now we get to lay back
“Luxurious,” Gwen Stefani

Knight of Swords

Knights are cards of duality. We haven’t talked about a Knight yet, and the Knight of Swords is the slash-and-burn prince of the air court. Remember: swords are the most powerful suit. Remember: sharp edges cut.

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When I say the Knight is a card of duality, what I mean is this: there is no card in the deck clearer about its dark side than a Knight, because its darknesses are inherent in its light. Its qualities cast a shadow that is their darker selves, sort of the Bizarro qualities, if you will. Even when the card presents upright, these things are present, and you should remember how thin the line between them can be.

The Knight of Swords is extremely direct. He knows what he wants to say, or do, and he says it! He does it. His vision is very firmly fixed on the horizon, on where he wants to go, on the outcome that he wants. This allows him to be singularly successful in communication, and is also why achieving goals is simply a matter of course to the Knight of Swords. That pure, clear focus, the ability to cut through distractions and move relentlessly toward a point, is useful and beautiful, and it should be treasured. But. The other side of the coin of directness, the antithesis of that sharp directed edge, is bluntness. The Knight of Swords is good at avoiding distraction – but what happens when those distractions are things like “loved ones” or “someone’s feelings”? When you see the Knight of Swords, you gotta ask yourself: are you being a scalpel or a sledgehammer? Are you moving purposefully toward what you want, in a way that is productive and well-thought-out? Or are you smashing everything in your path trying to clear a way to your goals, leaving other responsibilities, friends and family in the dust? Making your point is not necessarily worth speaking over another; getting what you want is not necessarily worth losing the things you deem less important. Check your priorities.

I never meant to start a war
I just wanted you to let me in
And instead of using force
I guess I should’ve let you win
“Wrecking Ball”, Miley Cyrus

The Knight of Swords is authoritative; he is a boss. He is extremely confident in what he believes and will back it up without hesitation. He will go to the mat for those he loves, for his ideals; he has many a death hill. And again, there is a but. There comes a point in an argument where you aren’t actually having a discussion anymore; where you fail to consider any other viewpoint but your own. In some cases, this is totally acceptable, and I mean that. My dad is constantly on me about “some things aren’t that black and white” but like, listen, SOME THINGS ARE. I refuse to have a discussion with anyone that is interested in playing the devil’s advocate, especially when it comes to things close and personal to me. There are certain things that I don’t brook any “but what about THIS IMPOSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCE” nonsense with, and that is fine. That being said, though, you gotta choose your death hill. You gotta know where to draw your line. Is Shutter Island really better than James Cameron’s Avatar? Yes, absolutely yes, if you disagree you are wrong and I will burn your crops and salt your fields, but like, is that really a place we need to go? Is that really the thing I need to spend two hours meticulously assembling an argument about? Is that really the thing that I will ruin Thanksgiving for for years to come? Choose your battles, Knight of Swords. Authoritative is good, confidence is good. Overbearing blowhard-ism is not.

This same mentality should be applied to knowledge: You know things! You know that you know things, and you know that you are often right. But it is worth taking a second to pause, to reflect on whether someone else might know something as well. Don’t bulldoze others in your blind devotion to your own intelligence – it will shine forth brighter and better if you share it, rather than flaunt 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

Your edges can be too sharp, as well, Knight of Swords. I know this seems counterintuitive – cutting is good, right, we talked about that earlier, sharp vs. blunt, slicing vs. smashing, Aly, get your shit together. But listen. There is benefit in being incisive, in getting to the heart of the matter. You have a keen eye for what needs to be done, what needs to be fixed, for the things you would like to change. But there comes a point where you can cut too deep, where incisive becomes just plain mean; becomes simply cutting. There is a difference between excising something and just removing the whole limb, is what I’m saying. Watch how you deliver things; watch how you cut into others. It is worth being careful.

Get what I want ’cause I ask for it
Not because I’m really that deserving of it
-“Primadonna“, Marina and the Diamonds

Swords are a very calculating suit; they are sort of the Slytherin of tarot. I say this as a person who really loves Slytherin, and who really loves Swords. What I mean is this: there is a difference between being logical, between reasoning, and being cold – being unfeeling. Knowing how to get what you want and getting it is an admirable trait, and I’m a little mad about how it was portrayed, but I digress. Understanding what the world wants from you can easily become manipulation; playing the game can consume you, and I acknowledge that fully. But I think there is strength and honesty in saying “This is what I need to do to get what I want,” and I think it’s disingenuous to pretend otherwise. The danger comes from stepping on others to get there, and that is the darkest side of the Knight of Swords, what I want you to take away. All of the qualities of this card are so positive, so useful – in moderation. In consideration. The Knight of Swords would excel in a vacuum, in a world where his decisions and his actions affected no one but himself. But that’s not the world we live in, and that’s why you need to take the Knight of Swords with just a little bit of salt. You need to figure out how to balance the two sides of this card appropriately, and it will change situation by situation! Some people deserve to be impaled. But some people don’t, and unless you are willing to be flexible you’re going to do more harm than good. Be savvy, and be watchful. Carry your sword unsheathed but don’t, you know, go stabbing it into dark corners without making sure what’s there first.

 

Three of Cups

Happy March! We’re going to start out the month with something light and fun and uplifting, a relatively simple card, the Three of Cups.

cups

 

 

Remember, Cups are the water suit: emotions! creativity! feelings! friendship! All these things are contained within the Cups, and nowhere more joyfully than in the Three.

I have talked a lot about friendship on this site already, and I will continue to do so, because I think it is truly the most important thing that exists in this world. Love is so often associated only with romance, but there is a purity and a deep unwavering perfection in the love that exists between friends, between true and good friends, that cannot be matched by anything else. Friendship is maybe the best gift we have been given. It is something terrifying, to share your heart and mind and soul and body with another person, something ancient and strange and powerful, and it’s easy to see why close friendships are so often coded as something other, something threatening, something more. It is easier to understand romantic love than it is to understand friendship because friendship defies things that romantic love cannot withstand. Friendship is weird and eternal and deeply personal, and it is so beautiful, and it is so necessary.

Wherever you go, just always remember
That you got a home, for now and forever
And when you get low, just call me whenever
This is my oath to you
“Oath”, Cher Lloyd

The Three of Cups is the friendship card, the community card. When you see the Three of Cups, reflect on the relationships you have with others, these small, perfect connections. Revel in them. The Three of Cups is telling you that whatever you are looking for in your life, at this moment, can be found within your community, with your friends. They are there to support you, to give you what you need, and it is easy to forget that in times of trouble, but this is your reminder. The Three of Cups also means that you are entering a period of sociability, that you will be spending even more time in the company of those you love. If you have long-distance friends, this is a push to schedule that trip, to make that call. And as for your friends nearby, it’s probably time to hang out, if they’re not already sitting on your bed as you read this.

‘Cause everyday there’s a war to fight
And if I win or lose, never mind
As long as you’re my shelter every night
I used to cry against the wall
But now I’ve got a shoulder that I can lean on
Swear to me you won’t be gone
I’m ready for the good times
Ready for the Good Times“, Shakira

The Three of Cups is, as my friend Keelin describes it, “the party card”. It is a card of celebration, of joy over your accomplishments, an outpouring of love and success. When you see the Three of Cups, know that whatever period of turmoil or trouble you may have been facing is over, and with its end the good times are coming. This difficulty is often related to interpersonal interactions; the Three of Cups is the card of harmonious community, which means that any strife you may have been having will be resolved through compromise and cooperation. It is a signal to share the positive energy that you have, both closely with your friends and more widely with those who enter your life for a variety of reasons. It is a card of common goals, of unity and of working together, and of celebrating the success that comes from such good work. The Three of Cups means that the good times are coming, that you have earned them, and that you should feel nothing but good about kicking back and reveling in them.

So I told myself if I’m given the chance
I won’t hold back anymore
I’m not gonna keep it all in
Not gonna keep it all in
When the Nights Get Long“, Jukebox the Ghost

The Three of Cups is a card of outpouring in many senses, but one of the more important ones is that of creativity. The Three of Cups is a sign that any blockage you may have been experiencing in artistic endeavors, whatever they may be, is coming to an end. Embrace this, and use it as a motivator to pick up any projects you have put aside waiting for inspiration: the Three of Cups is telling you that your muse is returning. If you’ve never had a muse; if you’ve never thought yourself an artist – the time is now! The Three of Cups is a signal that there is creative potential locked inside you. Let it out.

The very obvious but still very real darkness of the Three of Cups is simply its reversal. If the Three of Cups appears to you reversed it is a sign that your relationships need mending, that your creativity is blocked, that you are spending too much time enjoying yourself and not enough time working for what will bring you actual joy.

There is not a lot of hidden meaning here, which is nice; the Three of Cups is a very straightforward card in all senses. It is a bright and  beautiful thing, to be reminded of what is good in your life, to be told to simply stop and take it in, to appreciate what you have worked for. There is nothing wrong with recognizing your accomplishments; sometimes you need to be reminded of that. Sometimes you need to be reminded that there are people in your life who love you, who miss you, who want to hang out and have a drink, who want to revel in the glory of the love you have for each other. These are all beautiful things; this is a beautiful card. Yours is a beautiful life. Enjoy it.

 

VIII. Strength

(Ohyun Kwon)

There is something about having soft petal skin and still showing sharp teeth. (x)

Her light is as loud as as many ambulances as it takes to save a savior
-“Girl Almighty,” One Direction

“And I also know how important it is in life not necessarily to be strong but to feel strong. To measure yourself at least once. To find yourself at least once in the most ancient of human conditions. Facing the blind death stone alone, with nothing to help you but your hands and your own head.”
Into the Wild, Jon Krakauer

You are so much stronger than you think you are. Take this knowledge and clutch it tight to the burning ember of your heart and do not let it go. Do not forget it. No matter what you have been through, you have been through it. You are a beacon, a tower, a guiding light, you are the shores on which lesser things are dashed and broken. You are holy and haloed, and you are so much stronger than you think you are.

Baby I can see your halo
You know you’re my saving grace
Halo,” Beyoncé

The Strength card is about you, personally and intimately. It is about what’s inside you, the sinews and guts, bones and blood and everything held together by red threads and hope. The Strength card is about strength, yes, of course, but it is the kind of quiet strength that makes you think of very old trees, mountains, anything that has held its ground but doesn’t make a fuss about it. The Strength card is about composure, about the internal ability to regulate yourself and your emotions in such a way that you can help yourself and others around you. It is not a grand blazing show of force; it is not shining like fireworks over your sad empty town. It is you shoulda known. It is quiet and final and unwavering, and it is the bright shining golden core of you.

There are so many things within you. It is a difficult thing, to be a divine creature, to be something that is an animal and that is also a human. To be soft and yielding and yet uncompromising; to have soft petal skin and sharp white teeth. These things are all within you. The Strength card is your reminder that you are the thing that binds these things together, makes them one, makes them work. It is so often tempting to give in to one side or another – your emotions, your fear, the cold hard part of you that whispers in your ear that you can’t – but you have to learn to walk the line that exists between all of these parts of you. There is a pure and perfect balance to you; you are a composition, and there is unbelievable strength in keeping these things in order. You are inherently strong, is what I am saying. Your very existence in this world dictates your strength.

The Strength card can present upside-down, of course, and when it does it is a warning against self-doubt. Trust your instincts, my love. Trust in the perfect creature that you are, and listen to your own voice. There is truth and intent in everything you do, and sometimes you need to remind yourself of that. Sometimes you need to be reassured that you are on the right path, and listen – you are. There are times when you may not trust yourself, and those times are not what I mean when I talk about self-doubt. Mistrusting yourself, reevaluating your choices – these things come from truth, from the one truth that is within you. Mistrust is your own self speaking back to you – mistrust is real/not real over the course of a lifetime, checking in with yourself, making sure you are doing what is truly best for you. Self-doubt comes from fear and self-loathing; self-doubt is not real/not real/not real. Self-doubt is crippling and dangerous and much, much easier than mistrust.

Got different people inside my head
I wonder which one that they like best
-“Fear and Loathing,” Marina & the Diamonds

Your underneath parts, your soft bits – they are telling you to hide, to be afraid, to falter. These voices are not you. You are the woman who stands in a field with a lion, tamed, docile. You are the woman who wears a crown of flowers and has infinity within her. You are always this woman, whether you feel like it or not, and the Strength card is your reminder of that fact. It is not an admonishment; it is not telling you to seek out strength. It is reminding you that you have strength, that you are strength. It is simply turning your focus inward, toward that bright steel core that you possess, because maybe – just maybe – you forgot it was there.

The Strength card shows up, and what it says to you is this: You are so many beautiful things. You are the loudest brightest light. You are a savior, and you are saved, and you are made of lightning. You are so brave and so soft, such a frightened animal, such a frightening swift biting thing. You are a candle burning steadily, steadily through the night, your own light in the darkness, your own guiding force. You are skin and teeth, you are a thousand wolves, you are snow. You are a marvelous and terrible beauty. You are so much stronger than you think you are.

Ten of Swords

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Still got scars on my back from your knife
Now don’t think it’s in the past
These kind of wounds, they last and they last
-“Bad Blood,” Taylor Swift

 

 

 

 

 

WOW. DARK. The Ten of Swords really does not pull any punches. Look at that guy! He is literally stabbed full of swords. He looks like Kate Beaton’s Captain Cook. Stabbed! LIKE A MILLION TIMES. So. Let’s examine the Ten of Swords, which is perhaps not the most subtle card in the deck.

This is a card of sudden, unexpected, terrible change. It is most often heralding a betrayal – being stabbed in the back. (Did I mention it’s not subtle, because.) This might be an intimate, personal betrayal: by a friend, by a lover. The person that you’d take a bullet for, behind the trigger. More often, more broadly, and much more disappointingly, it is a betrayal by the universe itself. Sudden change is difficult to deal with even when it isn’t terribly consequential, and the Ten of Swords is a card that implies massive, crushing consequences. This card signals the equivalent of a spiritual hurricane – find somewhere to curl up, hunker down, and board up the windows in the house of your soul. Ride it out. There is nothing you can do to avoid what the Ten of Swords is telling you is coming. This is bigger than you, and I’m sorry, but the best thing you can do when you see this card is just to prepare yourself, however you can, for a shock of some kind.

…you have got a set of loose lips, twisting stories
All because you’re jealous
Now I know exactly what you’re all about
So this is what you’re all about

Girl, you’re such a backstabber
Oh girl, you’re such a shit talker
And everybody knows it
“Backstabber,” Kesha

The worst part of the Ten of Swords is that it doesn’t tell you what will come; just that it will hurt. It is change of some kind, but so many things are change – loss, betrayal, failure, endings. All of these things will change you, change your life, and the Ten of Swords means that they are going to do so on a huge and painful level. What a horrible card, what a terrible, discouraging card. But don’t panic; no, not yet.

Sometimes before it gets better
The darkness gets bigger
Miss Missing You,” Fall Out Boy

That song is so sad; it’s so dark. I miss missing you – you’re so far gone that I don’t even miss you anymore. And even in the midst of all that pain, you get this. This is such a line for me, it’s so important, it has helped me out of so many of my own graves. Sometimes before it gets better, the darkness gets bigger. I know this is essentially “it’s always darkest before the dawn,” but for some reason that one doesn’t make me feel hope the way this does. Before it gets better, the darkness gets bigger. Let’s look back at the Ten of Swords. In the distance, the sun is rising.

The Ten of Swords is a death card. It is a card of ruin, of despair, of deep sadness. But. But. There is always a but, and this one is the most important. You are going to have trouble. I won’t lie to you, and neither will the cards. You are going to have trouble. But every ending gives way to a new beginning, and the sun is rising. The hurricane will end and you will uncover your windows. The Ten of Swords means that you will have trouble, but even as it tells you that it’s telling you that the trouble will pass and that you will rise from it. And, what’s more important, you will learn from it. Swords are a very perceptive, analytical suit, and often what comes of going through hardship is knowing yourself more purely than you had ever thought possible. Whatever is coming for you, it has meaning and it has purpose, and that is the message of the Ten of Swords: You will suffer. You will survive. You will flourish after the rain. The sun is rising.

I’m ready to suffer, and I’m ready to hope
“Shake It Out,” Florence + the Machine

 

 

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.