Card of the Day: The Hermit

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Today’s card is The Hermit from the Universal Goddess Tarot.

The Hermit is a favorite card of mine.  I’m an introvert and I very deeply identify with the idea of retreating from life every now and then to have some personal quiet time.  I alsoIMG_0563 consider myself a seeker: I’ve never truly settled into a specific spiritual path, instead learning about many different ones and taking pieces of truth when something resonates with me.  That’s what the Hermit encourages.

Here the Hermit is represented as Hecate, a goddess who is associated with crossroads, entrance-ways, dogs, light, the moon, magic, and witchcraft.  The Hermit is traditionally shown carrying some kind of light, very often a lantern, so her burning torch is very appropriate.

When my grandmother was in the process of passing away earlier this year, I prayed to Hecate to help ease her passage and help her to not feel fear.  I’m certainly not claiming that it was my prayer that did it, but my grandmother passed gently, in her sleep with my mother sitting right next to her.  I find comfort in the idea that there was something or someone to help her make that transition.

When the Hermit appears, it’s a sign that you need to take some time away from the rush of your life.  Take some time to ponder the mysteries of life, maybe do some self reflection and soul searching.  Is there something you’ve been avoiding dealing with?

This card can sometimes just represent a simple need to step back from demands and responsibilities, but this depiction especially brings to mind dealing with a big change or a difficult transition.  Hecate stands at the cross roads in your life and gently reminds you to take time to really think things through and make the right choice for you.  This is more than two paths diverging in a narrow wood.  This is a big important choice that will have ripple effects later on in life.  Hold space for that choice and make it wisely.

Tarot Spread: Hestia’s New Home Spread

Tarot Spreads (2)

A tarot spread for moving into a new house.  Hestia is the Greek goddess of the Hearth, so we invoke her guidance in creating a new home inside a new house.  This can either be a brick and mortar new house that you’re moving to, or you can read these cards as a fresh start to a new phase of your life.

hestia spread

  1. Where you are right now.
  2. Energy that is leaving your life
  3. Energy that is coming into your life
  4. Advice to help during the transition.
  5. How can I make my new house feel more like my home?
  6. How can I protect my new home?
  7. How can I build a happy future in my new home?
  8. Divine Guidance.

Download a PDF of this spread.

Card of the Day: Six of Cups

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Today’s card of the day is the Six of Cups from the Wild Unknown Tarot.

IMG_0614A rainbow proliferation of roots spreads deep underground beneath the silhouette of a tree.  The six cups line the edge of the card, balancing the image and anchoring it.

 The six of cups is traditionally a card that talks about innocence and childhood.  It’s a card about nostalgia, and you can sort of read the card that way here, but to me it’s got a slightly different meaning.

If you think about it, the roots represent the tree’s ‘childhood’.  The beginnings of those roots were there before the tree even broke through the earth with its first tender shoot.

At first my interpretation was mostly “the roots are the past and the tree is the future”.  The roots have color and so they’re the lived experiences that we draw from as we move through our lives, the body of the tree is dark because the future is an unknown thing, not yet colored by our experiences.  And I still think that’s a valid way to read this.  However, as I was writing this, another reading lept into my mind.  The roots aren’t just the past, because the roots, just like the tree, aren’t finished growing.  They continue growing unseen beneath the earth the entire time the tree grows toward the sky.

I think the beautiful rainbow of roots represents the parts of the tree (part of our lives) that are unseen to other people.  When this card shows up, it’s a reminder that there is more to a situation than meets the eye.  Maybe there’s more to yourself than you realize.  Your ‘colorful’ past means that you have so much more life experience to draw on.

The colors underground also read as a symbol of light.  We see white light with our naked eyes, but when you bend that same light through a prism you can see the full spectrum of visible light played out as a rainbow.  Here you can see the rainbow underneath the soil, but it’s not visible above ground.  It’s still there, it’s just not visible to the naked eye anymore.

This is a hopeful and encouraging note for this card.  It means that even if you can’t see the value/strength/beauty in yourself, it’s still in there.  You just have to look for it, do that hard work of digging down into the earth of yourself to find those col0rs.

The Cups suit is all about our feelings, so this card encourages you to look back at your experiences and try to remember the things we’ve experienced and how it’s helped us to become the people we are.  Some things in our lives are good, some are bad, but they all contribute to the person we have become and can help us move towards the person we want to be.   Feel the vast network of roots beneath you and know that you have growing to do and that the light is inside you.

Card of the Day: The Fool

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Today’s card is The Fool from the Manga Tarot.

IMG_0634This Fool card bears some of similarities to other Fool cards: it has a figure approaching a cliff, there’s a canine companion, and the figure doesn’t appear to be able to see the huge drop off right ahead.  But there’s a lot more about this card that reads very differently from most Fool cards that I’ve seen.

For starters, I think this is the least colorful Fool I’ve ever seen.  Often times the Fool is portrayed as a very festive, jester-like Fool, in the tradition of the medieval fool.  This card is nearly monochromatic; only a few details like the brown cast to the stone of the cliff, the skin tone, the trail of red under her feet, and the little pink tongue of the dog have color.

Also this fool doesn’t feel like the starting of a brand new exciting journey into the unknown.  It looks bleak.  The figure is covering her face, she looks depressed, and my first thought is that she’s walking to her death off that cliff.  Instead of a beginning she seems to be heading for an ending.  At first I thought the red color indicated flowers blossoming under her feet, but in the context of the card they sort of make me think of blood.

In traditional readings the Fool represents taking a leap of faith into a new an unknown situation.  The Fool doesn’t know what lies ahead, but they’re unburdened by worries and they skip happily down the path of life, footloose and fancy free.

The Fool in this card, shown all in white, carries a few other connotations.  Although this is the Manga Tarot, the deck contains some racial diversity, and can’t be read as being exclusively Japanese; however, since Manga is a Japanese art form, I can’t exclude those cultural influences without losing some meaning in the cards.  In the Shinto religion of Japan, white is the color worn by pilgrims.  It’s also the most common color for wedding dresses in Japan, and in many Asian cultures, white is the color of mourning.

In some ways, this Fool could be any of those people.  Whether going on a pilgrimage, getting married, or mourning a loss, all of these require stepping forward into the unknown, perhaps taking a leap of faith.

This Fool card is showing us a Fool who isn’t at the very beginning of her journey.  She has walked through the path of the Major Arcana already once, and now she has come full circle again.  In walking up to that cliff, although she is clearly afraid, covering her eyes, she is willing herself to take that leap again, fighting her instinct that tells her that she’ll fall if she takes that last step.  This Fool, more than any other I’ve seen, is urging you to be brave and to trust in the power of a new beginning, even if you’ve been battered and disappointed before.   It’s okay to be afraid of the fall, as long as you don’t let your fears trap you and keep you from moving forward.  She knows that even when it seems the most bleak and painful, we can always reinvent ourselves if we’re willing to take that risk and be vulnerable again.  It’s never too late for a new start.

Tarot and Gender

As you may have noticed, I do my best to avoid unnecessarily assigning gender where it doesn’t need to be.  I like to remind people that just because the card the Emperor is a depicted as a man, that doesn’t mean the energy in the reading is coming from a man.  Men can assume the role of the nurturing empress just as women can assume the firm leadership role of the emperor.

However, I was working on a review of the Prisma Visions tarot deck (stay tuned for that at a future date) and I was writing about the court cards of the Wands suit.  They’re beautiful and the figures depicted in the court cards are androgynous humanoid figures without any obvious physically gendered characteristics.  As I was ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the progress of the wands energy in the Page and the Knight I simply referred to them as ‘they’ which is a gender-neutral pronoun that I’ve heard many gender nonconforming people use.  And that felt very correct for those cards.  But when I got to the Queen and started using ‘they’, it no longer felt correct to me.  Not because a queen figure has to be a woman, but because if I didn’t use she and her, it felt like I was stripping something away.  It felt like I was trying to erase women and that made me stop immediately.

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I wasn’t sure how I could balance those two desires.  I have no problem queering the figures in the tarot cards.  I do my best, and I know I don’t always succeed, to question the gendered assumptions I am making about my readings.  My approach, as an able bodied white cisgender woman, has a lot of limitations.  I’m trying my best to broaden my understanding and to make my tarot as inclusive and empowering as I can.

So, although I’m sure there’s plenty of room to grow in this interpretation, I think where that leaves me is that the Page and the Knight will be ‘they’ but I’ll talk about my Queens and Kings as “she” or “he”.  This doesn’t at all mean that women can’t be Kings and men can’t be Queens.  Because they sure as heck can be.  All I mean when I talk about these cards are the depictions on the cards and what I get from them.  The Queen of Wands in the Prisma Visions deck told me that she is a woman.  She didn’t flash her breasts in my face or talk about what was between her legs, because that isn’t what makes her a woman.  Especially when we’re talking about a representation of an embodiment of energies, her physical body doesn’t define her.

This is much more about the role that the card is playing.  The reading of these cards is also heavily steeped in gendered expectations of being too. Call into question the assumption that the empress is nurturing because she’s a woman.  The empress is nurturing because that’s the energy that the card represents.  Being nurturing and caring isn’t a gendered attribute, but that’s what our culture teaches us.  Our culture says women are caring and nurturing and it’s their job to raise children and manage the emotional soft side of things.  My job as a tarot reader, is to try to pull apart those gendered assumptions when I find myself making them.

The cards are representatives of energies.  These energies are not essentially male or female energies, they just are.  Assigning gender to them has helped us to conceptualize these energies and fit them into our framework of understanding.  The goal we should be striving for is that we create a more just and fair culture that serves the needs of all participants in it.

Working towards that goal, it’s very important to acknowledge that gender, like sexual orientation, is not binary, it exists on a spectrum and people can move around on that spectrum.  I want to make sure that the spaces that I’m in are inclusive and welcoming to everyone.  That means that I’m going to question the assumed gender of the figures in my cards and respect that traditionally assigned gender roles are hopelessly outdated and need not apply.  But, I need to make sure that I’m not erasing women at the same time.

Sound complicated?  It is, but that’s the reality if you want to be inclusive.  And that’s okay.

Want to read more about tarot and gender?  Check out this post by The Tarot Lady: Gender Bending the Tarot.  Also I completely recommend you spend some quality time with Beth at Little Red Tarot.  Her Alternative Tarot Course is an AWESOME resource for Queer tarot stuff.  And wander over to the Queer Tarot Project.

I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!  Feel free to leave a comment or share an article or post you found useful on this topic.

 

Card of the Day: The Star

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Today’s card is The Star from the Prisma Visions Tarot.

This deck!  Oh, how much I love this deck.  It’s just so beautiful.  I’ve only worked with it a little bit so far because every time I pick it up I get mesmerized by the guh so pretty vibe that it has going.

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I love love love this interpretation of The Star.  At first glance I was kind of confused because I didn’t really even see any stars, just a fire plant.  But I couldn’t tear my eyes away.  Look at those blossoms, so vibrant against that dark backdrop.  Of stars!  It’s a night filled  with stars.  And then I saw the galaxies in the night sky.

And finally I saw the girl.  She’s falling through the night.  Or maybe she’s flying.  I wasn’t sure.  If she were falling she’d be looking downwards, but look at her face.  She’s gazing up into the thousands of stars all around her.  And her body is made of the stars in the night sky.  I recently watched the remaking of the series Cosmos (originally narrated by Carl Sagan, and this time narrated by Neil Degrasse Tyson) where he explained that all of the matter that makes up ourselves (all of the matter that makes up anything actually) originated in the heart of a star, everything swirling in the heart of what would become the Big Bang that started our universe.

“We are a way for the universe to know itself. Some part of our being knows this is where we came from. We long to return. And we can, because the cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff,” Sagan famously stated.

And that’s her, made of star stuff soaring through the night sky.  The plants that seek to tether her to the ground below represent our physical bodies, the part of us that is earthbound and cannot sail through the cosmos.  But she represents that part of us that has always been ethereal and longs to return again to the stars.  She dove down into her human body for a time, but that upwards gaze is a foretelling of that eventual return.  And that is the energy of The Star.  Hope, that non-rational knowing we have that we are more than our physical bodies.  That we are made of the same stuff as the stars.

As I was writing this post I noticed another thing about this card that I’d missed in my other wanderings.  The tangled darkness right around her body–it’s in the shape of a head in profile.  The darkness is tufts of hair, dark against the brilliant starlit sky.  I immediately got the impression of a Victorian lady with upswept hair, a perfectly pressed skirt and a corset.  Such a proper ladylike woman, doing as she is told, running her household and obeying the authority figures in her life by day.  And then, by the light of the stars at night she flies in her dreams and becomes the woman soaring out of reach of the restricting tendrils of the light and into the milky way.  If you look closer you can see that’s she’s breathing out the light of the galaxy in the card.

We may travel through a lot of darkness in our lives, The Star card exists to give us hope, to literally be a light in the darkness that helps us stumble through until we can find our way again.  Humans have always looked upwards to the sky for direction, both spiritually and in the more mundane navigational sense, reading entire stories into the constellations.  When you see the Star its a reminder to hang in there, hold onto the knowledge that things will be okay and trust the stars to guide you.

Card of the Day: Ace of Wands

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Today’s card is the Ace of Wands from the Joie de Vivre Tarot.

IMG_0638An Ace is always a positive card and this one looks particularly delightful.

She carries a wand with the sun atop it and there’s a bright aura of magic in the air.  She conjures the stars from the swirling air around her.  Her companion reminds me of a Lion Rampant which shows up in countless coat of arms designs.  Reading about rampant lions on Wikipedia taught me that when referring to mythical beasts such as dragons or gryphons, the term “segreant” is used.  So I guess her mount is a mythical creature segreant.

A lion in that pose traditionally stood for bravery and nobility, which is fitting for this card.  An Ace is always a positive card: it means something new, something good is on the way.  The energy of wands is the energy of fire, which you can see in the sun and the star imagery.

I also love that they’re leaping out of this abundance of flowers and what sort of look like peacock feathers.  They’re encouraging you to take that leap into a new creative project.  Maybe you’ve been waiting to start writing a new novel, or maybe you’re being called to a new spiritual path, or maybe you’re thinking of learning meditation.  This card says to go for it!

The ace stands for confidence, standing in your own power.  It represents a seed that is going to burst forth into a flowering plant.  Sometimes when you see an Ace you might not feel its power yet, but the Ace is telling you that it’s there, so watch for that burst of courage and energy.

You’ve got all the fiery creative energy of the Wands suit behind you, charge forward with your magical powerful self like a lion rampant (or a lionlike creature segreant).  Nothing can stop you.