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I’m settling in with a cup of hot tea (nettle, mint and lemon balm, from my very own garden) on the first day of September. There’s a noticeable chill in the air today. It’s funny how that happens sometimes, at least here in Utah: the weather changes line up with the months changing. It’s supposed to warm up later in the week, but today mother nature got the memo that autumn is coming. And yeah, I’m a #basicwitch so I do love autumn.
It’s been a few weeks since I blogged, and I’ve missed it. You may or may not remember that I set the intention to blog every week in 2020. I was on a pretty decent roll for most of the year, but the past few weeks I stepped away to focus on shipping out the second edition of The Spacious Tarot. I’m *almost* caught up on shipping now. Though I feel like I’ve been saying that for a week. Thing is, the orders keep rolling in! But I’m not complaining. Shipping is a lot of work, but it’s pretty damn amazing to know you’ve created something people actually like and want to purchase. I’m so, so, so, SO grateful.
As usual, there’s been lots of thoughts rattling around in my brain lately. One of them is: I am here. Which is what I wrote in the subject line of this email. I am here. In this room. In my body. In this particular phase of my life. In this time on the planet. Within this web of socio-political, economic and cultural factors. I am here.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to fully understand all of it. I don’t need to judge it, or make sense of it, or suffer over it. There’s bad, there’s good, there’s anxiety, there’s peace, there’s chaos, there’s magic. It’s a weird time, but we are here. You are here. I am here. It’s a simple phrase, but powerful, to me. A mix of ownership and non-attachment.
Things are far from perfect. There’s still so much I yearn for in my own little ego-sphere. And there’s always so much of discomfort and injustice and destruction in the broader sphere. The question for me is always: how can I be HERE and claim some joy and acceptance of that, without BYPASSING what is difficult? It’s an ongoing inquiry. And for me, part of the thing is paradox (something I’m always yammering on about). The paradox of being fully okay with being HERE while also being fully aware of the issues and challenges that co-exist in this space.
Does any of that make sense? I don’t know. I just know we are here. And we’re not here for long. So I want to really be here.
Casual reminder that I’m an INFP. And a Cancer Sun. And a lot of other Cancer in my chart. Including Mars in Cancer. And I feel like all this explains a lot.
As the summer winds down, I’m trying to be outside as much as possible. Tending to the wee bit of land I currently “own” aka my yard. Harvesting herbs. Weekly hikes. Daily walks. Mornings on the porch with coffee and oatmeal and journals and tarot decks. Evenings with a beer on the grass. Just going outside, even in the middle of the city, is one of the best ways I know to shift my energy.
A couple weeks ago the collective energy got to be so intense that the only way I could cope was through awkward attempts at humor which you may have caught on my Instagram reels. You have to do what you need to do to find reprieve at times like this. Sometimes it’s yoga and herbal tea. Other times it’s a cocktail and an hour mindlessly scrolling Instagram reels.
As soon as we shifted into Virgo season I really felt the intensifying of the question: what’s next? But I know that question has to be tempered with the question of what’s now? So the refrain: I am here. Being here builds towards what’s next, but I should know by now there’s no level of certainty when asking what’s next. I’m starting to feel into what I want to be next. But we shall see.
For now: client sessions are still closed as I focus on shipping out decks. A few creative ideas are starting to peek out, and I’m feeling into which one is right to take on going forward. I have a massive list of books to read. I move between the desire to share everything, articulate my thoughts, write write write. And the desire to hide away, to just contemplate, to say nothing. So, as is my pattern, I’ll likely do a little of each.
*fights urge to apologize in case this post was incredibly boring*
Thank you for being here with me. I am sending you the coziest vibes imaginable. We are HERE.
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The collective story we’ve been living out no longer makes sense. This is no longer a fringe sentiment. We’re having mainstream conversations about the pitfalls of capitalism, the already-present effects of climate change, the systemic racism still present in America (and around the world). And those are just a few examples of the old narrative crumbling. It’s been happening for a while, it just seems to be accelerating lately.
Nothing changes in the outer world until our internal myths change. Or as Einstein put it, you can’t solve a problem using the same thinking that created it.
This is all stuff I’ve been thinking about for years. What completely new stories do we need? What old stories can we learn from? Where am I called to learn and unlearn, imagine and envision? How can I be a part of co-creating this new narrative, making space for it, being present with its unfolding? I still have many more questions than I have answers.
Sometimes the questions seem so big and complex that I just want to ignore them and watch Netflix forever. (Avatar the Last Airbender specifically). Sometimes the challenges seem so intense that I just want to curl into a small ball and dissociate from it all. Or lately, I just want to disappear into the mountains and watch sunsets (the picture above I took camping last weekend) in between listening to Taylor Swift’s new album on repeat (I love it and I don’t care who knows it!). Sometimes I feel like WTF is wrong with me that I’m dwelling on this existential shit so often? I used to think I would get older and become less brooding, but instead I get more antsy with age.
I also used to think maybe these thoughts are pathological. Y’know, messed up brain chemistry. Or maybe it’s because of the alignment of the stars when I was born. I’m a Cancer sun, so I can’t help feeling FEELINGS. And maybe some of these things are factors. But also, maybe there’s nothing wrong with thinking these things and maybe we actually need people who think these things. Maybe there have always been people, throughout human history, who yearned for magic and new stories and transcendental ways of being. And maybe it’s actually great that people like that exist. Maybe the world, the universe, needs these kinds of people. Maybe….I’m one of those people? That’s a nice thought.
Anyway. Even with all the questions I have, there’s one thing I know for sure. Tarot is part of all of this. Tarot reflects and deepens these questions. Tarot offers glimmering hints of answers, new ways of being, possibilities, shifts. And I don’t expect to leave this incarnation having all of the answers, anyway. Even if I just devote a little time and energy to sitting with these questions, even if I’m a small part of weaving a new story, even if I only ever understand the smallest sliver of the pie, that’s something. None of us have all the answers, and that’s okay.
Reminds me of one of my favorite quotes from Joseph Campbell: “life is like arriving late for a movie, having to figure out what was going on without bothering everybody with a lot of questions, and then being unexpectedly called away before you find out how it ends.”
This weird time (as we keep calling it, but really, all times are weird) has taken me deeper into the path of the mystic, and that feels right in ways that can’t be expressed through language. It is an alignment that reverberates with the deepest layers of my consciousness. It’s something I need to continue saying yes to.
Anyyyyyways…somehow this long navel-gazing introduction came out before I could stop it! So thanks for sticking with me, because I actually have something else I want to share today: a tarot spread. I randomly found this in the notes app on my phone, but I know I didn’t make it up. Unfortunately I can’t remember where I found it and Google was no help. So if you happen to know who created this spread, please let me know because I try to give credit where it is due.
It’s a three card spread using the following positions:
Illusion – Knowledge – Magic
I will use the Spacious Tarot, and offer a brief interpretation for myself as well as the collective. Please take what resonates and leave the rest. And also, give the spread a try for yourself if it intrigues you!
Knowledge: Four of Cups reversed
Judgement reverse really hit me hard because it relates to some of the musings I shared above. Judgement can be about a calling, a Big Life Purpose. But there’s this illusion many people fall prey to with this concept. The illusion goes like this: when you find your purpose, trumpets sound! Angels usher you in! Think about the imagery on the Waite-Smith version of this card: it’s epic. It’s the illusion that when you find your purpose, YOU KNOW. It’s dramatic and unmistakable and you’re changed forever.
And I mean, sometimes this is the case. Occasionally you get a big, dramatic, unmissable wake up call. But more often, the expectation of such grandiosity is an illusion. In reality, finding your purpose is usually much more subtle. Sometimes the invitation to greater meaning and purpose is so subtle that it can be easily overlooked. Instead of the clouds parting, it’s a small glimmering, a subtle shift. Instead of trumpets blaring out, it might be a whispering, quiet voice that says “this way.” Don’t miss the small nudges because you’re waiting for a grand gesture.
The Four of Cups reversed as knowledge ties directly into this. To me, this is a reminder that in order to attune to the subtle energies of your Big Important Purpose, you need to withdraw from the stream. The stream could symbolize many things: a constant barrage of news and social media. Expectations and ‘the way things have always been done.’ And of course, the stream could also symbolize your own emotions. Know this: you must disengage from these things, at least occasionally, in order to restabilize. In order to come back into living from your center. Because when you’re living from your center, you’re more capable of feeling into the subtle whispers which are always trying to beckon you.
Death is Magic. I liked writing that sentence!
What I’m noticing the most right now is the way the hands reach out for the flower. Here in the image they seem frozen in time, but can you imagine what might happen if you stepped into the card? I can envision the skeletal fingers brushing the flower, but then it drifts away again. Maybe they finally do get ahold of it for some time, but eventually the skeletal hands decompose entirely.
So the magic is that we can’t really hold anything forever. We can catch glimpses. We can brush up against something sacred. But we can’t control or own or pin anything down. Kinda reminds me of what I shared earlier and the quote from Joseph Campbell: there’s a lot of magic in the fact that there’s so many things you just can’t know, can’t hold.
The white rose has many layers of symbolism. According to Arthur Edward Waite himself (via Mary K Greer in an old post on Aecletic Tarot), the white rose represents purification of the desire nature. The ego desires. The ego wants answers. The magic of Death is in transcending the ego. Transcending the ego itself is something most of us can only do occasionally before we slip back into its grasp. But if you’re willing to devote to this practice, the magic intensifies. New layers are constantly revealed, old layers are constantly shed.
Wowza! I really liked this spread and I’ll definitely be using it again. Thank you for being present for my metaphysical ramblings today. Cheers to our individual stories, and the unfolding story we are creating together.
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Even writing that, my brain is like “omg nobody wants to hear about your self-doubt and brain fog. Borrrring.” But maybe we could still do with normalizing the fact that brain fog and blocks and resistance are just part of creativity. You can let them stop you, or you can acknowledge them and say “here I go anyway.”
A couple of months ago I wrote a post using a process Mary K Greer calls ‘Writing From Your Heart With Tarot.’ Sidenote: have you noticed I’m a Mary K Greer fangirl? I can’t seem to go a single post without mentioning her lately. But yeah: I’m going to try that again today.
So here I am, jumbled brain and all (good news, my brain is already a little less jumbled, which often happens when you just start doing something). Sitting in my office, black tourmaline on my desk and listening to a playlist that’s supposed to get rid of negative vibes in your home. The Spacious Tarot is next to me and I’ve already drawn a card, the reversed Two of Wands.
This is one of several cards that makes me think about the power of energetically committing to a certain direction. I’ve talked about this with several clients recently – in fact, one of them had this exact same card, Two of Wands reversed.
From a numerological framework, the Ace is infinite. With the two, things begin to take a more specific direction. Twos can be about clarification, affirming which direction we want the infinite energy that started with the Ace to take going forward. That’s actually why we did the illustration the way we did in the Spacious Tarot. It’s a bit of an homage to the Wild Unknown version of this card, when the card is upright it looks like you could reach out and grab ahold of those two wands. Almost like taking the reigns, getting the energy going in the direction of your choice.
I see wands as the realm of instinct; the forces that motivate and compel you. This is probably why in our deck the wands are more abstractly illustrated – to me, they are more abstract than pentacles or even swords.
So the Two of Wands can be about finding yourself compelled to affirm a certain direction. This isn’t about making a reasonable choice or even an emotional choice. It’s almost about feeling like something has chosen you. You are moved in that direction even if you don’t know why.
But the thing is, sometimes even when you feel reaaalllly compelled to take a certain direction, you hesitate. Right now the reversal feels like that hesitation. This is a two, so it’s still early in a cycle. Even if the pull is there, the energetic commitment isn’t yet made. The wands beckon you to grab on, but it’s up to you to say YES. And it’s amazing how often we say NO, even when something calls us so strongly and with so much fire. This reminds me of a quote from Mary Oliver:
“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”
The reversal here makes me think about why we sometimes don’t energetically commit to a thing that calls us. There are many reasons you might not grab those wands, and in turn deprive them of power. Usually, we cast the blame outward: there’s not enough time, I had to do the laundry, it’s just a silly dream, and so on. There is validity to these things, of course. But sometimes they are surface level justifications for something much more nefarious: the internal factors.
Could it be true that internal factors hold you back as much if not more than external factors? Things like: self-doubt. Imposter syndrome. Fear. Brain fog. Procrastination. Resistance. Interesting how we’ve come full circle back to some of the things I described experiencing myself when I started writing this!
Now the question becomes: how do you move forward despite those internal factors so that you can reach out and grab those wands and not become one of the most regretful people on earth? The answer is deceptively simple: by energetically committing.
Energetically committing means making a pact with the Universe and your higher self that even when shit gets hard, even when your own brain or external obligations get in the way, you’re going this direction. It might not be as fast as your ego would like, it might be full of challenges, it might be inconvenient, it might be misunderstood by others. But it’s the direction you’re energetically committed to, because it has called you and chosen you. You’ve grabbed the wands and that’s that.
Once you are energetically committed, it’s on. You’re doing it. You find a way to make it work despite the excuses that may keep trying to creep into your mind and despite the setbacks that inevitably come up along the way. Once you’ve energetically said YES, the adventure is inevitable.
So the Two of Wands asks you: what fire is uprising in you? Will you step into your power? Will you hem and haw and let the momentum go by unclaimed? Or will you confirm the direction that calls you and energetically commit to your path?
No pressure, but the choice is yours.
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One of the most common bits of advice given to tarot beginners is to engage in a daily draw practice. It’s tried and true advice, to be sure. I’ve had a fairly consistent daily draw practice for many years and it’s proven invaluable. At some point, I should probably write an entire post about daily draw practices, but that’s a funny thing to say because it’s the opposite of what I want to talk about today. Because today, we’re talking about some things to try when you get bored of doing daily draws.
There are individual variations on the daily draw practice, but generally it looks like shuffling, drawing a card at random, and reflecting upon that card. Useful as the daily draw practice can be, sometimes you just want to switch it up. Any time what you’re doing with your cards starts to feel stale or uninspiring, give yourself permission to dip into something different.
There are infinite ways to use tarot. I could write a whole book about things to try when you’re bored of daily draws (publishers HMU). But today, I’ll just give three suggestions to get you started.
1. Pull a card face up.
I find this is a nice change especially when you are feeling tender. We’ve all had those moments when we’re feeling blah and frazzled and then we randomly draw a card and it’s the Tower and we’re just like “gaaaah this is not what I wanted to see.” Sure, sometimes you need to see things even if you don’t want to see them. But sometimes you need to engage your free will and consciously choose which card you want to share space with today.
There are lots of different ways to structure a face up pull, but what I usually do is just ask my higher self: “what energy do I choose to invite into my life today?” Then look through and pick the card that most resonates. I also like to jot down a sentence or two about what card I picked and why. This is akin to setting an intention for your day. It feels empowering and can be a great way to reunite you with a sense of autonomy.
If the idea of face up tarot intrigues you, Siobhan of Radical Tarot had a whole series about Face Up Tarot on Little Red Tarot a few years ago, which can be found here.
2. Do a literal daily draw.
I recently went through the Spolia Tarot (one of my favorite decks, which is sadly about to go OOP) and sorted out the cards I find the most visually interesting. For a few days, my ‘daily draw’ practice was to do a little chicken scratch sketch of one of these cards. I really like doing this because tarot is, at its heart, a visual language. Sketching a card helps me move out of a place of grasping for meaning and trying to put something ineffable into words, and moves me into a direct experience of the card’s energy.
As a bonus, sketching leads you to notice little details you may have overlooked otherwise, so it really enhances your relationship to your deck. I first heard the suggestion to sketch tarot cards from one of my favorite tarot books, ’21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card’ by Mary K Greer. Anything that’s good enough for MKG is good enough for me.
Below, my sketch of the Spolia Tarot’s creepy yet delightful Five of Pentacles.
3. Visualize how YOU would depict a card.
Fair warning: if you start doing this, you may end up creating an entire deck. It happened to me, it could happen to you.
How I would suggest doing this: use an iconic deck like the Waite-Smith. Choose a card whose meaning you resonate with, but whose imagery you don’t really connect with. Then, close your eyes and spend a few minutes feeling into what the energy of the card looks like to you. Free yourself from how the card is “usually” shown. This requires you to delve into the essence of an archetype and ask how that energy manifests for you on a personal level. Don’t overthink it, trust what comes up.
Maybe do a sketch of what arises for you, or even just go online and collect images that resonate with your vision. This is an amazing way to foster a deeply personal understanding of a card.
Doing this process myself is why there are certain cards in the Spacious Tarot that are very different than the Waite-Smith depictions, even though I love the Waite-Smith and it’s the deck I learned with. The Hanged One is an example. I have never really vibed with the idea of showing this with a literal hanged man. To me, that card alludes to dark nights of the soul, surrender, new perspectives, liminality. So I felt into a very different concept of what Hanged One energy looks like for me personally, and we ended up with this:
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You know how this works.
First, tune in. This is a good practice for any time you’re receiving messages from tarot. I know these ‘pick a card’ things are alllllllll over social media, so it’s easy to partake in one without really being present for it. And when you’re not really present for a reading, you won’t get much out of it. So… do what you can to come into this moment. Maybe a deep breath. Maybe roll your shoulders.
And here we are. Take a moment to look at the photo above and feel into which card you are drawn to: left or right. Deck is The Spacious Tarot.
And as always:
Take what resonates with you,
leave the rest behind.
If you chose left, your card is the Explorer of Pentacles. Comparable to the Knight, today the Explorer of Pentacles asks you to notice where you’re getting stuck in the weeds. This card represents the part of you that is singularly focused on what you’re doing, which is great when what you’re doing is taking you in the right direction. But it’s not so great when what you’re doing is actually just a diversion.
The first thing to do is ask yourself if you’re being stubborn, and if so knock if off. This can be a challenge – Explorers are the metaphoric teenagers of the tarot and have a hard time acknowledging when their approach might need adjustments. So even if this brings up a lot of resistance, it may be necessary to humble yourself in service of the greater good.
Now, acknowledge where you are, and acknowledge what exactly you’re doing. Then ask yourself: what’s the actual end goal here? Does what I’m doing right now line up with that end goal, or have I wandered off course? I know none of this is sexy, but that’s because pentacles have such a pragmatic energy. This isn’t about flashiness, it’s about sticking with the long (and sometimes boring) track of accomplishing something meaningful.
The kicker here is all of this depends on you actually having a meaningful goal. If you aren’t working towards something in particular, everything you do is a driftless diversion, and the Explorer of Pentacles does not enjoy being driftless. Our bear carries a pentacle around their neck, at best, carrying this pentacle is a deeply meaningful task. I know 2020 has been garbage for sticking to plans and goals, so it’s okay if this means focusing on something very small. The scale doesn’t matter, the meaning does.
Overall, it’s a great time to devote to a new calling, or ‘reverse engineer’ an existing goal. This means really clearly identifying where you want to end up, and mapping out the steps that will get you there in the most straightforward manner, then sticking to the course – no more side tangents.
If you chose right, your card is The World. Usually this card comes to us as a metaphor, but today it draws your awareness to the actual world; this place you call home and your experience of it. If asked to complete the sentence “the world is _____” how would you respond? And what does your response say about your relationship to this physical place and this moment in time?
These are important questions, because ultimately, the World is what we say it is. If you say that the world is a shit show, for example (a sentence I’ve uttered a time or two myself lately) than that becomes the truth. Your belief about the world filters the evidence you take in, and you will continuously find shit-show affirming evidence. And of course, the other end of the spectrum holds as well. If you say the World is delightful, magical, and expansive, this becomes the truth that is mirrored back to you through your experiences here.
But on a deeper level, the invitation here is to take your perception beyond the binary. The answer is not experiencing the World as either a shit-show or a utopia. As a tarot card, the World contains everything and transcends dualism. It is a card of unity. That is to say, when you perceive the actual world, how can you experience both the messiness and the magic?
Your outer reality reflects your inner stories. This is true on a personal level, and also a collective level. This is why what you say about the world matters so much. The spiral at the center of the card represents your ability to constantly deepen and broaden the stories you tell about yourself, the world, and the greater meaning that weaves through all of this. Where your narrative has become limited or one dimensional, intend to expand.
And there you have it! I very much hope you’ve found something interesting to take away from this. If not… maybe next time? If you do have reflections to share, I’m listening.
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The second edition of The Spacious Tarot is available to pre-order now!
Use code THESUN for 10% off if you happen to see this message today, June 30 (the code expires at the end of the day).
It’s now been one year since Annie & I launched our Kickstarter campaign for this deck. I say this all the time, but the support and enthusiasm you’ve shown this deck have been amazing. Before we launched on Kickstarter, we didn’t even know if there’d be enough interest to fulfill our printer’s minimum of 500 decks.
The first edition ended up being a greater success than we imagined, selling out a print run of 2500 decks! I hope I don’t sound braggy, but WOW! It’s just really an honor to know this many people connect with the deck Annie & I put so much love and time into creating.
It’s pretty early in the deck’s life to release a second edition, but we liked the idea of making the first edition something special and limited. The changes to the new edition are not at all drastic, but here are a few differences to note:
– Updated spelling on the Three of Pentacles. This card had a small spelling mistake in the first edition which has been corrected for the second edition. We are ordering extra Three of Pentacles cards for those of you who have the first edition and would like an update to your Three of Penatcles – these will be available at the cost of shipping, we will have more info very soon on how to order a replacement.
– A few of the darker cards have been brightened, including the Wheel of Fortune, The Hermit and the High Priestess. The line work on a couple of cards has been very subtly changed (Guardian of Cups, Ace of Cups). The Five of Pentacles is the most noticeable change, it has been reworked so that the creature is more clearly identifiable as a wolf!
– The back of the box has been redesigned (nothing fancy, as is common in tarot decks it will show a sampling of some cards inside).
– The box now features a ribbon for easier card removal!
– The card stock (100% post consumer recycled, 350 GSM) & matte finish will be the same. Although we love the matte finish on the front and back of the first edition cards, the edges turned out kind of rough, so we’ve worked with our printer on some adjustments for the second edition. The clear matte finish will be extended to the edges, and they’re going to ensure the blades used to cut out the cards are super sharp which should improve the quality.
We do ship worldwide from thespacioustarot.com via USPS, however some parts of the world have suspended service at the moment due to the pandemic. Our cart automatically notifies you if we can’t ship to your area at this time. Latest updates from USPS are available here.
The deck is also available through UK based Little Red Tarot and Australia based Two Sides Tarot.
Estimated shipping is August 2020. The decks have already finished production and are currently making the long journey from our printer to Spacious HQ (aka my house). Sooooo I better get busy tidying up my guest bedroom because it’s about to be overtaken with decks and shipping supplies once again! Here’s a flashback to what it looked like while I was shipping out the first edition.
It can’t be overstated how much your support of this project means to myself and Annie. This is a small business, a DIY passion project, and really a dream come true. We are super excited to get the second edition in your hands!
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Bottom row: Way of the Panda Tarot, RWS, Wild Unknown, Hayworth Tarot
Sometimes a card just won’t stop showing up for you until you expand your perception and look at it in a different way. Right now for me, that card is the Seven of Cups.
No matter what deck I use, the Seven of Cups has come up in a looooooot of my personal daily draws lately. It’s also shown up in quite a few client readings the past couple weeks, so I don’t think it’s just me. There’s something collective going on here, too.
I do have some knowing of why this card is coming up frequently for me on a personal level. I’m an empathic, feeling person to begin with, and there’s a fair amount of water in my chart. And ho boy, have I been feeling a loooot of feelings the past two weeks, on every level.
Collectively, there’s the continuing discussions around police brutality and white supremacy. Personally, I’ve been continuing to do my own inner + outer work around this, including ‘breaking up’ with my favorite band due to their unacceptable behavior around these issues (I talked a little more about this on Instagram if you’re curious).
And of course, we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and now I have a family member facing health issues, and my birthday’s coming up and I’m dealing with emotions around aging and my body changing, and we just launched pre-orders for the second edition of The Spacious Tarot which is super exciting but also a little overwhelming, and…yeah. That’s kind of a nutshell summary. Suffice it to say that I’m aware of my privilege and I’m still grateful in so many ways, but I have to acknowledge that I have been somewhat bewildered lately.
And bewilderment is one of the key words I think about with the Seven of Cups, so here we are!
When I began this post, I mentioned the need to expand your perception when a card shows up again and again. This is particularly important for those of us who have been reading tarot for a while. It’s easy to fall back on the tried and true meanings you’ve developed for the cards. But each card truly has an infinite spectrum of meanings, and if a card keeps showing up again and again, it may be time to find new tunnels down the rabbit hole.
So because the internet was made for lists, here are seven different insights I’ve been considering about the Seven of Cups.
1. Bewilderment can be constructive OR destructive.
What does it mean to be bewildered? The dictionary says “lost, perplexed or confused; a complicated or confusing condition.” Sometimes when you are bewildered, you freeze in place like the silhouette on the RWS version. Your brain and body and heart can feel like they’re stalling out when you’re presented with stuff you don’t know how to assimilate. Facing uncharted emotional territory can be flat out disorienting and scary. This is the destructive side of bewilderment.
But here’s the constructive part: bewilderment can mean reconnecting with your own sacred wildness. Bewilderment can mean fully accepting that life is a very weird, strange, and nonsensical experience. This is what makes life LIFE! Our rational minds resist this, and most of us have been taught that our rational mind is to be valued above all other aspects of ourselves. But in reality, the non-rational part of yourself may actually be crying out to experience bewilderment. We like to pretend we are separate from the wilderness, but we are the wilderness. Embracing bewilderment is how magic begins.
2. There is a difference between dreaming and pretending.
This is a line from a Jewel song that has always stuck with me, and it’s a line I do think about a lot when I see the Seven of Cups. This is actually pretty in line with a fairly standard view of this card: it can be about beautiful fantasies that uplift and inspire you, or it can be about deluding yourself.
This view of the card has been particularly resonant with a few of my personal relationships lately. I have a tendency to see the good in people and I think I can be a little too quick to make excuses for other people’s bad behavior. This is pretending. Maya Angelou said “when someone tells you who they are, believe them.” This doesn’t mean there isn’t room for people to learn and evolve and do better, but I can’t be carried away by a fantasy that they are doing this unless there is actual evidence to support it.
3. You can and do feel many things at the same time.
I know this is stating the obvious, but it’s something we could all use a reminder of sometimes. There are blessed times when the answer to “how are you feeling?” is simple and succinct. But the Seven of Cups reminds us that sometimes the answer is, in the immortal words of Alanis Morissette, “I’m high but I’m grounded, I’m sane but I’m overwhelmed, I’m lost but I’m hopeful baby!” In these instances, the Seven of Cups can be a permission slip to just embrace the messiness and all-over-the-place-ness of your feelings instead of expecting yourself to be able to pin them down.
4. You don’t have to feel the way someone else feels.
With the world being in gestures widely the state that it is, it is natural that people have a LOT of strong feelings right now. I have a pattern of being a little too easily swayed by other people’s feelings, especially when their feelings are strong. Maybe it’s my Cancer Sun, maybe it’s because I’m an Empath, maybe it’s just the wiring of my brain. If someone gives a passionate explanation on their stance, I’m often like woah, that makes sense, I guess I should feel that way too! But then five minutes later, someone else gives a passionate explanation of the opposite stance and I’m like, oh well that makes sense too, I guess that’s how I feel! It’s a very Seven of Cups-y experience.
So lately I’m reminding myself to dig deeper into my own feelings. Sure, my feelings can and should be informed by other people’s lived experiences and knowledge. But ultimately, if I want to be authentic, I can’t just absorb someone else’s feelings on an issue and take them on as my own. My feelings need to come from my own heart, my own center, and it’s okay if I actually don’t feel the same way someone else does. It does not make their feelings, nor mine, any less valid if we are not 100% in synch.
5. Anchor yourself.
As I was laying out a bunch of different versions of the Seven of Cups for the photo above, it struck me that you can’t see the ground in any of these images. And of course we’re dealing with the suit of water here, which is always flowing and can sweep you right away if you’re not anchored. So when this card comes to visit, it can be helpful to do some good old fashioned grounding practices, like: go outside. Take off your shoes. Put your feet on the ground and FEEL that connection. Or to go with the water metaphor, envision yourself surrounded by all these watery, ungrounded cups. But then envision an anchor. Maybe you still bob around, but you don’t lose your connection to something solid.
6. Don’t drown it out.
When I began learning tarot, part of how I understood the Seven of Cups was turning to things that are actually poison and expecting them to be medicine. This is something that’s been a recurring lesson for me. When emotions are running high I do sometimes try to drown them out with things that are actually not nourishing for me. These things might provide a temporary distraction or relief, but ultimately they leave me feeling worse than I did to begin with.
So I try to remind myself to discern between actual medicine and poison disguised as medicine. What are the practices and activities that truly make you feel better, and how can you embrace those?
7. Feelings are not facts.
One of the shadowy aspects of identifying as an empath or a highly sensitive person is that you may sometimes treat feelings as facts. But feelings are not facts. Feelings can offer great guidance, to be sure. Emotional intelligence is very important and often overlooked. But feelings don’t always tell the whole story.
Because of this, the Seven of Cups can remind you to question your feelings. Ask yourself: here I am in this weird Seven of Cups place. What would my inner Queen of Swords say? How can I appeal to my rational powers, not to minimize or negate my feelings, but to fill in the gaps of information that may not be accessible through feelings alone?
And there you have it, a few somewhat discombobulated thoughts on a card that is all about discombobulation. I hope that they were at least somewhat interesting! Leave a comment and tell me about it if so.
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There’s a meme going around that says “I don’t understand, but I stand” which I guess sums this up. I will never understand, but it is my task as a white person to do the inner work AND outer work to dismantle white supremacy. I want to be an ally, but I also want to get out of the way and listen to Black leaders as they reimagine what the way forward looks like.
I have always believed these things, but have not said them enough or taken enough action. It should not take a high profile event like the murder of George Floyd to get us white people to pay attention to the many, many forms that racism takes in our society.
I don’t have the answers. I am not the voice anyone should be listening to right now. I am a tarot reader, I am not an expert on social justice. I’m a white girl from Utah. I do not have lived experience of the hurt and pain and injustice black people in this country face every day. Later in this message I will share more of my thoughts not because I have authority, but because staying silent is not the answer. White people can’t stay silent, but we also can’t keep centering ourselves in this conversation.
On Instagram this week, I have been following the #amplifymelanatedvoices movement started by @jessicawilson.msrd and @blackandembodied. The idea is for white people to put themselves on mute “to center the voices and experiences of people of color.”
There are SO many Black people and POC sharing resources, perspectives and action items all over social media. If you’re a white person and aren’t already doing so, check out the #amplifymelanatedvoices hashtag to listen and learn. Just a few people I respect greatly (in addition to the two founders of the hashtag) are @mooredarnell, @iamrachelricketts and @ijeomaoluo. I would be remiss not to mention that many Black leaders have Venmo or other ways we can pay them as a tangible way to show gratitude for their presence.
And if you’re a white person still looking for ways to help, here is just one article with many ideas to consider and then act on. We all have unique ways to be of service and there is no one right answer as to what is best for you to do. Keep sitting with this question (how can I be of service?) and then taking action, then sitting with the question again, then more action. We’re always learning and it is messy, and that’s okay.
As white people, it is valuable for us to set aside our egos and defensiveness and focus on what really matters: creating real positive change and offering solidarity to our fellow human beings. I know I have found myself expending energy on things that really aren’t helpful: the fire hose of social media, my own feelings, etc. There’s shadow work for me to do, and maybe for you as well. Wasting energy in these ways is a huge challenge. We need to just keep reminding ourself to focus on doing things that are truly useful. This message brought to you by my Virgo Moon.
Here’s a thing maybe some of you are thinking: why does Carrie keep addressing “white people” and “black people” separately? Aren’t we one united human race?
Well, yes. And no. Let’s talk about that, especially as spiritual people.
Scientists believe that 13.7 billion years ago, the big bang happened and the universe began to expand. You, me, everything and everyone on this planet has the same origin, we all came from that cosmic burst. In the bigger picture, we’re all family. In a biological sense, there is very little that differentiates us aside from the amount of melanin in our skin. We are, in fact, one united human race. This is the core of many spiritual belief systems. We are one. I absolutely believe this both from a scientific and a spiritual standpoint.
But in a social, cultural and historic sense, there are still many things that differentiate us. As a white person in America, I have privilege. This doesn’t mean I should feel guilty or defensive. This doesn’t mean I don’t ever experience real struggles. It only means the challenges I face are not compounded by the color of my skin. As a spiritual person, I believe in acknowledging this and then considering what I’m going to do about it. Using spiritual beliefs to avoid confronting the very real differences people face based on the color of their skin is what some people call spiritual bypassing.
If you believe (as I do) that We Are One, instead of using this belief as a way to deflect from examining issues of race and privilege, consider how this belief inspires you to create an outer world that affirms this truth.
This is a tarot spread I put together earlier this week to help gather my own thoughts. I decided to share it on Instagram. I will paste the caption I wrote with this post:
“Black lives matter. Here is a tarot spread that may be helpful to white people (myself being one) continuing to sort out how to be a more effective ally. I am sure there are better spreads out there created by folks with more knowledge and experience on this topic than myself, but this is just one I put together to guide me in sorting out my thoughts.
I will share some of what I got from my own spread. These are raw thoughts which may be messy, but everyone says we (white people) need to do the work even when it is messy and makes us uncomfortable and I strongly agree.
Racism is engrained in the structure of America, and if we don’t constantly make efforts to change the trajectory, the trajectory continues. Racist practices are so embedded in my country that some white people just think of them as normal, just the way things are. We need to be vigilant, notice, and constantly make efforts to change the trajectory.
White privilege is also so “normal” to white people that we have to remind ourselves and others what it is. White privilege means being able to wear a hoodie or go jogging or write a check without fear of being murdered.
Part of my personal inner work right now is acknowledging that many of the good things I enjoy in life are not “blessings” because I’m special, but are the result of luck due to the color of my skin. Like the meme that’s done the rounds, maybe you manifested it, maybe it’s white privilege.
For my outer work, the strongest message I got was consciously moving out of defensiveness. My energy, and really the energy of all white people, is wasted when we use it up defending white people. That is energy that can and should be spent supporting black people. Personally I will continue to donate what I can to black-led organizations.
Finally, the cards asked me to remember that empowering one group of people ultimately means empowering humanity as a whole. When resources and creative energy and power are accessible to everyone, things are better for us all.”
Most of the feedback I received on this spread was positive. A few people did the spread for themselves and tagged me to share that it was of value to them. Alongside the positive feedback was one thoughtful but critical comment from someone who believed it was exploitative of me to share this. It was something worth considering, and I really did appreciate the feedback. Was it exploitative of me to share this? That’s a question with no one answer. There will be different opinions. I hesitated sharing the spread again here because of this comment, but ultimately it is something I already shared publicly and so you can determine if this spread would be useful for you or not. Part of being a white person trying to sort through all this is setting aside defensiveness and continuing to listen, as I said in the post itself.
A bit of a side tangent: earlier today, I took a small peek at Facebook. The top post in my feed was from one of the biggest tarot sites on the internet, sharing a spread pretty similar to this one I created. There were hundreds of comments and I couldn’t help but read through some of them. I went into it wondering if people would be calling the spread exploitive, like the comment I received. Although there were many angry comments, I didn’t see any that were angry for that reason. No, this thread was full of angry white people who don’t believe that white privilege is real, and/or don’t think a tarot account should talk about “politics.”
First of all: see the section above about spiritual bypassing. And second, caring about black lives is not a political issue, it’s a human rights issue. I am glad that in my (relatively small) sphere of reach, I don’t seem to have attracted this type of toxicity, but I am sad it exists anywhere in the tarot world.
Okay, back on track. Earlier, I talked about focusing on being useful. Perhaps it isn’t much, but I believe one small way I can be useful is by sharing my thoughts on tarot. That’s another thing I said earlier: I’m not an expert on social justice, but I am a tarot reader. For me, tarot is one of the most powerful ways I have found to increase my inner awareness AND direct my outward actions. Do I believe I can simply do a tarot spread and then move on with my life? Absolutely not. I need to take tangible, real world action, again and again. But do I believe tarot can help inspire me to create real change both within myself and the world? Absolutely yes. You may believe differently, and that is okay.
There’s SO MUCH MORE we could talk about in response to the question of what role tarot has in this conversation. For a few years now, there’s been an ongoing discussion about white people being centered in tarot decks and in the tarot community. The tarot community is diverse, but for too long whiteness has been centered in our decks and in our community. In recent years, deck creators have been paying more attention to this but we still have a long way to go. Especially those of us who are white/and or deck creators (like me!), we need to create more space for BIPOC deck creators and tarot readers.
A few places to start:
-A big thank you to Asali Earthwork for creating this Twitter thread sharing Black tarot deck creators!
-The Black Gold Lenormand centers on Black American traditions and is live on Kickstarter for a couple more days here.
If you have stuck with me through this long message, thank you for being here. There is always more to say, and as I mentioned earlier, it has to be ongoing, not just when it’s relevant to today’s news. I am not an expert and you shouldn’t just listen to me, but I will try to keep using my voice and doing what I can. If you have thoughts or feedback to share with me, please leave a comment.
Whoever you are, wherever you are, know that I am wishing you connection, peace and joy. There are no easy answers. We need all kinds of skills, talents and perspectives to move forward. Thank you for being here. Let’s stay focused on what matters, always.
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For better or worse, this was the first spread I learned when I began studying tarot. Mostly for worse, because this spread truly is a beast. Ten cards is a lot to grapple with when you’re a beginner! It was a bit like diving into the deep end before I’d learned to dog paddle. Due to memories of my own overwhelm when I was a beginner, when I’m teaching tarot I advise starting with smaller, three card spreads. But when you’re ready for it, the Celtic Cross can be a great source of insights and illumination!
Up until recently, it had actually been a year or two since I’d laid out a Celtic Cross at all. Not because I still shy away from bigger spreads, but because I got into a groove of custom-creating most of the spreads I used for clients. But within the past month, I’ve found myself returning to the Celtic Cross and using it for nearly all the client readings I’ve done lately!
This is mainly because I’ve been working through the book “Tarot For Your Self” by Mary K Greer. I’ve already gushed about this book a time (or two or three!) lately, but it can’t be said enough: what a great book. It is a classic for a reason. I still can’t believe it took me this long to get it, especially as I’ve been a great fan of Mary K Greer for a long time. She is a legend whose work really paved the way for what tarot has become in the modern world.
Fangirling aside, there’s a section in this book all about the Celtic Cross, and that’s what inspired me to return to this spread. There’s some fascinating info about the history and symbolism of the spread, and several variations on the spread positions. This was my favorite part, because although the Celtic Cross has retained a pretty specific shape and form over time, different people interpret the positions in slightly different ways.
I can’t for the life of me find this now, but I once heard someone (Joan Bunning, maybe?) compare casting a Celtic Cross to making a time-honored soup recipe that has been passed down from generation to generation. The idea being that things like soup or tarot spreads that have been made again and again gain a certain energy around them. We each bring our own flavors to the process, and also benefit from all the flavors that have built up over time.
So, what I’m going to share with you now is the way I interpret the spread positions in the Celtic Cross. Many of the positions are straight from the original, but I do have a few adjustments that I’ve found work better for my reading style. If it speaks to you, give it a try! I’ll also offer a few tips to help you get the most depth of meaning when working with this spread.
How to read the Celtic Cross
The image above gives a quick reference, but a more detailed understanding of the positions is helpful, so let’s take a closer look!
First up: do you need to ask a question when you lay out a Celtic Cross? It’s up to you, but I’ve found this spread is very versatile. When reading for myself, I rarely come in with a specific question, but I do usually have a specific focus area I want to explore. Having a focus area in mind is always helpful in giving context to your cards. But if you feel called to, you could also keep it totally open ended and simply trust that whatever messages you most need right now will come through.
The way I read cards 1 & 2 is fairly similar to traditional methods. Card one speaks to overarching themes or major lessons that are important to consider at this time. For me, card two offers more information about card one. Card two gives additional context to card one and often helps me hone in on the more subtle messages of the first card. These two cards are the heart of the spread, every other card usually relates back to these two in some way.
My view of cards 3 & 5 is also pretty traditional. Card three delves into unconscious influences. Often these are things you are completely unaware of on the surface level, although perhaps they have been seeping into your dreams or meditations. I find this spread position particularly helpful, because clarifying your unconscious influences and bringing them further into your conscious awareness is a key to transformation. Card five represents conscious influences, typically these are things you’re already aware of but perhaps need to consider in greater depth or from new angles.
Cards 4 & 6 are traditionally read as the past and the future. I have modified these to read as energy moving out, or what you need to release; and energy moving in, or what to focus on inviting in. This works better for me as it makes the reading feel less predictive and more empowering.
While all the cards within the spread “talk” to each other, there’s a particularly strong conversation between cards three and cards five, and cards four and six. As such, another useful tip is to really challenge yourself to consider how each card relates to the other card in its pair. What is the dynamic between these two cards? Do they compliment each other, or contrast each other?
As an example, in a recent client reading we had The Tower in position four (what to release) and The Eight of Pentacles in position six (what to bring in). These two had a particularly interesting dynamic because the Tower speaks to tearing something down, while the Eight of Pentacles is about building something up.
Card 7 I look at in a pretty traditional lens: this card speaks to your self-image. The stories you have about yourself in this moment, what traits you are most focused on within yourself, the beliefs about yourself that are most impactful right now. In my modification, card 8 goes along with card seven and offers another perspective on your self-image. This card is particularly helpful because in many instances our self-image is holding us back or not telling a complete story, so card eight opens up a bigger picture.
Card 9 is also traditional. I interpret this card as hopes, or fears, or both. Sometimes I intuitively sense it is speaking more to a hope, or sometimes more to a fear. But most often, I find it speaks to both as our hopes and fears are almost always interwoven.
Finally, I use another modification for card 10. Traditionally, this card represents the outcome. I was never really comfortable with that, because once again, I don’t really read predictively. I now use card ten as an opportunity for any closing messages or further advice to come through. I often find this card summarizes some of the key lessons that came in throughout the spread.
A few more tips for interpreting the Celtic Cross:
Give yourself plenty of time. As you experiment with this spread, you’ll get a feel of what that means for you. I am rarely able to get through this spread in less than 45 minutes. My client sessions are one hour long, and this is usually a good amount of time to do some in-depth exploration!
Begin by noticing overall patterns. This is actually a great way to begin any tarot reading, but especially a spread with lots of cards. Start by looking at the overall scope of the spread. What patterns do you notice? For example: is one suit more prominent? Are there more majors or minors? Do any colors or numbers stand out to you?
Relate everything back to the central two cards. I already mentioned this but it is worth repeating. These cards can serve as an anchor for you. Especially if you get thrown off on how to interpret any other card, it can help to ask yourself how it might relate back to the central cards.
Try spread variations to find what resonates with you. I’ve talked to a few people who soured on the Celtic Cross after trying only the “traditional” interpretations. Of course not every spread is for everyone, but before you totally kick this one to the curb, experiment with some modifications, or create your own modifications.
I hope something I’ve shared here is useful! If you have questions, comments or feedback, do share.