Saturday, March 31, 2012

Knight Study II: Swords

So, because it came up anyway in a daily reading I did for myself this morning, continuing the series inspired by Rowan Tarot and This Game of Thrones - talking about the Knights in the Thoth tarot.

Knight of Swords

Here again we have a knight that isn't quite comparable to the RWS king of the same suit. There are similarities, certainly: both are logical, calculating, ruthless when they need to be. Both are quite capable of being discerning, and both have a certain quality - in contrast to the prince/knight of the court - of being very controlled. The King however, is again more  'passive' for lack of a better term: he sits and he judges, sometimes over-harshly, over-critically. He seeks to manage and control. He is active, sure, but intellectually, by and large.

In contrast, the Thoth knight is all about movement, action. In contrast to the disk knight's horse, who stands firmly on earth, the one here leaps through the air. It is a golden horse, wise and filled with a higher kind of power, and it can run through the wind, through the ethers, through anywhere, really, that its master needs it to go. And the knight is clad in bright green, like the Fool: full of energy, vitality, possibility. His helmet has transparent wings, helicopter-like in design. This knight is supremely flexible, adaptable: he has a focus, a goal that he will pursue relentlessly, and with those wings he can fly, or he can hover, give the horse more speed, adjust his course as rapidly and often as he needs - anything. In fact, wrapped into the horse as he is, you can barely tell where the man ends and the beast begins: they are one with each other, sharing intention and instinct and drive.

This is not the Prince, recklessly riding forward. The king, logical and calculating, knows exactly what he wants to do, and how. He has his sword and dagger ready, his target selected with pin-point precision. He does nothing without a reason, without logic to back up his decision. But once he focuses on a goal...he PURSUES it indeed. There are swallows around him, golden like the horse: they are his too. They guide him, keep him on course, keep him from getting distracted or developing that kind of tunnel-vision that can stop you from seeing the bigger picture. See, the knight can play well with others when it suits him, share ideas and perspectives, though in the end he does prefer to lead. He is moving, always moving, but smartly, everything calculated carefully. The Queen IS, but the Knight DOES.

Unlike the King, the Knight takes his ability to harness the power of logic; the discipline and control he has mastered over himself; his ability to think critically, to judge, plan, and follow through ruthlessly, and he focuses them on a goal. And he achieves that goal, and moves onto the next and so on. At his best he is in fact the very image of precision: the well though out, action-oriented campaign.

--
For the record, the card came up alongside of the Wheel of Fortune and 6 of Wands for me. I took the message to be one of, basically...sometimes things are hard, you don't feel well, you have problems going on and you just feel...overwhelmed with a kind of hopeless despair. And sometimes you have to realize that now is not the TIME for that, and instead focus, in this kind of logical and directed way, at successfully accomplishing the immediate tasks in front of you. So I went to a meeting with one of my presentation groups, participated lots in the planning, and we got quite a lot done. Then I made some good headway in outlining my memo that I must have done for Monday, and plan on doing some more research as soon as I finish posting this. So YES, appropriate message indeed. Thoth is one of the few decks I've ever worked with where I can pull cards multiple times a day and get a meaningful, USEFUL message just about every time....

Friday, March 30, 2012

Plans and Pipe-Dreams

So you get an idea: you want to do something new, try a different approach to things. You want to have something worthwhile to channel your energy, your passions into. Perhaps this new start can be that for you - new leaves, bright green sprouting from an upright branch; a dance among spring, flowers, blossoming. You want to grow, to do more than you are currently able to do. You want to be better. You want to do, to involve yourself with creative, impressive, fulfilling pursuits.

And so you have this idea, a spark of insight, the outlines of a plan, a course of action you could take to make it all come together. Or vaguer than that, a sketch in your mind still, this new opportunity, project, adventure...

And yet...how do you know, whether that flash of inspiration holds the seeds of a real, viable plan, or whether it is all a pipe dream? Mind games, escapist daydreams that flit across your mind because it is so much easier to get lost in perhaps perhaps and eventually than to deal with the difficult things right in front of you: that months-long fantasy, born of nothing more than a walk in front of an embassy, of running away to Australia...

Standing in front of a throne with a scepter of power in his hand, this man may be a king now, may have the power and the authority, but he never really did leave behind who he was: that knight, that dreamy-eyed, over-romantic knight. Still he focuses on the cup, his own self-indulgence rather than the larger picture. He drinks and enjoys the muddy-headed feeling as he ponders things he might do, project he might undertake, eventually, the things he might accomplish if he actually took this or that step...perhaps, perhaps...

Below, in his fields, with the castle where he takes his pleasure in view, simple people toil. They work and they work, force themselves through day after day of monotonous unrewarding labor. Does the king think of them? Does the King consider how his actions might effect others? Does the king account for those little details of reality in his grand plans?

And why do they stick to it, those people, day after day breaking their backs and see nothing for it? The same concept: the vague dream, the vague plans and ambitions - they too want something greater, something more. Perhaps if they work hard enough, are careful enough, are diligent enough, are good enough, perhaps they too will have a chance at those fresh young leaves sprouting up. Is this really possible? Is the system too skewed for them to have a chance at real success? Should they just give up then, collapse in the sun and refuse because why bother, why bother when nothing will ever change and they will grow old with age and still have nothing? Or is there that chance, if they, too, let themselves dream? Is there a difference between the dream-gaze into the bottom of a cup and the longing dream as you stare at the castle up there, in the distance?

Where exactly does the outline of a real plan end and the foggy edges of a pipe dream begin?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Knight Study I: Disks

So, inspired my some recent posts and ideas on Rowan Tarot and This Game of Thrones, I decided I would like to write a bit specifically about the Knights in the Thoth. Knights, because I find them rather interesting, not least because they do not translate, exactly, to either knights or kings in RWS tradition decks. It's hard (and, in my opinion, not really appropriate) to make direct correlations... I don't have the time/energy right now to do it all in one comprehensive post, though, so breaking it up into bits and pieces series.

Knight of Disks

So yeah, Thoth Knights - they aren't equivalent to the RWS kings, really. In the RWS, the King of Pentacles/Coins is a man sitting in the midst of the wealth and bounty he has created for himself. He is a man fulfilled, a man grounded, a man who rules over what he has accomplished. He is solid and in many ways static - pragmatic when he doesn't cling overmuch, and yet not so likely to make changes if he doesn't HAVE to - what he's done so far has gotten him this much, so why change things now? He is the ruler of his domain, his home.

I've never really connected with that particular court card, I must say. Certainly it is quite far from where I am right now in life. No, as I've written about before, its the Knight of Pentacles that I identify with quite strongly....solid, perhaps not so enthusiastic but pragmatic, forward and forward through obstacles, trudging along, determined realism...

In the Thoth Knight of Disks we have a combination of those, really. He sits on a horse - unlike the horses in the other suits, this horse has his hooves firmly planted in the ground and he is standing still rather than in motion. He cranes his neck, though, looking around - aware, cautious, wise. He's on the same page as his master: realistic, knowing what danger lurks, what to look out for, what to keep in mind. They stand in front of some wheat, fertile ground for starting new things and a source of grazing for the horse too, perhaps. Sustainable effort, then. They can get along here as long as it takes to get the task done. The knight wears a suit of heavy black armor - protection, from whatever he might have to face, whether physical or mental. Perhaps that much protection - the black metal in the hot sun -presents difficulties, but he can manage to carry that burden; he must. He carries a heavy shield too, and it protects, emanates a forcefield that blankets him, his mount, everything. His helmet is up so that he can see clearly, assess realistically and without distortion.

This is not a man who has accomplished, who sits with his spoils by his throne, satisfied. But neither is he the Prince, riding out with his bull-drawn chariot, naked and ready to face the world for the first time. The knight is experienced. He has done this before. He knows how to pace himself, conserve energy; he knows that it doesn't pay to exhaust a horse with unneccessary motion. He knows how important it is to find a fertile place for longer campaigns. He knows how much danger there is, how many obstacles, and how much the world can hurt you, and how much it pays to be protected, shielded and armored. He knows too, how heavy the armor will make him, how hot, how much more of an effort it will be to move. He has prepared for it, accounted for it, readied himself to deal with it because he must, he must. The knight knows exactly how many things must be faced out of that kind of necessity. In plains or mountains or deserts or fields, however long or short a time it will take. He has done it before and he will do it again, and its that perseverance that is his accomplishment, not fruit or coins on a table before him.

That heavy shield, the weight of everything - difficult, difficult, but you can do it. You have the armor, the strong and steady mount. You can see clearly, and you are experienced enough to understand what you see. Be realistic. Plan. Deal with it. Go.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

story time, take three

Here's another go at the three card story-writing exercise, this time with the Harmonious tarot.


There was once an old man who was a fool – royal fool, to be exact. He would dance and contort in front of the King and the courtiers. He would joke, play with words, play with props exotic and mundane. The royal family adored the fool; the king was generous and gave him all manner of expensive trinkets over the years as gifts. The fool always wore the same plain clothes though, and lived in the same simple shack with his son. In this way, no one paid much notice to the old man; no one envied him, nor acted to make his life more difficult, as was not uncommon a pastime in that court, at that time. One night, Death came for the fool, ethereal, dressed in black robes. Death carried the hourglass whose grains of sand marked the Fool’s lifespan. As the last of them ran out, the Fool began to dance – the funniest dance he’d ever choreographed, in fact. In his last moments, the old man was spry again, free.

After his father’s burial, the fool’s son found the chest where his father had kept all the gold he had ever received from thing king. In this way, the old man had ensured that the son would not be forced to take up the Fool’s mantle in his father’s place, and instead could follow his own path, whatever path it was that his turned out to be. The young man, uncertain at first, opted to join the ranks of the king’s pages. But there was Fool’s blood in the boy, and he didn’t make a very good page at all: he spent too much time dreaming, sketching ideas for contraptions he might someday create in the dusty ground. He was a curious young man, one who wanted to learn more than there was to learn among the pages and knights of the court. One day, a member of the king’s Academy of Science saw one of the boy’s sketches; impressed, he offered the page admission and apprenticeship instead. Thanks to his father, the young man could pay the fee, and so joined the ranks of the king's inventors instead.

Freed of the military garb of the page, his mind allowed to run wild in the halls of the Academy, the Fool’s son began to dress not unlike his father once had, and as his training progressed he created ever more interesting gadgets. One day the King decided to hold a contest – he erected a large obstacle course and decreed that whoever could pass all of it would be granted a boon. The Fool’s son, using his inventions, won out against the knights on horseback and the noblemen who competed, and as he was crowned winner asked the King for the hand of one of his daughters. The king shrugged – if one of them will have you, fine, he said. The king had two daughters, and the women were intrigued by this strange young man who had beaten their father’s challenge. So together they went to meet the young man. They talked with him, asked to see his laboratory, examined his strange clothes. Afterwards, they conferred. The older sister decided first – I don’t see a husband for myself in him, she told the younger, and shrugged; in truth, she already had her eye on another, a prince from a neighboring kingdom. Then the younger pondered a bit, and after a while nodded. Yes, I like him, she stated. I’ll choose him for a husband. And so she did, and the two youths were married, and to the surprise of much of the court, turned out to be quite well-matched. At the wedding feast, the groom even danced for a few moments just as his father once had, all those years ago.


Monday, March 26, 2012

what's possible

So today was kind of...interesting. See, I've been so swamped with things on my mind and things to do, that I forgot I was supposed to co-lead a discussion in one of my classes today. No problem, I thought when I realized this morning; I still had enough time to finish the reading and think up some appropriate questions. And then I realized one of the readings I was supposed to discuss wasn't uploaded online as it was supposed to be and...well, one thing led to another and suffice to say that I gave my professor the impression, in an email exchange, that I had done a good bit more reading than we were supposed to have done when in fact I had done a good bit less. And she called my bluff and, impressed at my 'initiative' asked me to do a mini-lecture on it for the class.

So I had about an hour and a half to familiarize myself with a rather long reading, select excerpts to hand out to the class, and analyze it enough to be able to discuss it meaningfully. Fortunately, I DID have the underlying skills to do this: the ability to speed read with comprehension, the ability to think critically and conceptually and make connections and get big idea discussion points in a very short period of time. To be able to draw out the most important ideas, connect them to previous ideas, intellectually synthesize, etc.

On the metro on my way to class, I drew a pair of cards for advice and one of them, the crux of the draw, was the Fool. Air element, optimism, freedom from worry and fret. The fool leaps with confidence into new things. The fool, with his shoes pointed upwards, is light and quick on his feet. The fool in green is full of energy. The fool, not bothered by the tiger, the crocodile...next to the butterfly, newly transformed... I knew exactly what this card was trying to tell me.You know what you want to to talk about, how to organize your ideas, so just...don't worry about how last minute your preparation was, don't worry about whether you know enough... just trust yourself. Trust that you can do well, and approach it with confidence, with a positive attitude. Just throw yourself into doing well. Go into the class believing that you can pull it off. And so I listened to the card, and I did it. I did just fine. No one, including the professor, questioned whether I knew what I was talking about, whether I had done the reading. The professor was pleased with the excerpts, my analysis, my discussion questions. I already had the underlying ability, and so I was able to pull it off, despite the tightness of the constraints. Because I walked in there with all the confidence of the Fool, it added to the impression everyone had that I knew what I was talking about. Possibility became reality.

This was actually a very good reminder for me, namely because pulling off difficult things is hardly over for me. In the next two weeks I have to write another memorandum for a difficult grader professor, write a twenty-five page research paper, work on two different group presentations, plus a whole bunch of arabic work and regular readings, and also keep going to work, and find some time to go to a dental clinic to try to get my tooth fixed at affordable cost, and until then do all of that while in constant pain/discomfort, and other non-school related things stressing me out and just...

I pulled another two cards this evening, in an improvised what to do/what not to do spread, and got the 7 of Swords for what not to do. Futility, giving up on yourself prematurely, letting false doubts cloud your mind. That middle sword serves as a center of gravity for the rest: you need a strong center, a confident center, something to anchor all the many projects and responsibilities you need to get done. This card has the moon in aquarius - the possibility of doubts, confusion, lunacy, illusion getting in the way of pure intellect, in the way of curiosity, originality, logical thought. If you let doubts knock that center of gravity out of balance, everything falls apart; if you can hang on, not let the moon skew things...anything is possible.

If today showed me anything, it's that academically at least, I can pull of a great very many things even in very constrained, very difficult circumstances. I have the ability, the skill. If I can put away self-doubt, if I can overcome distraction, the despairing fear of failure, futility - if I can channel the fool, the blind certainty of conviction - I CAN do this. I can get what I need to get done. Haven't I proven already to myself, again and again, what I can do?

So yes, avoid the faulty logic of 7 of Swords, channel the Fool's energy and confidence, and get to work. Aquarius, Air signs, Possibility. So much is possible if don't let your mind convince you otherwise...

this bothers me more than it probably should

So decided to try out one of those spreads I've had an eye on...decent reading, not really 'off' but not notable enough to type up either. Art-wise, I find the Harmonious tarot quite pretty, but I am already wondering if it won't end up on the trade-block due to a certain lack of connection in reading with it. Will see. Anyway, though, one of the cards that came up really kind of bothered me.

When I saw this card, I spent a good minute or two thinking it was the Queen of Wands. Why? Well, to be honest, in RWS styled decks I kind of automatically associate sunflowers with the Queen of Wands given the frequency with which they appear in her card. Then you have the bright golden tones, and...most notably, the RAM in the background. Working with Thoth has made me more aware of astrology as of late, and this, symbol of Aries, is most definitely a fire sign; fire, which is almost always associated with Wands. I mean, there is the Silicon Dawn with its quite deliberate and unique (to my knowledge) reversal of Wands and Coins suit elements, but in a deck like this, where there is no real elemental associations in the suits and certainly no deliberate effort to do something different... it just leaves me scratching my head about why are there all these wands/fire associations in what is supposed to be the earthy coin queen.

It's a pretty card, certainly. One of my favorites in the entire deck, aesthetically. And I suppose sunflowers can be an earth associated  as well, but the whole card image. to me, just says...growth, passion, energy, self-development, creativity...that ARIES mountain pointing upward, goals to achieve... I cannot see anything at all that I associate with the queen of coins in this card. Mentally I know that is what it is supposed to be, but visually I really do see another queen entirely.

It's one thing if a deck is really conceptually doing its own thing, but when it is essentially pretty straightforward RWS-based in a different/interesting art style... Maybe its my mood or stress level at the current moment, but this just...quite rather annoys me...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

the right approach to idealism

So lacking time for longer/more interesting reading (I've seen several spreads lately I really want to try out!) decided to simply do another take on the idea of drawing one card from two different decks and interpreting them together. In this case, from Thoth and from my new deck for the next week or two, the trimmed Harmonious...

It's kind of funny, but I don't have a particularly high opinion of the Knight/Prince of Cups generally - relating this to others, I kind of see it as the kind of guy that is liable to pursue you a bit TOO hard, to the point of getting creepy and uncomfortable; the type that just doesn't want to HEAR it when the answer is no. In yourself, I kind of see it as that same kind of tendency toward...over-idealism, romanticizing things rather than dealing with reality, single-minded pursuit of dreams when a more pragmatic approach would get you further; the rose-colored glasses approach. I suppose that makes sense, that someone who identifies mostly with Queen of Swords and Knight of Pentacles might not see the Knight of Cups so positively...

But I think the message here is that sometimes, a little idealism - some devoted following of some dream or idea, some determined optimism - can be a good, or an even necessary thing. It's a good counter to negative thinking, to that kind of 'there is no way you can get that done, why even bother' voice. Maybe this knight isn't the most....together, in his approach toward that castle, but he's still going, not letting anyone or anything convince him otherwise. I mean, the fact that he has to have a cup of - what, liquid courage? - with him isn't the best sign, but...it's about HOW you go about the idealism, the dreams.

Virtious thinking. Positive thinking, not just in terms of optimistic thoughts but... positive in terms of being pro-active, pragmatic - what kind of goals do I have? What effects do I want to have, and how can I best go about doing that? It's self-confident, optimistic, directed thinking....

The Sun in Aries, we have in the three of wands - all the good, energetic, bright, right energies of the Sun channeled into action, into boldness. Relating to the majors associated with those astrological signs, we have the Emperor and the Sun: discipline that leads to success, fulfillment. There's a lot of bright orange and yellow color, which goes well with the color palette of the Knight of Cups as well. By taking the idea of the three of wands, combining that with the best aspects of the knight... well, some obstacles or difficult tasks ahead of us may just start to look a bit more manageable.

Friday, March 23, 2012

an inner strength, alone day

So as much as I do love my Sun and Moon, the fact that I've pretty much committed to working with the Thoth steadily for the foreseeable future means that I want to mix up my second working deck (if I haven't clearly stated here before, that's my way of doing things these days - two working decks at any given time) at decent intervals. Before putting away this one, decided to do one more day draw...pulled these cards this morning but ran out before thinking about them too much. Returning to the reading this evening, I found that they were a quite apt description of my day...


I really like this take on the Strength card, I must say. I like that it is a wolf she is riding (again the Thoth influence, and I've already discussed why I like Thoth idea of riding the beast) rather than the traditional lion, and that it is a wolf howling at the full moon, no less. To me, with the associations that the Moon itself has, this really ties together the idea of compassion and self-compassion and over-coming both inner and outer obstacles, which for me especially often have to do with mental issues and lack of clarity and indecision and whatever else. This deck is a pretty simple/minimalistic one, really, and yet there are the little touches that just really catch my eye - the snake wrapped around her leg, another butterfly...

Anyway, yeah. Today was a free day for me, no work or class, and I used that inner-strength kind of idea to get myself out the apartment and actually doing productive stuff despite not feeling my best, physically or mentally. Didn't manage to call that dentist yet, but I did get myself to the cherry blossoms at the Washington memorial and Tidal Basin and took a bunch of really nice pictures (I might go again tomorrow with a friend, but the weather is supposed to be rainy and today was so sunny, so I figured I might as well take advantage...). I really enjoy photography, and it was also a nice long walk for me as I walked all the way there from my apartment. I also ran some smaller errands I'd needed to run, (including finally getting myself an umbrella!) and then got to the school library to return some overdue books and start catching up on school-work/get started on those MASSIVE papers I have due very soon and just...yeah.

So definitely a day spent alone, hermit-like, contemplating things, seeing things, getting things done, even the whole studying alone thing. But it was nice, and it was a much better use of my time than I've been known to do other days when I have all day unstructured like this, and I got quite a few things on that To-Do List done and...yeah. Strength and Hermit make for a rather good combination, for me. Hermit at his best, as it were. And I really really do connect with the moon-influence in this card specifically...

My Favorite Majors: The Wheel of Fortune

Conceptually, the Wheel of Fortune is certainly an interesting card, and one that has really kind of evolved in meaning for me over time - or, I suppose, expanded in meaning to be more precise. At one time I thought of it as primarily a counterpoint to Justice - sometimes things happen because its fair, and sometimes things are random and just happen and fairness or rightness or balance has nothing to do with it. For a while I thought of this card as being about things that are larger than you, out of your hands, limited control of. Later the idea of cycles, the spinning aspect really came into it. So yeah, a lot more nuanced than it appears. The takes on this card really do tend to vary between decks, and especially between traditions...some more interesting than others, suggesting or emphasizing different conceptual aspects... It was a mix of that and the aesthetic informing my favorites choices for this card.

X. Wheel of Fortune


Favorite:
What can I say? I like the TdM tradition take on the Wheel - nice and simple and gets the point across without too much fuss. At the same time, de la Rea art style specifically is just so PRETTY. Those masks...there is just something about the idea and the execution of those masked figures for everything in this deck that really appeals to me. The most familiar aspects are still there, and quite clear: the regal figure at the top, the rapid like one, hopping forward, and the falling one...love how their capes vary and move here also. The colors are really nice and just...yeah. I guess this was mostly an aesthetic appeal choice for me. I love the look of this card and it gets the point across nicely and so favorite it is indeed.

Runner Up:
So I realize that I have a definite preference for having an actual WHEEL in the Wheel of Fortune card...some  decks (Druidcraft and Victorian Romantic come to mind) forego that and focus more on the concept behind it, which is fine and good and interesting food for thought but...I like to see me a wheel. Here, I especially like the two dragons-serpents, one white and one red - which is itself very tied to the alchemical aspects of the deck - eating each other's tails. I have an particular liking for the ouroboros concept (to the point of having recently gotten a tattoo of an ouroboros-based design) and this isn't quite that but very related: things interconnecting, the end is a beginning etc. and yeah. The one on the top with wings and a crown, the one below without...same idea, cycles, rise and fall, but presented a bit differently which is always interesting. Having all four elements surrounding them in the corners is nice too - it ties together the alchemy theme, again, as it proceeds through all the majors, but to me it also ties in all four suits of the minors, shows the inter-related nature of everything in the world and just...appropriate to the card. Also, I like Robert Place's art style quite a lot, and find this card quite nice to look at too. ;]

Thursday, March 22, 2012

things that need to be dealt with...

So today, it seems, the Thoth would like to really call me out on my nonsense...


I notice right away the continuity of the color scheme between these two cards, the mucky sick yellow-green which pervades the 7 of Cups and which the Princess of Swords is confronting. The same muddled, grey background in both cards too - tired and dreary and difficult things about...

The more I work with the Thoth, the more I come to like it's court cards. They take some getting used to if you are coming to the deck from a primarily RWS (or even TdM) background, but...the courts have always been a bit of a challenge for me to read, especially the pages. There is a certain lack of...clarity, distinctness at times, or at least that was my experience when I was first learning the cards. In the Thoth, though, I find it's much easier to get a grasp, and each court card is very much its own, quite clear message. In  this case, the princess of swords is about confrontation - both kinds. On the on hand there are external issues, diffuclties, obstacles that you might wish you could avoid or run away from but which in fact you really should stand up and face; and on the other hand within yourself, that need to turn the sharp sword of logic and critically examine your own actions, perceptions, approach to things. This princess has an airy, transparent dress and wings - she is young, flexible, able if she chooses to adjust, adapt. And despite all the chaos around her, she is bright green - for youth, renewal, spring, growth, possibility...

The 7 of Cups is titled Debauch and indeed, we see a see of muck, poisonous slime dripping down from those cups, the two downwards triangles, the tigerlilies... We have Venus in Scorpio, in a way bringing together the worst traits of both of those signs - overindulging, self-indulging in destructive impulses, turning a certain intensity in the exact wrong direction. We have dark skies, mucky seas, venom drip...the entire scene makes me think of nausea...And actually, its perhaps for that reason that I know exactly what this is referring to. See, I kind of have a cluster of problems involving a bunch of dental issues, the most serious of which is a tooth which had been causing me pain since last September, and which I was told in December needs a root canal or extraction. I've been ignoring the issues, and it's gotten to the point that taking TONS of ibuprofen doens't help enough and prescription pain medication dentist gave me makes me so nauseated I cannot eat anything which given my already less than ideal eating habits...and yeah.

Why don't I do anything about it? Because I am stressed with other things, because I am moderately paranoid about doctors and dentists, because I don't have dental insurance and I KNOW trying to get into a lower cost dental school clinic will be a bother, because I just don't feel like I have the mental energy to deal with the issue. Same reason I've been all kinds of other issues as well, but well. This has become a bit of an acute problem, I suppose, and Thoth has something to say to me about it:

Deal with it. Just deal with it. Put on your big girl clothes, grab your logic-sword, and do something. Take a good look at what you've been doing and why that isn't working for you and what you should do instead. Realize that yes, this is going to involve some external hassle and dealing with obstacles and things and/or people you may not want to deal with and that...you need to do it anyway. Fight the slimy-icky things because constantly taking so much pain medication that you feel too sick to eat is not a long-term solution for success. In this case, continuing to do nothing about the problem is very much Debauch, self-indulgence in a very self-defeating sense. Fight that impulse: just deal with the chaos this is causing already.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Why Do I Collect Decks?

So I wrote a post response to a question on AT, and I liked what came to mind enough to want to expand on the idea here so....

Collecting Decks

So I have some 30+ tarot decks at the current moment, which I do not think is a particularly notable number by the standards of Aeclectic membership but which is, by the standards of the wider world, quite enough to be called a 'collection' and to qualify me as someone who can reasonably say that I collect tarot decks.

And I suppose I do, though for various reasons I don't really think of myself as a Collector the way some people are: I keep all my decks in simple bags in a large sack (after fire last fall, I like the idea of being able to quickly grab and take them all in an emergency), and care about boxes not at all - the only reason I keep those these days is for possible trading purposes, as other people seem to like keeping their decks in proper boxes with proper LWBs. I don't care about keeping my decks in 'mint' condition, even some of the rarer, OOP ones - if I think it will look better trimmed, I trim away, and gilt them too. I do not keep decks I cannot or do not want to read with, no matter how pretty or rare - all of my decks must be reading decks, working decks, because what the hell do I have them for, if not to read with?

And yet, nonetheless, I have enough that one might reasonable ask: why so many decks? Couldn't you read just as well with one or two? Does anyone ever need over thirty tarot decks? And to be fair, no I do not need them. And yet I am an INTP, and there is some underlying logic with which I justify my purchases. It comes down, I guess, to that one great love of mine in life - the love of learning, of gaining knowledge, expanding what I know and how I can think about the things I know of.

See, we all call it 'tarot reading' but in many ways that seems to be mostly a metaphor, figurative language. Do we really think of it as the equivalent of reading a newspaper, a book? And yet, the more I think about it, the more I want to say...perhaps yes. What is written language, after all? From the earliest pictographs to modern, current alphabets in a way, if you think about it broadly, writing is about visually representing abstract concepts. We have these little symbols we call letters, and we string them together this way and that, and suddenly that MEANS something to us, because we have been trained to automatically interpret them as such. So when you come across DOG, you do not see random squiggles: your mind automatically brings up the image or the idea of a certain canine animal. And when you learn other languages, you apply the same concepts. PIES brings to mind the same animal for me, because my mind has been trained to make that associated. So does كلب because again, written language acquisition is about training the mind to correlate visual symbols with sounds with abstract ideas.

Reading tarot is, in a lot of ways, is just the same. You have 78 cards with distinct images, and each card has a range of meanings attached to it - the exact details depend on which system(s) you follow, whether you read intuitively or whether you are deep into studying historical esoteric symbolism or whatever, and so on. In any case though, its a recognizable system with widely applicable card meanings, and as you get more experienced with working with the cards, and more familiar with them, the process of eliciting messages from the cards becomes easier. When you first start off, you draw a card and look at the picture, and maybe you have some vague concept of what it could maybe mean, but you aren't quite sure, and so you check in the LWB or whatever book you have, and you read the keywords and then you kind of stumble along, in broad strokes, trying to make some kind of connection that makes sense to you. The image and the abstract ideas are still separate and you are trying to bridge that gulf.

Later on, it just comes. I draw the 6 of cups and I automatically think of nostalgia, of childhood, of looking backwards, of longing, of people you used to know and things you used to do. I draw the 10 of coins and I think of houses, of families, of the people you love and the people you are tied to, of responsibilities and duties and burdens. A draw an Ace of Wands and I think of opportunities, of growth, of creative energy ready to be channeled, of new projects, of starting thinks, taking the plunge, boldness. I do not have to sit there and struggle to remember - it simply comes when I look at the image in front of me. The images of the cards you see, have been married to a whole range of concepts in my mind. It really is quite analogous to reading, except that what you are reading is a deck of cards...

Which brings us back to the idea of why so many decks? If you have a deck with which you have grown familiar enough to have that kind of connection, isn't that enough?

But you see, to me it does make a difference that what you are reading is not words but images, ART. Art, which can be created in so many different styles and mediums, which is both so inherently personal and so universal...Having many decks means working with the same core concept represented in a plethora of different ways. It really does broaden the scope of your knowledge, the pool of meaning from which you draw when you read. You'll see a card you feel you know so well drawn in a different way and it will trigger something in your mind, another way that you could approach the idea. It adds nuance and shade. Working with the Thoth so much recently has been doing that a lot for me - it really isn't so far removed from the RWS meanings, and yet it comes at them from different angles and perspectives and it makes me really THINK. It widens how I see the cards. Like Aeon instead of Judgement opened up that card for me in a way I never really got just from the standard christianity-based images of the Angel blowing the trumpet and resurrection. Or the post the other night about the Wheel of Fortune and the idea that life is made up of many wheels - wheel of career, wheel of love, wheel of emotional health - that all move at their own pace. These are ideas that would have never occurred to me if I had just been working with the ONE deck, and which once they do I can internalize and apply to all my future working with tarot, regardless of which deck it is that I happen to be reading at the current time.

And yeah, in a way each deck is also it's own 'dialect' because each one has it's own artistic take, little details that you can pick and pull apart as you interpret. Sometimes the answers the cards give can be QUITE literal, and that staircase or the hat or whatever in the deck you are working with happens to be exactly applicable - it wouldn't be there in another deck, but its here, in this one, an answer just for you.

Besides that, decks draw on all kinds of influences - each other, early 20th century occultist groups, ancient mythology, various cultural practices, astrology, numerology, qabbalah, various animal groups, whatever, and they do so in various ways and proportions and so, having many decks can also be a nice way to become at least a little bit familiar with other ideas or systems or whatever which for me - well, more learning is always, always a plus.

And so that is my overly long explanation about both what I think tarot is and how I justify spending all kinds of money on tarot decks when, one might argue one or two would be more than enough :D

another take on the year card

So this came up in a draw today, reminding me that yes, Justice is my year card for 2012 and I am supposed to be working on that whole Equilibrium achieving theme word thing...

I'm really realizing now that the majors in the Sun and Moon really are quite Thothy, by and large, in a kind of playful-light way. Here we have the same kind of woman, standing on tiptoe with the moon-hilt sword pointing downwards...maintaining that careful balance, equilibrium, and discerning, weighing, yes. I really do prefer the Thoth title for this card the more I think about it though....Adjustment, a force of nature that simply is, without any human societal value judgement. Justice is too...variable, really. Is the death penalty justice? Is stoning a woman justice? Is a public flogging justice? So much variability and room for argument. Adjustment is simply about....bringing things into the proper balance.

Anyway, there are the familiar Thoth scales here, alpha and omega etched into each but also the ancient Egyptian symbolism of the feather weighed against the heart...it's kind of funny how that particular bit of mythology has gotten to be so pervasive across the esoteric...the same blue-green color as in the Thoth justice too, for wisdom and contemplation, the coolness of air, libra and even the hints at those spheres uniting masculine, feminine, above and below...very much balance, yes. Except here there is also color: the bright yellow dress, energy and light, and of course those vivid orange butterfly wings...

Energy, light and transformation. Active engagement in the adjustment process of equilibrium finding, the balancing act - continuing from the swiftness theme of yesterday, the idea of proactive engagement, in taking what you can for yourself, letting yourself grow and transform into something better, brighter. The yin-yang on the top of the scales here, uniting brightness and dark:

How can I bring my life more in line with that concept? What issues can I take that sharp sword to, wear my bright dress and balance, and adjust?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

on temperate swiftness


What struck me right away about today's draw was the color: so much color, rainbows...we have just about every color somewhere in the Art card, and rainbow specifically in the edges of the golden ring around her, in the energy rising up out of the cauldron, covering her like a cloak. And of course, the rainbow-refracting crystal with the red bolts of lightening under a proper rainbow in the eight of wands...color, waves of energy everywhere, yes.

What's more, both are Sagittarius cards...Art influenced by the idea of optimism, of grasping your way up, taking energy and mixing and working and creating something better, higher. In the 8 of Wands, we have Mercury in Sagittarius, which I especially like because Mercury is usually associated with cleverness, quickness, with the mind: this is us, applying our intellect and mental energies to make things happen, to make things move in a positive direction. Today is the first day of Spring, officially, and here we have two cards full of synthesis, creation and growth.

Together, these two bring to mind the question of just what exactly Art, or Temperance in the RWS, is. When you hear Temperance, it's easy to think well yes, be moderate, be cautious, don't take things to extremes, think before you act, don't go too far...and yes, sometimes, to do the temperate thing that is EXACTLY what you need. But for me at least, sometimes when I get into a certain 'extreme thinking' mindset, it kind of goes 'Well, I can't get this done just how  I want it anyway, so why do anything at all?' 'There are so many problems, and some of them are totally out of my hands to fix, so why bother to tackle any? There will always be more of them, right?' And in this kind of case THAT is the extreme thinking, because if you can enact some kind of solution, create something good, tackle a bit of the larger issue, why not do it? Why not try? Why not jump in and take that action?

Temperance means trying.  Extreme thinking is 'well, I tried once and failed, I'll never succeed so why bother?' Art means fiddling with the pot, with various combinations again and again until you finally find something that works. In the card the figure mixes sulfur and mercury, fire and water - there is an alchemy metaphor there, and what was alchemy ever, if not this kind of optimistic playing with this and that: what alchemist didn't fail again and again in his work? But if you keep mixing around in that pot, even if you don't get exactly what you were hoping for...you never know what interesting thing you may create or discover in the process.

Yes, temperance, art, moderation...they can be actions, swiftness taken, participation. I'm actually doing a lot of reading about various extremists in my classes right now...Islamists, hackers, war criminals...and it's often the case in all kinds of volatile situations that the voices that shout the loudest, that take the actions which change everything, are those with the extreme views and ideas, while the more reasonable, moderate folks, the ones most able to negotiate and create a more sustainable solution are the ones who...speak too softly, wait too long to get involved, don't take as much action. That oft-stated phrase, the 'silent majority'....

So yes, bringing it back to the micro level, I have I guess been slipping back into that kind of thinking, no doubt because it's easier to just throw up my hands and say 'This is overwhelming! Things are going to hell anyway, why bother!' rather than stick with the mixing and trying. Sagittarius thoughts though, colors - take Art in hand and move swiftly. See how much you can in fact do if you let yourself create, experiment, to run and fly on a dizzy rainbow of color between earth and things higher, intellect and passion, the tangible ici and dreams.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

short insights/free associations

So I suppose this idea is somewhere between a proper reading and just a free association exercise. Instead of shuffling the cards and drawing in my usual particular way, I just kind of spilled the deck onto my bed and mixed the cards around in circles and then just...picked three at random. Idea to write short fragments/insights for each that come to mind, but in relation to me rather than in the abstract...

What's funny is that before I trimmed them, the minors in this deck had Thoth titles - which I thought was a bit off since they are really mostly RWS based but since I've been working with the Thoth so much lately, they kind of come to mind anyway now...

Interference in this case, and yes. Feeling tied and very very stuck in certain situations and with certain issues, which theoretically I could free myself from yes except that...well, somehow that never works out, regardless of my intentions...years and years and years and somehow that never works out. The thing with these situations, which I think this card really captures, is that it isn't always as in the traditional RWS image with the woman blindfolded and simply unwilling to see how she could cut her bindings loose and leave...no, sometimes it just feels like this, in which you can see the situation quite clearly and yet, puppet strings controlling you, other factors and you just cannot seem to be able to take the proper actions...watching yourself, your body do the same old...a certain sense of disreality, disconnection, being there but not properly, not really because those strings attached, always those strings, interfering with any effort to get past that circle of swords and it gets so frustrating and you grow so detached...

I've written about this card before, the Prince (RWS knight) of pentacles...feel a particular connection with him yes, and I love the illustration here, the chariot driven by the taurus bull, such a solid, reliable animal, determined, pulling through anything. My approach to life in so many contexts. A certain stubbornness with positive connotations because you see, I may be indecisive sometimes, lack some confidence but once I commit to something - no matter what else is going on, what other kinds of problems I am having, if I am supposed to get something done I cannot let myself fail, must try to get it done and well.  I tend to commit myself to many things because its a kind of forced accountability, forced productivity, so I still do this blog and join/create reading circles on AT and set little goals for myself and try to get all my school work done and work and this isn't even the busiest I've ever been, not at all, and if in the middle of it those 8 swords problems are still so very much there and something else happens on top of that? So what, proceed proceed, must keep trudging our way forward, somehow...

Again I quite like the imagery...we have the monkey, sure, climbing up, improving and growing, achieving; the sphinx at the top, ruling over what it has, powerful; and the crocodile falling down, destroying, things all going to hell. Thothy influence indeed, in the majors. The wheel spins, sure, cycles and changes, but what I really like here is that fact that the wheel is a cog, gears and cogs and it is not one wheel but many, each going in its own cycle of up and down and around. This is exactly how life tends to be: how often do things line up so that everything is on an upward trend, or doing find, or even yes, falling apart? For me it's usually...some aspect has gotten a bit better, and in another area I am on top of things, have just succeeded, while in a third something stunningly unfortunate has just occurred and the trick of it is to somehow address all three of those facts in an appropriate manner. It can be confusing if it really is that much of a juxtaposition: so am I supposed to feel excited right now, or proud, or sad and a bit betrayed?  On the other hand, keeping this in mind can also be rather helpful - if on the one hand, the wheel seems to be spinning downwards for you, well, it helps to look around at what other wheels are also spinning - surely some are cycling towards better things, or are still at that peak. Everything changes, but at different paces and rates and for different reasons. So many different fortunes intertwined...

(And uh, on reflection, I guess this wasn't so "short" after all...I do have a tendency to ramble, don't I?)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Enjoying Spring


So...it would be fair to say that this has very much been a less than ideal week. Started off with busy schedule and frustration and then something happened which kind of...left me mentally reeling. Not something I really feel comfortable talking about to anyone and still trying to process what happened and...yeah. So been all over the place with mood and thoughts and whatnot.

When I drew these cards though, I kind of...immediately couldn't help but think of one aspect of the week that has just been wonderful - the weather. It is early March but it is totally spring! I've never lived this far south before and....70 Fahrenheit temperatures and trees flowering everywhere and bushes blooming and everything so nice and warm and colorful already - it is, indeed, something to really enjoy. The rays of light shining down on those full, golden cups, the warmth of summer...it's nice. And the queen of disks really emphasizes that...the desert in the background, winter and everything bleak, dark, cold, trees bare...but now everything is growing again, sprouting up, like those stalky leaves on this queen's throne. The goat is surely ready to take advantage, to nibble on some fresh grass. And indeed, even when I am not feeling so well going outside when it is so nice out just...improves everything.

Sometimes you can't fix everything, and the best you can do is just...enjoy what you can. I'm reminded of that reading from a week ago or so, about finding joy in small things when necessary. Taking care of yourself as best you can, with whatever you have to work with. I went skating again today and it was really nice. I actually really like skating near where I live...today I went around a military fort, by the waterfront, past some industrial installations, through a public housing type neighborhood, past a highway, and right up back around the Smithsonians and the Capitol, all within like an hour of skating. Nice. And the nature everywhere inspired me to take a few photographs too...


So yeah, a simple, useful reminder today from the dear Thoth: enjoy the spring!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Trying out Court Couples exercise

So this is an exercise from Tarot Thrones that I found by way of Inner Whispers. I quite like the idea of it, and since I like doing these various exercises in general, thought I'd give it a spin with my Thoth. Though writing it up in a rather free-write type way...


The princess of wands, child-like still, sometimes, young. She launches herself into new things, leaps this way or that, excited for a new adventure. The world is full of adventures to her, things to explore, see, learn. Upwards, she sees herself flying, up. And she doesn't worry yet, about leaping into the unknown and the dangers that lurk there, of putting herself out there in the world perfectly unclothed. She is full of wild passion, energy, the tiger that is and becomes her and from which she feels formed. Look at her power, the sun-wand, the light that flows and flows - why shouldn't she be confident? She loves the andrenaline of the first great leap and trusts that whatever place she lands in, she will be able to handle herself. This princess loves the flickering heat of the flame, of dancing just on the fire's edge, quickly flicking her hand in and drawing back again: fire play, fire play. Oh, but the world is full of so many interesting things, experiences, opportunities if you only have the boldness to grasp them. She hears music in her head as she dances her way up that path of light. Her focus is on the things ahead of her, the possibility.

The Queen, on the other hand, is well aware of the things that can lurk beneath the surface of the shine. She is older - if not so much in years, then certainly in experience. The queen never leaps. She ponders, considers, waxes nostalgically. The queen of cups knows the value of caution, of hiding your real self behind shroud and illusion; she knows that others do this too, that what you see is not necessarily what really exists, beneath the surface. The queen scries and dreams. She is sensitive, perceptive, likely to notice to smallest of details. She knows herself well enough to know what can hurt her, out there in the world. Given the choice, she may well prefer to stay right where she is, the the land of comfort, home, in imagination, dreamscapes. She notices nuance, and is flexible enough to negotiate and adjust when she needs. She prefers to be a bit beyond the spot-light, to allow someone else to take the lead. Not her forte that, and she knows herself well enough to recognize it. She has a gentle touch though, empathy. She wants to care for and protect those close to her heart.

And so it goes: the princess leaps forward, focused on the latest adventure, on what she can see and do and achieve. She is easily excited, easily amused, unfrightened. Her back to the queen she goes, barely giving a thought to the older woman. The queen notices the princess though, looks on at her actions in consternation, worry. The girl will get herself hurt, going on like that, barely thinking. There are signs of it there in the ripples of water. The queen sees them. The queen is afraid that others will see too much of that open-hearted girl, that they will percieve her nakedness much differently, not innocently at all. The queen worries about the naïveté of the princess. She will get hurt, and what if that happens and the fire dies and the tiger loses its strength? Will the Queen be able to heal that? Yes, the queen watches and wonders and worries as the youth goes into the world.

She keeps the doorway to the safe place open, in case the princess needs to return there. I have a shroud for you, to cover and hide yourself when you learn of the need; I can teach you to speak softly, to speak without saying much at all. I can teach you to obfuscate, to prevaricate, to smile nicely when you don't mean it and keep your true self hidden in dreams.

But the princess doesn't hear - there is music, a symphony playing and she is too busy flying on up, roaring.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

advice for letting things go

So...something happened very recently, that has been quite a bit on my mind, subsequently. It's kind of funny, I posted about it in my personal journal right afterwards, when I was still a bit shocked about the whole thing, and my friends there seem to be...quite upset on my behalf. Moreso than I myself am. The thing is, the more I think about it, the less I like the idea of dwelling or looking at it from a negative perspective because...well, it's all so open to question and interpretation, and it's life and things happen and if you can just shrug, take it in stride...makes for a better outlook.

It's a deliberate thing, really. I don't want this to become some kind of hanged man situation, something I get stuck on. In fact this card came up reversed, and that's exactly what I want...let go, free myself, move on. In my ethnic conflict class we had to watch a movie called 'The Power of Forgiveness', which kind of talked about how different people have varying tendencies to either let go of or hang onto things, large or small. The arguement of that movie, which was in that case referring specifically to dealing with aftermath of conflicts but which I think is pretty widely applicable is that - to just let go...it's less about the other person or people or whatever and more about what that does for you. If you aren't hanging onto resentment or pain or that kind of victimized how could that happen mindset...well, things sure are mentally nicer for you, aren't they?

But here, in drawing advice for how to best do that...I think the message is that I may be a bit over-eager. OK, I AM TOTALLY COOL WITH WHAT HAPPENED is a process, something you get to, rather something you can just logically decide is the best option and bang, all of your brain is in line. Granted, for me I think it's something I can get to in a few days, but still...I need to give myself that bit of time, moderation in my approach and expectations of myself.

See, for me the process is all about logic and dissecting what happened and my reactions. It's asking why and logically coming to some answers that satisfy me and being like, ok, now I can set that aside. A lot of this is about my own actions - not because I necessarily think it's my 'fault' (I don't really like thinking about it in terms of fault because that's the kind of thinking that makes letting things go harder) but because well...your own actions and approach to things is something you have the power to modify and adjust. Even if what happened was 80% the other person - you have no real power to change what anyone else does. That's why I don't like asking (and really don't like the kind of tarot readings where querents ask) about 'why did X do ___?' Because you'll never really know if your guess/reading is right anyway. Some people aren't even self-aware enough to know their own motivations, so how the hell can you expect to figure that out? And why waste time thinking about what isn't in your power to influence? Whereas focusing on that smaller part, the 'well how did my approach let things get to that point, and how could I have perhaps handled the situation better in the moment?' That can lead to conclusions with useful applications to future events.

I like that this card combines both the Art and Temperance traditions/takes because well...that is exactly what I need to do. Moderation, but also the idea of mixing and synthesis - allow myself to really THINK about everything that happened. Repressing thoughts or telling myself prematurely to get over it will have the exact opposite effect. I should just think about it, dissect and process for a few days, figure out how to apply what I concoct to how I want to go foward, both with the person involved and in general, and yeah.

Avoiding the Hanged Man dynamic is a great thing, but as Art/Temperance here counsels, you have to go about it the right way or your efforts could have the exact opposite effect.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

dream-skating, transformation


It seems rather apt, to have drawn these this morning. Busy, stressful, and frustrating day yesterday. Especially frustration with myself. I have a long history of not dealing very well or in healthy ways with such feelings, especially when its such a pile of one thing on top of the other...

Last night after getting home (from EIGHT straight hours of class >.<) I decided, quarter to midnight, to go rollerblading to deal with some of my nervous energy. Perhaps not the wisest idea, objectively, some might say, but...it was very nice. The streets are almost empty of cars in the middle of the night near me, so skating was very enjoyable. I went from my apartment to the Capitol, then round and round in circles in front it, that great symbol of this nation's goverment illuminated by night lights...I skated around the Air and Space museum, other Smithsonian buildings, up to the Washington monument...

It's really relaxing to just move your body and let your thoughts flow where they might. Imagination, triggered by all the architecture of the museums, monuments, government buildings...thinking about dreams and possibilities, what is and isn't in your grasp, lives and other lives, this world, alternate worlds - fantasy and reality, optimism and fatalism all a jumbled mix in the brain. The image of this Princess of Cups so very much reflects how I felt last night, skating in the warm breeze at night, moving and flowing in waking dreams, reality and disreality, those moments where anything feels possible and nothing feels fully real...

And of course, Aeon, the new age, the Judgement call, time to make decisions about which way forward, to commit to something...what do you want to take with you into the future? What have you already left behind? What have you mostly moved past, that should stay there in past, in memories... It's tempting sometimes, to go back to silly habits we had when we were young, the way that, I imagine, a former smoker might, in times of stress, wish for a cigarette even decades after dropping the habit. They're like that, aren't they, addictions and habits and less than ideal coping mechanisms that are nonetheless familiar - always in the back of your mind, a wisp, sensory memory, a little bit of an itch? The old horus figure in the background of this card, symbol of the old age, sitting there - you can never really forget who you once were, the actions you once took...but you can move forward. You can decide what you want to do NOW - the new figure, transparent, still forming.

Finger to lips, shush. There is no need to speak of it, to make bold declarations. Think,  weigh and ponder and plan and then act, DO. Actions speak louder than words. Who do you want to become, now? Which of the multitude of floating thoughts in your mind do you want to try to make tangible? I woke up this morning surprisingly energized considering how much sleep I actually got - perhaps this cup princess night skating should become a new habit. Transformation - aeons past and aeons future and action and choices and dreams....

Sunday, March 11, 2012

draw that made me think of a recent poem

starshine-
you were there with us,
dimly glowing in the darkest corner of...

you did not know us.
you did not hold our hands.
you did not brush the sweat or the tears
from our eyes.

and yet: your faint glow,
the siren-song of distant promise,
a half-forgotten laugh.

you gave us reason to grasp,
to claw our way up.

a kind of general reading

I wanted to try giving reading with the Master another go before setting it aside for now, but nothing in particular to read on with it, so let's call this a general reflective reading exercise...just drawing cards and trying interpret.


So what comes to mind, looking at these cards, is the idea that well....there are all kinds of scenarios where the lessons of strength should be applied - inner fortitude, the ability to overcome your own base instincts, to do what is right, to be both firm and gentle with yourself. See, it's easy to make choices and decisions that are perhaps less than good for you, especially when doing so allows you to hear what you want to hear, or see what you want to see. People have a rather strong tendency to hear what they want to hear, the rose-colored glasses or the opposite, everything terrible, depending on their general outlook/approach to life.  Look at that cupid, pointing his arrow right at the Strength woman's head or heart - surely not the right place to aim, but he in blindfolded and the organs are impeding his hearing and so he is, essentially, senseless, confused, turned upside-down.

It is easy to be on guard against things that are obviously painful, things that we have been trained to know are dangerous, but organ music? Sweet, nice organ music that happens to be just what we want to hear, which allows us to indulge in whatever it is we would most like to indulge in - laziness, avoidance, some kind of bad habit or vice. It can be hard to step away from that, especially if we have already started to go down that path, already let the first few mis-aimed arrows fly...but that is a fallacy, of course, the fallacy of sunk costs: better to keep going because we have already lost this and this much, time, whatever. Reading about ethnic war and partition right now for a class, and same idea there too....misunderstandings that spiral out of control, security dilemma, escalation escalation and it gets to the point where even physical separation and redrawn borders are sometimes not enough to fully stop the violence and the music, the propaganda on both sides playing so loudly, saying forward, forward go, we must continue on. And heartbreak, how much heartbreak on large scale and tiny, individual, stemming from bad decisions, unrequited love, taking encouragement in gestures that weren't meant the way you take them...?

Sometimes we need strength to take the blindfold off, even if it means seeing difficult things, and strength to ignore the sound of the organs. Strength to step back, to say - no, this is easy but it is also wrong, and I will not do it anymore. Strength for harder decisions, for facing the less pleasant things.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Favorite Majors: The Hermit

Well, considering that I am a lifelong introspective introvert and frequent spender of the alone-time, it is perhaps not surprising that I have always felt a connection with the Hermit major, in ways both positive and negative. Have spent a good bit of time pondering the meanings of it over the years of working with tarot. It's another one of those cards that's handled in rather interesting ways in various decks, and so again it took a bit of consideration to settle on exactly which takes on the concept among my decks are ultimately the favorites...

IX. Hermit


Favorite:
What is there not to love in the Victorian Romantic (Russian, in my case) tarot's take on the Hermit? Visually, the image is just so beautiful and lush. I love the composition and use of color. I love the nature setting, the quiet and peaceful feel of the environment. You can almost feel yourself inside of that image, sitting besides the Hermit on those mossy rocks, meditating about something deep and personal as you stare out into that water...it makes me think of spring, of going out and finding new things, of those times when, just as the concept of this card speaks of, you really do need to just get away and be alone for a while. The hermit in the image looks very hermit-like too, old and wise and well traveled. Love that he's still holding the hour glass lantern and his...well, honestly I'm not sure if that is his walking stick, but it could be and it looks apt. Actually I even quite like that he is sitting down in this image. So often decks have him walking, yet sometimes what you really need is to just sit down and THINK, unmoving for however long...  I could go on and on, ha. This card REALLY draws me in, strikes a cord. And so pretty...

Runner Up:
Like so many other cards in the Sun and Moon deck, the Hermit is a pretty simple, minimalistic take on the image that I really enjoy - straight to the point, the heart of things. I quite like that he is standing in front of what appears to be a sandstone wall with an Om symbol and what looks like a bunch of other sanskrit writing. It really gives a sense of timelessness to the card, a reminder that the kind of wisdom we seek in this card is the same kind of wisdom people have sought for millenia, and that there is so much knowledge from so many different ages and traditions and cultures that we can draw on if we take the time. Speaking of which, I also really dig the Hermit figure himself...brown skinned, white hair in long dreads, clothing you can't quite place with any one culture...I love how multicultural and inclusive this deck is and how natural and un-forced that feels. The deck's facelessness really works for me with this card too.

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Self-Improvement Task

So I have been on a bit of a self-improvement kick lately, or at least trying to because...well, improving yourself is always good, and when things get to a certain point...it becomes rather necessary as well. I thought I'd draw a card with the question in mind of what is one specific thing I should focus on - one specific self-improvement themed task.

The answer was a bit of a surprise - the Universe, you say? But isn't that a card of completion, of success, fulfillment, attainment and all of that? Well yes, but here again we have some of the nuances of the Thoth deck that I just absolutely love - it isn't a woman standing or dancing a bit inside a wreath of laurels. It's a woman engaged in a passionate dance with a SNAKE. The snake, for life and death, beginnings and ends, the end is the beginning, beginning is an end of something else, and they dance, joyfully. End things that need to be ended, start things that need to be started. Give yourself credit for the things you have already accomplished, and set new goals for yourself, reasonable small goals and pipe-dreamy big goals, and work for them.

And yes, most importantly, find joy in the world, in life. No matter what the circumstances are, you can always find something positive to focus on a bit if you try: the colors of spring, new things blooming up; a favorite piece of music; the art or poetry or writing that you can create; for some people, a dance; sensual things and intellectual things, whatever, anything. It's so easy to focus on the negative - pessimism, fatalism, nitpicky perfectionism - and in doing so its easy to lose perspective and more importantly, terribly difficult to motivate yourself to improve things. After all if you are terrible, if other people are horrid, if the world is such a miserable place, what is the point of trying? On the other hand, if you can find things, even small things, that give you pleasure, then you can start trying to grasp your way up, achieve even more. Create things, finish things, start new things - the world is so full of possibilities and adventures, regardless of your circumstances, of your age, of complications and obstacles and personal difficulties. The challenge is very much in outlook, in being willing to see and engage with them: to not let yourself or anyone else limit you.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

moving past disappointment

It can be hard sometimes, to let go of a disappointment; the brain, it seems, is almost hard-wired to hold onto such things. It can be something general - plans that fell apart, forces larger than anyone getting in the way; it can be a friend or a family member, a mentor or mentee, a co-worker...someone you were really counting on who just...dropped the ball there; worse yet, it can be yourself. You had plans, you had ideas, and then somehow you let it all fall apart, or you lost motivation and never even started, or you got distracted, or you made a simple mistake...whatever.

And after, your mind wants to dwell on it, pick it apart. Mars in Scorpio - how much resentment can you direct at the offending party? How much energy and time can we spend going over the disappointing events in minute detail? Look at that sea, dark-colored, red waved, un-nourishing. Look at the way those blackened, dried out leaves curl around the empty cups. Look, ponder it again and again. Why did I trust them? Why didn't I get my shit together better, get organized, try harder? But what good is that kind of thinking, really? It happened, it cannot be changed now. For me personally, the current, relatively small disappointment has been the recent visit home. I'm back now, and well...so many plans, things I wanted to get done, catch up on, get started with or finished up, all the books I dragged along with me and then...almost nothing actually accomplished. Time wasted, so much time wasted.

But again, why waste thought-time on that which is done and past? Learn from it if possible. Try to avoid doing the same thing next time, sure, but besides that?

It's best to just move past disappointments, whether they be those you caused yourself or those stemming from the actions of others. Move forward. Focus on the future. Channel the energy, the entusiasm, the passion of strength, the Leo-influence. In a way I quite like Crowley's take on this card, because it combines the traditional meaning - control of 'the beast', compassion and overcoming difficulties through inner strength - but marries it to the idea of joyfulness, of passion, of being fully comfortable with yourself. In this deck, the lion-tamer doesn't have to be the innocently dressed lady overcoming obstacles with her symbols of purity; she rides it wildly, fully herself. I'm on a bit of a feminist kick lately, because all the slut-shaming and misogynistic nonsense all over the media and mainstream political discourse these days is frustrating as hell, and I guess with that in mind I this card really appeals...yes, a woman can be naked, sensual, fully aligned with her instincts and still doing GOOD THINGS.

So for myself, I shall be focusing on making the most of the rest of my free days, both academically, personally and socially - trying to get out, enjoy the weather, catch up on reading, make some time for skating, do some cleaning, and so on. Trying getting keep my efforts are working on certain issues back on track. Going to try to keep this strength card in mind.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Tarot's Take on Election-Time

So, in a fit of whimsy I decided to do something I ordinarily do not do much at all: read directly about current events; and do a reading with a predictive aspect to it. That is to say, amateur fortune-telling (ha!) about the upcoming US Presidential elections. Decided to use the Master for this as it has a kind of 'wordly' feel to it.

(A note: a am unabashedly biased liberal and this reading will reflect that. This is just for fun, and I'm really not even trying to maintain some semblance of political neutrality.)


So starting from the left, we have the page of wands. This card makes me think of the current [Republican] contenders for the nomination/potential opponents to the President in the election. The page is young, inexperienced - he may have a lot of passion and ambition and ideas, but mostly his ideas are still just that. He wants to prove himself, his message. There is potential there, certainly. However, he is quite young, and looking at him, the word 'childish' comes to mind. Combine that with the dog behind him, which makes me thinking of the dog in the Fool card and well...let's just say this is a pretty close approximation to my feelings regarding the Republican candidates in general this year. Ego driven, immature, ignorant - hell, the fact that candidates that have no realistic chance of winning are still in the running, weakening their own party's chance rather than withdraw and consolidate support is just so...the childish me, me, me impulse. But, less negative take on the card, this seems to be showing the current stage of things, the untried with 'fresh' messages proving themselves...

The center card, which going in a kind of chronological fashion would seem to represent the election in full swing, is the six of swords. The six goes back to the Lovers in the major arcana, a card of choices and decision-making... interestingly in this deck the Lovers card shows a blind-folded cupid about to release an arrow...which I think is a rather interesting metaphor given the fact that imperfect access to information is such a major component of democratic elections. No one really knows what candidates are going to do once elected - some level of obfuscation if not outright dishonesty seems to be expected these days, where you have candidates blatantly tailoring their position to their audiences and, well. So choice of ideas, a battle of ideas which yes, seems to describe this political season rather well. Idea against idea,words, communication battle which is so much of what elections are these days, with imperfect information and someone will win but who and at what cost? Look at those swords stabbing downwards through the victory-wreath...

Lastly we have the Chariot...to be honest, I have a hard time trying to read this removed from my bias because...well, the Chariot is about winning a battle, short term victory, success and to me, the only outcome I would consider as such would be a re-election of the current President. Backing me up in this assessment, at least, is that well...it's the chariot, rolling forward. Victory that has momentum of time, not a sudden shift or change...even though this card has no horses in sight, the old phrase about not switching horses mid-race comes to mind. Also, the Chariot tends to be about uniting opposites, harnessing the power of black and white, masculine and feminine, yin and yang to your advantage; in politics, that kind of uniting requires taking on some semblance of a moderate position, which, in the primaries at least, seems to be the last thing the Republican candidates are concerned with. How can unite all those forces if you are spouting racism, misogynistic, classist, vitriol? So yes, I am - tentatively - predicting a re-election of President Obama...

If anyone disagrees with my read of these or has anything they want to chip in, feel free :]