Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Focus On: Achievement

At the top of this card we see the Capricorn ram as a monument, gilded and posed, surrounded by stylized star-flowers. Below, under the auspices of the Sun-coin, we have well-maintained buildings, just a bit luxurious, perhaps 18th century in style.

Achievement: the fruit of the stubborn work ethic of the Capricorn combined with the optimistic energy of the Sun.

I am reminded by the images in this card of how easily it comes to us, as larger societies, to celebrate achievement. We build monuments and statues everywhere. We name bridges and highways after famous figures. We open museums. We create national holidays, produce action figure toys and stylized, glorified movies, put images of famous men on bills and coins. Everywhere you turn, if you are looking for it, you can find some reminder of the past, what 'our' people or 'other' people achieved. Currently I live within walking distance of a bunch of different roman ruins, lots of signage helpfully pointing out the way to this and that, look what they build here once, across centuries...

And yet when it comes to our own personal achievements, our own lives...how often do we dismiss, belittle, take for granted what we have done, what we have gained and over-come, what we have struggled against and survived? We don't want to seem arrogant, to 'brag', so instead we laugh, say "oh, that was nothing" when in fact it was NOT nothing - it was something important, something significant, something that required our efforts, determination, skill to achieve.

How often do we take the time to build our own, personal monuments, to pause and really think about what we did and tell ourselves - why yes, I did do that, and that was quite awesome of me?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

hope and action, circles and spirals

"Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens."
Khalil Gibran

I am reminded here of the inter-connection between these two cards: the way that it can be so hard to get started on things, to work up the motivation to take initiative and action when you feel devoid of hope; and the way sometimes, just taking to doing things can be the best way to start the process of self-empowerment, of healing and renewal.

Perspective and action, thought and carry through, tools. The Magician stands in front of a table full of them. Does he really need them all to carry out his tasks? Or does he only think he does? And how much does the virtue of their existence give him the confidence to start? The Star too, despite the nature scene, her nudity...she too has those jugs, for pouring into the stream or scooping out. What do we need to pour away? What is truly necessary to sustain us, allow us to grow, transform, fly?

The abstract notion of hope and the concrete initiative of the individual...the more I think on it, the more it seems like the ouroboros on the belt of the Magus...who can really untangle what comes first, and what last? Circles and spirals of life...

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Contemplating the Hermit...

I decided to do a slightly more focused draw today - asking the deck for a card with a message I need to ponder, contemplate, focus on right now.

The Hermit came up, and that strikes me as rather appropriate, all things considered. We have a rather straightforward image here, the robed old man with a lantern and a cane, moving forward, lighting his own way. His robe is golden, illuminated by the lamp it seems, which is a nice touch, and the shape of the cane brings to mind a serpent image, association with Hermits in more detailed decks - Thoth especially comes to mind for me.

The Hermit is fine, comfortable with being alone, with making his own illumination:, self-learning, self-wisdom, self-guidance. Sometimes we need that space, wrapped up in ourselves, in our own cloaks and robes and personal bubble, using our own tools and resources.

Appropriate this is, because I have been feeling a bit odd in recent days about the fact that I have been kind of isolating myself from others in my language school. On the one hand, I mostly feel comfortable with this, getting things done on my own time, seeing to my personal priorities. On the other hand, I feel like by avoiding people I am somehow depriving myself of opportunities I should be taking advantage of. I do have a tendency to over-isolate myself sometimes, and I am aware of that - aware of the need to get out of comfort zone and be social, the fact that sometimes that really turns out for the best. How to balance the push and pull?

The thing is, a lot of my self-isolation in this case is due to differing priorities. By and large, the others here are a few years younger than me...not a huge age difference, but in a way it does feel significant. Different priorities. For me, learning as much Arabic as I can is very, very important. I try to use any free time - on the train, waiting around for something - to study and review, because free time is precious. I try to listen to radio and watch Arabic news clips and just expose myself as much as I can. Coming from this kind of place, the prospect of sitting around with casual friends and acquaintances, not really doing much, not really talking about anything in particular is just...not very appealing, much of the time. So perhaps, in this context, being a bit of a Hermit is only natural, and useful for my purposes.

I decided to also pull a pair of cards from my Oracle of the Radiant Sun deck to add some nuance/shading to this reading. The two that come up...Principle and Discovery. The Sagittarius influence across both strikes me: that positive, optimistic, active drive forward, the energy and push which kind of characterizes how I feel about striving to learn all that I can. Principle, about staying true to what is important to me, about building on those internal foundations to achieve what I want. And Discovery...the fact that just being here is amazing to me, an adventure. The littlest things here fill me with joy...overhearing two women chatting and understanding a bit, walking past the Presidential palace on the way home from school, the edifying experience of struggling to be understood by a store clerk, experimenting with making my own vegan version of local foods for dinner.

I shouldn't isolate myself constantly, of course, but keeping to myself more is not necessarily a bad thing, if I am doing so for the right reasons, if I am making sure to pursue what is important to me in my own way. The important thing is to act in a way that will ensure that, when I look back on this experience, I will be satisfied with the way I took advantage of everything.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

striving for balance, moderation

Both of these really drive home the message today: the need for a balanced approach to things. I was reflecting last night on a draw and on my day, about how I got so little done because I got so stuck on one thing, and just general lack of balance in my life these days and then...these two cards, this morning...

I like some of the little details here...the feet of the angel in the Temperance card, which almost look like little demon paws, showing a possible way to merge, to synthesize various aspects of yourself, the better and those that are more difficult; the wild hair too, seems to indicate that everything doesn't necessarily have to be just so in a balanced approach - its about the broad strokes, making the effort. A winding path in the background leads to a crown, the success that can come from getting things together and under control. In the Justice card we see a meeting...balancing individual needs with obligations to others, your own judgement of things with more communal judgement...balance in terms of not isolating myself as much I have a tendency to do, perhaps...

Have been trying to keep this message in mind today and as a result, even though it's still only early afternoon, the day has already been more productive. I spent the morning baking homemade vegan granola bars in an attempt to be more balanced/healthy with my eating habits during the day. I studied some, also worked on my own Arabic writing project some, dealt with some loan and bill things I needed to get done, and made some progress in job searching - not much progress, to be honest, but more than I've managed to do thus far.

Moderation, balance in small ways, in every day life. Trying not to get so focused or caught up in one thing - good or bad - that so many others slip through my fingers, time flying, me wondering what the hell happened to the day...

Monday, July 23, 2012

Introducing the Mix Deck!

So this week I am working with something a bit different again... (actually working with two decks, this and the Oracle of the Radiant Sun, but focusing on the more interesting one in this post)... a self-made, majors-only Mix Deck!

I may or may not have mentioned this deck in this blog before. Basically, when I was visiting relatives in Sweden last summer, I made my way to a large, awesome new age store in Stockholm. They had a nice selection of decks, but since I'd already gotten one at a new age store in a different city, and my funds were limited, I decided to forgo another. Instead, my attention was draft to a large bin of spare cards in the corner. They were one kroner each and seemed to come from many, many decks. So I spent the next two or three hours obsessively digging through it until I found one of each major, except for Death, which the bin apparently did not contain (I'm guessing that was a popular card to grab, ha).

When I got home, someone nice from Aeclectic sent me a spare Death card they had, thus completing my majors. However, I still wasn't quite satisfied, as there were a few repeats - two cards from the same deck and whatnot. Over time, with the help of some more AT members, that has been corrected, and I now have a majors only deck that has each card from a different deck. I did some trimming to get them to a more uniform size, and voila!

This is the only majors only deck I currently own, (though depending on how reading with this goes for me, I may consider getting a few more in the future...) and rather looking forward to seeing how working with it will be. I call it my Mix Deck...I'd actually like to give it a better name than that, but no ideas have come to mind thus far. If anyone has any suggestions, feel free to share!

So yeah, will be working with deck, sometimes paired with the aforementioned oracle, trying out new things :]

Saturday, July 21, 2012

strength in good times and bad

The range of the moon faces on the eight of cups is the first that that caught by eye in this pair of cards. We have here four images, a visual representation of the waxing and waning of the moon cycle; we also have four face, ranging from happy to sad, alert to asleep. This really feels relevant to my week, which has been very up and down in a number of ways. The moon metaphor is also prominent in my mind for another reason: Ramadan started yesterday, totally changing the schedule and routine of things here, and that holiday is, after all, a month based on the moon calender. We have cups of gold and cups of...lead, glass, some kind of less valuable metal. Duality and balance, between the positive and the negative in life, the pleasurable and the challenging. At the bottom we see the way that one cup pours into another, the liquid the same color as the background to everything, the way this interplay fills up so much in life, one way or another.

The strength card here seems a reminder of the necessity of channeling that inner strength, the internal resources we all have, to deal with whatever comes our way. Sometimes we need that positive drive to keep going through hard times, and sometimes we need some inner self discipline to not lose ourselves in distraction during good times, and so it goes. In a way it's all a kind of dance, the way that the woman and the lion here almost seem to be dancing. The sun in the corner of the card reminds us of the success we can find when we keep at it, at least sometimes.

I was listening to a local Tunisian radio station earlier this afternoon and was quite pleasantly surprised to realize how much I understood. There was a program about, a guest speaker talking about US foreign policy in the region and the geostrategic issues around the war in Syria and I...understood the majority of it, both in terms of the gist and actual vocabulary. Later there was a program, probably for Ramadan, some kind of story about Jules Verne going on an adventure in Tunisia, and though I understood much less vocabulary wise, I still got enough of the gist to be amused and keep listening. When I first got here, not quite two months ago...that wouldn't have been possible. It's nice, this kind of tangible proof that channeling that strength, forcing myself to study and study on good days and less good days too, does have dividends.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

towers and making the best of things

I had this card come up twice in two consecutive draws and well, what do you know...

I woke up feeling really, really sick yesterday. I haven't felt that completely unwell in quite a while. Because I knew I wasn't contagiously ill, and because I am stubborn and my criteria for staying home sick are rather high, I still dragged myself to school and class and participated, but it was really a struggle at some points.

Feel much better today, though still not completely well/back to normal. Like the Tower card would indicate, the sickness, though brief, rather disrupted some plans and just my inner routine/schedule in general since, besides physically forcing myself into my class, I didn't really get ANYTHING done yesterday. I love the stained glass effect of this Tower card, because it just really adds to the jumbled and disjointed feeling and that is so apt...

In truth though, like most Tower events, the getting sick thing was probably a rather necessary reminder/message from my body to my brain. I haven't really been on top of things recently in terms of taking care of myself physically as well as I should, and well: all actions have consequences, and all that.

There's a lot of background to that, and not all things I can really or fully or immediately change, but I think this 4 of cups, which came up with my second tower draw, offers a useful message. Sometimes it's really just about doing what you can to make the best of things. Making a conscious effort not to get sucked into the mindset of 'If I can't fix everything, why bother?' In truth, even small steps in the right direction can make tangible, positive improvements in your life.

Here we have the two angels, one of them holding up that candle, the other presiding over or perhaps blessing the cups. There is a nice, warm pink background to everything. And yes, one of those cups isn't upright, is spilling out, and perhaps that is a rather serious problem. What really strikes me about the scene though, is how unbothered the angels are by it. So it goes. Sometimes things don't work out. Sometimes plans don't unfold the way you thought they would. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you fail, cannot do or make yourself stop doing something. Sometimes a tower event -large or small - appears and suddenly everything seems a jumbled mess.

But what good is it, to dwell on the spilled cups, to nurture (fours, that empress association) negative emotions like frustration, disappointment, hopelessness, helplessness. Better, instead, to focus on making the best of things, in whatever way - again, small or large - that you are able.

Monday, July 16, 2012

page pondering

This page of wands has shown up in draws twice in as many days... a phenomenon I generally take to mean that I should pay attention to the message here.

The thing is, I actually had to double check that a page was, in fact, what this card is. It's a bit funny, for a page card - a deeply androgynous figure, bearded with a a wise, old-man type gaze and yet youthful and sprightly in posture, build. Instead of clothing or armor it appears the figure is made of wood...a tree become human? It carries a rod, but far too long and bendy to be of much use as a weapon...so a walking stick then, but with a head, a child's head, growing out of the top.

Behind the figure we see a background of leaves, green. That goes with the generally woody appearance of the figure, the growth theme. So we have trees, leaves, someone neither man nor woman, neither young or old...

What insight does that offer, then, in considering this card through the lens of the knowledge of what a page of wands is 'supposed' to mean? New beginnings which we should approach with a certain flexibility, energy, openness of mind and spirit but also...the wisdom of your past experiences...openness without naivete. Let the external details fall away, focus only on what really matters. Let new things grow from what you already have; don't be afraid to sculpt them into what you need them to be.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

changes and exploration

So yeah, another spot-on little draw here. Changes. Smaller ones, and vaster. Second session of my language program begins on Monday. Two of my previous classmates gone, and a third, new one to join us. A new roommate, who may or may not be the new classmate, is moving into the apartment tomorrow. The class schedule will be different too, earlier on in the day, to account for the fact that Ramadan is set to begin soon.

That will certainly be a change, and something quite new to experience. A lot of things not open during the day, restaurants, cafes, stores. A lot of places open much later at night. Looking forward to it.

Larger changes too, loom. More than halfway through my time here, now. In a bit over a month, I shall be on a plane back to the US, where I still have to figure and find a place to live, a job, where I still have to figure out exactly what I want to do with classes, fall semester, everything.

Changes and decisions and indecision. It strikes me how easily I am willing to embark on the new when it is literal: going somewhere, seeing something, trying out a new activity...and how difficult it is for me to let go and really embark on change when it is bigger than that, more abstract - behaviors, habits, patterns of thinking that I KNOW no longer serve me well and yet, change seems in so many ways simply unattainable.

Together though, this pair reminds me to focus on navigating the small; perhaps, in small steps, the larger will become clearer. Focus on making the most out of things. I try to see things as an adventure, a wonder - everything that happens, good or bad, is something to learn from. Everything that happens to you has some kind of intrinsic value.

Have been exploring in a more literal way too, walking around old parts of the city, further away, less familiar. Long train rides over water, crowded and shoved in among strangers. Cobblestone streets at sunset, beautiful.

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Favorite Majors: The Moon

So the Moon...tricky major for a tricky concept, I suppose. The Moon has always been a card, kind of like the High Priestess actually, where I kind of instinctively KNOW what it is talking about and yet it is often difficult for me to put that properly into words, both in general and sometimes, in the context of a reading as well. Now that I think about it, perhaps this makes the actual art in a deck especially important: for cards where I am comfortable with the meaning, know how to articulate it well, any art will do; it might add nice extra layers or nuance, but the basics can be applied to anything. On the other hand, with something a bit less...clear...art can really help or challenge you, depending.

In general, the moon is kind of the opposite of the Star for me, art-wise. In this case, few decks have a Moon card that I really find stunning, even many of my most favorite decks... But of course, going through my collection I did indeed manage to find and choose two that are quite lovely.


Simple/small thing though it may seem to be, one of the things I like best about this card is the color scheme. The slightly muted purples go perfectly with the back, grey, and white, and the combination gives the card a moodiness that fits just PERFECTLY with the meanings of the card, for me. I love the water and moon connection, and the way that the dog is incorporated here. Usually we have the dog or dog-like figures in moon cards howling or standing guard, but here it is swimming in the water - at once both struggling to stay afloat (very in keeping with the card's meaning) and also, potentially, providing some much needed comfort/companionship for the woman sitting in the crescent moon above. I love her posture there, so very much embodying...apathy, depression, indecision, uncertainty, despair...the way she sits on and at once becomes the moon, and the scorpion-tail there too, warning of danger and secrets and lies, potentially...the art is pretty straightforward stylistically, but very much to read here from my perspective. This take on the moon, everything together, just really speaks to me.

Runner Up:
Another lovely gem from the Light and Shadow tarot here. If it wasn't for the unfortunate size and cardstock, this really would be one of my top decks, I think. The black and white color scheme is great in general, and works especially well for a Moon card, to me at least. It's the details though, that really make this image shine for me. I love the contrast between the two dogs, the one on the left looking extremely aggressive, the one on the right far too sad, apathetic. I love how the water between them, with the lobster/crab at its foot, slowly turns into a bed, into night and dreams and the land of the not-quite real. Are those two towers even real, then? The art itself leaves you with questions and uncertainty, a certain blur in concept that fits perfectly with what the Moon means. The actual crescent itself here seems to be sleeping contentedly, but given everything else we see on the card...well, lots of room to interpret, shall we say. Lots of food for thought here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

literal/metaphorical gardening

So decided to harken back a bit to the memory exercises I did on this blog more a few months ago...

Looking at this card literally, I am reminded of the gardening my parents used to make me help with when I was younger. Occasionally I still do, when I am visiting or staying with them and they ask, and I really do try to be good-natured about it because it's the least I could do to help them out like this but...when it comes down to it, I just really, really do not like gardening.

When I was a younger, of course, I had both less perspective and less self-control and so my participation in family gardening activities was filled with a good bit more whining and are we done yet and can I go inside yet and I hate all these bugs and its hot and I feel itchy and why do I have to be out here can't I do some indoor house work instead?

See, in a very literal way, I've always rather sympathized with the figure in this card-image. All that work and is it worth it? I guess it depends. The cucumbers and tomatoes that grow in my mothers garden are quite delicious. She makes this salad, just tomatoes and sweet onions, sliced and chopped, with vinegar, salt and pepper, served cold. It's quite delicious. But is it worth the effort if the actual work is something you deeply don't enjoy at all? Left to my own devices, I can't see myself ever cultivating a garden, much as I enjoy the beauty of flowers, and much as I love eating fruits and vegetables.

Other times though, when the work itself is something we can find pleasure in, it can indeed be worth the effort to cultivate a more metaphorical garden, even if we aren't sure what may grow from it, or how long it might take to see those fruits. Have been feeling a bit dissatisfied/blah about things lately, mostly because there are just so many uncertainties and questions when I try to look at things from a wider, more-long term perspective.

Sometimes perhaps, it is just good to remember that if the work itself is objectively productive, and you enjoy doing it - or at the very least, don't hate the experience - worth it to carry on, staying in the moment, not letting the bigger questions cause unnecessary worry prematurely. Trying to keep that in mind...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

the problem with juggling

So these two cards, again, articulate quite clearly a rather relevant message for me. The reversed two of pentacles - the juggler, trying to keep the two balls in the air, trying to keep up with so many things. Too many things - a rather common problem for me, on all kinds of levels. I almost lost my phone last night (luckily, some friends found and held onto it for me), and due to the massive amount of things I carry around in my bag every day - laptop, several notebooks, e-reader, physical book, tarot deck, pens, highlighters, beverage -  I couldn't even be sure it was gone until I got home, couldn't figure out where I'd lost it.

I always carry around too many things. Coming here I had to pay a not insignificant fee for having too-heavy checked luggage. A good number of the things, clothes, that I brought I haven't even needed. And of course, every time I go somewhere, travel or move, I TRY to pack light, and every time I still end up with too much because I simply cannot let go of things, put them aside, leave them behind.

In academics too, the same. I finally got to finalizing my class schedule for the fall, and once again I seem to be setting myself up for a semester that will be...very intense. Do-able, but just barely, and only with far too much stress and not enough sleep, same old less than healthy routine. Why? The compulsive need to try to juggle as much as I possibly can. The inability to let go, leave behind, put aside.

It's funny, me in relation to that six of swords. It's a card both of moving forward, exploration of new things, learning from trying the new, and of letting go, leaving behind, escape. I am great at the former and very lacking in the latter. I do move forward, both physically in traveling and moving to different cities, apartments, places, and more mentally; and yet, each time, I try to keep everything from behind with me, even the things I no longer need.

I have metro/train passes from four different cities in my wallet, still. I have money from three different countries in my purse. Why? Cancerian nature, perhaps, clinging.

Easier to recognize the problem than do much about it, though. Perhaps in small steps...

Monday, July 9, 2012

Work-horse type deck, and hard work

So yeah, as I may or may not have mentioned here before, the plain-old RWS has never really been my thing. My first ever deck was the Universal Waite, and although it was quite useful in teaching me the basics of the system, I had quite a few issues with the imagery. I gave it away as soon as I procured my second deck and never really looked back. Until quite recently, that is. Things coming full-circle I suppose. The PCS Commemorative seemed like such a nice take on the deck - not too yellow, nicely aged-looking, great extras in the kit - that eventually I couldn't resist. This week I decided to finally take the plunge and work with it.

So far, I am finding it not unlike this card, which I drew early this morning. A work-horse of a deck. Nothing super special, no incredibly deep connection or intense plumbing of my sub-conscious but...clear, concise readings that really get the point across very well. A certain bluntness that I rather appreciate. There's no long staring into the details of the cards here...the answer is there. I can see why a lot of people seem to see the 'classic' decks like RWS as best for reading for others.

But yeah, I've done 3-4 readings for myself, and they have been spot and and to the point and very useful, overall. The cardstock, while definitely not the best of all my decks, is definitely nice by contemporary USG standards; it has a waxy feel I quite enjoy. I definitely like the colors, and the art style in general - it definitely works much better for me than the Universal Waite ever could. Looking forward to the rest of my week with the deck. To me, worth the purchase, especially with very nice Pamela Coleman Smith extras that come with.

As for the actual draw: had an exam today, which I actually just got done with. I suppose, even when in the grand scheme of things the stakes aren't all that high, there is always some apprehension for me with exams. The perfectionist in me or whatnot. This card reminds me that I already have been doing everything I really could be - working hard in class, studying outside of it, writing and re-writing vocabulary to try to memorize, really TRYING and doing the WORK necessary to learn; that's really the best I can do. If it pays off and I do well on the exam, great. If I do a bit less well (and with the work I've done, I don't really think FAILURE is really likely) well, then at least I'll know what I need to focus on in the coming weeks. The goal is not numbers on a piece of paper but rather knowledge in my head. Keeping at it in terms of doing the actual work will get me there, eventually.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

"fake it till you make it" / personal responsibility

So one last daily draw to type up before I switch off decks again. This one is really from yesterday, but it's been bouncing around in my head since I saw the cards so figured it was the one worth writing about.

We have here a rather interesting juxtaposition of the Page of Wands and the Three of Swords. We have in the first a youth, putting himself out there, innocent, inexperienced but confident in his abilities - at least enough so to want to prove himself, to gain external validation; and indeed, a rather impressive young lad he is. In the other card we have a woman, older, worn down by life, suffering. Crying with grief or frustration or just plain for-no-particular-reason sadness. What strikes me here is both the isolation - the way she seems to be hiding deliberately behind a cliff so that no one will witness her pain - and the dog, a loyal companion, a constant source of comfort even in the most difficult times.

Put together, these two cards paint a picture I find especially familiar. Thinking about the draw, it also helps me realize better the real source of some of my current frustrations, not-too-serious though they may be. In particular, I find myself recently getting inordinately annoyed hearing a few particular people make excuses, again and again, for their own poor behavior or failure to fulfill certain responsibilities. To me, there are explanations, which may or may not be relevant and even worth getting into, but very rarely do those truly amount to being excuses. This is a pretty well understood idea, but it doesn't in and of itself explain why I get so EMOTIONALLY frustrated in such situations, especially when the excuses weren't even directed (or directly effecting) ME.

Looking at these cards though, I see a lot of myself and how I tend (and try) to operate in them. To me, the things you must do are a long list, and whether you consciously realize it or not, you do prioritize them. Although I definitely do have an ongoing issue (that I AM trying to work on, if to very varying degrees of success) with not getting many of them done... the ones I have the most trouble with are the ones that, for whatever reason, de-facto aren't the highest priority. The things I really prioritize - doing all my schoolwork, getting reading and assignments done, showing up and performing adequately at any job I may have, paying my bills on time, etc - those DO get done, regardless of difficulties I may be having. And even though I don't like to get into too much detail here...sometimes difficulties can feel...very intense and difficult indeed.

Sometimes these two cards are exactly how I feel. Inside despair, frustration, perhaps physical pain I am trying to ignore, hopelessness. Outside I smile and go about my day trying to get the things I NEED to get done, trying not to seem like a downer because its not fair to other people to take out my personal issues on them, or on our interactions. I remember once, years ago, literally having to leave a class to go to the restroom, have some kind of anxiety/panic attack for a few minutes, then returning and quite normally participating actively in an intellectual/academic discussion on the subject matter, as if nothing was wrong at all. And so on and so forth. Sometimes, or often, you may not FEEL like acting like the page at all and yet...there it is in front of you, the need to do so, to at least try...

And in my experience, I guess, regardless of how busy, hungry, sleep-deprived, or distressed you are...the top two or three important things, your strongest priorities CAN get done, if you are determined enough. Which is why I don't like making excuses for myself - if I didn't get something done, regardless of the circumstances, at a fundamental level, it wasn't the highest priority for me. I could have prioritized it better, organized my actions differently, and I didn't, and that is MY responsibility. The best I can do is to sincerely apologize and politely ask for generosity/patience of whoever my unfulfilled obligation was with. Hearing others do otherwise...

But of course, judging other people is a pointless exercise that can only contribute to your own inner negativity. Enough things in my own life and actions to get upset about, no need to add others to that if I don't need to. So going to work on letting go of those unnecessary feelings, and focusing instead on being more responsible in my own life with getting things done.

These weeks with the Victorian Romantic have been GREAT, I must say. The deck has lovely cardstock that's a true pleasure to shuffle, and the readings I've been getting have been quite awesomely deep. There's so much to plumb in the rich imagery of this deck. Looking forward to working with it again in the future!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

concrete/material focus

Ace of Pentacles and the Magician came up in today's draw. Interesting juxtaposition here, I think, in between the Ace, where the woman, though surrounded by nature and green and such 'earthy' symbols, is literally floating in the air, and the Magician, where the old man is rather firmly and comfortably seated in his study, surrounded by books, relics of arcane study, the like. Both of these cards talk about the mundane, material, concrete world, though they use rather different visual metaphors.

Being an Ace, I see the first card as speaking of beginning, of taking some concrete action, of working on getting some momentum going. The woman has her arms open, as if ready to embrace something new. The flowers below her and the coin in her grasp suggest that the focus of this should be in the worldly rather than the intellectual realm. And indeed, I have been...largely focused on the intellectual the last few days. Reading a few biographies, getting a bit more in the groove of working with cards, studying and studying the Arabic. Which is all fine and good, of course, but I finally actually got to organizing myself properly with a To Do List (for me QUITE helpful to actually getting things done) and it made me realize just how many more concrete things, both smaller (ie. clean out my bag) and larger (ie. bank stuff, resume stuff, loan stuff) I've been avoiding or putting off doing.

The Magician of course, can represent all kinds of concerns, but given the nature of the image here, and the pairing with this Ace, I see it as a reinforcement of the need to focus a bit on these things today as well. The Magician is, of course, very much too about personal will, motivation, ambition, and a reminder that as difficult or tedious as some of these tasks may seem, they are certainly within my power to get done if I put my mind to it.

So yes, obviously getting everything done in one day is unlikely, but the goal is definitely to get at least a few things crossed off of that list o' mine...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


So I find this to be a rather interesting take on the four of cups. Usually with this card you havea a figure that, in addition to being clearly dissatisfied or bored in some way, is also clearly physically alone. In that way, the focus is very much not on the environment but rather on the self, the thoughts and approach, attitude: why are you unhappy just now? What are you doing about it? What can you change, either about the situation or about your thinking, to fix that?

But in this card, I see a reminder that sometimes, unhappiness, discomfort, boredom etc. really are situational. For me, large social gatherings, and specifically parties like the one pictured here, will ALWAYS elicit such negative feelings in my - which is why I avoid them whenever possible. In fact, I really, really identify with the man in this image: surrounded by people having fun, the ladies drinking and trying to engage him, and feeling not at all amused, quite rather alone in spite of all of it, and perhaps even rather overwhelmed. The expectation that you should be 'enjoying yourself' which you are unable to fulfill. The desire to run away, to hide somewhere quiet - away from the music, the noise, the people - and just read or something.

All of this reminds me that today is in fact the fourth of July - back in the US, my least favorite of all the holidays. The celebrations that go with this tend to be particularly unpleasant for me - outdoors, which means lots of bugs, and often BBQ style cookouts which...I have never liked that type of food to begin with, and as a vegan, having to stand around and deal with the smell of cooking meat...

Yes, this card is a lovely reminder of what I am missing today with my stay in Tunisia: no expectations for joining in on holiday celebrations I would much rather avoid. Instead I can continue my studying, reading the book I just started, perhaps finally organizing myself with the more long-term things I need to be doing, perhaps another long walk.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A VRR Story Time

Realized that I haven't done one of these in quite a bit so...why not. Here goes an attempt at the three card draw story exercise with the lovely Victorian Romantic Russian.

There was a woman once, no longer young but not yet into her older years. She had worked in many jobs over the years, from the odd to the quite rather mundane. Nothing held her attention for very long, however, and unlike most this woman preferred uncertainty and even a bit of danger to simply continuing on with something unsatisfying but familiar. Most recently the woman had found work acting as a fool in small troupe of performers. She wore a costume that obscured her gender, her face, all the details of her true identity. She acted and made people laugh, worked with a little dog that belonged to the leader of the group. It was altogether a different experience to be both on stage and utterly obscured, and at first, the woman plunged right into her new work.

The group soon came to the attention of a the local Lord, and then gained the favor of him and his family. Now they had steady work, scheduled, and larger audiences. They had to practice more, make up new routines, dress up in more complex outfits. The woman didn't like the pressure of this new arrangement, the commitment it seemed to necessitate from them all. She didn't like to be boxed in so. She began to take long sulky walks during the day before performances. She went in regular clothes, unrecognizable, through the gardens of her troupe's patron, sometimes straying into the the adjacent forests. On one such walk, lost in her thoughts, the woman met a man - if he could be called that - standing in a large field of many-colored flowers.

In truth this man was a fairy, a sort of forest spirit. Like the woman, this fairy man had grown tired of his own surroundings. Ennui drove him to approach her, and she, always curious rather than cautious about the unknown, soon opened her life to him and described her troubles. "It is that noble lord that keeps you stuck in that position. A creature like you shouldn't work - you should be admired!" he declared, after hearing her. "I will fix this!" he then declared, and sprinted off before the woman's mind even had time to make sense of his words, and realize that she didn't like them, or the ideas they were based on. It was too late to argue however, for the man, magical as she was not, had left her far behind. Alone, she walked back to the town and her troupe, a sense of dread filling her as she drew closer. Once she arrived, the woman discovered to her horror that the fairy had simply slaughtered the nobleman's entire family, and anyone else who had tried to protect him or who happened to get in the way of the fairy's sword. Paralyzed with horror and guilt, the woman again did not see until it was far too late that the fairy was now charging towards her. And so he carried her off, heedless of all cries and protests.

It was years before the fairy grew bored and the woman managed to escape his clutches.

My Favorite Majors: The Star

This is, in just about every way, one of my favorite cards. In terms of artwork, it is very often one of the most excellent of the majors in a deck - in fact, I can think of several decks I don't particularly like overall, but which have amazing star cards. I love the concepts behind the star (not least because it often comes up in readings right when I most need it) and love seeing how it is executed in various artistic styles, color palettes, etc.

I kept putting off writing this post, in fact, because I didn't want to have to CHOOSE between a handful of favorites from among my decks. Like I really, really had trouble narrowing it down to just TWO. But, those are the rules I set down for myself with this post series, and so...

XVII. Star

I realize I have quite a few cards from the LotD up here in the favorites; in my defense, the majors are my favorite part on that favorite deck of mine (have a more issues with minors/courts) and...well. What can I say, I guess. I really, really like this card both on a visual and on an intuitive level. The colors work perfectly for me...blues, with just the right amount of white light, the right amount of shadow...this is a card served really well by those fade to black borders, methinks.

We have ruin at the bottom of this card - some kind of ancient structure, or perhaps the wreckage of a ship, jutting out of a pool of stagnant water. The way things can fall apart and then stay there, in pieces, as if to remind us of those previous failures. But then we have the woman, the fairy, whatever the figure is, really, real or unreal, drapes in scarves, pulling a stream of stars out of the water and connecting that with the stars in the sky above. Salvaging, healing, renewing, guiding. So many ideas to build off of in a reading from this one image. The card really speaks to me.
Runner Up
As I said, it was really difficult to choose just two favorites for the star card. Ultimately, I went with this as my second, the Star from the Golden Tarot of Klimt. It hews pretty far from the traditional star images in the RWS/Thoth/TdM traditions. It doesn't even, arguably, at first glance present the same kind of mood/feeling that the star is usually associated with. But as I wrote a while ago when working with this deck, that's kind of what I really appreciate about it. This card speaks of the realities of hope, realities of the times you need it, realities of where you can find it. It presents the less idealized, less stylized representation of this major. It speaks to be very viscerally on an intuitive level, and presents a nice change and a challenge in a way that the traditional image of a pretty woman pouring water does not. Also, especially in real life with the gold foil...this card just is artistically stunning.