Showing posts with label pips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label pips. Show all posts

Sunday, January 20, 2013

wonders and dangers in life

The world is full of so many things - opportunities, possibilities, innumerable new experiences that can broaden your perspective, tickle your imagination, shape your memories and thoughts. There is earth and there are the things that can grow in the earth. You are born a blank slate and you live and as you do, roots and trunks and branches for, reach higher upward every year. You see paths in front of you and you follow where they may lead.

There is wonder in the world, and there is also danger, conflict, pain. There are shocks, major and minor, sudden and long-in-coming. To stay still and hidden is to see so little, and yet to venture forth is to risk. Sometimes you fall. Sometimes you watch someone else fall. Sometimes the risk is abstract and sometimes very much physical. You know this, as you know of the good. And just and so often we allow ourselves to take for granted the small joys we can find in too do we minimize those dangers.

Every so often something happens to remind you of their existence: you spend an evening sitting on your living room floor giving your roommate ice and watching as a veritable stream of police walk in and out, take questions and statements, photographs. You listen to him say in disbelieve how does something like that happen right in front of your own house?

But such is the nature of life, of the World. There is always a balance, between withdrawing into yourself and engaging, between knowing your potential and using it, between guarding yourself or letting your hands be free to touch, to feel and explore and learn. Safety in the familiar or risk in the unknown - the exact measure and choice is different for everyone. You try to do what you an to make your own life and fulfilling and you can, as complete. I don't deny being reckless, to some degree. There are things I simply don't care about though I should, and there is that always burning curiosity, to see and do and run far...

Once upon a few years ago you spent a final week abroad walking around by yourself in a large foreign city because you wanted to BE there, to experience, to really see. You tell people about this, about how much you enjoyed those days, those long walks alone. You do not mention, usually, that one day among many - the restaurant and the waiter who followed you into the bathroom, who kept touching you and trying to hug you and kiss you as you writhed and said no and tried to get him to unblock the door; he did finally, and then followed you several blocks after you quickly paid and fled. It was unfortunate but it is a risk you take and such is life sometimes. You want to go somewhere strange and you do, and mostly it is amazing. You think someone is a mentor or friend and time spent with them is great until it's really not. So it goes.

So it goes and so you live where you do because you decided to spend a summer in an amazing place and thus only had a week to find somewhere to live that you could afford. So things happen, and yes, to be on guard, to be aware and ready to defend yourself if needed is good, but only to a degree. What is the point of living if you live in fear? What is the point if you make a list of so many things that sound amazing but that you will not do because there is risk? That is not achieving the concepts the world represents - for some perhaps there is no conflict, but everyone is different.

Guard but not too much, against the World. It has risks and and has wonders and to chase possibility means to encounter both.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

look at the semester ahead

So as I start off yet another semester of grad school and classes and suchlike, I thought it might serve me well to do a general reading about it - what too keep in mind, look out for, etc. Once again I am using my de la Rea tarot and the Comte de Mellet spread. This time, I got quite a few more pairs, and in reading them, a pattern kind of emerged: Major = Theme, Minor = Details.
In the first pair we have the Devil, wonderfully illustrated here by the particular shapes of these masks (the gold paint really does look much nicer in real life) as well as the smoky effect in the background. In this pair, starting off the reading, we can see a kind of question: what is lost likely to hold me back, tie me down, limit me, take away my attention from the things I should be focusing on? In the minor, the five of cups, we can find that answer. In the Thoth, which this card reminds me of more strongly due to the colors (there too, we have the kind of bright orange-red, as the background), this card is called Disappointment. We have wilted leaves, a pentacle reversed - image often associated with the Devil card as well. In the RWS we have a figure weeping over spilled cups, focusing on what is lost rather than what still stands. Cup within cup within cup here, and on top what looks like a kind of egg or perhaps a pineapple. Shall we reach it, crack it open? Or is it too high up?

Devil is the tendency to focus on the negative, to get lost in feeling sad; a tendency to be blinded by obstacles; disappointment and resignation, weeping over spilt milk, over things that one may wish would get better but they don't, at least not much.

In the second pair we have the Fool as the theme question: Where and how should I be more like the fool, willing to go forward, willing to take risks, willing to have faith and to move forward even if it does mean being bitten in the shins now and again? The minor here is the seven of wands, seven wands firmly rooted in the ground stretching upwards, into the sky. Seven is the Chariot in the major arcana, a card of action and movement and small victories - and wands is the suit of personal growth, of ambition and creative energies. Valour, the thoth says, as as in here shows one powerful rod overcoming and controlling the rest, behind.

To be the fool is to take action and take risks, to DO even when the outcome would be far from certain. Face the world and face insecurities and be willing to challenge myself.

Our third pair presents us with Justice and the 2 of Coins, two cards that speak well to each other. In Justice, with her scales bound to her sword with a serpent that reminds me much of the Caduceus symbol used in medicine, there is the reminder that finding and maintaining equilibrium in life is important even if it isn't a Justice card year for me anymore? And how can I work on channeling this, balance, adjustment as needed. The two of coins, of course. The RWS image of the juggler, keeping the balls in the air with a steady hand: smart multi-tasking, prioritizing, focusing on keeping up with many things at once - and not just the obvious ones like 'x assignment and y application'; taking care of oneself is something that needs to be on the list too. In the Thoth the title for this card is Change, a reminder that life is dynamic, of the need to go with the flow. There are runes on the ribbon in this card - we can use them, and cards, and whatever else to help us navigate these twists and turns and that is fine, but do not resist or despair at the unfamiliar, the end of things and start of others. The snake eats its own tail into infinity because such is the universe, hello and goodbye, loss and starting anew.

Justice is balance, is prioritizing and juggling and switching back and forth as necessary; it is keeping track of things, not getting over-focused on the one task and letting others fall to the wayside. It is taking her of responsibilities as well as the self. It is working with the changes that may come.

Finally we have Death posing a suitably appropriate closing question: what should I let go of, put an end to, cut away? What things have passed their expiration date, their usefulness? Bits and pieces of once nice things lay scattered on the ground here, where the reaper walks and cleans, in his own way. The chariot racing into concrete action is advisable - the chariot racing around in the land of fantasy and dreams, not so much. In the RWS we often see a figure confronted with too large a selection of cups filled with two many things - which to pick, which to pick? Indecision is a a very great shortcoming of mine. Just this Monday I spent about fifteen minutes in the bread aisle while grocery shopping, unable to decide on what to pick to make sandwiches on because SO MANY OPTIONS. Feeling like there are too many options can be almost as paralyzing and difficult as feeling that there are no options at all. What to do, so many things, they spin and how could we grasp at just one, how could we decide? Old things and new clutter together, make a mess, and how can you pick out what it is that you really want, now?

In Death we find a need to sort and clear away the confusion, both physically (I have business cards in my wallet of people I no longer even remember at all 0_o) and mentally. In some areas of my life, it is time to step away from the abstract, to sort out a concrete plan rather than just think and dreaming and despairing. In terms of school assignments I would do well by just choosing a topic rather than wasting time that could be better spent on researching going back and forth with 'but i could do this...or This...or That!'. The blade is no worse than the clutter, and the time comes to make use of it, to cut through that fog that can erupt from the fountain of cups.

Monday, January 7, 2013

doing the things that need to be done

The Tarot de La Rea, I must say, is a bit of an unusual deck when it comes to my reading with it. It's a TdM in structure, but between the switched elemental associations and kind of odd illustration of the pip minors, I initially had a bit of a hard time reading with it. Some might call it an 'art deck' but I don't believe in that concept: I either read with a deck, easily and regularly, or it does not stay in my possession.

Then someone introduced me to the Comte de Mellet reading method. Historical one, it basically involves separating the majors and minors, and placing them in two stacks. You count up from Ace to King, and at each count turn over the top of the non-majors stack as well as majors...if the number you say matches the number on the minors/courts, you but the major-minor pair down as part of the reading. Otherwise you put them both in discard stacks and continue on, restarting the smaller majors stack as necessary until you finish the larger stack. You basically never know how many pairs you are going to get. I've gotten as many as eight and as few as one. Theoretically you can get zero, but I've never had that happen. Using this method with this deck, I've that the readings I get are consistently very, very accurate. It's interesting too because rather than asking a question, the deck just seems to...address whatever it is you need to know about/hear.

This morning, the spread gave me the following two pairs to ponder: Tower and Ace of Coins, Emperor and 8 of Cups.

Now, a Tower paired with the Ace of Coins is not a very reassuring combination but, upon reflection and given the second set of cards, I am pretty sure this is not an omen of impending financial disaster as much as a not so gentle nudge. See, I had a pretty standard plan on starting grad school that would have had me graduating at the end of this spring semester. Late last Fall, after pondering some things, namely my rather unfortunate lack of professional experience in my field of study, I decided to spread out my classes so that I would be finishing last (thesis) course in the Fall so as to use extra time in Spring/Summer to get some real internships. A rather scary change in some ways, because as much as I feel confident in my ability to DO work well...job hunting, particularly in my field, is a whole other story. And well...the progress in actually applying to internship positions so far has been rather....lacking. Very lacking in fact. Opportunity, or disaster, this pair reminds me - what do I want?

This is a plan that can get me far, or nowhere at all, depending on  what I do. Applying to 'real' jobs is intimidating and not something I have much confidence for, but Change often requires the frightening - falling out of that tower, hitting the ground hard. The Tower of Academia, we could even call it here. I love school. I love learning, reading and writing and I feel confident in my abilities as a student. But staying in the tower is not enough to get me the kind of career I want. Academic experience alone is not enough in this economy, this field. I need experience, professional experience, internship experience. The Ace of Pentacles opportunity requires a Tower experience, making that change, getting out of the comfort zone, venturing out into the tower beyond the familiar confines. Am I doing enough with that? This pair reminds me that, despite the free time I've had over the last couple of weeks, the answer thus far has been No, No, No.

The Emperor here, for me, indicates a need to take things in hand - a need for some organization, control, self-discipline. The cancer symbol confuses me a bit, as this major is definitely not usually associated with THAT sign, but also makes me smile because well, cancer I am. In the RWS system, the eight of cups is usually depicted as a figure departing, leaving something behind: what fears, insecurities, excuses should I be walking away from? In the Thoth this card has a backdrop of dark, cloudy skies and a title of Indolence. Haven't I been a bit indolent as of late? I need a break, I tell myself. Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow. Days pass and cover letters do not get written, applications remain unsent. Personal time is necessary, sure, but when there are things to do...well, self-discipline, time management indeed. The number eight is associated either with Strength or Justice depending on the deck. In this one it is Justice, Adjustment - to balance out self-care, emotions, creativity with the getting done that need doing. A tall order, this walking away and overcoming indolence and balancing? Perhaps, but the Emperor shows that it can be down. Firmness is needed, a systematic approach - break things down into steps, write the to do lists, go.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

finishing up

Decided to do a little reading for advice about getting this last final paper completed, using the 'shadow' card from bottom of the deck to start off the reading, a kind of background card.

I think there can always be a lot of ways to 'see' the imagery on an unillustrated pip could see this background as rich, golden and flowered - or you can see in it the color of wheat, harvest, fall, the end of a cycle; the flowers cut from their stems, not long for this world; the cups laying on their sides, used.

In the RWS we usually see this card as a man walking away from things, his back turned as he goes forward into the night. In the Thoth this card has a darker scheme - Indolence, it is titled. Both are true enough in their own way, in this context. I'm having trouble getting this done because a part of me doesn't much want to - it's tempting to lay about in bed, waste time on silly websites, read, catch up on episodes of shows online I haven't had proper time for in weeks. I want a break already, to leave all this work and responsibility for a while. This marathon of reading and writing and more reading and more writing has left me rather tired of it all. 

Cannot, of course. Must get this written and done and very soon. Must write and submit some cover letters, internship applications. Must pack for some visiting. Now is not the time for indolence, for running away, no matter how much, as this shadow card indicates, I might like to.

The next two cards here indicate, I think, that finishing up this last paper of the semester will not in fact be as challenging as it might seem. The high priestess with her folds of robes, her moon, her book in hand shows how much of what I want to write I already have in my head, perhaps not well formed but intuitively there - and backed up by the research I've already done, the reading. Deep down, beyond the tiredness, I do find my topic quite interesting. This isn't a paper I am only writing because I must.

Women's issues here, too, this Priestess reminds me - I am writing about use of technology to map and record incidents of sexual violence in ongoing conflicts, about the potential use of that to help prove, prosecute, prevent the widespread use of rape as a weapon of war. About how the internet allows us access to information that would otherwise be impossible to gather in a war zone too dangerous for outsiders to enter, from which people flee by hundreds and thousands every day. Instead of suffering for however long in silence a woman can go on youtube, her face covered, and tell the world: this is what they did to me. It allows for empirical patterns analysis to prove what would otherwise be merely a gut feeling - that these crimes are deliberate tactics, that they are used in a systematic fashion in pursuit of specific aims, that the same tactics can be seen again and again in various parts of a country and that this has meaning, is not simply 'war' or 'boys being boys' or any such nonsense.

Even as I write that summary here I feel myself channeling more of this Page of Wands, standing with her powerful, flexible bow in the field of green. She stands under a tree that is full of ripe fruit ready for picking, eating. She is young and full of energy and ready to handle anything. I need to channel that energy, the confidence. The words, that fruit, are already in my head. I just need to write them, edit and revise until they sound right, add all the proper detail and citation. This is something I care about. This is something I want to do, when I let myself forget to think about how tired of DOING I am.

Monday, December 10, 2012

significance of vivid dreams

I've always had occasional instances of dreams that are...particularly vivid, extended, detailed. I remember these dreams long after I wake up, unlike the usual dreams that fade away, except for perhaps bits and pieces, a few hours after waking. In fact, they stay with me almost like...memories, in their realness, memories of a dream flashing across my consciousness even a day or two afterwards. In the past, these almost only ever happened when I  stayed in bed hours longer than my body really needs...

Lately though, they've been happening more frequently, and without any over-sleep on my part. I decided to pull some cards about...the significance of this, what to make of it, what to do with it, whatever. The first card to come up was the Queen of Cups, which I admit seeps rather apt, given the issue. She holds a cup in her hands, out of which a butterfly is flying out. A bit of whimsy there - this card can stand for dreams, but also sometimes psychic me the butterfly would seem to say that this isn't really to do with the latter, which given the subject matter of the dreams, rather makes sense. Not a message for me about the future or any such, but rather...the butterfly, transformation, whimsy, flight. Behind her we see a beautiful dawn or dusk sky, a tree and some hills that look as if they came from a painted picture. Creativity there, no, artistry? The dawn sky, the same red-orange palette as we see on the queen herself, and her reminds me of a part of the most recent of my dreams. Towards the end, I found myself in a place that a dream enemy had called the 'pink world' a sort of narrow strip between two far larger dimensions, a place with narrow streets and low-strung buildings. The streets were dusty when we walked and the sky, the sky in this place was always and only ever that color, the red-orange-pink shades of dusk and dawn...

The Empress next to the queen clarifies this further, for me. Again we have the emphasis on creativity, on creation, on nurturing. I am reminded of how much of a vivid imagination I have, have always had, how intensely and rapidly and visually it likes to work. Give me a word and I can write you a story off the top of my head. Sometimes I'll tell or hear a funny joke or read something amusing and laugh far longer than anyone else, simply because I cannot get the very vivid IMAGE of that idea out of my head....

These dreams don't feel like normal dreams because they aren't really about fantasies or fears of mine but rather - they feel like stories. Like being in a book or a movie or a video game. The latest one even had point of view shifts and interludes - there were parts where I had an omniscient narrator view and other times when I was a character with limited knowledge, only the vague shadow of an idea that there was so much more going on that I wasn't aware of... These dreams have characters and worlds and a plot, all the structures of a complex story. Childhood adventures in a castle filled with magical relics but also high tech elevators; magical powers tied to trinkets like pig shaped piggy banks that must be carefully guarded; an attack, a dream-father calling forth waves only to have someone else, far more powerful, summon lightening - the image of an entire beach full of water electrified, death by electric shock borne by tides coming towards us; learning of another dimension, ying and yang; losing the father and the guide in an inter-dimensional space made up of black void and dimly glowing white walls of a maze and terribly powerful rushing water, inky black; taking refuge after, desperately confused, in the dawn-sky place....

I have a lot of imagination and creative, even artistic inclination in me. But the fact is, I rather deliberately chose to go into a field, in academia and hopefully professionally after that, that requires very little of those - that is to say, only in a very disciplined, controlled context. A bit of creativity and imagination can lead to a stronger, more original analysis; writing skill can be adjusted and tweaked to provide good academic work as well as good creative work. The stories, though, the characters, the worlds, the colors and much of that has no use here.

I read about genocides and war crimes, write papers about counter-terrorism measures and preventing the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and economic analysis of sub-state violence and this and that, and I enjoy my work, I do. When I am feeling particularly overwhelmed by personal/mental difficulties, focusing on that is just about all I can manage anyway. Apparently though, when I start to feel even a bit isn't enough, to work only on that, no matter how much I enjoy it. My mind wants to do creative things too. Stories, art, poems, something. So it comes out in dreams - unusual, interesting, sometimes distracting dreams. I suppose it would make sense to make some time for purely creative pursuits in my life, even if it does feel very full right now with other tasks, responsibilities.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

some more story time

So I figured it was high time I did another of the story writing exercises. I can't quite remember, but I don't *think* that I've done one with a pips deck before...

There were once two kings whose nations bordered each other. Though close to one another, the nature of their lands varied greatly - the first king ruled a mountainous region. His was a harsh domain, bitterly cold in the winter. His people were tough - they raised goats and they mined and traded. His resources were scarce, demanding careful, prudent management. He worried and thought and worked. His neighbor, in contrast, ruled over a land of rich and fertile valleys, rich with rivers and springs and rain. His people grew more food then they could eat, hunted plentifully, were surrounded by beautiful flowers in spring. This king had time not just to rule but to dream, to paint and write poetry.

One would think that these differences might lead to war, sooner or later, between the two countries, but here that was not the case. The two kings had long been friends, and as time went on they found themselves growing closer yet, looking forward to each of their state visits, diplomatic missions, negotiations. There embraces are meeting and parting went on longer than one might expect. Over time the two men realized that their feelings for one another were deeper than that of allies or even friends. There was love between them, passion repressed - for they both knew that anything else was impossible. The mountain king was twenty years older than the king of the valleys, and looked even more the elder, drained my so many years of work and worry. It would be unheard of, inappropriate, impossible yes, always.

And so the years passed. The mountain king would find himself thinking of the other as he climbed through mountain passes with his men, inspecting and giving orders. The valley king would paint his colleague, again and again and again, write poetry that was never heard. Neither married.

Finally, after many years had passed in this way, a terrible storm swept through the land, strong enough to bring creatures from the sea into the valley and wash away many structures. The mountain king ordered his people to go down and help their neighbors. The two leaders felt, then, a wild shift in their thinking, perspective. So many years wasted, gone by in longing. And so they talked and planned, and in the end they announced something great: a union of their two lands into a new, greater nation. They would rule together, partners in all things, and upon their deaths the mountain king's niece and the valley king's nephew, who had taken already to one another, would be married and take their place. The two kings held hand, embraced, and so a new nation was formed. Problems continued, of course, obstacles, minor and less minor disasters - but for the rest of their lives, the two kings would face all of those together.

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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the forest and the trees

It's interesting how well some metaphors translate into spreads of sorts...particularly since card reading is itself, from a certain perspective, essentially the reading of visual metaphors, a shorthand of familiar images and system of associations. Anyway, a draw to try to focus/ground myself for the coming week, with this sort of spread in mind:

The Forest (Big Picture) - The Trees (Details)

I must say, I rather like the little frown of uncertainty or indifference on the figure's face in this Temperance card. There is a spring nearby, carefully constructed, and the angel (love the androgyny of many of the cards in this deck as well!) does the water pouring, water mixing thing. Chemistry, alchemy, synthesis, experimentation.

With a frown on it's face. Because sometimes, taking the path of moderation, finding and maintaining that balance, sticking with the reasonable thing and avoiding those extremes - it can be the hardest of all possible options. It's easy to throw yourself carelessly, recklessly into the most clearly delineated of positions. Dogmatism has a way of taking a grip on one's soul. All or nothing, right? All or nothing, and sticking to doing things simply because you've done them that way for so long...

And so stepping back to evaluate, to say - no, this isn't working, let's tray again...that can be hard. That can be hard to internally motivate yourself to want to do. Moderation as an art requiring patience with yourself, to try again and again with the water pouring, jug to jug, until finally you find a balance, a setting, a way of going about things that is sustainable, that works for you.

It is tempting to just give up, especially with so many things in the short-term to grab the attention, to distract, to let you tell yourself that your lack of progress in these matters doesn't matter. It does, though. Need to keep trying, looking at the bigger picture, trying to find a way, a reason to fix things, to bring things into better balance, equilibrium

As for the short term, those immediate details - remember prudence. This card actually quite strongly recalls the Thoth's 8 of disks...the coins are in the same arrangement, and flowers on each coin, and the hint of vines at the top of the card...a time to prudently nurture things, let things develop, take care of the things that need to be taken care of, attend to responsibilities. In this deck, eights are associated with Justice in the majors - again, a message about balance - and with coins dealing with the material realm, the financial, the solid and earthy...

While keeping big picture search for equilibrium in mind, this is the time to attend to ensuring that all the little, immediate, concrete things that must be taken care of are, that all of those are put right, handled in an appropriate manner. Arrange them all in neat rows like these. Don't shy away from doing the work to make that happen.

Channel that virgo influence this card has in the Thoth's system, keep the tree carefully pruned, organize and arrange and procure what you need, keep justice in mind and apply it to all your current worldly concerns, and keep working at it until all is done and settled - interesting how, with pip cards, it becomes so natural to draw on the influences of just about all the different tarot systems in the reading...

Thursday, May 24, 2012

ends and beginnings

So I continue my adventures in trying to find the optimal way of shuffling this particular deck. I love the art, and I love the elongated shape, but thickness of the does make things a challenge...

But so it goes. An interesting juxtaposition here - on the one hand death, old things that need to be swept, cut away, things that have outlived their usefulness, their time. All things come to an end, eventually. There comes a time where an ending is necessary even if it may be difficult to arrange, difficult to contemplate, difficult to experience. I do enjoy the way this card takes that on, though. We have the traditional skeleton in black robes, wielding a scythe, body parts and relics of glory on the ground beneath him...and yet he is dancing. He is dynamic, in motion, and he seems very much amused by the whole situation. It adds some perspective to the concept.

And next to death, we have the three of wands. At the top, a kind of animal head seeming to want to lunge forward out of a kind of decorative vine. Flowers carved out of the top of those wands - new growth, development, beginnings. Three, which is associated with the Empress in the majors - nurturing, fertility, creativity; and wands, the suit of fire, of passion, of self-development, ambition, potential. The card of new horizons, new prospects, new possibilities out there, waiting to be grasped. Al-mustaqbal - the future, the new, waiting for you.

I'm reminded by this draw of the concept behind the symbol of Ouroboros - the snake that eats its own tail. I have something similar to this specific image tattooed on my right wrist, decoration and reminder both.

All ends are inherently a beginning, and all new things inherently require the end of something that came before. Tis the nature of things. A cycle, constant. Time never stands still. Existence never remains exactly the same for long. Trying to resist this is...not only limiting, but also in many cases futile. Better to roll with the changes, transformations. Give death it's due. Excitement rather than melancholy. Plans rather than nostalgia.

Monday, May 21, 2012

another deck, another quote set

“Do not wait for the last judgment. It comes every day.” 
-Albert Camus

"Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice: it is not to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved."
-William Jennings Bryant

"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing you can do is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing."
-Theodore Roosevelt

Sunday, March 11, 2012

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.

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 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'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 :]

Sunday, February 5, 2012

simple pleasures

I wanted to try out the Marrakech a bit more, plus it's one of those days where I could really use a message that's just meant for the here and now and not tied to bigger themes/things, so here we have it -

Sometimes it really is about the simple things. Sometimes greater pleasures and comforts are simply out of reach: there are things that can't be fixed in a snap, burdens that cannot simply be thrown off, problems that tie themselves into your life like stubborn knots at which you pick and pick with little effect. Sometimes, in the moment, the best thing is to focus on what you have in front of you.

Like this Sun card, which is really a rather unusual take and quite interesting. The water carrier...a modest profession, it would seem, yet in a desert country, in a place where the sun's brightness is as much a danger as it is a source of light and valuable is water then? How amazing the moment when the man comes to you and your friend, pours a cup of cool liquid, offers it to you to drink? How nice it must be, that first long sip, the feel and taste against parched lips? Suddenly the sun can feel nice again instead of overwhelming.

Sometimes you may have that friend with you, or a partner: someone to hold your hand, to rub your back, to tell you everything is going to be okay and keep you company. And when you don't? Make do with what you have - simple pleasures. Make yourself a cup of your favorite tea. Let it steep, cool enough to drink. Sweeten it just so. And then drink it slowly, mindfully. Enjoy the taste of it on your tongue, the way it fills up your belly. Or have a cup of your favorite wine, sweet and white. Enjoy the smell of it. Drink the glass bit by bit, savoring the flavors. Take your time, focus in the moment. Let all the bigger problems fall away for just a bit. If it's day, maybe take a look outside at the sun and enjoy the light; if it's night, maybe light a candle, let the scent of lavender waft across the room.

Yes, simple pleasures sometimes.

Monday, January 23, 2012

dealing with disappointing others

A while ago I did a reading about dealing with being disappointed. While that is definitely a useful subject, it occurs to me, due to some things going on right now, that I also have definite issues with dealing with disappointing others. Not with being a disappointment, but with taking specific actions that are likely to result in someone else being disappointed.

Essentially, this is a kind of conflict between my INTP/Queen of Swords type logical nature and my Cancer side...because the more I think on it, the more it seems just due to empathy. The INTP in me doesn't like to think of myself as empathetic, per se,'s really not about people 'hating' me. Yes, I try to be nice and please people when I can but...not at all costs. If I am being reasonable, and someone isn't happy, their problem, eh? And in some cases, this is in dealing with people who I don't even particularly like/am not impressed with/have clearly shown they don't care all that much about my needs/feelings. And yet...I still feel a bit guilty disappointing them. Why? Because I know how crappy that feels and I can't help but want to...not inflict that feeling on others if I can avoid it. But the INTP in me says, you need to take care of yourself too. This is what you need to do, regardless of the possible effects. Inner conflict inner conflict so let us draw some cards then, eh?

What's interesting here, of course is that it's a three card draw of all reversals. That's always something to take note of. I know a lot of people don't read with reversals but for me, with the exception of a few decks where it just feels wrong to do so, I do. Always have. See, when I first started reading, and found out there was the option - well, being the slightly masochistic must challenge meself person that I am, of course, new to Tarot, I would choose the option that meant learning twice as many meanings! Lol, but really, at this point it feels natural to me, and reversals just add....shade and nuance to readings that I appreciate. But nonetheless, an all reversal reading is still a bit 0__o. In context though, it does make sense.

Here's the message I get from these cards - sometimes, you just can't really win. You can't have it all, you can't somehow magically synthesize two opposing desires and make everyone happy happy and please yourself and please others and get what YOU need to get done, done while also doing the thing that someone else wants you to do for them, and you will drive yourself crazy if you insist on trying.

If you want to look at it from that kind of perspective, either way there's a negative - either you are 'selfish' and 'flakey' or you are making yourself miserable and stressed being 'flakey' regarding other things. If you try to please everyone someone, and possibly even everyone, will end up losing anyway. You really do just have to pick one or the other and accept the opportunity cost/loss and move on, stop dwelling and feeling needless guilt over doing what you need to do. Which is not to say the choice is necessarily the same in all situations - if it's a choice between spending a day relaxing and de-stressing, a nice planned mental-health day as it were, and doing a much-needed favor for a good friend, perhaps you do need to sacrifice the me-time; if it's a choice between getting through some of that huge pile of academic obligation and house cleaning/organization and errands that's looming over you, or making time to meet with someone who has shown very limited interest in your needs, well then, looks like it's time to just focus on doing what you need to do for you.

Use logic to make the objectively best decision you can given the limitations of your situation.

Empathy is a good thing. Compassion and consideration are all good things. Need to remember to apply them to yourself too, though. Sometimes you need to put your needs aside and really help someone out. Other times, you needs to put yourself first. Both are perfectly legitimate decisions. Your needs are worthwhile too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


so, well - compartamentalization is one thing, but...i'm a graduate student and it is finals week. we all know what's on my mind. so why not read some more on it, eh? multi-tasking for the win, man :D

decided to have a go with the Spanish tarot this time. I must say, Fournier makes some nice card-stock decks if this and the Balbi are any indication. Also, can I say again, how much I love the colors on the Spanish? One of the main reasons I'm so averse to most traditional Marseilles decks is the very primary coloring of them. Some people see that as I plus. Me? Ick. The Spanish, on the hand, makes use of much more complex hues, and they just complement each other so nicely on the cards and...yeah. I do love this deck.

Also, one more related general note: I'm kind of in the process of settling into a good, workable style of reading unillustrated pips. My method has long been just...I lay down the card and an image or images of the card from other, illustrated decks comes to mind and the meanings come to me and I go from there. But after listening to a presentation by Lee Bursten about reading pips using trumps-based method, been experimenting with that as well. By and large, I think I'm settling into kind of...using both. Either. Complementary. Nuances and so on.

so yeah, - two sets of pairs:
The first pair general advice: I have a second paper to do, research and analysis heavy, which I only have an outline of and less than 24 hours to finish final draft. Advice for getting in done, for how to approach the situation, etcc.
Second pair a bit more experimental - insight, ideas, something to consider about the actual CONTENT of the paper which I am writing.

this was an interesting pair as advice because at first it seems more like...disheartening description of my situation than advice. reversed strenght - the feeling that things are out of my control, out of my hands, unsure if I can handle this, if I can actually force out another paper of acceptable quality right after finishing the first. Combined with the more RWS based take on the 8 of Swords, the feeling of being trapped. I have to do this, because I am a student and that means that there are finals that are worth so much of your grade that you must do by certain deadlines regardless of what is going on in your mind or your life, That I must but I don't know if I can find it in myself to tackle that lion again. The swords entwined with each other like bars on a cage...

But of course there is that second layer of meaning to the 8 of swords, the fact that in the traditional imagery, the woman may be blind-folded, and she may certainly FEEL trapped between that cage-like arrangement of swords, and maybe her hands are even bound but: dude, if you are surrounded by frickin swords, you can totally cut away your restraints, sqeeze out in-between the things and you know, be on your merry way. It's only your mind, your own lack of confidence and sense of hopelessness/helplessness stopping you, when push comes to shove. Which takes us to the other way of reading this card, Lee's trumps method: in the Major Arcana, 8 in Marseilles tradition decks is associated with Justice. With equalization, balance, scales, making things right. Right-thinking, we could say, in the 8 of Swords.

So what is the advice here, then? To adjust my thinking. My mind. Organize thoughts, positive thoughts, pro-active thoughts, motivated thoughts, focused thoughts. Right-mindedness. The best way I can help myself is to find some kind of mental equilibrium in my approach to this.

now, not to tl;dr over-much on my very much non-tarot related paper here, but...I am writing about prospects for successful integration of Islamist groups in democratic political systems with focus on post-Arab Spring North African states, comparing Islamist groups in Algeria & Libya with those in Tunisia and Morocco...

and yeah, this is actually QUITE apt, haha. The two of cups represents partnership, doesn't it? Successful synergy of two forces, to people, two ideas, working together, cooperation, 'all you need is love'. This works very well with my basic idea/thesis that yes, it IS possible for Islamists to be part of and even at the head of a democracy without it turning into same crazy theocratic state in the mold of Iran. That events unfolding in Tunisia and Morocco (as well as the exmple of Turkey) show that Islamist and Democracy are not inherently incapatable. Also my secondary idea/thesis, that the degree of extremism and violence espoused by Islamist groups and individuals (ie. progessive radicalization of Qutb, for example) is very much a reflection of the degree of repression and marginalization they face from the state, ie being treated like a partner, cooperation, tends to lead to more moderate stance as seen in Ennahda today...

as for judgement reversed, yeah, just kind of backing that up. Rejecting the widely held auto-assumptions that Islamist groups must be inherently bad, inherently anti-Western and anti-human rights and threat to US security and that repression (or support of repressive allied regimes) is the only option. Also, I think, good to point out the non judgement idea in that like...I'm essentially arguing that Islamist groups should be given a fair chance to peacefully particupate in legitimate political processes. Do I personally believe the ideas they espouse? Well, I'm an atheist and a feminist, really least on the less-moderate end of things, very much no. But the thing about freedom of speech, democracy etc. is...for it to be REAL everyone has to have a chance to have their say and make their pitch, regardless of whether you agree with the ideas they are arguing for.

So yeah, actually that helped me a lot in organizing my core idea :0

Yay to multi-tasking tarot fun times!
(this is kinda like the time I wrote my grad school application essays based off a tarot reading, haha...)