I’m a little bit lost, friends.
I recently moved in with a partner for the first time in almost a decade, along with the world’s most amazing kiddo. It’s been wonderful and thrilling and challenging and hard and also all the regular boring things that life always is and also also the standard complement of cool shit and hard shit that goes along with being an extremely gay gender weirdo in an unconventional relationship format that does not come with any kind of roadmap.
I would do it all again in a second AND it’s kicking my ass. My ass is 100% kicked. I haven’t been able to get my feet under myself emotionally, and some old, old shit is coming up for me.
It came to a head recently, and I went on a long walk in the forest with my best friend and yelled about my feelings and fell in a river (it was very shallow, don’t worry) and then I started going to therapy again. And my therapist was like, friend. What are you doing? What happened to your tarot practice and all the stuff you do to ground yourself and remember who you are?
Longstoryshort, she sent me home with a bunch of homework and this afternoon I set up my altar (after three months, wow, no wonder I’ve been feeling like I’m sleepwalking all the time), and did a tarot reading.
I picked three cards: something to invite in, something to release, and a guiding star. I also pulled cards from both Slow Holler and Next World--it’s fun to see two different takes on the same cards!
I’m gonna start with the “something to release," even though it's the middle card, because I got the Knight of Cups and I feel PERSONALLY ATTACKED by this EXTREMELY ACCURATE CALLOUT. Like, go for it, Romeo. Go ahead and climb a mountain barefoot with no jacket and no food and no sleeping bag. Take your crab buddy with you in a little cup, what could go wrong, what do crabs even eat? Alternatively, get your goldfish and your horse and ride right the heck into the ocean. It will all work out! Do it for love!!!
Y’all, I’m walking up a mountain and I forgot to bring my shoes. It’s so understandable but also, so unsustainable.
My “something to invite in” is The Fool, and I think the relationship between The Fool and the Knight here is really interesting. They have a lot in common. The Fool is ready to jump off the cliff, or take a walk in the dark with their shoes untied, or hop a train to nowhere just to see what happens. Their curiosity is stronger than their fear; they are leaping and trusting the world and their inner resources to hold them.
On the surface, that leaping and risk-taking sounds a lot like the Knight. But The Fool is more about relationship with self than relationship with another. In this situation, I think it’s telling me I need to face the things that are scaring me with courage and curiosity, rather than avoiding my fears by immersing myself in relationship to the point that I lose myself.
The Fool gets lost, but not because they are hiding. They get lost because they are exploring. And they brought a buddy and a backpack! That’s the kind of lostness I need to invite in.
My “guiding star” is the Six of Pentacles, and I think it’s telling me that I need to think hard about how I’m distributing my resources. What energy am I putting into relationships and my loves, and what energy am I putting into myself? Into my community? How am I managing my material and emotional and spiritual resources? Am I distributing them in a way that matches my highest values? What kind of redistribution do I need right now? How can I approach that question with courage and curiosity? How can I let myself get lost, without losing myself?
I don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but I feel like I’m home again, and that’s more than enough right now.
Hello blog friends! It’s been a while. I haven’t been pulling cards regularly--I haven’t been doing most of my practices lately, tbh, and I’m really feeling it. I’ve had a ton of transition in my life over the last few months, and I’m feeling less like a big solid rock in a river and more like a handful of pebbles that have been tumbled and scattered down about twenty miles of riverbed. Like, it’s been fun to take a ride, but I also need to pull myself together again because the returns are diminishing, y’all.
Today I stayed home from work, because I'm just beyond exhausted, and I decided to pull a card of the day. Actually, I pulled two cards: one in a regular shuffle/cut situation, and one from the bottom of the deck. I got this idea from Beth Maiden; the one you pick first is your card and the one of the bottom of the deck is “ but not this,” so it modifies the original card.
I got the King of Pentacles, and the bottom card was the Ten of Wands.
The King of Pentacles is all about power in the material realm, and my initial impression was that this is about my job. This card is about reaching that place where you’ve hit your stride and you have work that takes care of your body and your home and your bank account; where you have material abundance.
That feels complicated for me right now. I do have my financial needs well covered at this job--well enough covered that I have serious survivor’s guilt, for having found a way to survive capitalism (for the moment), and for having the kinds of privilege that allowed me to get to that place of survival. But it also doesn’t really feel like security. When I didn’t have enough money, I was scared and stressed out a lot. Now I have enough, sort of? If I keep working until I die? And I still feel scared and stressed out, because I might lose it, and I ALSO feel guilty for having it right now when most people are struggling to make it with so much less.
Cristy C. Road wrote, “the King of Pentacles asks you to forgive yourself for the journey you are on.” I think that’s the biggest challenge here--how do you find a measure of material security in this world and have compassion the choices you had to make to get there while also being in right relationship with community and accountability?
The other piece of that is the “not this” card, which is.... surprise!... the burnout card! Ten of Wands is about how you picked up all of these sticks because you were full of passion (each stick is a thing you felt passionately about) and it felt so good, or at least so important, when you picked it up--and now you have way too many goddamn sticks.
This feels so true for me. At first I was thinking about this as being my job, but I just realized that this is also true about my home life right now. I feel like I’ve been picking up every stick I see that looks nice and feels good in the moment, but now here I am dropping sticks all over the place and not paying attention to which sticks are cute and nice but can also be set down for a minute with no serious consequences and which sticks actually cannot get dropped.
So maybe these cards, which at first seemed like, your job is burning you out and you need to quit and believe that you can find another way to experience material security and also find a more grounded way to engage with your privilege and survivor’s guilt (which is 100% definitely true but also not a big revelation), is actually telling me that I need to dig into what home and security mean to me and do some prioritization of all these sticks I’ve got right now.
Because I’m dropping sticks that are my relationship with myself. I dropped them because there were some other sticks that I really really wanted and I couldn’t figure out how to carry both kinds of sticks and that’s super real and relatable. But the sticks that are my relationship with me, that are about caring for my body and mind and spirit, are actually not droppable. Not for long.
I need to find a way to hold myself first and then see what other sticks fit in my hands. I need to be courageous enough to face all the truths that arise as a result of that process, and creative enough to imagine new ways of being until I have the sticks I need.
This card is about abundance, and cultivating the sense of worthiness that allows us to receive it.
“Indulge, bask, snuggle, and savor the sweetest things in your life right now… Revel in the moment. Take your pleasure where you find it. Let yourself overflow.” –Slow Holler Tarot
I did a hard thing last week and it went really well. Today, my therapist said my homework is to relax and enjoy the sweetness of that. I am noticing how my anxiety keeps going off, like a broken car alarm, trying to protect me from non-existent dangers. It’s so hard to return to the moment, to the facts about what is currently happening, when my brain keeps reminding me of past hurts.
It’s so hard to believe that I’m worthy of abundance, of love, of goodness. That I’m enough. That I’m safe. That I’m allowed to trust other people. That some people are pretty damn good and pretty damn trustworthy, and that those things are also true about me.
It doesn’t feel safe, to indulge and bask and savor sweetness. It feels safer to stay walled off, not to get too excited, to assume the worst and wait for the other shoe to drop, until, until, until, until... what? It doesn't end. There's always something new to be scared of.
But is it really safer, to do all that? If it means I miss out on my actual life? Is that really safety?
There’s some real overflow-worthy stuff going on in my life right now and I want it. I want it! I want every single one of these cups!
I’m going to try following that want and see where it takes me.
I’m feeling some Swords angst right now. Swords represent words and thought, and those things have often been a haven for me. As a little kid, I struggled to connect with others and escaped into a world of words by burying myself in books.
But my brain feels like an enemy a lot these days. It tries to protect me by telling me all the things that could go wrong, over and over and over. It tells me what trauma taught it: that I can’t trust other people, that if I am ever inconvenient I will be rejected, that my worth is based on what I offer to other people, and that the way to be loved and connected is to make myself as small as possible, to stay in my room, making no noise.
I feel so stuck in my head right now. I want to be more connected with my body and the moment and other people. I don’t have an easy answer to how to get there from here. I’m just trying stuff and seeing what happens and trying to sit with the discomfort as best I can.
So what does this Ace mean today?
What’s true is that our words and our thoughts, Swords, are neither bad nor good. They are just powerful. They can cut through the bullshit or they can cut us down. They can be kitchen knives that chop vegetables to feed us or dull pocketknives that slip and slice deep.
I think this card is saying, be bold and be careful. Know the power of your words and your thoughts. Gather up all your tools, get ready to use them, and make sure that when you do, you’re acting according to your highest values.
The aces are the essence of the suit; maybe a beginning, but also something whole in and of itself. They aren’t exactly a one. They are more like the source or the wellspring of the suit. Thus, they are often interpreted as a new opportunity in the area of their suit.
Today I got the Ace of Branches. Branches are passion, desire, drive, spark, creativity, and aliveness. I’ve been thinking about this card for a while and what’s really speaking to me is the desire aspect.
Wanting things is really vulnerable. Naming your desire is risky. It’s vulnerable, admitting to yourself that something is important to you. Wanting things means taking up space, taking a position. It might mean setting boundaries, or letting someone into your space.
Our desire is there whether we name it or not. We push it down and it emerges in places we didn’t expect, tangled up with other stuff, sometimes in destructive ways. We cut it off and it grows back.
So maybe we learn to name our desires—but naming our desires means facing our fears and, sometimes, confronting grief.
If you tell that babe you like them, it might turn out they don’t like you like that. Your inner critic might get mean and tell you it’s because you’re not good enough, you aren’t worth it, you aren’t smart enough or fun enough or cute enough—somehow, you aren’t enough. Or you are too much: too big, too loud, to opinionated, too needy, too broken, too emotional, or too much work. You find yourself in a big shame spiral, and you might treat yourself and other people badly in the fog of that.
Or they might like you like that after all! And they might be really great! And you might find the joy you feel comes with a side order of grief. Sometimes getting your heart’s desire hurts, because it brings you face to face with everything you settled for, because you didn’t think you were worthy of more, or maybe because you didn’t know there was more.
For me, creating space in which I can name desire requires more than just figuring out what I want. It means I need concrete skills to manage the results of naming my desires. It means I have to stay grounded in my own worth, rather than being dependent on external validation. It means I have to act according to my values, towards myself and towards others, even when I feel hurt or scared or disappointed or rejected. It means I have to manage shame. It means I have to care for my grief.
I’ve spent a lot of time running away from desire, or pushing it down or trying to cut it off. I’m trying to be different now. The Ace of Branches reminds me to keep trying, and to keep caring for myself so that I can make space for desire.
Okay, since I’m doing this mask-taking-off project, here are my true and real feelings: face cards freak me out. I know that a lot of people find them difficult and I am one of those people!
What is it about face cards?
I think part of it is that they are just so different from the other cards. Like, you’ve got the Major Arcana—big life themes, check. Then the Minor Arcana (minus face cards)—everyday life, check. This is fine, everything is fine. Then the face cards—people? I get it, but sometimes it’s complicated to integrate into readings.
Another issue is whether the face card is an aspect of the seeker or a person in the seeker’s life. I always interpret them as an aspect of the seeker; the reading is about the seeker, so intuitively it makes sense to me for everything to be about the seeker. But the way we relate to people in our lives is also part of us, so I feel torn! I also think it’s confusing to offer “aspect of self” and “person in seeker’s life” as two possible card meanings, although logically that’s not that much more complicated than the multiple meanings any given card has. Maybe you differentiate between “aspect of self” and “person in seeker’s life” in the context of other cards in the spread, but that’s often unclear.
The other thing that makes face cards feel complicated to me is that they are people, but not exactly. They are exaggerated archetypes that are intentionally unbalanced to highlight a certain characteristic. Like, maybe you know a Queen of Swords that is always a 100% logical, no bullshit, tough love, seen-it-all and tell-it-like-it is type of babe. But I am pretty sure that person, once you get to know them, has a secret love of emotionally needy teacup poodles or competitive ballroom dance or what have you. So I struggle with that too.
Nevertheless, face cards are a thing and this is me going bravely forward! Student of Vessels!
Can we take a moment to sit with how lovely this card is? The storm-tossed waves, the mermaid tail, the crescent moon, the heart in a jar? I mean, who hasn’t been where this person is? I feel like this is my life.
And what does the jar mean, anyway? Is this about a disconnection from emotion—the heart taken out of its housing and kept apart, sealed away in a jar? Is it about holding your own emotional container when connecting with others? Is that feeling of intense emotional vulnerability, where you’re being tossed around in an ocean (of feelings) with your heart exposed and wobbling around in a fragile glass bubble that could drop and smash at any moment?
All of those are valid interpretations, but I think it’s intended to be something different: an offering.
“The Student of Vessels brims with awe and wonder at the various capacities of the heart... While eager for connection, they have little experience. They may offer their energy or their heart to the first person they encounter, making The Student susceptible to heartbreak and disappointment... Open yourself to new connections, spontaneous encounters, and unexpected vulnerability. Be patient with yourself as you learn to trust your intuition and what you create in this world, without disclaimer or qualification.” –Slow Holler Tarot
This is tough for me. On the one hand, I want this openness and connection so much. On the other hand, this person is so vulnerable, so hurtable. It’s scary.
And maybe that's where we get into the "aspect of self" and exaggerated archetype issues. It feels scary to be open to love and connection, but I'm not just the Student of Vessels. I'm also the Queen of Swords, who is not here for any bullshit, and the Queen of Cups, who knows their own heart through and through. I can tap into the Student of Vessels aspect of myself safely, because the other parts of me have my back.
I’m going to try to be more Student of Vessels-ish tomorrow and see what happens.
“Start a tarot journal,” I said to myself. “It will be great. Writing is fun!”
I’m sitting here feeling like I have to write something good every day, and that’s a lot of pressure. On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the only one reading this blog besides bots and webcrawlers is my friend Sara (Hi Sara!!), so who cares? (I care though.)
I'm gonna do it , y'all. Let's do it!
The Moon is always a little creepy and scary, and this is a pretty scary version of it, I think. The rattlesnakes, the eclipsed moon, the hanging flowers (I feel like these are datura, which is a hallucinogen), the night sky… there’s a lot happening in this card. To be fair, the Rider-Waite-Smith has stark towers, a lonely winding road, a dog, a howling wolf, and a big lobster crawling out of the sea at you. It’s intended to be unsettling.
The Moon can be about a lot of things—madness, cycles, shadow-sides, confusion, masks, deception.
But here’s the real question: what does The Moon have to say about me feeling tarot blog performance anxiety?
I’ve got a lot of flippant answers but here’s some real shit that just occurred to me—maybe it’s telling me to drop my mask of being a “good writer” or a “good tarot reader”.
Y’all, I really want to be those things. I do! And sometimes I want that so much that it gets in the way of me becoming those things. Like, sometimes I read other people’s writing and it’s so brilliant and my biggest reaction is to feel bad for not writing like them, instead of celebrating their brilliance and letting it inspire me to nurture my own voice. And then when I do write, sometimes I'm so focused on trying to figure out what other people want to hear that I forget to pay attention to what I want to say. I also get really self-judgmental when I’m reading tarot and end up putting so much energy into trying to seem like a good reader that it makes me a worse reader!
This is such a human reaction, right? We want to be loved, and we believe that to be loved we have to be seen as good and as worthy, but we don’t feel good or worthy, so we just try really hard to project an image of worthiness. But that mask keeps others from really knowing or connecting with us.
I think the true need, for me as a writer, is to be witnessed: my real thoughts and feelings and some part of my inner life. As a reader, it’s to witness others.
I’m going to sit with this, and encourage myself to take off my mask more often.
Okay, this is one of the Slow Holler interpretations that has always puzzled me. Like, what are the images supposed to mean? The branches, okay, it’s got to have seven. I kind of get the bars/crossed sticks thing—standing your ground/boundaries. The polka dots confuse me a bit, and I’m not sure what to do with the cut stump. But also… the teeth? Why are there teeth?
This card is about strength and conviction and resistance—not collective resistance, but personal resistance. It’s about standing up for what you believe in and being willing to fight for it. That sounds great, right?
But it’s so much more complicated than that. We can destroy ourselves in the pursuit of activism, so focused on our personal relationship to power, on our shame or guilt or need to atone or crushing grief, that we fail to understand our communal relationship to power and our need for connection; our need to be human. We can be so determined to stand up for ourselves in relationships that we can't see others as people who are fighting their own battles, or attend to our own most vulnerable needs and hopes and fears.
I think the pulled-out teeth and the sawed-off stump (the LWB says the wood is petrified) are about the tension between the need to be unyielding in what we know is right, and the ways that hardness can cut us off. About how it can pull us to pieces.
“Your fierce protection of yourself is honorable. Sometimes, however, the best use of your fire is not casting out demons, but illuminating them and preparing for their eventual transformation into qualities and skills that serve you rather than harm you.” –Slow Holler Tarot
Eights in tarot are about movement. The Eight of Cups is about that moment when you say, “you know, actually…. nope” and walk away. The Eight of Pentacles is about cranking and getting shit done. The Eight of Swords is about discovering a way to free yourself in a situation that seemed hopeless.
I love the Slow Holler take on the Eight of Branches:
“The Eight of Branches indicates that you’ve become a central node in a complex network. You may be coordinating something demanding with a lot of different tasks and the need to communicate with many different folks…. Being pushed to the outer limits of your capacity is taxing but can also be empowering when you realize how much you can actually do. Take a deep breath, take care of yourself, and then buckle down for the task at hand.”
This is what my actual life feels like right now, especially my work life.
My new job feels too busy and too hard. There are so many things to keep track of, so much to do, and so much I don’t know. My relationships are changing and I need new skills to keep up. And it’s all happening so fast! In the first few weeks, I didn’t even have time to pee.
The rest of my life feels just as full and confusing and intense. Personal creative projects, collective creative projects, old and new friendships, falling in love, basic self-care, trying to figure out how to live in this world—it feels like so much.
But also… I’m fine. I’m doing it. Even though it’s often uncomfortable, I’ve got it. And a lot of it’s better than comfortable—it’s amazing.
A few years ago, I was so burned out that I could barely take care of myself. I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to go back to work. And then when I did go back to work, for the first few months I would get home too tired to eat and pass out at six pm. I remember how hurt and traumatized and fucked up I was.
I got to heal from that, with a combination of privilege and luck and hard work.
And now I get to have this gorgeous, chaotic, scary, thrilling, heartbreaking life. I get to go hard at things that matter to me, and I'm learning how to do that in a sustainable way. I’m so, so grateful for that.
Oh wow, this is an old friend who hasn’t come up for a while.
The Hermit is about focusing inward, seeking truth and knowledge inside yourself, and following your own light. It’s often solitary, and when it’s about connection it’s about a student-teacher connection.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about connection and loneliness.
In the past, I felt most safe when I was walled off from other people, like The Hermit in their cozy eggshell. I was really isolated and lonely.
After a lot of healing work, I learned to connect to other people in some ways that feel safe and nourishing. I still felt isolated a lot of the time, but the solitude allowed me to develop a really grounded, friendly relationship with myself.
Now I’m connecting on a more intimate level. It’s wonderful and it’s terrifying and it’s hard to process it all. I’m wrestling with a lot of fears and old patterns. It can be hard to stay connected to myself when I’m putting so much energy into connecting with someone else. It can be hard to remember that my sense of self-worth has to come from within or it will always be fragile.
“Remember that no one can answer all of your questions or find your meaning for you.” Slow Holler Tarot
I think this card is reminding me that The Hermit is something I can always access, even in the midst of connection with others. It doesn’t have to be walls or isolation—it can be a small quiet space where I reconnect with my values and my truth and my worthiness. Solitude can be part of connection. It can be a haven.