Admittedly, I “huh?“-ed when I pulled the Justice card as a part of my self-love tarot spread last week. My question was:
“What is the one kind thing I can do as an act of love for myself?”
Alas, I let them take the lead and braced myself to explore together.
The Justice in the Fifth Spirit Tarot deck is drawn as a bad ass person. I love everything about them from the expression, attitude, the down to the outfit. Did they appear to remind me of my own bad-ass-ness? To bring it out more often as an act of self-love?
I also noticed that on the scale, unlike on other Justice tarot cards I have seen ━ including the classic Rider Waite Smith, the heart weighed more than the feather. (I can’t wait for the guidebook to arrive to read the artist, Maria’s, reasoning behind this).
Are they trying to convey that heart matters more than the mind? Is it asking me to listen more to my heart instead of my mind when it comes to self-love? Or is it reminding me to balance it out since I tend to operate the other way around?
“(it) represents decision and choices. Do you know your worth? settling for far less than you deserve, whether single or committed, is never an option.”
Back to the card I pulled, my attention kept going to the tattoos covering their upper body. Maybe my self-love act can be of getting the evil-eye tattoo on the same part of my body. And that my friends, is what I call wishful thinking.
During a recent tarot reading, the Seven of Swords kept appearing. And every time it did, I sucked my breath grudgingly. As you might have noticed, I had never written about it before because, well, I am kind anxious around it.
Unlike other cards that I am not a fan of, because either I don’t have much understanding of (Temperance) or just not that into (Queen of Pentacles), I am all too familiar with the Seven of Swords.
Especially the young me.
As a teenager living under a strict roof of my traditional Indian parents, I have called upon and emulated the Seven of Swords energy plenty of time. Tricking, not telling the whole truth or just plain lying to manipulating ━ I have done it all ━ just to have a chance of a normal teenager life; like eating pizza with friends, not coming straight home after school or going to a friend’s house over the weekend.
Learning the Seven of Swords as a tarot-loving adult unwillingly brought back all those childhood memories ━ or traumas, depends on how I feel like framing it. Either way, it wasn’t fun; hence I avoid hanging-out with the Seven of Swords.
Back to the reading, I was expecting advice along the “beware of trickers and manipulations” line, but the reader kept saying “strategize” whenever the Seven of Swords popped up.
At the end of the session, I asked why, and she said:
“Because it asks you to strategize. You might have the tools, but you need to know how to use it for your advantage to achieve what you want — kind of like The Magician.”
Seven of Swords is the strategy card
Before then, I had never seen the Seven of Swords in a positive light. Strategize doesn’t seem so bad, does it? Maybe I can work with it to slowly rewrite my childhood stories.
“We are looking for the Four of Wands“, Glenys the tarot reader told me as she laid out the black cloth with numbered boxes painted on it. She went on saying that:
“The Four of Wands is the card that indicates anything house related”.
Back home, after the unfavorable reading, I flipped through the Fifth Spirit Tarot deck on my nightstand to find the Four of Wands card.
It took me a while as the card didn’t resemble the classic Rider Waite Smith. In the RWS the Four of Wands potrayed fancy gown wearing people, garlands, grapes, flowers and a castle in the background.
There was none of it on the Four of Wands card that I was holding. There were no wands. Oil lamps have replaced the wands, surrounding a vintage cooker. Burning fire. A boiling kettle and a sizzling pan on top of it.
Could it be… breakfast food?
The image reminded me of the mornings in the Echuca farmhouse, where I was greeted by a very similar scene in the kitchen — of Fafa making us coffee and breakfast.
This card carries so much more home-ey vibe for me than the classic RWS. After all, I don’t envision a castle when I dream of my nest, but more of being greeted by a warm home-cooked meal.
I put the card on my altar for the day, to attract the new home energy that I wish for.
There will be lots of hazardous moments on the road (The Tower) but I if I manage to overcome those, I will pass the driving test (the Six of Wands) and able to move on with (or level up in) my life (the Eight of Cups).
I need to remove any and all kind of distractions (The Tower – pending work tasks, phone notification, playing old conversation in my head) while driving so that I can pass the driving test (the Six of Wands) and be off to the next adventures (the Eight of Cups).
Long story short, I passed the test. I thanked Loui, the tester and Chris, my driving instructor, who was even happier for me than I myself for passing the test.
I have done it to some in the past, but most of the time I forgot their names once I stopped working with them for a period of time. I am sure if I flip through my old tarot journals I would see some. But for now, let me introduce the latest addition to the team: Stef.
Stef is the Moon Void tarot deck. I name the deck Stef as a homage to its’ creator, a magic practitioner and Brooklyn-based artist, Stefanie Caponi.
While tarot muggles usually fear the Death card (thanks to the pop-culture), some tarot readers find The Hanged Man as one of the most challenging cards, both to read and in reading.
The Hanged Man traditionally drawn as a man being hanged upside-down by one ankle, but he looks calm as if he is doing this by his own choice. The interpretation of it varies from self-sacrifice, waiting, being stuck to contemplation.
At the beginning of my tarot journey, I tended to put a little importance on The Hanged Man. if I pulled it in the mornings as a daily drawing I deemed it as:
“it’s going to be a chill day”
Or if it’s a yes/no question or as the answer to a situational question as:
That’s pretty much it.
Until I learned that The Hanged Man is my birth card.
After sulking why my birth card wasn’t Strength, The Star or even The Tower, I slowly built a connection with The Hanged Man.
I made an effort to understand it. Starting by deliberately spending more time with it to reviewing the same card on different decks.
I have since learned that The Hanged Man is about the liminal space (what a cool term, might make it as a blog name).
The difference though, The Fool is more like taking a deep breath before stepping into the next thing. It’s the space between two things, two actions; sort of like a comma. Meanwhile, The Hanged Man ranged from meditative breaths to being or choosing to be “stuck” in that space for a certain period.
Hence the need to be thread it a bit more mindfully.
I find this interesting, especially relating to it being my birth card because if there is one thing I can’t stand in life, it’s the feeling of being stuck. A situation that I have been avoiding and wriggled-out-from all my life. Being stuck, restrained and controlled is entirely against my nature. Which is why when I realized that Hanged Man could also be a deliberate choice of not to be grounded, it made much more sense to me.
And I could relate to it to a T.
I also learned that The Hanged Man is the most potent tarot card in Shamanism. As the person who looks like he is hanging in our world, essentially is standing in another world. They are also often seen as the meditating Buddha.
Numerical wise, The Hanged Man equates to number three, which is a powerful number in witchcraft and represents growth in the world of tarot.
All these and more learning only grow my fascination with The Hanged Man.
Image-wise my fave depiction of The Hanged Man comes from the Spacious Tarot deck (no surprise there I guess, it’s a favorite deck of mine). In here The Hanged Man has been renamed to The Hanged One — which I appreciate as it’s more of inclusive rep — accompanied by the image of half earth floating in the galaxy seen from the Moon’s vantage point.
In a word, it’s gorgeous.
It also made me wonder whether we all are in a perpetual hanging position, floating in this world.
Being the in-between beings.
It serves a great reminder that we are just passing through this world while paradoxically asking us to hit a pause and enjoy the moment.
I am usually not a redo kind of reader. Nor do I ask the tarot the same question over and over again, expecting a different answer without taking a break and space for things to change or for myself to be able to see it from a different perspective.
I try to find the meaning behind each card that I pull, weaving a story from the image to answer the question that I posed to it. I believe stretching behind the traditional meanings of the card will bring nuance and add depth to my tarot learning. Even if it’s a bad card, I think it might be telling me something good for me to know.
But today, I pulled a card and felt an unexplained lousy feeling when I saw it. So, I pulled a clarifying card just to see what it is that I need to look out for. The clarifying card, although as a stand-alone card, represent celebration when I read it together with the first card, I could only think of one thing.
A triggering memory from the past that I prefer to leave behind. Actually, something I genuinely thought I have left behind.
I tried to push my knee-jerk interpretation aside and think of other possibilities these cards might be telling me. I even tried to interpret it purely based on the images, but I couldn’t shake the first thought that came into my mind.
It lingered around, even after I showered and started work.
This was not how I planned to spend my whole day. I wasn’t going to be triggered by my own tarot deck.
All triggers need to be handled, minimized and weed-out from my life.
So, I took some deep breaths, started shuffling the deck and asked it to show me a different card because I didn’t want to invite that particular energy into my life ever again. That it was no longer my reality; therefore, it can’t exist in my Universe.
It has been my morning routine to pull a tarot card for the day.
This morning, it was the Ten of Wands. I half-expected to pull either this card or the Eight of Pentacles as I had another busy day ahead. But unlike yesterday, where my day was equivalent to the Ten of Swords energy (I didn’t draw the card, it was too chaotic of a day to even connect with the deck), today I was prepared.
I had written down the three most-important-things to tackle at work. I have stocked enough snacks to go through the four meetings and later to fuel me through the overtime. I even prepared a question to ask Clarissa Goenawan, the author of Perfect World of Miwako Sumida, who was going to have a zoom author meet and greet later today. At the same time, I have deferred some of my non-urgent tasks to next week, reducing the tasks on my Todoist app to the lucky number thirteen. And by the time I write this here, I have ticked off running, Indonesian groceries shopping, laundry and some other things from the list, leaving only five more things to either do tonight or to be rescheduled to tomorrow. and I am okay with both.
Ten of Wands is not a delightful card. In the reading, for a yes-no question, this card is the unwanted adjective to the answer. The:
“…but it’s going to be a hard work…”
or another variation of it, crowning it as the “long-sigh” card.
Even when you see the artwork depicting Ten of Wands in the Rider Waite Smith tarot deck, you can almost expect the man to release a long-sigh once he reaches his destination and able to put the ten of wands he has been carrying (albeit in a weird position).
I also let out a long sigh when I saw the Ten of Wands today, but mine was followed by:
“Hello there, old friend!”
As a Virgo sun and rising, I have fully embraced the energy of the Ten of Wands in my life, claiming it as a part of my character. My shadow show self. I knew all I needed to do was to put my warrior queen headband and go through my to-do list.
It was still pitch black dark outside. I had been up for some time. Unable to go back to sleep. This time it wasn’t because I was sick or stressed out. After all, I just had a long weekend. My mind had been filled with random ideas.
Ideas for the day (I should run first before attending my first 9 AM meeting), for the week, month and the end of the year. Faster than those ideas were the ideas on what to write for my NaMeWriMo drafts.
I tried to remember some of these ideas while dismissing the others because the last thing I needed on this garbage of a year is feeling burnt out. Especially, this close to the holiday season. After some more time passed, and it was clear to me that I would not go back to sleep, I sneaked out to the living room.
Once outside, I reached out to my trusty tarot deck — waiting for me on the bookshelf — took a few deep breaths and pulled out a card.
Two of Wands
For me, two of Wands (Aries) carries the energy of contemplation.
The tea-brewing of ideas. I’d need to let it steep first, witness the colour change adding flavours thanks to the heat before sipping it.
All these metaphorical ideas brewing made me crave for an actual hot cup of tea. A perfect company for the cold Melbourne morning (mornings in Melbourne generally tend to be on the cold side no matter what time of the year it may be). On this morning it was Singapore Breakfast tea from T2Tea.
While waiting for my tea, I rummaged through my witchy-drawer where I kept the rest of my tarot decks. I pulled out the Two of Wands from The Light Seer Tarot and This Might Hurt tarot decks to company the first Two of Wands from The Spacious Tarot deck. The card from Rider Waite Smith tarot deck was not required as I have memorized the traditional image.
A man, wearing a red robe, holding a globe in his hand, standing on the fortress, overlooking the sea with two wands standing in between him.
It’s not too different from the This Might Hurt deck, which has my favourite depiction of the Two of Wands. On it, a girl is sitting on her car front, reading the opened map in her hand, there are two different sized wands in between the car.
Though the Two of Wands is often associated with travel (both the globe and the map), today I see it more of the planning stage. The stage of collecting and brewing some of those ideas who came knocking way too early.
I considered waking Fafa up, so he could take a picture of me ‘contemplating’ from the balcony with the sunrise as the background as the image depicted in The Light Seers Tarot deck, but decided to let the man sleep in peace. Also, the sky is too grey to make an Instagram worthy picture.
Instead, I opened the laptop and wrote this in morning silence, while sipping my tea. I must say, among those many 5 AM ideas, writing this experience felt like a good one to follow.