The card for this week is the Ace of Wands, and again it's reversed, showing a lot of blocked energy in terms of focus, drive, and creativity. The things that are blocked in our lives are often the things we most need to unblock and learn. To me, that's why one of the interpretations of Tarot reversals is to pay special attention to the card and bring it into focus in your life.
The deck this week is the Forest Folklore Tarot, a deck by illustrator Kessia Beverley-Smith that draws inspiration from the New Forest in England. All the Wand cards in this deck have the same blonde, dainty fairies as shown in this first card -- which is interesting to me, because I'd have taken that kind of coloring for an Air fairy, and I've seen horses used to represent Earth. Associations are often so subjective, which can sometimes make them hard to navigate when you're using them to perform magick, or even to inspire you personally. But they can also lead to some really cool outside-the-box thinking.
Because I look at that image and I see a very powerful, spirited, free animal standing as a backdrop over the very beginning of the Wands cycle, a small light of inspiration and spirit that will soon grow and increase. I'm going to be starting a group read of The Fire Starter Sessions soon, and I'm really excited to see what changes it creates in my life and my business. I do have dreams and visions for my life, visions I want to create - but it's so easy to get our way blocked by the fear and the overwhelming choices. We don't know how to just keep moving forward in a continued exercise in growth.
But the beauty of the Ace is that it'll soon expand into two, three, four wands crafting the foundations of active and inspired life. The trick is to keep that spark ignited, to keep moving forward and not be crushed by the overwhelm of it all. I had something told to me in a dream once, that I've kept with me forever since:
"Don't worry about where you are right now. Just keep going."
When talking to a friend about some tough memories, she said something to me that I have the feeling is going to stick with me a long time.
"What's the story you're telling behind that?"
We all have stories, she explained. Not the stories that really happened, the ones that are actually a part of our history. But the stories we tell ourselves, the ones that come up in our memories and play tricks on us.
"I wasn't good enough, so I failed."
"Their lives are perfect; I wish I was like them."
"I ruined everything, and now they hate me."
Maybe, as an anxious or sensitive person, you actually say it in those words. Maybe you don't realize that's the way you see it, but you might as well be saying it in the back of your mind. Our lives go through a filter, where we see the circumstances as a play - and the ending is whatever we decide to believe about ourselves. And often, the impressions we leave are strong and can be unforgiving.
Look back over the stories you tell yourself, and find one that stands out as an old regret. Then rewrite it. Pick out the parts where you did well, and the parts where you could have done better. Then rewrite the ending. Create the final act where you release your pain, climb the next hurdle, prove yourself and believe you deserve it.
You're already writing your story. Empowerment just means consciously creating a new chapter.
"Absolute power corrupts absolutely."
"The power of man has grown in every sphere, except over himself."
"If you want to test the mettle of a man, give him power."
When you're trying to grow anything of your own - confidence, creativity, self-love or self-discipline - power eventually comes up. What has power over you? What do you have power over, and what should you be able to control?
We're taught, probably for a good reason, to be afraid of having too much power over the world around us. After all, will we really know how to use it wisely? Will we wind up becoming one more person in a long line of bullies, acting only in our self-interests? Or are there institutions that have had power over us for too long, and is this the only way to make a stand?
The Tarot has a lot of cards about power, and in writing my upcoming course, I was surprised at how much crossover there was in just the first six. There's the Magician, who is a magical student, adept, or a stage magician and a shyster depending on who you ask. There's the Emperor, a ruler of men, and the Heirophant, a ruler of our traditions and institutions.
That's to say nothing of the cards that come later, such as the Chariot and Strength, who in many decks come right after each other. To me that's the story of "hard control" vs "soft control", of the times you have to take life by the reins and steer, the times you have to gently tame your inner beasts and demons. It's the Chariot I decided to put up as an illustration for just that reason. And wouldn't you know, my randomizer selected the Lunatic Tarot by Evan Yi Feng. It's one of the first decks I've ever seen where the charioteer isn't pulling horses, or a dark and light Sphinx, but instead is in command of human beings. That's scary - but the beauty of it is when you take a look at that illustration, if it's drawn in your reading, and say "am I exercising control or abuse of a situation?"
There are so many ways to use power, so many ways to define what it even is or where it belongs. That's why to me, power itself isn't a dirty word. We're afraid to call ourselves powerful, to say we have any kind of control. We think it'll make us scary, selfish, or egotistical. But if you don't have power over anything, ultimately it has power over you. You lose any kind of hold you might have over your own life, or the life you want to make for yourself.
"With great power comes great responsibility." And if you don't acknowledge your potential for power, you don't take responsibility for what's happening around you. The beauty of the Major Arcana is that we've been all its figures at one point, or will be someday. We've taken charge or been stuck in tradition, we've fought our problems with gentle grace or by reigning them in. If you don't like the role you see yourself playing, you can understand the part it's playing in your life, and make the choice to transform into another.
And that's the ultimate power over, and responsibility for, your own life. So who will you decide to be today?
Here's one more look at something we're told not to do all the time that, if you go just a little deeper, may help you understand more about the world - and be more uniquely yourself in the process!
Listen to bad advice (but you don't have to take it!)
Here's a little nugget of wisdom I remembered from Anthropology 101: Everything has a purpose.
That doesn't mean it's a good purpose, or a purpose that's going to help everyone. A lot of the time, what helps one group take power leaves another group oppressed and left in the dust. Get-rich-quick schemes leave you with a burst financial bubble, and corrupt politicians break their promises and betray the people who put them in power.
But here's the thing: you know that phrase "follow the money"? Even if there's no money to follow, follow the "why". Someone is benefitting from all this, whether it's for quick money, more followers, or even just to feel good about themselves. And the people who take the bad advice? What are they getting? A sense of security? An outlet for their anger?
Sometimes there's an even bigger picture: what's happening in the lives of these people, the schemers and bullies of the world, that keeps them from stepping up and just putting good ideas in those places? Were they the victims of bad systems once before? Are there bad ideas in place that are keeping them mean or deceitful, because they think that's what the world has to really be like - instead of stepping up and changing their own behavior to something that works?
In the Tarot, the Devil card isn't actually about any real figure. You can believe in the Devil, or you can think he's a mythical figure, but the Devil card is about the things that bind us - often by our own choice. He's the addiction, the defeating self-talk, the bad habits, the mental chains we wear. He's what happens when we start listening to bad advice, instead of listening to our higher selves.
The Devil from the Ceremonial Magick Tarot, by Lon Duquette, is a great illustration of this. Even if you don't know much about ceremonial magick (and I'm still learning myself!), take look at the crows on either side of his face. They remind me a lot of double talk, and negative self-talk, and all the chatter in our lives from all angles. We may be smart enough to discount it, but we don't really think about what to do instead.
So use this exercise for yourself. You know the things you tell yourself late at night? The stuff that the musical 'title of show' so brilliantly calls the "vampires", the soul-sucking fear you're not good or creative or brave enough? Don't take that advice, but look at it for a second.
Where is it coming from? If you follow it, what will it help? Will it make you feel safer? More comfortable? Once you find out why you're telling yourself to just quit and go home, you can burst through the block with the good advice - the source of truth.
Don't take the bad advice. Don't even take it to heart. But if you look at all the bad advice out there, you'll get a lot closer to the good advice that will serve you well. Deep down, you know the difference.
Welcome to the second incarnation of Lunar Looking-Glass, my spot for Tarot, spirituality, and whatever else catches my fancy. I'm a big fan of comparing Tarot decks; I have quite a few scanned ones, and even more that I like to scout out on the web (which I will always credit properly, and remove if anyone takes issue with me showing off their work). So be prepared for a few pretty pictures along with my musings! Today's is from the Era of Aquarius Tarot, by Marina Bolgarchuk, a Russian deck that's apparently a bit of a tough find.
I can't think of a better way to start things off than The Fool. The Major Arcana are said to be the Fool's Journey, after all, a young man or woman (or neither, or both, or whatever your gender identity) setting out and encountering the different characters and ideas of the Tarot as he-or-she evolves and grows. We're the Fool, the idea goes. We enter our journey with the cards looking to improve ourselves, whether that's communion with God/dess or enlightenment or just becoming the best human beings we can possibly be.
And if you want to get into more esoteric thought (which I'm just now scratching the surface of!), the Fool is numbered '0' because s/he's everything and nothing. S/he can be anywhere on the journey of the Major Arcana, taking in anything, becoming anything, learning any lesson. S/he's pure, untapped potential. S/he's the "pattern" in Richard Bach's One, a massive field of choices where you can land anywhere.
The thing is? It isn't until you get there that you realize how that's freaking scary.
It's so easy to have a plan. We're given one from the beginning, aren't we? At least in the First World nations, you're a kid, you go to school, you grow up. You graduate high school, quite possibly go to college, you choose "what you want to be when you grow up." No one tells you that you'll change your major a few times, or your career at least once as you grow up. No one tells you that your relationships will shift, your interests will get more diverse, your worldview is going to grow and change. One of my favorite musicals is Avenue Q, a foul-mouthed adult take on Sesame Street for twenty-somethings. And the biggest life lesson they close with, after the true nature of the Internet and how charity is a great cure for the blues, is that "everything in life is only for now." The good, the bad, the ugly - it's all changing, forever. No wonder the Fool's optimism and penchant for taking chances is sometimes called, well, "foolhardy." How can anyone feel ready to face the world when it can always shift into something you never planned for?
Well, I was once told something during a rough patch that I think sums it up perfectly. "You're scared right now because you're in the middle of it. But if you imagine hovering above it for a minute, and looking ten years into the future, you'll see how this point in life led you to then. You'll see the bigger picture of it, and it'll look so much smaller then."
If the Fool is everything and nothing, that means s/he's the mastery of the Magician and the self-bondage of the Devil. S/he's the consequences of Justice and the hope of the Star. S/he's everything in the World, and s/he's herself right back at the beginning again. The journey is the destination. Every moment of our lives, we're learning more about everything, and that makes us more us.
And that's still freaking scary. But it's scary awesome.