There's a whole field of spiritual and divinatory study called Numerology that goes well beyond the realm of tarot. However, tarot numerology differs in some ways from what has been developed in Numerology numerology. In Tarot, we primarily keep the symbolic meanings of the numbers in mind as a reference to sorting out the meaning of the cards. Understanding these symbolic numerical associations becomes more critical when working with non-scenic pip decks, such as the Marseilles-based decks, where pictured on the card may simply be 4 cups or 7 swords and not much else to go on.
The Major Arcana is numbered 0-21 and the Minor Arcana is numbered 1 (or Ace)-10 in each of the four suits. Each of the Minor numbers are associated with a Major. For example, as we take a look at the Two's in Tarot, they all connect in some way to the Major Arcana II -- The High Priestess. Each number also has a planetary association, so there's some crossover with Astrology here as well.
The number two first and foremost represents dualism which is the existence of two fundamental principles, concepts, things or energies, that are in opposition to each other. It is where thought begins to actually take form. Human minds are geared towards seeing the relationships between two things, usually opposite things. We often express ourselves in this way, using opposing concepts to get at what we mean. We say something is good/bad, light/dark, male/female, sweet/sour. It is said we could not know happiness if not for having experienced its opposite, sadness. So, in that way two's represent that dichotomy of thought that allows coherent expression of the initial idea begun in the Aces.
The planetary association of the number two is the Moon. This is also the heavenly body associated with The High Priestess, Major Arcana II, isn't that nifty? The High Priestess is the feminine energy that acts as mediator between two opposing things. She is all about the duality thing. She is able to find peace in ambivalence, between holding two opposite ideas at once and recognizing that they can both be true. She doesn't live in Either/Or Land, but in the margins, the grey areas, the I-can't-quite-put-my-finger-on-it-but-I-know-it's-true places. Each of the four two's in the Minor Arcana show an aspect of this dualism and mediation between two things.
Because the High Priestess is passive energy, the two's in tarot often show a time of waiting, deciding, balancing, weighing, discerning. There is a time of recognition in the two's, of seeing what is the same and what is different, of comparing and contrasting. The focus of this time depends on the suit designation.
The Two of Swords represents the attempt to reconcile two opposing thoughts or arguments. There are some people who are very black and white in their thinking. They are uncomfortable with the ambivalence and processing that is required to sift through the opposing sides and arguments and simply decide their position based on what they already think and have previously decided. For them, the time spent in the two of swords place is brief. Others spend a long time weighing the arguments, considering the evidence, deliberating, debating, and thinking about how to reconcile the two rather than choose either/or. This also brings up the association of the two's with Justice. In many decks Justice is numbered eleven which, when reduced (1 + 1 = 2 -- ohmygod, there is math involved!) is two. The Two of Swords is more closely associated with Justice because of the imagery of the sword. As Justice also wields a sword, deliberates, balances, and decides, so the Two of Swords represents that decision-making time.
While the two's often show a division between opposing things, they can also show a cooperation and mutuality between two things, people, or ideas. The Two of Cups in particular portrays this aspect of the meaning of the number two very well. The Two of Cups displays the image of a couple in love, but it by no means is limited to this one experience. The Two of Cups represents the merging of emotions. One might say it reconciles opposite emotions and brings them together so rather than compete with one another, they compliment each other. To use the example of the new lovers, the competing emotions of nervousness and comfortableness co-exist in the meeting. Butterflies in the stomach flutter while at the same time you feel drawn to one another. Emotional discomfort plus emotional attraction. Likewise, the image shows two people, often a man and a woman, opposites, merging together and drinking from each others cups. Therefore, the Two of Cups represents the harmonious union of two opposites on an emotional (cups) level.
The Two of Wands is in some ways similar to the Two of Swords in that there is a decision-making process going on, but with Wands the decisions are more action-oriented. The choices are fairly equal but one will yield the best result. The problem is, you can't have it both ways. You have to decide which action or course you will throw your efforts behind else not accomplish anything at all. There is a sense of power in the Two of Wands, of confidence and ability, unlike the Two of Swords which seriously does not want to make the decision but would rather maintain a tenuous peace between opposing arguments. The Two of Wands recognizes, eyes wide open, that the choice must be made and it's just a matter of feeling which one you're more passionate about, which action will yield the best result, which idea has more potential. The friction between them is usually because they're both good ideas but because they are opposing, you only have the resources to achieve one of them.
The Two of Pentacles brings in the aspect of the two that is balance between opposites. Like the Two of Swords, the figure isn't interested so much in choosing between the options but trying to balance them indefinitely. This might be the person juggling two jobs, or full-time work and school. His hands are most definitely full and it's not an easy task to balance these two things, but both are priorities to him so he's giving it his best tap dance to keep both things in the air. Conflicts are a given, but he's confident he can manage them.
However, two's are unstable and tense with polarity. They represent the small beginnings, not accomplishment. They are the time between beginning and taking the first steps to actual creation. Two's are a time when you think a lot, feel a lot, make up your mind, but nothing substantial has yet happened. Also, there's only so long you can remain in that tense state. Burning the candle at both ends, as in the Two of Pentacles, or sitting in the middle of an idealogical fence, as in the Two of Swords, has a rather short duration. The Two of Cups loses its shiny rather quickly as anyone who has fallen in love can attest to, and the eagerness of the go-getter in the Two of Wands won't waste too much time planning because he wants to see his ideas come to fruition.
DruidCraft Tarot By Stephanie Carr-Gomm & Philip Carr-Gomm & Will Worthington Published by Connections 2004Hudes Tarot Deck by Susan Hudes Published by US GamesCopyright 1995Rohrig TarotCopyright Rohrig & Marzana-Fritz, Bluestar CommunicationsVictoria Regina Tarot copyright © 2000 Sarah Ovenall
HH asked --
My question has to do with Tarot. I already read a lot for others as well as myself, but making that transition from amateur to professional is a step I feel I would like to take. So my question is, do I have the talent to be a professional reader?"
HH, the Ten of Cups tells me that you are a person who feels the cards strongly, an intuitive reader who can interpret according to your empathic, intuitive and even psychic nature. Tens are also a transition time, so while you're almost ready to take the leap, you're not quite there yet. I got the sense from this card that you really feel reading professionally is your calling and that it would benefit both you and others emotionally, but for some reason you doubt that you know enough, are well versed in the study aspect of card reading, you know, the swords and pentacles part. Let me confess and assure you, I don't either. I need to learn more about elemental dignities myself and astrological associations, for example. The thing with any profession or area of life: we are always learning. Your intuition is telling you to go for it. You are ready to move to the Ace of Wands and act on this feeling.
Maria wrote --
My question for you is this one: I feel that at the moment my life is stuck, I'm on the cross croads, and I would like to know if there are chances to move on , and to find my way from this ended road?
Well, Maria, the Knight of Swords comes to your rescue. Can you feel the energy of this card? He is one of the faster moving Knights and gets the job done quick. There are ties to cut and with a few well-aimed strikes of his sword, you will find yourself unbound and moving again. Being of the swords suit, this tells me that what is holding you back more than anything else are your thoughts. Your mind is keeping you prisoner and it keeps tying ropes of worry and fear around you. The Knight brings truth to cut through the muddled mind and strike to the heart of the matter. Look at your situaton objectively, as if it were not you. If you were your own friend, what would you see? What would you tell her if you had to tell her the harshest truth? What needs to be cut away? The Knight also says get moving, so make it your mission to clear your thoughts of excess baggage, then act on the truth you see.
HC writes --
Love your blog! Especially the tarot court series you did. My question is about my career - what now? I'm finishing my undergrad education in psychology this year and need to decide which direction to go in within the field of psychology.
Well, the other day the Kings were sharing and today it looks like the Knights have a lot to say. The Knight of Cups recommends active work for you. This isn't a research psychologist, no, this one works with emotions and understands that realm very, very well. Knights in tarot tend to typically be of a youngish age range, adolescents to early twenties, so he may be nudging you in the direction of working with that age group. Alternatively, he may be representing you, if you are in that age bracket yourself, saying that you still have more to discover before you settle on one focus. Knights do tend to experiment a bit and are not quite ready to settle down. I do see individual counseling with this card rather than say, groups or family or even couples. I'd be interested in what you see in this card concerning your leanings and inclinations in your field of study. Art therapy? Music? There are many possibilities as this Knight is expressive and artistic as well.
Removes the colors from our sight.
Red is grey and yellow white,
But we decide which is right.
And which is an illusion?
--Graeme Edge (The Moody Blues)
The Moon. Mother of mysteries, forever linked to dark forces; natural, untamable forces, the feminine, the tides, and unstable currents, moods, and times. The myths surrounding her cannot be shaken loose, though statistics, science and rational thought have debunked the notions that homicide rates, birth rates, menstrual cycles, earthquakes and lunacy are effected by the moon's gravitational pull. Nevermind science and rational thought. What have they to do with the moon anyway? We humans are a funny lot and we will persist in what we feel to be true regardless.
The only one out of my four babies' births I predicted correctly, against the doctor's little wheel-chart thingy which gave a date entirely too early, I calculated by counting lunar cycles. He gave me a due date of November 26 and I sat eating Thanksgiving dinner with the bun still in the oven. I knew, however, that moonwise she was more likely to make her grand entrance sometime around December 5. She hesitated but two days and birthed herself on December 7. So don't get me started on science.
The Moon card in Tarot's Major Arcana is itself mysterious and difficult to navigate and comprehend. Interestingly, the Moon card in the later esoteric decks strongly resembles the Moon in the earlier Marseilles decks. While other decks of the same time period have different iconography, often having to do with Diana, goddess of the moon, or being "moonstruck" either in love or lunacy, the earliest printing of tarot cards show the Moon card pretty much as we see it portrayed in the Rider-Waite-Smith. All feature the Moon front and center, the two towers or buildings in the background and the lobster coming forth from the water in the foreground. The lobster was probably meant to symbolize the Cancer crab. Who knows, maybe crabs aren't abundant in France and Italy? The dogs howling at the moon also appear in the earlier, though not earliest, images. The association of the moon with instinct and wildishness is pretty timeless, pointing out that even domesticated beings have within them untameable forces.
I particularly like the image on the Minchiate Etruria card of an astronomer with a sundial in his lap and in my deck he seems rather upset that he cannot navigate under the moon's faint deceptive light. I've come to associate distressing times with this card, times during which you have no idea which way to go or what to do because all your external information and stimuli is confusing. Fear, too, is associated with this card, as being in that state of confusion is quite frightening and disturbing. Mental illness is sometimes indicated by this card, too. I've had it appear as a warning that someone close will soon be acting a little, or a lot, crazy. It can show up to indicate cycles and phases, so at least you know that if things are a bit looney it is a phase and will pass.
I could get into a rant here about how the ancients associated things dark and negative to the feminine. Yes, why don't I? Hysteria was seen as a woman's ailment, you know. Where do you think the word hysterectomy comes from anyway? The notion that a woman's mysterious, hidden sexual reproductive organs caused all manner of mental disturbances has been prevalent since the Greeks at least, who thought the uterus free floated around inside a woman's body. The very process of reproduction is hidden and it is mysterious, but it isn't a dysfunction. There are still medical doctors today who call pregnancy a "diseased state" fergoshsakes. Because a healthy female body shouldn't get pregnant? No, no, brothers, it's a normal, healthy state. Just because it doesn't happen all the time, round the clock, doesn't mean it's a disease. In fact, a woman's body in some ways is made stronger and healthier the more pregnancies she has, the more babies she has nursed, the fewer periods of menstruation she has had. The estrogen is necessary for her health, her skeletal structure, and yes, her moods. We don't corner the market on moods and at least ours often have a biological basis. While the moon has long been associated with the feminine, it is the divine feminine, the Goddess she represents. If you find her dark, mysterious, and a little freaky, well, it's not like Gods are all even tempered either.
The Moon can indicate moodiness, grouchiness, shifting moods and swings. Mood cycles, emotional upsets, and unpredictable behavior. Like the Moon, though, the source is natural, not unnatural, and not due to any external event but more an organic part of the person. Their own natural tides ebbing and flowing. In relationships it can indicate that a person is strongly drawn to another, subconsciously, irresistably, instinctually, even though that attraction causes them some concern and wariness.
When the Moon comes out in a reading, it comes as a caution. It indicates things aren't necessarily as they appear and you must tread carefully. The light is dim, and what light there is casts shadows of spooks and bugaboos that may or may not really be there. Much can be hidden in that darkness: deception, illusion, and unnavigable paths. It's a signal that you may not be able to rely on what you see, so you'll need to use your other senses, such as your intuitive sense predominently, in order to find your way safely through. Call on the High Priestess for help and with her intuitive guidance, you will be ok.
Image credit: Bad Moon Rising By jachang for the Song Titles 8 contest at Worth1000.com
R wrote --
I am an ardent subscriber to your blog, a Tarot reader myself for the last 25 years or so, and would much appreciate a one card mental health reading...
Like you I suffer from depression and over the last year and half have weaned myself off of anti-depressants so the world looks totally different to me now as I enter a new phase with a much clearer head. So, basically I am looking for guidance on what I can do to boost my healing process :)
Blessings to you and yours."
The Page of Pentacles is the perennial student, the one who digs up practical knowledge he can use. So, I would say, R, that some research is in order. Not just the intellectual kind that increases your store of information and facts in your head, but practical, down-to-earth information and practice you can use. He's a do-it-yourselfer, too. His suit, pentacles, speaks of the body, the physical, and of the earth and all it's produce, so my hunch is that you will be able to increase and boost your healing more through diet and exercise and rather physical means moreso than mental or even spiritual. While all are necessary for holistic mental health, you will need to pay special attention to your physical needs in order to maintain mental equilibrium. On the days you are feeling "off" look to your diet and deficiencies therein, your daily activity level, and soothing yourself with what may seem like physical luxuries but which will yield a much better and healthier state of mind. But do your homework. What works for someone else may not be what works for you.
Espressocup writes --
I am sending you a question for a one card reading at your blog. My question is: What type of full time job will I get next? Or when will I get a full time job? I am job hunting and would like to know what's around the corner. :)"
Ever thought of being a party or event planner or coordinator? The Four of Wands has many possible fields of work associated with it. It can represent a party, moving home, a wedding or shower, or a vacation. Your next full time job could be in the real estate, hospitality, or party/event field. Are you interested in any of these areas of work? If so, I'd keep my eye out for jobs in the field which most interests you. As for timing, wands tend to be sooner rather than later, but 4's tend to put the breaks on things as they're kinda stable. So, you should be employed within the next 4 weeks (rather than 4 days). Let me know how it goes!
KH writes --
If you get this first let me say thank you in advance. The Runes keep telling me that "what is mine will come to me" and the Tarots keep bringing up the Tower, Magician, and Temperance, no matter what I seem to be asking as of late. I must add that I just bought a new deck -The Vampire Tarots- and their meaning for me is different then what I am used to working with. I am very confused as to what the universe is trying to tell me, and I am feeling trapped in my life. I don't know what path I should be on, or what direction I need to be taking. Nothing seems to fulfill me anymore. What am I failing to see?"
KH, it seems that one of the problems is that you are not well versed enough in any one tool you are using in order to gain a clear answer, OR you are consulting too many varied tools and becoming scattered and distracted. The Page of Wands has a hard time focusing on one thing too long and hence he moves about from this to that. He ends up knowing a little about a lot of everything, which is enriching, but he tends to be a dabbler until the next thing catches his fancy. His focus on that wand is telling. The Ace of Wands is like a matchstick that can light a bonfire or burn out quickly, it depends on what you do with it. The advice of the card therefore is to try and find something you can focus on and stick with it. The other side of this card is telling you that if you feel stuck, and clearly you do, do something, take action, go somewhere even if it's not ultimately where you think you will end up, rather than sit and do nothing. One action often leads to another and another and before you know it you are on your way.
That's it for today. More to come.
There's a new channel on the Internet tarot enthusiasts will enjoy. It's called The Tarot Channel and it's the brainchild of Mark McElroy, tarot author of several tarot books, including The Absolute Beginners Guide to Tarot, and author and artist of The Bright Idea Deck.
As Mark announced on the Aeclectic Tarot Forum:
I am one of the "six Tarot-obsessed friends" contributing to the content on The Tarot Channel so come on by and check out all the tarot goodies on this new and exciting site.
Ever dreamed of a cable television channel dedicated exclusively to Tarot?
Until that channel exists, there's TheTarotChannel.com, where six Tarot-obsessed good friends are constantly sharing the latest Tarot news, deck reviews, book reviews, links, videos, audios, how to's, tips, and more!
You can join the discussion, too, by commenting on stories that intrigue or delight you. Disagree with our review of a Tarot deck? Post your own in the comments for that story! Glean an interesting insight from one of our spreads? Tell us about it!
If you love Tarot, you'll love TheTarotChannel.com. Come see us!
Also, there's a new podcast on The Tarot Connection, Episode #26: "Significators & Confessions" A significator is a card selected to represent the querent (or object) of the reading. It is very common to select a significator from the court cards. In this episode, Dena Decastro joins Leisa to explore ways to select a significator. The 78 Notes to Self segment features my Confessions post about breaking tarot rules.
"How can I best approach the fear and the challenge of the upcoming semester in a way that will allow me to do my best for me and for my students?"
Wow, the Kings are out in force tonight. Ah but here we have our sweetie, the King of Cups. He's indicating a stronger emotional bond in the future with your boyfriend, more emotional maturity and expression and commitment. While he will still be apt to be a little flakey, he can't help it, you will see a more mindful change in his demeanor towards you. Don't get me wrong, you may miss that Knight a bit in some ways, as Kings tend to be more settled and less spontaneous, but also more reliable. If I may say that about this King. Yes, yes, I can. He is way more reliable than his Knight, for sure. I might also venture to say that your boyfriend may be looking to have children with you in the future as Kings often represent fathers. You're still going to have to put up with his moods, though, sorry to say. But he will be less apt to blame things on you and more inclined to take responsibility for them himself. All in all a very positive outlook as you both mature within this relationship and take it to the next level.
S writes--"Dear Ginny,
I know there are "rules" about how to properly phrase a question for tarot and I don't know what they are. But I'd like advice about my relationship with my boyfriend. Will it improve? Should I try? Give up, after this long? Anything? Thanks. S. "
You're a gem, S, honestly, you made me smile. You know how I feel about "rules" don't you? Alright, so having said that, I will say that your question is fine. You're actually asking, given the current status of your relationship with your boyfriend, what should you do next? With that in mind I drew:
A miser! Ha! Only kidding. Actually I'm not. Tarot's advice to you is that you may need to stop oversharing, not so much in what you say but in what you're always doing, doing, doing for him. It seems, too, that you may feel afraid of losing your investment here, in that you've spent a long time putting a lot of effort and a lot of your self into this relationship and you are loathe to give it up. The advice of this card is twofold: examine your fears of loss and ask yourself what exactly are you afraid of and what would you actually be losing if you let go? Secondly, the advice of this card says "hold on a little longer." Fours are stable numbers and they ask us to wait a bit, stay still, don't act hastily. Sit tight. Reserve your resources, though. Withdraw the tangible support and active giving you have been doing. You're getting depleted here. Then see what happens.
It's hard to phrase my question. I know there's a huge positive forward push inside me emotionally, but The Hanged Man has nothing on me! I'm sooo hung up, clinging to old stuff even as I'm trying to let go, to "walk my talk" into the new life I've been envisioning and begun to build. Any advice or comments from The Tarot?
As I asked the cards what might "unstick" you I was suprised to see this guy pop up. Two's are not exactly forward movement cards! However, as I looked at this card I realized that what is holding you back are two things:
1. You are allowing the emotional waves to pull you under. This guy has his back to the emotional turbulance and isn't worrying about things he cannot control. He is focused only on what is in his hands.
2. He is enjoying his tasks. He is dancing! While his face shows some concern, it looks like he is more concerned with keeping things balanced and in control than with his surroundings. He doesn't want to drop either pentacle.
So, tarot's advice to you at this moment is to focus more on the present moment. Realize that what you are doing right now is what is important. Not what happened in the past, not what might or might not happen in the future, but right now find the joy in even the mundane tasks you have on your plate, give your focus to being fully here now, and tell your internal critic and emotional pulls and sways to shut up for now. Meditation on being right here, right now, doing what you are doing, and finding and feeling the joy of that moment is key for you. Dance. Listen to music. Live in the only time we truly have: Now.
I have been recently enjoying your blog. Here's my question-How can I best support my youngest son in order to help him develop in a positive way? Thanks.
The Ten of Pentacles speaks of inheritence and family and all the resources one gains from those connections. First, you recognize that your younger son is who he is in part because of the hereditary factors he was born with. The security of family is essential for him, to feel connected to a group in which he feels he belongs. You, too, need to rely on the wisdom and resources of your extended family and community, there is much wealth to be had. See the boy in the card? His hand is on a dog. Does your son have a connection with animals? I would look into this and I wonder if having a pet, especially a dog, or if working with dogs might be helpful. Maybe he could somehow become involved with therapy dogs in some fashion?
My wife and I are at a juncture where we are going to be moving residence and have two very different and far apart locations in mind. We have a couple months during which to make this choice yet are feeling overwhelmed by the magnitude of it, as it will have a very significant effect on our lives. What do we need to focus on in making this decision?
As this is a pentacles card and you are considering a very material decision, it is apt. The woman is benefitting from the work of her own hands. She is stable, secure, and comfortable. The financial aspect of this move is to be primary, I think, to make sure that whichever location you decide upon will not unduly strain your standard of living. You weren't considering a move to Napa Valley, were you? Hehe. The environment, wherever you go, should be able to support growth, both naturally and financially. Were you planning to have children? (Or more children?) The type of growth indicated by the card could mean that or simply personal expansion, creation of wealth and security. The nine of pentacles is one of the few tarot pip cards that predominantly features a woman as the sole figure. This tells me you need to consider where your wife feels and believes she would be happier and feel more comfortable and stable. What will enhance her life, career, and quality of life? Which way is she leaning? That might give you both a clue.
"OK, here's one but it's a really big subject. I'll put it like this. Will I prevail?"
You received the Three of Cups in answer to your question. It is a celebratory scene, so the quick, cursory answer to your question appears to be Yes. The ground is laden with harvest, the grapes, the pumpkin and other produce suggest in the fall you will have reason to celebrate. This appears to be a "first victory" in that it is a three and three's suggest a time of seeing something bear fruit, finally, and yet also suggest there will be challenges yet ahead. I see, also, that you will prevail with the support of others joining with you in spirit and in love. More than anything you need to feel positive about your situation and supported emotionally.
What advice can you give me as to what my next step in life should be.
I pulled the Ten of Wands for your question and the first thing that came to mind is that your next step cannot be made until you finish what you have taken on first. Obviously this card gives a sense of burden and a feeling that you may be unable to finish what you have on your shoulders at the present time, so the advice of this card is to seriously consider if there are other ways to complete the task at hand or should you just press on? The figure's face buried in the ten wands also suggests he is not looking at options but has a rather tunnel vision view of what he needs to do. Ten's are a transition number. They come up at a time between the completion of the nine and the new beginning of the Ace. This tells me that there are loose ends to wrap up before you are ready to move in a different or new direction. Also, being of the wands suit this card suggests actions rather than thought or feelings, so you would be better off not allowing your mind to take you in fifty different directions, but just take care of what lies immediately in front of you and an opportunity will present itself through those actions
Dear Ginny:I'd like to know if my current job is the right kind of job for me (because then I'd take further education in it - and if it isn't I'll try to find a way how to work from home as some sort of therapist).
The King of Cups comes to you with advice, and his advice always comes from the heart. He asks you to both feel and think your way through your dilemma, but with a leaning into your heart. We are always best suited to jobs that we love. He, being a King, also suggests that you may be better off being your own boss, managing things yourself. If furthering your education in your present occupation is something that fulfills you on an emotional level, then yes, gain mastery in that profession. But if therapy is your heart's true desire, and being in control of your time and being on your own is more appealing to your true nature, then that is the path for you. My sense it is the latter, but you fear that option as it is less stable and secure. The King of Cups air element combined with his water element means you would think through the possibilities and be very mindful about what is actually needed for each option before making your decision. It's not exactly a leap of the heart, but a rational decision made because your heart needs fulfillment in your work.
Episode #24 features James Wells speaking about open-ended questions and their value in reading as well as demonstrating how his techniques work with Leisa. Bonnie's Hermit's Journey segment covers symbols and symbolism found in tarot cards and their range of meanings. The 78 Notes To Self segment features my post on the Hierophant, "Hey! Teacher! Leave Those Kids Alone!"
Episode #25 features Yoga instructor Nicole Mohr discussing how she uses an oracle deck as a focus and meditative tool in her classes. Bonnie's Hermit's Journey focuses on two deck reviews, Baroque Bohemian Cats Tarot and Tarot of Dreams. The 78 Notes To Self segment is a continuation of my Tarot Court Series: The Queens.
Much of what they say does make sense. Our conscious mind is but a small portion of our brain and that is the ten or so percent that we are aware of and use on a daily basis. However, most of our actions and reactions are governed by that whole other part: the subconscious. The goal, then, is to reprogram that part, the hidden part. It isn't easy, but it isn't difficult either. It's a process. I've seen what happens when I tap into that part while reading tarot. It's amazing, honestly. When I first looked at a deck of tarot cards, the pictures hardly meant anything to me. Sure, I could see that the Sun looked like a happy card and Death seemed a bit frightening, but it wasn't until I trained my subconscious mind to associate these images with meaning, feeling, experience and began listening to what bubbled up from beneath that the cards actually revealed more than pretty pictures to me.
While I won't go into the theories and teachings here, you can watch the videos for yourself if you're interested, the very first step all the panel members agreed is crucial is to spend time each day reflecting on what you are grateful for in your life, truly appreciating with heartfelt emotion the things that bless you. Tell that to someone in the throes of depression. There are some days that just being alive is not so thrilling. So I began by saying I was grateful for my bed. Yes, my comfy bed which is situated in a nice home with electricity through which I was able to access the internet. And my dog, Sophie, who has been my best friend and comfort and who makes me laugh with her silliness. I then felt grateful that my kids were healthy and safe. On it went until I filled half a page in my journal, prose style, with things I was truly grateful for when at first I could think of nothing.
Associations. It's all about associations. Because as I began to reconnect with more positive feelings, a tarot card image came to mind. The Ten of Cups. Lately I've been looking at this card a bit derisively because, well, let's just say that dream has pretty much died and my jadedness has been projected all over the card. What we often neglect to see with the Ten of Cups is that while it often portrays an emotional fulfillment we all hope to achieve we also know from life's bitter experiences that these moments, like the rainbow often seen in the picture, are transitory. Tens are transitions. They fill the space between the nines of completion and the Aces of beginning. As a minor card, the Ten of Cups is not supposed to represent the be all and end all of emotional peaks. It is but one moment in time and it is supposed to propel you onward, not keep you ensconced in a happy bubble forever. It's not the "happily ever after" card. It's the "happy right now" card.
Then, I thought, but "right now" is all we really have.
My mind then filled with a song. And you know how that is, you have to hear it if only to stop it from playing on repeat in your head. So I hurried over to YouTube to find it and I found a montage version that someone had created that lifted me up, for just a moment anyway, to that truly happy ten of cups place. The song is Israel Kamakawiwo'ole's medley of Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World. You've no doubt heard this song as it has been featured on several movies, television commercials and shows. I 've heard it many times but for some reason I sorely needed to hear it last night.
Somewhere over the rainbow
Way up high
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow
Blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dreamed of
Dreams really do come true
Someday I'll wish upon a star
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney tops thats where you'll find me oh
Somewhere over the rainbow bluebirds fly
And the dream that you dare to,why, oh why can't I?
Well I see trees of green and
Red roses too,
I'll watch them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
Well I see skies of blue and I see clouds of white
And the brightness of day
I like the dark
What a wonderful world
The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people passing by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying, "How do you do?"
They're really saying, I...I love you
I hear babies cry and I watch them grow,
They'll learn much more
Than we'll know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
Someday I'll wish upon a star,
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where trouble melts like lemon drops
High above the chimney top that's where you'll find me
Oh, Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
And the dream that you dare to, why, oh why can't I?
Hudes Tarot Deck by Susan Hudes Published by US Games Copyright 1995
Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World medley by Harold Arlen, E.Y. "Yip" Harburg, George David Weiss, Artist: Israel Kamakawiwo'ole Album: Facing Future 1993 Mountain Apple Music.
Very few people know how to talk to a depressed person who is bent on seeing nothing in life worth doing, including breathing. I do. Because I have lived in that dark, sad place. I can't and don't try to cheer them up, that ain't gonna happen. Well, although I can usually get one friend of mine laughing until she cries (in a good way). That is, unless our depressions coincide and then, well, we just better avoid talking until it has subsided in at least one of us.
I can't always tell if my depression is situational or chemical, or both (probably both). Right now I have a lot going on in my life that would depress anyone. And it's January, my annual depression month. But what I try to remember, and you can believe there are many big chunks of time I can't remember this, is the image of the Fey Tarot Nine of Swords. I find it interesting the artist chose to color this fey red rather than blue. She's in agony, and her aching tears are not reserved. She hurts so much, her arms wrapped around her chest in that universal pose of grief and pain. She's feeling alright. Feeling too much. The sword is poised between her wings, one of which is tattered. She cannot fly. Her head bowed, she cannot see the doorway in front of her which leads to a star-laden sky. Hope shines up those steps, but with only one functioning wing, how will she get up into that starry night? The sword, however, is tethered. It cannot reach her. She is afraid, so very afraid, but it is her fear and pain that paralyze her, not the sword. As real and scary as that sword may be, it isn't touching her. She is free to walk, though maybe not fly, from the perceived danger.
I found it interesting that both the Fey 9 of Swords and the Cosmic Tarot's 9 of Swords both depict a sword either aimed at or piercing the figure's back. In the Cosmic, the sword has actually pierced the young man's back through his chest, through his heart. He is also pictured as lame, just as the fey's one wing is tattered and torn, his leg is pierced with another sword. While the other swords in the air reach their mark or not, he is obviously hurt, in serious pain, and well, totally freaking out. You know that commercial on television, the one that says, "Depression hurts?" Yes, it does. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, socially, it hurts. Swords represent mental activity, communication, and conflict, so these swords are not genuine blades of steel. So often the 9 of Swords is said to represent someone inflicting mental pain on oneself, that the swords are all in his mind, not real. It can represent worry, guilt, anxiety, depression, and all the mental stresses that can plague us. True enough. However, even in the Rider Waite depiction of this card, the swords that are lined up on the wall beside the bed of the upset figure do touch her, at least a few of them do. This tells me that there is good reason for the pain and anguish. That, even though these are not physical wounds, they are actual injuries. It's not all in your head. The suffering is real from real hurts. One can hardly say the guy in the Cosmic is freaking out over nothing.
They say it's not a good time to make major decisions, when you're depressed. And in the Cosmic image the snake, which usually symbolizes wisdom and healing, is baring its fangs. It's as if all conventional wisdom has become hostile and dangerous. That which maybe was meant to heal has hurt. It could be, but I cannot quite tell, that the snake has likewised been pierced by the sword and the anxious, depressed thoughts have nullified wisdom. It's a common symptom of depression to feel a deep, pervading sense of pessimism. When suggestions are made to bring healing, the depressed one will say, "Yeah, I know, I've tried that. It doesn't work." or "I can't." And she isn't lying. She can't. Not now.
This card can represent anything from migraines to PMS to insomnia to depression. Once, a woman asked me when a good time would be for her to approach a very sensitive topic with her boyfriend. The 9 of Swords was in a placement in the spread which indicated the week ahead. I advised her that, due to hormonal upsets along the lines of PMS, she would be better off waiting a week and approaching him when she was more even-keel. Apart from her awe that I was able to tell when her period was due, she agreed that the next week would be a better time. So, this card isn't always indicative of a debilitating condition. It could be you ate too many chalupas and you spend the night battling one-horned devil Dachsands in your dreams. So just because I happen to suffer from intermittant and recurring bouts of depression doesn't mean that's what this card always represents. As a reader, I need to keep my own demons out of the reading.
Yet, if I do sense that this card is pointing out depression, I don't hesitate to say so. Depression can really skew our perceptions and sometimes we don't even notice that we are depressed, especially if it's mild or chronic. So I suggest that maybe the person in question may be depressed which could be affecting their behavior as well as their ability to see the situation clearly. Through dialogue, if the person acknowledges the depression, I also don't hesitate to suggest an appointment with their physician and/or therapist. Tarot's great, but it's not treatment. (And don't anyone go wagging their pointy fingers at me and say, "Physician, heal thyself," ok?)
Anyway, so you might find this card showing up a bit more in the winter months, whether that be January for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere or July in the Southern. Seasonal Affective Disorder is common and can be alleviated by full spectrum light, vitamin therapy, exercise, and good food. I can do those things. It's the other causes I'm having trouble with. Meanwhile, just hand me the tissues and chocolate. I might climb out of my bedroom come spring.
The Fey Tarot Written by Riccardo Minetti, Artwork by Mara Aghem Published by Lo Scarabeo and distributed by Llewellyn Worldwide
The Cosmic Tarot by Norbert Losche Published by Published by US Games 1986
Because we know that how we phrase a question in tarot makes all the difference between a really beneficial reading and one that kinda sucks, the same is true for how we approach our daily lives and goals. Just as a tarot question works better when it is firmly planted in what the querant can do today in order to impact tomorrow, so it is with a positive approach to life. It works, honest it does. I once agonized over losing weight, tried dieting, exercise and not one pound would budge. Disgusted, I threw in the towel. I gave up. I decided life was too damn short to hate my body every day. I shifted my perspective and decided to treat this physical part of myself with kindness and respect. After all, it took me from Point A to Point B every day. It gave me pleasure. It served me well even if I felt there was a bit too much of it hanging around. So I focused on treating it well. I fed it good food, not low fat diet food, but really good food that tasted good, that was prepared with fresh ingredients, that would be most beneficial for the operations that needed to occur inside. I took my body out for walks and stretched its muscles and basically let it enjoy itself. I rid my closet of all the clothes that were too small and which daily accused me of a size I wasn't. I bought myself new lingerie that fit and felt and looked good. I eased my larger frame into new clothes that fit and looked attractive. I nurtured my body and it liked it. Very soon I noticed those new clothes didn't fit anymore. They were too big. I had to buy smaller ones. And I felt lighter and could run again. I enjoyed playing on a playground with my young daughter. I started showing muscles and I liked the way they felt and looked. Over about 3 years time I lost all the weight I had gained and returned to my natural adult weight practically effortlessly.
I say practically effortlessly because it was at times a challenge to direct my thoughts back to the present rather than the future. I became impatient and started focusing on the body size I wanted to be instead of appreciating the body I had right then. Whenever my mind shifted to that kind of thinking, inevitably my weight loss stalled and I sometimes considered doing some very unkind things to my body, like take diet pills for example, or I starved it a little. Frustration would peak and then I would smack my head a couple times and say, "Self, you're being an idiot. Knock it off." And I would, and my body liked it, and I liked my body more and more.
So, why can't we apply the same principles to all other areas of life, too? The more we rail against a condition or circumstance, the less likely it will change for the better. The more we accept and nourish a particular issue or goal or desire, the more likely we will see positive change. See, I have a few challenges in front of me at present and thus far I have seen no progress and I think maybe it's due in part to my attitude. Instead of appreciating and nurturing the good, I have been frustrated and moaning about it, seeing only the hopelessness of it. I'm not quite sure how to feed this issue in a nurturing way, but I know this way isn't working. See, I need a job. A good job. I want to write and I want to get paid for it. I don't have an English or Journalism degree, but I have written for publication before and been paid for it. I get consistently high marks on my English courses and papers. I'm good at it, but I don't have the cred. I also don't want to wait five years before I get that degree. Meanwhile, I still have three kids that need me nearby. They are getting older and as many mothers will agree, the older ones need supervision almost more than younger ones. At this point, my ten year old is more mature than my fifteen year old and exhibits more common sense. I need to pay my bills and I need to raise my kids and I need work that is satisfying. Sure, I could work as an administrative assistant, I've done that in the past, but...well...at this stage in my life, with my accumulated life experience and skills, I was hoping for more. This is a common dilemma for women who have sidetracked their educational goals and career aspirations in order to devote themselves to raising children and creating a nourishing environment for a family. The years tick by and when it's time to get back out there, we find we're underqualified, overage, and decidedly not appreciated for what we have learned and accomplished over the years.
So here I am. It's the New Year. I need to shift my focus, stop complaining, and nurture and nourish my creative writer self in order to see things happen. That's what I'm doing here. But this doesn't pay the bills so I need to ... hmmm... do something.