78 Notes to Self: A Tarot Journal

We are all wanderers on this earth. Our hearts are full of wonder, and our souls are deep with dreams.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

Home Sweet Home

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”— Maya Angelou

I did it!  I found a home! It's beautiful and cozy and sweet and happy and it's just the sort of house I imagined for myself.  It was built by the seller's grandfather in the 40's. He owned a sawmill that made doors. So he used his "extras" from unclaimed door orders in his own house.  No two doors/door-frames are the same size. He used red oak for the floor throughout the house, even in the kitchen. The baseboards and moldings are generous with deep windowsills, stained to match the floors. I have a vestibule (!) with windowed doors. The house has a rather unremarkable exterior, but inside it's an adorable cottage with bright yellow kitchen cabinets that line the length of the large kitchen. We moved in June and couldn't be happier with our new home.  At last, I am home.


1JJ Swiss Tarot Created by Stuart Kaplan
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - AGM-Urania 1970

The "Congrats! You did it" card in tarot is The World. As I wrote in "The Spiral World" the World card is about those times on our journey when we overcome obstacles, complete an objective successfully and feel joy, freedom and a sense of accomplishment.  But with every accomplishment is a new beginning, a new level, a new set of challenges to face. As a homeowner, I am responsible for repairs, improvements, maintenance, insurance, trash pickup, and all that comes with having a home of one's own.  There's a learning experience almost weekly here but I'm welcoming even the hard stuff.

Tarot of Dürer
Created by Giacinto Gaudenzi Published by Lo Scarabeo

It begins as this 4 of Wands from the Tarot of Durer, a dream on a foundation. The woman's expression in this card is hilarious.  She's all "Yeah, yeah, whatever. We've got four poles and a lion skin rug. This is not a house. Let me close my eyes to try and imagine because this ain't it." It reminds me of the many houses we toured and tried to envision as our own but which were inadequate and in need of work beyond our means. 

Housewives Tarot Created by Paul Kepple
Tarot Deck - 78 Cards - Quirk Books

It ends in 4 of Wands moments like this one from The Housewives Tarot.  Moments of bliss like the housewarming party when my family brought laughter and love and blessed my home with appreciation and most of all, their presence.  Friends hanging out on the back porch into the night, lit only by a garden torch and the glow of cigarettes.  Crockpot buffets, friends sitting at the kitchen table creating their own culinary delights to share, all of us smooshed together on the living room sofa and loveseat.  Hauling the extra chairs in from the kitchen so we can all be together in one room. Scooting past laughing people in my kitchen to reach the refrigerator to get someone a beer.  It is nothing short of delightful.

Also delightful are the quiet starry skies I find myself drinking in while sitting on my back porch by myself.  How starved I had been for outside space while  living our apartment life! We didn't have even a balcony there. I'm dotted with mosquito bites but I am undeterred from watching the fireflies dance and rise from the grass in my back yard.  As the evenings chill I am to be found wrapped in a quilt on the porch enjoying the outside until inevitably the cold forces me back inside.

When Habitat for Humanity -- a non-profit that builds homes for people and families in need of a decent and affordable home -- asked Habitat homeowners "What does home mean to you?" the most often repeated word I noticed among the answers was "stability."  Fours in tarot mean exactly that. The 4 of Wands stability is unique because of the fire element in the Wands suit. Fire, by nature, must be continuously fed to produce heat, light, energy.  Likewise, the stability of a home must be continuously nourished with the ongoing process of homekeeping -- everything from maintenance and repairs, decorating and landscaping to entertaining and making memories with friends and family.

Wands symbolize the energetic force behind creativity and bringing things dreamed into being.  Our homes are rich with personal investment and expression. One might think a house should be represented by the suit of Pentacles, made of earthly substance such as wood and stone. But houses are more than that. They shelter us and speak of our identity. They offer warmth and safety, but also frustration and grief.  They serve as a place where we are safe to pursue and express our creativity, devote our energies, and nurture the soul as well as the body.  How very Wands-like.

I'll close this with a song that kept me going through the long and arduous search.  Enjoy.

Machine Gun Kelly, X Ambassadors, Bebe Rexha
Atlantic Records
from Bright the Album

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Necessary Revival

I've been tossing stuff in the apartment complex dumpster more than usual lately.  See, I'm in the process of house hunting and I'd rather not take anything with us to the new house that we don't need or want anymore.  While the search for a proper and affordable home is taking much longer than I anticipated, it has granted me enough time to de-clutter and reorganize the pantry, the bathroom cabinets, the walk-in closet, my dresser drawers, and the laundry closet.  So far.  There's always more. The process has been at times difficult, not because I cling to my stuff but because I realized in mid-purge that I haven't truly claimed this space in which I have been living for the last ten years.

Subconsciously, I viewed this apartment as temporary and didn't invest myself or care as much for it as I had when I lived in my own home. Not that anyone else could tell. No one who has visited me here would think that the place wasn't "mine."  It, like every other space I've ever lived in, reflects my personality and very much looks like home. When I left my old life to make a new one, I naturally brought my stuff with me -- my furniture, my art, my books.  I realize now that many of those things symbolically tied me to my old life and to the old me.  Some items never quite fit right in this new space and always reminded me where they used to be, the spaces they were meant to fill, spaces that were no longer mine.

I have a nagging sense that one of the reasons it has taken so long to find a new home is that I had yet to completely let go of my old one.  I haven't lived there in ten years, but I've missed it so much.  My ex-husband Steve and I had the good fortune to customize the home as it was built, and I was able to choose so much about the space in which we lived and raised our children. Our children are grown now. Only one still lives at home, but he is in college and is looking toward a near future independence.  Steve remarried last year. That's probably significant, but not as significant as the fact that because he did I am no longer welcome in the home I built. His new wife is "uncomfortable" with me visiting. Despite ten years of a close, co-parenting friendship shared with my ex-husband, and despite that I am happily ensconced in a solid and committed relationship with Mike, despite that I still have belongings stored in that home, I am persona non grata in his new life. For that, I am hurt.  I have a very compelling and irrational desire to scoop up all of my stuff out of that house, including the wallpaper, the floors, the jacuzzi tub, the stained glass window at the stair landing, and my son -- who would not be scooped -- and close the door to that house forever.  I want to raze it to the ground. I don't want any pieces of me left there, but there is no helping that.  I played a huge part in creating and maintaining that house, that home. I blessed it with my self and now I must truly let it go. It's time.  And it's hard.

It's rather like shedding a skin, a kind of arduous renewal.  Like the Judgement card in tarot.  There's nothing left in the past but ghosts, fond memories, and regret. Now, I am replacing the art on my walls with new perspective.  I've tossed books in the dumpster, yes I did.  (Don't judge me! I needed to do it.) I'm heeding the internal call to rise up and leave my old self in the grave. Meanwhile, I bought new pillows for the sofa and a new quilt for the bed.  The outer is giving voice to the inner, one that speaks of fresh starts even as I stay, for now, in the same space. Feeling accomplished as I admire the organized pantry, the clean (empty!) spaces in my closets, and feeling lighter each time I toss another bag or box into the dumpster, I am moving ever so steadily out of the past me and into the future me.

This is precisely the sort of experience the Judgement card is referencing.  In the Druid Craft tarot the artists renamed it "Rebirth" which places the focus more on the result of the process whereas "Judgement" places the focus on the process itself.

Druid Craft Tarot

noun: judgement
the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.

Judgement is discernment and choosing. As I sift through my home spaces, I must discern the current value of the thing in my hand. Things that once held value but are no longer useful to me are removed, tossed, or donated to others who may find value in them.  It requires objectivity and wisdom. The Judgement card is also about completing a major life cycle and is a time when one frees oneself from the past and its longstanding thought-patterns and behaviors that are no longer serving you and are, in fact, dragging you down, robbing you of energy and preventing progress, just like those clothes that don't fit are silently judging you and hogging up space in the closet. Ultimately, you are your own judge and jury and your own higher calling, so there really is no outside source judging you.  It's all you, baby.  You're in control of the process and the pace. Unlike Death, which is also a kind of metamorphosis, Judgement isn't thrust upon you by chance. Judgement is a choice made consciously and with intent.  I have taken it slowly, one small space at a time, and I have broken up the process with choosing art and other decorative things that bring me pleasure.  It's hard work digging out of a grave, so the breaks are necessary and restorative.

The Illuminated Tarot
I am certainly not purging everything from my home.  I am actually keeping many, if not most of the things.  But I am giving some things new uses and assimilating other things and the rest placed into organized spaces.  So too the life I have lived so far has been rich with experience and lessons.  I am holding on to all that is worthy, both internally and externally.  The process is not a rejection of one's history but an assessment and incorporation of it so that one can put it to new use.  Judgement is also an act of faith.  Every step into the blank page of one's future is done by faith and with hope.  I believe we will find our new home.  I have hope for it. Meanwhile, I am preparing myself to truly own it rather than just occupy space there.