Reading by the light of the moon: the full moon tarot spread

Before I start — Merry Christmas, everyone! I had a wonderful day yesterday; I spent it with my grandparents as well as my tante, the animal-loving media studies professor who gave me the tarot deck that started it all. (Technically I bought the Rider Waite-Smith deck in Singapore years before, but I made my first reading with the Introduction to Tarot kit she gave me a couple of Christmases ago.) I hope yours went wonderfully too!

While the full moon reveals itself every month, last night’s full moon was the first to coincide with Christmas Day since 1977, which makes it especially meaningful! And as Beth has said,

This [the full moon] isn’t about being super proactive — the full moon is a time for reflection, rather than starting new things.

The new moon, where all we see in the night sky is a blank canvas ready to wax…that is the time for beginnings, plannings, new starts and proactivity. So this spread is for the ‘interim report’, half way between one new moon and the next.

Which is why, as the moon reached its fullest at approximately seven in the evening, I prepared a spread that’s fascinated me for a while: the full moon tarot spread.

Continue reading “Reading by the light of the moon: the full moon tarot spread”


The burden of productivity: The Ten of Wands

It looks like I’ve been on a roll in getting cards I’ve drawn before during my Daily Draw — first the Three of Cups, then the Ten of Pentacles, and now this? But drawing cards you’ve used before means that now you can really look at them and think about what they mean, without the influences of surrounding cards.


The Ten of Wands shows a page — or a young man, anyway — approaching the center of town. He’s hunched over, carrying ten wands, all in bloom, in his arms — and they’re so long and heavy that it’s taking all he has to carry them. And the thing is, he can’t even see! He’s too busy carrying the wands to see where he’s going. Perhaps he can’t even peek through them to notice that he’s going too far.

My gut feel is that the Ten of Wands represents being in a creative situation but feeling stuck precisely because of how many choices they are. Too much freedom for you to execute a plan means the onus is on you, after all; if you can’t get it right you have no one to blame but yourself!

It’s like a client coming into a meeting before a major pitch, giving you the most basic brief, then setting you free. On one hand: Unbridled creativity! The chance to try new forms of media! Experimentation with form and tone of voice! But also — if you miss the mark, you miss completely. And they’ll shake their head at your presentation, see you out, and once you return you’ll sigh and plunk your head on your desk, defeated.

The Ten of Wands’ keywords are overextending, burdens, and struggle. You might be working too hard on one project — too much responsibility on your shoulders, whether you volunteered or not — or you might simply be putting all your focus on your job, to the point that you see yourself as your job, that you introduce yourself, “Hi, I’m Vera, and I work in advertising.” I’m guilty of that, personally; I do it mostly because I’m proud, but it isn’t good to define yourself solely by your contributions to the workforce, or to only be able to talk about work when you see someone again for the first time. They don’t want to know about your workplace. They want to know how you are. And that means everything about you.

The Ten of Wands means that life will be more difficult for a while — but you can’t go on that way forever. Be kind to yourself. You need to rest, not because you need to perform at your best, but because you need it. Don’t let life push you around. Put those Wands down, take a rest, then stretch and pick them up again. But only one at a time. Or put them in a knapsack and compartmentalize. Because you’re more than what you do. You always have been.

Daily draw for December 25, Friday (Christmas Day!), drawn at 7:15AM.

We’ve made it: The Ten of Pentacles

See the resemblance? Cate Blanchett as Carol Aird in Carol (2015)

When I see the Ten of Pentacles, I think of Carol. Blonde hair, long neck, red robes, a husband and child in her orbit — she’s confident, self-possessed, and aware of her stature in life. In the card, standing in the middle of the marketplace, she looks at her husband, but you can’t tell if she’s smiling — is it a Mona Lisa smile, perhaps? Meanwhile, a white dog with a collar is being petted by the child, while a collarless white dog sits obediently next to an old man in colored robes.

The Ten of Pentacles is about material wealth — finally achieving your dreams and feeling content, fulfilled, and comfortable.

It represents being stable enough to have others relying on you, whether they be your parents, grandparents, or children, and being able to look back with satisfaction at all you’ve achieved.

Fat cats are rarely radicals; they love tradition and the tried-and-true.

Bunning calls the Ten of Pentacles the “fat cat” card because of the “aura of prosperity that surrounds wealthy men and women” — and as a side note, they are often those who have benefited from the status quo. As she points out, “Fat cats are rarely radicals; they love tradition and the tried-and-true,” and most of the time that is the case; trailblazing entrepreneurs often become successful precisely because they work within an established system.

If you’re on the other side of the fence — or of the gate above them, i.e., not having reached this state of having all you need — now is the time to think long-term to reach the comfort of the Ten of Pentacles. Because you can be the fat cat. You just have to work for it a bit.

P.S. I know the plot of Carol is precisely that she’s unhappy, despite all her wealth and her “secure” family situation, but that’s a reading for another time. Ten of Pentacles in reverse, perhaps?

Daily draw for December 24, 2015, Thursday, drawn at 9:00AM.

The warm embrace of the Three of Cups

When you’re learning tarot, one of the most useful things to do is to do a daily draw. Every day, shuffle and cut your deck, draw one card — just one — and get to know it.

While I was looking for a guide post — What exactly does the usual daily draw look like, anyway? — I clicked on Beth’s Three of Cups post (and another one!), smiled at the familiarity of it, and shuffled my deck. With the sounds of a babbling brook in the background, I breathed, drew a card, and saw — the Three of Cups. Was it coincidence, fate, of the magic of the Cups at work?



The Three of Cups shows three women in flowing robes: one in pure red, the other in pure white, the last a mix of the two, with a red dress and white skirts, dancing, three Cups held aloft between them. At their feet are fruits and vines — pumpkins, grapes, thin leaves — suggesting autumn, or harvest season. In the far-off distance is the uncolored outline of a bare tree.

The card seems to talk about joy and celebration with the people closest to you, as well as the arrival of good things. When I checked with Bunning, I learned that true enough, the Three of Cups is about exuberance, friendship, and the spirit of community. And of the three cards in the tarot that focus on the group, the Three of Cups focuses on emotions (and therefore also refers to psychological or emotional support, including counseling).

When you see the Three of Cups, examine the relationships within a group, reach out to give or receive help, and work to strengthen relationships and find joy in them.

This card popped up in my reading with Kayleigh Jean, and like for the other cards, she made me describe it as if she’d never seen it before. And as I did, I smiled — seeing cards with women on them makes them seem so much more approachable, more applicable, and it became the first of three: the Three of Cups, the Queen of Cups, and Strength! (It’s one of the reasons, in fact, that I want my next active deck to be non-gender related, like the absolutely gorgeous The Wild Unknown Tarot, or female-oriented, like The Dreaming Way Tarot.)

There’s something about the friendship of women that gives you strength in the darkest days as well. Like the Queen of Cups, the Three of Cups brings me comfort and hope, and I hope to see it more often in the future!

Daily draw for December 21, 2015, Monday, read at 6:00AM.

Questioning the constant

I know that the only thing constant is change, but I don’t want change. I want what is.

Today I’m going to write about a boy.

He isn’t just any boy, unfortunately. Nor is he someone I’m interested in. He’s a close friend, and just a friend, but recently, after years of being teased about being together and just laughing (because of what feels like compulsory heterosexuality, but that’s a whole other story), I’ve been worried that he likes me (forgive the implausibility and the fact that I’m assuming). And the thought of it fills me with dread.

Earlier this evening he sent me a message, asking if I wanted to talk on Skype, and immediately my thoughts went into overdrive: Why? Since the time we argued at a mall a few months back — when he insisted on talking about something I didn’t want to discuss, I lost my temper, and all my senses screamed at me to just leave and not talk to him anymore because he’d breached boundaries and that was not right — every opportunity he’s taken to say hello to me makes me nervous. Not that I’ve acted on it besides avoiding him when possible. But I’ve been off-kilter, and he notices, but he doesn’t know it’s about him.

Anyway, once I calmed down a bit, I settled down, put on some Shakuhachi Water Meditation music, shuffled my Waite-Smith deck, and rolled out a Consequences spread. The question, phrased awkwardly but still so familiar (like the time in college when he’d questioned my becoming more “masculine” and “aggressive” after taking up a sport because he’d missed my preppy girliness, and I’d taken it to heart and gone to a counselor to ask what was wrong with me and my short hair, even when I knew deep inside that nothing was wrong, I was perfectly fine, just not to him):

What is bothering me about this situation?

I know it’s phrased terribly, a few words away from asking myself why I don’t like him, why I can’t just let things progress and see where they go — the Cool Girl thing to do, you know? The “right” thing to do in an American-influenced society that cries about friendzoning and girls having all the power to reject well-meaning Nice Guys.

But that’s not what I mean to do. Tarot isn’t predictive or divinatory, not to me; it just helps unearth answers from deep within you, or the person being read. I can’t read what others think, just what I feel about what they may think. So the question is focused inward, because the answer is supposed to be within me, after all.

Continue reading “Questioning the constant”

Listening to the cards: An interview with the Waite-Smith deck

When I woke up this morning and reached for my cards, it took me a moment to realize that I had nothing to ask them.

Yesterday was my day of crisis — or, more accurately, the other day was, and only yesterday did I understand how to deal with it. (I also realize part of the reason I was so cranky may have been that my time of the month had arrived that same day, and god, it’s the most uncomfortable feeling.) Today, however, I woke up feeling, if not refreshed, clear-headed. So what was I supposed to do?

I looked through Beth’s blog posts on spreads to try, looking for something that didn’t require me to have any big question, and found one: a spread for interviewing your deck. I’ve always raised my eyebrows at the idea of interviewing a deck — what does it have to tell you, really? — but considering the fact the Waite-Smith deck is so new, and I’m handling it with kid gloves, maybe this is what I need to make it feel like it’s mine.

The deck interview tarot spread:
1. Tell me about yourself. What is your most important characteristic?
2. What are your strengths as a deck?
3. What are your limits as a deck?
4. What are you here to teach me?
5. How can I best learn and collaborate with you?
6. What is the potential outcome of our working relationship?

Here goes:

Continue reading “Listening to the cards: An interview with the Waite-Smith deck”

It’s a Pentacle kind of Wednesday

Yesterday I realized that I hadn’t seen much of the Pentacles in my past readings, if at all. When I did my very first readings for J and M the other night, with the simple Past – Present – Future spread, their cards overflowed with Cups, J’s especially; M’s had Swords as well. I didn’t trust mine, but for the most part, my readings are full of Cups, which seem to signify relationships and family. Swords have to do with business, finance.

Today I woke up to the sound of rain and one of the coldest mornings I’d felt in a while, and immediately sat up to start what I hope will become a habit: one tarot reading a day. I tried Beth Maiden’s simple self-reading spread: three cards placed face-up, nothing fancy. And Pentacles showed up in every position, which surprised me — especially since it was my first time using the Rider-Waite deck, which I’d opened just the night before!

(L-R) Nine of Pentacles, Four of Pentacles, Ten of Pentacles

Interpreting the cards, from the surface

P4SThe Four of Pentacles shows a man — a king, like one in stories about Robin Hood — being weighed down by Pentacles, one on his head, one cradled in his arms, and the other two keeping his feet firmly on the ground. The card deals with wanting to possess and maintaining control; i.e., wanting to be in charge, insisting on your own way, imposing structure. More than that, it’s about blocking change — wanting things to stay normal and safe, resisting the flow (keeping Water back), refusing to see and accept change, and therefore stagnating.

P9SThe Nine of Pentacles shows a graceful lady in robes, gloves, and a coiffed hairstyle, walking through a garden with what Waite says is a falcon perched on her left hand. The card represents grace, high-mindedness, civilization, and a love for beauty while Pentacles (or coins) lay on the ground, showing how they are important, or at least ever-present, but not the be-all and end-all of existence.

The Nine of Pentacles represents discipline and self-control. The lady “enjoys her cultured life because she has mastered her baser instincts” — represented, perhaps, by the falcon, which is all instinct and impulse. “Her impulses work for her because they do not rule her. […] Sometimes the Nine of Pentacles suggests that you must show restraint and self-control if you are to achieve your best efforts.” The card lso represents self-reliance; i.e., you must trust yourself to handle the situation correctly and take matters into your own hands, if you want to have a life you truly enjoy.

P10SThe last card, Ten of Pentacles, shows a man, woman, child, and their well-mannered dogs arriving at the marketplace — which is seen in many of the other Pentacles, so the card also talks about “arrival” — and talks about how you want material success to last once you have it. It often stands for convention and maintaining the status quo. But perhaps because of the gate, it also talks about how change is unavoidable. So it’s telling you to concentrate on long-term solutions, working towards lasting solutions, and “making arrangements that will work for you far into the future.”

Interpreting the cards, beneath the surface

Today’s spread was honestly an interesting one, since yesterday I was in the most terrible of moods. I don’t handle spontaneity well; when I expect something to happen, I wait for it, and if something changes, I’m thrown off my game, completely unable to deal with it. And that’s what the Four of Pentacles showed: my always wanting to have the final say on, or at least to have influence over, decisions made, and refusing to budge from them. But insisting on “holding all the cards”, so to speak, means that you’re weighed down by them, unable to move.

The left-hand card, which represents what you need to let go of, was the Nine of Pentacles, and it instantly reminded me of my officemate M, which was the first sign — and the scariest one, to be perfectly honest — that the spread was the right one for me today. The card represented M through and through — from the woman’s long robes to the way she daintily bent her wrist — and for a moment I was horrified, thinking that it meant I’d have to let go of her… which would have made some sort of sense because of my beastly behavior yesterday.

But the Nine of Pentacles — like most Minor Arcana cards — doesn’t always represent a person, even if people are present in the image. It represents letting go of baser instincts, ruling them, and taking control yourself. (Note that this is different from the Four of Pentacles, which says that you take control of everything; the Nine, on the other hand, means that you control only yourself. Don’t let jealousy win, or rule. Let people do what they do; don’t fight against something you can’t control. Don’t let yourself be drowned by jealousy. Focus on what’s higher — what’s more important — whether it be spirituality, arts and beauty, or just a goal you have.)

The last card, signifying advice, was the Ten of Pentacles. It’s a card that talks about convention and how people who benefit from it can be bound by it, unable to see their way forward. That card represents understanding that things are going to change, and it doesn’t mean that they will right now. But as we near the end of the year — it’s December 16th right now, making us two weeks away from the end of the year — I need to focus not on my office, but on where I want to be next year.

When I returned from the UK, I suddenly became comfortable about where I am. After months of feeling burnt out, or at least close to it, I felt revived, refreshed, and ready to handle anything that came my way. Learning that my officemates suddenly understood how well I worked mollified me; and my pay increase, increased stature, and an unidentified person’s assertion that I should be promoted made me think that I could stay.

But over the past two weeks, I’ve started seeing things I thought were gone — feeling the dissatisfaction rise again, like a wave. Things aren’t bad, but I’m once again finding reasons that I shouldn’t stay. I don’t see a future in a place where my boss doesn’t appreciate me, where I can never take on a leadership position, where I’ll always feel less. And while that may happen in any place, any organization, any school, it feels wrong now. So the time has come for me to focus on what’s ahead.

Today’s spread was so fascinating, and I’m amazed by how it all fits together — how it’s all so timely. I’ve never seen the Pentacles represented so widely, entrenched so firmly, in a spread, which originally made me think that it was wrong, but it fit so well. Earth — worldly possessions, the world I know — weighs me down. It’s time to go beyond.

Reading for December 16, 2015, Wednesday, read at 6:30AM.