Sometimes life hits you with a backhanded slap on the first day of work. You know the type — you start the day ready to face whatever the client will throw at you, get through your first few job orders, then you receive an email with the subject line URGENT EVALUATION REQUEST. You click, and the message appears: “Hi, Vera. I need you to urgently complete this evaluation and send it back to me by Friday…”
For your mentee.
Because they want him gone.
It’s only Tuesday but it feels like a whirlwind of a week. Not that this issue has taken up the entirety of the past few days — and honestly, I’ve known it was coming — but, well, it’s been a lot for him to take in. He feels heavy and discouraged and I don’t blame him at all. But I keep telling him that it isn’t the end of the world, that life goes on. Which is what the advice I got from the Wheel of Fortune card I drew when consulting the tarot yesterday.
Considering this — and the fact that I’ve spent tonight and last night talking him through this event — I guess it isn’t a surprise that I’ve been saving my energy for the world offline. For the past two days, I’ve awoken, taken a bath, meditated and journaled my Daily Draw while air-drying my hair, then headed off to change and drive to work. I guess it makes learning the tarot more personal. A part of my Quiet Time, as it should be. But it’s become more solitary, too.
He’s handing in his resignation notice tomorrow. I’m just thinking out loud. I’ll probably listen to Kayleigh’s Pisces 2016 tarot forecast and head to bed. G’night. x
When your year card for 2016 is Death, there’s no need for an introduction.
I shouldn’t be afraid of Death.
I’ve read so much about how drawing Death, the thirteenth card of the Major Arcana, doesn’t mean a physical death. How it’s practically a truism in tarot circles — how only irresponsible readers will lay on the gloom and doom for a client when Death appears in all his (her?) finery.
But when I calculated my year card for 2016, looked through my deck for the Major Arcana card numbered XIII, and realized it was Death — well.
You don’t see a skeleton in armor, the bodies of dead men trampled beneath its horse’s feet, and think, “Yes, I was hoping to get this card!”
Let’s be clear: There was no dignity or poise in that moment. For a good few moments I felt cold and couldn’t speak. I held the card loosely in my hand… then, when I realized how shell-shocked I seemed, I started to spew forth a garbled stream of words that I eventually remembered to record using my iPhone’s Recordings app.
I could’ve waited to write about it, I guess. But I needed that stream-of-consciousness monologue to get to the bottom of how I felt. To keep myself from giving in to what I knew was irrational fear. To understand the card intuitively — minus standard interpretations and keywords, just me and my thoughts. And so I talked.
Later that afternoon, I played back the recording, winced in sympathy with the girl with the trembling voice, and transcribed it. And while I could probably come up with something short and streamlined for this blog post… I won’t.
I’m including parts of my transcript here because I want to remember what I was thinking at the time. How I worked through the fact that I’d drawn Death. How I felt about it. And how I realized what I’d have to do to make the most of it.
Earlier this morning, I started looking at blog posts and I saw that people were talking about calculating their year card.
Your year card usually corresponds to a certain card in the Major Arcana. Using numerology, you add the numbers of the day, month, and year you were born, and if you’re calculating a card for the current period [year] you do the same thing. If the number that comes up when you add everything together is between 1 and 22, keep it. If it’s larger, add those two digits together and you’ll get the number of your year card.
My birth card is The Chariot, which is number seven — and that’s a card about change, sometimes perhaps being indecisive, not always knowing where to go, what to do, always feeling like you’re in a state of moving, never feeling like you’re completely happy where you are. But it’s always a card of change, a card of constantly improving yourself, I believe. The Chariot, it’s about movement, it’s about, it’s about, I think about Phoebus, the sun god, [who] would carry the sun around on a chariot and it would rise and set with him. Change, not always good, not always bad, but I think it’s always for the better.
My year card, however, is Death. And I shouldn’t be afraid of death. I’m used to seeing, I’m used to seeing, I’ve read so much about how Death doesn’t always mean a physical death. But when I saw the card I was terrified…
I’m very nervous about seeing the Death card. I will be completely honest, I am very very nervous about it [so] I will talk through it because that’s the kind of person I am. [laughs] I wanna know why I feel so bad about it, why I’m so afraid, besides the fact that it’s Death, of course…
As I describe the card in detail — so grim! Ominous! Dramatic! — I relax somewhat, though my voice is still trembling. Then my voice picks up, more confident:
[O]n the other hand, knowing what I do about the tarot, [Death] isn’t about a physical death. It’s about the death of things you thought you knew. The things you’ve always been used to. The death of convention, of everything you’ve taken for granted.
And it’s a good card. Because what I want this year, really, is to go abroad! I wanna go abroad and change and meet new people. I wanna have the experiences that other people are having, that I’ve wanted for so long. I want to fall in love, after having a life practically devoid of romantic love — I’ve always had love from family, I guess, I’ve had love from friends, but never romantic love, never romantic love I wanted as much as the other person wanted.
So the fact that Death came up for this for me — as you can see my voice is kinda shaking! Because I actually, yes, I am super kaduper nervous. I guess that means things will change completely.
I haven’t been able to write about it in this blog yet, but this year I plan on leaving my job to get a postgraduate degree abroad. It’s been a long time coming, if I’m being honest here; I wanted to study abroad for college, but my parents discouraged me because I was a girl and “too young” to live on my own… right before letting my younger brother fly to California and do exactly what I wanted to do! Thinking about their betrayal makes me see red, even years and years later; I feel the anger rise up within me and make me hate everyone, everything.
While I’ve been working in advertising and things seem to be all right on the surface… I’m not happy.
But I’ve still delayed applying for grad school time and time again.
It’s only now, with this card, that I realize that I’ve been so scared of failing — and of being failed again — that I’ve been subconsciously telling myself, No, you can’t do this, you don’t deserve this. I’ve been playing it safe for years, hoping things will change without my having to risk getting hurt again. Most importantly, I’ve been holding on so tightly to the frustration and resentment that have fueled me for years that I haven’t worked to get myself out of it.
And that stasis, that state of inaction, has harmed me more than I can say.
A time of change and renewal
Death tells me that I shouldn’t do that anymore. If I want change, I have to strip down to the bare bones of who I am and what I need and work for it, others be damned. I shouldn’t be distracted by pretty, petty things; I need to be myself, and see where that and what I’ve learned over the past years can help me get through further studies.
My year card fits in so nicely with my New Year’s reading for myself, where Strength and the Nine of Wands tell me to leave the past behind, and the Two of Cups urges me to deepen connections and and further one-on-one relationships.
And while I haven’t written my daily draw post yet, my year card works perfectly with it as well: Today I drew the Five of Cups in reverse.
So what should I do?
I shouldn’t let the world at work get me down when it isn’t my end goal.
I should let go of what is non-essential and focus on who I am and where I want to be.
And I should be open to change in all its forms.
And I know that all this is easier said than done.
But with such a prominent card watching over me and guiding me — I don’t think I’ll forget it anytime soon. 🙂
There’s something about big turning points in your life that make you want to break out the big tarot spreads. Whether they have five cards or seven or nine, bigger, more specialized spreads seem to have more gravity or meaning. And why would you pass up an opportunity to try a new year’s spread on, well, New Year’s Eve?
I tried that today. I pulled up a new year’s spread, shuffled my cards, and laid them out in a tarot spread I’d recently discovered. But for some reason, they turned out so wrong. Each card was reversed. And while I’d completed a reading like that yesterday — and I do believe such spreads happen for a reason — it felt… different. It was like yesterday’s energy hadn’t disappeared. As if I hadn’t cleansed the deck well enough, and the previous day’s energy had rubbed off on my cards and my reading.
So I breathed, aired the room out, lit a candle, and shuffled the cards again. Shuffled thrice, turned half the deck around, then shuffled four more times to make it seven. I closed my eyes, slowed my breathing, calmed my thoughts, and laid out a simple three-card spread.
And suddenly things made sense again.
As my dogs fell asleep by my side, my mind was on the coming year — how to sweep negativity out the door and regain my focus for what I want to be a year of change. And so my question was:
What should I let into my life, and out of it, this 2016?
YOU AT THIS MOMENT: Strength
You are stronger than you know. I am stronger than I know.
When I joined my agency last year, I was excited and motivated while my then-partner (now-senior copywriter) was burnt out. How that turned itself around in 2015! As the year went on, I became more and more burnt out, constantly wondering why I was doing this thankless job, why I hadn’t quit yet. The only thing I truly looked forward to in the second half of the year was my trip to the United Kingdom — three weeks of awe and wonder that got me through the last two months of the year.
In Strength, the lion represents the year I’ve had. It spoke too loudly and roared too much to make itself heard; it wasn’t devoid of happiness, but it was full of louder, more negative things; and most of all, it wasn’t good to me. As Strength, I close its mouth gently, with finality. Its time is up. It’s said enough.
SOMETHING TO LET GO OF: Nine of Wands
The Nine of Wands shows someone who’s been through a lot — and god, do I know how that feels. But how can you live life constantly looking over your shoulder or talking about the shit you’ve been through?
The Nine of Wands tells me to let go of bitterness, fear, and telling people what to fear. Warning new people of the travails of work may have been one of the most damaging things I’ve done this year. While I meant well, I may have made them fear something that they had the potential to love, all because I hadn’t been able to love it myself. Next year, I need to let people figure things out themselves. After all, it’s their life — and their adventure.
ADVICE: Two of Cups
Last night, while talking with old friends from Australia over the largest glass of sangria I’ve ever seen, I realized that 2015 was my Year of the Hermit — minus any success. For one reason or another, I withdrew from the world, and I can’t even say that I nurtured connections with a select few instead.
The Two of Cups tells me to look for connections in my life in the coming year. To put myself out there, first of all. To be on the lookout for relationships that will last without discounting those that already exist. To be open to the idea of love. And to finally, finally believe I deserve it.
The Year Ahead
On New Year’s Eve every year, I come up with a theme that I want to define the next twelve months. Or at least I did once, when I called 2013 my Year of Exploration. I can’t remember what I came up with for 2014 and 2015, but 2016, I believe, will be the Year of Home.
Home isn’t only where you grew up or where you’ve lived, and family doesn’t end with blood. And this year I want to find new homes — in new places, with new people. I want a place to stay and a place to grow, however painfully. And I saw that in the Two of Cups — in the little house on the hills behind them. It’s small, but it’s theirs.
2016 will be my year. And I hope it’ll be yours, too!
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!
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.
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.
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!
Interpreting the cards, from the surface
The 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.
The 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.
The 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.