dealing the cards like a meditation

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

I have been asking the Oracle questions, because nothing else seems to snap me out of my brooding.

As they say, advice is what you ask for when you already know the answer but wish you didn't.

So the cards actually told me that I just have to let go of the past. Whatever that means. It's a very trite phrase, but when you stop and deconstruct it, what does it really mean? How do you let go of memories and still remember who you are?

Well. I guess it's something I have to find out.

Deep down inside, I know that these memories of what never was are killing me.

The other interesting thing: the Queen of Wands keeps popping up in my reads. I kind of wonder who she is, if she's really a she, if she's even a person.

The thing is, none of the reads really ended happily. There was always a Catch-22 embedded in the final card.

Am I just doomed?

Well, I guess I am. All men are doomed to die. But I dunno.

One thing at a time, right?

Phase I: Letting go of the past. Well get to Phase II when we get there.

Monday, January 05, 2004

In San Diego, before my big test.

This covers me: ace of wands
This crosses me: the tower
This is beneath me: the hermit reversed
This is behind me: the hanged man
This crowns me: 10 of wands
This is before me: 5 of swords
My fears: knight of pentacles
What others think: 6 of wands
My hopes: 8 of pentacles
The final outcome: 5 of wands

This is an ambivalent reading, with some positive cards, and some troubling cards. The ace of wands showcases creative spirit, the drive to begin again. The hermit reversed suggests the end of my lonely existence (although, I suppose, this is still double edged.) The hanged man, whose influence is waning, may represent the problems and dilemmas that have bound me. It may also represent the fact that I have become good at enduring torture. The 10 of wands actually reinforces the idea that I have a horrible martyr complex, a theme that is again reiterated by the knight of pentacles—someone who does his duty even if that is not where his heart truly lies. Because of the particular place I am in my life, the 6 of wands, representing a victorious home coming, is particularly appropriate. Ever more so is the insinuation that this homecoming is mostly for show (as deep inside, the 5 of swords lurks—the lord of defeat, a dark and troubling card.) This card makes me think of Christ's Passion, once again evoking my inescapable martyr complex. The 8 of pentacles represents my hopes perfectly—I want to learn my Art well, I want to gain the peace and steadiness of disciplined, meticulous work. The 5 of wands, while illustrating a conflict, points more to a conflict that allows one to thrive, a fight where one can express his skill in the Art of War without fear of defeat. In other words, the game is rigged in my favor. But the card that troubles me the most is the Tower. This is my least favorite card, and I can't help but read complete and utter disaster in it. Now, not all destruction is an evil. (My local environment informs me well of this: the chapparral only thrives because of the recurrent firestorms that sweep through the mountains.) But it is nevertheless tumultous, and one can never be sure if one will survive it, or end up as one of the unfortunates plummeting to their depths. (This card also evokes memories of September 11.) At the time I did this reading, I wondered whether the Tower represented how well I would do on the test.

Tuesday, December 23, 2003

eep. long time no post. but. a tarot deck featuring sanrio characters. whee!

Monday, September 01, 2003

This covers me: the emperor
This crosses me: ace of swords
This is beneath me: king of swords
This is behind me: page of wands reversed
This crowns me: 4 of pentacles reversed
This is before me: 2 of swords
My fears: 9 of wands
What others think: death
My hopes: ace of pentacles reversed
Final outcome: queen of swords reversed

This reading is incredibly martial, dominated by swords, all beholden to the emperor. The emperor is order, the rule of law, the static hierarchy. The circuitry of a computer chip. Mathematics. Reason triumphing over all. This is the mindset that Einstein exploded. This is a description of the world that the existentialists denied existed. My first impression of the emperor is something that is inflexible, something that resists change. Conservatism.

Such a mindset seems doomed to failure. Even the strongest substance, the most well wrought construction, will break and shatter given enough pressure. When force is applied to the extreme, anything rigid is essentially brittle. Witness the World Trade Center.

But the emperor also represents a father figure, and when I think of my father, he does not conform to the stern patriarchal stereotype. He is indeed stern, but he is anything but rigid. While he is set in his ways, his ways always seem to flow around whatever obstacle comes his way. He has made his way through life by adapting, by thinking quickly, by following hunches instead of taking too long rationalizing principles.

Because, if you believe in biology, specifically, in evolution, you will find that adaptation is the key to life. Being able to change quickly to meet the circumstances. While species before us have had to wait for the cruel hand of natural selection, human beings can interact with our environment in real time: making clothes and building houses to handle the changes of weather, farming and husbandry and storing surpluses, diverting rivers, and to our modern era, of vaccination, transplantation, gene therapy, satellite communication, cel phones, fiber optics. We do not wait for natural forces to shape us. In some cases, we can shape these very forces.

But despite all this, the emperor reminds us that there are rigid rules. The laws of physics are fixed and immutable. Most importantly, we must abide by the fact that energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed, and that disorder ever increases. Locally, this may not be the case, but in the big picture, there is no way to stave this off.

In this way, the emperor is a fatalistic card.

The ace, the king, and the queen of swords all represent the quest for truth, often at the expense of emotion. Truth is like cold, hard steel. It is the stark physical reality embodied by the emperor as explicated above. Truth, cliched as it is, cuts both ways. Truth, very much like the sword, is both a weapon and a defense. The queen of swords, being reversed, is in a more precarious position, though, at times perhaps letting emotion get the best of her. But this is not necessarily a bad thing.

The page of wands reversed makes me think that it could be someone in my life, who is, unfortunately, rooted in the past, receding from my influence. Someone who would help me wander out of the sharp labyrinth of law and regulation outlined by the swords and the emperor, who would teach me how to think outside of the system. There are many possible candidates in my life. But, being reversed, it shows that the page is momentarily stymied by the system, lost in indecision.

The 4 of pentacles brings up the idea of defense, of trying to shut out the world, of trying to clutch at the things close by at the exclusion of things that may come. One pentacle sits on the head, blocking out new thoughts. Two pentacles are on the feet, preventing one from being grounded, in touch with the earth, in touch with reality. One pentacle sits on the heart, blocking out any possibilities of love, of feeling. But reversed, it points to the fact that none of these things can remain in place. (Gravity alone will wrench the pentacles out of position, eventually.)

The 2 of swords is in many ways similar to the 4 of pentacles. It is impossible to pass by the maiden, as swords are cast out across the path. She crosses her arms in front of her, blocking out her heart, akin to the pentacle blocking out the king's heart in the 4 of pentacles. She is blindfolded, unable to see the outside world, relying only on internal stimuli to guide how she should react. But the two swords also connote balance.

The 9 of wands seems to be another card of defense. A man who has not long since seen battle, bandaged across the head, stands warily with a staff in his hand, standing vigil for the coming battle. I fear that I will have to fight my way through how many battles, and in the end, I may very well succumb. Interestingly, perhaps the man in the 9 of wands decided to try to pass through the maiden in the 2 of swords, failing, and earning himself a gash across the head. Is the man resting up for another skirmish, or is he just going to wait warily?

Death is always a frightening card. While I've known for a long time that it almost never means physical death, it does mean transformation. And, change can be painful. (Particularly for the emperor, who seems to dislike change.) Yet change is a reality of our life, in fact, it is dictated by the unchangeable laws of physics, that nothing can ever remain the same. Perhaps death points to some greater reality that overrides the physical world we know, somewhere where the laws are different. Even in the iron-wrought world of the emperor ("The Empire never ended," as Philip K. Dick put it), the Black Iron Prison, there is a possibility for change. (What is that cliche? The only sure think about luck is that it will change.)

The ace of pentacles reversed seems to imply the need to let go. While the pentacle is representative of the earth, of reality, of practicality, it, like the Black Iron Prison, can be limiting. It is perhaps time to look out towards greater horizons. (The endless possibilities are, however, not more than a little frightening. Almost like staring at the sun.)

So the queen of swords reversed, as mentioned above, is in a state of turmoil, trying to hold fast to the principles of reason and being non-emotional, but upside down, like the ace of pentacles and the 4 of pentacles, indicates that this can't possibly hold. That being grounded is all well and good, but you still have to dream.

As Tyler Durden says: "It's only when you've lost everything that you're free to do anything," perhaps riffing off of Janis Joplin: "Freedom is just another word for nothing to lose."

Sunday, August 24, 2003

This covers me: king of wands
This crosses me: knight of swords
This is beneath me: 2 of pentacles
This is behind me: 5 of wands reversed
This crowns me: the fool
This is before me: the tower reversed
My fears: page of cups reversed
What others think: the emperor
My hopes: the empress
Final outcome: 8 of cups

Eep. This totally matches up with the last reading. The tower reversed which is directly in front of me is a harbinger of something calamitous. The knight of swords charging into battle also points to this. The 5 of wands reversed suggests something that started off as a mock battle has become deadly serious (although, truth be known, this could very well point to a different situation in my life, having occurred in the recent past. Soemthing that I thought was just for fun suddenly became serious, much to my dismay.) The 2 of pentacles shows my penchant for trying to juggle things instead of focusing on one thing at a time. (While I am probably more linear than most non-linear thinkers, there is definitely an associative, random-walking component to my mind.)

The one thing that is decidedly positive, though, is the fool. While he stands for a lot of things, the thing that he makes me think of right now is Edward Norton's character in Fight Club, the Narrator. As Tyler Durden put it, it is only when we have lost everything that we are free to do anything. As the Narrator puts it: And then... something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion–dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom. Tyler Durden again: Hitting bottom isn't a weekend retreat! It's not a seminar! You have to forget everything you know, everything you think you know – about life, about friendship, about you and me.

The Fool is numbered zero on the deck, literally nothingness. He is standing at the edge of the cliff, on the brink of disaster, and while, given the typical interpretation of what a fool is, it may look like he is oblivious, I really think he knows what he's doing. Not that he necessarily knows what is at the bottom of that cliff, only that he really does want to be there, and he is happy about being there. (I am forced to bring up the old chestnut, the trite little saying, that in Chinese, the same character represents both "crisis" and "opportunity." Although, I must say, I think this more illustrates the conservative nature of Chinese culture than anything else...)

The tower reversed is interesting. If it were right-side up, it would be pretty dire. It is a lightning strike. The ivory tower falling. Revolution. But, as Rachel Pollack puts it, the catastrophe is also liberating. (How strange, that the tower ultimately complements the fool.) Now, when reversed, it might indicate that I am reluctant to let go. But the other thing, looking at the tower reversed, is the sensation that the hand of God, Fate, whatever you want to call it, seems to be shaking the tower. But notice that, when the picture is upside, the people are falling up.

It is interesting that the Emperor and the Empress are adjacent to each other. The emperor stands for the rules of society, the laws and the customs. In the position it is in, it makes me wonder: is this how people see me, that I only follow the straight and narrow? Or is this how people wish I were? Given my barely submerged longings, I so very want to take the empress literally as a woman, but it can also mean fertility, perhaps even in a metaphoric way when it comes to the creation of art. Now that would be something. The Empress can also be a warning about letting emotion overrule intellect. The Empress is a card of passion, of drive, of yearning. Taken with the Knight of Swords, it seems to warn me of being too impetuous, too rash.

And finally, the 8 of cups. The story it conveys to me is of a traveler, who finds exactly what he is looking for, then realizes that he cannot tarry there, that he must leave it. (Like in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" with regards to the Holy Grail. Like in The Missing Piece by Shel Silverstein. Like in the song "No One is to Blame" by Howard Jones [lyrics].

Again, perhaps I have to seriously come to grips with where I'm at in my life. The trite saying again: how being alone is quite different from being lonely.

There are worse things in life than living in solitude, I suppose. I just wish that it wasn't so uncomfortable. But, then, given my line of work, what I ought to know is that, given enough time, and assuming that it doesn't kill you, a man (or a woman) can get used to anything.

In summary, though, taken with the last reading, what the cards seem to be telling me is, things have changed. Deal with it, then move on. Such is life. There is no use chasing fading dreams, I suppose. Whatever I seek has to be real. Like with the fool, he is seeking only the edge of the cliff, nothing more. He doesn't really care what's beyond the edge, at the bottom. The edge is enough.

We'll do this one day at a time, same as always. I've gotten this far, I can surely go farther.
This covers me: 9 of swords
This crosses me: judgement
This is beneath me: 6 of cups reversed
This is behind me: 7 of cups
This crowns me: knight of pentacles reversed
This is before me: 9 of wands
My fears: temperance
What others think: 5 of pentacles reversed
My hopes: wheel of fortune
Final outcome: queen of cups reversed

i can't get to sleep (notice to time stamp.) it may be all the caffeine. i am definitely jittery. but i can't help feel that I am waiting for something. perhaps something that will never come. i feel like i am waiting for Godot. or at least the sunrise. perhaps that is it.

but i had a gut feeling. i haven't done a reading in a while now because i honestly didn't want to know what might be coming. and, of course, my reading may very well vindicate that feeling.

the wheel of fortune comes in the 9th position. it is a card that seems to indicate great things will be afoot, something that i will have absolutely no control over. it doesn't say anything about whether it will be good or bad, but i have a feeling that the magnitude will be large. (although i feel somewhat protected as there are only 3 major arcana on the table.) ever since i started reading cards again, this is the first time i've gotten this card.

well. they say chance favors the prepared mind.

the 9 of swords is very apt, considering i can't sleep. and yes, there is something hanging over me that i haven't been able to get rid of. this darkness, this depression sticks to me like tar, inky black tar, like the background of this card, and there is an element of the sword of damocles to it. one day it could very well kill me, and i need to take care of it soon.

the interpretation of judgement in rachel pollack's book is really interesting. she gives it a connotation very similar to death, in the sense of transformation. but whereas death is a harbinger of change, judgement marks a change that has already happened. very fitting, i suppose. the imagery of the angel blowing the trumpet harkens to the book of revelation. the seals on the scroll are already broken, and the apocalypse is already underway.

pollack's interpretation of the 6 of cups reversed is kind of an interesting. an overprotected child (which i identify with) suddenly finds that he/she is alone in the world, forced to face reality. actually, quite frightening. the knigh of pentacles reversed seems to indicate travel, although being reversed, it seems to hint that i won't want to go. the 9 of wands seems to indicate being vigilant, standing guard.

so, yeah, i guess something is going to happen. of course, the cards don't tell me what. i suppose i could take the queen of cups literally–a woman in my life, perhaps. but the reversal speaks against something joyous.

well. i am afraid. but it looks like it's going to be out of my hands.

Thursday, August 14, 2003

yesterday i bought the complete illustrated guide to tarot by rachel pollack. i will have to get 78 degrees of wisdom at b&n, assuming it is still there. anyway, another thing i found at borders yesterday was how to spot a bastard by his star sign, which is basically a manual for women on what to expect from a man of a particular sign. for example, women can expect me, a virgo, to be akin to a schizoid psychotic killer with a penchant for ice picks. great!
originally written Tue Aug 12 02:08:54 PM

This covers me: knight of wands reversed
This crosses me: the star
This is beneath me: the fool reversed
This is behind me: the high priestess
This crowns me: king of pentacles
This is before me: page of wands reversed
My fears: 4 of wands reversed
What others think: queen of wands reversed
My hopes: 3 of pentacles
The final outcome: 10 of pentacles reversed

i finally found Learning the Tarot by Joan Bunning at b&n the other day. i was surprised that this wasn't more readily available. the only thing is that it doesn't really discuss reversed cards. i like, however, how it gives pointers for how to act on your readings, sometimes even little exercises to do when a certain card comes up in a certain position, for example. also, i've only really skimmed through it here and there, and haven't really dug deep into it, so who knows what else i might find. plus, i like how much more expansive Bunning's interpretations are. i would even say that the interpretations are pretty optimistic for the most part, even for bad cards. up until now, for the longest time, i'd been exclusively using A Complete Guide to the Tarot by Eden Gray (i started trying to read the cards only 6 years ago, mind you.) this book is is 30 years old, and gives short, sometimes dire interpretations.

anyway, the cards i drew were somewhat optimistic, although given the number of reversed cards, it isn't as good as it could be. in fact, if you read Gray's interpretations, there is a lot of cruelty and domineering going on.

the star returns, bringing hope and inspiration. i love this card. i also like Bunning's caveat that this card only marks beginnings: hope is necessary to achieve great things, but you still have to act. again, the high priestess is present, in the 4th position, perhaps indicating that her influence is passing from my life. it's kind of sad if it's true (Gray interpets the high priestess as the woman of my dreams) but such is the impermanence of the world, i suppose. i also noticed a lot of wands, which, according to Gray, betoken fire, and growth and change. reminding me of chapparal, a plant found throughout california, whose seed can only grow after a catastrophic fire. also reminding me of a poem i once wrote. reminding me of a quote from one of my favorite books: "i did not know i was so empty, to be so full." meaning, that in order to receive, you must let go. makes sense to me.

the 3 of pentacles has come up a lot, too, and i am beginning to take it to mean my ultimate goal, to become a healer by profession. in many ways, i am not on this road alone.

the 10 of pentacles reversed indicates misfortune according to Gray, but in any case, it seems to indicate a family matter. the more i reflect on that, the more i feel trepidation, but what must be, must be, i suppose.

Saturday, August 09, 2003

This covers me: 5 of cups reversed
This crosses me: page of wands
This is beneath me: the empress reversed
This is behind me: the emperor
This crowns me: king of swords reversed
This is before me: knight of swords reversed
My fears: knight of pentacles
What others think: the high priestess
My hopes: 6 of swords
The final outcome: the star

Hmmm. Good number of major arcana, but not overwhelming. A couple of knights point to a change of scenery (the coming or going of a matter) I don't know whether the 6 of swords marks my strong desire to travel, or whether this points out my destination next year, or whether I will be truly flying into exile across the wide ocean someday. This is the second time that the high priestess has shown up in the same place. I don't really understand what it means, either. I know it represents, well, the woman of my dreams. But I don't know what it means being where it is. Finally, there is the star, which is fast becoming my favorite card, since it embodies inspiration, which I am desperately seeking.

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