I hope you are doing well today. Today, my goal is to try to help transform the idea of Death as scary and unfamiliar into one that is a natural part of life that we can grow more comfortable with.
Characteristics in Tarot
Major Arcana: XIII
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Ruling Planet: Pluto
What does the Death card mean?
In sum, Death is as it sounds: a literal leaving of one plane of life into another. In another sense, Death is a metaphor for rebirth. It is making a realization about one's self, situation, or environment that encourages us to move on from the negative aspects and create a new scenario for ourselves. Much like the phoenix arising from its own ashes, we are all human, re-emerging stronger through each difficult situation in our lives that we have had to face.
Often times this card scares people because of the deep emotional energy that is grounded in it. People see Death and read this literally. They think of the loss of a loved one, a family member, a coworker. Likely this is because we as humans are naturally scared of Death, for it is a phase of life that we know nothing about. We dread the unknown. We stay in jobs we don't like for too long for fear that another job could be worse. We stay in relationships that may not fully benefit us because we are scared of the potential of another partner. We hold onto toxic behaviors to cope with our struggles because we are scared of what it would look like if we didn't act in a certain way.
However, a slight change in perspective will tell us that Death is not simply a trek from the known into the unknown. It will instead present to us the idea that we are moving away from the negative and into the positive. When the Death card appears, it is not telling us that there is a situation on the horizon that we will be unable to handle. In fact, many times it can mean quite the opposite: the universe is gifting us with the ability to grow and move forward because it knows we are capable of doing so. This cards presents to us the exciting possibilities and opportunities that lie ahead, the potential for us to become more in tune with our true selves and make decisions that will inevitably lead us to become happier individuals.
Something that we must remind ourselves is that we are not our situations. We are not permanent, nor is anything we do. At the end of the day, the decisions we make are ultimately going to affect how we feel and identify as people, and if these actions and behaviors reflect our true selves. It is up to us to decide how we want to live in this impermanence.
When you see Death in your life, try to think of something you are holding onto that may be causing you pain. Acknowledge it, recognize that it exists and affects you. Hold it for a moment, say goodbye, and then let it go. Then, when you are ready, look forward. Forward is where your potential, your love, your true self will ultimately lie.
Death will be waiting for you.
tarot is an introspective practice involving a deck of cards pulled in response to a question, prompting the reader to consider the question in the context that the card(s) provide. look out for tarot practices, sometimes featuring corresponding poetry or writing prompts, littering the blog in the future, as it's essential to some of our creative and self care routines x
first up, a month ahead spread... happy august!
how might you approach the coming month? month ahead spreads and forcasts can assist you in moving forward with intention.
🕯 one: what overall energy might the next month hold?
🕯 two: leave this behind in the last month; it may no longer serve you
🕯 three: take this with you into the next month
🕯 four: pursue this
🕯 five: practice this self care
consider pulling oracle cards alongside tarot as you feel comfortable with.
onward, with grace 💛
🕯overall energy: son of wands
passion, energy, confidence, pursuit
🕯 leave behind: the magician
indirection, roundabout approach, a need for control
🕯 take with: the lovers, reversed
respect, love, joy, all sans requirement is permanence to accept
⛲️ pursue: six of swords, reversed
recovery, moving on from the past, presence
⛲️ self care: the fool, reversed, i am the weaver of my reality
examine your current routine and find what energizes you to begin.
decks used: the wild unknown + the moon deck
I've been feeling a bit more alive lately, and I can't tell you exactly why, but I can tell you about small wonders recently:
> The nights and mornings are suddenly much cooler,
> and the owl has returned to their perch outside my window, hooting.
> The Owl and Bone August tarot challenge has stoked both my honesty and vulnerability. I am learning that it is okay to want things... passion = direction!
> The dad happily telling his son how awesome the library is. He just said, "All of this is just stuff and things until you realize how important it all is. So dig in. The library is so awesome." My librarian heart exploded!
> Steve. Harrington.
> This dog made me cry tears.
> The Turkish brew coffee using hot sand. The world is magical.
>And the reason I'm here... poems and poems and poems! Words keep stumbling into my way lately, and snagging my breath. Following are some quite short, but so saturated poems for your every day grief, astonishment, and political disenchantment. Take a sip. Enjoy.
Have a lovely weekend. Stay hydrated and connect with the earth somehow.
Today marks the solstice, no matter where you live. Perhaps today is the longest day of the year (here it's ultra cloudy and dark, ironically enough), or tonight the the longest night for you (hello, southern hemisphere.) Regardless, congratulations, you've made it through have the year. It's a big deal. Try not to panic at the thought!
That is exactly what I am good at... I keep drawing the oracle card "get out of your own way" and wondering, "What the heck does that even mean? How am I supposed to do that? I am me." But after seeing it over and over, and then coming across the prayer, May I learn to make good out of what I'm given, rather than only make sense of it, I suddenly understood. I am so good at panic, or, at least, concern.
See, I love growth. I want to never be stagnant, preferring a constant process for becoming closer to the person I was created to be. And to do this, I often spend a lot of time reading books or blogs or quotes or psychology studies. I love reading/thinking about theology and politics, and how these things intertwine. I truly am a 6w5 (for those who don't speak enneagram, I mean that I do worry, but exploration of thought and fact appeals to me. Study appeals to me as a way to lay a solid foundation of truth to stand on. I think if I can read enough truth, I can build my own magic road map to success.) who often thinks, "I have to know it all before I begin to practice any of it," and dwell on all the ways I need to "get better."
Questions I think a lot about include "Where do I fall short?" and "Where can I improve?" and "Who am I not that I want to be?"
I can tell you this pretty confidently: it's only partially helpful, and it's anxiety and depression inducing. Our self-help happy society tells us often that we need to confront our darknesses, and go deep. But honestly? I can go deep- and then get lost so easily. I can know all about what I hate about myself and what has hurt me and what is weighing on me and what doesn't measure up to standards. I can do that all day. I can also stay in bed all day and cry in the bathroom.
There comes a point that we have looked back enough, and now, we need to look forward. I can see all my problems, but who do I want to heal into? I can't just eliminate all things I hate about myself... they have to be replaced with something.
That, and hating myself really isn't helpful. It makes life feel worthless.
I'm understanding it now... that getting out of my own way can mean not standing in the middle of the road staring down the parts of myself I hate. Getting out of my own way could be standing aside to allow the good parts of myself to thrive, and to overgrow some of the shit. But how?
With this in mind, here you are, at the solstice. You made it half through the year. Enjoy the sunlight, if you have it. Enjoy life.
But also take a moment to enjoy yourself and how far you have come.
Yes. Look back. Make a list of all you've accomplished. Look back at your resolutions and reevaluate. If you're stuck, I have a list of questions for new year's here, that may be used for the halfway point as well.
This is also a great time to do a solstice or self love tarot card spread to get you thinking. Frame questions and statements positively, like "What opportunities have emerged this spring?" and "What blessings am I receiving?"
Spreads to try might include....
Summer Solstice Spread via Biddy
Winter Solstice Spread via Biddy
Spread for Self Love via Labyrinthos
Now, moving forward, it may help to begin daily routines/rituals to help you not only learn, but also foster and dream. I suggest bullet pointing anything you'd love to do in your dream routine, and pulling from these ideas to build long and short routines, so no matter how much or little time you have, you have an anchor to begin or end your day, to connect to yourself in a positive way. Consider the following,
oracle / tarot
Psychologist Dr. Nicole LePera developed a worksheet for "future self journaling" that I quite reccomend. You can learn more here, and join her email list to obtain the worksheet (for adults and kids!).
I've been thinking about this lately, the practice of imagining who you shall become, in specific terms. Not just, "I want to be healthy surrounded by plants," but specifying what healthy means. What kind of behaviors and thought patterns does this imply? How exactly would that impact my day, life, feelings, and body? Did you know your brain rarely knows the difference between imagining, observing, and doing? By imagining and writing specifics, you can not only rewire your brain to become this, but also imprint the memory and vision you have within your day, so that you can more consciously act and think the way you want to.
I guess my way of getting out of my own way is to step into the way of my future self. To allow myself to envision a good future and a good self, rather than focusing on all the ways I fall short.
The sky is going to start changing light patterns, and so will I, but this is okay, because like nature, we also live within cycles.
This is no end of anything. The sun will come back. We will endlessly create ourselves. With love, hopefully.
in case you've missed the post i made wednesday, i started a 30-day introspection journey, and i've invited you all to join me. every day presents you with a choice of prompts: a question and a classical piece. i made a playlist and everything. today is day two. it's not too late to join!
day two is: what harmful thoughts/actions of mine have brought me here? — to the tune of prokofiev's dance of the knights from his version of romeo & juliet.
i tried to start by journalling instead of drawing a tarot card straight away. in this instance, it proved to be a terrible decision. i started spiralling about every reason i think i am an awful person who makes the worst decisions. then, i decided that not only was i a screwup, i was also much too hard on myself, which only made me a worse person.
i had to close my journal.
i took out my tarot deck. i fully expected to draw a card saying that i was being too hard on myself (like the king of wands reversed) or that i was a failure/idiot (so many options here). to my surprise, i drew the queen of cups. upright.
i resisted the temptation to just go: "whatever, i'll interpret this card as though it were reversed." there was a reason i drew this card upright, and i was determined to find it.
i think it's easy to forget where our shortcomings originated. we aren't like sleeping beauty, random gifts and curses bestowed upon us by fairies. we are a complex, but coherent whole.
yesterday, i had a therapy session during which i said: "i wonder if i'm not asking for the impossible. not from the world, but from myself. i want to keep all the things i love about myself — i want to stay creative, passionate, inspired, dramatic — but then i demand from myself stability, steadiness, temperance and consistency."
do you see what i mean? passion and stability rarely go hand in hand. i am passionate. i have whims and inspirations that consume me for hours, days, weeks. i create, and then i don't, and then i do. i am flighty and changeable. i switch gears often.
the queen of cups is always the queen of cups. she's the queen of cups when she's upright. she's the queen of cups when she's reversed. we're the same. we're ourselves when we achieve wonderful feats, and we're ourselves when we make monumental mistakes.
at the heart of the series of bad decisions that led to me burning out was doing for others. i did that because i am compassionate. compassion has caused my downfall, but it can also save me, should i learn to turn part of it inward.
i think that when it comes to whom we are, there is no good and bad. what heals can harm, and what harms can heal. we are ourselves: humans with characteristics and quirks, none of which are inherently positive or negative, all of which can be used to harm or to heal.
happy new moon, lovelies!
i love new moon. and i love the taurus sign (hello, sun sign.)
the new moon gives a feeling of emptying. turning in ward. beginning again.
the moon has given as much as possible away, and now it's time to rebuild.
this is a perfect time to set goals, to begin building yourself and your work back up.
taurus season is upon us so here we go... a solid, stable foundation to work on. a perfect place to invest in yourself and what makes the world matter to you.
the thing is, remembering to enjoy life shouldn't be expensive. mostly, it's leaving my brain a bit to stay where i am. to taste coffee. to listen to the song. to watch the tree and the veins shivering in the leaves, leaves i haven't seen on trees in months.
balance between self indulgent and grinding.... noticing the ruts in which we freeze with indecision. explore. take your loves seriously, but your self less so. try something new. go there. breathe. go.
go in peace,
ps. i have illustrations. shout out to the website for not pulling thru. oh well. everyone deserves a new moon chill out.
I started reading tarot in the Spring of 2015, which was most definitely a Bad Time in my life – head full of deep, cakey mud that made it almost impossible for any wheels to turn. I stopped not long after. That’s why when people ask me when I started reading tarot, I usually say: December 2016. Because that’s when I really dedicated myself to it as a practice.
One card I never really understood was the Knight of Pentacles. I have a notebook in which I jotted down thoughts regarding each card’s meaning. Most cards have elaborate flow charts and mind maps. The upright Knight of Cups page just read “hard work”… for over a year and a half. Seriously. Two words.
I was fortunate enough to find The Creative Tarot by Jessa Crispin at my library last summer. In it, Crispin goes through every tarot card and illustrates it through famous artists or artworks, creativity-related anecdotes, etc. Bear in mind that this is most definitely not an introductory book; I would suggest a certain level of familiarity with the cards before reading this (i.e. being able to read each card comfortably with or without notes).
It would not be hyperbolic to say that this author revolutionized my understanding of the Knight of Pentacles. It’s true. Of course, between “hard” and “work”, there wasn’t much to revolutionize, but still.
Crispin relates the Knight of Pentacles to a particular number in The Rite of Spring, I think, or in The Afternoon of a Faun that had been produced a few months prior, I can’t remember. Point is: erotic ballet in the 1910s causing upheavals and controversy.
Jessa Crispin also mentions ballet in the discussion of the Nine of Pentacles, saying that the Nine of Pentacles looks like a ballerina floating onstage, but that, like the case is for the ballerina, a whole lot of hard work went behind it. This is something that helps me understand the use of the erotic ballet metaphor with the Knight of Pentacles. Another thing that helps is the reminder that the Knight of Pentacles is earth (Pentacles) and fire (Knight).
I got the Nicoletta Ceccoli deck in January 2017 and it is one of the two decks I am still using today (the second one being the Circo Tarot by Marisa de la Peña, which I got in August 2018). In that deck, the Knight of Pentacles is portrayed with a discarded heart-shaped sign on the ground on which the words “Hate me” can be read.
I never understood the point of that sign until I read Crispin’s Knight of Pentacles chapter. I feel so moved when I think of the vulnerability in that “Hate me” sign. I think that sometimes we ask for hatred because we’re tired of asking for love and being met with indifference. When we get past this need to claim others’ hatred – the moment I think the card may be portraying – we are ready to dare in the most authentic way possible, not to get reactions, but because that is what we feel in our gut we must do.
We’ll never know what Vaslav Nijinsky was trying to do with his erotic ballet, if he wanted to shock or if he was just going for the frankest form of expression he could imagine. Some people say The Rite of Spring was a publicity stunt, created entirely for its shock value; yet, others disagree. Did Stravinsky, Nijinsky and the others ask themselves “What is the most shocking thing I could make?” or “What is truest to the feeling and the vision I have inside?” Call me idealistic; I like to think it’s BOTH.
Because I’ve felt that way. So huge and electric and intense inside and like nothing I can make will shock others enough to make them understand. I can relate to the need for the high-pitched bassoon tune, for the dissonance, for the confusing rhythms, for the weird melodies. I’ll never know if Igor Stravinsky wrote those elements in his music because there was no way for him to create anything that satisfied him otherwise, or because he just sat down at his desk and thought something like: “Alright, let’s shock these rich Parisians and get me a lot of press attention.” But I like to think there’s an element of honesty in The Rite of Spring, and for the sake of this post – discussing the Knight of Pentacles – let’s say there is.
And so, I sense a duality in the Knight of Pentacles. On one hand, the training, the work, the physical care, repeating exercises over and over, bandaging our feet, showing up, buckling down. On the other hand, daring in the most authentic way possible.
See you in the next one: the inevitability of death.
Until then, I wish you the courage to channel your inner Knight of Pentacles.
my alternative title is "emotional release is good for you, but still kinda sucks!" hah.
i don't know about you, but pisces season seems to be digging deep and asking the hard questions.
on one hand, i'm feeling it and watching others, a collaborative bloom within our creative habitats. artistic partnerships, louder than a bomb, publications, new projects, fixed vintage cars, promotions, and love and love and love... it's here, and i feel it. personally, i am so thankful and inspired, and watching others wear themselves more fully is such a blessing. all the love and power to you. spring is sneaking among us.
yet tuning into intuition and escaping reality has not been easy. whether it's by phone or text, i've been hearing much of the same themes lately: loss, confusion, anxiety, guilt, some of which stemming from the exact thing we're so happy about: coming into ourselves and developing, creatively and personally.
it is strange how absolutely scary it is to become your self, and to befriend who you are. it's the most obvious choice, i think, because we are... who we are. it simply is. disconcerting, yes, especially if mourning a past self. yet at the same time, if paired and intentional, it can be the utmost release... just read jenny slate's tweet above. i can't tell you how many times i have printed and taped it into journals and slipped it into interviews. it's true. the more tender and precious i am to my self, the less i feel fear. i am confident in my identity, and how i am loved by my self, my loved ones, and the divine. i soften.
it's a battle, of course. i remember seeing a t shirt for trans rights several years ago reading "don't hate on my happiness," and i think it changed me. it changed the way i speak about other people, and (thankful) hindered my ability to laugh and grate on others. it made life so much more smooth and gentle and empathetic. remember this: don't hate on others, but also don't hate on your own happiness. if what you want separates from the status quo, detach. find your people elsewhere. your joy is not worth a warped perception of joyful other people might project onto you.
a friend texted me today, having chosen herself over warped and unhealthy expectations: "i'm never going to be a cool person im gonna just accept it." broke my heart a lil bit, because i love this girl, but it sent me back to the first time i walked into a coffeeshop my senior year of university, thinking "you know what, i'm not going to feel guilty for choosing to spend this time alone, in a coffeeshop, doing what i love. this is what brings me joy, and i am the only one who has to experience my self and my life." i was alone, not investing that time in those i couldn't stay authentic with. i'd never felt that at peace, happy, creative, and readiness to be alive.
choose yourself and your happiness and health. it can feel like stagnancy, esp in a world where pushing our own boundaries is considered healthy growth. it is, to a point. but serenity and stagnancy are not the same, even if both are still. it's okay to just be. to stay. to run away, and towards authenticity.
and if they hate on your happiness? they weren't on your side anyway. get out. love your happiness. love others' authentic joy and health. have grace for everyone.
(by the way, "cool" is a subjective descriptor. no one has the same definition. find your own, based on the way it feels.)
obviously, it's not easy. it's a lifelong process. never ending. but our growth, also, is never ending. every changing. it's a good thing, i am trying to decide. staves off the boredom in the most annoying way.
today, writing this, i pulled six of cups, reversed, and six of swords.
unrealistic, ultra-ideal viewpoints might be sticking around, becoming a perceived threat or simply causing disappointment. maybe something's not the way you imagined it would be. maybe it was oversimplified in your head. maybe there's trauma resurfacing. but you're still breathing and moving. six of swords looks heavy, but the figure isn't crushed, or drowning; the blades are beneath the surface. they might feel real, there's your validation, but they aren't necessarily relevant or necessary or here. maybe they're just internal. it's okay to feel them; those feelings are real. but remember this. you're still here, pushing through, breathing okay. maybe it's a matter of reclaiming and turning the six of cups card right side up, rediscovering wonder and curiosity and redirected expectations.
pisces. expression of emotional capacity. empathy. escaping reality. selflessness. intuitive and smart and creative. divine love.
it's who you are, even when it's frightening or challenging, and difficult to live into.
are you making excuses, defending who you are, and the choices you've made, where it is unnecessary to do so? are you just coping with something you haven't accepted yet? i am! dig into it. have grace. it'll be okay.
i want to start this month off reminding you that who you are is important, as is what you want.
the practice of remaining in tune with what we want and need is never-ending and challenging, but i promise you, it shifts your life.
find your truth. hold it close. embody it.
much love. let me know what you're thinking.
ps. we have content waiting for you. i'm smitten. stay tuned.
pps. my poems happened to be published yesterday. i wrote "the nature of nothing" about two years ago, and it's breathing over at rogue agent. feels fitting for this post. be sure to read the rest of the contents of the issue. it's lovely.
ppps. i want to hear about your truth. head on over to the submit page and let me know what you're thinking.
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