The High Priestess – Own Your Spiritual Autonomy

Legacy of the divine tarot priestess

The High Priestess – The Legacy of the Divine Tarot – by Ciro Marchetti

Growing up, it always blew my mind that the religion which I was raised in required an intervening individual to facilitate my relationship with deity. I even had to go through someone else if I wanted to receive forgiveness for my so-called “sins.” This made absolutely no sense to my teenage-self, none whatsoever. Why couldn’t I go straight to the source? What made these clergymen so much better than me that I needed them to intervene on my behalf? Was I really that horrible of a person? Obviously I was way too free-thinking for that religious paradigm, so I bounced, as soon as I had the legal agency to do so.

The High Priestess does away with this notion that one needs any type of intervening spiritual leader to commune with the divine or walk a spiritual path. The High Priestess says “you are your own priest or priestess.” You are your own conduit, your own gateway to the divine, no middle-man required. Mentors and teacher are great and you can learn a lot from the wisdom they’ve gained from their personal experiences, that’s why we have The Hierophant card in tarot, to honor the value of those individuals, but you don’t need them, and their guidance/wisdom/opinion shouldn’t trump your own spiritual integrity.

The High Priestess - The Morgan Greer Tarot

The High Priestess – The Morgan Greer Tarot

The Five of Cups: Too Much or Not Enough?

Five of Cups

Rider Waite Smith Tarot

Whenever I pull the Five of Cups in a reading, I feel like it’s asking me “are you spending too much time mourning a loss, or not enough?

Often this card is seen as a card that shows stagnation created by focusing too hard on what you’ve lost, while ignoring what you still possess. This is a 100% valid way to interpret this card, but there is another side to that coin which is worth considering.

Sometimes we need to focus on the loss or the disappointment. Ignoring pain can be just as detrimental as wallowing in it. Sometimes we need to intentionally interact with our pain, to mindfully mourn, that way we can process and then move on.

If you’re in a space where you are trying to focus only on the good and not willing to acknowledge what is hurting you, the Five of Cups may be asking you to intentionally set aside some time to ball your eyes out, or punch a pillow, or throw yourself a pity party, or bust out an extra hard workout at the gym (just don’t injure yourself, ok?), or whatever you need to do.

The key to the Five of Cups, whichever way it appears for you, is that once you’re done creating the space to express your hurt and honor your grief, you DO still need to pick up those other two cups and move on…move forward.

The Hanged Man and Surviving Family

The Hanged Man from The Tarot Illuminati

The Tarot Illuminati

The Hanged Man has been my touchstone during my holiday visit with my family-of-origin. Family, especially biological family (as opposed to chosen family), has a knack for triggering…well, everything. Shadow stuff, childhood trauma, if it can be triggered, chances are family will do it, whether intentionally or inadvertently. I imagine that is why there are so many family-at-the-holidays movies made. It happens to most everyone and we can all relate.

The Hanged Man represents inactions. Sometimes it’s forced inaction. Sometimes it’s chosen inactions. Focusing on the Hanged Man has helped me keep from reacting when family pushes my buttons or triggers me. That’s not to say I don’t stand up for myself if something happens that is not ok (or that I don’t still react or get triggered), but it allows me to pause and consider where the behaviour is coming from or what the intention behind it is.

Antiquarian Tarot

Antiquarian Tarot

Standing…or hanging in the Hanged Man energy means observing what is going on and trying to understand it from the other person’s perspective. It allows for more mindful analysis of what is going on around you. It gives you the space to decide how you are going to act in response to others. It doesn’t mean that you are helpless or that things are out of your control. Quite the contrary as a matter of fact. You are taking back control from those who are triggering you or making you behave in ways that aren’t consistent with your core values. The physical situation my be out of your control, but your thoughts about the situation and your responses to it are entirely up to you. That is the power of the Hanged Man.

I hope you are all surviving, perhaps even enjoying your holiday, whichever you celebrate and however you celebrate.

Wishing you a beautiful solstice and a blessed Yule.

There’s a Storm Brewing – The Three Phases of The Tower

The Tower is actually a really interesting card and pretty complex if you take the time to get to know it. There is so much more than simple destruction going on here. In fact, I broke The Tower down into three distinct energies or phases. (ha ha, ha ha. I “broke” The Tower down…that’s a really bad pun…ok moving on.)

The Tower - The Bohemian Gothic Tarot by Baba Studios

The Tower – The Bohemian Gothic Tarot by Baba Studios

The Brewing Storm: The first aspect or phase of The Tower energy is what I call the brewing storm. In this manifestation there is pressure building. Something is being held in, or is going unaddressed. Its causing a build up of energy, anger, frustration and if that pressure isn’t alleviated in a constructive way its going to reach a boiling point with disastrous and dramatic results. Think of the pressure that builds in a volcano before it erupts.

This energy shows up when someone is repressing something. It can also indicate passive aggression or when someone is bating another, trying to get a reaction. This could represent the cognitive dissonance that occurs when long held values are threatened or when constructs about who one is as a person are revealed to be not as stable as one thought. Another instance where this type of energy often happens is when you are pushing yourself too hard and are getting dangerously close to burn out.

This image of The Tower from the Bohemian Gothic Tarot represents this type of energy. The storm is coming, the lightening has begun, but it hasn’t struck anything yet. Nothing has been destroyed, but the danger is there and is becoming more imminent with every minute that passes.

The Tower - The Tarot Illuminati, art by Erik C. Dunne

The Tower – The Tarot Illuminati, art by Erik C. Dunne

The Lightening Strikes: At this point we see The Tower energy in its most common form, the destruction when the lightning strikes and The Tower is destroyed. This occurs when the energy that was building can no longer be contained or held in. It is released, suddenly, violently and the effect is devastating…or at the very least profoundly jarring. This is the volcano when the pressure grows too great and it blows, spewing red hot lava, ash and smoke.

This energy shows up in our live when our temper gets the better of us and communication devolves into expletives and blaming. This energy occurs when a truth won’t be repressed anymore and it is blurted out without forethought. This phase of The Tower is when belief systems come tumbling down and ideas of self and ego are demolished. This is also burnout at its most dramatic.

I love the image from the Tarot Illuminati to illustrate this aspect of The Tower because it is so dramatic. The brilliant colors bring an extra dimension to the experience of this card. You can almost feel the heat of the flames that engulf the structure.

The Tower - Ghost Tarot by Davide Corsi

The Tower – Ghost Tarot by Davide Corsi

The Aftermath/Reconstruction: Once The Tower has been destroyed and the fire burns out and the storm has passed, we are left with a ruin. It is uninhabitable as it is, so begins the phase of The Tower I think of as The Aftermath or Reconstruction. The choice is to either to rebuild on the foundations that are left, or to abandon the shell that remains and rebuild fresh, or to abandon what’s left of The Tower and not to rebuild at all.

This phase requires a  great deal of mindfulness and a willingness to learn from what has just occurred, or else you run the risk of repeating the cycle that led to the destruction in the first place. When values and belief systems come crashing down what replaces them? What will you choose to replace them with? When harsh words are exchanged and tempers flair, how do you reconcile…or can you? When a truth is declared that shakes your life and the lives of those close to you, how will you navigate the new reality that emerges afterwards. These are all questions that come up when we are trying to pull things back together after a Tower event.

In the midst of this turmoil, its helpful to remember that this is a time of great potential and that is the blessing of The Tower. The Tower can be a powerful catalyst to create change, to shake loose from harmful patterns, to commit to doing things differently next time. It is the chance to cast aside old constraints of expectations and start living more authentically, to set you on a path to find your truth. Once the Tower is demolished you choose how to rebuild it, or if you even want to rebuild it. That’s some pretty empowering and exciting stuff.

The Dark Side of The Sun

The Sun is a card that is usually viewed as a very positive card. It is often associated with joy and can represent a strong “YES” in a Yes/No spread. But every card has its positive and negative attributes and even a card with as many positive associations as The Sun can indicate something problematic under certain circumstances.

The Sun: The Steampunk Tarot and Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night

The Sun: The Steampunk Tarot and Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night

I offer for your consideration these two versions of The Sun card. The first card is from The Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore and Aly Fell. This image embodies the happy, carefree side of The Sun. The two figures are dancing, swept away in the joy of the moment. There are sunflowers in the background, evidence of The Sun’s role as a catalyst for life and growth.

On the other extreme we have The Sun card from the Vampires Tarot of the Eternal Night. In this card The Sun is a destroyer, rather than a catalyst for life. It burns and is too bright for the figure to endure. This brings to mind those scorching summer days when you just don’t want to venture outside for anything in the world. (We just had a brutal heatwave here in Portland, so that’s probably why this is on my mind.)

This later example represents the aspects of The Sun that are more challenging. The Sun as the great illuminator shines light into the shadows and may reveal things that are painful. It may represent bringing things to light that you would rather stay obscured. It can indicate when someone is being overpowering or overwhelming. It can symbolize when passion is burning out of control or has become too all-consuming.

Sometimes these challenging aspects of The Sun, while difficult, are still ultimately positive. When something secret is brought to light, for example an affair being revealed or finally “coming out”, the result is most likely going to be positive in the end, though it may be painful as it is happening. Other times the challenge is something negative that needs to be addressed or it will ultimately become destructive, such as when you are at risk of expending too much energy, or allowing yourself to be consumed by passion and at risk of burning yourself out, or at worst losing your sense of self.

As with all cards, the meaning of The Sun will depend on the context of the question, the spread position it lands in (if specific positions are being used) and the reader’s intuition, but I think its good not to just assume when it shows up that things are going to be purely positive, its worth considering the dark side of The Sun as well.