Elephant Bush Tarot

It looks a little like rain outside, an unidentified sapling is brushing cool green leaves against my window while soulful folk guitar fills the air. Its a crisp morning, and still just early enough that I feel like the world outside is more plants than people. A good time to wander in the woods, and if I were camping I think I’d be out exploring.

It seems lonely to think about anything but the present at times like these. I just pulled the nine of swords, and it echoed my morning so well – laying in bed, remembering my troubles just the same as I laid down last night, as if sleep was just a brief interlude between bouts of preoccupation. The swords against the black background is so bizarre contrasted with the peaceful light coming through my windows.

I began this blog inspired by my daily cards. I had just quit a job I almost hated and had decided to give myself, at least for awhile, over to the things I loved. A dear friend had recently moved away to study love and landscape, and I found I suddenly had nothing to do, and no-one to see. I was lonely, but free. I would spend whole days swimming in my daily cards and cobbling together blog posts to express some of the things I thought about.

Lonely freedom is a quality of the big nine, the Hermit. It is only lonely if the focus is on what isn’t present, who isn’t there with you. The Hermit himself may be at peace, no more lonely than if he were surrounded by people. But the nine of swords, today I think the Hermit of Swords, is tormented. The symbols stitched to the bedding offer no comfort. The swords press heavily in the background, pointing all in the same direction. I notice today there is less confusion in the card than raw misery. The swords all pointing the same way tells me that perhaps the card depicts a struggle against knowledge, a struggle against truth, a relentless search for a solution to a reality we can’t deny but also can’t accept.

The search may be conscious, unconscious, or both. In the card, it is subconscious, coming out in the night, but during the day we can consciously struggle against the way things are when they don’t feel right. Consciously, we may search for symbols to comfort us, a frame to understand, some way to make the reality more palatable. But the deepest parts of us may still be suffering, struggling, long after we’ve found a balance in our conscious lives. This is where expression is most important, where we stifle our thoughts and feelings for the sake of others, or even for ourselves to make relating simpler. I know I do this, I hide my difficult feelings to simplify my life, but in the end it comes out like it does in the nine of swords – misery in the dark, depriving me of peace, and in that way it complicates my life much more. I’ve often buried my feelings because I felt they didn’t match my values, who I wanted to be in my life and in my relationships. But that habit of burying has in my life compromised much more than my private world and my self image. It has compromised my ability to be honest, open, and loving in my conscious life. The nine of swords for me is my way of hiding inconvenient feelings, of struggling against reality by denying it, of being exhausted and feeling separate by keeping my words and feelings so tightly to myself, of walls so strong others rarely knowing how to get close enough in to soothe me.

The green light from the leaves outside my window and the small plants I keep make this card feel more natural. Plants express themselves as fully as they can every moment, never turning down an invitation to thrive, never hiding shriveled leaves or dying stalks. I try so hard to balance how I feel like I ought to show up for others against how I am feeling. My lesson is that I need to be more open and honest in my life, so I don’t feel so alone in my thoughts and feelings. Each sword might be a word I didn’t say, a loving word or an honest feeling. Today I’ll try not to hide my feelings so much, but I’ll also try and be present so I can feel the real space I actually inhabit, instead of running into the sharp edges of what I’m missing.


Yesterday was the last day of April, and a warm day in Ontario. I had just come up from North Carolina, where I saw the above flowers (Along with a stunning bonsai collection) in the North Carolina Arboretum. Driving north was a regression from summer to late winter, as skies grayed and leaves retracted into buds, like slow motion in reverse.

Upon arriving,  the friend I am visiting got me a gig reading Tarot at their bakery the next day. Given that it was May eve, we celebrated Beltane with a feast, a bonfire, and plenty of wine and cider. I rarely come up with specific Tarot spreads, but I was inspired by the bonfire to create a simple spread for today so I could read quickly for many people at the bakery. The reading I came up with is a short and sweet Beltane themed card spread.

The spread is a kind of past-present-future spread, with the first card going to the center. This spread can be easily read for yourself, and is very easily extended. I like to challenge myself by trying to see where the answer to any additional questions is in a spread already before drawing more cards. Feel free to leave comments with your additions and comments.

1. The Spring Bonfire

Burning away the grimness of winter and igniting our inner fire for a new spring and summer, the bonfire is a cherished tradition. Passion and high spirits overwhelm and can burn away what isn’t needed, so this card is the Fire in your life this spring, what to be unafraid of and allow through your life uninhibited to do its work. In some senses, this position is where to get out of your own way.

Cards here might be exaggerated to a high intensity, even becoming overwhelming. Try allowing the card’s meaning to ‘burn you up’, maybe visualize the card’s meaning in your life to become bigger and brighter, letting any resistance you may feel be penetrated by it completely. This energy enveloping you can ignite fresh passion, while burning away old grief, cleaning you out and allowing energy to flow uninhibited.

2. The Past Winter

Though winter is technically behind us, the cold tends to creep well into spring. This position is to reflect on the winter and what it was like. A negative card is difficulties that are melting away, while brighter cards might be lessons learned to carry with you, and good luck to be thankful for. As a card representing the past, this is what you’ve been through and what you’ve gained – important experience to carry with you through the rest of the reading.

3. The Coming Summer

I just left North Carolina, where spring seems to already have given way to summer. This card is about what summertime might have for us, and specifically what we will manage to accomplish or achieve with the passion ignited by springtime.

So, examine the Spring and Winter cards and see this Summer card as the new direction gained; Something like the Death card might be finally letting go of something that had to be let go of, while a 6 of Cups is a blessing of community, friendship, and love. Allow this card to be a positive message of how the fiery, creative Spring energy can best be realized and applied.

Six of Wands

November 29, 2009

Six of Wander, Waite-Smith

After the creative chaos of the Five, something interesting has happened. Our group has gone from competition, struggle, and interaction to one of triumph and alignment. Looking to the side and slightly away from the viewer, the group moves as one in a parade of celebration. The tone is clearly one of victory and even abundance, rewards well won and a community pulled together in parade.

It is a fun exercise to imagine the reasons they celebrate. Perhaps the central leader brought the group unity from the chaos of the Five, giving them a common cause and shared success. Maybe he is just their common symbol for their own success, having done more together than any alone could accomplish. Whatever the reason, they place importance on one of them – the main actor, somehow he is important. While he might be a leader, an interesting note is that he isn’t heading the celebration – others do. He is a part of something bigger than himself in the procession, but holds a special place as a hero or victor.

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