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.

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Lord Hanuman’s Scroll

October 30, 2009

Last night, I dreamed intensely. I don’t usually remember my dreams, but this one was uncharacteristically lucid and strange.
2swordsLionelDream

I dreamed I was looking through my trusty tarot deck, and the Two of Swords caught my eye. I had never seen it before, and I was completely surprised. I examined it intently, so close it was all I could see. The card depicted a knight in the sky, clouds around him. He towards a monkey, which flew ahead of him with it’s gaze turned over its shoulder. It had a strange headdress with human hands mounted on either side of it, one side held a scroll and the other seemed to gesture onward. At the top, the numeral was offset, similar to the ten of pentacles, and the scene was repeated in reverse in the corner.

A had a friend with me, a composite dream friend that seemed to mostly be my companion Morgan. I showed her the card and we were both surprised through all our study, we’d never noticed this card. Looking through my deck again, I saw the usual Two of Swords, and I got a strange pit in my stomach. I had forgotten that there had been any other Two of Swords but the new one I’d just found – I felt both afraid and excited. We both started looking through the deck, and new cards I can’t remember quite began to appear. More and more, one I almost remember was an elaborate card, visually similar to an Ace of Cups or Pentacles and the Ten of Pentacles; It was ornate and incredibly different from anything I’d ever seen before, but still everything had the Waite-Smith ‘feel’.

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Seven of Swords

October 11, 2009

My understanding of the Seven of Swords was always somewhat shallow. The card’s picture in the Waite-Smith deck conveys theft, secrecy, and treachery.
The association which helped me most is one I read in the Crowley-Harris deck, which states that this card is associated with the Moon in Aquarius. Aquarius is marked by socialization, community, and networking – when combined with the powerfully subconscious body as represented by the Moon, the result can be the small, diluted expression of otherwise unarticulate, subconscious goals, often bubbling across many small actions or even whole chronic patterns of behavior. Shame or pride can drive desires down, especially in those who don’t discriminate in judging thought versus action. Belief that you can be bad for what you involuntarily are drawn to is unkind to the self and disrespectful of our powers of choice and consideration.
In the Crowley deck, it shows one large, powerful sword pointing upwards, towards the Moon which is drawing it into expression. Many smaller swords are slashing at it, the conscious personality, preventing it from manifesting fully. Seeing this, it becomes clearer in the Waite-Smith that the card is trying to show the danger of such expression – the character has become cunning and petty in his actions rather than putting that intelligence to work to draw out and honestly face the self.
Stated another way, the wisdom in the card is that sometimes we respond in dark or manipulative ways without accepting responsibilty for the why, and that in acting those ways we usually frustrate whatever subconscious goals which drive them. We may manipulate, pressure, or harm others hoping to get what we want – We kid ourselves and the ones around us, not facing the reality of why we are doing it, hoping to somehow arrive at an unarticulated goal.
The advice inherent in the card is to shine some light on those hidden drives and allow them healthy expression. In a practical reading, this card can show someone is putting guilt on others or misrepresenting the truth to perpetuate an unstable situation, or otherwise try to draw in something or someone they want dishonestly. People often do this to keep somebody close to them that is for one reason or another inevitably going to go; Rather than enjoying what they have while they have it and moving on, they dig in their heels and try to hang on as long as possible.
Crowley’s name for the seven of swords, Futility, is a strong name for the card – though it is less obvious that it can help guide one to revealing and accepting the self more fully. Its a struggle to allow ourselves to be honest and open with what we want, especially when we see how selfish we sometimes are – Accepting that what we yearn for beneath our choices might be better served in another, more direct way might involve surrender of something we hold dear, but also lets us respect ourselves for what we are and move forward with what we believe to be most important. Besides, our subconscious desires are valid, even if we drive them there because the confuse or challenge us socially.
All of our desires are, after all, helping us do what we are meant to – which is live and love and have fun, making mistakes and learning learning learning the whole way.

My understanding of the Seven of Swords was always somewhat shallow. The card’s picture in the Waite-Smith deck conveys theft, secrecy, and treachery. Pulling it as a daily card was important, and provided some much appreciated review of associations and concepts behind it.swords07

The association which helped me most is one I read in the Crowley-Harris deck, which states that this card is associated with the Moon in Aquarius. Aquarius is marked by socialization, community, and networking – when combined with the powerfully subconscious body as represented by the Moon, the result can be the small, diluted expression of otherwise unarticulate, subconscious goals, often bubbling across many small actions or even whole chronic patterns of behavior. Shame or pride can drive desires down, especially in those who don’t discriminate in judging thought versus action. Belief that you can be bad for what you involuntarily are drawn to is unkind to the self and disrespectful of our powers of choice and consideration.

Read the rest of this entry »