I’ve been intrigued by Tarot and the idea of “having my cards read” for a handful of years now. It’s never been a high priority, or something at the top of my brain, but more of a mulled-over wondering at the back of my brain, sneaking up on me when I stumble across mysticism, &tc. As is often offensively clear I think the overwhelming majority of religious practice is hogwash; my interest in Tarot doesn’t stem from spiritual interest, but from the idea that it’s an exercise designed to make you look at different aspects of your life in an unflinchingly open way, and therefore a great exercise in self-reflection.

On Saturday, I stumbled across Dreaming Lion Tarot. Alyson’s shop At the Warehouse is fairly near to my mother’s, so the stumbling was less haphazard than it might have seemed. I was wandering the craft spaces visiting with Mauri and Maryellen, looking over the new antiquey finds (I fell in love with a wheeled tea cart that was, fortunately for my downsizing self, already sold), watching a stained glass artisan fashioning a beautiful hinged box, and generally enjoying the ambiance when I popped by the little booth with dreamcatchers displayed on the wall, an array of candles and incense and random mystical objects that I couldn’t name for you scattered artistically over tables, and a gorgeous oak-and-willow gate. I popped in and spoke for several minutes with Alyson and her daughter, and made the impulse decision to sit down and have my cards read.

(I should point out that Alyson’s demeanor is the real reason why I made the choice I did; she’s friendly, bright, and warm without being bubbly or overly familiar — a mix that is very rare to find, but an absolute gem among those in service industries. And I think diviners are service professionals, as much so as masseurs or aestheticians. She’s also incredibly tall (taller than I am!) and confident, while still being welcoming and gentle and tremendous fun.)

The experience of the reading was wonderful, although I was struggling so hard to memorize the spread of cards and how they fit together, I’m sure I missed some of what she said. She had me pull ten cards for a first spread, a general or basic reading, followed by three cards for a slightly more focused spread. (I’m sure there are formal names for these things, but i don’t know what they are, so you’ll have to bear with me.)

  1. The first card turned over represented me — and it was the Knight of Wands. A strong card, the Knight is the one in shining armor, always energetically seeking the best, right way to do things. The Knight is often single minded and unafraid of hard work or danger. The somewhat negative side (because there’s always a negative side) is that the Knight is sometimes (often?) blinded to other paths, with a “must be my way” attitude. (As Alyson explained this to me, I couldn’t help but laugh. “That’s about as accurate as you could get for me right now.”)
  2. The first card was crossed with the second, the Heirophant. In some decks the Heirophant is considered the Pope, though not in Alyson’s particular deck. The card represents wisdom and learning, the desire for knowledge and the power that it brings. Crossed with the Knight, for me it indicated both the power and desire to mentor and be mentored. A reminder that there are always multiple sides, equal and opposite poles — and that I should be open to both teaching and being taught. The card can also indicate an awareness of my failings to always consider other viewpoints, and a desire to improve on that. (Score 2 for Alyson.)
  3. The third card is indicative of my past, where I’ve been. I drew the Queen of Pentacles, a nurturing older woman, Reversed. Alyson indicated that this most likely represented someone whose love and care could be a little forebearing, someone whom I loved but needed to break free from in order to stand on my oen and succeed alone. Myself, I think it’s a representation of me-who-was, she who wanted and needed to be needed more than anything else.
  4. The fourth card is indicative of my present, where I currently stand – I drew the Five of Wands. The Wands suit is all about work and career and drive, and the 5 of Wands is particularly indicative of a refusal to stop when the going gets tough. And also, the continuation, that when something worthy and worthwhile is completed, acknowledgement is given and enjoyed but only en route to the next hurdle.
  5. The fifth card indicates the future, where I’m headed, and I drew the card for Judgment. The Judgment card is about evaluation and summing up, earning the reward of whatever work I’ve done, love I’ve shared, goodness I’ve reaped — for good or ill. It indicates rebirth — evaluation in order to move forward and start again, start anew, start a new chapter of a particular story. It’s a card of balance, tempered by mercy, taking into account intention and will and desire as well as that which has been.
  6. The sixth card pulls together the previous five, and serves as commentary on them; I drew another card of the Wands suit (but don’t remember which one. With this card, Alyson made note that this reading was clearly about my career, poised as I am on the precipice of a work-fueled move, and all. She also made it very clear that while the spread thus far indicates that I’m driven by career-work, I’m clearly not consumed by it, but that with the constant push and pull of balance, I need to keep that in mind.The next four cards are a little different.
  7. The seventh is indicative of my influence on the world, what mark I leave, and I drew another card of the Wands suit. Which means that I leave my mark through my drive to succeed but also through all of the work I do, simple or complex. It’s and that I’m not too proud to do whatever is necessary. In that way, I lead toward change, but again, have the potential to ignore outside ways or means which I have to work to overcome.
  8. The eighth card is indicative of the way the world influences me. I drew the 6 of Swords, Reversed, which Alyson spoke of as areal or perceived conflict in the past that now is assumed to be resolved. The sword suit in general is indicative of pain and struggle, trial by fire, as it were; my willingness to work and push through whatever stands in the way (per the many Wand examples) is a good match for such an influence. There’s also the possibility that, being one who seeks the path of hard work and trial, I bring the pain and conflict onto myself. (My thoughts: “cart, meet horse.”)
  9. The ninth card represents one’s Hopes and Fears, and I drew Justice. Like Judgment (which was number 5, my Future card), Justice is about Balance, but unlike Judgment, Justice is blind and without mercy. Justice is a reward and recognition for accomplishment, for that which is earned, and represents both karmic balance and the balance of human law. In this position, it is both my greatest hope as well as my greatest fear. (I think it’s two-sided. Firstly, in all of the Civil Rights battles waiting to be fought, there are definitely legalities that I fear and loathe, and also change that I wish for desperately. Secondly, there’s always the fear of not being good enough, of not actually earning the reward I want so badly — a hope and fear that are all wrapped up together, as well. Interesting card.)
  10. The tenth and last card of the first spread is the culmination card. I drew one of the Cups. The suit of Cups represents the bridge between one stage and another. As a culminating card, indicates that this reading is about one thing (career, move to NYC, my life stage to now), and shows that I’m ready to move on, to embrace what comes next. Following wands, which is hard work with ideas, Cups represent hard work with action.

In other words, my message to the world had better be “Bring It On.”

The second reading was much faster — I drew three cards, and my memory of the interpretation is much fuzzier. The first card was the Tower, the second was a card that I don’t remember, and the third was something with Cups again.

Alyson was pretty well convinced this was a completely different reading, and thus not about my career at all, but either about love or family. The Tower represents catastrophe, devastation, a loss of control and a giving up, in order to start anew. A built in phoenix-from-ashes kind of story. The second card was indicative of one who carries baggage, who moves on from difficulty without a whole lot of reflection, and thus can be emotionally stunted. And the third card, when held up with the other two, was a message of sorts — use the catastrophe and the starting anew, a tiny phoenix with a fresh start, to move through the emotional crap and embrace the future with experience *and* positivity. That it’s possible to have both.

All of that being the case, it probably was a message about love and relationships; the mess that ended three years ago in tears and recrimination and withering malaise, and which pretty well stunted every blossoming opportunity that’s come my way sense. Interesting how the timing of messages, with karmic balance and Judgment balance out; I’ve taken some delightful steps forward in that regard in the last few days.

  • Yesterday, I found a packet of old love letters from the sunny time of that romance, and laughed over the sweet, blushing silliness. And one read-through made me realize that I don’t need to keep them, so they’ve been added to the campfire-kindling bin.
  • A week ago, that old love called me up — and gave me a glorious opportunity to say, “no, thanks” and provide every element of surprise in the doing. I’ve felt remarkably light and carefree and at ease since then, and have found myself walking along smiling, humming, and doing little skippy, dancing steps completely out of rhythm. It’s taken three damn years, but I’m starting to tap-kick my little romance-whirled world back into place, and am absolutely loving it.

So, Tarot. A fun, engaging, insightful way of asking questions that get me thinking about things I otherwise might be disinclined to consider. I’m always looking for more of that.