Card of the Day: Ace of Cups

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card is the Ace of Cups from the Happy Tarot

I know that the whole deck is happy, because it’s the Happy Tarot, but this one just img_0456looks that much more happy.  I mean, come on, it’s a happy cloud showering blessings over you in a giant rainbow.  It’s like Lucky Charms in here.  And that makes me grin like an idiot.

Aces are always a good sign, so it’s already got that going for it.  And look how delighted that little cloud looks.  The little n_n eyes and that big smile, it’s literally carrying the pot (cup) of gold at the end of the rainbow.  It holds that unattainable thing that in normal life you could chase for your entire life and never find without the aid of a leprechaun.  The Ace shows an outpouring of emotional healing and love that the cups suit is known for.

We talk a lot on the internet about having “all the feels” and whether these feels are good or bad there’s often a sense of being overwhelmed by them, like they come in as a huge flood that bowls us over and leaves us exhausted.  This isn’t that feeling.  This kind of soaking is the kind that leaves us energized and renewed, like diving into a pool during the middle of a hot summer day.

You can see lotus blossoms floating on lily pads in the water below.  The ace of cups is a sign of a fresh start, the cascade of water can wash away the hurt and pain you might be carrying with you.  Luxuriate in the water and let it wash you clean so that you can emerge renewed.

If you see this card in a reading it’s a sign that a refreshing cleansing period is starting or that you need to do some emotional cleansing.  Sacred baths, sound healing, or maybe a soothing tea are in order.

Advertisements

Card of the Day: Seven of Wands

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card is the Seven of Wands from the Happy Tarot.

fullsizerenderThe poor little seven of wands.  Se’s got such a worried look on her face.  She’s backed up onto a hill, might be missing one of her shoes, and from the looks of it, that river of frosting might make for some unsteady footing.  The crowd of wands (presumably being brandished by something/someone) jostle menacingly in the foreground.  Her posture is very defensive, but there’s a note of not wanting to hurt anyone.  Notice how she’s pointing the (and yes, this is stretching a little) non-pointy end at the crowd.  If we view the frosting covered end as the fighting end, which makes sense in this metaphor since the ends being brandished are the frosting ends.

The fact that she has one boot and one barefoot (or it could be a shoe) are an indicator that she’s conflicted.  She’s got one foot in the world of all those other wands and one foot over that hill into the unknown.  Maybe she’s running from an oppressive government or a bad family situation.

Or maybe those other six wands are fighting amongst themselves.  Maybe she’s watching from her vantage point and staying out of the fight entirely.  Those two different footwear might indicate that she can understand both positions, but the fact that she’s not in the fighting means that she doesn’t agree with either one.

She doesn’t want to have to hurt these people, but she’s reached her limit.  It’s the fight or flight moment and she’s chosen to face down her problems.  She’s making her stand on her little hill and she’s going to defend it.

If you see this in a reading it’s a message to stand firm.  You might be getting a lot of pressure from opposing sides, but hang in there.  Keep aware of your surroundings, stay up on the hill and don’t get mired in the mud and fighting below, but don’t give up either.  Maybe you can see both sides of the fight and can see the pros and cons of each.  Like that cat in the famous 80s posters they sold at every book fair, Hang in there!

Card of the Day: Four of Cups

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card is the Four of Cups from the Happy Tarot

IMG_1323You may have noticed that I’ve been using the Happy Tarot a lot lately.  I adore this deck, but mostly I’m using it a lot because this is the deck that I’m carrying around in my purse.  Also the four theme is entirely coincidental, last card of the day was the Four of Pentacles.  This was just the card I drew next.  Although, it probably means I should pay attention to my fours and see if my deck is trying to tell me something.

But let’s get into this four now.  I’m not sure if the figure in the picture is sulking or if they’re genuinely sad.  Half of their face looks kind of bored and the other half looks sad.  I actually covered half of the face with a finger to look at the divided expression.  So there’s probably some mixed feelings going on here.  With the Four of Cups it could be either.  The card speaks about turning inwards, which can either be self reflective or self absorbed.  How I’d read this card (how I’d read any card) would depend on where it fell in a spread and what the querent was asking about.

I think it’s really interesting that the Ace of Cups is represented in this card too, the happy little cloud on the right side is that same cloud that appears on the Ace of cups card.  This sends the message that good things are in the works, the Ace is on its way to shower the figure with love and blessings.

Another note I see in this card is the suspension of feelings.  Notice how there’s one cup sitting in front of the figure and two others tied up into the tree.  One cup is threatening to spill over.  There are several messages we can glean from these suspended cups.  It shows that the figure has a lot of feelings to deal with right one, the empty cup isn’t very urgent, we can’t see anything in the cup, but the other cup is overflowing and starting to spill out.  If you read these cups as feelings it’s showing either a refusal to deal with those feelings or a temporary shelving of them.  In a crisis a lot of feelings are present, but sometimes we have to set some of those feelings aside to deal with the most important ones.  In that case it’s okay to compartmentalize and deal with some of those cups later.  The problem comes when we’ve shelved those feelings and never paused to deal with them later.  The feelings are still there and some might be about to spill over into our present.

I think the central message of this card is that we need to strike a balance when we turn inwards.  Spending too much time navel gazing means we miss out on what happening around us.  However, without at least some self reflection we can’t grow and we risk stagnating.  The flip side of that coin is that if we shut ourselves off from everything and sulk, alone on an island, with our eyes shut, we also miss out on the opportunities and happiness that might be all around us.

Don’t avoid life so long that you forget to live it.

Card of the Day: Four of Pentacles

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s Card if the Four of Pentacles from the Happy Tarot.

This little guy looks like a little snob, turning up his nose at the world from his throne of IMG_1320pillows.  He has his back turned to the city behind him, seeming to reject the establishment.  The wall between them makes me think that he’s forsaken the city and is trying to pretend that he doesn’t care about those losers because he’s got everything he needs with his shiny golden pentacles.

He is clinging to the past where things were better and stubbornly refusing to accept that things have changed.  The future, represented by the city in the background looks friendly and welcoming.  The sun shines out of the clouds and bathes the whole scene in sunlight.  It’s the cheery environment of the card that tells us that the figure holding the pentacles is being ridiculous.

The four of Pentacles can also indicate someone being money grubbing or only caring for physical things.  Perhaps someone is neglecting creative or spiritual pursuits, which sometimes you have to do to get your bills paid, but this card is a reminder that money isn’t everything.  I’m speaking from a place of privilege here.  I can afford to spend some time on myself and still pay my bills.  I only have to work one job.  I want to acknowledge that, but at the same time to encourage everyone to try to find some time to nurture themselves outside of the money making grind.

When you see this card it’s an indication that you need to take a look at what you’re doing.  Is some new change upsetting you and you’re refusing to acknowledge it?  Things might not be as bad as you think, open your eyes back up and give the city another chance.  Take some time to play with that puppy or snuggle the kitten right in front of you.  All change causes stress, but it’s not always bad.  Release that which does not serve you so that you can make room for good things to come in.

Card of the Day: Five of Cups

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card is the Five of Cups from the Happy Tarot

IMG_1306I really like that this card shows a little kid crying about spilled ice cream.  I think it neatly captures the meanings of this card.  The Five of Cups reminds us not to waste our time crying over what we’ve lost so long that we forget what we still have that we might miss while bemoaning those spilled cups.

The reason that I like that this card shows a little kid is that when you’re little enough to be crying that much when you’ve dropped your ice cream it’s because your feelings really do run that deeply.  The losses the little kid is facing are very real to him.  So it’s okay for you to feel grief for the losses the cups represent.  This card isn’t telling you to suck it up a deal.  This card is just a reminder that although there have been some losses, there’s more behind you that you’ll miss if you don’t open your eyes.  In this depiction it takes one further step too, the cups in the foreground were mostly empty already.  The cups behind him are full still.

The five of cups is a note to try not to focus on what you’ve lost and to remember to look around for what you do have.  While it’s okay to feel sad about what you’ve lost, when you come up for air and dry your eyes, you’ll see the bounty that still surrounds you. ❤

Card of the Day: Queen of Wands

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card is the Queen of Wands from the Happy Tarot.

IMG_0458After a brief hiatus I’m back to the card of the day series, without further ado here’s the Happy Tarot’s Queen of Wands. Right off the bat I like this card.  It’s got cats on it.  And any card with cats is a card I like.  One of these days I really should treat myself to one of the cat Tarot decks.

The Queen of wands is typically regarded as a fiery and sexual queen.  I’ve probably said this every time I talk about the wands in this deck, but I love that her staff (wand) is candy.  It looks like spun sugar candy that was wound around her staff in a magical ritual where there was dancing and spinning and lots of sugar and candy.  I can imagine her twirling with staff in hand, eyes closed, to amazing music, while she crafts her magic.  That’s probably why her cat is socked out asleep at her feet.  Of course, the cat could just be sleeping because, you know, cat.

I like the juxtaposition of this imagery that comes to live in my head alongside the image of her sitting serenely on her throne with that little quirky smile on her face.  She got all those fiery creative energies at her beck and call.  She’s the person you call if you’ve got too many projects on your mind and you can’t get your attention focused on just one.  She can help you bring your racing brain into control.  She’ll get you on track, and you’ll probably still have time to pet the cat.

Card of the Day: Strength

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card is Strength from the Happy Tarot.

IMG_0457When I was working my way through the Alternative Tarot course I drew Strength as my first card, the one I was supposed to hold as my guidance through the course.  I’ve got a special spot in my heart for this card.  And I especially like the Happy Tarot version of Strength.

I also think it’s really neat that this is the card that came up right after the Magician in the last card of the day post.  These are the two major arcana cards with the infinity symbol on them, and here they show up back to back.  I don’t believe in coincidences any more.  Not in my spiritual practices.  I believe that when things of this nature happen, they’re messages for me.  So clearly I’ve got some work to do around the concept of infinity and connections between the Magician and Strength in my life.

But for today we focus on Strength.  The default connotation of strength conjures up miraculous images of women lifting cars off their children or  muscled men hefting barbells over their heads.  But that’s not the strength you see in the Strength card.  The Strength card demonstrates a gentle strength.  We see a woman with flowers in her hair removing a thorn from a lion’s paw.  This kind of strength is a gentle and compassionate strength.  The bravery needed to walk up to an angry lion and the wisdom to know that the lion isn’t going to eat you, it just needs the pain to stop.  It’s the courage to face your fear and figure out the problem and solve it gently.

One of my favorite lessons about this card came from Rebecca in a guest post she made for Little Red Tarot.

“…Strength is whatever gets you through the day. Some days, that’s just endurance, or even apathy. But whatever gets the job done.”

There are a lot of different ways to be strong, and there’s no one right way.  Sometimes strength could be feeling anxious about going to a social event, but going anyway.  It could be feeling afraid of a new medication that you have to inject, but learning to do it even though you’re kind of scared of needles because it’s what you need to do to manage your diabetes.

Strength is about doing what needs to be done even when it’s difficult or scary.  The card can show up as a reminder of what you need to do or it can show up to show you that you have the Strength within you to handle the problem.

Card of the Day: Two of Swords

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card is the Two of Swords from the Happy Tarot.

This is one of the least ‘happy’ cards in the Happy Tarot at first glance.  The card depicts a IMG_0454blindfolded woman in a chair, carrying two crossed swords.  It’s the middle of the night and only a crescent moon casts a dim and hazy light over the scene.  She sits with her back to a rushing river.

Her entire posture seems to be one of a stubborn refusal to acknowledge or accept something.  It could be that she’s trying to keep out of a deeply emotional situation that she’s feeling overwhelmed by (which could be what the river represents).

She holds those swords closely over her chest, almost like she’s struggling to balance them or brandishing them at unseen enemies.  Cats look on with curiosity and perhaps a little wariness.

Looking more closely at the card you can see that she isn’t tied to her spot, she could at any point, set down the swords and remove her own blindfold.  This card isn’t one about being held down by external forces.  It’s talking about being in a situation and choosing not to deal with what’s going on.

The other thing to consider is the way she’s got the swords crossed over her heart.  Literally protecting it with weapons.  I think it’s important to recognize that this card isn’t saying that the woman has made a bad or unreasonable choice here.  Sometimes situations force you to cut yourself off from things or people that are harmful to you, and it’s always okay to take steps to take care of yourself.  The message here is to be careful of closing yourself off completely to everything.  The more we close off from everyone and everything around us, the further away we get from those things that can help us.  It’s kind of (pardon the semi-pun) a double-edged sword (get it, two of swords? Okay, I’m done, I promise).

Ignoring a problem isn’t going to solve it in most cases.  It’s okay to take a break and gather yourself before you try to face down a giant beast, but try not to let it get the best of you so you don’t end up blindfolded on a chair.

How to Choose a Tarot Deck

Before I launch into a post about choosing a tarot deck I have to make a small confession. I’m not super choosy about buying tarot decks.  I have a small collection of them and I love to get new ones if one catches my eye.   That said, despite owning a bundle of them, I always circle back to a small handful that I love working with.

But that’s absolutely okay.  I don’t see anything wrong with collecting tarot decks; they’re beautiful art pieces, powerful tools, and great meditation aids.  Like any kind of collection, as long as your bills are paid and it’s not causing you harm, you should feel free to indulge yourself.  I used to feel guilty when I bought a deck that I didn’t use, but I realized that was a waste of energy.  Your favorite deck may change over time and one that you used to use all the time might take a backseat as your life changes, your reading style changes, or your reading audience changes.  I used to rely heavily on a Robin Wood Tarot deck, but as I’ve grown and changed I find that it’s too white and heteronormative to resonate with me anymore.  I’m not saying it’s not a good deck, just that my needs in a tarot deck are different now.

IMG_0844

Some of my collection, sadly unorganized at the moment because my studio is a mess.

So, how do you choose the tarot deck that’s right for you?  In my experience it’s a bit of a trial and error process until you find a deck that really resonates with you.  I want to tackle one stubbornly popular myth first.

Myth: You have to be given your first tarot deck.

This little story really annoys me.  Firstly, it takes your agency away from you.  You’re just

8_of_pentacles

Universal Fantasy Tarot

supposed to wait patiently for someone to magically guess that you need a tarot deck and then give it to you?  So many people would never get a deck!  This isn’t even considering people who might be living in situations where tarot is misunderstood and feared.  Also, I think that choosing and buying your very own tarot deck gives you a leg up in working with your chosen deck.  For me, tarot is about empowerment, and what could be more empowering than taking your own initiative and choosing your spiritual tools yourself?  Of course, this isn’t a slight against people who did have someone else give them a deck.  If someone gave you your first deck and you loved it and it’s perfect, that’s fantastic.  I guess what I’m saying here is that there is no wrong way to get a deck.  Except maybe stealing one.  The energy of theft is probably not the best energy you want to introduce into your tarot.

Okay, so you’ve decided that you want to get a deck, awesome!  But where do you even start?  There are hundreds and hundreds of possibilities out there.  You can find themed tarot decks on almost any subject you can imagine: CatsDragonsAliens, or even Baseball.  That almost makes it harder because there are so many options!

IMG_0570

Universal Goddess Tarot

So here’s my advice: you need to find a deck that you’re charmed by.  If you can, start by looking into Rider Waite Smith styled decks.  A lot of the intro to tarot websites and books are focused around that style of tarot.  That makes it easier to learn the meanings of the cards and you’ll have plenty of bloggers who use a deck similar to yours and lots of decks to learn from.  I also echo the suggestion of lots of others who suggested that you get a deck of “dudes doing shit”.  To be clear here, I don’t mean that you need a deck of men, but a deck with humanoid figures interacting with each other and the environment often makes it easier if you’re just getting started.

For me it’s really important that the deck be in an art style that I can connect with.  The more you look at decks, the more you’ll get to realize things you like and things you don’t like.  Personally, I’ve found that I don’t care for photo manipulated decks; I like drawings better on my cards.  I also like decks that have some traditional RWS symbolism but aren’t re-drawings of the exact same images.

You should also consider what you’re going to be using your deck for.  Do you want something to read spreads?  Then you might want something that is clear and easy to

IMG_0845

Witchlings Oracle Deck

understand, something like the Happy Tarot, the Robin Wood, or something like it.  Do you want something to help you connect with spirit?  Something like the Universal Goddess Tarot might be perfect.  I use my Universal Goddess deck both in divination and in goddess meditations.

Another thought I wanted to mention was that you can also consider oracle decks if they suit your wants.  I know this post is about how to choose a tarot deck, but most of it can also apply to oracle decks.  Obviously, with an oracle deck, the RWS advice about finding one with people doesn’t apply, but aside from that, look for something that you feel a pull towards and that you really like.  Oracle decks are not the same as Tarot decks, but don’t let anyone tell you that they’re inferior.  They’re just a different way of card reading.  In case you’re not familiar with the difference between oracle and tarot decks, it’s that tarot decks contain 22 cards in the Major Arcana and 14 Minor Arcana (also known as pip cards) in four suits that make up the 78 cards in a deck.  Oracle cards come in every flavor of the rainbow, and come in any number of cards, sometimes with a booklet for reading them and sometimes without so that you must rely on your intuition to decipher a spread of them.  I enjoy both types of decks and I own an assortment of both.  I do a lot more work with my tarot cards, but sometimes the simplicity of an oracle deck is too appealing to pass up.

IMG_0453

Happy Tarot

I also want to point out that sometimes the really great decks will surprise you.  I bought the Happy Tarot (see the Hermit card there?) because if was adorably sugar sweet and filled with cupcakes.  I didn’t really expect it to be a deck I did serious work with, but I’ve been so wrong about that.  The deck is great and I have found it to be wonderful to work with.  Don’t discount a ‘cute’ or themed deck as a novelty item right away.  Some of them are, but some will work just as well as a super traditional Rider Waite Smith.

The last piece of advice I have is that it’s okay to buy a deck and realize that it’s not the right deck for you.  If you hold out for The One True Deck you could get paralyzed and end up never trying any at all.  And here’s my second confession: part of the reason that I have so many decks is that it took me a long time to understand that I didn’t have to find the Perfect Deck.  You might use one deck for a while and then ‘outgrow’ it and start working with another.  And that’s okay.

So there you go?  Shop around, find something you love, and know that it’s okay to change

img_0548

Wild Unknown Tarot

your mind or pick more than one.  I’ve found that Aeclectic Tarot is a great place to find information about different decks.  They have reviews and purchase links for most decks.  Also check out the Tarot blogs, I post reviews here on The Wooly Witch from time to time and so do lots of other Tarot bloggers.

It’s also totally fine to throw all my suggestions out the window and do things your own different way.  That’s a big theme for me as I walk my spiritual path.  Learn all you can, take what makes sense, discard what doesn’t resonate with you.

Happy reading!  If you’re new I’d love to hear what your first deck was/is/will be.  If you’ve been reading for a while, I’d love to hear how you picked your first deck.  As you can tell, I love decks!

Card of the Day: The Empress

S W I M I N T H E S E A

Today’s card comes from the Happy Tarot by Serena Ficca

IMG_0455This card has a lot going on and there are a bunch of details that I adore about it.  It’s almost hard to know where to start!  I enjoy all the elements the artist has included from the Rider-Waite-Smith deck, like the crown of stars and the pomegranates. But what I love most is that she kept the elements but still were able to give this card her own spin.

This card has an almost Disney-like feel to it, with all the happy animals gathering around the figure in the middle.  The Empress is a nurturing, supportive figure: she’s meant to balance the strong leadership of the Emperor.  As I do when talking about gendered cards, I like to avoid characterizing them as necessarily male or female.  Just as you can have a woman in your life represented by the Emperor, the Empress could indicate a man.  It’s important when reading the cards to try to think of these figures as energies not tied down by traditional gendered norms.

This card shows fertility everywhere!  So much is growing and existing in harmony in this sun-soaked setting.  The card flows smoothly from the burst of new life of the spring bunnies to the late summer abundance of that wheat field.  The sweet Empress is overseeing everything here with a sense of excitement.  She encourages you to nurture your own creative urges, whether that’s writing a novel or mapping a new bike trail.

The crown of stars on her head represents hope in the new creation.  The Empress will support and encourage you to get out there and Make Things!  Create!  Bring new life to your world.  This is a fantastic card to see when you’re starting some new creative venture in your life.  It’s also a fantastic card to see when you’re looking to help others.  Always be sure to consider both aspects of the card: it might be an energy to support your own plans or it could be a call for you to support someone else’s.

As Neil Gaiman famously says:  “Make Good Art.”