Card of the Day: Princess of Cups

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Today’s card is the Princess of Cups from the Manga Tarot

img_0630This Princess looks like she might be wearing a wedding veil.  She has flowers in her hair and a lovely kimono as she bears a golden cup aloft while riding a sea dragon.  I got myself into a little stir trying to figure out what the flowers in her hair were.  I used a plant ID website and (assuming that these illustrated flowers are based on real ones) I think these flowers are either Japanese Meadowsweet or Wild Sweet William which might be a type of Phlox.  I don’t know much about either of these types of plants, but there you go.

Botanical ramblings aside, there’s a lot to dig into with this depiction.  I appreciate the image of the Princess (sometimes called a Page or Squire or Daughter) as the cup bearer of the suit.  The card position typically depicts the youthful or inexperienced energy of the suit, sometimes shown as a young child excited at something.

This depiction shows a young woman but she isn’t rushing about like a giddy child.  Instead she takes her position and her role with seriousness and strength.  She understands that she still has much to learn, the dragon is as much her protector as he is her steed.  But she holds the cup carefully with a steady and intense gaze.  There’s almost a challenge in her expression, warning you not to trifle with her.  She doesn’t race into the fray like her sibling the Knight might do, she approaches with reverence and steadiness.  You can feel that she is in the progression and I feel hints of the Queen in this card.  It’s what the Princess will become as she grows in age and in her power.  Notice the way that the Dragon’s gaze matches hers.  A psychic link exists between the Princess and the Dragon, they are partners.

I get both literal and political forward motion out of this card, the Page wanting to advance and also the Dragon charging through the water, you can see it all displaced around him.  The control of the Page is very evident here, she sits serenely in the middle of all this chaos.

When you see this Princess it’s a sign of calm and respectful control.  This card indicates that there is much to be learned, but you’ve got a good grasp on things even if our surroundings feel wildly out of control.  Keep your eyes focused on your goals and someday you might become the Queen too.

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Card of the Day: The Hanged Woman

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Today’s card is the Hanged Woman from the Manga Tarot.

This card is more often named the Hanged Man, but you lovely readers already know that I like when a deck takes a different perspective on gender and sexuality.  The Manga Tarot IMG_0637does that often, showing women as warriors and men as nurturers in a lot of different ways. If they did a little better with difference in skin tone it would make the deck even more awesome.

In this depiction of the Hanged Woman we see a female bodied person standing on her hands underneath a waterfall.  It brings to mind that age old trope of the person seeking enlightenment by meditating under a waterfall.  I can only imagine the sensation of water roaring all around you, you’d have to close your eyes and all you’d be able to hear would be the sound of the water falling over you and crashing on the rocks around you.

Some of the meanings of the Hanged Woman (or Man or Person) are surrender and seeing things from a new perspective.  In the RWS illustration we see a man literally suspended by an ankle.  His suspension shows a presumably involuntary restriction, while this card takes a different approach.  The figure in this card stands on her hands suspended in the water of her own free will.  Nothing is hold her in place save for her own resolve.  She is surrendering to the rush of the water fall all around her in order to gain a new perspective.  Perhaps this is part of her training as she learns to become a warrior or a healer or a leader.  As she is shown here you can’t tell any of those things, we’re left without the visual cues, like a uniform, or a medical bag, that would normally signal those occupations.  I like that about this adaptation of the card, it’s a further instruction to surrender, don’t try to force a role onto her, accept the unknowable and you might gain a new perspective.

The Hanged Woman offers an alternative to the Fight/Flight dichotomy.  When we’re mired in a conflict those two options sometimes appear as our only options.  This card asks you to consider a third option, surrender.  When this card appears it’s a sign not to fight the issue or immediately run away, this card asks you to take a wait-and-see approach or to try to see the issue from someone else’s perspective.  Maybe this thing isn’t so bad, it could be that you don’t understand it yet.  As always, be gentle with yourself when you’re going through conflict, self care is very important, but be open to learning new things as well.

Card of the Day: Prince of Pentacles

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Today’s card is the Prince of Pentacles from the Manga Tarot.

IMG_0635This Prince (Page) of Pentacles is a fresh faced young man walking in a garden.  My immediate impression is that this is the youngest son of a powerful daimyo (samurai lord) who is taking on some responsibilities for the first time.  He’s wandering in his father’s garden carrying the pentacle that has been entrusted to him.  He doesn’t yet fully understand the ways of the world.

A Page can represent an actual person in your life or it can represent an energy that is moving around/through a situation.  A Page is a youthful/childlike person who is eager to learn.  They’ve got some of the basics, but they still have a ways to go before they attain mastery.

A Page asks you to consider approaching your situation with fresh eyes, maybe advising a change in perspective.  What would the problem look like if you stripped away the more mature or jaded way of thinking.  How would someone unfamiliar with the situation see things.  It might be that they’d see a new solution that you couldn’t see from your position mired in the middle of it.  It might also be encouraging you to feel free to get excited about something like you might when you were a  child.  No one does enthusiasm quite like a little kid.

This Page, Pentacles, is particularly concerned with the tangible physical reality of things.  He encourages you to delight in the physical things.  Eat the good chocolate you’ve been saving, drink that good wine.  Life is too short, eat dessert first and indulge yourself a little bit.  This pages promises an opportunity to experience something and encourages you to take it in fully.  Look for that chance and don’t hesitate to take it.

Card of the Day: Four of Swords

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Today’s card is the Four of Swords from the Manga Tarot

IMG_0633Just seeing this card made me smile.  The four of swords is a card of rest.  And I could really use some rest right about now.  Reading this card also gives me the impression of this rest being a very well deserved and hard earned rest.

The stack of rolled up mats in the background make me think that this is a dojo of some kind.  Although, the woman in the picture is sleeping peacefully, you can see from the four swords within arm’s reach that peace hasn’t always come easy.  The swords suit is the suit of the mind, intellect, academia, and the element of air.  These swords could represent some difficult choices that she’s been wrestling with, or some challenging mental puzzles.

Because they’re still right there with her, it indicates that the problems still exist, she hasn’t solved them all yet, but she’s able to take a break from them before they wear her out completely.

The old adage of ‘sleep on it’ might be the advice this card is offering.  When we’re completely worn out and over exhausted even small problems can seem like looming giants.

It also means to take a break.  Things might seem hard and you may feel like you can’t stop or else you’ll be overcome, but this card is telling you that’s not true.  You can and should rest so that you can keep going.

Card of the Day: The Moon

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Today’s card is The Moon from the Manga Tarot.

IMG_0627I’ve done The Moon before as a a card of the day, but I decided to do it again, despite the fact that I am nowhere near finished with all the cards.  I’m doing it because when I looked at this Moon card, I had no idea how I would read it.  And when I feel like that about a card it’s a signal that I have some work to do with the card.

Okay, so in the RWS smith card the moon can mean not seeing clearly or believing illusions.  It can also mean imagination too.  Maybe that’s what this Moon is telling me.  Dancing in the moonlight with a polar bear could certainly be a dream.  And, as I looked closer you can see that they’re dancing on the water.  The swans are swimming around their feet on a little pond.

Maybe I picked this card right now because I really need some magical dreamlike escape in my life right now.  These last few weeks have been really difficult.  I’ve been feeling really drained and there’s been a low grade constant anxiety humming in the back of my thoughts.   I could use a little dreamy distraction from the fear and difficulties of life for a queer person in the United States.

I most often read the Moon as a witchy power card, but that’s not the meaning I’m getting from this one.  I think this one is about embracing the imagination and letting it lift you out of whatever you’re mired in.  The song walking in the air sprang to mind as I looked at the sky in the card.  That song is a really nostalgic song for me and it takes me back to my childhood.   I now have the image of the girl and the bear flying through the night sky together.  Maybe with the swans too.  Swans can be fierce protectors and I think that’s their role in this card, the bear, a symbol of strength and power, is inviting the girl to step out of the things that threaten to drag her down.  This card feels to me a little floaty and dreamy.  I think it’s encouraging us to dream freely, especially if we’re feeling dragged down by the harsh realities of daylight.  Take respite in the light of the moon where things aren’t as sharp, and let your mind drift away from everything that’s hard and ugly.

After all, it’s a marvelous night for a moon dance.

Card of the Day: The Emperor

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Today’s card is the Emperor from the Manga Tarot

IMG_0632 I’ve always had a slightly touchy relationship with The Emperor.  I don’t love patriarchal undertones that the card always seems to be associated with in the traditional RWS interpretations.  It’s really mostly just that I’m pushing back against the archetypal gendered stereotypes.  I think the first time I felt really good about the Emperor card was when I found my matron goddess, Athena, on the Emperor card in the Universal Goddess deck.

The Emperor stands for control, structure, fatherhood, and authority.  It’s my ‘question authority’ mindset that tends to block my working with the card.  What it was important for me to learn, is that the Emperor card doesn’t have to mean submitting to male control.  It doesn’t even mean a man at all necessarily.  It’s just talking about energies that were typically associated with men.

The authority in this card doesn’t have to be a toxic corrupt authority.  In order for me to work with this card I had to recognize that authority isn’t a bad thing.  Authority can be any respected source that you trust.

That said, this is one Emperor card that I really like.  Although it depicts someone outwardly presenting as male, it doesn’t have any of that energy of autocratic dictatorship.  This Emperor actually appears to be consciously rejecting that kind of leadership.  You see the cracked and broken throne with a discarded crown behind him.  He sits on the ground instead, meditating in a traditionally styled samurai suit of armor.  The figure of this Emperor does represent authority.  He is a warrior, and seated in front of the throne gives the implication that he is a leader.  Maybe he defeated the corrupt ruler who used to occupy that seat, or maybe he was the ruler and he has come to understand that an iron fist isn’t the way to rule.

He also represents structure here.  He is meditating, following perhaps a spiritual path or simply taking time to improve himself.  He is recognizing the importance of time for quiet reflection and introspection.  This Emperor isn’t raging around his throne room screaming at the court.  When he speaks his words are soft and well considered.  He has earned the respect of his peers through his actions and his philosophies.

You can see this Emperor representing ‘fatherhood’ here as well.  Taking the gender out of the equation just leaves protection of his family/clan/people and safeguarding them.

He gives the impression of a calm well reasoned wisdom.  You’d feel good asking his counsel and taking his advice.  When this Emperor appears in your spread you can be sure that he’s carefully considered what to do and you know you can trust the authority he represents.

Card of the Day: The Fool

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Today’s card is The Fool from the Manga Tarot.

IMG_0634This Fool card bears some of similarities to other Fool cards: it has a figure approaching a cliff, there’s a canine companion, and the figure doesn’t appear to be able to see the huge drop off right ahead.  But there’s a lot more about this card that reads very differently from most Fool cards that I’ve seen.

For starters, I think this is the least colorful Fool I’ve ever seen.  Often times the Fool is portrayed as a very festive, jester-like Fool, in the tradition of the medieval fool.  This card is nearly monochromatic; only a few details like the brown cast to the stone of the cliff, the skin tone, the trail of red under her feet, and the little pink tongue of the dog have color.

Also this fool doesn’t feel like the starting of a brand new exciting journey into the unknown.  It looks bleak.  The figure is covering her face, she looks depressed, and my first thought is that she’s walking to her death off that cliff.  Instead of a beginning she seems to be heading for an ending.  At first I thought the red color indicated flowers blossoming under her feet, but in the context of the card they sort of make me think of blood.

In traditional readings the Fool represents taking a leap of faith into a new an unknown situation.  The Fool doesn’t know what lies ahead, but they’re unburdened by worries and they skip happily down the path of life, footloose and fancy free.

The Fool in this card, shown all in white, carries a few other connotations.  Although this is the Manga Tarot, the deck contains some racial diversity, and can’t be read as being exclusively Japanese; however, since Manga is a Japanese art form, I can’t exclude those cultural influences without losing some meaning in the cards.  In the Shinto religion of Japan, white is the color worn by pilgrims.  It’s also the most common color for wedding dresses in Japan, and in many Asian cultures, white is the color of mourning.

In some ways, this Fool could be any of those people.  Whether going on a pilgrimage, getting married, or mourning a loss, all of these require stepping forward into the unknown, perhaps taking a leap of faith.

This Fool card is showing us a Fool who isn’t at the very beginning of her journey.  She has walked through the path of the Major Arcana already once, and now she has come full circle again.  In walking up to that cliff, although she is clearly afraid, covering her eyes, she is willing herself to take that leap again, fighting her instinct that tells her that she’ll fall if she takes that last step.  This Fool, more than any other I’ve seen, is urging you to be brave and to trust in the power of a new beginning, even if you’ve been battered and disappointed before.   It’s okay to be afraid of the fall, as long as you don’t let your fears trap you and keep you from moving forward.  She knows that even when it seems the most bleak and painful, we can always reinvent ourselves if we’re willing to take that risk and be vulnerable again.  It’s never too late for a new start.

Card of the Day: Death

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Today’s card is Death from the Manga Tarot

IMG_0636It’s Friday the 13th, let’s talk about the 13th card in the Major Arcana.  Death!  Oh no, Death!  A scary card!  Right?  Well, maybe not.  Let’s dive into the card.

Okay, sure–the card shows the grim reaper taking someone into the light.  Or does it?  Maybe it’s a hooded monk showing a young acolyte a painting on a temple wall.  Maybe it’s a wise witch teaching her young apprentice how to create light with a simple spell.

Maybe you see something else in the card.  The point of all the ‘maybe’-ing here is to get you to pause for a moment and question some assumptions you might have about the Death card because it can mean different things.

I’m not going to tell you it never means an actual death, because anything is possible.  However, in my experience, this card usually means something else.  Sometimes it’s a symbolic death, the ending of a phase of life, the end of a job, or a breakup.  All of these things can be painful and there might be a period of grieving associated with these losses.  This reading is not at all meant to denigrate feelings that you might feel around these kinds of events.  The Death card recognizes that endings can be frightening.  Change can be a frightening prospect, even if it’s change for the better.  Maybe you’ve just been diagnosed with diabetes and you’re looking at the end of delicious food forever (spoiler alert: it’s not, it just means a new approach to delicious foods in smaller portions or less often.  Ask me how I know 😉 ).  A death or an ending is a major event and this card is telling you to honor those feelings and give them some space.  Let yourself sit with the changes and absorb what it might mean for you.  But don’t forget that there is a second energy in the Death card.

Look at all that light!  It’s practically shooting out of the card.  That’s because the flip side of death is life.  Sometimes we have to let go of our past circumstances, relationships, or jobs in order to move forward.  The Death card shares some traits with another ‘scary’ card, The Tower.  Both of them talk about changes, but where the Tower card represents sudden frightening change, the Death card can be a slower and more organic ending.  When it shows up it might be indication that a change you’ve been afraid of making is really the right choice.  Perhaps there is some change coming up in your life that’s completely out of your control and you’re feeling anxiety about it.  The Death card could be appearing to reassure you that this change is for the better.

When you see Death, remember that all things must end, and that maybe this end is a fresh start for you.