tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

What is the lie I keep telling myself? )

Speaking of Tarot history and the origins of the card, Biddy Tarot has a really great interview with Robert Place about the history of the cards. It is academically and authentically grounded (protip: they're not Egyptian) and easy to digest, and even though it's a podcast interview, Biddy is really great with having transcripts so you can read instead.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
Today's prompt was: Pathfinder: What do I need to stop running away from?

5 of Cups, reversed )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
This is a good question, I feel: what should I attract into my life? Though, of course, "should" can be read in a dozen different ways. You should attract different things depending on your goals, right? The kind of energy and opportunities I can attract to make cash money are not necessarily the same as the ones you want to jumpstart creativity, or find love, or so on. What you need to be happy isn't always the same as what you need to be a better person (at least in the short run). But I'm going to stop overthinking this question and see it as: what should I attract into my life to help me become my best self?

What should I attract into my life? )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I'm not sure what today's first question ("What do I hate about myself? Why?") has to do with purgatory, but I'll just let that sit. But what do I hate about myself? I had plenty of time to sit and stew on this question before I actually flipped over a card. I thought about my tendency to be loud and domineering in circles; my tendency to just hold forth without actually facilitating a conversation. I thought about my need to always be right; to have the last word; to be sarcastic.

Five of Swords wouldn't be too far off the mark, I thought, and then drew my card. Page of Swords. Not too far off the mark, then?

The trick is connecting the Page of Swords to the reversed 10 of Pentacles, which came up way back on Day 11. I want to like that spread. I really do, but I had such a weird non-reading with it. Maybe that means I need to try it again. And if you go waaay back to the very first spread in this monthly meme, the Page of Swords comes up as my quest. But reversed. So if the Page of Swords is what I hate about myself, is the quest about ridding myself of that energy? Hm. Hmmm.

Likewise with the 4 of Cups: we've seen this card before: what I can't accept about myself. But this is in the Victorian Romantic Tarot, not the St. Petersburg or any other Waite-Smith clone, so the image is a bit different:

Someone is not having a good time! But seriously: what do I hate in other people, and why?

This one I didn't think as much about beforehand. I hate when people are greedy, hateful, self-serving, and so on...but that isn't what the 4 of Cups is about. It's about something so much more mundane and harmless: being grumpy.That's kind of low-key thing to hate, isn't it? So...petty. But I guess it isn't just any kind of grumpy that grinds my gears. It's the self-indulgent and childish sort of "I didn't get a pony for my brithday wah" grumpy. Depression is real, and we do all have to process disappointment and despair to be healthy, but then when it becomes that masochistic and self-destructive grumpy...no thanks. There's so much worse stuff going on that you should save your grumpy dollars for.

This is one I hate in myself, too. I know I can get this way fairly easily.  And I guess you often hate in others what you don't want to admit to yourself....

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

Maybe another reason I've slowed down with this shadow work meme is that a lot of the prompts are sort of meaningless for me. Last one was about my Inner Child, which is frankly in the category of New Age concepts I don't buy into (maybe that's why my card was the 10 of Swords?); coming up is "inner god" and questions of divinity, which I don't really know if I hold truck with either. But I'll keep on keeping on. It's better to use my cards more often than not, right?

Today was day 17. According to the meme:

Intimacy: How I can strenghten [sic] my bond with the loved one(s)? )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I started this in November. Now it's march and today marks the halfway point. Even with skipping some prompts and combining others, I'm still (obviously) lagging quite a bit! It doesn't help that even with extra time and thought, the "Shadow Work Spread" reading doesn't make any damn sense.

So what advice does my Inner Child have for me )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
I kind of dislike the gender binary implied by talking about masucline and feminine sides. I recognize the reference to Jung, and I have a semi-competent understanding of what he means with animus/anima; I just don't think it's appropriate to place it here stripped of context. (A Jungian spread would have been perfect for this challenge! Missed opportunity tbh.)

I've never really had conflicting feelings over my biological sex or gender identity but I've been watching the discussion around trans identities unfold and really skyrocket the last five years and it's been really educational, enlightening, and occasionally heartbreaking. Needless to say, much as dualism can be appealing, I'm casting these question in a slightly different light: boldness and patience. Am I too bold/patient, or not enough? How can I better channel these two conflicting qualities to achieve what I want?
The readings: )

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
Today's prompt is what can't I accept about myself? Why?

The card I pulled was the 4 of Cups, reversed. Oh boy, reversals!!

If the Page of Clubs was straightforward, this was another think-y draw. On its surface, the 4 of Cups is generally about discontentment and dissatisfaction. The honeymoon period is over, the magic is lost.

This is a card where a Waite-Smith (of which my St. Petersburg Tarot is a clone) and Thoth comparison is interesting and potentially fruitful.

In the Thoth deck, this card is titled Luxury, and is associated with Moon in Cancer. As the Moon is Cancer's natural ruler, this would initially seem like a positive and comfortable card. I mean, "luxury"? But the colors and image, while not devastating, are hardly warm and fuzzy:

But this was not a reading with the Thoth deck. This was, as with most of the readings so far, done with my St. Petersburg deck, which is a Waite-Smith clone.

The primary differences between the two are that the figure in the Russian Tarot is blonde and dressed in noticably luxurious (hey! that word!) clothing (of course, all of the clothing in the St. Petersburg Tarot has lovely embroidered bits along hems and ediges, but here it is overmuch), and instead of sitting with legs and arms crossed, he's kneeling and has one hand raised to his chast, palm out. But there are still three cups before him, a tree branch above him, and an ambiguous sky-hand. Is the fourth sky-cup one the figure is desiring in his grumpy mood? Or is it one being held out to him that he can't see because he's grumpy?

The LWB for this deck takes the reversed meaning of this card (since I did draw it reversed) as unambiguously positive: new possibilities, new solutions, new relationships, new knowledge. More or less in line with the reversed meaning given by Waite in The Pictorial Key to the Tarot. Hardly something I would "refuse to accept about myself."

I am not somehow secretly unhappy or dissatisfied with my life, generally speaking. Perhaps this "generally speaking" is the kernel of the issue: I'm not acknowledging whatever dissatisfactions I do have. In what arena of life could I be ignoring my own unhappiness?

After two years in a foreign country, I have a solid grasp on the language, though not the fluency of my mother tongue. But I'm handling it.

I have a solid, long-term, supportive relationship.

My career is a bit slipshod at the moment. At the moment I'm gunning to be a certfied teacher, but since my credentials aren't originally in education (aside a CELTA, which isn't nothing, but it's also not a multi-year degree program), I'm realizing now I potentially will have a lot to make up. And even now, I only think I'll like it. I know that schools can be a bereaucratic, political nightmare (all this on top of managing students) and I don't know if I have the inner reserves to handles that. Otherwise: do I have the inner reserves to be a proper freelancing editor and tutor? Or do I give up on all of my English-related career goals and return to retail instead? Should I focus more on my fiction writing? On jewelry?

LIkewise my partner's career is slipshod for similar reasons, namely having a lot of education to make up. It would be lying to say that it didn't stress us both out. This goes hand-in-hand with my slipshod career: we both have fairly meager safety nets to begin with, and we both acknowledge a sense of fiscal and general responsibility for the other. I do look at my other immigrant friends who are equally slipshod in their careers but who have partners with stable and fairly well-paying jobs, and sigh wistfully. Sometimes.

It would be a hard thing to admit that the career experience I've accrued so far might not be relevant for what I would actually end up doing, or that I might need to put my career aspirations on hold for the sake of a little more money (and probably a lot more peace of mind). Is this what I can't accept?
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
So here we are, nearly a week into December, and I haven't continued on with the challenge. It might as well be Shadow Work Winter, at this point. ;)

I drew this card ages ago, though. It's just finding the time to sit down and write. Ironically, I think the challenging cards prompt me to write more, because I need more space to work out my thoughts—the kind of "no shit, Sherlock" moments are, on the other hand, are so clear that it's more like, "Ah, fair point. Moving along..."

Today's, for example, is The Devil: What do I need to let go of? And I drew the Page of Clubs. (Clubs = Wands, in this deck.)

The Page of Clubs is energetic, creative, passionate—but he is also inattentive and quick-tempered. He's not as pushy or domineering as some of the other court cards, at least. But things still get under his skin and he can be quite impatient: why isn't everyone doing things his way? Can't they see that it's the best? And if he later realizes that there are better ways, he's not always comfortable owning up and apologizing.

So there you have it.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
I sat down to do this reading thinking that the Id/Ego/Superego reading was next. I double checked the graphic just now and I see that it should be The Devil (What do I need to let go of?). If you're counting along, I haven't forgotten that one. I'll get to it next time. :)

If you're not up on your Freud, the id, ego, and superego are the three parts that make up the sum total of your conscious experience. The id is pure desire and impulse; the ego is calculated strategy, and the superego is the conscience and ideal self. One way to envision the three parts is the ego navigating conflicting desires: what the id wants (usually something akin to immediate gratification) and what the superego wants (usually to be a better person, or to live up to some ideal).

Id, Ego, Superego )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I thought a lot about this day's prompt before I shuffled. I think this may be the most uncomfortable question so far. Sometimes I do a thing where before a reading I wonder about what cards would be especially appropriate, or confusing, or just plain funny.

What would happen if my significator (Queen of Cups) or any of the Cups courts came out? That would be a laugh riot. 7 of Cups would be a funny card, too: I'm out-of-touch with the ideas of my own out-of-touchness? 7 of Swords: I see myself as honest but I'm really a tricksy, lying bastard? Ace of Swords? And so on.

What I got was a reversed 7 of Clubs.

Calm down, child. Not everyone is out to get you. Not everyone is glued to your every move, waiting for you to make a mistake so they jump down your throat. You really do take shit way too seriously and get needlessly defensive—it's okay to chill the fuck out once in a while.

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
At this rate, it'll be Shadow Work November/December! Man, I don't know how people found the time to do these exercises every day over on Instagram. Even underemployed I'm falling behind...

So today's prompt is Day 7: Sage/Crone: What is my Inner Truth?

With all the heavy words like sage and crone and Inner Truth, I was ready for this to be a heavy duty card. And I get...

8 of Pentacles, reversed.


(I can never find the image I want of cards from the Tarot of St. Petersburg, so all you get are my crappy cell phone pictures. Sorry!)

The 8 of Pentacles is about hard work, perfection (often in the form of studying, or apprenticing under a master), and fine-tuning details. Some people thrive under that; for other people it's tedium with a capital T. Golden Dawn correspondences peg this card as Sun in Virgo.

When you set up a day with words like Sage and Inner Truth, a ho-hum little Minor Arcana is a bit of a let down! (Though, scrolling through the #shadowworkoctober tag on Instagram, someone else got 10 of Swords as their "full potential" so oof could be worse...)

So much of my anxieties boil down to the struggle between perfection and imperfection. I bust my hump on my work (creative or paid) and it's worries over the imperfections and the flaws that keep me up at night—am I really being the best teacher I could be? Will this manuscript ever be good or am I too much of a talentless hack to bring this idea to fruition? All very relevant to the discussion in the previous post as well.

I drew this card days ago but it was so weird and confusing that I sat on it until now. Like: it is a pretty perfect reflection of my innermost drives at the moment, but it doesn't feel like a "crone-like" truth, won after years of reflection and experience. Is this going to be my eternal struggle, something I never quite make peace with? But that is mostly me, getting hung up on a name and expectations. 
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I thought this prompt was going to be serious and difficult. I was fully expecting to cry over this one. Instead, I was just...puzzled.


I have always been inclined to see the positive side of the 9 of Wands (or Clubs, as in this deck). Its presence indicates struggle and even conflict, but also success. The figure in the Waite-Smith 9 of Wands may be exhausted and beaten up, but he's at least accomplished something.

And I do not believe for a second that I need to forgive myself for some faux flaw like "working too hard" or something, because what kind of "shadow work" would that be? So what are the negative, reversed, inversed meanings of this card? In other words, even though I drew it upright, how would I read it reversed? It's embarrassing that it took me basically an entire day to consider that angle.

What is the inverse of the 9 of Wands? What is the opposite of that meaning? Overwhelmed and exhausted but without success, failure, defeat, overrun.

In other words, a lot of the feelings I've been staring down in my personal/professional life. I'm in a situation right now where I feel like I've failed to meet all of the challenges set before me. Not only that, I don't have any energy left to try again or to face any new ones that may come my way.

That I should forgive myself for being so despondent and defeated is strange. Had I really been beating myself up that much about it?

Maybe not exactly, but I haven't been allowing myself to feel that way. Not really. I've had temporary bursts at my boyfriend or elsewhere on LJ, but within the paradigm of "let it out so it will go away, get over it so you can stop sitting around and feeling sorry for yourslf." Not the healthiest attitude towards one's own darker moments: "I'm getting real sick of this shit." How would my friends react if I said that to them while they were having an awful time? Never mind that it would never, ever in my life occur to me to say something like that to them. I treat myself worse than I treat my friends.

For that, I'm sorry.

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

I'm doing things a bit out of order, here. The truth is I need a bit more thinking on Days 6 and 7, so I'll come back to it in a moment. Day 8, on the other hand, is at least halfway easy!

For me (and honestly, I think if you polled people), the three scariest and most negative trumps are Death, the Devil, and The Tower. As is practically the in-joke right now, "DEATH ISN'T ALWAYS ACTUAL ACTUAL DEATH IT'S USUALLY CHANGE!!!" and so there's the positive spin. The Devil—The Devil is the card of Capricorn, which is all about hard work and creating structure and form. Even the artwork on the Thoth version of The Devil has an image of the anaphase portion of mitosis (a cell dividing in two to reproduce asexually) right in the foreground.

That leaves us The Tower.

But good spin can you possibly put on The Tower? It is the worst. It is losing your job, your spouse, and your parents in the same 24-hour stretch.

I guess, if one recovers from The Tower, you can say that it's given you a clean slate. A new start. That's the gist of what the Instagram posts for this one say. (A lot of other people also chose The Tower.) But if you never recover....?

I am dubious of this particular exercise, I suppose. "There is good and bad in everything!" smacks of the wrong kind of New Age frou-frou sweetness and light philosophy. Sometimes, things are terrible, and there's no two ways about it. Sometimes shit happesn to a person and there's no lesson to be learned, no "new path" to be taken. Sometimes it's just one more turd on a shit sundae, and to pretend otherwise is harmful.

tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)

Putting aside the possibility of "my least favorite card to interpret," I'm going to assume this question is aimed more towards: which card's energy/appearance makes me uncomfortable?

Putting aside the Majors (they get their own question later) and the court cards (just because, as a class, they're weird and difficult), I sat and thought about all of the negative, uncomfortable pips. And there are definitely some that are uncomfortable! In general, I think the most heart-breakingly terrible cards are the usual culprits: 3 of Swords, 5 of Cups, 5 of Pentacles, 8 of Cups, 9 of Swords, 10 of Swords, etc. Those turn up and you just want to throw your hands up and say fuck it, I'm running off to join the circus.

But the funny thing is, a lot of them don't touch me. They haven't all turned up a lot in my readings (at least, about my own shit), so I don't have a particular memory of "oh that time I did a reading and then there was card and that thing happened." So after a lot of reflecting and thinking on the pips, I finally have my least favorite one.

RWS, Pamela Colman-Smith

Legacy of the Divine, Ciro Marchetti

Everything about this card speaks to some kind of hard-to-articulate disgust. The thing that separates this one from the two other serious contenders I had (8 of Cups, because I've lived that painful moving-on; 5 of Pentacles because DAMN SON WHO LIKES BEING BROKE) is that there is just no possible end in sight. The figure in the 8 of Cups is leaving behind something, but they're also moving to something new. The kind of destitution in 5 of Pentacles at least has a simple solution, if not an easy or possible one (MO' MONEY). But oh, man. The endless drudgery in carrying those wands is my idea of hell.

I value my independence and my freedom. It took me a while to realize that this was a truth about me, because in some ways (emotionally) I am extremely reliant on others. My greatest fear was (and is) dependency; for a while I saw myself as a dependent person just because I was in a headspace that couldn't disconnect "my greatest fear" from "my biggest flaw," or understand that everyone is dependent on other people to at least some extent and that I'm not exempt from that.

The connection to the 10 of Wands is this: I realize that I have the emotional fortitude to get over the 8 of Cups, and I naively believe I have the luck to weather out the 5 of Pentacles. In a sense, much as I don't like being in the space of those cards (and I have been), it's comforting to be able to 1) recognize those times for what they are and 2) have the belief/knowledge that they will end. But when I look at the 10 of Wands, all I see is forever. A trap. "Life's a bitch and then you die." I know myself well enough to know that I will never set down that burden, or ask for anyone's help. And I see a personal blind spot that might trap me without me even realizing it. Because I might convince myself that carrying all that crap by myself is somehow ~*~freedom~*~ or ~*~independence~*~.

In short, it's the only trap in Tarot that can last for the rest of your life.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
Days 3 and 4 of Shadow Work October make a nice pair, so I did them together

Brief comments on fear. )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
So I had a nice long post ready to go, and then I made the mistake of checking it in the visual editor. Somehow it doesn't like LJ-cuts and ate half the entry. Then I accidentally navigated away from the page (trying to go back and see if it would "remember" what it ate) and that just lost the whole thing.


Anyway, some errant Googling led me to discover that a Thing happened on Instagram called "Shadow Work October." It seemed interesting, but when I found it October was more than halfway over, so I put it off to November. The whole thing seems to be organized by Instagram user @mnomquah so you can go and peruse her feed if you want. Here's the original image she posted with all of the prompts:

I'm not going to do all of these, but I would like to try a lot, if only to have a reason to handle my cards more. Since the mandala bit isn't really important to me personally, my first day of the challenge is day 2, the hero's journey.

Now, there are a lot of spreads based on Joseph Campbell's idea of the monomyth—Tarot nerds are also huge Campbell nerds, more often than not—but the spread I used was one given by the aforementioned @mnomquah, and it seems to be a spread of her own creation. Here is the layout:

And with commentary:

1) The Hero - Who are you at the beginning of your journey?
2) The Quest - What is the conscious purpose of your journey?
3) Refusal of the Call - The reason why you're afraid of to seek out what you desire
4) The Guide - Who/what will guide you on your journey
5) Road of Trials - The lessons for you to learn; what you need to go through
6) The Dragon - Your greatest obstacle to overcome
7) Death - What you have to leave behind?
8) New Knowledge - What new wisdom and power you will obtain on your journey?
9) Boon - What you will take back with you to share with others
10) The Hero Returned - Who you come back as from the journey?

Here's how it turned out. )
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
(30. Do you practice any other forms of divination? If so, what is it, and do you use them alongside the Tarot as to gain more insight or as something separate entirely?)

I am somewhat schooled in the field of astrology. While I don't think the Tarot was ever designed with Western/Babylonian astrology in mind, I can accept the historicity of the one being shoehorned into the other and so will consider those relationships and characteristics in a reading if I need something more to go on, so to speak. That said, I rarely use astrology in a predictive sense. I'm mostly a lazy armchair natal interpreter at the end of the day; I don't have the knowledge or the skill for electional or horary astrology. I call up my solar returns every year, and am well aware that this is the year of my Saturn return, but that's about it.

I did try to learn I Ching because there is something about the repeated manipulation of things that appeals to me, but I've generally not been impressed by the translations. (Not their fault; from what I understand, the original Chinese is even more obscure!) I think (and hope!) that Benebell Wen's translation will eventually be available to purchase, in which case I would pick it up. I don't know if I would use it in conjunction with Tarot, however. The Feng Shui Tarot (which I talked about before in this meme) attempted to marry I Ching trigrams to feng shui principles to Western Tarot and I found it a bit too much. 
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
A resounding "no." My resources on the Tarot have been books, both new and "classic," Tarot communities (Aeclectic), and a dash of blogs here and there. While I envy anyone who managed to come into the practice under the guiding wing of a beloved elder, I think I've done fine on my own.
tarot_scholar: An image of Norman Rockwell's interpretation of Rosie the Riveter (Rosie)
I don't know if my Christian mom would be entirely okay with it, but we've never talked about it so I could be wrong. My boyfriend doesn't put much stock in it, but he has no kind of moral qualm with my interest. I'm sure there are other friends I have who more or less agree with him, but they're nice enough to not harangue me (and I don't go around harping on about Tarot much in real life, either, so I like to think we do each other favors).
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