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Black Light Tarot

Dagaz(Day)

It’s funny how the languid, hazy heat of summer can elongate, enchanting a day to stretch on forever. Time feels bountiful; no longer huddled inward against wintry dark or wildly sowing seeds of spring, we might finally have enough hours in the day to shift our gaze outward and take in the view. Summer illuminates: it is here in these longest, brightest days that we can best behold the new landscape that has taken shape these past months.

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Complex in its simplicity, the Nordic rune Dagaz means day- both literally in hours of light, and more deeply in the daily journey each of us take through our lives. Dagaz encourages us to reflect on the passing significance of one day. Each day spans it’s own lifetime: born from the horizon, growing in vibrancy, dimming and retreating back into darkness. And within each day, we too live a full life, interacting with the intricately woven components of our existence: jobs, relationships, homes, communities. We move through our lives acutely aware of the import of every day, striving and grinding and hustling to make each moment count. Naturally, our view shortens and narrows; we disregard that each day is only one piece of greater scope of our life. Dagaz reminds us that each day is really just that– a day. Another will follow, and another after that, and another after that. So what if we took one day to let our gaze linger on the scenery we have created?

Dawn speckles everything around us in soft beams, and with it comes fresh insights and glimpses of newfound knowledge. Often, that which we see anew looks unfamiliar, even though perhaps it’s been there, right in front of us, all along. Which circumstances or patterns are just beginning to emerge from darkness, stippled in morning light?

The light grows stronger, and more vivid, and in bright daylight we see acutely clear. We examine ourselves: all that we’ve revealed throughout the winter, all that we’ve nurtured this spring, all that continues to grow and bloom and reach up towards the sky, all that is left to be tended, maintained, and pruned. Our gaze sweeps out further and maybe we catch sight of our path, for a moment we recognize where were are going, what’s ahead. What about ourselves and our lives has been clarified? What can we now see plainly? The view may feel breathtaking, overwhelming– too much to take in. But, the day is long, we have plenty of time.

Gradually, daylight fades and, again, the shadows settle in. What was radiantly lit now becomes dim. In the murky light of dusk, ideals and values we believed to be true morph, taking new forms, dancing along the edge of our vision, changeable, alarming in their unfamiliarity. Which aspects of our lives still leave us peering, struggling to see clearly, our eyes playing tricks on us as we stumble into the twilight?

Finally, summer reminds us that, even on the longest, seemingly endless days, there is still dark. And in the deep dark, no matter how hard we search, we simply cannot see. Which facets of ourselves remain shrouded in darkness, unseen and unreachable, waiting to be uncovered another day?

Having seen all there is to see, only once our vision is satisfied do we look again to the coming days.

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Summer Blessings: may each day enlighten and radiate.

Cards pictured here are from Wild Unknown Tarot
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Decluttering, or, Spring into Spring!

IMG_7494The days get a little longer, the sky a little brighter, and the world summons us out from the deepest depths of our wintry ruminations. And maybe you realized, with this newborn glimmer of light shed on your situation: stuff is kind of a mess. After many drawn-out months of reflection, revealing and dismantling and digging up various parts of ourselves, perhaps you- like me- have amassed quite a collection of emotional and psychic clutter.

Yet, the fledgling, hopeful first hints of spring are encouraging, and we feel prompted to do some tidying up. It’s time to lay it all out on the table: the tattered emotional memorabilia, the jagged-edged relics of expired relationships, the talismans of past journeys, the sets of antiquated dynamics and patterns—every piece of ourselves exposed and examined in the dimly lit weeks of winter spread out before us, vestiges from our dark inner crawlspaces.

We’ve uncovered some gems, of course. Tools and burnished treasures we didn’t know we possessed or hadn’t the experience to utilize sooner. Proud of our discoveries, we hold fast to these newfound assets- willpower, patience, assertiveness. We ask ourselves, how can I use these inner resources each day? And we do, we incorporate them into the routines and practices of our daily life.

And there are some solid maybes- pieces we aren’t quite sure how to employ but know that, once repurposed or re-envisioned, they could be of use. To make sure we don’t forget them, we store these articles- stubbornness, overconfidence, bluntness- out in the open, reserving them for later, when we have the time or the knowledge to better scrutinize and determine a use for them.

For many, the following part is the hardest: letting go of the pieces of ourselves that we simply no longer need. We contemplate each of these articles carefully, remembering when we needed them, when they brought us safety, reassurance, consolation. Our mind drifts wistfully along our collection of emotional security blankets- pride, avoidance, vengefulness. Must they really all go? What if I need them again? They’re taking up so much space though, cluttering up our psyche and leaving hardly any room for something new. And we’ve carried them around for so long, it’s time to set them down, to unburden ourselves from their weight. Resolutely, we begin to release those qualities that do not serve us, making space for the new talents we will cultivate throughout the year.

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So, with our load significantly lightened, we spring forth, embracing the growing light of each day.

Cards pictured here are from Wild Unknown Tarot

Cruelty

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That feeling when, right upon waking up, just before you open your eyelids, your thoughts are already hours, days, weeks ahead of you. Were you even asleep? Vague recollections of tossing and turning suggest you did, in fact, close your eyes. Still, it feels like you were ruminating all night, a theory the familiar ache in your jaw corroborates. You roll over, sink deeper into your warm bed, hoping to fall back to sleep, but your head hurts and your shoulders tighten and the thoughts just go, worries and stresses and stimuli running wild through your mind, contaminating every positive space with a breathless feeling of dread. There is no point in pretending to sleep, and with heaviness, you know this feeling will follow you throughout the entire day. So you just get up.

image4How many mornings of this can we take? This constant sense of impending doom is revealed in the Nine of Swords. Aptly named “Cruelty,” the Nine of Swords represents the incessant anguish of the anxious, hyper functioning mind: a mind that cannot settle in one moment, instead delivering a new fear or worry every hour, analyzing situation after situation for errors, evaluating every relationship to expose potential breakdowns. This torment is deeply felt: in the restlessness of our limbs; the under-oxygenated tightness of our chest and clenching of our shoulders, jaw, and palms; and in our dry, sleepless eyes. The Nine of Swords reflects the cruelty of expectantly waiting for the sword to strike, but never knowing where from.

image1However, it is not these agonizing symptoms of the Nine of Swords from which it gets its name. In fact, the true cruelty of this card is in its self-inflicted nature; the Nine of Swords embodies the kind of pain that we impose on ourselves. Developing from the entrapment of the Eight, the Nine of Swords speaks to our emotional, psychic, and physical response to a predicament or bind. Options and choices limited, our mind, made vigilant with strife and conflict, simultaneously punishes us for our mistakes and shores up our defenses. In the Nine of Swords, our mind is our torturer, incessantly berating us with a barrage of past errors and potential misfortunes- resulting in deeply felt despondency, regret, and anxiety. Indeed, the cruelty of the Nine of Swords is so profound because it is designed and enacted by the person who knows how to target our wounds and weaknesses precisely- our self.

image3Yet, while the Nine of Swords acknowledges our despair and anxiety, it also reminds us to hang on tight. Nines move us toward completion, culmination, and while the Nine of Swords in no way promises a happy ending, a conclusion often signifies potential for renewal. Without dismissing or invalidating our suffering, the Nine of Swords offers that perhaps there is some comfort to be found: a familiar face or voice, a breathing exercise, a warm dish, a half hour without screens, a comfortable room lit by a beeswax candle.

It is there, in our safe spaces, we might allow a pause in our self-inflicted punishment, momentarily easing the stress of our self-imposed beliefs. To stave off the cruelty of the Nine of Swords, it is imperative we find space and time, even at the most minimal, to allow ourselves some kindness. We memorize the path back to these spaces, find them as often as possible, rest in them, stay as long as we can, gather our strength to endure even the deepest anguish. Hold fast, the Nine of Swords urges, it should be over soon.

Cards pictured here from Aquarian Tarot, Wild Unknown Tarot, and Collective Tarot 

Neutral Ground

image1Be it over a project, an idea, or a cause, we are often presented with the opportunity to join forces with those around us. It seems natural that, as we labor so tirelessly, we attract others who share our passions and merge together in collaboration. It all sounds so great: distributing workloads and delegating tasks, contributing individual skills to a joint outcome, and celebrating achievements with those who value our work. Why wouldn’t we embrace the opportunity to endeavor together with people who see our vision?

Probably because, more often than not, collaboration doesn’t feel great. Often, collaboration feels like conflict and concessions and compromises. Often, collaboration leaves us feeling weary, frustrated, and discouraged. And the worst part is, even when collaboration doesn’t feel good, goals still need to be accomplished, the most imperative of which require more than one to be successful.

fullsizerenderThe Five of Wands forces us to reflect on our collaborative discomfort. While using the fiery energy of wands for progress and action, we are also confronted with the struggles and crises of a five. The happy culmination of our initial, individual effort is tested by the addition of other people. Joining together ideas, efforts, and personalities can result in power struggles, contests, and matches of will or pride. When required to incorporate multiple perspectives, we fear our ideas will go unacknowledged, our desires left unfulfilled, our plans derailed. The need for our ideas to be most right, our opinions to be most heard, our way to be the only way, often leads to the stagnation of a goal. Locked in stalemate, animosities increase and nothing gets done.

While possible to advance beyond this standoff, the Five of Wands instructs that progress will only be earned through conscious movement from all partners. In order to save a goal from the perils of teamwork, all contributors must shift their perspectives, feelings, and behaviors towards a neutral ground. This shift requires an active decision at every juncture to collaborate.

Even with this shift, some concessions still feel like losses and some compromises don’t really feel like victories at all. We still come away frustrated or worn. We face the unpleasant truth that, actually, it doesn’t always matter whether or not we feel good about working with others. We keep trying to find neutral ground with our collaborators, not because “unity,” but because we know stagnation is simply not an option. We know, especially as we strive to confront and dismantle systems that oppress and brutalize so many, we can’t let having our way get in the way. Decidedly, we move towards the middle, to meet our collaborators, because we know our goal is too significant, the stakes too high, to rest inert.

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Cards pictured here are from Wild Unknown Tarot

Upward, Over The Mountain

A new year opens and, naturally, we pause a moment to catch our breath, reflect on our life progress and set intentions for our coming steps. Capricorn season provides an opportunity to examine which long-range goals we have steadily chipped away at, which are we eagerly embarking upon, and which we have successfully summited. Wherever we are in our ascent, Capricorn reminds us that we all constantly climb mountains.

image1Nestled at the top of each peak lie our great, distant ambitions: progress, opportunity, position, stability, awareness, growth, but, most importantly, authority over our lives. The highest point holds our most ideal environment: an environment containing a just right combination of resources to thrive, boundaries to feel secure, and space to grow. But, in order to arrive, we must be willing to scale the heights.

As we traverse, we mark our progress by evaluating the current stage of our journey and honing our skills accordingly. Perhaps we are just starting out, finding our footing. We may be practicing our skills, or concentrating our efforts on more rigorous terrain. We could be applying the skills and knowledge acquired after traveling such a distance. Or, having finally reached the summit, we might rest comfortably, enjoying the space our hard work has crafted.

At times, the trek towards our ideal life situation is long, perilous, and littered with constant ordeals and obstacles. Our shoes may be too tight, our thirst too great, our bodies too sore, our will worn down. Hailstorms of oppression rain down on us and we drag along the heavy burden of binary thoughts and perfectionism. Exhausted and impatient, we doubt that we will ever actually get there and wonder if we should maybe just turn back and stay put in our ordinary, unchallenging valley.

Capricorn prompts us to keep our eyes upward, to combat our discouragement and weariness with a crystal clear vision of what we are striving for: the hard earned environment that meets our deepest needs. Because, like Capricorn, many of us aren’t willing to linger down in the valleys, dissatisfied and unfulfilled. Regardless of how arduous the expedition, Capricorn encourages us to persist in putting one foot in front of the other, tirelessly, until we reach the peak.

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May this Capricorn season carry you steadily upward, over the mountain.

Cards pictured here are from Nomad Tarot

5 of Pentacles: Making Enough

It’s a funny thing that, as the daylight gets more scarce and the nights longer and colder, it feels like we’re in the depths and wilds of winter, so that when Winter Solstice comes, the very Longest Night, the tipping point, we breathe a sigh of relief, grateful for the return of the light. What’s funny about it? That winter doesn’t even begin officially until after Longest Night, so this cold introspective party, full of secret, silent workings has really just begun! This realization can be stressful: we feel like we’ve been wintering forever, and it’s barely started–how are we supposed to weather the rest of the season? Especially if we don’t have enough–for warmth, for ease, for comfort or love or peace. img_7037

The 5 of Pentacles has been coming up all over the place in the last week or so–in spreads I did in person for myself and loved ones, in daily draws done by my people that I witnessed digitally. This is a card that makes sense for right now. Pentacles are about earthy things; not just money, but all the resources that we require as humans to keep our bodies and spirit whole and functioning: health, home, hearth, work, time, food. Fives indicate crisis and shifts. So, with them together, we have material instability. We’re feeling the lack, whether it be of financial space to buy the things that sweeten our lives and the lives of those we love, or of bonhomie and love from our family of origin. Maybe work is slow and you’re worried about being laid off, or the gas bill was too high, and so your little toes haven’t been warm in days. Perhaps your joints and muscles are reminding you that winter is barely underway. Or, possibly none of those are true, but you’re all alone, feeling unknown and unknowable, or too well-known, and too little-loved as a result.

When we have that feeling of Not Enough, it’s easy to slip into an exhaustive list of all that we’re missing–what we used to have and no longer do, what we deserve and don’t get, what we give to others but never get gifted. And that’s okay. Denying your feelings doesn’t increase your resources, so go for it–feel that fear that you’re going to be poor forever, explore your resentment about how you can’t ever get any reciprocity, let yourself be pulled down by the weight of your sick, broken body. img_7036

But don’t stop there–take a full inventory of all that you have, too. Because you do have, you have all sorts of resources that you discount and forget, that you disparage and ignore. Count carefully the skills you’ve spent a lifetime building (and recognize that you’re undoubtedly overlooking some) and figure out how you can use them to get the things you need but don’t have. Remember the work your body can and does perform for you everyday, even if imperfectly–your lungs that take in and expel breath, your heart that pumps blood to the outer reaches of your body. Notice the people in your life who show up, and keep showing up, in love and fear, through feast and famine.

When you don’t have enough, an accounting becomes even more important–you must not scorn what means you have, you must not write off whatever reserves you have as unimportant, unsatisfactory, worthless. Instead, acknowledge what all you have to work with, no matter how meager, no matter how scant. That acknowledgment is important, because The Hex would have you believe that you’re nothing, that we’re nothing, that we never have been or will be or could be enough to make a difference or to be worth struggling for, but we reject that bullshit, we call it out in order to cancel the lie of our insufficiency, we deny it to bind it from worming its way into our beautiful bright capable souls. We are Enough, even if we don’t have enough, and what we don’t have we can get, and if we can’t get it, we can dream and create ways of being that don’t require it.

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CARDS PICTURED HERE ARE FROM THE AQUARIAN TAROT, THE WILD UNKNOWN TAROT, AND THE NOMAD TAROT

Trust

Winter comes and, after the illumination of summer and autumn’s harvest of self-reflection, we are plunged back into darkness. We feel the days shorten and naturally img_6867retreat inward, withdrawing again into hidden thoughts, dreams, and emotions. But sometimes, it just feels real scary down there in the dark unknown of our inner self. Tarot is a flame to light the way as we delve deeper into the caverns of our own awareness.

Occasionally, fear of the unknown surfaces when I begin a tarot reading. I settle into my habitual practice (always lighting three candles, always cradling my labradorite, always cutting my deck to the left, always pulling right from the top), eager to unearth a new layer of myself, only to realize upon turning the cards over that I can’t see a thing. Like a candle suddenly blown out in the pitch-black night, should-be familiar surroundings are now shrouded in darkness. I panic. My mind races to escape the discomfort of such limited visibility. The doubts creep in and I just know… I’m not really that magical after all. I’m not really a witch. I was wrong all along.

img_6866Often, the self-knowledge and insight we seek isn’t readily evident. Intuiting the way to our inner self takes trust: the guided by only muscle memory through absolute darkness with your arms outstretched and your ears pricked up type of trust. When searching through the most obscure parts of our being, we struggle to breathe, to listen, to sense our way through this unlit space. Invoking the cool intuition of the High Priestess can help us navigate.

The High Priestess dwells comfortably in the darkness. Their vision is fully attuned, their body has memorized the path through the ethereal dark, and they move surefootedly through the murkiest of doubts and uncertainties towards self-knowledge. The High Priestess is content to listen and feel in place of seeing. They know that while the eyes and mind sometimes play tricks on us, intuition always speaks the truth. The High Priestess prefers to go it alone because they trust they can find their way and at the end of their shadowy path, their truth will be waiting.img_6868

Instead of spooking when we can’t immediately see, the High Priestess encourages us to trust in our magic, embrace the dark, and fumble through shadows on our own to arrive at the truths we seek about ourselves. No matter how indistinct the path, we stumble along because at the bottom of the dark is the “sanctuary of self-knowledge,” where we “find revelation into the hidden, esoteric, secret, inner-self.” (Greer). Only with trust can we intuit our way.

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cards pictured here are from Wild Unknown Tarot, Collective Tarot, and Aquarian Tarot 

Archer

img_6729Sometimes, the urge to create, to explore, to discover, to get moving, settles upon us. Whether it incepts gradually or in a sudden moment of inspiration, the impulse takes hold and once again, we’re ready to pick up our bows and launch into something new.

Eagerness for a new project is palpable, stimulating, compulsory– it won’t be ignored. Too easily we shoot blindly into the future, only to find our efforts landing far off course. Whatever the new project, to really hit our mark we must move forward deliberately.

So, like the most adept Sagittarian archer, we employ our zeal for something new but pick up our bows with intention. We set our sights on an end goal and aim well. We grasp the string firmly and draw back, purposefully pulling together our plans, proposals, and research. Upon release, we channel every force that will propel our project forward, all the while keeping our gaze locked on the final outcome, scanning carefully for signs of impact, looking away only when our arrow has truly landed.

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Wishing you an inspired, propulsive Sagittarius season.

cards pictured here are from Wild Unknown Tarot 

Embarkations and Initiations

Cards pictured are from the Mary-el Tarot.

Beginnings are delicate times. So much can go wrong as we get going, so much can happen to make action feel futile or unsustainable or trivial. So many beginnings wind up wasted.

 

20161120_155349You may be full of fire and energy, desire and ambition, even as you lack the sense to consider where you step. Or maybe you’re like me, so concerned with Not Messing Up, so focused on Doing It Right, that what feels like strong forward momentum turns out to be fruitlessly spinning wheels. Perhaps your attention is absolute, and progression is steady, but you’re unsure where you’re going, or what means to use to get there. Maybe none of these things are true, and it just feels bad to be starting–to leave things behind, to be unsure of what’s to come, to lack proficiency and ease in your movements.

 

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So, beginnings are delicate times. Delicate doesn’t mean simple, though. So much happens at the start, so many seemingly trifling but actually meaningful pieces live there. So much power, ready to transform…if we let it. If we allow ourselves to stroll–rather than speed-walk–through it, perhaps even loll about in it. We can plunge deep into our desires, peek (or peer!) into the shadows, get cozy with what scares us. We can stretch into the possibilities, spin out into what inspires us, partition the path ahead into concrete steps. When we brave a consciousness shift, open ourselves to the dizzying rush of all those potentialities, allow ourselves to feel them, we make ready for magic. We welcome ourselves as witches as we apply our will to the world.

 

20161120_155413At first, I thought this post was gonna be about The Fool, who stays open and moves forward, ‘in perfect love and perfect trust’, as Greer says (see References). But as I kept writing and thinking and revising and rethinking, I realized that I wasn’t talking about Major Arcana stuff and the journey of our souls, but about the earthly realm, and the journey of our bodies. Our bodies carry us through this brutal, beautiful life, growing and acting and feeling and thinking, figuring out our work in the world. We reach and fall and try harder and strive and fuck it up and try more and triumph and win and try and try and try again. There are so many starts, little conspicuous ones, and big secret ones, all wrapped up together with all the actions of our bodies. The Aces tell the humble stories of opening. They are the root of our imagination, the origin of invention, the crux of our issue (results), the seeds of implementation. When Aces pop up, they remind us that we can start again all the time, that fresh chances are always on the way.

 

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Welcome to Black Light Tarot. Thanks for joining us as we embark upon something new!

 

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