Hello friends, what a surreal extraordinary time for all of us! Feels wrong / passé to even just say hello, like is that urgent enough? Is that appropriate for the heavy and heady mix of emotions we’re all experiencing at any one time? Well, appropriate or not, it’s what I have, and I share it with you all.
For this edition, I answer 3 questions, which all (again) have this same thread running through it — all 3 querents are looking around at where they’re standing and asking “Is this right?” We get a prickly array of cards, the ones that usually show up when you’ve dug yourself into a pit of indecision and doubt. Maybe I gave the same answer 3 different ways, 3 different times. Consider it a spell of goodwill and hope, like Dorothy clicking her shoes. Thank you to all those who sent in questions, you can always send me more at this open form here. All cards featured are from the Apparation Tarot, image descriptions of the cards at the very end of the newsletter.
I hope all of you are in good health, safe, and in touch with your care community; I hope you have enough gentleness, ease, and joy to fight against despair.
L1: My career changed over the past 2 years and the deeper I get into my purpose the more I am asking myself what success in my career actually looks like. How do I know that I am moving towards success and what does this path look like?
When I read your question it felt like there was something shifting in between the letters. You say you're asking yourself what success in your career looks like for you, then you ask how to tell if you are moving towards success. The answer to both is that you decide. You decide what success is, then that helps you decide what path to take. Cups cover the realm of emotion, the fluidity and diversity of our feelings and the Fives in tarot mark a midpoint in your journey, where often there is a pause. The pause comes with conflict and challenges, and with those come reflection. If looking forward isn't yielding answers, take time to look back. Why did your career change? What initiated it, was it your choice or was it circumstances outside your control? What lead you to where you are today, what does that path look like?
See those upturned cups? When your purpose and career changed, so did your definition of success — does it now seem harder to achieve, more scary, more exciting, more worthwhile, harder to explain to people in your life? Now turn to the two cups still standing. What feelings pushed you through what must have been a significant upheaval? Desire, courage, fear, joy, defeat, weariness? The Five of Cups ask you to take inventory of what’s been lost, what’s been grieved and not, what remains the same (in good and bad ways) and how you got here. The path is in your own story, review the cycles you’ve already experienced for clues to fill in the map for the way forward.
L2: How do I un-sticky myself from expectations of who I should be at 30: a woman with ambition, driven, successful? In fact, I am 30 and a stay at home mum to a young toddler. I tell people of this choice and they look at me like I've made it wrong. I've seen faces that say that I'm a loss of potential. I don’t know if those faces are actually projections of my own fear.
The Eight of Swords is quite literally about projections of fear, and (in my experience) tends to show up when you need a blunt reminder that a lot of what makes us anxious comes from the engine of our own minds. Similar to the querent above, I ask you: how do you define success, based on the reality of your life? I can't fill out that mind map for you, but now would not be a bad time to make a vision board, journal about your own hopes for yourself, make a motivational playlist while you parent your child -- the suit of swords is connected to the element of air, and to the realm of the mind and your intellect, and sometimes it needs some external action to get you out of your own head.
Imagine each crooked dagger pinning you in place as a thought you think other people have about you. Pull it out / put it aside by rewriting the script. If you’re not for motivational speeches, just go back to reality — does raising your child mean something to you? Does maintaining your home and/or family mean something to you? What do you do in your daily life that gives you meaning, however small or big? What have you always been proud of in yourself, and where does it show up now? Unsticky yourself by getting to know yourself, now, exactly as you are.
L3: How do I start building the foundation for the life I want?
There's a wintry chill in the Five of Pentacles — both in the sense of stocking up for hibernation and of being left out in the cold with meagre supplies, or nothing at all (very The Ant and the Grasshopper). Pentacles are connected to the element of Earth, and deals with the realm of the material, how we create, and where our sense (or lack of) safety is rooted. What IS the life you want? Could you write a few pages on it? What does it comprise of and what does it look like? Flesh it out like you would a home in the Sims. Furnish it. Render the rooms, catalogue the items, tally the supplies. Check your bank accounts, check your assets, check your five year plan, check your insurances, talk to the partners you're working with to build this life you want.
The realm of the material covers also the socio-economic systems you and I are both a part of, just like our fellow humans, all trying to survive and flourish under capitalism. There are some big questions here — how comfortable / wealthy was your upbringing? How many financial safety nets do you have access to? What is your personal experience / knowledge of poverty? How does all of this inform how you take risks, what opportunities you think are open to you, your resilience? What is your relationship to not having enough? How have you reacted in the past, when you've felt lacking in security or stability? Build the foundation by looking at the soil you stand on, its weaknesses and strengths, the stresses it has experienced, any faultlines you need to be aware of.
extra bits, just because
🌟 "Each Ace card holds the energy of its suit’s entire journey, so that when we see the Ace of Pentacles we may see the Ten of Pentacles in our mind’s eye as a potential future we could guide ourselves through, knowing full well that there are no real endings. [...] The Aces are there to remind us: we can begin again. Anytime." A great meditation on the Aces by Dhiyanah Hassan, on her Patreon. Gave me some great new ways to think about the cards.
🌟 I've been following along as best I can with the Basically Baking Challenge. I've made this earl grey yoghurt loaf, along with a million other Bon Appétit aficionados and honestly maybe you should too, cause it was really easy and good. Something else really easy and good (other than acquiring/making the dulce de leche, for me) are these shortbread cookies, which I've made twice!
Previously, I wrote about Temperance and Justice. “When I turned up the flames inside of me, I felt burned. When I burrowed deeper in retreat, I felt drowned. It was hard to figure out Justice at either end of the extreme.” Again, you can send questions for me to do readings for here.
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Image descriptions: All cards are photographed against a background of white fabric with a pattern of irregular stamped on gold circles. Five of Cups: A pair of eyebrows and open eyes, filled with blue tears. Below them 3 upturned goblets with double handles, a pattern of circles around the rim and base and square inset on the side of the cup. From them rain fat blue drops. To the right, 2 goblets right side up, separated from the rest of the scene by a squiggly thick black line. Eight of Swords: A pair of eyebrows and deeply lined eyes, looking hunted and directly at you. In front of the eyes, 8 curved white and red checkered daggers in disarray, a single eye on each dagger handle. Five of Pentacles: A figure with long-ish hair submerged in dark blue water, with only their head and hands visible above water. In front of them 5 pentacles neatly arranged in a half circle, above them 6 snowflakes of various design.