Saturday, 30 January 2016

Destiny or not? How to tell the difference

Earlier I wrote about not giving away your power in life. But what if you are simply hit by a bout of bad luck, or some events are destined to happen and you can't direct them? None of us can win the lottery with sheer willpower, after all.

So, how to know whether you're dealing with a situation that can be changed, or are simply down on your luck and have to accept it - for now?

Firstly, I think there's two polar opposite world views in play here. The other edge says: it's all in the hands of fate/god/universe, there's not much I can do to change it. The opposite edge says: it's all up to me and there's no obstacle big enough to keep me at bay. The most realistic attitude to take is - IMO and quoting the Serenity Prayer: help me to change things I can change, accept the things I can't change, and know the difference between the two.

But, how to know the difference? Tarot to the rescue [drum roll]! Tarot contains cards to tell when things at play are brought to you by destiny - or luck or chance, whichever you'd like to call it.

Cards indicating destiny

The most "obvious" destiny cards for me are the World (successful and/or natural ending, completion of a chapter, lesson learned), the Wheel of Fortune (chance, luck, destiny, change) but also the Empress; she's often interpreted as the divine feminine or the principle of femininity (as in: ideal woman), but also creativity, nurture and nature. For me personally, the Empress is about divine guidance: what is heralded by the Empress is a blessing on its way.

I interpret the Wheel of Fortune to mean a situation that will have long-term impact on life. The Wheel moments in itself can actually go unnoticed. Often only after years it becomes clear that the specific encounter, decision, action or day was much more important than seemed.

Other destiny-related cards for me are the Star - hope, optimism and (spiritual/divine) guidance; the High Priestess - listening to one's intuition and inner wisdom; and Tower, inevitable, sudden shock to the system.

However, many tarotists believe that everything in life is part of destiny - destiny, after all, is the life's path. Cards can tell what's going on in your life in the spiritual or metaphysical level. Hence, any and every card tells about the spiritual, deeper meaning and a lesson in life a mundane event, mindset, feeling or action can have.

Is destiny unchangeable? 

Here we hit an interesting question: is destiny, as the name implies, pre-destined aka unchangeable, or is it merely the course of events that happen? The former assumes a fatalistic view: what will happen, will happen. The latter thinks: things that I do and things of happenstance are what form to be my destiny - I'm making my own destiny.

I think life is a mix of both, but most importantly, it always depends on our own and other people's choices and decisions.

The most common times for people to request a love reading are at the edge of a new relationship, or on a rocky patch in their current one. More than once I've pulled shiny happy cards telling that the couple will do just fine, and that's how it went - for a period of time. Until the situation changes. Sometimes it's a temporary glitch, sometimes it's final separation.

I've been pretty gutted by this because I've thought I've interpreted the cards wrong. Did I inadvertently encourage people to stay together, when they, in fact, separated later anyway? What was the point? However, when I've asked about this "wrong" advice I've received, the answer from the cards was: you helped them to complete a chapter in life, learn a lesson.

Every relationship happens for a reason

Sometimes the reason is to live happily ever after. Sometimes it is to learn about oneself and others, and about emotions and behaviours in general.

Even if you don't believe in any sort of divine guidance, every relationship does happen for a reason as they teach plenty about ourselves, for our own development purposes. It's up to everyone to decide what to take on board from a successful or a "failed" relationship. Should I take grudge, jealousy, anger, vengefulness, vulnerability, broken dreams? Or should I take improved self-knowledge and mental and emotional tools to make it work better next time?

Furthermore, even though almost every tarot spread contains the final card called "outcome", there's no such thing in life than outcome.

Temporary outcomes, yes, but because life goes on, situations evolve and change, too. And so do people. So even the happily ever after - stage (10 Cups in tarot) needs to be recreated every day, by the couple, actively. It doesn't just emerge and stay like that as an ever-frozen snapshot of time. This, of course, applies to negative "outcomes" too.

Can destiny be escaped? 

I personally believe that there are moments and circumstances in life we have no control or chance to direct, whatsoever. Take natural disasters, accidents, many illnesses, crime, etc. But even then we are not helpless. How to react and what attitude to take are completely up to each one of us.

So if a "destiny card" pops up in your reading, it doesn't mean: accept it meekly and passively. It means: look what you can learn from it, and if needed and/or possible, try to steer the outcome to the best possible direction. Don't just hang in there in the pin of the Wheel of Fortune and let it slam you around like an old dish rag! :)

Serenity Prayer Spreads (things I can and can't change)

These spreads are created by the Aeclectic Tarot Forum members Daisy Dragonfly and Embla, respectively, and they capture the essence of the Serenity Prayer in a useful manner:

1: What I cannot change?
2: What I can change?
3: Message/wisdom from the universe.


1: Serenity - How do I find serenity in this situation?
2: Acceptance - How do I find acceptance of the things I can´t change?
3: Courage - How do I find the courage to change the things I can?
4: Wisdom - How do I find the wisdom to know the difference between 2 and 3?

Destiny may have a path for you but  it's still up to you whether to follow it, take a short cut, detour or go meander someplace else. Photo via Freenaturestock

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Cheat sheet - how to interpret Minor Arcana pip cards

I haven't written a lot about card meanings, because there are plenty of tarot tutorials online already. But I realised it might be a good thing to have at least a bit of a cheat sheet available here, too. So let's explore the Minor Arcana pip cards and court cards to open up their symbols. Another cheat sheet for interpreting Minor Arcana court cards and the Major Arcana cards are coming up soon.

The difference between Major and Minor Arcana

The standard tarot deck has 78 cards, of which 22 are Major Arcana (cards for major life lessons and profound or underlying situations more or less out of the querent's control); and 56 are Minor Arcana representing faster-changing energies, such as everyday feelings, actions and behaviours.

Minor Arcana are divided into suits, like a standard playing card deck. The suits are actually the same as in the playing card decks, just under different names. In tarot:

Clubs are Wands (or Batons, Rods etc.) representing fire.
Spades are Swords (or Spears, Pens etc.) representing air.
Hearts are Cups (or Chalices, Hearts, etc.) representing water.
Diamonds are Pentacles (or Disks, Rocks etc.) representing earth.

What do the suits mean?

The element of Fire - Wands - speaks about the inner drive, the inner fire of people: energy, excitement, passion, inspiration, motivation.

The element of Air - Swords - deals with the world of thought: words, communication, rational thinking, thoughts that can either cut through the clouds of confusion, bring clarity, or hurt if they are too sharp or said at the wrong time.

The element of Water - Cups - is about the whole range of emotions and feelings we humans can experience, from love to joy to sadness to disappointment to contentment to overflowing bliss, and everything in between.

The element of Earth - pentacles - is about all things material: the physical body, the physical world, material possessions and belongings, work and money, but also nature around us.

What do the pip numbers mean?

Minor Arcana pips actually work very logically and the meaning consists of both the suit element and the number of the pip. There are 10 pip (or number) cards in Minor Arcana, and four court cards per each suit, the royal family. I'll discuss the court cards in a separate blog post.

It's practical to know some numerology for interpreting cards, but it's not necessary. Often the meaning of the number can be figured out with a bit of logic, intuition and deduction skills. It also helps to think what the previous number meant, and what could follow if you add +1 to it.

Like this:

#1 - this is obviously the start, the first number. So, it can mean a beginning, first step, seed that can grow, an opportunity or potential, birth of something (like a new idea or new feelings). When you combine the number and the element, you'll be able to figure the basic meaning of what the card is about:

Ace (#1) of Wands is the spark that sets something on fire, meaning passion, motivation, energy... it can be anything from a creative idea to sex. Ace of Cups is a birth of feelings, so it can be about falling in love or experiencing something fresh and overflowing. Ace of Swords is a birth of a new idea, the absolute clarity or truth. Ace of Pentacles is the first seed, the opportunity that can grow into something steady and valuable.

#2 - what can follow from 1+1? Options. Now there are two instead of one. It can be about a need to choose, balance, discard something in favour of the other, or grow this idea/energy further, to three and beyond. Or, it can be about split focus and inability to concentrate before a choice is made.

There can also be literal two bodies: 2 Wands is about choice but it can also mean two passionate people; 2 Cups is about two hearts connecting, 2 Pentacles can be two people who have been brought together by circumstances, and 2 Swords is the inability to choose (possibly between two people).

#3 - when two becomes three, what's going on? Growth, expansion, more. Three as a number can be promising or destabilising. It can indicate a team or a family, or a group of friends. But, sometimes three is a crowd.

3 Wands means growing your burst of an idea/passion/motivation, planning ahead. 3 Cups is three hearts coming together in joy: friendship and reunions (or a love triangle sometimes). 3 Swords is about words that hurt (after the indecision or deliberate blindfolding of 2 Swords, there is clarity but it's not always pleasant) and 3 Pentacles is about teamwork, coming together to build something valuable (add the third brick on top of two and it's a beginning of a building, symbolically).

#4 - four legs of a chair makes it stable, and four corners of a house keep it standing. Four is about stability, steadiness, culmination, the first possible stage of completion of something.

4 Wands is steadily-burning, contained fire, like a home hearth or a relationship that has settled down beautifully. 4 Swords is about calming down restless thoughts, making them steady through rest. 4 Cups can mean steady feelings, but what do you get when feelings don't change at all? Complacency and boredom. 4 Pentacles is about steady material matters, but again, it can mean settling for too little due to not wanting to risk a thing.

#5 - add one to four and things become unstable again. There is something shaky, shady or wobbly going on now.

5 Wands is about unstable passion: frustrations, energy flare ups, competition, each wand (motivation/passion/person) trying to come out on top. 5 Swords, too, is about competition, but in an underhanded way. Words and thoughts are used to destabilise the other, to gain steadier ground for oneself with any means necessary. 5 Cups is about instability in emotions: something is not lasting or something was not gained. And 5 Pentacles is about shaky finances or physical matters (health, shelter): 5 is half way to the completion of 10 so 5 Pentacles is about not having enough and worrying about it.

#6 - now we have the first number that's closer to completion (10) than the beginning (1). At this stage the number symbolism becomes a bit more abstract, but it's still followable. The main theme is: having enough.

6 Wands is about victory, praise and acclaim (you've showed enough drive to be recognised); 6 Swords is about moving away from distress and turmoil (having had enough of stress); 6 Cups is about fond memories and enjoying sweet little things in life (having enough emotions to cherish them); and 6 Pentacles is about having enough to give out - help out - in terms of money, resources, time, support, advice...

#7 - things grow shakier again when an odd number is introduced. Number 7 is very much about taking a risk: the "enough" of 6 was not enough forever, now it's time to stand up and go after more.

7 Wands is about taking a stand for what you believe in, try to win against the odds, achieve the almost-impossible. 7 Swords is about wanting more thoughts/info/knowledge for your own gain: strategising, taking other people's thoughts (as in; doing research but also as in: spying), running with your own agenda. 7 Cups is the emotional risk that follows from dreaming up options, making wishes, building cloud castles; and 7 Pentacles is about assessing risk by patiently waiting for uncertain rewards.

#8 - we're getting closer to 10 and 8 is about the suit's energy aligning to form a perfect set: but what builds up is not always what you wanted, after all.

8 Wands is the smooth alignment of passion and inspiration: whatever action, thought or plan you have, it's flowing fast-paced: news are coming in, things are happening fast. 8 Swords is about too many similar thoughts forming a wall: you feel trapped, but it's all in your head. Stepping away from these thoughts, or thinking different thoughts will set you free. 8 Cups is about feelings growing old and stale: what you have turns out or proves to be unsatisfying, it's not enough or the right kind. 8 Pentacles is about hard, repetitive work: practising something day after day, keen to reach the completion - mastery or financial success.

#9 - The culmination and completion of 10 is just around the corner, so the theme of 9 is: almost there - either this is nicely enough, or it's not enough, depending on the perspective.

9 Wands is about fire that has to be kept burning for one reason or another: stand your ground, persevere, don't give up. 9 Swords is about thoughts filling your head, their sharp blades hurting: rationalising or trying to solve something has not worked and now the thoughts keep you up at night. 9 Cups is about satisfaction and contentment: whatever you have, makes you feel good. 9 Pentacles is about enjoying confidence and independence of having enough in material sense, be it resources, money, possessions, health, and the following happiness.

#10 is the end of the number journey: it's about perfection, completion and culmination. However, 10 can be about "having all you can dream of" or "having too much and can't bear it".

10 Wands is "too much" passion: the projects and ideas you've picked up have now turned into heavy obligations and you must let something go before you collapse. 10 Swords is about thinking something too much, obsessing: there's no clarity, just the torture of the blades. It must and will end: your mind will grow tired of this topic and will let go even if it hurts. 10 Cups is about the happy bliss, the perfect moment of joy and satisfaction; and 10 Pentacles is about being satisfied with your material circumstances and/or financial stability. 10 Pentacles can also speak about the extended family and heritage/traditions/roots/comfort zone.

This is not an exhaustive list of what the cards can mean in readings, but hopefully it gives food for thought for how to work out meanings even from the cards you are not that familiar with yet!

I first got the 4 Wands, happy home and completion of a project, for a question "what will my next job be?" a year ago. And now I work from home (in addition to my full-time office job) as a tarot reader and teacher. What can you say: I do love my pretty home and this nice home-based job :)

Monday, 25 January 2016

How to use tarot for healthier, fitter life?

Tarot is a great tool for self-exploration and self-development, as last discussed in the Meet your shadow self - post.

In my view, tarot cards are a great help because they make feelings, emotions, thoughts and concepts visible, almost tangible. Being able to analyse - to look at with your own eyes - an invisible, mental or emotional matter makes it much easier to comprehend. But how well does tarot work with everyday guidance or with more physical matters?

I've always been sporty - maybe due to my energetic fire sign nature - but in particular over the holiday period it's so very easy to overindulgence: there's chocolate, wine, heavy meals, cheese... and less time and interest for exercise. So I asked myself: how could tarot help with crafting a healthier, fitter life - or getting back on track with your momentarily slipped healthy life?

This theme is also a great opportunity to discuss the different methods for interpreting cards.

Cards can be read in as many ways as there are readers, but the most used and useful methods in my opinion are: the book meanings, the cues from pictures, and your own personal interpretations.

The book meanings are where it all starts. All cards have meanings, set by their creator and the tradition the specific deck relies on. Learning the book meanings is pretty much the same as learning words of a new language from a dictionary. It might feel like hard work, but eventually the words and meanings will stick; and nobody would expect to learn a new language without ever having to check the dictionary or ask from a native speaker, wouldn't they?

The visual cues in the image is where you start using your own intuition mixed with the book meaning, which is depicted by the image. This step is like learning the language on the go, partly relying on the dictionary, partly trying to figure from the speech. What is happening in the card? Who is in it? What is the person/people doing? What do they feel, think, plan, experience? How does that fit into your question? What is the connection of this specific picture and your life or question? What objects are present? What colours come up and how they make you feel? Is there something missing - say, you asked about an emotional question but won't get any cups = feelings?

Your personal, unique meanings are what wrap things up. This is like learning a slang or being able to create word plays in a new language. These interpretations can be based on your own understanding or intuition on what the image means, no matter what the book says. Your take might be a different angle or an additional meaning only you know through experience: the card has come to mean something specific for you, or you see the picture differently than the books.

I think that every reading is a combination of these three traits, but I've noticed through experience that when discussing physical matters (such as: where is the item I lost, how does such and such person/object look) the image often has a more literal meaning, whereas for the mental/emotional/spiritual plane the visual cues are more symbolic.

Healthier, fitter me - spread

    4 - 5
    1 - 2 - 3

1. What would be the best goal for me in search of healthier/fitter life?
2. How can I best achieve this goal?
3. What new activity or exercise I should try?
4. How to best achieve/maintain my ideal weight?
5. What will motivate me with my weight/fitness goal?
6. The best advice for me to be healthier?

And here's an example reading.

1. Goal - ACE OF WANDS. The goal should be to feel more energised, enthusiastic and inspired, get an energy boost out of exercising and healthy eating, which then radiates to all areas of my life.

2. How to - MAGICIAN. Trust your own skills, willpower and talents. Explore and have fun with creating the life you like; the new, fitter, healthier me. It's all within your reach, it's a matter of turning intention into action, not just dreaming or mulling it over in your head.

3. New thing to try - 2 WANDS. There are options available, it's up to you to decide which one feels the most energising and exciting. It could also be about literal wands, such as skiing (ski poles) or Scandinavian walking: power walking with ski poles. Hiking with hiking poles could also work! 

For some reason I get gymnastics from this picture, in particular parallel bars, so maybe it's time to revive my childhood hobby! It could also be about balance and finding the ability to focus, so yoga would work perfectly - I already do yoga but it's more of a physical exercise than a mind-training method for me, whereas yoga could enable crystal-clear focus, staying in the zone. 

4. Ideal weight - HIGH PRIESTESS. Listen to your body and learn to know it's secrets better. I think I should be more mindful about how I'm not always hungry when I want to eat: it can be about boredom, frustration, for reward, just to finish the plate because I took too much... The Priestess is a reminder to be more mindful about how, why and what I eat. Also, the Priestess holds a pomegranate and there are more at the background, so it's quite a clear prompt to eat more fruit and veggies to keep it fresh and light. 

5. Motivation - 7 CUPS. Dreams, wishes and aspirations. Well, obviously many of my clothes will fit better and look nicer if I keep myself fit, and I've had this dream of once in my life having visible abs! Not necessarily a six-pack, but at least a fit-looking midriff. I'm short so any excess weigh shows quickly, and it tends to pack around me as a spare tyre if I'm not careful. 

6. Best advice - 4 SWORDS. Rest more, take power naps, ensure good quality sleep, take breaks, withdraw from the daily hassle. I haven't slept enough for some time now, just because I feel so energised by many recent life changes (one of them is this blog) so I often wake up ridiculously early because I feel I have so many things to do. I need to remember to take time to rest and recover, too. Meditation and quiet contemplation, letting my mind rest, is essential here. 

Happy searching for your healthier and fitter version!

Listen to your body and eat more fresh produce, reminds the High Priestess.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Meet your dark self: shadow work with tarot

I recently bumped into an interesting concept of working with tarot to explore your shadow self: deeply held insecurities and skewed perceptions about yourself, as well as emotional baggage or harmful behaviour patterns learnt through the course of life.

I am by no means experienced in this particular area in terms of all the psychology involved, but I do love self-exploration spreads and self-development, so why not give it a go!

Obviously any sort of shadow work requires the same objectiveness and open mind than tarot in general: whatever comes up, be willing to face it as it is, don't try to sugar coat, ignore, nor see it in a worse light than necessary! Crystal clear objectivity is the goal here.

Shadow work, obviously, is not just poking at open wounds, it's about recognising areas that need healing: what needs to be released, forgiven and/or immersed into one's person but as a positive force instead of negative, through learning from it.

This reading, borrowed from Over the Moon - blog, is merely a scratch of what shadow work could mean, but it proved very insightful nevertheless. A spread like this can be quite heavy, so only do it if you feel strong enough to not blame yourself or feel ashamed of what's inside; and if you feel prepared to explore and heal it.

Because I like conciseness, I drew only one, max, two cards depending on how I felt while asking the question (will one be enough or not), but this could be done by drawing three cards for each question consistently.

Your Shadow Self - reading

What piece of your past you still dwell in you need to let go?

This card shows a young maiden placing her hand into the mouth of a lion. It's about taming the instincts and having inner strength, trusting your own power. Reversed, the lion is on top, more powerful than the maiden. I knew immediately what this means. It stems from my childhood, feeling powerless because of another person (of a sign of Leo, coincidentally!). I've grown up to be a self-confident self-starter, but these lingering doubts, fear and inability to show my vulnerability and be unapologetically myself still shadow me.

What is the hypothetical conversation or topic you mull over and over in your head?

The Moon talks about confusion, lack of clarity, intuition and instinctive fears. For me in this position it means topics of the otherworld, the unseen and  unknown, in particular fears. At one stage I used to get almost paralysing fits of fear of death - anxiety attacks. I've gone past the paralysing part, but I do still ponder life after death (or possible lack thereof) quite a bit, but at least from a calmer mindset. I'm hugely interested in spiritual matters, including paranormal, but at the same time I dismiss it (not provable scientifically) yet I'm afraid by it (what if I experience something scary?).

What type of a disaster you secretly wish you'd experience and survive? What need does it serve?

This Ace is a tangible opportunity and a start, the first seed. Two of Pentacles is about split focus and successful juggling of many things at once. This tells that I secretly desire to start everything from a scratch, with nothing in my pockets but a chance to find an opportunity. This satisfies my need to have a flexible, adaptable mindset and prove myself that I can overcome any obstacle by being nimble and resourceful, think on my feet in a dire situation. I've actually deliberately put myself into this situation more than once by moving countries with nothing else but a backpack and some savings, and working my way up - I still dream of doing this again. Now I  know why.

What are you afraid of revealing to others?

The card of obligations and burdens, and the card of seeking and receiving help. I don't want to reveal that I can become overwhelmed and need help. I pride myself for being resourceful, energetic achiever; but this apparently comes with a disclaimer. I need to learn that giving up is not shameful. Sometimes it's better to realise early that something won't work, or I've taken on too much: I'm not a superhuman and I need someone to support me, encourage me, help me out.

What false armour have you crafted for yourself' to protect you from pain?
DEVIL, clarified by the EMPRESS

This card was actually the most difficult for me to interpret in this spread. I read the Devil as unhealthy attachments (such as obsessions or pestering negative thoughts and emotions), as well as feeling oppressed or driven by something negative (fears, negativity, jealousy, etc.). However, I can't recognise suffering from any of these, besides some lingering residual fears I'm still working on. I read this combo to mean that I don't have a false armour as such, but I do have fears that I allow to limit me. If I work them out and release myself, I'll experience life in its beautiful fullness.

Into what stereotype you unwittingly fit?

The Sun, the card of joy of life and clarity, doesn't seem too dramatic or negative stereotype, as I tend to read Sun reversed as a milder, clouded version of the merrily shining, easygoing sun. However, there are a couple of less flattering options. Either I'm seen as an attention seeker (someone wanting to take the centre of the stage and others revolve around her/him) or I'm seen as someone who can't have fun and enjoy life - a party pooper. I tend to be the responsible one and never go overboard with frivolity (= recklessness). On the other hand, I'm not bothered by fitting a stereotype - people tend to categorise anyway and if I'm being categorised among everything and everyone else, can't help it :)

What thought keeps you awake at night?

Thinking about and assessing my progress, waiting for results? This is not the most obvious "nighthawk", a pestering night thought. I usually don't suffer from sleeplessness, so I really can't think of a thought I expected to come up with this card. I guess this is about me measuring what I've achieved so far: I have plenty of plans on the go at all times and some of them work, some don't. This could also relate to my fear that I won't achieve everything I want to achieve, I won't be able to live up to my full potential.

Where do you need to broaden your perspective?

Children playing and the most motherly Queen of the deck spell out the obvious: family life and motherhood. I'm not a mother, and my perspective about motherhood is probably very narrow: I tend to see it as around-the-clock work with no breaks, taking care of someone else's every need and disregarding my own due to lack of time and energy - hence, it sounds quite draining, undesirable and even scary! I'm sure there's much more to it which I'll probably only learn through my own family, if I get past my apprehensiveness first :D

Best of luck with exploring your own dark corners and cobwebbed nooks of the soul!

What lays in the shadows of your persona and only comes out after dark? Photo via Freenaturestock

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Keep fighting or give up? Tarot's perspective

One of the most prominent lessons in my own life has been: how to draw a line between "don't give up now" and "give up now". After all, most things in life don't just land on us or if they do, sustaining them require more or less work. Be it a relationship, friendship, job, family, achieving a dream.

When things flow easily, there's no need to consider should the flow continue or not. Of course it should. But when going gets tough... how many weeks, months or years are we supposed to keep fighting for something that is - or once was - important? I'm sure all of us have heard instructions to "try harder, you'll make it at the end if you just believe in yourself" and "don't bang your head against the wall, surely you can see it's not going anywhere". How to tell the difference?

Tarot, once again, is a great tool. I see tarot as a mirror that shows what's inside us, what's invisible to the naked eye. And like a mirror, the message is an exact replica of the real feeling, it can't be faked, buried or ignored.

When is an ending really the end?

Tarot contains a lot of cards for a periodic trouble that can be annoying, disappointing, shocking or even heartbreaking, but are, after all, fleeting. But tarot also contains cards that indicate final closure. Something's ran it's course and it won't revive, no matter how much we kick and scream and try to give CPR. Some endings are sudden, surprising or ground-shaking, some are slow fizzles to death, fading to nothingness one day at a time.

None of the tarot cards has a fixed, single meaning and the meaning gets different shades depending on the question.

But usually, I'd say that cards like 5 Cups (disappointment), 3 Swords (heartache), 5 Pentacles (physical or mental hardship), 9 Swords (anxieties and nightmares), 5 Swords (arguments and dishonesty) and 5 Wands (conflicts, frustrations) fall into the category of momentary shocks.

The "full-stop" endings usually are Death (painful transformation), 10 Swords (sudden, complete ending), 8 Cups (abandoning something to go seek fulfilment elsewhere) and World (end of a cycle or chapter). Also 6 Swords (leaving worries behind) can come up as a final ending rather than a temporary refuge. Tower, the card of crumbling beliefs and expectations, can mean either type of an ending. Note: the keywords above are not exhaustive, just indicative.

Both ending types can be equally distressing, but with both types, it's difficult to tell, whether this really is the end. With a shock end, the very shock itself makes it hard to believe something's really over. With a fading end, the slow pace makes it difficult to recognise when the day has come a friendship, love, passion or interest doesn't exist anymore.

If you're going through something difficult and do a reading, try and scope which type of ending cards you get (if any, it's not necessarily even close to the end!): is the potential ending a pause or a semicolon, or a full stop?

If there's another person involved (in a relationship or friendship questions), what type of ending cards - if  any - show up for the other person? Are you on the same page - is this a momentary obstacle, or is the other person or you already in the mindset of wrapping it up for good and heading to the greener pastures?

I want to emphasise how important it is to remember that ending is always followed by a new beginning, of something new or something different. Seeing ending cards in a reading can be daunting, but nothing new in life can emerge and grow if nothing never ends. Some endings, like the World, 6 Swords, 8 Cups or Death can actually be a huge relief, welcomed news or a reason to celebrate afterwards, even if they are painful and sad when in process.

Well, how do you know if things should still be fought for?

The simplest and very workable spread is 4 cards: situation - challenge - advice - outcome.

I often use this, because it gives a quick, concise overview of what exactly is the core of the matter, is there anything to be done and what's the likely outcome.

If it's about a relationship, examining both partners' (or friends' / colleagues') views is useful. The simplest reading I know is the 7 cards relationship spread:

2        5
3   1   6
4        7
card positions:
1 - the relationship
2 - how you see the relationship
3 - how you feel in the relationship
4 - your instinctive hopes or fears
5 - how the other sees the relationship
6 - how the other feels in the relationship
7 - the other's instinctive hopes or fears

In my experience, instead of clarifiers ("I don't understand this card, I'll pull another in hopes that I understand that one better), it's clearer and more useful to ask proper questions and pull a card per question, for instance:

What does X most want or need from me?
What do I most want or need from X?
What will s/he most likely do in this situation?
What will I most likely do?
If I do [insert action], how will I feel?
What would be my best course of action? (this requires 1-3 cards)

However, no card can tell you for a certain fact that now it's time to give up. A combination of conscious deliberation (have I made any progress in six months or is any progress likely in next six months), gut feeling and cards will help the most.

Hope this brings clarity for decision making!
A detail of 6 Swords card, Mystic Dreamer tarot, Heidi Darras & Barbara Moore.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

What if X hates me? What to do - ask tarot

During my time here on earth I've come to a conclusion that  most problems are caused by misunderstandings and assumptions. People of all ages, cultures and genders are dizzyingly fast to jump into conclusions, classify and categorise people and make judgements that are hit and miss. Sometimes those assumptions are close to truth, sometimes they are as far as they can land.

Of course there also are people who seek to exploit and I, too, have crossed paths with a narcissist: then, dislike was not caused by a misunderstanding but me realising I was being taken advantage of, and the narcissist realising I wasn't willing to cooperate despite their best manipulation efforts. But that's a story for another day :)

Tarot is an incredibly useful tool for clearing out any assumptions and understanding the other person's view. However, this is a difficult area for a reader because it requires a) staying 100% objective and calm, no matter what comes up, b) being willing to explore and change one's own view about others, the situation and oneself, and c) ability to take on board feedback, constructively, even when it  hurts.

A story from my own life...

A couple of weeks ago, I asked one card for "what's the main energy in my life right now" just to check what's coming on my way. I got the Tower: destruction of beliefs, shock to the system.

I was highly sceptical about this card, because nothing in my life was even close to a shock - I couldn't see where it could come from. The clarifying cards told me it relates to a certain relative, so I expected to get some mildly concerning news, such as the person having lost their job. I also got clarifiers telling me to stay calm and understand that this is a learning opportunity, not the end of the world. In particular, I should not behave like the Queen of Wands reversed: defend myself with fiery passion and attack the other person with hysteric blows (which I sometimes do, thanks tarot for revealing it to everyone).

Well, what do you know: on the same night, the Tower turned out to predict a full-blown fight with this particular relative, based on a bundle of accumulated misunderstandings and wildly exaggerated assumptions from the past three years. The person had been penting them up and blew them up now, triggered by ongoing major changes in their own life. A number of decisions and actions I had taken during the past three years had got a completely tainted, skewed colour in this person's head, based on their own fears and disappointments in life.

It took a couple of weeks for the Tower's aftermath to cool off (for the person and other family members involved, not for me, I was cool from the beginning because I had gotten the prior warning). If I had not gotten the Tower, I would have been dragged into this fight, felt the need to justify or defend myself and I would have felt attacked, unfairly treated and misjudged - and horribly offended and angry. And most definitely I had unreleased the Queen of Wands, reversed...

After the Tower situation, I did readings to ask: what's really going on, what does this person feel about me and why, what do I feel about them and why and what should I do.

I learned that the person's view was based on immature thinking and lack of life experience due to younger age, I had caused a big unintended change in their life in a roundabout way by showing that life can't be an eternal, hedonistic party but it's quite a bit about responsibilities and planning ahead.

Cards showed that this situation was a development chance for all of the people involved. I was prompted to keep my cool, not get emotional nor defensive, and stay detached - it wasn't about me, even though I had been the trigger. It was about the others involved to explore their emotions, assumptions and beliefs.

I think one of the most consuming thoughts people have is: "what does so and so think of me?", be it a lover, love interest, prospective employer or an "enemy" (someone we don't get along with or have had a falling out with).

The truth is, all of us only have a limited chance to affect this. If people like us, they'll like us even after blunders, arguments or misunderstandings. If they decidedly don't like us, they won't love us even after a number of good will gestures, exaggerated friendliness, or all the good deeds in the world. If they are mature enough, they might grow more affectionate by time - but until that, each one of us can just keep living our lives, not try to please or impress.

In particular with spiteful or negative people we can only try to understand what they feel and why, and of course clear any misunderstandings, but there's absolutely no point in trying to bend over backwards to change their view. It's a huge energy drain and waste of time. It's better to be yourself and find the people who appreciate you for who you really are, than try to please everyone (or not offend anyone) and become a diluted version or a shadow of yourself.

This, however, doesn't mean that anyone can behave in any way they please and mask it under "this is who I am, take it or leave it". Being oneself doesn't mean: be a jerk.

My point in a nutshell is: whatever someone else thinks of you, is always coloured by their own perception, it's not the truth about who you are and shouldn't cause you sleepless nights.

How to use tarot for dealing with people who dislike you:

I personally prefer one card (or max. three cards) readings, with questions like:

  • What am I to X?
  • What would X like/want me to be? (just to see what would be the "ideal" for them, not to turn into this)
  • What is X to me?
  • What would I like X to be?
  • What can I learn from this?
  • What is X learning from this?
  • What should I do/what action to take with X?
  • What will future be like with X? (to prepare for better or worse)
  • What should I remember when dealing with X?
  • What will help me with dealing with X (internal or external resource)

I also have three basic rules to interpret the cards:

  1. Be as objective as you can, try to detach from any personal wants or dislikes.
  2. Try to see the answer from a place of loving understanding (instead of "hah, I knew it! That snake hates my guts because s/he's a spiteful dragon / immature jerk!"), and
  3. Keep healthy boundaries: be polite and willing to try to cooperate, but not more. 
It needs to be an equal effort to get along, not up to one person to please at any cost. Best of luck!

Sometimes the words that pierce our heart carry wisdom which needs to be taken on board. But sometimes - maybe more often - they are born from misunderstandings, negativity or spitefulness and should be ignored. There's no point in bleeding for someone's skewed perception. 3 Swords by Antonella Platano & Maria Carati, Wheel of the Year Tarot.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

My life ain't so bad after all - reading

I found a very interesting, new and unique tarot card spread from my favourite online hang out spot, the Aeclectic Tarot Forum. This spread is created by AT member Enlightenment23 and I love it because it's about my go-to strategy in life: how to see the cup half full instead of half-empty?

Sometimes change is not what's needed. Instead, recognising and appreciating what you already have is all that's required. I did a test reading and it proved very accurate and insightful!

Enlightenment23 writes; "I think, a lot of the times, we focus on the negative stuff in our lives rather than the positives. This spread I created helps change that. This is a free-form spread -- no particular positions."

My Life Ain’t Too Bad After All - spread

1. What is something I think I’m losing, but I’m truly not? 6 PENTACLES.

This card is about giving and receiving help, either material or immaterial. It's difficult for me to draw the line between helping freely and feeling that I'm being taken advantage of. Or, I sometimes tend to think that if something is given freely, it's not as meaningful and valuable as paid services. Of course, this is not true. Giving someone time, help, resources, support, advice... they don't need to cost anything to me and I'll eventually receive something valuable, too - in terms of happiness and sense of purpose.

2. What am I worrying about that’s not really even an issue at all? 6 PENTACLES.

Hahaha, I get it! There's no need to worry about the potential imbalance with giving and receiving. If I have what to give, just give, don't worry about getting something back: that's the definition of true volunteering and kindness. There is no need to expect a return favour or payment. But this only works as long as it truly is "giving freely", not under obligation - then it turns into exploitation. If I feel out of balance and being drained from energy and resources, it's still my responsibility to step up and set my boundaries to avoid ending up in a 10 Wands obligation mule situation.

3. Tell me something negative that I think about myself that’s far from true? JUSTICE.

That I'm judgemental and quick to criticise. Sometimes I am and this is a quality I actively seek to weed out: it's good to be balanced and objective, but it's counter-productive to be quick to judge, in particular when I don't know the whole story about how it is to be in someone else's shoes.

4. What is a special quality that I have that many others seek to acquire? LOVERS REV.

The card of true love, magnetic connection and also connection between head and heart - choose what both your heart and mind tell you to choose. Reversed, it tells I don't rely on my partner to make it in life, I can reach my dreams on my own. Also, as this is a card about connecting one's heart, body and soul and it's upside down, the image rotates the angel of the card at the bottom, the couple in the middle, and the ground to the highest level. I read it to mean that the root of my life is in my soul: I experience from soul to mind to material - I trust my gut and direct my life in a way it feels fulfilling from inside out, not vice versa. I'm not trying to build life on material matters such as possessions, fashion, popularity, money or power.

5. What is something amazing that I have that I take for granted? TOWER REV.

Tower is the card of shock, destruction, surprises, the carpet being pulled from under one's feet. Reversed, it reminds that I can keep my cool and life from crumbling in stressful, chaotic or emergency situations. Indeed, I have the ability to stay calm and focused even under pressure or when things literally and metaphorically crumble around me. I've often thought of a career in emergency services due to this trait, but then again, I don't wish to actively seek more stress and work-life imbalance by being in a role that will occupy my head from dawn to dusk.

6. What is something that I desire that I think will make me happy, but won’t? 3 CUPS.

The card of friendship and gettogethers?? Whoa, this is a surprising card at the first glance! I have a wide net of acquaintances and also a circle of close friends, but then again, I'm content alone or just with my partner. I've never been into partying and clubbing, so all sorts of fiestas are fun but not a necessity in my life. I'm also quite content to move on from one life stage to another so I don't necessarily need to rekindle friendships with old friends from different phases of life - even though I do sometimes miss them. In general, I'm happy with the flow of life to take me to new places.

7. Name something tough that I’m currently dealing with that will no longer be a problem soon? 9 SWORDS REV.

9 Swords in most decks has a very literal imagery: a person unable to sleep due to worries, anxieties and nightmares. Reversed it tells that I'm already moving out from a phase of unfounded worries - worries that are mostly created by my own mind - and soon I don't have to deal with them at all, great. I've been worried about a range of things from my job to studies to direction and purpose in life in general, so learning not to worry is a very welcomed message.

8. Finally, what is something positive coming my way that reminds me that life ain’t so bad after all? MAGICIAN.

The card of personal power and being able to manifest one's will. This is a card that has popped up a lot recently, right after I realised I'm not at the mercy of destiny by being "stuck" at my job. I have all it takes to make my plans and dreams come true, I just need to have a clear intention and direction first to make it happen. Now I have a number of step-by-step plans and newly-found determination, so yes, I can make it all happen. That's more than a cup half full, it's brimming.

I warmly recommend testing this spread, it might reveal things you've completely overlooked or forgotten in the middle of the daily grind!

What if your cup is not empty, but it's actually half-full or close to full? And what if the whole cup - you - is golden, shiny and unique instead of the plain old vessel you may have thought it is? 
Photo via Kaboompics, Creative Commons Licence.

Friday, 15 January 2016

Don't give away your power

I've been thinking about the topic of empowering for quite some time now, due to my own circumstances. I've always believed that everyone has the power to change and direct their own life: whatever you want to reach or achieve, you should go after it - the universe will conspire to help you get there. If not in the exact same form you presumed, and possibly through "blessing in disguise" path, but to the destination nevertheless.


For the past few years, I've felt like my career is on the side track. I left my previous career in my country of origin to move to Australia: to achieve a dream to live in the land of sun instead of rain and sleet. I found a job from a completely unrelated field, felt happy about it for a while, but then started to think I better go back to my "own field". I started applying for jobs. To no avail. Employers wanted none of me or my experience, because it was foreign and I didn't have the same credentials, networks and experience as the locals. I simply got the door thrown shut on my face again and again.

How could this happen, if the universe really conspires to help us reach our goals? What about the law of attraction, manifesting, positive thinking, perseverance, good old hard work to achieve goals?

None of those seemed to work the slightest.

As you can imagine, I've done countless of readings about what should I do, how to approach this dilemma, but mostly - let's be honest here, maybe 90% of the times - I read for: will I get this job?

I've got a whole range of answers from "of course you'll get it" and didn't, and "no you won't, it will be a disappointment" and it was; and "you'll get distracted and won't apply for the job", and that happened too.

The theme that has remained has been: something in me and my thinking needs to change, there is a lesson underway which I have not yet completed but am, in fact, resisting. But I couldn't decipher what the lesson could possibly be, other than murder my previous experience and enthusiasm and swap it for something quite mundane and uninspiring - why would that be a great lesson? WHYYYYY? I've cried more than once.

At the turn of the year it finally clicked. It's a fact I can't return to my old specialist field because the credentials and expectations here are different than in the country where I obtained my degree and previous work experience. However, as I am doing a PhD degree, this current arrangement is the best I can think of: my job allows me to fund my life and studies, whereas if I were on a scholarship, I'd be in a very tight spot financially. If I were to change jobs before my degree is ready, I'd lose time, energy and focus to study; as I would be learning the new job and it could prove stressful.

What else clicked was: I was giving away my power by expecting that things will magically fall into place if I just wish for them. I didn't have a proper plan what sort of a job or career I'd like to pursue, so I applied for anything and everything even remotely interesting, without properly tailoring my paperwork and showing that I am the best candidate for this particular job, not "just give me a new, different job already." And by asking questions like "will I get this job", I relied on the positive or negative answer and did not try my best - I either grew complacent or got discouraged.

I felt all this time that my cards were taunting me and giving either extremely  positive answers to lift my spirits (which would then be crushed by a negative outcome), or repeating cards I couldn't understand in this context: Death, Devil, 4 Cups, 7 Swords.

Now I've finally figured that Death has meant a profound change I've underwent and it relates to both career and life in general. I no longer care about a prestigious title or a powerful position at work, I care about evolving as a person, learning, feeling inspired in life. Devil means all the fears and negativity that I've harboured, such as "will I be stuck here forever" without having a proper, step-by-step plan where I'd rather be and what exactly I'd be doing.

4 Cups has flagged the opportunity I currently have but was overlooking: the chance to study and work at the same time. I've been so preoccupied with my job woes that last year I didn't progress much with my studies.

7 Swords is a "research" card for me - gather other people's thoughts and ideas for your own purposes, but it's also the "run with your own agenda" card: have a plan. Set a strategy. Do what serves your interests first and foremost. Don't bend over backwards for others (but remember to be a decent person, nevertheless and always).

When I changed my perspective and started asking "how to do this / what should I focus on now" instead of "will I get X, Y, Z, yes or no", I've got much more meaningful and trustworthy answers, too. I feel like I've found the track again.

I still believe that positive thinking and dreams are the key for success, but they won't work without intention: where exactly should you go next, why and how. Chaotic thoughts and random firing (of applications, plans or frustrations) can't possibly produce a clear-cut result nor much progress.

I understand from experience that life doesn't always change for better even with the best of plans and strategies. But I also think that very often people think they have a goal or even a plan, when in fact they have a bundle of unsorted, more or less chaotic emotions, frustrations and wishes. If I only found a partner, if I only lost weight, if I only found a new job... everything would be better.

But what practical, daily, one-by-one steps you could actually take, instead of waiting for the universe to deliver? What small thing could you do differently every day to get to the goal? And what if some of the elements you want in life are actually within your reach already, if you just change your perspective?

Magician - card is sometimes seen as a trickster or manipulator, but to me it's a person who manages to align his/her will (intention) and actions to produce a successful outcome. After all, even a magician can't perform a trick if there is no clear intention or plan: am I trying to get a bunny out of this hat, or a pigeon, or a bunch of flowers - or something completely different? Picture via Dark Tarot , couldn't find the artist attribution. 

Friday, 8 January 2016

What is your passion and how to dig it out?

I wrote earlier about finding your passion with tarot, but that post was mostly related to career and work life. Not nearly all passions relate to work, though. What if you lack passion altogether? Does everybody need a passion? Is it dangerous to not be passionate?

It depends on what’s meant by passion. If passion is understood as a driving or burning force akin to obsession, then not having one is definitely not a problem. From personal experience I can say that it feels amazing to feel passionate, but it’s also draining: it’s like a bonfire burning inside, but that can’t go on around the clock. Even positive feelings and passions can burn one’s mind out!

But if passion is understood as something that brings joy, purpose and direction to life, then I think it is dangerous not to have one – or rather, not to recognise one’s passion(s): total lack of passion translates as depression to me.

I believe everyone is passionate about something, i.e. finds meaning and deep joy, but the source varies. For others, the source of passion is family. To others, it’s career. To thirds, it’s travelling, home, hobbies, pets, art, photography, friends, literature, you name it.

In the career passion post I mentioned that I believe a passion is not an activity as such, but a feeling the activity evokes and enables.

Travelling brings excitement and thrill, home brings tranquility and creative opportunities through decoration and renovation projects, family and friends bring belonging, love and being in service of others, and so forth. I think that people who haven’t found their passion do have one (or more), but they simply don’t know their own drivers well enough to identify what are the most joyful, fulfilling, purpose-bringing emotions that exist to them. And that’s where tarot can, again, step in.

For finding a passion or more joy and purpose in life it’s essential to not get too entangled with a specific outcome. Often people believe that they’d be happier if they just had a partner, had a better partner, were fitter or thinner, had more friends, had more exciting hobbies, had a more interesting or a better paying job, had more money in general, if they just won lottery is that too much to ask!

Thousands of tarot spreads have been read about will I get this job, will I date this guy or gal, will I get more money this year, will I be more popular. And thousands of tears of frustration and disappointment have been shed when some or none of that came true.

However, these are all outcomes or for the lack of a better word, containers or platforms for potential emotions.

A new job doesn’t guarantee you’d feel any better about yourself, nor does a new partner or being more fit. What guarantees well-being is you recognising what are your personal triggers for feeling joy, purpose and direction and being able to experience those feelings. It all starts from accurately identifying what is it exactly you want to feel (elated? Happy? Excited? Loved? Self-loved? Appreciated? Energetic? Free to make your own decisions?) and how to get that feeling regardless of your current circumstances, and/or even if your plan A to gain them falls through. There is always a plan B in life. And plans C, D and so forth: a new day.

Here’s an example about what I mean from my own life. I was unsatisfied with my job for years. It’s a decent position with nice colleagues and decent salary, but the content is boooring. I’m creative and curious by nature, whereas in this job the main task is to repeat, repeat, repeat; focus on details and try to polish something to perfection instead of starting over and creating something completely new with a large brush. Type type type, write write write, and when you've done, start over again with a very similar project and report. Year after year!

I had been trying to solve this by doing repeat readings for myself: am I meant to stay or go, what am I supposed to learn, what’s the purpose of this, why am I being forced into a mould that doesn’t fit me? I got nowhere on my own due to frustration and too much emotional investment in this issue: all the messaged seemed muddied and contradictory.

I got a professional reading done by Miranda from Moonbent Tarot and that – combined with my own readings and other readers’ input – clarified it all. Interestingly and truthfully, I learned that what makes me happy in a job is the King of Swords – energy. Being able to be clear, analytical, objective thinker and communicator, and a “thought” leader (such as a scholar, researcher or journalist). And even more interestingly, according to tarot, the purpose of my job is to teach me to become a King of Swords!

My tedious job had, in fact, been a rigorous communication training program where every single word counts: it was all about editing, polishing, summarising, clarifying, making highly detailed legal and technical content crystal clear, over and over again. It’s like being trained by a strict teacher from the 19th century: get it 100% right, no ifs or buts, no “good enoughs”.

And now, when I’m submitting my first PhD articles to peer review and publication I can honestly say I wouldn’t have managed to put together publishable material without this exercise and experience. I would have never picked this specific job had I known I won’t be able to change jobs when I happen to feel like it (I seriously think I’ve been held “captive” by the Universe, because despite my best continuous efforts I didn’t find another job) and now suddenly I realise that it was for the best. What I’m getting is not what I wanted. It’s not at all what I thought I ordered. But inwardly and from a personal evolution perspective, it is exactly what I need, a “necessary step”, as one clairvoyant told me.

Life, and tarot, don't nearly always deliver a package that looks like what you wanted. But after unwrapping and unraveling all the padding, what is inside might well be the pearl you've been searching for.
Before you go on apply for a new job, take another look on your current one with tarot: what is it you really want in life? What sort of feelings, emotions, experiences, thoughts, mindset? And can your current job teach or offer any of them, if you change your perspective?
What makes you happy? Any big or small activity, thought, situation, surroundings, people etc. count.