Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A Little Hiatus with the Writerly Tarot

Hello everyone out there in tarot land. I'm going to be taking a little break from the blog until mid-November.

Tis the season for craziness and conflict and scheduling mayhem--the usual Seven of Wands chaos--and I'm going to have to put my nose to the grindstone for a while in a very Eight of Pentacles way.

See you after Samhain!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Chariot

Like many of my fellow writers, I'm a dyed-in-the-wool introvert. A homebody. An INFJ of the highest order.

I tell people I got into this gig because I like to work in my pajamas, but the truth is, this gig suits me because I am extremely comfortable in my own company. I have many awesome friends (hello, friends!) whom I treasure and who are very tolerant of the fact that I have to spend huge swaths of time all by myself to function as a sane and healthy human being.

So what am I doing now? Packing for a giant mystery writer conference. Where I will have drinks with my editor and pontificate on some panels and smile brightly for photos and make conversation with complete strangers for five days.

So...I am utterly unsurprised that the Chariot comes parading into the spotlight this week, bright with starry garlands and roaring with fanfare.

The Chariot is about ego, after all, and one needs a strong and supple ego to function outside of one's comfort zone. Egos get bad raps nowadays, with a lot of pop psychology and pseudo-spiritual gurus going on and on about transcending one's ego. Which is all well and good in a metaphysical sense, but if one is going to make tracks in the mud and mayhem on the actual, real world, one needs an efficient and capable container. And that's what the Chariot is all aboutfinding a stable container.

I explained why this is especially important for writers the last time the Chariot rolled into our readings:
A solidly structured ego is a necessary vehicle for your will, especially if you want to take your creative work into the marketplace. Or share it with an audience. Or make it in the first place. The ego is a protective container for all the parts that must be open and receptive and somewhat soft (like our beating hearts and whirring brains). It mediates the forces that move us forward. It prevents the chariot from getting stuck up to the fenders in a sand dune. It keeps us on the right track, moving forward.
I'm trying to remember this as I pack. Because when I find ways to support my ego, I feel much more comfortable actually being myself. And that means I'll be much happierand much more successfulin the long run.

This week, the Chariot is here to remind you that while you are on the sacred and soulful task of sharing a creative project—or your creative selfwith the world, be clear about your boundaries. There will always be rejections and acceptances, pans and praise. Which means you must, as Rudyard Kipling reminds us, "treat those two imposters just the same."

Remember who's holding the reins of this particular chariot. Hint: you are. Which means you are not the chariot


Sunday, October 1, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Eight of Swords

The Eight of Swords describes a moment we all recognize (and might be living again real soon). It's not especially pleasant, but it's not as terrible as it appears on the surface. In fact, that's one of the themes of this card—appearances can be deceiving—which is why the key to understanding it isn't the eight swords surrounding our heroine, it's the scrap of cloth tied around her eyes.

On the surface, it resembles a scene from one of those damsel-in-peril mysteries so popular on the Lifetime network. Bound and blindfolded and barricaded by swords, a woman stands alone on a rock. The sky is a dull gunmetal gray, and she seems lost and forlorn and unsure how to get herself out of the predicament she surely didn't put herself into.

But look again. Our lady bears some responsibility for staying in her situation. She's not seeing things clearly (literally and figuratively). After all, her feet are unbound. The swords do not surround her. Even the ties around her body seem loose. She seems paralyzed by her own fear, which is keeping her in place more effectively than any bindings.

Fear is generated by the mind, and it's meant to be helpful. It wants you to run away, avoid, save yourself. But in this particular situation, it's not doing our lady any good. And in your particular situation—and you probably know what that is—it's doing you no favors either.

This week, consider what fear large or small might be keeping you trapped. What is it about the situation that you aren't seeing? Is there a way to make some small change that might allow you to rip off whatever blinders have settled in place?

Shake off the cords. They weren't really holding you back anyway. Peel up the edge of the blindfold. Take a gander at whatever it is you've been missing.

Monday, September 25, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Ten of Wands

I wasn't going to say much about this card. I didn't draw it, you see. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I feel the pull of a specific energy so strongly that I go ahead and write about the card that represents that energy.

I am dog-tired. Worn out. Frazzled as an old shoelace. I've been on the road for six days now, and I'm coming back home to a to-do list even longer than the one I left with. So many tasks to catch up on, so many chores to begin, and the world whirls and spins new stuff to do on my plate.

At this moment, there is no card that better represents my energetic situation than the Ten of Wands.

So I decided to post it with an apology. Sorry, friends, this week is beyond me, I was going to write. Here's the Ten of Wands as explanation. Just look at that card and you'll understand.

But then I checked to see if I had explained it before, if this card had previously turned up on its own accord. And indeed it had.

Just one time.

Exactly one year ago.

Y'all, it's like the tarot is playing me sometimes. Like it occasionally feels the need to show off a little.

But yes, it's a Ten of Wands day at the end of a Ten of Wands week, and I am brain-dead and stupefied, so I'll let what I said last time suffice for this time:
Last [week], we celebrated the autumnal equinox here in the Northern hemisphere. Traditionally considered the beginning of the fall season, this day is also known as Harvest Home, the Feast of Ingathering, Mabon, Meán Fómhair, or Alban Elfed. It is celebrated as a time of harvest and balance when day and night are equal (though we must tack the modifier "almost" in front of that "equal"the equinox itself is a moment, specifically the moment when the solar terminator (the "edge" dividing night and day) is perpendicular to the equator.

I've been busy-busy-busy. Not like the proverbial bee either. Bees never seem to be in much of a frantic rush. They move from flower to flower with mindful attention, each blossom encompassing the whole of their world for as long as they are there. They don't look at all the hundreds of other flowers and go, "Jeez, I'm gonna be here all day! How am I gonna get to all those flowers? It's already noon, and I've barely covered the roses, much less the ginger lilies and the frangipani."

No, bees do not do that. People do. And when they do, the Ten of Wands shows up in their lives. As it did in mine.

The Ten of Wands describes a burdensome situation. The figure in the card is striving to carry a massive bundle of wands. This does not look to be an easy task, and he is struggling. The Wands are the suit of passion, and as such, they can lead to over-enthusiasm, over-commitment, over-loading. All the over-things.

Luckily, there is much to learn in this card. Every wand in that bundle is there because we picked it up. We may regret some of those decisions (that Facebook party we signed up for); others we are happy to have made despite the hard work (like that workshop we taught or supportive e-mail we wrote to a struggling fellow writer). The wands we carry are the products of our choices. We can put some of them down. We can learn to be more discerning in what we pick up.
One wand at a time, y'all. One wand at a time. I'll see y'all next week with a brand new Writerly Tarot. And maybe with a back that's a little straighter and a load that's a little lighter.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: Justice

"I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice."
Theodore Parker

The tarot has many queenly figures in it. Each suit has its reigning feminine monarch (for four in all) plus there are several major arcana cards traditionally depicting women upon thrones, including the Lady visiting us yet again—Justice.

Discrimination. Wisdom. Clarity. Fairness. Consequence. These are the values associated with this card, numbered 11 to represent balance (and echoed in the twin pillars that are on either side of the throne). Like the personification of Justice that appears in our courts, Lady Justice of the tarot carries both a sword, representing severity, and scales, representing mercy. She is not blindfolded, however. She is objective, yes, but her sense of fair play comes from being able to see a situation deeply and clearly. How else is she to prevent a conniving thumb from sneaking onto those golden balances? How else will she ensure that the verdict she renders is truly right and not simply legal?

And that is what she asks of us this week, not the detached disinterest of the scale, nor the edged vindication of the sword—Justice requires that we keep our eyes wide open.

This is how the arc of the universe bends, after all. Not through passive inaction. Not by simply trusting that everything will work itself out. No, the arc is bent by the work of hands. But before we act, we must choose the right and correct action. This is the true work of Justice.

This week, consider how you can help bend the arc of the Universe. As a creative person, you have a treasure chest of gifts and talents. Creative work is soul satisfying, often very enjoyable, rewarding in its own right. It can also be used to create a tangible result. What worthwhile result can you envision? What small action can you take to move yourself—and therefore the entire Universe—toward that result?

Previously, I said of Justice, "You already have the long-enough lever—she's simply showing you where you might stand." That sounds exactly right for this week too.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Nine of Wands

As I write this, the first storm bands from Hurricane Irma are starting to roll across the Low Country. The radar map shows them as sweeping waves of green and yellow and blue, spiraling counterclockwise as the wind and rain move closer to us.

Widdershins. Leftwise. The direction of banishing.

I wish I could banish all the damage that Irma will deal to the Southeast as she rips up Florida's backbone and erupts into South Georgia. I do not wield that kind of power. A hurricane, like all of those things we call natural disasters, is an elemental force. It has no fury. No mercy either. It is what it is, and all we can do is prepare for the onslaughtgather batteries and canned food, recharge the phone, tie up loose objects.

As the storm's projected track has shifted, so has its targets. My home is no longer a bull's eyes, and so I can breathe a sigh of relief. But now people I love are about to take a direct hit, and the fear returns. I light candles in the reiki bowl and write the names of my dear ones on slips of white paper. Into the silver and gold bowl they go, and my prayers for their safety go into the universe. This too is preparation. This too is necessary.

This week's card is The Nine of Swords. Here is what I said about it the last time it turned up in a reading:
Strength in reserve. That's the message of the Nine of Wands, personified by our grizzled, war-weary hero at the gates.

He's seen trouble, sure enough. And more troubles are on the way, you can bet. Trouble's always rolling in somewhere, after all, and his wary, defiant stance suggests that he'll be there to meet it when it does. Trouble is not going to sneak up on him in the night, no sir, no ma'am.

And he's right, of course. Trouble is here, trouble there, trouble trouble everywhere. What else is a person to do but wrap the bandages tighter, grab a stick, and take up position?
Indeed. What else can we do but prepare? Some battles meet us at our own front doors. A hurricane certainly does.

As we batten down our hatches and send thoughts of protection to our loved ones, we channel the energy of this card. We are still standing. We are still strong. We can endure.

But there is one caveat to this cardour bloody but unbowed warrior stands alone. I wonder if he really is, though.  I am grateful to be facing this storm in the company of people who care for me. We can look out for each other. And we will.

This week, no matter what challenge you are facing, know that you are strong enough to handle it. And also know that even though it may feel at times like a solitary battle, it isn't. As Mr. Rogers reminded us, look for the helpers. Look hard. And remember, sometimes you're the helper.

Blessed be, y'all. Keep watch. Hold tight. Stay strong. I'll see you on the other side of the storm.


Tuesday, September 5, 2017

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Ace of Swords

There's a hurricane threatening my neck of the woods, a vast Category Five onslaught of ill winds and massive destruction. Predicting its landfall is difficult right nowthere are too many high and low pressure systems at playbut that doesn't make this kind of storm random. Oh no, a hurricane is a deterministic beast. Like all forces of nature, it is subject to rules and laws and factors. And that is why it is a particularly apt metaphor for the Ace of Swords.

You can read a summary of the card here. When it flashes into view, the Ace of Swords asks us to consider the mental aspects of our situation, how our mind can either help us solve a problem or play tricks on us. A clever creature, our brain. So much of its mechanisms remain separate from our understanding, just like the forces that shape the path of a storm.

And just like storm, our mental powers can be used for good or evil, to help or to hurt. They can challenge the status quo as deftly as they topple the best laid plans.

Right now, there is a panic sweeping the Eastern seaboard from Miami to Charleston, South Carolina. It is fueled partly by memory and partly by anticipation. Emergency preparation has at its heart logic and common sense, but it's easily corrupted by anxiety and fear. Like the Ace of Swords, our mental sharpness cuts both ways.

This week, I am prepping for a hurricane. And I am doing my best to be flexible in the face of such winds. Bendy like the willow, that's my motto. May it be yours as well.