Sunday, November 27, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot The Eight of Wands

As one of the few cards in the Rider-Waite-Smith tarot that doesn't have a human figure in it, the Eight of Wands is...well, look at it. It's wands all the way down. Wands wands wands wands wands wands wands wands.

So it behooves us to remember what Wands are all about. They are the suit of passion and energy, enthusiasm and soul. Like the living wood that they are constructed of, wands are vital and dynamic and running with sap, and like the element of fire they represent, they are swift, total, and direct.

You can practically feel all these various components coming together in the Eight of Wands, practically hear the "whoosh!" as they fly. This is a card of the present tense, action and motion and now-now-now. But to truly understand what this card is trying to tell us, we must ponder the before and after.

Some previous action set these wands flying, and they will soon reach their eventual destination. Cause and effect Exhibit A.

Waite's own words illustrate these ideas of swiftness and delivery: "This card represents motion through the immovablea flight of wands through an open countrybut they draw to the term of their course. That which they signify is at hand; it may be even on the threshold."

This week, ponder the things reaching their natural culmination, especially those things fueled by your blood and sweat and tears. The things you have aligned your will with, put your energy into, and blessed with your attention. Watch for signs that a conclusion is coming. Listen. You can hear it it whistling your way.

*This reading is dedicated to all my NaNoWriMo buddies finishing up their November novelskeep those words coming! You can do it! 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Six of Pentacles

Some of us, when confronted with an injustice, like to evoke Karma into a situation. Like if some jerk steals our parking space, we can rest easy knowing that Karma will key his door one night while he's sleeping.

This force of cosmic reckoning is a bit more complicated than that, of course. And also simpler. And also more paradoxical. And it's represented in the tarot by several cards, one of which is the Six of Pentacles (which last visited us over a year ago HERE).

We are governed in the universe by laws of giving and receiving. Even our breaths, except for our first one in and our last one out, occur in a pair. Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed. What goes up, must come down (that's not really true, astrophysically speaking, but it's a good short form, like a haiku).

On this card, we see what appears an act of charity, a generous man of some station in life doling out coins to two grateful beggars. But consider deeper, as this card asks you to do. Pentacles are the suit of resource management, how we use and protect what we haveour material possessions, our job, our body. Because in the same way that a dollar bill is only a pretty piece of paper with some consensus behind it, our resources are actually our time and energy made manifest. They are symbolic of what we have already put in and what we hope to one day get out.

Karma is simply consequence, actions leading to effects. And the Six of Pentacles is simply the engine of the universe, neatly summed up by computer programmers everywhere as GIGOGarbage In, Garbage Out.

This week, consider what you are putting into your creative engine. Are you giving it your best time, your high test premium? Or are you giving it the crumbs of your attention, the leftovers after the dishes and laundry are done? If you don't like the output, consider upping the quality of your input. You're certainly worth it, and so is your work.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Tarot Reading For All of Us

I lay in bed for a long time Wednesday morning. I lay awake in the darkness, not wanting to push back the covers and face a very dark dawn. It's like the opposite of Christmas morning, I thought, and I listened to the sound of my husband's breathing and the first birds stirring, just as I had the day before, and tried to find consolation in that.

I did get up. Eventually. And I cried. Not in stunned surprise. No shock and awe here. I had hoped that a different universe would be revealed, a better one, but that was not the case. The universe I'd hoped for, the one I'd aligned my will with, was fading into the past, atom by atom receding from possibility. It remained close enough to sense if not inhabit, tantalizingly near, almost reachable. Almost but never. That made the heartsickness worse.

So I went for a run in the park, a gray run by a gray lake under a gray sky. Running is a moment by moment activity, one foot in front of the other, repeat and repeat again. I usually love winter runs, the muted palette, the stark finely-wrought beauty of bare branches and textured clouds. And I eventually came to love this one, because it got me on my way, and because it got me home again.

I didn't ask the tarot for answers yesterday. I already knew those. Instead I asked it for a piece of hope, something to keep me moving forward, and not just for me. For my friends and family who woke up on this morning with tangible fear in their hearts. Yes, I said, I have seen The Tower. And I have seen The Devil. Show me something else, please. Pull back the curtain on what I can do with my own two hands, with my own heart, with my life.

And the tarot answered with the Ace of Cups.

Love. Inspire. Dream. Bless. And above all, keep my heart open for the giving and receiving of love.

There were other cards complementing this one, cautions and caveats. The Ten of Wands, a warning to avoid burnout and exhaustion of the spirit. The Five of Cups, a reminder of the necessity of grieving. But the heart of the reading, its crux and center, was Love. The big good kind. The kind that connects me to you, and you to me, and all of us to each other, and the whole of us to the Divine, however you perceive She/He/Them/It/All.

May it be so.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Eight of Pentacles

Eventually, all creative work comes down to the moment where you either do it, or you don't. So it is with zero surprise whatsoever that I see the Eight of Pentacles coming up this week.

This is the first time this card has appeared as a part of the Writerly Tarot in an official sort of way, but it comes up for me regularly, especially when I am in need of a clear and unequivocal reminder that I need to put myself in front of the page and stay there until the words are on it.

The Eight of Pentacles is about putting in work, hard work. It is a card of commitment. It is no-nonsense and spare and detail-oriented. It is the work of final editing, the slog of the home stretch in a difficult race. The figure on the card is absorbed in his task -- there is only the chisel and the hammer and the disc before him. And the task is all there is. He and his work are one.

I am sometimes a lazy writer, preferring the day-dreamy freedom of the Seven of Cups or the exuberant optimism of The Sun to such a clear simple mandate. In those feel-good cards, it is easier to understand how our imagination connects us to the better angels of human nature. We soar in that energy, gliding effortlessly in clear blue skies. It is irresistible.

But there is joy in climbing too, in beating your wings hard, in pushing your muscles to make each downstroke count. The joy of exertion, of striving, of being in the moment so completely that you lose all sense of time. Psychologists call this state "flow," and it is literally brain-altering. And when you give yourself over to the creative process of Making Stuff Happen, when you strive for the painstaking perfection of the Eight of Pentacles, it will often reward you with such a state.

Sometimes. Not always. But when it is magic of the truest kind. And like all true magic, it begins with choice.

This week, let the Eight of Pentacles be your taskmaster. Find beauty in the nuts and bolts. Seek joy in the striving. This is not an easy card, but it is a richly rewarding one.

And now...back to work.