Sunday, December 27, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Fool

Don't let The Fool fool you-- this is not a card of foolishness. It is a paradoxical card, betwixt and between, neither here nor there. A card of beginning, yes certainly, but also of ending. For a new journey cannot begin until the old journey is behind us. And yet there is a moment -- a singular fleeting instant -- with one foot firmly on fresh ground and one toe still touching familiar territory.

This is the Fool. Card Zero. It is also the turning of the year, fireworks and countdowns and Auld Lang Syne

May the Fool be with you this New Year's Eve as it melts into New Year's Day. May this liminal moment reveal to you all the blessings of the passing year even as the yet-to-be blessings shimmer on the horizon. May both gratitude and hope be yours this midnight, and all through the coming days.

Happy 2016!

Monday, December 21, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Sun

Tonight at 11:48 PM (in the Northern Hemisphere), the Winter Solstice will occur. Scientifically speaking, it marks the moment when our sun's daily maximum elevation in the sky peaks at its lowest point of the year. As such, it is indeed a moment. Split second. Impossible to capture or even witness. And yet it happens.

We're having a cold spell here in Georgia before the temps return to the mid-eighties for Christmas, and the sun sets each night on a clear horizon. I make a cup of tea and sit on my front steps. Dead leaves carpet the ground, but I know that underneath the fragile crispness there is solid slumbering earth. The tea is warm on my lips and tongue, its steam rising and hanging briefly before my eyes, like a veil between me and the fire of the sunset. It feels newly kindled, this sun, clean and reborn, even as it sinks into indigo night.

I feel the turnings, circles within circles. The sun will go down, and then one day it will rise sooner and stronger. The moon wanes, the sun waxes, and the stars move across the sky, silent and true, each constellation a celestial migration. These illusions of human perspective mark me as a part of the cycle. For the moon does not grow or shrink, the sun blazes as steadily now as it did at the height of summer, and the stars are still and constant. It is Earth that tilts and whirls, the same earth that feels so steady beneath me. Another illusion, this steadiness, for the Earth and I are plummeting through space at 66,000 miles an hour. I hold my breath, dancer and dance, the Earth my partner. The stars are at the tumbling edge of the expanding universe, and I ride that wave as well. And I offer thanksgiving, a wordless circle of gratitude that extends in rings around me.

And so here is my wish for you during this moment of turning: May your long nights be rejuvenating, and may the Sun rise on a life of love and laughter, peace and joy, for you. May its warmth be on your shoulder, and in your heart. May it inspire and sustain you as you do the good work.

Monday, December 14, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Knight of Cups

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."
from "Ode on a Grecian Urn" by John Keats

Here is your message for the week, delivered by that most ardent and devoted of suitors — the Knight of Cups. All the knights of the tarot are quest figures, searching ever searching, their eyes straight ahead, their vision steady and fixed on a singular goal.

Our chivalrous Knight of Cups is perhaps the most emblematic of his company, for the golden chalice he holds links him with the Holy Grail of Arthurian myth. You might think him the poster boy for the quest achieved. After all, there's the cup, tight in his hand. Problem solved. Treasure found. Next adventure, please!

Hold your horses. The quest isn't for the cup itself — it's for what the cup contains. And that, oh creative one, is still a mystery.

You have clues that this is the case. Notice his winged helmet, and the slightly less obvious winged spurs. Our knight is cousin to Hermes and Mercury, two of the more tricksterish gods to ever tamper with mortal affairs. They are also messengers, heralds of news and tidings and sudden developments of a surprising nature. And since Cups are the suit of emotion and imagination — the somewhat feverish but always fertile ground from which creativity is born — you can bet this knight will deliver something . . . interesting.

He is a dreamer, the prince of that tribe. He is gentle and compassionate. He is often haunted, sometimes melancholy, but always deep. And he's got something for you in his chalice, something for you and you alone, a message and a gift and a quest all rolled into one. This is the season of advent, after all. The season of approach.

Listen. You can almost hear the distant hoofbeats, coming closer.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

This Week's Writerly Tarot: The Wheel of Fortune

This week, you might want to grab your favorite lucky charm and avoid breaking any mirrors. The Wheel of Fortune is rolling an interesting turn your way. And you know what they say: Round and round and round she goes, and where she stops...well, that's the crux of the issue, isn't it?

Does the Wheel spin in a preordained pattern, one that is fixed and predictable if we could just suss out the mechanisms behind its clockwork mystery? Are its various stops and starts dependent on our actions, the perfect consequences to our choices? Is it destiny or free will that fires those gears? Or is the Wheel a mystery even to itself?

Methinks it's a little of everything. Fate is a giant ship, very hard to steer once a course is set, but it can be steered with the right application of physics at the proper time. Butterflies can indeed stir hurricanes.

Notice, for example, the four figures in the corners of this card, representative of the four fixed astrological signs: Taurus, Leo, Aquarius, and Scorpio. Every single one has a book open! They're all reading! For what is our existence but a novel, and we are both its subject and its author. And -- good thing too -- we're not allowed to skip to the end and see how it all turns out.

So what does this mean for us? After last week's Magician, where we were urged to take some kind of action in the world, the Wheel of Fortune is spinning our actions into...something. And it's going to be something surprising and unexpected. It's going to make you go "hmmm" or "huh?" or "what the...?" Artist and writer Thalia Took uses the phrase "gifts of the tricksie gods" to describe such somethings. Sometimes trinket, sometimes treasure, sometimes trash, sometimes trap, always unanticipated, maybe even miraculous. Because, yes, even miracles have the law of odds in their favor.

What do you do with this something? I can't tell you that. I can't even promise you'll notice it. You may have to keep your eyes wide open for this one. But if you do spot your unusual gift, I suggest you unwrap it. Take the gamble that Lady Fortune is offering. As writers, every time we commit to a new project, a new idea, and new way of doing things -- even a new software program -- we're rolling those cosmic dice. Sometimes the stakes are small. But sometimes they're quite high. Either way, you can't win if you don't play. That's the only guaranteed outcome.

Iacta alea esto! Let the die be cast!