This week’s reading is a reading of details. Practical details.
The words “short and sweet” came to me, but I never really know what’s going to happen until I sit down and get to writing properly. Something that looks relatively simple on the surface can hide any number of rabbit holes. Some of those are worth following – look where one of them led Alice, for example. And she got to meet a deck of cards, too.
Others end up being a bit of a wild-rabbit-chase.
Hopefully we can discern the difference.
And perhaps that is the point: what is a wild-rabbit-chase in your life that yields a true adventure – one of expansion and curiosity? And what yields not much but a dead-end burrow and dry rabbit shit?
Can you call time on what is no longer inciting adventure nor exciting your curiosity, and pursue only that which draws you deeper and deeper into its labyrinthine passages – an odyssey you are only too happy to take because you sense – perhaps you know – that it’s really taking you somewhere?
Bear that in mind, please, dear labyrinthine traverser: your labyrinth best serves as a place that leads you through and to, rather than round and around.
Here’s the reading in a nutshell:
- Know which routes feel tricky – challenging, confounding at times – but are never rooted in hopelessness.
- Know which route takes you to what feels like a monolith of grief and loss. This will be a route you know well, and you’ll have walked it many times – and come across this monolith many times. You may have tried different tactics to evade it. There may be one more to try (more on that a bit later).
- Learn to discern the difference between 1. and 2.
Those are the three cards in front of you, and what follows is a more detailed exploration of how they appear collectively and individually.
All the cards this week come from the Minor Arcana – the 56 cards dealing with day-to-day minutiae of living – hence an emphasis on the practical. Moreover, each card comes from a different suit, so there is a difference to that emphasis depending on which suit is in play.
Finally, the cards are sequential numbers, yet out of sequence. Moreover, it is the fact that they are out of sequence that holds the key to the reading:
There is a striving to resolve something, and its focus is on negotiating a block in your life that is both familiar and which resists change (and it’s familiar because it resists change – hence you come upon it time and time again).
Now, individually: starting with the card on the right, the Five of Cups.
The Five of Cups, titled “Disappointment,” is that obstinate, obdurate pattern that has created a block in your path. It is an encounter, a particular condition of the heart, that thwarts you at every turn. There seems to be no way around it, and so understandably you have chosen the route of least resistance – the one that reverses you out of the situation so that you can go elsewhere.
But you’ll always come back. That’s just the way of things.
This particular path, though – the path of the Five of Cups – remains unexplored past the block. You have never walked down the second half of its route. You have never been able to.
So, how does this block present itself in your life in real terms? How do you know if you’re on the path known as the “Five of Cups”?
Well, it may feel something like this:
- A deep, enduring grief of what might have been, but which was not – and the grief may seem disproportionate to the circumstances, while still feeling entirely real and justified
- A feeling of being up against something that absolutely will not budge, but which you can’t quite get a handle on, and which refuses to identify itself. But you know it is to do with your heart and your emotions
- Like something that doesn’t strictly feel like yours alone, but that it’s a burden you decided at some point to carry – so much so that it has become a familiar landmark that rises out of the landscape when least wanted – especially when least wanted
- The voice of authority that tells you to be quiet, that tells you not to feel, nor to betray yourself by letting down one inch of your guard in a particular circumstance – and where that shut-down has become so much of a second-nature response that you don’t even know you’re doing it. Yet that block – that obstinate, block that masks such feeling – is there, and you can feel it, even if only because you brush against its cold, ungiving margins.
It yields little, while it asks you to yield so much.
Now, the Six of Swords. The Six of Swords is that labyrinth that takes you somewhere new. You might feel you’re travelling in circles, yet a part of you also knows that you are not. You may feel you’re doubling back, but you also feel a sense of spaciousness to make different choices the next time around (whether you do or you don’t).
The Six of Swords is titled “Science,” and science comes from the Latin scire, which means “to know.” Swords represent the mind, and here, the mind is able to get to grips with something in a way that transforms both the thought and the thinker.
So you, too, when you are in Six of Swords territory, are able to get to grips with something that transforms both your thoughts – or a particular thought or thought pattern – which in turn transforms you. You know, and so something changes.
A far cry from the Five of Cups. More than that: a way out and through the Five of Cups.
In this case, a keen knowing. It is a knowing that comes from that mysterious part of you that feels detached, yet also feels engaged in the matter of you – one that doesn’t trap you in circles of thought or emotional blackmail and is able to transform something that has long stood in your way.
If you can only trust it.
Can you trust it? That is the question. Here is my tentative response:
You can never know for sure whether what you are hearing is that knowing or a wishful thought, or an ingrained pattern, or what someone else told you that you should think or feel, or fear. But you can get a very good idea through the quality of its presence.
Does it demand anything of you? Does that voice tell you that if you don’t do x then there will be consequence y? Does it hold you hostage in any way? Does it make you feel fearful, or does it fill you with hope? Either way, you’re not dealing with the Six of Swords: there is no fear or hope in the realm of knowing. There is simply knowing itself. It has no need to explain or justify itself; it has no need of fanfare or promises. It simply says, “Do this,” “Go there,” “Say that.” It offers no explanations, it offers no apologies or excuses.
Simple knowingness. It doesn’t dole out threats if you don’t follow it. It is only there to reveal itself to you, and it is your choice what to do with that revelation. You can do what you have always done when you come over that hill to find the Five of Cups, or you can shift something into a new state of mind. And you know what? Whatever you choose does not affect your worth. The tarot is not interested in judgement here; it is interested in options.
The Four of Wands is where you exercise that option. Wands are associated with the animating and creative force that runs through you, and Fours are pauses, in one way or another. Here, you have the pause before committing your energy, your drive to something. It can be a formal commitment, or an informal one.
What happens in both instances, no matter the decision, is a “squaring of the circle” (or a rounding off of the square): in the moment of that pause, there is an acknowledgement of what is leaving, and what that makes space for.
It is a moment of creativity, remember that. So here is that option to exercise something new – in that space between what has just been and what is going to be. In that space, there is no “should be” or “must be” or “have to be”. There is, in that space, a pregnant pause – and that can gestate something altogether different.
Whew! Quite the adventure this reading has been. Never underestimate the Minor Arcana; they have rich fruit to bear.
There are just two more things to consider. The first, is a suggestion:
To look at the cards, now you know a little more about what each one means, and see how that is played out in the shapes on the individual card designs, and how they interact with each other. Look at parallels, look at differences, and see if you can find the visual story that unites them.
The second is a reminder of what is absent: Disks, as the suit that is not represented in the three-card reading.
Disks are earth and all matters physical. So: where do you need to ground – more than usual, perhaps? Where are you accountable to what happens in the physical world in what you’re dealing with? How can you give lived-out expression to your heart (Five of Cups), your mind (Six of Swords), and your energy and creativity (Four of Wands)?
What does life look like, practically, if what you chose were based on a knowing that removed a block that has held you back for a long time?
Knowing, also, that you may encounter it again, but that, next time, and any time after that, you would become adept at renegotiating your way through it – so that, one day, you may not notice it at all.
Astrology Correspondences: Six of Swords (Mercury in Aquarius), Four of Wands (Venus in Aries), Five of Cups (Mars in Scorpio)