January 26, 2015: The Two of Wands, Message in a Bottle, by Tania Pryputniewicz
I took a look at this month’s Thoth Two of Wands with its red-faced grumpy Tibetan doorjies set against a blotchy uteral pink mess of a background suffused with a Kindergarten sky blue and decided to focus on the Rider Waite image instead. The Rider Waite Two of Wands features a cloaked figure holding a staff she rests on a low stone wall; in her other hand sits a tiny replica of the world. Firmly planted behind her is a second staff. I love that she’s holding a world while standing on the ground of her larger world and looking out across the sea. Is she getting ready to step over the stone wall and pass the village on a trek to the sea? Will she set her world down at water’s edge to float aross to foreign shores? Will that world be translated and welcomed by hands on opposite shore?
Metaphorically this feels like an accurate depiction of how I felt in December joining Tracking Wonder’s #Quest2015, a group of business artists looking to collaborate and grow under the stewardship of a man named Jeffrey Davis (now leading us on a #LivetheQuest leg). His introductory video caught my eye—supine on his back in a swath of grass, he sports a pair of vibrant red trousers. The aerial angle of the opening frame conveys a playful sense of welcome, the red fabric a clear message of vitality and an invitation to step outside of familiar adornment.
Joining Tracking Wonder felt a lot like taking my little world in my hands and offering it again—not just to my quiet blogging channels, but out to a vaster, foreign sea. And having to trust the world would be delivered intact. If the wands represent creativity, like the figure in the card, I feel balanced, a wand behind me representing years of writing on a regular basis, and the wand grasped in hand and balanced on the stone wall representing a step up in camaraderie and play, which can only yield new vistas. Notice the warmly cloaked figure wears sturdy boots and a red hat, wearer invigorated, joyful and passionate.
I sense stillness too in this card. A waiting for more good. I sense this in my own body. A calm joy in paired adventures, like this one with Mary for which two of us are publicly co-blogging about our private journey with the Tarot. Angeles Arrien attributes to this card an “optimal balance of energy or sense of sovereignty or being comfortable in your domain.” It mirrors the peace I feel about Tarot for Two, our two voices mingling with the myriad bloggers online inhabiting countless territories. To thrive, one launches one’s ships, and one also looks out to the horizon to receive what is being offered from across the sea, our online version of a “Message in a Bottle.”
Now I'm drawn to revisiting that Thoth Two of Wands with crimson doorjies in front of pink uteral sky. It reminds me of other pinks in cards Mary and I talk about as relating to female problems like the Thoth five of swords and the other one with sludgy cups—maybe I’m thinking of the 8 of cups with its peach-grey desolate horizon line. Ironic that now with two minutes to spare--Mary likely calling any second to say our writing window is up and it’s time to throw cards and select a new card for the month--wouldn’t you know it, the Thoth deck card is “talking to me.” And reminding me I’m still working through female problems in my writing and accurately reflecting that I often feel at the mercy of wounds that just won’t heal.
Then I look again to the Rider Waite figure, so gently poised. And realize that both Rider Waite and Thoth images feel accurate. I go in, dislodge a little of that stuck female problem past, and a little more Kindergarten sky blue emerges. The squinched up doorjie faces make me smile still--they look like twins in a time-out. Perhaps internal twins I’m trying to merge. I can rage through my time-out or take stock calmly and put on that red hat and face the sea.
January 26, 2015: The Universe by Mary Allen
My card this month was the Universe. I used to get this card fairly often about twenty years ago, around the time I sold my book in an almost magical way and bought the house I live in now with the advance. Back then I thought the card was telling me that the universe was waving its big old wand over my life and maybe it was, but the manifestations I thought I was going to get as a result didn’t quite manifest, I went back to being in a seven of swords (“futility,” according to the Thoth deck, which has words at the bottom of all the minor arcana), five of cups (“disappointment) kind of place, and the Universe didn’t show up much during all those years. Now here it is back again, and I wonder what it’s saying to me this time.
Angeles Arrien says that the Universe card “symbolizes the unity of positive and negative forces both internally and externally,” that the naked woman grabbing a sickle in one hand (she’s a hermaphrodite, according to Angeles Arrien, but I prefer to think of her as a woman and besides, she has breasts) while holding onto a snake/wheel with the other hand – that she uses the sickle to cut through limitations and become free and move forward, and that we, like the diamond-back snake that shows up in the card, are “required to transform before we can experience new worlds internally and externally.”
I’ve always thought this card, which is the last card in the major arcana cycle, said you were at the end of a cycle, that you had burned off all the bad karma of that particular cycle, and that you have the wheel of your own life in your own hands now. And I would say that there’s some truth to both of those interpretations in terms of where I find myself in my life at this particular moment: I’ve used EMDR – my particular sickle – to cut away most of the inner limitations that were making it impossible for me to move forward – it turned out, back in 1995, when I got that big book advance and I thought I was going to be a bestselling author from then on, that I had way, way too many deeply buried fears and doubts and self-hatreds to be able to go off into the world and thrive while succeeding. And I do feel that I’m at the end of my long cycle of inner work – not that I won’t have to do inner work any more, but that I’ve changed as a result of all the work I have done: I feel peaceful, healed, complete inside, for the most part anyway.
And, I have to say, the Universe card has been talking to me this month in an everyday way in the everyday world. This month my book The Rooms of Heaven, which has been around and pretty much languishing without much of anybody paying attention to it, for fifteen years, somehow found its way onto a Best Nonfiction of 2014 list put out by Tin House. Maybe not the end all and be all of success but not nothing to dismiss at either, plus it feels like a little wink from the universe. And also this month, I used money I got from my sister – a quarter of my sister’s retirement account, because she died, of ALS, before retirement age – to update my kitchen, the kitchen of the house I bought back in 1995 and haven’t had the time or the energy or the attention, not to mention the money, to fix up since. I had my kitchen painted a pale luminous celestial blue – once in a trance, during my first set of encounters with the magical universe inside of us, in an even earlier cycle of my life, I saw an ugly green desk blotter turn a beautiful celestial blue, a blue a little bit like the color of my kitchen walls now.
I put new wood floors down in my kitchen too, and a few days later, during EMDR, I saw a little vision of a wide glossy hardwood floor in my newly-refurbished –through-the-grace-of-EMDR interior, and the message I got along with the vision was that there’s a floor now between my unconscious and the upper air of my life, and now I can move on without my old deep fears and self-hatreds seeping up out the basement, ruining everything I encounter. I can move on to wherever I’m going and fill the upper part of my house – my life in the world, in the upper air -- with new things.
I don’t know what those new things are, don’t know what the universe is going to bring me now or even if it’s going to bring me anything. But I do feel, somehow, the “completion and integration of great inner work,” as Angeles Arrien would put it, and I feel more than ever before that I am “not only at home in the external world but also at home within myself.”