October 6, 2015: The Ace of Wands and Wheel of Fortune by Mary Allen
I picked the Ace of Wands as my card of the month last time, and then before thinking about what I was doing I picked another card and that turned out to be Fortune. Both cards made me happy—I figured I was going to have a pretty good month—but all month long I kept wondering what they have to tell me, and now I’m wondering what they have to do with anything that happened to me during the last four weeks.
My card of the month the month before was Death and the whole month was one big long ending/cleansing, so it seemed logical that the next card I would get was Fortune, signifying that something big and new is coming in, that my luck is about to change in some major life-journey way, following the ending of a previous cycle as signified by Death. And the Ace of Wands seemed like it could be talking about a surge of new energy coming, like a kind of hot cosmic wind blowing the new Fortune in. But if that was happening all month is was so subtle I barely noticed it. Maybe the cards are just telling me that’s going to happen, or the wheels have been set in motion or something. I got the Fortune card again, during my tarot reading this time, right smack dab in the middle of the reading, so it must be telling me something, right? Not that I’m complaining, I love getting that card, and the Ace of Wands too, I just don’t know what to write about what they had to do with my month.
For the first few weeks my whole life seemed pretty inert, nothing particularly changing, no hot wind from the Ace of Wands, no new Fortune even stirring. Then one night in the middle of the month at three in the morning when I couldn’t sleep I had the thought that maybe I could take a bunch of essays I’ve been writing over the years and put them together into a book and submit the book to a new non-fiction contest at the University of Iowa. I had read about the contest a few days earlier and thought it would be nice to send something off for it but decided I didn’t have anything, and I felt excited at the thought of putting together those essays, which I’ve just been writing all on my own because I wanted to, and putting them out into the world.
I’ve been writing all kinds of stuff on my own for years and not doing much of anything with it, just writing and working on myself and waiting to be finished with something. Now I’m almost finished with a book, a memoir about my childhood, the writing of which has comingled with a many-years-long project of healing from my childhood, and I seem to be in some kind of watershed moment with my own healing too—I don’t think I’ll ever be finished with that, but I might be reaching some kind of plateau, sort of like a shelf on a mountain I can rest on before attacking another peak.
It never occurred to me to try to put together a collection of essays and it made me happy and optimistic to get the idea, even though I was still awake at three a.m., thanks to my new smoke alarm, which went off in the middle of the night, blaring beeps as loud and alarming as a fire truck siren, in the hallway just outside my bedroom door. I got up and stood on a chair to see if I could figure out how to turn it off and then it turned off on its own. I couldn’t see any button or place to take the battery out—it was some new kind of smoke alarm with a lithium battery that was supposed to last for ten years and then the whole alarm had to be replaced. I didn’t know what to do or even how to get it off the ceiling. I could barely reach it, even standing on a chair, and I just decided to go back to bed and hope for the best. As I was lying there, getting ready to go back to sleep, I felt a distinct lack of trust—how can I trust this thing not to go off and wake me up again—but I went to sleep anyway and then about twenty minutes later there it was again: beep beep beeping me awake into a sudden state of terror and alarm.
This time I went down to my basement and found my toolbox; the basement was dark and dank-smelling in the middle of the night, full of lurking spiders and crickets in the drain that I tried to shut out of my awareness. Back upstairs I found a screwdriver in the toolbox but when I stood on the chair to look there weren’t any screws to turn, and then realized I could just pry the alarm off the ceiling with my hand if I tried. I put it on the counter, then looked the brand up on my laptop and found all kinds of negative testimonials: “It’s 2:30 in the morning my kids are all crying and the dog is barking because that thing went off for no reason,” one of them said. I added my own strongly negative review and figured out to turn the thing off permanently by following the directions on the back, which said to poke through the paper with a slotted screwdriver and turn the screwdriver in a slot.
Then I sent a few emails, got that inspiration about a book of essays, and then I went back to bed. And now all I can think is that maybe that alarm waking me in the middle of the night—its beeps as loud and full of crazy energy as the zigzagging lines of energy in the background of the Thoth deck Ace of Wands, the skewers of flame coming out of a big wooden wand in the middle of the card like the non-existent fire in my house—had something to tell me about waking up, that my long cycle of sleeping, not publishing, just getting through the days one day at a time with nothing much happening, is about to end.
October 6, 2015: The Knight of Disks by Tania Pryputniewicz
What I love best about the Thoth Knight of Disks is the curve of horse’s neck and the pale greenish blue light of dusk crossing the steed’s mane. Then there’s that grounding rich brown of rider’s cape and the red saddle. The full heads of wheat stalks curve nested like the rings of green and gold sun light emanating from the edge of rider’s shield, the shield standing in as sun with its Leonine metal rays.
The rider appears relaxed, chest open and uncovered, his helmet tipped back off his face. Pensive in profile, he takes in the field outside the borders of the card. Arrien calls him, “Harvester, with his threshing tool in hand.” I happened upon an earlier draft of the knight by Lady Frieda Harris in which we see the horse’s thick fringe of hair (known as feathers) draping across his hooves; I loved seeing behind the wheat for a moment.
How did I embody Harvester this September? If we think of this card as the “earner,” I have to use creative ways to see our abundance. I told my husband this month as we sat fretting about the bills, house full of our own children and each with one or two sleepover friends, that this was harvest enough: our children wanting to bring friends to the hearth.
They rearrange mattresses and lay them out in the living room; they locust through the fridge emerging with mango popsicles. The toaster pops with the coins of waffles. From my son’s room, we hear more giggling than from the room holding the five teenage girls. Their mingled laughter fills the open courtyard between their bedroom and ours.
See? I say, Success! They like to be here. On Monday the refrigerator will be empty but we will fill it again. On Monday we will work, my husband to a sea full of swimmers, and I to the mind’s field full of seekers writing their way to inner truths lit by the internal sun of the heart.
The other harvest is poetry. I bought a three-inch notebook to organize all the loose-leaf pages that lead to the final draft of the poems that made it into my first poetry book. My messy folder, tufted six inches thick with random pages, was bothering me. I sat on the bed in a stripe of sun with my hole punch, punching holes and slipping each handwritten page into three silver rings, topping each section with a final typed version of the poem.
And what remains in the loose-leaf folder is the compost for this year’s crop of poems. This November marks the anniversary of the publication of the first book and I’m eager to finish the second book, maybe a little impatient. It is likely best to sit in that red saddle and watch the sun go down for a bit.
In the card, the rings of color coming off the rider's shield overlay the true colors of the landscape. I’m considering questions of lens in relation to this next book. And questions of best harvest. Not that I can change the witnesser--lens of child self--present at the commune. But I’m thinking about what attracts people to communes, to leaders, to ideals, to the illusion of peace in outer space when earth is so beautiful.
Do we think we can bring only our best self to start over in a foreign landscape? Who do we hope to meet? Can't our best selves emerge during this lifetime, from this horizon? Are we meant to long for what is not present?
When I look at the Rider Waite version of the Knight of Disks, I see less an image of harvest and more an image of “project” or “manifestation.” Rider Waite’s boy in blue in neutral contemplation holds the offering, hasn’t given it over yet. His horse too rests in patient abeyance. The harness is red as are striations of land beneath the green. Vitality in the landscape, vitality in the restraint; his hand is gloved and he is still fully protected.
However his face is exposed—he risks being seen. What comes next? Maybe--keep some things just for you--he will place that sun gold pentacle against his chest to warm himself before he gives it away.