October 28, 2016: Tania Pryputniewicz’s Five Year Card-of-the-Month Retrospective
What a blessing to hear Mary’s sleepy little voice all the way in Iowa! She is drinking the rest of yesterday’s tea and I am here with my thrice-heated coffee and whipping cream ready to celebrate five years of our Tarot Card of the Month practice. We decided to take stock—neither of us realizing we were at the five-year mark—but just instinctually coming up for air with our process to see if we want to shift our focus in some way. We asked, which cards have we gotten and written to over the years? Might we want to narrow our engagement, for example, with just a pool of Majors? People cards?
I set aside this morning after kid drop-off to sit at my computer and go through my entries. But the universe played a joke on me, or maybe it was the Tarot herself, and the power clicked off in the house just as I sat down. I forgot about the scheduled power outage—Power Company note magneted to the fridge, drifting as magneted fliers do to the bottom beneath The Space Night poster along with the template for clipping Box Tops for Fifth grade, the notice about the Rummage Sale and the photo of me and and a dear mom friend at the taping of American Ninja Warrior in Los Angeles.
With black blank screen staring up at me, powerless, I reached up on my shelf, past the Eiffel Tower postcard and one of Mary’s early author photo possibilities and moved aside the adjoined postal stamps of Electra and Ironman flying in a tiny red frame that I gave my husband for Valentine’s Day. Behind it sits the red “Tarot with Mary” folder so used and worn that its seam has long since broken apart. The folder halves act as flimsy, frayed bookends for a two-inch stack of looseleaf Tarot pages.
I have to pour through the handwritten entries individually to make my list, some entries undated. How could I not date certain entries? I must have been in a rush to lift the grief out of my skin and onto the page, to relate it to the healing aura and colors of the card in question, knowing that Mary, on the other side of 25 minutes would listen to me read out loud, would laugh at the funny parts, would let out a sigh at the sad parts, wait for me to finish, and then repeat back to me her favorite phrases in my exact words. That she would then read me her writing and give me the respite of coming out of myself long enough to listen to her, her joys, her pains, and to take notes and capture the phrases of hers I fell in love with as she anchored her life and lived experience of hope to her card of the month.
Over the years, 21 times a Major fell, 7 times I drew people cards, 6 times I chose a wands card, and an equal number of times I drew cups and swords (5 times). As a Capricorn, just as I’d expect, of all the suits, disks fell the most (8 times). Only once the Ace fell, the Ace of Cups, my third entry, during a hard time in my marriage. It followed closely on the heels of the Ten of swords (during a period of trial separation). I remember thinking, what is that Ace saying to me? And yes, I had to learn to love myself, by myself again, in order for the marriage to thrive. Into that dark time came Mary’s voice and the birth of our ritual of card pulling and card writing, one of the most tangible practices I can think of for experiencing the kind of self-love the Ace of Cups promises.
All the way from that first Ten of swords to this month’s Star Card, I see that no cataloging of which cards fell can convey the blessing of shared inquiry with Mary. Our friendship, fertile and rich from the years we lived in Iowa City, picked up again after a ten-year quiet period. We began again to walk the heartland, just not geographically anymore. These days we walk the heartland of the spirit using the Tarot to lift us up. So many pages of writing and hours of phone calls later, I am overflowing with gratitude. I’m thinking of the Star card—with her mediator body of blue and lavendar holding up to sky one cup and spilling out of the other cup the watery starlight of her visions. With Mary I’ve been to heaven and hell and always returned to this body, this life, on the earth we share with renewed hope and strength to face the month until our next appointment with the Tarot.
October 28, 2016: Mary Allen’s 5 Year Card-of-the-Month Retrospective
We decided last time that this time we’d take a retrospective look at all of our cards of the month so far. It seemed like a good idea; we’ve been doing this for a while. Then we realized this morning that we’ve been doing this for almost exactly five years—we started on October 6, 2011—and it seemed like an even better idea.
So this morning I read through most of my card-of-the-month writing, beginning back in 2011. I was sort of shocked to realize I was still with my former long-time partner (we were together for nine and a half years) when I picked that very first card (the Ace of Wands), then interested to see how I got the Five of Cups (disappointment) a couple of months later, on the morning of the very day I found out he was maybe with someone else, and how I got the Seven of Cups (debauch) a month later, after he and that woman had gotten together and he and I had broken up.
It felt sort of good to look back and see how I used the cards and writing about the cards to search for meaning and healing in all that, how I moved through it and out the other end and then moved on to future cards and months. It was interesting to see my life through the lens of the cards over the last five years, passing through two devastating losses, the loss of that partner being one, and through various phases of other relationships and with myself, of happiness and optimism or worry or misery, of my own healing or lack thereof.
Some months were more interesting than others: the writing was better or the connection between the card and the month was clearer or what happened that month was more interesting. The month I got the Prince of Wands (male figure in a chariot, sun rays all around his head, everything in shades of gold and red) and my friend JoAnn and I were on vacation in the desert and I had a near encounter on a hiking trail with a swarm of Africanized bees, just like the little black bees flying around Prince of Wands’ head.
There was the month I got the Moon and my sister died—my second big loss during the five-year period, by far the more devastating one—and I wrote about her going to the other world and me traveling to the underworld of the flu and my own grief afterwards. There was that month when both Tania and I picked the Death card and I decluttered my house, refinanced a bunch of debt, and found a dead rabbit beside my shed, and when my friend John’s father died.
There was the time I got Lust in December, a card Angeles Arrien tells us has to do with luster, or radiance, then I went for a walk on a short cold day in the middle of a series of short gray almost lightless days, and the sun came out and every leaf and blade of grass and piece of mica in the sidewalk were glowing as if illuminated by a light from within. The time I had the Ace of Wands and my fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and I lay awake for hours afterwards and decided to put my short pieces into a collection.
There were certain cards that came up more than once, some I never saw at all. Overall I got 18 major arcana cards, 12 people cards (the Queen of Cups, the Princess of Cups, and the Princess of Wands came up over and over), 5 aces, and more cups than any other minor arcana. I got the Sun once, the Star twice, the Chariot three times, the Hermit twice, the Devil a couple of times, and— just once— the Universe.
I feel as if I should make some kind of final statement about all of this, but I find I can’t really think of anything to say. What is there to say about life itself, the way it keeps going on, when even the big moments, the Universe, the Chariot, the Sun, the Star, just lead to other mostly smaller moments, to worries and disappointments, the seven of wands, the five of disks. And then those pass too and we move on to something else.