June 2, 2017: The Two of Wands by Mary Allen
My card this month was the two of wands. Power brought down to earth and made personal, I’ve read this card means. The Thoth deck two of wands shows two crossed red dorjes, an ancient traditional Tibetan weapon. The dorjes on the card have cartoonish little angry-looking faces at one end, and although Angeles Arrien says that this card is about coming into your own power from deep within in a balanced way, I can’t avoid thinking it’s about those little faces. So when this card falls I’ve always thought that it was talking, at least a little bit, about power struggles. The two of wands in the Rider Waite tells a very different story, and that’s the story that speaks to me about this card and my month last month. The Rider Waite two of wands shows a man in a red cape and hat standing between two tall brown wands, holding a model of the earth, staring out at a landscape of mountains and trees and water.
I guess I can say that my month was about power brought down to the earth and made personal. The way I do that is by writing, which as I see it involves connecting to some universal creative power floating in the air sort of like electricity, connecting to it and bringing it to earth and making it personal, through writing. For me this involves seeing and noticing and doing something with what I’ve seen and noticed, capturing it as precisely as I can, with all of its detail and meaning, and mirroring it back to the universe as I write about it.
I read recently that Saint Leontius, a sixth-century Greek Orthodox priest, said that creation can’t worship God directly but only through us, that the role of humans in this world is to make God’s creations visible. I love that idea—that’s what I’m talking about. To make God’s creations visible you have to see them, and to write you have to see too, see the precise room or landscape or whatever else inhabits your memories or your fictional characters are inhabiting in the story. You can’t be vague about it, and in that way you hold the globe in your hand examining it while you bring power down to earth and make it personal, it’s the very examining that brings power to earth and makes it personal.
And that’s what I was trying to do all month. I spent a lot of the month working on an essay about my desert vacation in March with my friend JoAnn. The whole time I was writing I was sitting there at my desk trying to focus the language to capture the details and the meaning, to let the meaning arise from the details, and when I was on the vacation I spent the whole time walking around trying to notice the details, trying to capture them in my mind so I could capture them and make something out of them, mirror them back to the universe, through a piece of writing.
And ever since then I’ve been doing that with other things too. Now that my desert vacation is over and I’m back in real life I’ve been walking around looking, noticing, trying to be present, to see whatever there is to see. I’ve kind of gotten into the habit of it, noticing the world so I can write about it, and it is a kind of power brought down to earth and made personal.
June 2, 2017: The Wheel of Fortune by Tania Pryputniewicz
All month long I glance at the Thoth Wheel of Fortune card on my desk. Behind the pale green wheel in the center of the card, I see lightning bolts, their top jags ending in stars. “The stars exploding into lightning bolts represent the experience of awakening to the possibilities that can turn our lives in more positive and expansive directions,” writes Angeles Arrien in relation to the Wheel of Fortune. The quote accurately reflects what I’m experiencing as I take scenes from my childhood that I first described in poetry and develop them in prose for a new writing project of mine.
Last week my memoir teacher asked us to make memory maps—to look down at the river of our lives and look for the places where the river turned, tracking pivot points or places we turned in a new direction. I spent a day going through old boxes in the garage, pulling out college syllabi and high school versions of poems, delighted to find I’m still obsessed with the same imagery (poems then, poems now, and the new prose). I can’t believe how much emotion and insight the same set of core images continues to offer.
And the other surprise is to discover, through writing about various poverties, the currency I didn't realize I gained. For example, last week I wrote a scene based on the time we were living in a campground in the wooden camper my father built for us. We’d left the Illinois commune and arrived on the Russian River in the summer. By fall we were still house hunting, so I started public school in the fifth grade while living in the campground.
It all came back vividly: the sound of the rain dripping off the redwood leaves onto the roof, the smell of campfires, the intermittent sleep I’d get in the loft with my brother and sister, waking to rain wet socks when the wood seams of the camper warped and parted. Christmas neared, and with it, the obligation to play Secret Santa for a classmate. Making the best of our situation, I made a cardboard elephant puzzle. I watched as unobtrusively as possible as my classmate opened her cardboard puzzle. She turned the pieces over a few times, rummaged beneath the tissue, and then pushed the gift back into her desk and ran to see what her friends unwrapped. I wished I’d been able to give her something store bought, a Santa hat, glitter socks, a bow.
Once written out, down on paper, the energy trapped inside the memory released and the wheel of how I saw myself shifted, but this time, I was not just a witnessing child, but a child who grew up to become a mother. I get to bring motherhood’s lens of empathy and love back into the memories now. For me, empathy for other human beings is the un-measureable bounty and gift of poverty. The Wheel of Fortune goes up, the wheel goes down; sometimes you "have," sometimes you "have not." But skimming the Ferris wheel of the past allows me to rise to the top where the sun warms both past self and current witness.
The Motherpeace Tarot (round cards) version of the Wheel of Fortune depicts a blue sky and the planets of the solar system crossing the midline of the card in a row. The card’s edge is ringed by the astrological sign of the zodiac as if to say, our fortune is our birth sign, each one of us bearing our unique mask, coming into incarnation with a specific set of circumstances and parents, each one of us equally valuable. The fortune is learning to recognize the value in who we are and what we have to contribute.
Under my roof, these final school days of June, it is hard to feel like a contributing member, hard to feel successful: one child oversleeps, a second needs hair color for crazy hair day and tells me at 6:30 a.m., our last-minute shopping trip putting the middle child in prime position for a tardy. The wash out spray-in colors, only stocked at Halloween, are nowhere to be found. So instead we apply clouds of the big sister’s hairspray and 12 packets of shades of glitter from blue to gold to deep crimson (all for just $2.47—thank you Wal-Mart).
I put my youngest son in front of the flowering hedge and snap his photo. It is the way he’ll rain gold and iridescent Tinkerbelle Blue all over his desk and teacher’s floor that makes me smile. I take the middle son in late, stand there with him during the attendance lady’s lecture, vow to get a red marker to mark the days of absence and vow to write out a new contract for the kids so I can stop being the heavy in a life abundant: Twelve shades of glitter to choose from on crazy hair day, and a mother who loves her kids as much as my father loved me and my siblings (so much so that he built that wooden camper for us to live in by hand).
Tarot for Two's latest podcast is live today; Mary and I take up the question of whether or not the Tarot deck is just a deck of cards or not: