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Favorite Excerpts from Tania’s Tarot Writing Practice

June 2014, The High Priestess: The Tear in the Veil We Share

I was so happy pulling this card this month. Veils and shrouds have figured so much in the finishing up of my first poetry manuscript—there’s a line from the poem What Sets Her Apart Asks Jayne Reading Another Guinevere Poem for Me in Massachusetts that answers that question, “What sets her apart?” by looking at the psychic crossover or resonance that attracted me to slipping into Guinevere’s skin for the personae poems in Section Two written about Camelot. My answer to the psychic crossover, the feeling of kinship with Guinevere:  “the tear in the veil we share.” Referring to rape, its physicality.

Veil is softer, feminine, as is shroud, something to cloak a core object but not disguise it beyond recognition. Which lead me to use an image in a poetry movie for the still in Thumbelina accompanying the line (when Thumbelina addresses her mother to say, “It still ended with you, childless again at the window”)—of a mesh cloth over the face of a woman—you can see the individual strands, the crosshatched patterns, the weave made apparent, across the face. But the soft white threads don’t mask or hide the mother’s forlorn expression.

There’s beauty in the image, just like the beauty in the Thoth High Priestess, in which you see the repetition of a weave across a curved line—there’s a resplendent beauty in the pattern and the way the lines ray out as if from a sun—but here—the curve of blue and pale gold lines make wings of sorts just in front of the midrift and in front of the arms, the throne-seated Isis; she holds two ends of the mesh weave that arc gracefully down over her lap and across a white bow with its curled handles and asset of arrows, only one of which we can see the tip of. The lyrical bow looks to me like an instrument, the weave of lines hinting of strings. Behind the head of Isis, the nested rinds of moon appear like multiple horns. Her head supports a perfect globe. Where the mesh ends the blue wings begin, or are they multiple blue veils? At any rate, she’s giving off a soft patterned blue light.

At her feet, almost too loud in contrast to the rest of the card, sit jewels/crystals, a bronze flower, a green acorn tip or artichoke spear, a tiny white camel, and a whole cluster of grapes as large as the camel. I can’t stop thinking about proportion, transport, that maybe we think and move mostly in this physical gem-based fruit and jewel world, while the tiny white camel serves to remind us of our oversoul, sitting on its throne. Or that oversoul perhaps is at least able to see and feel behind the scenes, in the gaps, to hold on to the knowing regarding our heart’s desires coming into this incarnation.

All month I’ve felt calm and happy. I’m jogging again, on this very day we chose the book cover for November Butterfly (upside down cocoon/butterfly image with a wrinkled blue heart stem where the cloth cinches over the heart, figure’s arms folded to hold the cloth at heart’s seam, hair draping out over the ground like a female version of the Hanged One).

We vacillated (Don and Ruth Thompson of Saddle Road Press and I) between two images--one of a sculpture of a naked woman, chest covered in paintings of monarch butterflies, and this other of the grey and blue image on a bronze brown background of cloaked figure. Ultimately, the female Hanged One felt closer to the book’s heart, this concept of shroud, reveal, cloak, listen, to listen carefully in and out at the threshold of an experience that has resonated for women across time—and for me in my own life, to consider the stilled, the cessation of forward movement, stunted growth. If you sit long enough and listen long enough, you divine your way to becoming capable of being in present time again.

It’s not that I didn’t run ever after the incident –I ran track as sprinter in high school. I ran intermittently with various friends over the years. But somewhere I lost the verve to go out on a run alone. Maybe because I was on my way out for a jog on the day I was raped; it isn’t a conscious fear or avoidance, no apparent logic involved. But to risk going out alone, to run--I didn’t realize I was afraid to go until the fear left.

Since we’ve moved to our new city, I’ve wanted to run along the ocean, and that’s just what I’ve done for two weeks now, alone, barefoot, right along the wet pale gold sand where the waves retreat and swill around my ankles…walking the threshhold of two worlds again, like the High Priestess poised at boundary of waking and sleeping. I’m grateful for the two tangible worlds in which my body lives: sea and air.

May 2014, Ten of Wands: Forced Adventures and Humor

This month the Ten of Wands fell as my card of the month. The Ten of Wands in the Thoth deck just makes me think of how much I love Mary. On the card we see two Tibetan doorjies tipping the ends of two parallel green staffs that block eight burning wands. Twin squinch-faced staffs, spear tipped on one end (the ground end) and then tipped at top with elf hatted doorjies—whose elf hats look more like crowns—and what-ho! keep looking! Their elf crown hats are topped not by hoods, but tiny pale green horse heads!

Their faces appear moustached and definitely peeved, and they remind me of Mary and I, the way we laugh and react and squinch up our faces when we get troubling cards like the Ten of Swords (which Mary is smart enough to have removed from her deck) or the Three of Swords which we both left in, or Death or the Tower (I think that best sums up the order of high yuck). And also the word “doorjies”—I never quite remember what it means or what they are, just that they are Tibetan and imbued with power.

I relate more to the Rider-Waite Ten of Wands, whose figure carries all ten budding tree wands, back bowed, head bent to task, ignoring anyone following who might be offering a lending hand, and who heads towards the village with the intent--I presume--to share the wands. It seems a far distance to carry all those staffs alone.

Last month teaching Minor Mentors of Tarot online, I set myself the task of typing interpretation snippets from eight sources for each suit of the week from the Aces to Tens. I did this sort of “library” work as a means to deepen my own relationship to the cards, but it took three hours each time and I started to feel burdened by it; it also aptly conveys this Ten of Wands notion of attempting to encircle and offer a harvest. As I was working on the interpretation snippets for this very card, a new phrase jumped out I’d never paid attention to—something about perpetually carrying the load alone (Frieda Harris labels the card Oppression in the Thoth deck)—and I’m thinking of all those double tipped wands burning all at once like a cake with candles and a long walk to the Eaters.

Further this interpretation said something about being used to, assigned to, or almost gleefully acclimated to or enjoying the stress or strain of carrying such a load.  In the orbit of my family life, I see that over the years the very chaos of holding down the family fort while trying to blog or write has fed the content of the blog at Feral Mom, Feral Writer. Though I certainly don’t wish to think I create the chaos! But the consistency of the chaos factor has afforded me the opportunity to cope by celebrating the feral, fertile mess. I have a high threshold admittedly but I hope I’m not causing or welcoming more.

And it means I’m not surprised when life brings its own Ten of Wands challenges, all in the span of a month: a trip to intermediate care to staple my son’s leg shut, a $2000 unexpected van repair that forces me to bicycle to my night teaching commitment, my husband’s schedule conflicting with mine. He’s on his way out the door with the only working vehicle just as I discover my bike of choice has a flat so I’ll burn my thighs out riding one of the kids’ bikes; my other staple free son will simultaneously ingest and lodge a sunflower seed behind his tonsils forcing my husband to take him to work with him in case the seed fails to dislodge.

Back at home the teenage daughter makes so much fun of my cycling outfit I’ll pack a dress and try not to stress about leaving the eight year old under her expert care for three hours (admonitions in place: No toast, No blender, No-one in the house, No-one out of the house)—and head to town to teach, where I’ll hope none of my adult students catch me changing outfits in the restroom.

I’ll teach blogging, feeling like a failure when one of my brighter students takes over showcasing websites on the overhead far slicker than mine, and by now its ten minutes after done time and I hear my mousy voice saying I have to get back home to the kids and there I go, shutting down class anti-climactically. But it’s ok…I loved being out again in the elements. I wrote a haiku or two and of course, salvaged it all in a blogpost, My Bicycle, My Chariot and The Angel Tree: Writing Despite Chaos.

What are those heavy sticks I wish to not have burning at both ends? They might represent the feeling I am not doing enough fast enough to help us earn money. Give me time…. I am on track, you grumpy little doorjies, thanks for the horses, the humor, and the gift of Mary.

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