December 15, 2014: The Ten of Cups by Mary Allen
My card this month is the ten of cups, satiety in the Thoth deck, which shows many cups, ten cups, with water pouring out of them into the cups below. The image on the Rider Waite ten of cups is more detailed, with a couple with their arms around each other, two children playing, a house in the distant background. This card stands for deep emotional fulfillment, I read recently, and the ability to love deeply in all areas of life, and although I had a fair amount of icky troubling things – medical tests that freaked me out, my friend drinking again for a while – none of them was disastrous -- my friend stopped drinking after a few days and seems to have used the slip to have deepened his recovery and his resolve to stop drinking, the medical tests just showed stuff like high cholesterol – I think I can safely say that for the most part, in the month and a half since I pulled this card as my card of the month, it has been accurate.
My friend Dave Rogers even said, “You have it all,” one day when he and I were finishing up having Sushi in a new restaurant downtown and I called my boyfriend on my cell phone and then told Dave I was going over to my boyfriend’s house for a little while. And although I’m a little superstitious about saying so, I think Dave was right: I have a relationship that works pretty well with a few minor glitches, friends -- lots of friends, in fact a whole community in a town I still love -- work that’s satisfying and even starting to pay a little, writing that I’ve made time for two days a week with books pouring out of me – at this point there are five of them in various stages of completion. I even have a little doggy as well as two cats, the doggy stays over at John’s house and leaves me and the cats alone during most of the week. And, best of all, there’s service involved in it all, or a lot of it anyway. Last night I talked to three people I sponsor on the phone. One of them was Mark W., and I helped him get to a better spiritual place around a big meeting at his company, and then we discussed the fact that he’s going to hire me to do a little consulting around him and time (one of my many projects is a book about making peace with time.) This morning I talked to another person I do spiritual work with, my dear old friend Kathy, whom I check in every day with about how we’re using our time on this day (I don’t just help her, she helps me too) and then a little later this morning I helped one of my coaching clients write an open letter to cops about suicide prevention.
Years ago, when I sold a book for a lot of money, I had a vision of what success would look like for me: being on the best seller list, money pouring in, ego gratification papering over my broken sense of self. I didn’t get any of those things. I got a whole lot of healing instead, and then I got this: this kind of success. In my not so great moments it still doesn’t exactly feel like success – I wish I had a boyfriend who was a big time author, a prestigious teaching job, everyone wanting to publish my writing. But in my better moments I can hear the message of this card, fully, completely, and know that the life I got is truly the life I’ve always wanted. That I’ve come to love deeply in all areas and have deep life satisfaction. And there’s always the chance that one of my books will be a bestseller, or at least I’ll get a good review in the New York Times, tomorrow.
September 26, 2014: The Ten of Disks by Tania Pryputniewicz
Oh happy little Ten of Disks, with your gold coins in the shape of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life! I remember in graduate school when I first read about the Kaballah I loved the sound of the esoteric names for each sphere: Ain Soph, Binah,--the only two I can haul up from memory on the spot. I cut off a door-sized sheet of butcher paper, thinking that if I painted the Tree of Life large enough, body-sized, and wrote down life goals all around each orb, maybe the knowledge would pass right into me and I’d be somehow above the mundane particulars of figuring out how to cobble together a way to earn a living as a writer. I painted the Tree in arcs of red late into the night, two sections of my very first Interpretations of Literature, brimming with incoming freshman, waiting for me to teach on the other side of sleep.
My first knowledge of the Kabbalah came from a much-loved friend of the family, Suzanne, lovingly known to us as the book woman. She ran a beautiful bookstore on the Russian River and sent me, a little hesitantly--at my request for books on the Kabbalah--Dion Fortun’s The Mystical Qabalah. She included in the package another book called, A Witch Alone which basically offered a four senses definiton of a witch as a person learning the lay of the land around her and its native plants and histories, someone using her intuition and raw materials to understand her place in the world. Suzanne wrote me a note to the effect that she sent both books because “before we learn systems designed by other minds, we should first listen to the body we were born with, for it too has innate wisdom.”
Usually when the Ten of Disks falls, I skip over the traditonal functioning definition, the own word on the bottom of the card: Wealth, as in money, preferring to read the cards for their spiritual aspects. As in harvest of the wealth of the mind, or love, or the heart, but today I’m happy it does represent the wealth of opportunities coming to me after as I stand poised on edge of a year of teaching writing workshops in support of November Butterfly.
I think this Ten of Disks might also refer to the net of support given by the organizations I teach for now, their advertising efforts to fill classes that in turn allow me to just show up and teach. Daily I get as far as I can: I rise to write, send copies of the book out for review, and draft marketing emails before the school day ends for my children and my taxi duties begin. One child needs a ride to cross country practice, the other to kickboxing; an hour later the runner changes out of running clothes to rummage for soccer shin guards which affords me the chance to put a frozen lasagna in the oven…in time to pick up the kickboxer… to settle in for a long night keeping the daughter company as she finishes her New England colonies spread sheet, wading through economics, how many people died from mosquitos, defining taxation without representation.
I could either be grumpy for the crazy driving loop or grateful we have the financial means for the three children to pursue their passions. I’m grateful to deposit a paycheck from my teaching, modest as it is, that helps bridge us after paying rent. I’m grateful for the Ten of Disks gold, for the green rims of the coins so like the bright green grass our Husky crosses when we walk her over the manicured lawns of our neighboorhood where homeowners’ dues pay gardeners. I’m grateful we live in a tended garden and that, by the grace of God, I have time to tend children and poems. The gold of the coins also transports me to the Midwest corn, landscape of the next book’s set of poems in progress about an Illinois commune. Kernels of corn, coin, to mine.
Look closer and you see there are pale violet coins in the background to cash, rimmed in red, like uteral blood, without symbol, waiting to be writtten upon. Maybe they are all falling, unordered, the fertile chaos before they take form to shape the Tree of Life, once as I’ve lived it, and once again in words.