Tarot Pairs: Eight of Pentacles Reversed and Two of Swords

The Eight of Pentacles is all about mastering your craft, often about work, but really anything related to the material, such as financial matters or health. So when this card reverses it can signify that something is amiss in this area. When the two of swords comes up with it, this can indicate that it is time to consider and decide what to do about it, perhaps before a decision is made for you.

It could be that this person is working at a job or trade that you’re just not that into and this is showing up in the quality of their work. Or maybe they’re just not the kind of person who cares all that much about what they are producing. Maybe they don’t care about the work at all and it’s all about the end result—the money, the house(s), the car, etc.

On the other hand, maybe they are in a position they were once inspired by, but have become burnt out or disenchanted with the work over time. In any of these cases case, the Two of Swords might be advising them to consider whether they should be doing something else, or at least find a way to motivate themselves. They might be in denial about this and they might have got away with it up ’til now, but that won’t last forever, and it won’t lead to any lasting success.

The Eight of Pentacles reversed can sometimes indicate a creative block or a lack of focus. That person might be going through a slump and the inspiration isn’t flowing. Sometimes people get into the habit of being busy and having to trudge on regardless—the job has to be finished, the art work delivered, the score arranged by the deadline. In that case, the Two of Swords could be advising them to take a step back and reflect on what it is they are trying to accomplish, then consider if there is a better way to go about it. It’s time to listen to that quiet voice within instead of drowning it out with the ever-turning grindstone.

If someone is having trouble finding work, the Two of Swords could be indicating that they are at a crossroads where maybe they need to choose a different direction. It could be that they need to retrain or acquire additional skills or qualifications because their chosen field has moved on with the times. Having worked in the technology sector for quite some time, I can tell you that this is a never-ending process. It could be that their line of work is becoming obsolete, and they need to find a new area to pursue.

The Eight of Pentacles can sometimes shine a light on someone having unrealized talents and abilities. “I’d like to (write a novel/start my own restaurant/become a professional musician, etc.) but I don’t have the time.” In that case, the Two of Swords indicates that they should try to find the time, because they have the ability to succeed. It also indicates that this could be a challenge, perhaps because they are already financially comfortable where they are, even if they aren’t fulfilled, and there are going to be considerations about keeping their family, or even just themselves, in a manor to which they have become accustomed until the new career is established. Not to mention the push back from friends and neighbours if the local solicitor, for example, rocks up teaching a yoga class one day. It will challenge their perceptions, which could be a negative pushback. But who are they making this change for, themselves or their neighbourhood critics?

It’s also worth considering that, because pentacles are about the material, this card could be related to a person’s physical health, which may have been neglected. In such a case, the Two of Swords is warning against turning a blind eye to what your body is telling you. Stop and listen to it, and seek professional medical help it seems appropriate.

As always, the interpretation of these two cards is going to depend on the question, any other cards around them, and any insight or intuition you might have during the reading.

Tarot Pairs: Six of Cups Reversed and Four of Pentacles

When you see the Six of Cups and the Four of Pentacles together, there is a good chance that someone is holding on to the past. With the Six of Cups reversed, that past probably has too much of a hold over them, and might even include trauma experienced in a family situation or a relationship, which could include abuse, neglect, instability or insecurity. As a result, that person could have difficulty letting go as well as being closed off to new experiences.

The Six of cups has a child-like energy to it. It speaks of innocence, security, feeling loved and protected, maybe even a love relationship of the seemingly fairytale variety. It is just as likely that you are experiencing this energy as happy memories.

So what happens when the Six of Cups is inverted and that energy becomes blocked or distorted in some way? It could be that you are simply stuck in the past, longing for the days when you were carefree and innocent like a child. Adulting can have it’s downside, and even people who are good at it wouldn’t mind taking a break from it once in a while. Oh, to have nothing more to worry about than homework, have your dinner made for you, and be tucked into bed at night. Recalling those days is fine, dwelling on them could get a bit depressing for some people.

On the other hand, there could be something darker going on here. Maybe there was an abusive parent, or a lack of security in the home—instability either in a living situation or a parental relationship, apathy, or abuse for example. Maybe the reason that person is stuck in the past is because of childhood trauma that has stuck with them into their adult life. Or, if this card is part of a reading about a past relationship, maybe the fairytale was more of a nightmare behind closed doors.

The Four of Pentacles reinforces this inability to let go of the past. Not only that, but there is a wall of defence around this person—they are not going to let themselves be hurt again. Sure, they are protected, rooted in the material, safe in their own world, but they are closed off from everything else. The Symbolism of the RWS Four of Pentacles couldn’t be more obvious—one coin blocking the heart chakra, another blocking the crown chakra, and one for each foot, blocking the connection to earth. Most of these coins are held as tightly as possible—this security is not getting away from me! But what is the cost? Life is to be experienced, and it is at it’s best when we can be open and vulnerable with each other. These cards together can indicate that there is some serious healing to be done in order to get to that openness.

I recently did a reading where the Six of Cups reversed came up as the root of the situation, and the Four of Pentacles came up as an action card. Why would someone be advised to take up the energy of the Four of Pentacles? Perhaps because the Four of Pentacles also speaks of setting boundaries. So maybe the energy of the Six of Cups reversed is still very much active—it’s hard to heal while you’re still in the midst of whatever you need to heal from, even when what you’re experiencing is more memory than events transpiring in real time. In this case, the Four of Pentacles might be advising that person that they do need to put up a wall around themselves, at least for the short term, in order to get stop feeling all that negativity from the Six of Cups reversed. There’s a bit of yin and yang going on here, because the Four of Pentacles is about holding on to things too. Letting go of past pain is easier said than done. Well of course it is. But remember that the minor arcana cards are about transient energy. Do what you need to do for now. This too shall pass, though you may need to put in the work to put the past in the past.

Daily Draw: The Sun Reversed

The Sun reversed

The Sun is such a positive card of energy, vitality, happiness and success that when it is reversed the energy is more diminished than blocked or twisted. There may be clouds blocking the Sun, but it is still there trying to shine down on you. Maybe there is something overshadowing this energy for you. Maybe you can’t see how wonderful life is because there is some temporary setback weighing on your mind or playing with your emotions. Maybe you’re feeling a bit blocked from the flow of life, even though that flow is still there waiting for you. Maybe you’re a little too focussed on what people want or need from you and not focussed enough on what you want or need. Maybe you’re not using your own unique talents and gifts to their full potential.

Today this card is showing up for me in a few ways. For example, my vitality is a bit blocked by the son. That wasn’t a typo. We have an autistic child who, on occasion, has issues with normative sleep patterns, and so it was that I sat with him until he finally drifted off at 2:30 AM. And even though I’m having a pretty good day, I’m feeling a little rough around the edges as a result.

Then there is the fact that we have to move house within the next six months because the owner is selling up. This came up towards the end of last week, but it’s really just sinking in. Few things can cloud over the sun like moving house. Yes, it brings up potential and possibilities, and a fresh start in a new place. It is also a major pain in the butt, especially when you are talking about moving a family of six. The two of Swords reversed also came up in my morning reading as how I would feel about the energy of the day. And for me that reinforces not only having reality set in about moving, but also the possibility of being overwhelmed by it, at least from an emotional and/or mental perspective. But the Sun says, “Be positive. Roll with it. This, too, is temporary and it will all work out in the end, if not today.”

It’s probably worth saying that the Sun reversed makes a pretty good weather forecast for today, as it has been raining here off and on, with the sun trying to break through but never quite succeeding until now, for as I write this I can see it shining out the window for the first time today. And now it’s getting dull again, but at least the sun let me know it was there. And I know it will be back in full force before long.

Tarot Pairs: the Tower and the Star

No one wants to see the Tower come up in their reading, but if it does the Star is a wonderful card to follow it.

The Tower indicates the end of a pattern, situation, or way of life that is coming to a drastic end. For example, it could refer to a job that you’re fed up with but feel like you’re stuck with, a relationship that has been deteriorating for some time, or a nicotine habit that you just can’t, or don’t want to break. In your heart, you know that it’s an unhealthy situation, but it’s what you are used to, and leaving it might represent leaving your comfort zone. Making drastic changes can be daunting. Sleepwalking through life is much easier.

Then suddenly lightning strikes the Tower—you lose the job, have an irrevocable blow-up with your significant other, or get a bad diagnosis from the doctor. It hits you hard. You probably didn’t expect it, even though you might realize you should have. When the Tower comes up, you’ve probably played your part in it being there, even if you’ve contributed little more than complacency and inertia.

The energy of the Tower is often natures alarm clock, and waking up can be a shock. “This isn’t the dream I was having. The floor is cold and I’m still groggy. Where’s the snooze button?” The Tower has no snooze button and waking up to it can make you feel like the world is crumbling around you, and that can feel devastating.

This is where the Star comes in, and why it offsets the Tower so well. The Star speaks of hope, inspiration, healing, and an open spirit. It indicates that, no matter how drastic the changes represented by the Tower, that energy will pass, and that you will be shaken, but not scarred. It can mean mean that you can see an opportunity to change things that weren’t working out, and you have a positive attitude towards doing so. Maybe you already know what changes you want to make. Maybe the lightning strike of the Tower has provided a eureka moment and where you once saw nothing beyond your current situation you can now see the path ahead clearly. The Star is the silver lining around the storm cloud.

It’s worth pointing out that the Star immediately follows the Tower in the major arcana, so these two cards coming together form a natural progression. All is well, even if it temporarily appears that isn’t the case. This is just one more stage you need to pass through, and there are brighter days ahead.

Tarot Pairs: Five of Swords, The Lovers Reversed

The pairing of the Five of Swords and the Lovers reversed is an unwelcome sight in a relationship thread, unless you’re looking for confirmation that the relationship is off the rails, and in that case you probably already know that. Of course, Tarot is a great tool for telling you what you probably already know, but it does help you focus.

The Five of Swords is somebody who’s main interest is themselves, and they don’t mind looking out for themselves by any means necessary, even if it means being a little (or a lot) underhanded to succeed. And if you get hurt in the process, hey, that’s life. Along with this comes discord, naturally enough, another possible meaning for this card.

When you pair the Five of Swords with the Lovers reversed, you see the domain in which this self-interest is acted out, because the Lovers reversed can indicate a fear, or lack of desire for commitment and intimacy, communication problems, and an unwillingness to meet their partner halfway. This could play out as obviously as someone who is cheating on you. Alternatively it can indicate that someone might not be emotionally available. Or maybe you feel like someone is not as candid with you as they should be, which makes sense since the Five of Swords often has a secret they don’t want to let you in on. You might feel underappreciated by this person because they don’t value you enough to take your wants and needs into consideration. If you don’t want to go along with what the Five of Swords wants, then they’ll be just as happy to go along without you. All of which ties into another possible meaning for the Lovers reversed—a dysfunctional relationship.

Of course, this doesn’t have to represent a romantic relationship. Maybe your business partner is telling porkies, or your real estate agent forgot to tell you about the temporarily covered sink hole in the back garden of that house you like, for example.

If none of this resonates with you when you see these cards, then consider the possibility that the Lovers reversed is pointing out either a bad decision or a reluctance to make any decision. Especially with the former, the Five of Swords might have a negative impact on decision making due to the underhanded way of operating, perhaps trying to get away with something they know that they should not. Which usually isn’t a problem for the Five of Swords…unless they get caught of course. So if you’re thinking about writing off luxury items as business expenses, for example, or trying to pass off someone else’s work as your own in the office this might be a warning against doing so. Five is the number of change, and Swords can represent justice, so what seems like a good idea at the moment might not end up being one.

Daily Draw: Four of Swords

The Four of Swords is the first image I encountered from the Tarot deck, and it sold me on the deck immediately. A woman reclines, sublimely relaxed, in a bubble bath. One shoe still on as though she didn’t want to take the time to fully disrobe to get into that relaxed state. Likewise, one sword lays on the ground implying she didn’t want to take the time to properly stack them all—she needed to submerge herself NOW. Her red hair flows out from her head like water against violet clouds as her mind relaxes. Candles enhance the mood.

Compare this image to the corresponding card in the Rider-Waite-Coleman deck. The RWS card shows the tomb of a soldier who is laid in rest. The predominant tone is grey and dark, where in the Bonefire deck the colours are warm and bright. The theme is rest, recuperation, contemplation, and meditation in both cards, but the Bonefire version makes it look that much more inviting.

This card can come up when you need some serious self care. There may have been a period of struggle that has worn you down. It could be as obvious as a physical battle, but it could also be any conflict that has worn you out or frazzled your brain, like a lawsuit for example, a bad break-up, or a work-related conflict that didn’t go well. The preceding card in the suit is the Three of Swords, harbinger of pain and misery, so this is the calm after that.

The Four of Swords doesn’t imply that the struggle is over. This is more like the calm of the storm. There is probably more conflict to come. Therefore, this is the time to get some sleep, eat well, and recover from whatever has been affecting you because you need all that. It’s also a time to reflect on what has happened, think about what you are going to do about it, and plan your strategy for success. Think about all this, but don’t stress about it. For now, it’s time to rest.

The Tower as a Major Seven

The full moon this past week had a more negative impact for me than any I can recall in my recent personal history, resulting in an unexpected upheaval. I was in the late stages of a protracted interview process for a senior role in two separate companies and things were going well. In both I was one of two finalists, and a heavy favourite in one of them. Then Uranus, in opposition to the moon, decided to throw a spanner in the works with a twist worthy of “Tales of the Unexpected” —not only did I not win either role, nobody won either role. Both companies decided to change job requirements and go back to the drawing board. Yikes!

I won’t go into the details of how much time and energy I put into all this, or the knock on effect of having to go back to the drawing board myself, and under a bit more financial pressure this time. But I will say that one of the first things I did after putting down the phone from the second rejection was to lay out a celtic cross spread of what the next month was going to look like for me. In retrospect it might not have been the best idea to launch into this reading on the heels of that fresh energy of frustration, rejection and futility, but nevermind.

Without going into the whole reading, I will tell you that I drew three out of four sevens (no cups) in the minor arcana. Challenges and obstacles to overcome indeed. And just to the right of it all, in the immediate future/concerns slot was the Tower.

The Tower is probably the card one least wants to see under any circumstances, especially when one is contemplating when and where they’ll see their next paycheque. The Tower warns of impending upheaval, crises, inescapable disruption of life as one knows it. So not part of the comfort zone then.

Seeing this card in my immediate future was unsettling, to put it mildly. And then I was reminded that 16, the number of the Tower, reduces to seven. A fourth seven, in this reading. A great big honking seven, but still a seven. Staying upright while the rug is pulled out from beneath you definitely falls into the challenges and obstacles category.

The Tower usually doesn’t come up unless there is a good reason for it, and as harsh as it is, it is not only usually for your own good, but you caused it to come up in some way. You’ve willed it into being by being complacent in a situation you know you should get out of, or you’re letting things slide and not taking care of business, or you’ve been propping yourself up on a shaky foundation, for example. Eventually something’s got to give. If you don’t rise to the challenge of the hints and red flags that you may have ignored, the Tower makes sure you learn the hard way.

The Tower can also mean revelation. In this case, it’s possible both of the roles I was going for were beginning to look like more trouble than they were worth—one company didn’t seem to quite know what they wanted, with an ever-changing the job spec, and the other company was beginning to look quite toxic. But I need the work and I’ll just suck it up right? Guess not, says the Tower, time to reassess and find the path you should be on, not the one you think you should be on, or that is expected of you by others. And while I’m concerned that the fallout from all this might make it tough going for the next while, at least the only pentacle that came up in the next reading was the seven, as a possible outcome. That I can handle.

Living in Interesting Times

Reality is subjective. I never used to think that. I mean, how can reality, something that one would assume can be empirically proved or disproved, be open to interpretation, conditioned on whether someone accepts it or doesn’t accept it?

Then came social media, which does have some uses (hi fam) but is also a veritable, all you can eat buffet of political polarization, culture clashes, countless conspiracy theories, and trolls of every persuasion. So many opinions, so little tolerance. I sometimes say opinions are like farts: everyone has them, no one wants to hear anyone else’s and most of them stink. Except mine of course. Mine smell like roses.

But back to reality, so to speak. Let’s look at something that one would think is a fact or isn’t: COVID-19. Maybe you’ve heard of it. It is a particularly nasty virus circulating around the globe with a high infection rate, a higher than average death rate, and long-term consequences for those who contract  and survive it. Or is it? I guess that depends on who you listen to, or what you believe yourself. For health care workers, for example, it seems to be undeniable and has brought about a relentless ordeal that is overtaxing every health-care system that has to deal with it. But that’s not unilaterally true either, as a number of Youtube videos are circulating, produced by health care workers claiming that we’re being scammed and that there are empty hospital beds and unused ventilators stockpiled in basements. Some people believe COVID-19 is such a threat that they put on masks and gloves to bring their bins to the sidewalk. Others are having COVID-19 parties because it’s all a load of nonsense, until they actually contract the virus and change their belief, or not. Economies are shut down and people are put out of work because we’re being indoctrinated into the New World Order with Bill Gates set to vaccinate us with the mark of the beast, or else it’s because we’re facing a potentially catastrophic pandemic about which next to nothing was known initially and, even with discoveries made daily, there are still too many knowledge gaps for comfort. And it was all manufactured in China, or came from eating bats, or something else.

If you are waiting for me to tell you who is right you will be disappointed. Everybody is right, or at least everybody believes they are right. Each of these concepts represents somebody’s truth, their reality. How can this be? Wouldn’t it be a simple thing to prove, at the very least, what the basic facts are about COVID-19 in a way that cannot be disputed? No. But we can’t trust the main-stream media. They each have their own agendas and slants on events in line with their corporate owners. We can’t trust scientists. Who’s funding them and what are their vested interests? We really can’t trust politicians. At best, they are trying to juggle economic considerations and the health and safety of the population, with varying degrees (or lack) of success. In Ireland, for example, we’re telling everyone to wear a mask and be vigilant, but then we’re letting tourists fly in from highly-infected Texas who are apparently meant to quarantine on the honour system (i.e. not quarantine). When we can’t count on anyone to be straight with us, the best we can do is attempt to triangulate what the facts are by looking to see where the various accounts intersect.

“May you live in interesting times” is, ironically, a Chinese curse. The times are certainly interesting, and uncertain. We are challenged with conflicting scenarios and are left to choose what we believe to be true based on how we filter what we see, hear and intuit for ourselves. Our worlds are changing drastically, with this virus being only one example of a catalyst bringing about that change. We can be stressed and even fearful of those changes, as many are, or we can try to take this malleable world, focussing on shifting it in a direction of our choosing that is aligned with love and compassion, while trying not to get distracted by the potential triggers bombarding us daily.

Tarot Insights: Knight of Cups

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Knight of Cups – Bonefire Deck

I think of knights as fire, full of the passionate energy of youth. Not wide-eyed innocent pages, but high-spirited teenagers, sometimes rebellious, sometimes stroppy, usually full of themselves—knowing they are right about everything, constantly testing their boundaries. When we apply this to the Knight of Cups, we see someone who is passionate about following their heart, who puts more emphasis on their emotions than their logic, and who has a faith in their intuition.

In the Bonefire deck, the Knight of Wands seems to be surrounded by a lavender cloud that takes up most of the illustration. This also seems to be the color of what little of his horse we can see. The feeling I get is that this knight is surrounded by his dreams, perhaps emphasized by the few bubbles we can also see. He gazes at a chalice filled with rose wine. Yet his head is above the clouds, the sun is shining big and bright and the wine is captured by the sun’s corona.

This might seem like a contradiction, but it’s more an indication that the knight is aware of the “real” world even though he seems to be overindulging in his dream world. With knights, their energy can veer from one extreme to another. The trick is  finding the balance. I think this illustration convey’s this point well.

Whether it’s healing, divining, manifesting or something else, a lot of energy work requires the open-heartedness and intuition of the cups. The knight is enthusiastic about immersing himself in those energies, and it can be a real buzz to do so. While healing takes place for ourselves and others in this space, it is often a very personal experience. There is also a three-dimensional world out there, the one most people perceive as reality, the one in which most people interact with us. It’s important to try to maintain a balance so that we don’t get so caught up in dreams that we diminish our connection to others.

Tarot Insights: The Magician

All that Potential…

The Magician, Bonefire Tarot Deck
The Magician—Bonefire Tarot Deck

In contrast to the rather static depiction of the Magician in the RWS deck, showing all potential but no real action, the Bonefire Tarot Magician is surrounded by representatives of the elements that swirl around him. Nothing is manifest yet, but something is about to come into being—the creative process is in motion. You can nearly hear the crack of electricity as light begins to emerge from the Magician’s wand.

As close as this magician is to the moment of creation, it is still the energy of potential and not actualization. Kind of like the fool walking up to the edge then not quite stepping off the precipice. We’re still not there yet.

I’m struck now by how often I hear about dreams, plans, ideas, or even have them myself, that for one reason or another are never acted upon. I’m not saying they’re all good ideas, but at least some of them could be, and in many cases how can you tell until you begin to try to realize them? All the things we could create, the ways in which we could change the world, the people we could heal. All that potential, all that power to create.

But if it remains potential, what is it worth? Is it just a story we tell ourselves? How good life could be if only this or that would happen? Are we afraid to act? Do we not have enough faith in ourselves to bring the dream to reality? Not enough time? Don’t know how to get from point A to point Z? Are we too concerned about what others might say? What stops you from letting your inner Magician follow through to manifestation.

Hopefully your Magician isn’t completely frustrated or resigned to perceived “reality”. We sometimes find we can create in some areas while having problems in others. Yet those difficult areas are often the challenges we are meant to tackle in this life. And we can—that potential, everything we need is there inside of us, ready to be realized. What are you going to do with it