This is a tarot spread I created for anyone who relates to what I’ve been saying – about losing touch with earth, about knowing there’s something inside that wants so badly to come out, about missing their creative selves, about just feeling goddamn lost right now.
-- Beth Maiden, Creativity, courage, commitment: a tarot spread for the new moon on Little Red Tarot
It's true, I do miss my creative self. It's been years since I've written poetry or fiction or worked on e-luminatus or journaled about psytrance. Sure, I've been creative in other ways, but for quite a while I've felt a gap. And it does feel like there's something inside me that wants to get out, so while I wouldn't say I'm feeling lost, this spread still seemed like a great choice for the December new moon. It worked out even better than I had hoped.
One thing I came away with: one good way to get more in touch with my creative side is by doing more writing. This is something that's completely within my power. I can see it, feel it, believe it ... so, time to do it!
Writing about Beth's spread and my new moon readings seems like a good place to start.
Creativity, courage, commitment: an excellent spread
If you're new to the world of tarot and happen to be reading this, hopefully there's enough here that you'll be able to follow along. If you're more experienced, hopefully you'll find the process I went through -- using multiple decks on a series of readings -- interesting. In any case any discussion of the cards or my interpreations or the process are very welcome! That said if your only takeaway is "wow that's a good spread," I'd be more than happy :)
If you think of a tarot reading as a discussion between the reader, the querent, and the cards, then a spread provides structure for the discussion. Beth's spreads and the other resources on Little Red Tarot approach things from a diversity-friendly, femininst, queer perspective that work well for me. [Beth's a great blogger as well, combining beautiful visual images with very authentic and honest posts, and her post Transformation gives a sense of where she was where she created this spread.]
Creativity, Courage, and Commitment has six positions: Fear, Hope, Transform, Release, Ground, and Create (numbered 1-6 in the diagram to the right, placed in that order). Beth's also got some excellent questions for each position, and in some cases recommendations as well, for example
I'm not the only person who likes this spread -- see Katzi's post on Balance these scales and the people raving about it on Beth's blog. In a comment, Katzi suggests it could also work well as a new year spread, and Beth agrees that it would work well "at any kind of ‘new start/intention-setting’ time". So, check it out!
Face-up Rider/Waite/Smith: what do I think?
Beth's got some excellent questions for each position, and as I read them over I realized this would be a great time for a technique Courtney Weber shared in "Tarot for One" at last year's Northwest Tarot Symposium*: first do a reading looking at the cards and choosing the ones I want, and then shuffling the deck and pick cards without looking, asking the Tarot. Courtney suggested this as a good way of starting by putting your own thoughts explicitly on the table; by acknowledging them, you can see where they're potentially biasing your interpretations of the cards you then pick from the shuffled deck. It's a great example of what James Wanless calls "face-up tarot", intentionally choosing cards as a complement to randomness.
So I started the Rider/Waite/Smith (RWS) deck, and spent I while thinking about which cards for which positions. Sometimes, as with Temperance for Transform, a card popped into my mind; other times, with Fear, there were several immediate possibilities. Here's what I came up with **, along with a quick description of how I was thinking of the various cards' meanings.
Fear: Nine of Swords, in this case representing knowing that I've screwed up and others have been hurt as a result.
Hope: Three of Cups: Celebration of mutual success, happiness, and joy.
Transform: Temperance: Balance, the middle way, and successful combinations unleashing radiant energy.
Release: Wheel of Fortune, Reversed, struggling against events.
Ground: The Empress: passion and emotion, the intention I'm setting.
Create: The Fool: optimism, courage, taking risks, being myself.
Of course it's leaving out a lot to reduce the card's "meaning" to a sentence fragment. At the personal level, I associate quite a few cards with people or situations in my life -- many of which I don't necessarily want to talk about publically, but let's just say there's a reason I often use The Fool as a Significator :) And a lot of wise people have different potential interpretations of each card; for example, we've been talking about the Fool a lot in James' Fortune Circles.
And over time the cards' meaning also evolves based on the different readings it shows up in. All of these cards have been showing up in significant readings over the past few months. One that was particularly in my mind as I chose: the Wheel of Fortune, Reversed, was in the position of "how I'm at war with the situation" in a reading on "the possibilities of surrender" at last week's Seattle Tarot Meetup. So the brief notes here are only the tip of the iceberg.
Thinking about what cards made sense in each position made for a very illuminating "reading" for me, a real tribute to the structure Beth laid out. As a bonus, I felt a much better understanding for the spread when I was done.
After the face-up reading, I took a break from the tarot for a while ... and danced to a great set by DJ Anomaly! The music was fantastic, the snacks and drinks were tasty, and the crowd was happy. So I was in a good frame of mind when I got back to tarot.
I did the next reading with James Wanless' Voyager Tarot***, and some of the cards came as a real surprise to me.
[I did this reading and the next one in our atrium, with some wonderful lighting. The image in the background of the readings give an idea of what it looked like.]
Fear: Three of Cups, Love
Hope: Woman of Cups, Rejoicer
Transform: Eight of Wands, Harmony
Release: Ten of Worlds, Reward
Ground: Nine of Wands, Integrity
Create: Ten of Crystals, Delusion
Delusional? Afraid of love? Yikes!
Although a lot of the other cards make perfect sense. In Hope, the Rejoicer has a lot of the same connotations of celebration as the card I chose face-up. In Transform, Harmony (the Voyager Eight of Wands,) has a lot in common with Rachel Pollack's interpretation of my face-up card Temperance. Integrity is a fine ground. And Reward as what to Release immediately felt right: -- rather than trying to justify doing the creative work in terms of any expectation of a reward or payoff (or worse feeling entitled to a reward), instead doing it because it makes me happy.
And perhaps the Ten of Crystals just seems delusional to others. In the Voyager Companion, James warns about false expectations and delusions of grandeur, but adds
[Y]our pipedreams and hallucinations make you an imaginative, farsighted, visionary. Follow your visions and dreams and remember that all great ideas are too far out for most.... Go see if your thinking is fanciful or fortune-bearing. Take the risk.
Which certainly seems like good advice. And on further reflection these delusions can have the same positive aspect as the illusions of the Rider/Waite/Smith Seven of Cups. Embrace the irrationality as part of the creativity! As Katzi suggested in a discussion on the Alternative Tarot Network, after pointing out that the other cards all suggest confidence,
Don't let your fears hold you back. In fact, use the idea of delusion to your advantage. What incredible things can your imagination dream up? Work towards making it happen, however fanciful it might sound!
As for the Three of Cups, Love in the Fear position ... as well as the literal meaning, there's the context of the face-up reading, where I chose the Three of Cups as my hopes. So one way of looking at this is as being scared (at some level) of my dreams coming true. Beyond that, as Beth says, it's not easy to write about your fears in publc, so let's just say there are plenty of other interesting possibilities -- clearly a lot to think about here as well as I face my fears.
The third deck I used, Obscurity, was created by a friend of mine as part of work we're doing on TapestryMaker (the software these screenshots come from).**** It's a major-arcana-only deck that's unusual, maybe even unique, in being designed from the beginning for online use. Earlier I described a reading as a discussion between the querent, reader, and cards, but that's an oversimplication: the creator or creators of the deck are also involved in the conversation. Unsurprisingly, it's often a different discussion with Obscurity than with Voyager.
Fear: The Lovers
Hope: The Tower
Release: The Star
Create: The World
Once again context matters a lot. Temperance shows up in the same position it did in the face-up reading is kind of a big arrow and exclamation point saying "pay attention!" And while I'd usually think of Lovers in the Fear position as fear of making a choice or perhaps fear of the consequences of a choice, the parallel to Love in the same position in the Voyager reading potentially points to a more literal interpretation. Similarly Justice fits in well Integrity, and Releasing the Star makes a lot of sense as a complement to Reward -- releasing the idea that I'm the star.
And there are a couple cards from another reading I did with a friend last week. The Tower, the blinding flash of insight that turns everything around in liberatory intellectual upheaval, was also a hope in that reading: the archetype I'm hoping to become And the World's unification of my inner sense of being and outer activities, earlier in the position of "Which virtue of evolved consciousness to guide me", seems like a great way to make my intention real and go forth and create.
Speaking of cards that showed up in earlier readings, the Temperance and Justice were in the two-card new moon reading I had done with obscurity back in September. Then, Temperance was "What I need to learn" and Justice was "What I need to change". Hmm, I'm noticing a pattern here ...
After finishing the Voyager reading I thought about all three readings for a while and then meditated. Since then, I've done what I do for other "big" readings: reflected on the individual cards and the whole reading in more detail, both in terms of what I can learn and what I might want to do next. Of course I don't do put in this much effort into every reading, but there's so much here it seems very much worth the investment. With the solstice, a Christmas full moon, and then New Year's coming up, there are plenty of opportunities for followon questions, so it's a great chance to align things for 2016.
Like I said at the beginning, one big takeaway is it's time to do some writing. As well as blogging -- about tarot, diversity, social networks, civil liberties, psytrance, and who knows what else -- I'm going to dust off e-luminatus and who knows, maybe even g0ddesses.net. There's lots of good stuff in the readings about the why and how to do it but at the simplest level it comes down to just doing it. And enjoying it!
That's only part of the answer, though. The final cards of the readings are give three complementary perspectives on the path to creativity: be The Fool, follow my vision and don't be limited by others ideas of what's "rational", and unify my inner sense of being with my outer activities. Seems like good advice to me!
* the same place I met Beth. Oooh, synchronicity!
** images via Wikipedia. Images are believed to be public domain in the US; copyright also claimed by US Games System and used under the "free Tarot education" clause in their Reproduction and Usage Policy for Copyrighted Tarot Images. The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot is available for purchase from US Games and as various apps including , Fool's Dog, and the Beautiful Tarot.
*** images copyright 1985 by James Wanless, used with permission. Voyager Tarot is availabe online at jamesgwanless.com ... a new Android app is coming soon!
**** images copyright 2015 by TapestryMaker, used with permission.