divination, Neodruidry

The Eight of Cups

The Eight of Cups shows a figure with their back turned to eight… well, cups. In Rider-Waite-Smith-inspired decks, it depicts a man hiking away and leaving the cups behind. Really, it’s a very simple, elegant way of portraying exactly what the Eight of Cups means: turning your back on something and moving on.

Few cards in tarot are entirely negative. Even The Devil can stand for earthly pleasure, and The Tower is the destruction that makes room for something new. The Eight of Cups is no different, really. It’s a letting go, but it’s a letting go of something that should be let go of.

I’m almost done with the Dedicant Path work that I’ve been working on for nearly two years now, delayed by a few health- and moving-related hiatuses, and further slowed by a self-imposed language study. Oddly enough, it’s not that I’m so close to finishing that I feel like I want to change direction. Not entirely, but enough.

My ethnic and cultural background is very mixed. (The only thing any of my ancestors have in common is that, from Russia to Canada, they all seemed to love the cold. When a handful of them ended up in Tennessee, the next generation wound up in New York. We are not a warm weather people.) I originally wanted to choose Ireland as my cultural focus, but began doubting myself — especially when it came to studying Gaeilge. So many other people focus on Irish paganism, and probably better than I. So, I changed. Now that I’m almost finished and ready to complete the writing assignment, I feel like doing that was a betrayal, of sorts. Is it dishonoring my ancestors to feel like it was too difficult, and I wouldn’t be as good at it as other people? How would I be bad at it, anyway?

So, after months of study, I’m changing my mind again. I don’t think I can confine myself to one cultural focus, though I need to for the purposes of finishing this right now. I might be terrible at remembering where to put the síneadh fada (counting Gaelige, only two of the languages I’ve studied even use diacritics — and I wasn’t much good at remembering the other one, either), but favoring the gods of some of my ancestors over the others would be a mistake.

You know, I almost miss the days when it seemed like I pulled nothing but Aces. They were less heavy.

life

And then we all almost blew up.

So, in Monday’s post I briefly touched on walking into our new place and smelling gas.

Sometimes I smell things. I have a very sensitive sense of smell.
It’s a mixed blessing. It definitely came in handy when I worked in a laboratory, but is markedly less so in, say, a dive bar bathroom.

I called my S.O. in to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating phantom smells, but he agreed — there was definitely a sulfur smell in the air.

(The sulfur smell is mercaptan. Natural gas has no distinct odor of its own, so the gas company adds mercaptan to it before pumping it into homes in order to help people notice leaks before enough gas builds up to explode. If you have gas appliances and you smell rotten eggs, don’t fuck around.)

(Have I mentioned how much I hate gas, by the way? I do. A whole lot.)

My S.O. called the maintenance guy, who showed up to fix a minor plumbing problem and test the air in the kitchen for a gas leak. Nothing showed up on his detector, so, naturally, we did what anyone would do in this situation.

We assumed it was something else and ignored it for a week until I couldn’t stand it anymore.

“I’m telling you, it’s gas. It still smells like ghost farts and if we don’t figure out why then you’re going to go make coffee and blow the entire building sky high,” I explained, as I crawled out from halfway under the refrigerator.

If it wasn’t mercaptan, then it had to be another source of sulfur. Since we don’t have a cabbage-loving grandma here, I figured it had to be a dead thing and had gone in search of it, to no avail. Not that I would’ve been super stoked to find a rat corpse under my fridge, but I can handle dead things more easily than explody gases.

Thirty bucks later, and we had a shiny new gas detector. This is something that places with gas appliances should have anyway, but, more fool that I am, I had assumed that this might have been included with the smoke/carbon monoxide detector slapped up on the ceiling. I turned it on, warmed it up, calibrated it, and waved it around the stove like Jean de Florette looking for water.

And it immediately lit up and emitted a guttural shriek that could wake the dead.

Fuck,” I said.

To make an already-long story short, the gas company came out twice — once to repair a corroded valve, then again to tighten another one. (Fixing the first valve released enough gas into the air that detecting the loose one would’ve been impossible at the time.) I, meanwhile, sat in the bedroom fuming. I knew something was fucky. And I was unimaginably pissed off that I’d allowed myself to be convinced otherwise.

For real. I’ve worked with poisons, herbal and otherwise. I collect perfume. I can use one whiff of a water sample to calculate the proper dilution for a B.O.D. I’ve spent a lot of time in trancework and journeying. I’ve spent too much damn time with my senses to let some guy with a faulty detector make me to doubt them. (And then maybe blow up.)

In a way, this rage is a positive thing. A few months ago, I wouldn’t’ve been able to feel it; I would’ve been having a panic attack instead. Sure, it doesn’t feel great to sit with a rage because you might’ve been blown up in your sleep the second your refrigerator’s compressor kicked on or one of your cats got a bit staticky, but still. Having enough neurotransmitters to be pissed off with is real nice.

So, if there’s a moral to this madness, it’s this: Have a gas leak detector. Know how to calibrate it. Your gas company’s emergency line is (probably) free, and they have a team of very nice people who’s entire job is to make sure you don’t die. Lastly, ward and protect your place, whether it’s a house, apartment, or van down by the river — but don’t mess around with gas leaks. 

That said, there’s only one problem. We had trouble with a gas leak coming from one of the burners in our old apartment around October. The emergency tech shut off the gas line leading to it, but the maintenance guy re-tested it and didn’t find anything. If he was using the same leak detector then as he did this time around… Has my old apartment been leaking gas for the past three months?

divination, life

The Lion, The Fool, and The Devil.

First, I want to apologize for the brief hiatus I took a week or two ago. We received word that we could move into our new apartment on the day before Thanksgiving, and so we had to pack, clean, find movers, figure out why the toilet didn’t work, figure out why we kept smelling gas, yadda, yadda, yadda, nobody exploded and everyone is fine now.

Anyway!

During this time, I also didn’t do any tarot readings for myself. Didn’t really want to, to be honest — we’ve been unpacking, cleaning more things, calling the gas company, calling Poison Control because I accidentally had grapefruit this one time, it’s been a whole big thing. I’ve been too busy to really formulate questions to ask, and, of the questions I’ve had, I don’t really think I wanted answers to them.

(If I had to come up with one, I’d say the first rule of reading tarot is this: Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to.)

So, this week, I decided to draw three cards. I didn’t have a particular plan for the three — I didn’t intend for them to be explicitly Past, Present, Future, or Problem, Obstacle, Outcome, or anything like that. Just a three-card snapshot.

First, I drew Strength.

Strength is, much as its name implies, associated with strength. Inner strength, outer strength. Courage, bravery, confidence, and mastery over one’s emotions. All things considered, this tracks. I’m doing well with therapy, as far one can gauge that kind of thing. I’m being more active, albeit slowly, here and there. Strength. Booya.

Next, I drew The Fool.

The Fool is freedom and innocence, but also a fair amount of naive dumbassery. He’s youthfully spontaneous, but also… Well, foolish. He symbolizes new beginnings, often those that require a leap of faith, of sorts. While most readers interpret The Fool as a positive card, as cards that symbolize beginnings often are, I’ve always viewed him with a little suspicion — Aces are beginnings too, but they don’t have the same careless energy as The Fool. I’ve been taught that The Fool’s backpack contains all of The Magician’s tools, and he could use them to do and be whatever his heart desired, if he only knew they were there. To me, The Fool symbolizes a new beginning with a hidden element, something that needs to be sussed out before taking that leap of faith.

Last, I drew The Devil.

I was initially taught that The Devil signified a manipulative person, but I don’t generally get a big “person” energy when I read tarot. Few of the cards I pull really seem to stand for an actual individual, though it does occasionally happen. In most cases, I see The Devil as something that someone’s given away their power to — it could be an addiction, or even something less severe. People give away their power to things that offer the illusion of safety, even if that “safety” is purely because the manipulative person/situation would make it dangerous to leave.

There are a number of things in my life that could be The Devil. There are things I’ve given power to, or adopted in the name of safety. I don’t use anything stronger than herbal tea and prescribed Zoloft anymore, so it isn’t a substance I can think of. I’ve been careful to root out the people who were unhealthy for me, so it isn’t a person I can name. Manipulation isn’t always obvious, though. Neither are the ways in which we lose our power.

Look at habits. To call me a “homebody” is… euphemistic. I’ve spent a long time managing a chronic illness, so going into environments I can’t control is daunting. Will it be too hot? Will I be dehydrated? Will there be fresh air, or strong smells? Will there be a crowd, or bright lights? A chronic illness isn’t a thing that you really get to choose to give your power away to, but am I managing it in a way that’s really healthy, or just easier?

Or the internet. I’m trying to furnish a living room, a place for my S.O. and I to relax, something that reflects us and the things we enjoy. Do I really want that sofa, or do I just think I want it because it looks just like one from this Pinterest post that some influencer made, even though they actually hate it and would never have considered it if they weren’t being paid ten grand to pretend they don’t? How much of my power have I given away to shitty advertising?

Not every kind of manipulation is overt. Not every addiction is to drugs or alcohol.

Of course, maybe The Devil isn’t here in a negative aspect. Sometimes, he has a positive role to play — like a devil-may-care attitude. He can be entertainment, laughter, sex, and rock’n’roll.

I drew an extra card, just in case. Three major arcana cards is a pretty big deal, the majors carry some strong energy. I got the Two of Wands.

The Two of Wands shows up when two paths diverge in a wood. It can signify a lack of contentment, but cautions that the grass may not be greener on the other side. In the deck I typically use for myself, the Crow Tarot, it’s an urging to leave your comfort zone.

That… That makes sense.

A big part of why we moved is because having stairs to climb made things more difficult (believe me, my dudes, you don’t want to fuck with a tile staircase when you’re having vertigo and your vision’s gone all sparkly). Now that I’m here, I’m enjoying the comfort of more space, and a new, cozy living room… Which would make it very easy for me to do the safe thing, to succumb to the self-deception that tells me that I should make a comfy nest here to nurse myself, instead of using the tools I have gathered to actually help myself. Zoloft and therapy have helped me gain mastery over many (though certainly not all, of course) of my negative emotions, so there’s Strength. This is a new beginning I should embrace with enthusiasm, but not carelessness, so there’s The Fool. I want to stay here, where it’s warm, comfortable, and spacious, and enjoy myself rather than putting these tools to the test and embracing a much less comfortable freedom, and there’s The Devil. I’m not content right now, because illness has hampered my life. I have to use the gains I’ve made to leave my comfort zone, and there’s the Two of Wands.

Heck.