The Seven of Wands and Wild Hares

When I draw cards for myself or others, I always read the “wild hares.” These are the cards that seem to slip out of the deck of their own volition — not through careless shuffling, but seemingly without provocation. You can be shuffling just fine, and still end up with a loose card or two… and sometimes they’re significant.

Some readers use the wild hare as the first card in whatever spread they’re using. Personally, I don’t. Rather than placing it in the spread itself, I set it to the side and use it for added context. These cards generally don’t change the entire tenor of a reading, but they’re often very insightful.

This time. I drew the Seven of Wands. This card generally signifies a struggle against some form of opposition, whether it be a competitor or a challenging circumstance. In the Crow Tarot, the Seven of Wands specifically indicates that though you might be on top of things at the moment, there are always forces ready to topple you.

Lately, I’ve been feeling it. Things are coming together for me, but I can feel physical and mental fatigue tempting me to rest on what I’ve already done. I should work on increasing my dose of sertraline, I need to keep on top of the exercises my psychologist has prescribed to me, but, since I’m feeling better (not well, but certainly much better), the temptation is always there to let myself become lazy. My shop exists now, but I should work on adding new things to it and helping more people find it. I need to keep working on shoring up my finances. There are plenty of places where I’m doing well, but I need to keep doing if I’m going to maintain that.

And, as I shuffled, the Nine of Cups slipped free. I have a bit of a history with Cups and Wands — tons of them have been appearing in readings for me, not that that’s really a surprise. The Nine of Cups is fulfillment, optimism, joy, and positivity. It’s a fantastic card to pull (whether you’re actually drawing one, or just have it sneak out at you).

In this context, it seems that things are continuing to look up for me. I am in a place of happiness and good things, but I’ll need to work to keep them. I’m not surprised. The kind of minor successes and small, comfortable miracles I’ve had lately are things that come with effort, and disappear with a lack of it.

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The Six of Cups (is Confusing and Full of Babies)

The Six of Cups is often read as relating to children — either revisiting memories of your youth, your “inner child,” or literal children around you. I confess, I’m not a big child person. I like other people’s children just fine, but that’s largely because I can give them to someone else when they get whiny. I’m more vodka aunt than wine mom, what can I say?

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The Six of Cups from the Rider-Waite tarot deck, artwork by Pamela Coleman Smith.

That’s why it surprised me to draw the Six of Cups this week. I didn’t ask anything specific really, just did my usual one-card weekly reading. It’s got me thinking, though.

One of the big associations with the Six of Cups is simplicity. We often speak of a “childlike simplicity,” and a number of things attend that: joy, innocence, creativity, a sense of playfulness. In this case, I’d be surprised if the Six of Cups referred to literal children. My S.O. and I have none, nor does anyone immediately around us, and that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.

At least, I hope not. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t immediately open my calendar app and began doing some quick ovulation math. Fortunately, I think we’re in the clear.

One interpretation of the Six of Cups is a time of happy nostalgia and good childhood memories. It might indicate a trip to your hometown, reconnecting with people from your youth, and so forth. There’s a little irony here in the fact that I spent my last therapy session talking about how hard I worked and planned in order to escape my childhood home as soon as I was able, even to the point of avoiding close friendships and teenage romances in high school — what was the point, if they’d only make it hurt when I left? So I don’t think that’s it. Without any cards surrounding it, I also hesitate to assume it’s talking about child abuse.

There could be a connection to the Ten of Wands from last week, though. While the Ten of Wands speaks of taking on a burden and carrying it to the end (in fact, being very close to the end), the Six of Cups can also point to the need to release some adult responsibilities and enjoy being childlike again… At least, for a little while.

I have taken on a lot of new responsibilities recently, so that could be it. I don’t think I’m stressed enough to drop everything and let my (metaphorical) hair down, but it’s good to know the most useful way to unwind if I do.

 

 

 

Here’s to new beginnings!

Well… Re-embarking on an old one, but in a new direction. Still counts!

I started my Etsy shop years ago. It was an experiment, a new way for me to stretch my limits and see what I was capable of. I’m doing some more stretching.

All of this is to say that I have new listings available — tarot readings, prints of my artwork, you name it. (As long as you are naming one of those two things.)

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Whoo!

ravsundetailAll of these are high-quality prints made using the giclée

process, on Somerset velvet fine art paper. In the future, I’d like to offer some of my original work, too, and maybe some jewelry. For now, I’m focusing on prints and seeing how things go.

Painting has always been a way for me to work through things. For years, I suffered from crippling thanatophobia — living almost seemed pointless if it was all going to end eventually, and nonexistence was terrifying. Painting ravens, crows, and other carrion birds and death imagery in bright, lively colors was one way for me to come to terms with things. To stop seeing death as something to be feared, and, instead, as a part of the cycle of life. It was a big step toward my goal of death positivity, and it was through death positivity that I could really start living.

Now, I’m not afraid. I love the aesthetic quality of juxtaposing carrion birds and bright colors. I take a lot of inspiration from ravens and crows in my artwork, my divination, and my magical workings. (I even have a raven-inspired oil that I use for journeying work that’s amazing.)

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I hope my work resonates with you, too. 💜

The Ten of Pentacles (goes cha-ching)

I’m not going to beat around the bush this week — I didn’t have any particular circumstance that led to me asking my deck for guidance, I just wanted to pull a card to tell me about the upcoming week. My S.O.’s back from a work trip, I’m feeling pretty good, I even did a small working to plant some seeds for the Taurus full moon we’ve got coming up. A little honey, a little sweet orange… It’s a good time for it.

Perhaps needless to say, I was pretty stoked when I drew the Ten of Pentacles.

Tens are the culmination of the Ace-Ten cycle in the pips cards. Pentacles are the suit of earth, money, foundations, and stability. Even without going into some of the more specific meanings of the Ten of Pentacles, it’s a very positive card in the realm of prosperity.

Pents10The Ten of Pentacles points to a home life that is happy, stable, and secure, both in an emotional and a material sense (though perhaps more material than emotional, as emotions are the domain of the Cups cards). It can indicate setting up something that will contribute to your financial security, like a business, a pension, or an investment. The energy’s right for creating long-term stability for yourself.

This comes at a really opportune time for me, especially today. The stars aligned for me to finalize some printing proofs and take some product photos, and my shop is up and running again! I’m nervous. I’m excited. I’m happy to see that things are on my side. (More on that later, though.)

My S.O. just finished a week of work training, so this bodes well for him, too. While not strictly monetary, this investment of his time (and his company’s investment in him) still goes a long way toward establishing stability for us.

Things honestly couldn’t be better!

The Magician

The Magician is resourcefulness. He means creativity, power, and the ability to achieve your goals. He shows up to tell you that you have the things you need to do the things you want.

In my case, I think he means serotonin.

It’s kind of funny, really. I’ve tried cognitive behavioral therapy, which had some success for some aspects of my anxiety. (What’s the worst that can happen if I embarrass myself in front of people? They get a cringy-funny story to tell, and, since I don’t mind laughing at my own dumbassery, so do I.) However, it did not work super well for others. (There’s a 99% chance I don’t have a heart condition, but, if I am wrong, I die and cats eat my face.) I already meditate, breathe diaphragmatically out of habit thanks to several years of singing class, and practice roughly seventeen different kinds of relaxation and mindfulness techniques.

I use aromatherapy — there’s a duke’s ransom in lavender, sweet orange, and ylang ylang oil in my bedside table. I use herbs, even though lemon balm mostly just makes me sleepy. I carry crystals, which helps considerably with the meditation and mindfulness. Even so, I still felt panicky.

It wasn’t until trying an SSRI that any of it really started to stick. Even though I’m on the tiniest dose imaginable, the difference is already noticeable.

There are a lot of witches who aren’t willing to do healing spells or health-related divination, and I can’t blame them. Magic works best when it’s focused on something — it’s why I don’t really hold with a lot of the pop-witchcraft ideas of doing things like enchanting your tea for prosperity. Nonspecific witchcraft brings nonspecific results. If you cast a healing spell, what should it do? If you ease soreness, you’re really erasing one of the body’s signals that tells you something is wrong. Ease inflammation, and you’re really altering a powerful mechanism for healing. Without knowing the root cause of something, without knowing what it is you’re really trying to change, it’s difficult, at best, to address.

The trouble with mental illness is that there often isn’t a simple way to diagnose it and figure out the root cause. I have intracranial hypertension, and I know this because a very nice team of doctors stared into my eyes, stuck needles in my spine, and ran more tests than I previously knew existed. I have anxiety, but there’s no blood test for that. They can’t stick me in an MRI and tell me why my brain malfunctions the way it does. The best tools I have right now are persistence and experimentation. They can’t tell me if it’s genetic, from some form of trauma, or has some as-yet unknown etiology. Fortunately, that experimentation is starting to pay off.

It isn’t that I was performing CBT wrong, or meditating improperly. It goes deeper than that, in ways diet and lifestyle could only help so much. I’m happy I’m closer to understanding my panic attacks and anxiety, and I can’t even tell you how happy I am that I feel like I can finally do something about it now.

I’m not one hundred percent where I want to be yet, but I know the way to get there.

So then I got someone else to do it.

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Some tarot experts don’t recommend reading for yourself — it’s too easy to get caught up in the things you want or expect to happen. Like trying to touch your left elbow with your left hand, sometimes you’re too close to a situation to be able to accurately read it.

I don’t always hold with this idea. There are some very emotionally-charged or high-stakes situations that I prefer not to read for myself, but, in general, I find it’s good regular practice. Still, sometimes I like to get a reading from someone else, just to get another pair of eyes on the path I’m on.

This time, I requested a one-card reading from RiseWitchApothecary. I wanted to know what my next step should be — if I want to continue down the path to the life I want, what should I do?

I received the Page of Pentacles.

pageofpents

This card is a reminder to keep the past behind me and focus on the new ventures I’m about to undertake, particularly monetary ones. (Makes sense!) Though it usually has more to do with money, jobs, and careers, it can also point to relationships. (Which also makes sense!)

I draw a lot of cards pertaining to new beginnings and new undertakings when I read for myself, so I was simultaneously surprised and unsurprised to see something similar come up here. My S.O. and I just started our business, so focusing on that is the sensible next step. I’m pleased that it seems that easy — I know what I need to do, and it looks like the universe is lined up with that. The next step for me to take is the most logical one.

Admittedly, it also raised a number of interesting questions: How do I keep my momentum? What hidden factors are there? What’s the next step?

First things first, though. I’ve got stuff to do.

And then everyone saw my butt.

Hello, I’m writing this to you with one hand, because the other one is mostly shrinkwrapped.

I’ve talked about my anxiety before — about starting sertraline, taking beta blockers, the whole nine. My health is not really something I’m secretive about at all. Too many people have anxiety and panic disorders as it is, and I’ve been dealing with it for too long to give half a shit in a handbag about being ashamed of something I can’t control.

I have not, however, mentioned nocturnal panic attacks.

I’m lucky in that I don’t get them super often — once in a blue moon, really, usually when I’m under a lot of stress. At first, I thought they were something akin to a night terror, but the presentation is actually very different. I’m aware when I wake up panicking, albeit usually confused for a bit. My heart races, I feel a sense of impending doom. They suck super hard, but, as I said, I don’t get them often.

Then this afternoon happened.

We upped my dose of sertraline last night. I’ve also been on Bactrim for the past few days, which made every joint in my body feel as though it had been beaten by a team of enthusiastic pixies with cricket bats. Both of these can potentially increase anxiety, and panic disorders can be pretty unpredictable anyhow. I lay down to take a nap late this afternoon, and woke up feeling like someone had hooked most of my organs up to a car battery.

So, I did what I usually do: call my S.O. and ask him to hang out on the phone with me until things calm down, in case I lose consciousness, or experience transient blindness, or something else happens that keeps me from being able to call 911. Usually, it takes about twenty minutes for the parasympathetic nervous system to kick in and override the adrenaline response portion of a panic attack. I usually spend it on the phone, doing breathing exercises, holding an amethyst palm stone, waiting for things to pass. There isn’t really a way to speed up the process that I’ve found. Most of the emphasis is on riding it out with as little mental trauma as possible.

Twenty minutes came and went. I thought this might be more than I could handle on my own, so I took a beta blocker. (They’re not pleasant, but they’re pretty neat. From what I have experienced, read, and been told, they help me by blocking the adrenaline receptors in certain areas of the body. Pretty rad when your primary anxiety symptom is a racing heart, right?) Twenty minutes after that, my heart rate was almost normal. I also couldn’t breathe and felt like a donkey had kicked me in the sternum.

Welp. Plan B. I called an ambulance.

To make an already too-long story short(er), it was probably a reaction to the propranolol. We’re not sure why I had the original nocturnal attack, but I wasn’t actively having a heart attack when I got to the hospital. In fact, my vital signs were impressively normal, considering the completely dumbass amount of pain I was in. Just to make sure everything was okay, they took an EKG, drew some blood (shoutout to the dude who was able to draw from the back of my hand), and had me strip down and put on a robe for chest x-rays.

Remember when I mentioned taking Bactrim?

Do you know how hard it is to properly tie one of those damn robes on a good day?

Reader, I stood up to hold onto the x-ray machine so they could get a few shots of my heart, and flashed my entire butt at radiology. (To add insult to injury, when I got home, I realized I accidentally stuffed the hospital gown into the bag with my other belongings. So now there’s a permanent souvenir of my shame.)

Part of me berated myself for relying on medication. The fact of the matter is, though, that if you believe in an herb or crystal’s ability to heal, you must necessarily recognize its ability to harm. Anything can trigger an allergy. Anything can cause an adverse reaction. You can have a bad time with anything you put in your body, whether it’s a drug, a plant, or a sandwich. It’s the price we pay for having bodies, which, when you think about it, are both delicate and largely terrible. (Who’s idea was it to put the esophagus and trachea right next to each other? It makes no damn sense.)

Truth be told, butt-exposing aside, this went really, really well. My biggest fear has always been having an emergency when I’m alone, and potentially screwing up the things I need to do to handle that emergency. I was still half insensible with grogginess when I was fumbling with my phone to call for help, I was afraid of taking beta blockers because of the side effects, I experienced my worst fear after taking them, and came through it alright. I can’t say this has inoculated me against fearing these things in the future, but it’s a step. It was terrifying, and I did it, and if it happens again, that’s future J.’s problem.

And that’s something worth celebrating.