Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Discerning the Difference: The Three of Cups and Four of Wands

Hello, readers, dreamers, seekers, and friends!

Today I want to launch my first post that extends beyond the useful but limited world of card profiling. In the tarot, there are many cards that have similar meanings to each other (the Ten of Swords and Death, the Lovers and Two of Cups, etc) and creating useful distinctions between these cards can be challenging. For this reason I will be posting a series of entries called "Discerning the Difference". While the cards do certainly share certain aspects with each other, being able to understand and speak to their individual nuances will help enhance your scope and abilities as a reader. Once you can "discern the difference", you will be able to get more detailed information from the cards, know what to do when similar cards show up in the same spread, and provide more accurate readings for your friends and clients.

Today we will discern the difference between two of the most loved cards in the minor arcana: the Three of Cups and the Four of Wands.

Both of these cards can signify a celebration, joy, sociability, being surrounded by loved ones, feeling emotionally supported, and being creatively stimulated. But there are also some considerable differences that will aid us in understanding and communicating the messages of the cards. 

One major distinction that pops into my mind revolves around the imagery of the harvest and the colours of the sky. In the Three of Cups, the women are raising their creative and emotional energy, and as they do so, the world around them also yields it's bounty in a symbiotic relationship. It is a card of summer. The sky is blue indicating midday and that these women are still very much in the middle of the act of raising energy. It is ecstatic. This is a card about emotional harmony, being creatively stimulated, and exploring artistic opportunities in a group dynamic. It represents bouncing ideas off of one another, riffing off of each other's creative energy, and working as a team. Without that excellent collective energy, no harvest will be produced. This card is about atmosphere. 

In the Four of Wands, the creative energy which has already been harvested by the group is used to fuel an individual's entrepreneurial enterprise. Rather than working as a team, our hero gets to reap the benefits of being supported by a community that seeks his own personal advancement. The sun is setting, meaning that the time for preliminaries is over and now it is time to prepare for the dawn of a new day. In this card, the energy is used to fuel the next stage of the querent's personal journey. He has the support of community, but he is acting as a free agent, and it is not necessary for him to be creatively stimulated by his peers so much as by his ambition. This card is about environment. 

That's all well and good, Rowan, but what does it mean in practical terms? Well, since you asked, here are some examples of different ways these can be expressed in fortune telling:
  • Love, Three of Cups: Spend time with your friends. Go out dancing and flirt with the cuties at the club. Have your besties over for brunch and talk about your emotions over lots and lots of mimosas. Allow yourself to receive emotional care that isn't romantic, you'll feel so much better once you do. Look for potential partners in creative public environments like poetry readings, open mics, dance halls, or night  clubs. Have a three-way. 
  • Love, Four of Wands: It's time to look somewhere you haven't looked before. You're about to begin something new in your life, so don't look for romantic fulfillment from the past. By investing your energy in self-advancement, you will create the openness and opportunity necessary for emotional or romantic fulfillment. Enroll in a class, explore new environments, and let your talents guide you. You will have better luck finding someone in an environment that is slightly challenging rather than one that is comfortable. 
  • Work, Three of Cups: Do something creative, but don't be distracted by the need to play. Put yourself in a team in which you all feed each other. Meet with your colleagues and brainstorm over brunch or cocktails. Bring something fun into your workplace in order to freshen the energy and liven up yourself and your coworkers. Refrain from shirking responsibility. A good rehearsal, team, or cast.
  • Work, Four of Wands: It's time to move onto a new project. Look at the progress you've made so far and use it to create a new goal. Move into new responsibilities that allow you more independence. Accept support from your coworkers without being limited by their vision. It's time to move on, you've reached the Opening Night or Closing Night performance.
  • Health, Three of Cups: There may be a tendency towards excessive drinking.If you don't enjoy working out, try dancing! Team sports could be a fun way to get your body moving. Don't overindulge in rich foods. Focus on having your main meal earlier in the day. 
  • Health, Four of Wands: Build up a routine that is sustainable. Ask members of your community for health and exercise tips, but feel free to adapt them to your own needs. Reward your mouth with a yummy meal only after you have rewarded your body with some good exercise. 
  • Occult ability, Three of Cups: Play with ecstatic forms of meditation. Join a drum circle and dance to open up your access to higher inspiration. Teas, oils, and potions are especially potent ways to unlock occult ability right now. Attend a public ritual. Perform tantric sex magic.
  • Occult ability, Four of Wands: Test out the skills you've been cultivating thru a new exercise. Take the practices given to you by your spiritual teacher, tradition, or community and find ways to expand and work with them so they become your own. Find a specific role for yourself to perform in public ritual. Begin a new type of magical enterprise. Look back on your spiritual experiences to really understand and make the most out of them.

Of course, the differences that I lay out are only guidelines, and as always you must trust your intuition to understand what Spirit is speaking to you. If during a reading you are really feeling a certain way that may be at odds with something I or someone else has written, TRUST YOURSELF! When you clear your mind and ask your Higher Power for guidance to come thru clearly and in a communicable way, then the first thought that enters your head will always be the right one. Also, it bears restating that these interpretations are particular to Rider-Waite Smith decks, and that other decks have their own inspired approaches and distinctions. 

I hope that this has been a helpful way for you to begin "discerning the difference"! Now take off your shoes, grab a glass of wine, call a friend, and put on some good music! You deserve it. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Four of Wands

"Leaving the Nest"

Number: 4- structure, practicality, stagnation, manifestation

Suit: Wands- south, fire, willpower, ambition, use of talent, impulsiveness

Keywords: New adventure. Launchpad. Community involvement. 

Description: The day has come! Our hero from the previous wands cards has told his friends and family of his plans, gone thru the proper channels to make his ambitions a reality, and today he sets forth on his new adventure. It is exciting and definitive, and he starts this new phase of his life with a clean slate. He is no longer in his tall tower looking down abstractly at the world but is outside with his feet on the ground. He is even slightly lower than those he is leaving behind, marking his descent into an exciting new journey. He is taking one last look back at the stable world that he has known, and he is full of joy and enthusiasm as those who love him cheer him on confidently. He has always lived in a very supportive environment, and now it is time to achieve something for himself. The setting sun tells us that the days of comfortable security are over. Only by pursuing his own ambitions and talents can he truly offer his best to the community he belongs to. He has finally taken responsibility for pursuing his dreams and now he must leave behind his safety net in order to achieve them. His journey will have many ups and many downs, since fire is a fickle friend, but in the end he will return ragged but triumphant. Our hero will face many tasks, but if he can apply himself to the pursuit of his goals with integrity and ambition, then he will return much stronger and more skillful than he can even dream.

Messages: Congratulations! It's time to strike out on your own. This marks the beginning of a successful new enterprise. Strong foundations. The presence of a  supportive and talented community. Do that thing you've been planning to do. It's okay right now to try something without your safety net. This is a pivotal moment in your development. 

Reversed: You may be limiting your success by playing it safe. Leaving a community due to lack of support. Post-celebration blues. Pursuing other people's ambitions rather than your own. Difficulty accepting the direction someone is going in.

Questions: In what ways have I depended upon others for encouragement? Are those around me supporting me authentically or grooming me into their own vision? How can I cultivate myself in order to give back to my community? Is there anything holding me back from striking out on my own? 

Astrological Association: Jupiter in Aries

Herbal Association: Abre Camino (Eupatorium villosum or Koanophyllon villosum)

Quote: "You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. You can't get there by bus, only by hard work and risk and not quite knowing what you're doing, but what you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself." Alan Alda, actor, writer, and director

Song: "Don't Stop Me Now"  Queen

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Six of Swords

"Don't Look Back"

Number: Six- recovery, support, relationship dynamics, projected image

Suit: Swords- east, air, mental fortitude, conflict, discernment

Keywords: Transition. Worn out. Refuge. Watched over.

Description: A woman and her child are huddled together in a small boat with six sharp swords in front of them. Behind them, a guide rows their boat across the shore, perhaps the same shore we saw in the Two and Five of Swords. They have forsaken the false truths that lay behind them in the Five card, and the Six offers them the opportunity to seek new more hospitable and appropriate horizons. Though the disappointment of the Three of Swords is present, our figures have now made it to the other side of that emotion and are seeking how to respond to it rather than allowing it to overwhelm them. In fact, though they must journey across this bay, the other side is not so far off as to be invisible and their destination is in sight. We can see that the water to their right is turbulent, while the water to their left is serene. This type of boat requires that you row on both sides, working with both mental/emotional challenges as well as accepting and working with those that offer you peace. Rowing only on one side of this boat, however, would cause them to go in a circle, and then they would never land on any shore. The woman is tired and likely cold, but methinks that she shrouds herself less for warmth than for anonymity. There is something difficult for her about the act of leaving what she's known behind, but she understands that she must do this for the sake of her child. The child's head is up, investigating the new horizon with a sense of timid curiousity. The child does not know where they are going, but it trusts its mother implicitly. The man has a heavy load to ferry across the waters, but his spirit is willing and strong. He knows that his role is that of the guide, and that it is imperative that his passengers make it to the other side safely. For this voyage it will not do to pull the passengers behind him, for this journey he must steadily push them ahead.

Messages: Don't look back. A difficult trip. Your ability to cope is being tested. I know you feel worn out, but don't give up now. You don't have to do this alone. There is someone watching over you. This is a transition, not a defeat. Use this as a turning point. Take time seek out things which soothe your mind and heart.

Reversed: There may be an impulsive behaviour which prevents you from making progress. You are not offering yourself enough support. An untrue friend who swindles you into a false sense security for personal gain. Giving up hope prematurely. Abandonment. Out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Questions: Am I scared of the idea of shedding old skins? Would it behoove me to reclaim my power? Why do I dream of another horizon but then falter in my conviction to pursue it? Are there ways I have deluded myself into a false sense of progress? Am I investing myself somewhere that does not recognize my value? Do I need to be forthcoming about thoughts or feelings which I have subdued?

Astrological Association: Chiron in Aquarius

Herbal Association: Wisteria

Quote: "In the space between chaos and shape there was another chance." Jeanette Winterson, The World and Other Places: Stories

Song: "Cotton" The Mountain Goats 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Three of Cups

 "A Cause For Celebration"

Number: 3-  growth, creativity, creation, initial completion

Suit: Cups- west, water, emotions, fantasies, creativity

Keywords: Friends. Celebrate. Intoxicating.

Atmosphere: Festive. Bountiful. Musical. Noonday. Bright.

Characters: Exuberant. Affectionate. Lithe. Happy.

Description: Three friends dance joyfully with their chalices raised in the middle of a lush and sunny landscape. Jovial music plays and, with the wine, compels the friends to laugh and dance. Here, the intimate connection made in the Two of Cups expands, creating an uplifting and invigorating energy that binds together a group of friends. As they dance towards each other, they raise their glasses in a toast to celebrate the remarkable harmony that they experience in each others company. Their positive emotions are a powerful fuel, and with them they are able to dance and stay active much longer than they normally would be able to. Time seems to stop while they are together, as their emotional and creative selves rise to a peak. They should enjoy their festivities tonight, because the Four of Cups will mark the turn into the challenging Cup cards. They may wake up with a headache tomorrow, but for now let them dance, drink, and be merry. They will likely celebrate into the morning.

Messages: Relax and enjoy yourself. There is a cause for celebration. You are emotionally and creatively stimulated by those around you. Now is a time to indulge the senses. Let your emotions embolden you to express yourself creatively. The emotional reward of the first Harvest, Lammas, August 1. A party.

Reversed: Excessive drinking or drug use may be a problem. Those around you are distracting you from true emotional fulfillment. Interrupted or preemptive celebrations. Falling out with a group of friends. Chaos overwhelming creativity. Overindulgence leading to regret. Promises made in drunkenness.

Questions: In what environments am I deriving the most emotional or creative fulfillment? How does my joy increase when those around me are happy? Is any of my behaviour excessive, especially when drinking or with friends? Who really makes me feel like I can let go and be myself? What is so fun I could do it all day?

Astrological Association: Mercury in Cancer.

Herbal Association: Grape

Quote:"Wine can be a better teacher than ink, and banter is often better than books." Stephen Fry

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Three of Swords


Number: 3- growth, creativity, communication, initial completion

Suit: Swords - east, air, thoughts, conflict, judgement

Keywords: Disappointment. Lose. Regret.

Atmosphere: Gloomy. Grey. Chilly. Windy. Raining.

Description: This is a pretty neat card, friends. Do you know why? Because it is one of only two cards in the entire Rider-Waite without a figure in it (the other being the Eight of Wands). This is so important to the meaning of the Three of Swords, for although it is a card that addresses the emotions of frustration and sorrow, it is ultimately an impersonal card, literally without person. Although we may be wracked with the pang of heartache now, this card also represents the ability to distance ourselves from the situation and process our emotions through cool understanding. Here the heart is skewered by three sharp swords while the stormy skies rain down upon it. The clouds indicate the psychological anguish at hand, while the rain symbolizes the raw emotions that allow that mental turmoil to be processed. As much as we like to separate the suits into cups for emotions, swords for thought, etc, the fact is that all these experiences are interconnected, and that we rely on our thoughts to process our emotions and visa versa. Here, the heart is plagued by the loss of things it depended on, and as a result we end up reassessing our overall mental framework. Although we may feel weakened and disoriented by these unhappy realizations, now is not the time to grapple with determining how to rebuild. First, we must allow ourselves to feel the present disappointment. In the Four of Swords we will rest and recover from this setback, but for now let the rain fall and clear away the mental and emotional pain.

Messages: Disillusionment, despair, jealousy, or shame. Difficult emotions leading to better self-understanding. Do not rely on things or people which have not proven themselves. Your heartache has wisdom for you if you will be still and listen. Be aware of misleading emotions. This too shall pass.

Reversed: Jealousy or shame giving rise to anger and revenge. Be careful not to get caught in mental patterns that don't evolve. Be honest with your emotions, and then let them go. Find your power in the situation and use it to transform yourself from a victim to a survivor.

Questions: Are there any emotional scars I'm keeping fresh which may be ready to heal now? What were my expectations, and were they realistic? Is there a silver lining hidden somewhere within this sorrow? How can I move through this pain into a stronger, more complete me?

Astrological Association: Saturn in Libra

Herbal Association: Pansy

Quote: "I DON'T CARE!" Harry yelled at them, snatching up a lunascope and throwing it into the fireplace. "IVE HAD ENOUGH, I'VE SEEN ENOUGH, I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END, I DON'T CARE ANYMORE!"
"You do care," said Dumbledore. He had not flinched or made a single move to stop Harry demolishing his office. His expressed was calm, almost detached. "You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it." JK Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Three of Pentacles

"Learning Through Cooperation"

Number: 3- growth, creativity, communication, initial completion

Suit: Pentacles- earth, north, physical resources, health, trade

Keywords: Teamwork. Organize. Studiousness.

Atmosphere: Open. Sacred. Echoing. Ornate. Clean.

Characters: Conversational. Professional. Talented. Respectful. Cohesive.

Description: A skilled craftsman stands on a bench, working dutifully to complete the blueprint sketched by the architect, as described by the monk. Here everyone's input is equally vital, and their faces are turned towards each other in conference about the task at hand. Remember how the figure from the Two of Pentacles was juggling many different jobs and activities? Well, the Three of Pentacles examines what it's like when he delegates those responsibilities to the people best equipped to handle them.The archway symbolizes opening and initiation, and tells us that the work that these characters are doing will lead to recognition, advancement, and reward for all of them. The bench reminds us that this person has been "lifted up" for the work, and that there may be god given gifts coming into play. The fact that they are working in the house of God means that their work has a higher purpose, and that they have all been brought together as a team for a reason. Not only do they each bring their own asset, but they will learn things by paying attention to each other that will make each of them stronger in their own profession. Soon, they will have a marvelous chapel to open to the public and everyone who views their work will be blessed by it as well.

Messages: Work together to discover the best solution. Your work is appreciated by those around you. Know your strengths and your weaknesses, and surround yourself with people who balance you out. Cooperation is essential at this time. Create excellence. A rewarding project that opens up new opportunities. Study hard, and then exercise your knowledge through practical application. Move forward according to plan.

Reversed: Not being on the same page. More research is required. Don't move forward without considering others. Look through your plans for weak spots. Study harder to achieve your desired result. Put your knowledge into practice in order to benefit from it. Take pride in your work. Plans are being put on hold.

Questions: What can I learn by working with others? Have I done enough research to move forward?How does my vision contribute to the big picture? What skills do I have that can help other people? How can I apply myself to my work with passion and pride? What can I do to chip away at my goals? Am I qualified for this position, and if so, have I truly realized it?

Astrological Association: Venus in Capricorn

Herbal Association: Spikenard

Quotes: "The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team." Phil Jackson

Monday, August 24, 2015

Three of Wands

"The Next Step"

Number: 3- growth, creativity, communication, initial completion.

Suit: Wands- fire, south, ambition, enterprise, energy.

Keywords: Enthusiastic. Apply. Momentum.

Atmosphere: Golden. Elevated. Immense. Inspiring.

Character: Observant. Patient. Stimulated. Prepared. Confident. 

Description: The man from the Two of Wands has formulated a goal, and in this card he shows his initial pursuit of it. He has left the walls of his castle to test how he moves thru the world at large. Upon reaching the mountaintop, he sees the ships and is mesmerized. He realizes that his aspirations will take him further than he had imagined, but that he must put in even more effort to make them manifest. The horizon broadens before him, and although the sun is setting on a rewarding day of hard work, the real journey is just beginning as we see three ships make their way into the open sea. These ships are what really catch his eye and inspire him, stimulating his ambition and wanderlust. Our character's position is advantageous, and from his elevated viewpoint he can easily see the next several steps he will have to take in pursuit of his dream. The world is bathed in a warm golden light, and our hero stands with a strong backbone, emboldened by his desires, and firm in his strategy for pursuing his goals. 

Messages: You're about to take it to the next level. Look at the bigger picture. Take a moment to figure out the next step, and then do it. Support your goals with a clear strategy, diligence, and patience. Turn in your application on time. Go on a trip. A successful beginning. An upcoming move.

Reversed: The inability to visualize your goals clearly is holding you back. More patience is required for growth. Stagnation has set in. Don't get so intoxicated by the big picture that you ignore the details. Seconding guessing a decision. The failure of a long distance relationship.

Questions: When I look at the big picture, do my goals change? Where are the opportunities that I'm looking for? What is my plan for pursuing my desires? Are there things I've begun that I need to follow through on? Am I prepared to invest the time and effort it will take to achieve my dreams? 

Astrological Association: Mars in Aries

Herbal Association: Mustard 

Quote:  "Don't be afraid to take a big step if one is indicated. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps." David Lloyd George