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Tarot for the week ahead, 20.6.21

Cards from the Pagan Otherworlds tarot

Summer Solstice yet here’s a moon card instead of a sun. Interesting.

The waxing crescent moon period is often thought of as a time for beginnings, attraction, setting out new intentions to work on in the coming lunation. The Ace of Pentacles, too, is a card of opportunities or beginnings: at the head of the suit of earth, this signals a spark of something new in the material, physical sphere.

The Knight of Cups is a rather different creature. Creative, romantic – a little wild, even – and immersed in deep feeling, he is also strongly associated with desire. That, of course, can be anything the heart wants deeply – not necessarily just another person!

So, we seem to have before us an opportunity to transform a heartfelt desire or longing into a more tangible reality. We should be alert for signs that we can seize our chances this week and take the first steps in this process, in expectation of things developing further in a few weeks with the onset of the next waxing crescent phase (around mid-July).

Have a good week and stay safe x

Tarot for the week ahead, 13.6.21

Cards from the Field tarot by Hannah Fofana

Valour, intuition, curiosity. These are the things we should do our best to embody this week. To claim the things we have earned, we need to stand firm externally as we dig deeper internally. Listen to those little prompts and hunches, follow the trails that you stumble upon, ask questions. This is how we will succeed.

Sound simplistic? Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. Let’s find out.

Have a good week and stay safe x

Tarot for the week ahead, 6.6.21

Cards from the Zillich tarot

The Sun has been a frequent visitor in my daily card pulls of late. Anyone would think we were approaching the summer solstice…

This week we are asked to draw both on its nourishing warmth and its light. The message: all will be well. The Four of Wands shows a meeting of complementary figures, balancing each other harmoniously, cementing a partnership. They too speak of harmony, of positive outcomes, a decisive step on the way towards what we desire.

The Prince of Swords can indicate a note of caution – sometimes he signifies a tendency to charge too eagerly into battle. Here though, see how Zillich’s Knight sits almost ceremonially on his mount, surrounded by what look like amethyst points. He encourages crystal clear thinking, creativity and a confident (but not cocky!) bearing. If we follow his advice, we can expect the Sun to be at our backs in the coming days.

Have a good week and stay safe x

Tarot for the week ahead, 31.5.21

Cards from the Wildwood Tarot

I’ve had this deck for several months and yet I haven’t opened it, haven’t touched it, until now: I don’t know why. Somehow today seemed like the right time and I felt compelled to use it for the weekly reading.

Looking at what it’s offered us, I can see why. Here is Death once again (the Journey) at the centre, after its appearance last week too. This is a time of strong currents of change. We heard this message last week, and here it is again in a different, more powerful form – two strong major arcana cards to push the message home. If we weren’t listening before, can we sit up and pay attention now?

The Ten of Vessels shows us an abundant flow of positive feeling: all our cups are filled. This is what we are aiming for – this vital, refreshing energy – but trust in the cycles of change and renewal we are all subject to will be essential in order to get there. This isn’t always going to be comfortable. Accepting death as a natural corollary of life and progress can be a challenge. Likewise, the lessons of the Great Bear (aka Judgement) do not come easy. After Death has stripped away what is no longer needed, how do we weigh the version of ourselves, of our lives, that is left? Are we ready to emerge into something different, to forgive ourselves for our failings and difficulties on the path to where we are now? Are we ready?

That might all sound like a bit too much existential angst for a Bank Holiday Monday. Fair enough. Consider, though, the world we find ourselves in as we tentatively move away from lockdown restrictions towards a version of ‘normal life’ that is both comfortingly familiar yet distinctly, perhaps irreversibly, changed. We are reshaping ourselves and our surroundings as the longer term impacts of the previous 18 months – on us as individuals and on the collective – begin to make themselves known.

Change is not often sudden and explosive (we have the Tower to tell us when that’s coming!), rather it is incremental and steady: the flow of a sparkling waterfall subtly reshaping the rock below. And yet, so often, those tiny increments carve out huge shifts over time. Harder to recognise, perhaps, but hugely significant. This week, the Journey and the Great Bear ask you both to acknowledge what is changing for you and to do the work necessary to fully align yourself with that process in order to reap the emotional rewards.

Have a good week and stay safe x

Tarot for the week ahead, 23.5.21

Cards from the Crowley/Harris Thoth tarot

Don’t mind Death. He turns up sometimes to clear out things that are no longer required – that great big scythe is pretty effective.

This week, I think he is here to signal an end to some things that have been holding us back (the Eight of Swords). Often this card indicates a mental prison of our own making – the barriers that we put up around ourselves because we’re afraid to act, or we’re telling ourselves negative stories about who we are and what we are capable of. However, it can also signify malign external influences in the shape of people who – consciously or otherwise – are interfering with our ability to make progress.

Death is here to say: no more of that. A period of frustration and inaction has to come to an end. Instead it’s high time we consider the application of our personal will towards what we want and how we intend to get it (the Two of Wands). No need to plunge headlong in just yet – the Two is still near the beginning of the Wands journey – what’s important is the creative impulse, the focus on the goal. Know where you’re going. Know that you are free to do what you need to in order to get there.

Have a good week and stay safe x

Tarot for the week ahead, 16.5.21

Cards from Robert M Place’s Alchemical Tarot

A simple message for this week.

There’s potential for things to get a bit heated – competitive, fractious, argumentative even (7 of Staffs aka Wands). If you feel this happening, step away for a while to give your mind a rest and collect yourself (4 of Swords): you don’t have to bite. Instead, aim for clarity. Master your own thoughts and communicate with confidence (King of Swords).

Have a good week and stay safe x

Critical Care

It’s a sunny mid-July evening and my partner is breaking in to my mother’s house through her open bedroom window. As he swings himself up and eases lengthways through the narrow gap like a man posting himself through an oversized letterbox, not for the first time I am profoundly grateful for the differences between his physique and mine. He drops out of sight behind the net curtains and I hear the front door unlock and open at the side of the house. I don’t want to, but I go inside.

Her clothes are where she undressed for the night before, neatly laid on the back of a living room chair. She is still in bed, on her side I think. She has been laid there all day, not answering my calls, unable to move: a fish out of water. She just about responds to our entreaties with the vaguest of noises but her mouth is open and dry.

I call an ambulance. They ask what’s wrong and I try to explain. I say maybe she has had a stroke? The operator asks why I think so and I haven’t the faintest idea, because it is really only my brain panicking and grasping at straws as to why she’s lying there like that. They tell me it’s on its way. We wait.

It has been an otherwise normal day at work in central Birmingham. She hasn’t been well for over a week so I try to call before heading to London for one of my quarterly overnighters: hotel stay, breakfast meeting in the morning for the committee I look after. When I call from home and she still doesn’t answer I’m puzzled. When I call on my mobile as Phil is driving me to Sandwell & Dudley station and she still doesn’t answer, I am properly worried. She’s unwell, she’s on her own, I know she can’t be somewhere else. We don’t go to the station. We go straight to the house, without our keys of course.

The ambulance guys gown her up for modesty, my poor immobile mom in nothing but her pants, and I go with her in the back while Phil follows. SatNav takes them erroneously up a cul-de-sac before we even leave the village, but we make it to A&E in Stafford eventually. There are cubicles and curtains and waiting and inspections. A blur of shapes and faces. The long and short of it is that she ends up in Critical Care and so do I, sleeping (as far as was ever going to be possible) in their little overnight room. The existence of these rooms is something you don’t find out about, I guess, unless you work there or someone you love looks distinctly like they might be about to die.

The next few days don’t bring a great deal of clarity, for the doctors apparently or for me. They seem to decide she did not have the suspected heart attack (definitely not a stroke), but are much less clear on what is actually going on. We have conversations involving a lot of euphemistic medical jargon and my shock in the face of my mother apparently being at death’s door means I lack the mental capacity to interrogate, retain or understand exactly what they’re telling me.

I don’t know what I’m doing.

She is in the bay at the end of the corridor, the one where the light is grey and flat, the one where I imagine they put the most critical of Critical Care patients. Gradually she is conscious more often, though sometimes half-dreaming. One afternoon she asks “is this Debenhams?” and I say no, mom, you’re in hospital. “Oh, I thought this was Debenhams!” She chuckles, quietly.

She gets very breathless, so there is oxygen. One afternoon I am surprised she has asked for jelly and ice cream. She struggles to coordinate eating it with keeping her oxygen going, so I feed it to her slowly in between breaths. She looks at me and says “you should have been a nurse.”

Three days before she ends up in hospital it’s my 30th birthday. In the weeks before I hear her and Phil conspiring over something on a visit and it turns out this was him asking her permission: my present is an engagement ring. It is beautiful, exactly what I would have chosen for myself, but I am sad we can’t celebrate together. Mom has been wiped out for a week or so – tired, breathless and struggling to get about.

She hasn’t really felt the same in herself since they took her off Methotrexate for her rheumatoid arthritis, plus we lost Dad only last March, then this. The GP has given her Furosemide but it doesn’t seem to be making much difference. She is exhausted. We have a meal booked, but she tells us to go without her, because she can’t really face it. So we do, and it’s a lovely evening, but it isn’t the same.

They have moved her to the other bay now, where the sun comes through and you can hear the goldfinches chittering in the trees outside. We have a new routine where I go home at night to sleep, call first thing in the morning to see how she is and then Sue, my not-yet-mother-in-law, drives me to the hospital every day and stays with me, crafting or reading or watching TV in the family room.

Mom is a little more settled, brighter in herself, but there is infection to contend with because she is bed-bound, and her catheter makes her wince in discomfort. She tells off the beeping machinery beside her, tuts at the monitoring clip on her finger that wobbles about. We don’t have Big Conversations, because in my mind although things are very much not OK it seems more hopeful that she will get better, so I just sit with her and we talk about my driving lessons and nothing very much, then I let her sleep again for a while.

And repeat, and repeat, with the smell of one specific brand of hand sanitising gel that I can never unknow, now, underpinning all of it. There is a nurse who is also named Margaret, but she is a Maggie. Mom says she never liked being called that. Once she flaps her arm at me, beckoning, and when I look confused she says “I want to hold your hand” so we do, and I feel the smoothness of her swollen, arthritic fingers as she strokes my arm.

The day we lose Dad, she drives us home from the hospital and we sit together, dazed, in between the phone calls I tell her I will make to let people know he has died. Phil leaves work early to come over and somehow we manage an evening meal, but when I say that we’ll stay with her overnight she refuses, insisting that we go home. “I’ve got to be on my own sometime,” she says.

I call as usual first thing on Sunday morning when I get up, and ask the nurse how she’s doing and if she had a good night. This time, though, she hasn’t, and things are tricky. They’ve had a chat with her, talked about putting her on a ventilator and she’s agreed to that, so I say I’ll be there as soon as I can but they tell me she’ll be ventilated by then. We grit our teeth and Phil drives us there, neither of us quite sure what we are heading into. It is two weeks since my birthday and sixteen months since Dad died.

She is back in the grey bay when we arrive. There is another long conversation with medics, full of talk of plasma and this or that thing that could theoretically be done, but. The kind of conversation in which people who know that they are out of realistic options attempt to tell you, a confused and frantically worried fully-grown child, just enough for you to magically intuit that this is what they mean, without actually wanting to spell it out for you.

Instead of yelling JUST TELL ME IF SHE IS GOING TO DIE I try, through the thickening fog that is my brain, to ask them: are you saying you want me to agree that there is nothing more you can do? And there is shuffling and more jargon and concerned looks, and I know that there is no more to be said. All there is now is to prepare ourselves to wait.

Later in the afternoon I ask if I can go to sit with her for a while. I hold her hand as she sleeps with alien tubing snaking into her mouth, and in spite of having no idea how much of her is even present any more, I talk. I tell her that I love her, that of course I don’t want her to go, but if she has had enough I understand and I want her to know that it’s alright because we will be OK. My throat cracks as I speak but I don’t cry. I tell her that I’ll be just down the corridor and I’ll come back when it’s time, that I’ll be with her. I don’t cry.

She slips away so slowly, hour by hour. We take it in turns trying to doze, popping down every so often, coming back. Finally it is around 3am when a nurse comes to get me and tells me it’s time. We sit with her together, holding her hand, telling her we love her. The last ripples of her become fainter and fainter until the water is calm, undisturbed now, and the lines on the monitor are too. It is a peaceful, profound experience for all that it is one I never wanted. She is so still, and we sit with her a little while longer as the nurse, quiet and kind, explains what happens next.

Then the strangest thing of all: to leave behind someone that you were a part of, who you were responsible for, alone in that grey room in the care of other people for the last time. When we get into the car the first light is dawning and we drive silently towards home in the hazy rose-pink glow of a new morning. I don’t cry. Not yet.

Tarot for the week ahead, 9.5.21

Cards from Pamela & Joyce Eakins’ Tarot of the Spirit

OK. This week is about grounding the mental within the material world.

We start with the Sister of Wind (aka Page or Princess of Swords). Things may have been difficult, mentally, of late: there are those times, aren’t there, where everything feels like a battle? There has been so much change for us all to assimilate, and that’s tough work.

What I love about the Eakins’ take on the 3 of Earth (aka Discs/Pentacles) is that it feels like a reassuring hand on our shoulder. “The work you have chosen is the right work… the skills you are using are the right skills. All things material are moving into alignment with you… You will continue to succeed as long as you do not lose your sense of heart or spirit.”

And if we keep on doing what we’re doing, with right intention, and try not to live in our heads too much? The Six of Wind offers perspective. Maybe we will feel a little lighter and be happy to lay the sword down for a while.

Have a good week and stay safe x

Tarot for the week ahead, 25.4.21

Cards from the Field tarot by Hannah Fofana

A new deck to me, this, and what a lineup for its first weekly reading!

There is movement at the centre of things this coming week. The Eight of Wands is also sometimes known as Swiftness: here in all its colour and brightness it feels very much like a sign that things are going to start to become unstuck, which will be welcome to any of us waiting on news of someone or something.

Either side of this movement lies encouragement, I think. The Priestess reminds us of our inner reserves of wisdom, of knowing (even – or especially – when we feel quite the opposite). Fortune meanwhile… well, the turning wheel of life can sometimes feel like it’s going too fast, sure. But look at the balance here, and those cats, especially the black one. This time I feel like maybe luck is with us. Here’s hoping.

Have a good week and stay safe x

Tarot for the week ahead, 18.4.21

Cards from the Zillich tarot

Last week we ended with the Ten of Cups: this week we begin with it. A nice bit of continuity. This time I think it reminds us that we are part of a wider web, all of us, and we don’t have to manage everything alone. We shouldn’t be hesitant to draw on the network of love and support that surrounds us.

Why? Well, something new is afoot with the Ace of Discs (this card has popped up recently in daily readings too – making its presence felt). New things can be daunting, of course, but at the opposite end of the suit we have the Knight (aka King) to show that the harvest will be worth it, if we embrace the change. I like the sound of that.

Have a good week and stay safe x