The mood around these parts has been a little serious. With good reason and purpose, but still. When even the cards start to grow weary of the constant plumbings of the abyss, you know it’s time for a change of pace. As it so happens, yesterday I suddenly realised I was looking at someone else’s art and not feeling either hollow or nauseated when confronted with an expression of creativity! Instead, I felt that old desire that is not quite inspiration, but something related; the wish that I had made that. It took a while before the realisation even hit bottom… wait, what’s that feeling…? Could it be…? Well whaddaya know, I’m not thoroughly miserable! Hoorah!
And by the synchronicity that powers the universe, it was at that exact moment that I wandered into a spread created by Arwen to examine the concept of “Joy” and where we find it. It looked so good, I decided to do a “Passion” version as well. As far as I’m concerned, the two work hand-in-hand; if your joy can be your passion, and your passion brings you joy, then all is right with the world. (The third part to this equation is something to do with work, the execution-of-above, vocation. If the three are in harmony… bliss. But that’s for later.)
DISCLAIMER: This Passion Seeker Spread uses the Tarot Erotica by Lori Walls. This deck contains images of a graphic sexual nature, including male and female full frontal nudity and sexual intercourse. It is recommended for adults only. Examples of the cards are included in this reading. Please be aware of this if you are a minor or are offended by such material, or if viewing such images is illegal in your country
Joy Seeker Spread
 What is “joy” to me?
2 of Swords
I really like this 2 of Swords; it’s like an image from a fairy tale: “The Brave Little Girl Who Crossed the Sea… something something”. It’s very Grimm in atmosphere. Much like the Swords, there are two sides to this card:
I admit I find joy in the negative. As disgusted as that makes me feel, it’s a long-term addiction and part of my (medicated) psyche. The sad reality of long-term chronic depression is that it’s hard to accept anything else as “normal”. The woman in this card has made things as difficult as possible for herself; she is set up to fail at the task ahead of her, although she seems to be doing okay so far. Maybe she just likes the challenge? However, in using her anger and fear to protect herself, she has closed off her heart. Even if she succeeds at crossing the rope, there will be no joy in it.
On the other hand, this is a card of supreme trust, both in one’s self and the universe. By blocking her sight and her emotional reaction to a very dangerous situation, the woman is able to perform an impossible task, requiring extreme focus and inward-seeing. She relishes the danger of going it alone and the mystery the night holds. Also, 2 always intimates a choice or a balancing of opposites… perhaps in this case, introspection?
 Where do I find joy the easiest?
Look who’s come out to play! Another card of balancing, opposites, give-and-take, ebb-and-flow. Exchange. Another lone figure in a night-time scene, although the dawn is breaking in the background, framed by two mountains (as in the 2 of Swords). This angel reminds me of a scientist or alchemist. She is wrapped up in her element, with one foot in the water and wings to carry her through the air. I keep coming back to “exchange”. Sharing? Exchanging ideas.
And there’s also the concept that temperance means complete integration on a personal and universal level. Being who you are, all the time, everywhere. Being at peace with the world, knowing that you are connected to and of All. Temperance goes with the flow; Temperance has climbed off the Wheel of Fortune. It is the card of the Middle Way. It is a card of being at peace with your Self.
Yes, both sides of this card, too, apply: the actions being performed and the state of being portrayed.
 Where must I work to find joy?
Oh wow, another 2! And also very alchemical. This card really reinforces the concept of an exchange of energies and melding of opposites. The couple wear alchemical crowns, they are surrounded by the symbolic fruits and flowers of the tarot and they are “tattooed” with symbols for the Sun and Moon. There is a strong feeling of the sacred coming off of this one; something both primal and profound. There is almost a progression from the 2 of Swords, through Temperance to the Lovers. If this traces the life of the woman in the 2 of Swords, then here is where she claims her identity and power as a result of the work done in Temperance.
I need to know more about the Watcher. The angel holds something in his hands and has a star on his forehead. I suspect I’ll have to do some alchemical refreshing to fully understand this card.
But how does this answer the question regarding “work”?
- Clarifiers: Ace of Cups, 10 of Cups
I love these little fairies, they’re like magicians with their amphorae of wonders that go ::WHOOSH:: shooting sparkles and confetti into the air ::TA-DA::! Ace and 10, beginning and end, potential and achievement. Love, creativity, inspiration. Recognising your blessings and gifts and being grateful for them; sharing them. So, cards, are you telling me about internal stuff here, or are you literally referring to my relationship? Why must you be so crystal clear and infuriatingly obtuse at the same time?! GAH.
Oh, I was taking “work” to mean “job work”. Guess where I’m hung up… It actually means “area to work on”, duh. Okay, balance, integration, claiming my power etc.
 What do I allow to block my joy?
Knight of Cups
Well, hello, you silly k-niggit. You got yourself all wet and now you’re going to rust. And no thank you, I do not want to partake of your cup of Graily goodness. I’m getting a very skeevy vibe off you and the fact that you are reminding me of The Ex right now is not a Good Thing! You’re mired and bogged down in the swamp ad I hope a nixie comes to drag you away. Actually, you probably are one, come to drown me with your dreams and schemes and not-much-else. Begone with you!
- Clarifiers: King of Pentacles, The Emperor
Argh! Fuck OFF, King of Pentacles! I hereby officially declare the King of Pents my nemesis. It’s war now, buddy and in the words of Tom Petty, “Don’t come around her no more”. You literally suck the joy right out of me everytime I see your smug face. On good days you infuriate me and on bad, you make me want to crawl into a hole and never come out again. You, with your rules and conventions and how to act and traditional business and pigeon holes. ARGH, I say! You see Temperance up there? She likes it to floooow. She does not do well in a box! Both you and your silly English k-niggit can go away, or I shall taunt you again!
And just to drive the point home, ladies and gentlemen, the patriarchal jackass of all fucking patriarchal jackasses, The Emperor.
 Who should I watch to learn more about finding joy?
Ace of Swords
Interesting. The beginning, the source, the embodiment of air and thought and ideas. Truth. I love how it is portrayed here: the personification of the element; that eye that stares out at you with such intensity and challenge. This is the Sword straight out of the box and still smelling like newly forged metal; pure, untainted and ready. But who could this be?
- Clarifiers: The Star, The Hermit
Curiouser and curiouser, Alice. The Star? Temperance freed from the need to conserve and instead pouring freely, knowing her jugs will be refilled endlessly. Trust that there will always be enough. An artist who creates freely… In Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom, Rachel Pollack describe The Star maiden as combining the two female archetypes, “the inner sensitivity of the High Priestess brought out an expressed with the passion of the Empress.” Could it be that The Star is the artist’s card?
And The Hermit. Another inside-outside card and a teacher. With a star in her lamp. Who is s/he? Is this an inner guide, or an outside world guide? I believe The Hermit usually stands for something quite concrete… Who could s/he be?
 What joy is the Universe gifting to me at this time?
8 of Pentacles
Huh. I thought about a blacksmith when I saw the Ace of Swords and now, here he is. That’s got to mean something, right? Maybe it’s the “fire” that’s important?
A chance to master my craft through practice and discipline. This is all about the in-between bits. Not starting or finishing, but the doing. Making. This is the joy that comes from a job well done; from applying yourself with dedication to the creation of something better each time you sit down to it. It’s a card about patience; patience with yourself, patience with the process. I don’t have very much of this. I thrive on the Ace and want it to go straight to the 10. The bits in between bore and frustrate me. I think they scare me, too. Between 2 and 9 there’s a lot of room to screw things up… But this card is very definite. This seems like a real message of “something’s coming”.
Placing the card in the centre, it is bordered by “merging” on the left and right and a presentation of elements on the top and bottom – air and water. Thisisreallycool! What does a smithy do? He uses fire to transform earth/metal, annealing it to make it stronger, more flexible. Metals can be fused, combined to create something entirely new, with all the strengths of its elements and none of the weaknesses. If I do the same with my air and water, what will result? Holy. DO WANT!
- Clarifier: 9 of Cups
There you go, an opportunity to make all your dreams come true, lady.
Just, umm, which ones?
Passion Seeker Spread
The Erotica and I are slowly warming up to each other. From the LWB at least, it seems like this deck was created with a lot of inherent negativity – no wonder it has such a bad attitude! But if I ignore the book and just go with what the cards themselves say to me, we’re both happier for the experience. What better deck to ask about the subject of “passion” than a deck full of naked people? ;)
 What is “passion” to me?
10 of Stars
Phew, last days of Rome or what? But I’m drawn to the tree with it’s intricately beautiful curls and a rejoicing goddess at its shining heart. A tree of stars… the World Tree. And underneath it, on a large, circular cushion, people enjoying every kind of physical pleasure: dance, food, touch, even themselves. This is life. Abundance. Sensuality, but not debauchery for the sake of it; the tree is too definitely designed for this to be profane. It is a reminder to live, be aware, enjoy the experience of our humanity.
 Where do I find passion the easiest?
Ace of Stars
This is my favourite card in the deck! This Ace to me symbolises raw, unbridled power. The woman climbs down from the stars themselves; she is pure energy, life. Her dark skin makes me think of Kali. It is the force behind the creation of the cosmos itself, when all was just a formless mass, swirling, looking for direction. Truly, the beginning of things, all possibilities contained within a single spark and limitless potential.
Also, despite standing in for Pentacles, the Stars are very, very airy to me. I can see their meanings as being of earth, but still, they insist on being air.
 Where must I work to find passion?
Oooooh. Again, the theme of balance comes up, but even more fascinating is the similarity of this card to The Lovers in the previous spread. The mand and woman are bound together in a very intimate position and they hold the balances together. Unlike most Justice cards, this one is made of dualities: light, dark; life, death; will, desire; man, woman. The woman’s elaborate headdress is adorned with all 4 of the suit elements. This is the kind of image and theme that makes me excited; it is often what starts me down the road to a new project.
 What do I allow to block my passion?
Curve ball! Put on your creative thinking cap, woman. The Star, to join the other stars. She holds a chrysalis within her, something new and delicate that flies on gossamer wings. Fragility. But what if she wants to protect the chrysalis so much that she never lets it hatch? Then the idea dies in its cocoon prison. The Star figure reminds me of a beautiful fairy, adorned with beads in the same way that the branches in the 10 of Stars are. A fairy vision, splendid, enrapturing, but unattainable. Setting goals too high, having unrealistic expectations.
No. Thinking I have unrealistic dreams, so I never even bother to reach for them, and the chrysalis idea withers inside.
- Clarifier: King of Stars
You’re shitting me.
The motherfucking King of motherfucking Pentacles AGAIN?!
Okay universe, have your laughs, I can take it.
All I can see here is the bird woman (see, air!) being stomped on by the pompous ass of a king. This seems to repeat the idea of letting “reality” crush my ideas before they can take flight. I trounce my own soul. Shame on me.
 Who should I watch to learn more about finding passion?
Ace of Rods
Oh! Another Ace in this position! A fire suit, but it seems like earth. His posture bothers me; he seems unsure or like he’s posing uncomfortably. The Ace should be proud and secure in his element… There is a cave – mining – and Mathematical shapes. This card is very mechanical. I don’t know what’s going on here.
 What passion is the Universe gifting to me at this time?
9 of Stars
A woman cradles a young boy in a giant nest (I swear, this suit must be air). He wears a feathered mask – the chrysalis hatched? The way the stars fan out from the woman’s hair make me think of a halo, or a decorative collar, or protective spines on a sea anemone. Her expression is fierce: the boy is something to be protected, nurtured. She is also alone, self-reliant. This is a powerful relationship; just as much as the boy relies on the woman to keep him safe, so he controls her.
Placing this card in the centre of the spread, there is pure elemental life on one side and carefully balanced elements of life on the other. Earth above, the heavens below and in the middle, the offspring of this alchemical combination. And yes, the 9 of Stars combines these elements!
What this passion is, I don’t know for certain; I’ve learned to let these things unfold by themselves.