For someone so smart, I sure am dumb.
I started casually skimming through Discovering Your Self Through the Tarot: A Jungian Guide to Archetypes and Personality by Rose Gwain before bed the other night. I came to “Chapter 6: The Court Card Quiz”, pretty much sure of what my results would be and – though I was largely correct – there were still a few surprises. As expected, I am very much a Queen of Swords, only slightly more than a Queen of Cups.
Though I’m not very Queen of Wands on the surface, I am very much the Shadow aspect of the Q/W. Most of my negativity – the stuff I really don’t like about myself – is here. Huh. I barely register as Queen of Pentacles. Barely. This means that Earth/Sensation is my fourth function; where my function block exists. As a dominant Q/S, I should have Wands as my fourth, but my high Q/C is reflected in weak Earth.
Now. The next chapter goes on to talk about integrating the fourth functions. The section on integrating Sensation practically spells out my major malfunction:
“The most difficult task in encouraging the intuitive to develop sensation is to make him or her realize that it is important and that it is the spiritual journey for him or her. The intuitive cannot be whole, cannot be complete until he or she comes to value and integrate sensation.
Constant difficult Pentacle Court card energy in one’s spreads cannot be ignored; it needs to be acknowledged and found deep within oneself. In time, the intuitive will come to see that the material world is itself spiritual, and in doing so will ground himself or herself in it.”
Well fuckity-doo-da-day. Constant difficult Pentacle Court card energy, hey? Can I tell you that just reading that paragraph makes the bile rise in my throat? It’s like my aversion to amethyst; a revulsion.
Some of the suggestions for actively working to integrate this energy include dealing with everyday routine (BORING!), observing details (that’s all the Q/S does, people.), exercise (BORING!), socializing (ANXIETY!), meditating on The Empress (done! yay!), crafting (done! yay!), making lists (Item #1 Shoot Self in face to escape crushing BOREDOM), and “Run a business!” (Yes, the “!” is theirs, because running a business is FUN!) Oh, awesome. That last one hurts, as I have just been through that and failed miserably. Thanks for re-opening that newly scabbed-over wound.
Where it starts getting really real is in Chapter 11, where we come to the anima/animus. 3 guesses as to where you find your anima/animus… in the opposite sex Court card of your Fourth Function.
My animus is the MF’ing King of Pentacles.
I’ll admit, I laughed my ass off and may or may not have banged my head on the wall a little. But wait, it’s good news! The book says that, although
“these archetypal figures are concealed by the personal shadow, [it is] only when the shadow starts to become integrated [that] the anima and animus figures begin to surface and become available to the conscious mind.”
So, really, blog mission accomplished, pretty much. To add to the hilarity, women achieve this rediscovery of their unconscious/soul “with the help of the light of the Logos“, which is represented by The Emperor, my other “favourite”. Really, what can you do but laugh when you realise how hard you’ve been fighting a losing battle against yourself?
Learning that the King of Pentacles represents my literal Shadow – in this book defined not as the “dark” side, but that which is kept in the dark, hidden, suppressed, repressed etc. – I decided a spread was in order. Any excuse to bust out the new decks! Because this is Deep & Meaningful & Very Very Serious Indeed stuff, I figured the Contemplative Tarot would be a good place to start and chose the “Union of Opposites” spread from the book, but no dice. My unconscious apparently thinks the solution to the blockage is Death and my conscious thinks it’s The Tower; they both feel the way to integrate is The World. What astute and insightful observations… /sarcasm. NEXT.
Perhaps something more watery and intuitive, like the Dream Enchantress Tarot, would work better. And maybe a different Shadow spread, too. Aaaaaand, nothing, at least not at first. Just lots of Swords and stories about how great they are. GAH! What I only noticed afterwards when going over the cards for these readings is that I got the 8 of Cups in answer to the question “What aspect of myself do I need to heal?” Clearly, my reflection.
So I did what I knew I should have done from the start and grabbed the Animals Divine Tarot – Hello? Earth! – and slapped together a conversational reading of my own making. First surprise: the King of Pentacles. That’s him up there, Ahau Kin, the Mayan jaguar sun god. And finally, finally the gears grind into place. On my first cursory glance through the deck, I wondered where Jaguar was (being such a significant spirit/guide/totem animal), but it was hiding in my shadow.
Jaguar. I just sat there for a few minutes and stared at the card, marveling at how this funny universe works. I’ve been searching for every King/P image I can find, fruitlessly trying to locate the one that I can identify with or relate to in some way so that I can understand what it’s trying to tell me… and finally. The search is over.
 What is my Earth block?
2 of Swords – Sparrow
Now where have I seen the 2 of Swords in connection with the King of Pents again? Oh yes. It’s like my theme card (it even came up in the other shadow spread done with the Dream Enchantress!) Here I see a little bird wanting desperately to fly high with the others, but being too afraid to risk it. The book describes the swords as being “supported” by the branches, but I see them as trapped; entangled, ensnared. The other birds look threatening… Sparrows are pretty common and nothing special when compared to exotics with their bright colours and rarity. They are very “earthy” in that regard. This is a forced grounding. The sparrow has just as much right to soar, but is bound to the ground because it isn’t “special” enough.
 What positive aspect of Earth am I not seeing?
Knight of Wands – Yhi
Without reading the book, I see this goddess (?) as a creator goddess (she is, of Aboriginal origin). She is responsible for all the things that swim and crawl and fly and scuttle. I am especially drawn to the bugs in this card; they seem to be the focus. Earth is all around me; it is the Source of life, all those little “insignificant” things without which the whole matrix would come crashing down. Don’t underestimate the power and importance of the little things, even if they’re not very glamorous at first glance. Up close, they are indeed wonderful. They hold all the mysteries and patterns of creation within their tiny dimensions. Also, don’t be afraid.
 What can Earth teach me?
Page of Swords – Anahita
Well, la-di-da, look who’s here. Again, not referring to the book, I see a woman who is very comfortable in a natural setting; she seems delighted by her surroundings. Although she caries a sword, she has laid it to rest in her lap; taking a break from over-thinking things. It is almost as if she is “seeing” for the first time and her natural curiosity is being satisfied in a whole new way. The book describes this card as one of self-expansion and seeing a situation from different perspectives. It is a reminder to avoid stagnation and listen to our inner voice :D (Anahita is the Persian goddess of air and water. Perfect.)
 How can I incorporate more Earth energy into my life?
5 of Cups – Alligator
Look: Stagnation! 5 is the point where 4 gains momentum… There’s a reference to swimming around in murky depths here, and I would assume it refers to exactly the process I am going through, searching my subconscious (water) for… Earth? The alligator is basically a dinosaur, soooo, my lizard brain? My beginnings? It’s always difficult when I receive a “challenge” card as a solution. The companion book emphasises patience with this card; patience when encountering negative situations and contemplating the best course of action or way out. I think my first instinct is correct though: stagnation. End it.
 How will Earth raise me up?
Queen of Swords – Athena
And “hello” to you, too. Like the 2 of Swords, this card came up in the previous Shadow Healing spread I did with the Dream Enchantress in answer to, “What aspect of myself will help me achieve my dreams?” Earth isn’t trying to replace what I value so strongly in myself – my intellect; it wants to strengthen it, by providing balance. Earth will provide the grounding I need so that I can think my wild thoughts and not lose my footing. Air will be even stronger with Earth to back it up! It will manifest, rather than continue to exist only in ethereality.
Aha! It will transform “knowledge” (which is basically useless by itself) into “wisdom” (Athena) by showing (Page of Swords) me the value of all that I’ve dismissed as being inconsequential (Knight of Wands) and unworthy of my attention. By breaking the pattern of stagnation (5 of Cups), I will no longer be stuck at the eternal cross-roads (2 of Swords) of my life.
 What is your immediate message?
VII The Chariot – Freya
Freya is usually seen as a goddess of love – similar to Venus, The Empress – but she was also a warrior goddess, as befits her Norse origins. This card is pretty much confirmation of the 2 of Swords + 5 of Cups situation. Time to make a decision, harness that energy and go somewhere with it!
Reshuffle. Speaking directly to the King/Jaguar:
 How will I know you?
9 of Pentacles – Bear
Need to go to the book for this one…
The bear helps us to harness internal energy as a means of connecting with the external powers of the physical world… integration of the four psychic functions enables us to lead more balanced lives… before this can be achieved, it is important to be grounded and to nurture a strong relationship with the essence of the earth element.
I don’t really know what that means other than maybe “you’ll know me when you know me”! What’s intriguing is that the Dream Enchantress 6 of Wands was one of the cards in the Shadow Healing spread. The card made no sense in terms of the reading, but it has a bear on it. Except there the bear is chained. Unleash the bears! ;) A bear is pretty unmistakable and commanding, so I guess it will be fairly obvious when the King takes the dais.
 How can I give you more freedom?
XII Hanged Man – Spider Woman
Again, release the bears! I’m thinking of things trapped in spider webs and it makes sense in relation to the question. The book just happens to have “stagnation, inertia, repetitive cycle, the need to grow” as keywords for this card; a repetition of the message in the previous conversation. I also think of spiders and their relationship to their webs. Anything and everything gets caught in the web; the spider has to discern what is nourishment and what is junk. Sometimes the web gets broken and repairs are needed. Each spider is an individual and each web is a unique creation, particular to its creator…
 Why does my conscious fear you?
VI The Lovers – Brahma & Saraswati
Wow. Seriously? I can only interpret this is as a perceived loss of self through forming a relationship; fear of compromise in pursuit of harmony. Selfish, selfish conscious, wanting to hog the spotlight for itself! The book reminds me that “one does not have to relinquish individuality or ego to grow with a partner, but one should not allow an ego to dominate the partnership either.” If there was ever a clearer picture of conscious and unconscious/animus working together, I don’t know what it is.
 What do you want for me?
Ace of Swords – Duckling
The ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan (like in The Lovers). This is quite a threatening card, with the dangerous sword so close to the soft, downy bodies of the ducklings, but the sword doesn’t appear to have stab-stab-stabified any of them, so maybe it helped them hatch by cracking their shells? Ducklings are newness and beginnings and despite being birds and therefore air, they are primarily water and a bit of earth. Once mature, they move from one element to another with equal success.
 So, you’re trying to reboot my thought processes? Transform them; start over?
Page of Swords – Anahita
Aaah, expansion again, but yes, see with new eyes; think with new brains ;)
 What is the first step I need to make?
2 of Swords – Sparrow
Duh, you, overcome the block. Haven’t we been over this already?
 Ha ha! I know I need to overcome my block. How?
3 of Cups – Polar Bear
Dive deep and find the reason to celebrate. A bear again. A bear at home in the water. The book keywords are “overflowing happiness, feeling celebratory, copious creativity” and urges: “If your heart is surging with good energy, apply that positivism through creative means”. Quit blocking those emotions, girl! If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands. (Or possibly, kill a seal, but I’m going with something a little less bloody.)
 I need to do something creative?
I The Magician – Cerridwen
Bingo! Make magic happen. Pull it straight up from the earth and then direct that energy into something concrete (pick a direction for The Chariot, which also features a boar companion). Cerridwen’s cauldron was a source of inspiration and knowledge and an essential part of her story is the ability to transform (and in so doing, give birth to greatness). Hmm… all is held within the dark waters of the cauldron. Drink and let it gestate. Don’t rush the process.
 Something creative marrying spirit & matter?
Knight of Cups – Venus
There’s a lot of love in these cards, overall, and here’s the epitome of it all. What is the meaning of this card? “Focusing on desires, spiritual connection with water, intuition, creativity.” God damn, I love this deck!
Finally, because I’m never satisfied until I have absolutely exhausted any answer, I reshuffled and split the deck into four piles representing the elements, or areas where I should express this creative energy. Whichever pile the King of Pentacles showed up in, was the area to focus on. No prizes for guessing which pile held the magic bullet:
Water = Intuition/Spiritual creativity.
It couldn’t be something easy, like Earth (which I would take for gardening or cooking), or Fire (which would be good old fashioned art) could it? Even Air would be obvious to me – writing. But Water… yes, it’s what I’m doing here, so good work and keep it up, but it’s more than that…
I guess it’s that deep, deep desire I have to be a channel for divine inspiration. “Go after it and don’t give up”, the King says. The King of Pentacles is definitely not a quitter! He is also apparently very patient (like the Bear), happy to just keep repeating himself – water, water, water, one ore time: water – until I get the message. I am officially calling a truce and apologising for thinking the King wanted to absorb my water and suffocate my air. Turns out, all the King wants is to provide the fertile soil for them to flourish and grow to their full potential.
Oops. Apologies, good Sir, for all the yelling and cursing!