I officially quit the DIY Tarot Challenge being run by Prince(ess) of Pentacles and I cannot even explain how good I feel. Gods, what a relief. I didn’t even realise how I’ve been punishing myself because of trying to complete what should be a fun creative activity, turning it into a way of torturing myself (yet again) for not being good enough – not permitting myself to write, or do daily draws, or comment on others’ work until I have something to show for it.
And the more I see what truly incredible things other people are coming up with on tumblr and instagram, the worse the internal judgement gets. (Seriously, go look. It is astounding what’s being produced!)
I’ve said it before and the truth remains: I have a fucked up relationship with my art.
There’s no shortage of ideas or concepts. Even the one I was focussed on for this challenge is really good (and definitely unique). Thalia said something that really helped me understand what the root of my problem is (besides the extreme levels of perfectionism):
You want to know why my art has that spark to it, that bit of something else? Because I don’t know what I’m doing. I let myself not know what I’m doing, because if I fill it all in with Plans there is no room for something wonderful to happen.
The biggest thing I had to unlearn after graduating from art school was planning everything out in advance. I used to draw everything out perfectly on paper, then transfer it perfectly to watercolor paper with a light table, then paint it in perfectly. Three times doing it perfectly, with the end result that it was dead.
This is nothing. Twenty-two doodles while you’re thinking about something else. I know you know Tarot, and I mean know in your bones, what the pattern of the cards are. There is no need for you to think about this at all.
Over-planning is something I am very guilty of, but that bolded bit is a greater setback for me: I know too much. And I know it mainly on a subconscious level; that’s where it gets absorbed. When I read tarot, stuff just… comes to me. Things I don’t even know I know (and couldn’t tell you if I tried). When I go to create something physical, I tap into that same space and then there’s too much. Too many ideas. And even if there’s a theme, it isn’t enough of a pin-point focus to filter and sift out what’s necessary and what’s extraneous filler.
It’s possible I could even learn to work around this, but the Hanging Judge remains. My lack of skill in bringing my vision to PERFECTION causes so much frustration and stress that I land up right where I found myself this morning. Until I quit.
I turned over the page in my notebook…
I closed the open reference tabs…
I flipped over my drawing pad and put it back on the pile…
And it was like my psyche finally got to pee after a long road trip through a war zone.
Honestly, it’s 4 hours later and I’m still floating high on the rush of releasing myself from this burden(-that-shouldn’t-be-a-burden-at-all).
Why, though? Why do I do this to myself ? ? Where did I learn that this is appropriate behaviour? WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THIS??
While waiting to catch a flight in Philly in 2013, I used Thalia’s World Goddess Oracle to do a reading on my Hanging Judge. I didn’t fully understand it then, and I still don’t fully understand it now, but this is a situation that keeps coming back to gnaw on my soft, meaty ass, so I might as well give it its 5 seconds of glory.
 What is the Judge’s primary motivation?
Kybele: “I have deep roots.”
Besides always striking me as The Great Mother – and thus, a protector – it is worth noting that Kybele’s priests practised self-castration. This combination is essentially the M.O. of the Hanging Judge: cutting off my creativity (organ of procreation) to protect myself from *7,026 real and imaginary threats*. Kybele’s worship was also orgiastic in nature, so…
 What is its core nature?
Vesta: “I am first and last.”
Hmm. See, does this mean the Judge is my inner spark (and so protects itself from being extinguished), or does this card point to its origins? If this is something I picked up from home – or a place I considered home – then I couldn’t pin-point it. Maybe it was lots of little things – lots of tiny pieces of tinder – that built up over time to fuel this fire. Maybe I just don’t want to know what it was. Psychoanalysing yourself is tricky business at the best of times; even worse when it’s something so deeply important to my identity.
I used to be fearless though…
 How does it help me?
Oya: “What I destroy, you no longer need.”
Well that’s a matter of opinion #sideeye. Maybe that’s how it began though – a critical eye that allowed me to make quick judgements and move on, but then got out of control like the storms Oya brings, becoming hyper-critical instead. The moderate, level-minded Queen of Swords became the crazed Red Queen, yelling for everyone’s heads and allowing no room for reason or compromise. Oy.
 How can I best approach it?
Tlazolteotl: “Come on, you know you want to.”
First guess would be to seduce it, but hanging judges are not known for being so easily swayed. Instead, I think Tlazolteotl’s “sin eater” aspect offers a better clue for appeasement: a scapegoat. It needs shit and crap and garbage to process, because that process is what generates fertilizer for the good stuff to grow. So if all I’m allowing to process is the good ideas, then those are the ones its going to grind up and discard!
SO. Gotta shelve the perfectionism and bring the “bad” ideas up out of the basement to be garburatored. Sorry, kids. Art is sacrifice.
Note: Two dark cards flanking Vesta’s bright light.
 What do I not understand?
Hel: “You cannot separate light from its shadow.”
Much as I hate this harsh passenger in my head, they are a part of me. I’m thinking that the judge might be as impartial as Hel too. They’re just doing their job. A little too enthusiastically, but that’s what happens when there’s no light to balance the shadow. Or shit to balance the not-shit, as the case may be.
 What do I misunderstand?
Oshun: “Let the waters of your life run sweetly.”
The message I’m picking up here is “flow”, as in, this judging force isn’t actively working against me (impartial, remember?) to sour my waters; that we flow from the same source, in the same direction, towards a common outlet. Perhaps I am the problem, always fighting against it, and that’s why it pushes back so hard?
What jumped out from Thalia’s description of Oshun is that She is associated with the number 5; so is Tlazolteotl. 5: my number. The Hierophant. The bridge between the Divine and Man. The channel for inspiration. Flow.
 How is it a gift?
Athene: “Cup your ear to the heart of wisdom.”
Bright-eyed, clear-sighted, far-seeing Athene. I’m going to have to listen closer, because the wisdom of this apparent curse is not yet known to me. Possibilities have certainly surfaced in the course of this reading, but it’s going to take a while for it to distill. I’ll leave it to settle for now.
Stumbled onto this by accident this afternoon and, while I’m not part of the Potter Fandom, it’s an absolutely fascinating look at personality sorting that seems appropriate to this issue I’m having. (Obviously I’m a Ravenclaw Primary, but I’m uncertain as to my Secondary. Slytherin? Maybe? Or double-Ravenclaw?? It’s a lot of reading and I’m old and tired.) All Hail, Sweet Mother Internet, for Her bounteous random blessings!