May Day Blog Hop 2015: Hard is Real

Welcome to the May 1st 2015 Tarot Blog Hop! Please use the links at the top and bottom of this post to navigate through the circle of bloggers. Our wrangler, Morgan Drake Eckstein, has asked us to discuss the “difficult” cards in the Tarot deck, such as the Tower, Death, 10 of Swords, 3 of Swords, and the Devil. How do we work with cards like these? What do we tell clients? 

Last July I wrote a post about Death which covers the essence of how I feel about this topic. I’d like to repost it here, but first I want to mention some additional thoughts I have about why these cards are so important, and how versatile they really are:

2) Without light, there is no shadow. We feel relief because we struggle. We hurt because we have loved. The dawn can only come after the night has passed (you get the idea). We read for the whole story, not for an idealized version of reality. Grief is part of life. To erase, or minimize, the difficult cards would be to ignore and gloss over the deeply real, painful, important parts of what it is to be alive. (I’ll talk more about this in regards to Death, below)

3) Cards have degrees of intensity (even upright). Sometimes the 10 of Swords signifies a painful ending, but sometimes it’s back pain or exhaustion. The 3 of Swords can mean heartbreak or betrayal, but it can also highlight a sense of disappointment or subtle loneliness.

4) Change isn’t always external, or relationship-based; it doesn’t always mean that your house is going to burn down, or that job loss is imminent. Sometimes it’s about our inner worlds, our perspectives on life. The Tower can represent sudden illumination, a breakthrough that changes your understanding of a situation, or of yourself. It can be transformative and exhilarating, surprising, maybe, but not necessarily disastrous. And if it covers a short span of time, it can be perfectly mundane (the Tower was my weekly draw once when my cell phone fell and broke and my car battery died).

These cards are here for a purpose. They are just as crucial and necessary as the Star, the Sun, and the 2 of Cups. We should not edit the Tarot deck (as we discussed last Hop); if anything we should edit, or clarify, our intentions, release our expectations, prior to requesting, or conducting, a reading.  If we can approach the reading process with an open heart and a discerning mind, great insight, truth, and healing is available, no matter what cards appear in our spread. 

Silver Witchcraft Tarot – XVI Tower
Moore/Rivoli, Llewellyn Publications

Now I want to share a post that I composed specifically about the Death card, titled “Death Isn’t Just a New Beginning”:

“I’ve read several times recently (and it comes up quite a lot) that Death is nothing to be scared of, it simply means a new beginning, and isn’t that wonderful?

I think this happens because of the over-vilification of Death in the past, especially on television shows or in the movies, where the card was played up as a symbol of impending doom, and usually physical death. There are many readers that want to make the card more friendly by now playing up the “new chapter” of life that is a natural result of big change, but I think that mindset, while understandable, robs the work that Death does, detracts from the importance of its process in our lives.

Because Death is a process. It’s not called the “New Beginning” card because before something new (regardless of how wonderful it is) can begin, something else has to end. And with endings comes mourning, struggle, fear, and loss. And those are challenging emotions to experience, but there is great catharsis in allowing that grief to unfold. Anyone who has experienced the energy of the Death card understands that there is far more to it than a nice new start (even though if we have any awareness of what that new phase might be, it may serve as a nice focal point for us while we’re in the trenches). It’s work! It’s sad, and it hurts, and at the same time there is a touching beauty to it because it’s a sacred aspect of the experience of being alive, and of growth.

Vision Quest Tarot
Winter/Dose, U.S. Games Systems

I hope that all readers honor that sacred space if Death should appear in a reading. Rather than rushing to the “happy ending,” place value on the journey involved.  It’s true that having to convey difficult messages is a skill readers must work on (and one that takes time to develop) and sometimes it’s easier to play up the sunny part – the new start – but it’s really an art worth honing so that the full and powerful message that Death symbolizes isn’t lost in translation.

I read a wonderful quote today that quite honestly made me cry, and it’s the truest definition of the Death card (and some many recognize the Tower here as well) that I’ve ever read, and I want to share it with you:

Whatever can be threatened, whatever can be shaken, whatever you fear cannot stand, is destined to crash. Do not go down with the ship. Let that which is destined to become the past slip away. Believe that the real you is that which beckons from the future. If it is a sadder you, it will be a wiser one. And dawn will follow the darkness sooner or later. Rebirth can never come without death.” 

― Robert M. Price” Finally, in honor of all of those “difficult” cards, here is a powerful, soul-piercing song from Ulali about death, healing, and honoring our ancestors:

Happy May Day, Happy Beltane, Happy Hopping!