After almost a year of varying states of lockdown, varying states of worry and varying levels of upset and disappointment, Sarah Maria Griffin’s springtime card pull helps buoy us right when we need it most…[restrict]
Happy Lunar New Year, folks. We’re deep into Aquarius season, a cold spate, and a long crawl towards spring. This piece drops on Valentine’s Day. I haven’t drawn a set of 12 cards for rogue readers in a while: a little because I wanted to experiment with a different approach, a little because I wanted to impart some information about how to start reading yourself – and a little because I’ve been having a tough time with the tarot, lately. I drew some cards for myself before today’s reading, to situate myself in the story a little, and the first card I flipped for myself was The Hanged Man. Stasis, helplessness, pause, stalemate. I mean, almost at a year under the plague and of course, there he is, loudly telling me to learn something while I have my hands and legs bound, while my world is turned upside down.
I do not think we’re supposed to learn anything, here, to be honest. Not anymore. I think we are supposed to live through it as best we can.
Mrs Smith (@catsmithmrs is their handle) on Instagram, put up a picture in early February that came up on my timeline yesterday – a grey background with the line of text ‘A pandemic is not a residency’, and this is what I will say back to the Hanged Man, serene and bound. I have been trying to dress this experience as something that it isn’t – I take these costumes on and off. Here, in this icy grey skied February, I am not in residence. I am under siege, and I am tired, and if this is you, too – finding the limits and hard edges of optimism, I am with you. So here is my offering, for this time. The tarot is a very old story, and here is a piece of the old story for each of you, each with your own upside down worlds, too.
The Page of Swords
The Page of Swords typically represents a new start, a new idea. Swords are the suite of ideas, the ephemeral – and conflict. This card depicts a young person, standing atop of a small hill, wind blustering through their hair, clutching a sword in both of their hands. Their brow is furrowed with ambition, and above them in the sky a flock of birds have almost disappeared into the clouds. This Page is beginning something. They aren’t fully equipped, but they have ambition and an idea. The trick will be not losing that furrowed brow, that want, that ferocity. If something new has come to you, Aries, follow it. Pages also remind us that we might not be expert at everything we pick up right away – just because you can hold the sword, it doesn’t mean you know how to use it.
Seven of Swords
This is the theft card, Taurus, one of the subtle warning cards of the deck. At dawn, a figure creeps away carrying all the swords they can hold. They can’t quite carry everything they want, and have to leave some things behind them. They look over their shoulder as they make their escape. Here are two ways this can be interpreted – if you have had to do something dishonest in order to achieve what you have at this time, it did not go unnoticed. Swords can be a house of conflict, so keep this in mind. Alternately, and this is my preferred reading, this card can be about stealing time: being selfish in what you need to execute your ideas. Sometimes when you take space to do what you need, things will get left behind – but that sacrifice is one that has to be made for what you need at this time. This is such a grey, nuanced card – what can you do to make sure your interests are served best without causing harm? How can you walk that line?
Page of Cups
I have a couple of favourite cards in the deck, though I shouldn’t, really – but this one is right up there for me. I love seeing it: it is such a card of promise. It depicts a young figure dressed in bright floral finery, holding a cup in their hand – and a tiny fish is peeking out of the cup. The fish in the cup is literally the best part of the tarot, for me – it represents a new idea, a new emotion, a surprise. It is such a delightful tiny image, and is at the centre of what this card means: something new is appearing for you. The Page as a figure is young and inexperienced, but full of guts and vivacity – they may be a little naive, they may make promises they can’t keep, but they have heart by the bucketful. This could represent you, this could be someone around you who is bringing you new ideas, new feelings. As with all Pages, this is just the sign of a start: not a process, not a completion. But keep your eye out for those tiny surprises, those fish peeking out of chalices – what you do with it thereafter is yours.
The number one card, which follows the Fool in the Major Arcana, the Magician is a loud sign in a reading. Where the Minor Arcana cards simply represent the day to day fullness and back and forth of being alive, the Major show important moments and present signs worth looking at. The Magician is a figure standing in front of a desk, overflowing with flowers and vines. On the desk there are all the symbols of the tarot – the cup, the sword, the pentagram, the wand. In one hand they hold a candle to the sky, with the other they point to the ground. The infinity symbol hangs over their head. They have all of the tools they need to manifest their wishes – they are a keeper of knowledge. This could be representative of you coming into a time of power – you have everything you need in front of you and around you, so don’t hold back or hesitate. I would also note that magicians have the power to cast illusions, or to cause change: smoke and mirrors are good for a moment, but they aren’t the real work. Take up your tools and get to work.
Oh Leo. Here we go. The Tower has seldom showed up for these readings for me, but to skim over it is to cheapen this whole process. It’s a big card – depicting a tower being struck by lightning, burning, with people leaping from the windows. There’s a storm rolling in the background, in the dead of night. It’s an urgent card, from the Major Arcana, that is telling you that seismic change is happening. To be honest, 2020 was all Towers for all of us, all the way down – so this won’t be anything you’re not ready for, or used to. It represents our status quo being altered irrevocably – and while this may be hard, it is necessary, and nothing that we cannot come back from and rise after. In the journey of the Major Arcana, this card is followed by The Star. If the tower falls, there is a door for you to escape through. It won’t be the end of you. You’ll shine again, in no time.
The Six of Wands
I love this for you, Virgo. This card depicts a figure riding into town on a white horse, holding aloft a wand with a laurel wreath, a laurel wreath in their hair. We honestly all need our laurels more than ever, lately. This is a card of recognition, of being celebrated and accepted and seen for the work you do. It is a victory card, a card of belonging. There is no feeling quite like being witnessed in your effort, in your work. Not even necessarily rewarded, just being seen – being celebrated for a job well done, for effort and for talent. So look around you, Virgo. Where are your laurels? If there is nobody to give them to you, how can you place them on yourself? Absorb the appreciation you receive – it will motivate you to keep going. The six is only halfway through the suite – the work is not done. Let this help you continue with pride.
A new start, Libra. A fresh page. A big one. The Fool is the first card in the deck, a figure with a bindle over their shoulder containing all of their wisdom in the world, holding a pure White rose in their hand, a tiny dog barking at their ankles, stepping resolutely off a cliff into the unknown. This card speaks of the start of a new cycle in your life – and the end of an old one. It insists that we know absolutely nothing of what is ahead, and it demands a surrender to the fall. The only way to enjoy this, really, is to release the expectation that we should know very much about what is ahead. That plans should hold up – hilarious, right? Surrender to the thrill of what is next, Libra. Something big is starting. Take pleasure in the knowledge that you are an absolute beginner, and let the story start again.
The Knight of Cups
This card, like all the Knights, is a card of momentum. The knights arrive into the story of their suites and they cause change – and here one arrives, in white armour, atop a white horse, the wings of Hermes on his helmet, a chalice in his hand. The suite of cups indicate love, romance, creativity – so here on Valentine’s day, Scorpio, I present to you a literal knight in shining armour. They are a messenger, they are here to bring you something – an emotional event, an idea. They are generally received in the tarot as a thrilling figure, but I would issue a warning here too – they are whirlwinds, and can sometimes indicate emotional chaos. So if you yourself are somebody’s messenger, or their knight, be careful with their heart. And if you are the recipient of this message, by all means get swept off your feet, but don’t forget where the ground is, either.
This card is my personal card for 2021, Sagittarius, so I’m happy to see it show up in today’s spread. This lone figure in the snow, lit only by the light of his torch, bearded, holding a cane – symbolises the things that we must be alone to learn. He asks us to step outside of society, to withdraw, and to become who we are outside of performance, outside of norms. In a way he is my personal Patron Saint of the Pandemic. He gives us permission to walk away, to make space inside of ourselves, to not share what we have. To refill our own well and be nurtured by it. This silence is a necessary part of our journey forward – being a Major Arcana card, the Hermit is as necessary as the Magician, as The Tower, as all of the huge moments we go through in life. How can we turn our lamp towards ourselves? How can we get used to the silence, and the stillness? How can we make peace there?
The Eight of Swords
This card is such drama, such pantomime, such absolute discomfort, Capricorn. The hostage card – immaculately timed, I believe, this deep into lockdown. A figure in a red dress is standing upright, bound loosely, blindfolded, in a red battlefield, surrounded by swords. This is a card about feeling trapped, feeling defeated – though truly, beyond the surface, the figure is neither. The ropes that hold them are not tight. They are not wounded, though they wear a scarlet dress. There can be a strange comfort in the hostage state, in the surrender – in refusing to look around and see that there are no attackers are around you. Stay here for as long as you need, Capricorn. The time will come for you to shake off the binds, take off the blindfold, and walk home.
I laughed aloud when I turned this card over, after what has otherwise been a very intense reading, being an Aquarian myself, during Aquarius season. This card is also, literally the Aquarius card – the water bearer. This is a card about creativity, success, positive reception – after hardship, especially. It demands vulnerability though, which is something people with heavy Aquarius placements can struggle with – the figure in the Star is naked, of her own choice, and comfortable in that exposure. This is the message I always try to take away from this image, rather than just relishing in it as a card that invokes a dazzling time of stepping into one’s power – in order to thrive, we have to be vulnerable. We have to show who we really are – and that can come at a cost. However, as the Star moves water from the lake into the earth – she knows how to temper this cost. Look for a way to be vulnerable. Balance your way there.
The Five of Pentacles
This card depicts two figures in the snow, injured, laid low by the wind and the weather. They are at odds with a huge window above them, stained glass and glowing gold from within. This is a card about who is on the outside, and who is on the inside. Like all pentacles, this is a card about the material – about earthly possessions, about wealth, about work. It’s a card about feeling left out, or, perhaps, taking the opportunity to call people in, if it is you beyond the stained glass, in the warmth, knowing that there are people you could include in that glow. This is a time in history when community is for many folks, the key to survival. Take a moment to consider who you may be neglecting at this time – who would benefit from the warmth of your community. Generosity can be tremendously healing. Call people in, or, if it is you up to your ankles in snow, tap on the window. Pick up the phone. Asking to be let in can be hugely humbling, but the alternative is a very cold way indeed.