I don’t talk a lot about my spiritual practices. Not on this blog, not with other people. There are several reasons for this and as most are beyond the scope of this particular blog post, but one reason is that I have always felt that my relationship to my Gods is my relationship. It’s my responsibility to maintain it and do what I gotta do to be in right relationship with Them. When I falter or triumph, it is ultimately only to Them that I must answer. And I do.
So why am I bringing this up? Well, if you’ve read my profile or a few of my other posts in the “Faith” category or if you actually know me in real life, then you know that I’m Pagan. Now, I know that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but again, beyond the scope, for now. However, if you know anything about Pagans or Paganism, then you know that Samhain is celebrated this month. I had my own celebration yesterday at home with my Ancestors. Again, how does this relate to love? I’m getting there…
At the turn of the seasons (Samhain marks the end of harvest and the beginning of winter), I do a tarot reading for myself to see what the next portion of the year holds for me. And this reading was a little…scary. As I laid down the cards, one card in particular, caused me to catch my breath.
The Two of Cups. (GASP!) In the “Future” position of my card layout. (dun dun DUUUNNN!)
What? Not scary to you? Well, before I even double-checked the meaning, I knew I was in trouble.
For those of you who are lost, let me catch you up…
First, I’ll say that my personal tarot deck is the World Spirit Tarot. I love it and it works for me like no other deck ever has. The symbols are clear and works well with my intuition. Awesome.
Next, you should know that in the tarot, cups symbolize emotions, matters of the heart. Now, couple this with the actual image on that card in my particular deck. Here is the description as written in the accompanying book:
Two people circle ’round inside a fairy ring of mushrooms and flowers, hands held high in a toast. By their commitment in cups, symbols of the emotions, they are coupled. The faces of the dancers show both happiness and trepidation for the future. The steps they take together draw the gods that bless their union…A star shines inspiration and healing down on the new couple. And at the edge of the ring, a serpent lies coiled in the shape of infinity.
Shit. If that wasn’t enough, each of the Minor Arcana cards in my deck has a theme or subtitle and this one is given the moniker “Relation”.
Do you see it yet? Do you?!?!
Background: see this short post on my summer travel blog. During the last quarter I was supposed to work on being “okay” with emotional vulnerability. This is a huge problem for me. I don’t like sharing my feelings or emotions with other people. It’s scary and I don’t like it. I’ve been burned a lot in my past and I’m emotionally scarred. So there.
When I wrote that post, I thought I was ready. Maybe I was, but I really don’t know. Frankly, I’m not sure if I’ve made any gains in this area. Sometimes, I don’t even think it’s even possible for me to open up to anyone. I just clam up and get all uncomfortable and irritated and, if possible, I escape out the nearest exit.
Knowing this about myself and understanding that my reactions to being emotionally vulnerable are unhealthy, I’ve started seeing a therapist. It’s a bit too early to know if it’s helping or not, but she’s good at asking questions and helping me talk, so that’s good. She gives off good vibes and I feel comfortable in the space, so I’m going to keep going. We haven’t really got to the “good stuff” yet. And by that I mean “the traumatizing shit that made me the way that I am”, so I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I hope to eventually move past my, at times, debilitating fear of sharing my feelings with others so that I can one day have a healthy relationship with another human being.
So, if you haven’t guessed already, the card signifies that Love is coming my way. In some form. I’m still unclear. The card could mean either I’m going to have a romantic relationship, or I’m going to learn to love myself or both. I initially read it as a relationship before I looked at the book. That possibility was a bit too much for me to handle at the time.
But that confused me because how can I have a relationship if I can’t be open with others? Also, I really don’t love myself all that much. I wish I did. I’ve been trying for years, but I often find myself disgusted and angry with myself for maybe not-so-good reasons. I used to find all sorts of ways to hurt myself and, while I don’t do that any more (much), all my choices are not exactly healthy nor do I always have my best interests at heart.
Having said that, I do realize where I have made gains and the fact that after many years of avoiding/toying with therapy, I’m finally doing it. Unemployed and without insurance no less (thank the Gods for sliding scale!). Now that’s commitment.
Still, I think I know myself (for the most part) and I have a hard time looking at myself without being upset. And it’s not all about looks. There’s something in me that’s been there for years and as hard as I try, I have yet to exorcise it. It’s dark and it’s ugly and it tells me that I don’t deserve to be loved. And the real scary part? It’s not a demon or a monster…it’s me. The only one holding me back from having the kind of life I want is me. And when you know that, when you that know that you are actually the one causing your own misery, it’s almost enough to make you go bat-shit insane.
I want to believe that the gains I’ve made in my life are real and that I am, perhaps, ready to love myself and others. Maybe.
But I’m terrified that I’m too broken and that I’m just going to screw everything up like I always do. And maybe hurt someone else in the process.
Then, I look at the other cards in the in the reading. Rather than elaborate on all possible meanings, I’ve given those that stood out most to me.
- Inner Self: 8 of Pentacles- Mastery/Practice, Self-Discipline
- Outer Self: 6 of Wands- “Glory”, high point of creative journey, inspiring others
- Past: Justice- taking responsibility for actions
- Present: Sibyl of Wands- loyal, protective, strong-willed with a sense of self-worth (could refer to qualities I possess or those of someone else in my life who will help me in these areas), finding confidence in oneself
- Future: 2 of Cups- learning to truly love oneself to love another, possibility of a future relationship
- Lesson: 8 of cups- “Questing”, a spiritual quest, need to withdraw energy from the world in order to be more present with my inner life, creative solitude
- Wild Card: learning to hear the earth’s wisdom, trusting one’s instincts, describes a studious person with great focus and determination (either another person in my life or aspects of myself)
Looking at the bigger picture, this reading very much described where I’m at right now and where I’m headed. I knew that at first glance and checking the meanings only confirmed what I already knew. That’s another reason why it’s scary. This is real. This is my life. It’s what I want, but I’m scared to get it. I’m afraid to be released from a prison of my own making. The world is wide and full of people and unknown variables. I know every corner of my cell, it’s close and comfortable. And even though it is hard to face the harshness of my own unkind thoughts, at least I know my thoughts. I know who I’m dealing with when it’s just me. Dealing with other people is something else entirely.
As frightening as it is, I think that self-love and the possibility of a relationship are where I’m heading and where I’ve been heading all along. I recognize I’m screwed up and I want to change (really, I do).
Slowly, but surely, I’m making moves. Every week I practice talking about very personal things with a complete stranger. I’ve nearly cried twice in session. I stopped once while writing this post so that I could cry and some (not much) tears came out. It’s been a really long time since I’ve cried. I used to cry all the time and I can’t really pinpoint when I stopped. Sometime in the last year? I only noticed it because I keep having these moments where I want to cry and, need that release, and…nothing.
So, tonight I cried. A little. And for a moment, I felt both really horrible and really good. Progress.
Sometimes, I think, maybe (only just) I’m a little too hard on myself. I have high expectations of myself (good), but I have a tendency to rip myself a new one when I don’t live up to my own expectations (bad). Perhaps as a step on the road to self-love, I will try to be a little kinder to myself. I am only human after all. Painfully and beautifully flawed.
So, yes. Maybe I am ready to love; myself at least. One step, one day, at a time.
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.