196. Six de Coupes

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Le_Six_de_Coupes_inverséMost years I skip observing my birthday entirely, concealing its very existence from friends and relations. Unlike most people, I don’t enjoy celebrating my birthday. Frankly, it feels like getting a participation award than a celebration of life, the general tone being: “Hooray, you didn’t die or get yourself killed!”

Growing up homeschooled, birthday celebrations were limited to immediate family. I never invited friends over to celebrate as I had none. I don’t remember if I’d even wanted one, or known of such things. Truth is, we were an insular family. As I got older and started making friends, there was always the fear that if I invited anyone that no one would come, so I never bothered. I’ve always had that expectation of others.

In college, my best friend Emily attempted to throw a surprise birthday party for me. I guessed this was what she was up to and consequently waited until the last minute to go, essentially standing up my own party. According to her, I dressed everyone down upon arrival, though I remember only taking her aside to sternly reiterate that “I don’t do parties.”

For my twenty-fourth birthday, I did invite several friends for a party and was shocked when dozens of people actually came. One of my friends even wrote a song enumerating my quirkier and more endearing qualities. I was, in some ways, very close to being… moved by it.

The last time anyone threw me a birthday party was in 2011, the infamous evening when my heart was irreparably broken and I renounced my faith. Seriously, it was bad. Consequently, for the last three years, I’ve forbidden any observance of my birthday.

When I was dating Jason last year, I don’t recall if we even did anything for my birthday. We did go to my sister’s house for dinner and was shocked at how well that went. But, as usual, he wasn’t feeling good, so I didn’t even get birthday sex that weekend. Just like every other year. Last night I learned that Jason is now dating someone, and they look very happy. That was a special feeling, still being single a year later, not to mention currently laid off from temp work.

This year, despite still feeling depressed, I decided to get together with some close friends. It was nice to know that people do care, but it was still… uncomfortable. I don’t really know what to do with that kind of attention. I’m used to getting noticed for the things that I do—music, writing, performance, etc—but not for merely existing. Frankly, I don’t understand why anyone enjoys my company, or thinks I’m worthy of their time and attention. Even today, I can still hear my parents’ voice: If people really knew who you are, they wouldn’t like you…

On Saturday, I did a Tarot reading for myself as a way of “checking in.” In the cross part of the spread was a vertical line of cups – Six of Cups below and Three of Cups above, both reversed – and a horizontal line of pentacles – King of Pentacles on the left; reversed Two of Pentacles on the right. In the center was The Sun, crossed by The Hermit.

Cups typically represent “the emotional level of consciousness and are associated with love, feelings, relationships and connections.” Pentacles “cover material aspects of life including work, business, trade, property, money and other material possessions” as well as “the physical or external level of consciousness and thus mirror the outer situations of your health, finances, work, and creativity.”

Reversed, cups suggest “being overly emotional or completely disengaged and dispassionate, having unrealistic expectations and fantasizing about what could be.” Also, “there may be repressed emotions, an inability to truly express oneself and a lack of creativity.”

The Six of Cups is a card of nostalgia, childlike love and generosity, and a carefree, naïve outlook on life. Reversed, though:

… [it] may indicate that you are clinging on to your past… it suggests that you may have had unrealistically rosy ideas about a particular stage of life, based on your dreams and ideals from when you were younger… Or you may be disappointed that you have reached a particular age but have not fulfilled your childhood dreams just yet…. Your ideas and beliefs that were established in the past may be prohibiting your progress. Use your past as a guide for your future, and focus on living in the present.

I delayed breaking up with Jason last March for months, terrified about being single after 30. Who would want a guy like me whose best years are already behind him? There’s a myth in the gay community that a man’s shelf life expires after 30—or earlier.

However, what I realized this weekend was that it’s not that I feel old. Rather, its more that I’m disappointed with where I am, having little to show for having lived thirty-one years. In many ways I’ve had to start over, figuring out who the hell I am after my Christian identity imploded. I’d planned after college to go get my Master’s in composition. Though I’m taking steps to make that a reality now, I’m worried those years spent aimless and wandering will work against me.

I’m frustrated that I still haven’t found a guy who I’m compatible with, that Midwestern gays have been utterly disappointing, but that relocating isn’t financially feasible. I’m frustrated over having unwittingly played matchmaker for virtually everyone else in my life, while no one has been able to do that for me. I lived with my sister for six months, during which she met her husband. All of my flatmates (current one included) found their partners after living with me. Every guy I’ve ever dated is now with someone long-term.

The message of the Six of Cups is to let go of the past. It’s difficult to do that, however, when the past is haunting me with virtually every step. Perhaps I need to meditate on The Sun.

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195. Six de Bâtons

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Six of WandsThe first few of weeks of 2014 have been hit and miss. Aside from a handful of social outings, I’ve been hermited away for the most part. There’ve been several close calls with jobs and a couple of interviews, but no luck so far. Not the best way to start the year, especially when the previous one was so dismal.

I’ve decided to make a change for this year in blogging. Since the inception of this site, most of my posts have had one-word titles. The idea was to draw from Word-of-the-Day sites, like Dictionary.com’s, and use that word as a guide for processing thoughts and experiences.

Lately, I’ve been engaging more with Tarot. I posted about a little this last time, but the more I work with the deck, the meanings of each of the cards in the Major and Minor arcana, and the different spreads used in Tarot readings, the more I’m interested in their potential application, especially from a Jungian perspective. The basis of Jungian psychology is the view that the human unconscious is largely unreachable except through the symbolic world of dream, myth, and folklore—the world of archetypes, “universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct” (Wikipedia).

For example, the twenty-two cards of the Major (or Greater) Arcana. We see The Fool at the beginning of his journey, full of hope, potential, and ready to learn the lessons on his way through the Major Arcana. This seems to correspond to the archetype of The Child, who (according to many Jungians) is present in all humans throughout their life. The Empress represents fertility, beauty, nature, and abundance—corresponding to the “Anima” archetype, “the personification of the energy that gives birth to forms and nourishes forms is properly female” (according to Joseph Campbell). The Hermit represents soul-searching, introspection, and inner guidance, which corresponds to the “Wise Old Man” archetype.

As I do my own readings, and let others read for me, I use the cards (as I said in my previous post) as more a Rorschach test than for divination. Each card and its position in the spread has a significance. As querent, I listen for anything that resonates on the psychological level.

  • The Star reversed, for example, might suggest that I’m dwelling on negative issues and thoughts, to the point of them derailing any progress or healing that I’m making.
  • The reversed Ten of Swords might suggest that I’m still carrying around old wounds from past hurts, and that I still haven’t dealt with them.
  • The Page of Pentacles could suggest that, contrary to what I might feel or believe, I have the necessary skills and experience to succeed—but need to have clear goals and a plan laid out to put it all into motion.

These are all true things for me right now. But they’re not true because some mystical powers-that-be orchestrated how I shuffled. They’re true because the meaning could always be true. The question is: is the meaning true right now? Sometimes a card is just a card.

So my plan for the next couple of months is to go through the Tarot deck, card by card, and using a randomly drawn card as the basis for self-examination.

This afternoon, I drew the Six of Wands, from the Lesser, “Minor” arcana.

The Six of Wands depicts a man wearing a victory wreath around his head, riding a white horse through a crowd of cheering people. The white horse represents strength, purity, and the success of an adventure, and the crowd of people demonstrates public recognition for the man’s achievements. The wand held by the rider also has a wreath tied to it, further emphasizing success and achievement. He is not afraid to show off to others what he has accomplished in his life so far, and even better, the people around him cheer him along. (Source: BiddyTarot.com)

Wands are typically associated with creativity, with the Pythagorean element of fire, and the Jungian function of intuition. According to one site, “Wands are the creative application of what we experience in the world to make our lives more enjoyable.”

The number six in Tarot typically represents a journey into harmony. There are two parts to this journey. The first is departure. The second is the journey itself. In the process of getting from one place to another, one must leave something behind. In finding my “true” self, I had to leave behind the heterosexual expectations that my family and community had for me, as well as the belief in God that I’d “inherited,” that connected me to my family and everything that was home.

Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?

Much of the significance of each card in the Minor Arcana has to do with what comes before, and that’s where meaning can be found. In the Five of Wands, five men are playing or sparring with their wands (oh, the subtext), each going in a different direction, but with no contact. It typically signifies competition, strife, confusion, or disagreement. In the Six of Wands, that confusion has been overcome through focused work to achieve harmony.

I tend to focus on defeats and obstacles rather than successes and progress. At the present, worries about finances and employment (and getting my fracking landlord to fix the fracking hole in my fracking ceiling) have been sapping my creativity. However, in the past few weeks, I finished revising my one-act opera and orchestrated it. I wrote an article published today about my first Christmas back with my Evangelical family in two years that my editor called “one of the best essays I’ve read in a long time.” And even though my grad school applications were rejected this time, I’m getting back on course to aligning my career with my passions and what I’m truly good at.

The message I see here: Look at what you want, not at where you are, not at what you’ll be.