Birthday reading with Mary-el

*Long post warning…*

I’ve been needing a self-reading since new year’s eve, so, with my 31st birthday tomorrow I’ve snuggled down with a brew to find out what the Mary-el Tarot has to say about my life at this time. The snow is thick outside – I’ve just been for a wonderful walk and taken two rolls of film, the park is full of kids – school cancelled – and their sledges and snowballs, and the bare trees are thrown into sharp relief by layers of white against their dark bark. The snow makes a shadow of everything, but oddly, this makes the world’s beauty all the clearer. Inside it’s warm, I’ve got sleepy, snuggly cats all over me and a hot mug of tea. The event I was planning to attend today has been cancelled, and it feels good to use this free gift of a day to do something nice for myself.


My first thought was to use my new year/turning point spread…but, as I so often do, I found myself ditching this in favour of the good old Celtic Cross. I know where I want to head and I know what the themes are for me this year – I’m now more interested in finding out what subtle (and not-so-subtle) energies are surrounding me as I properly enter my thirties and begin a new phase of my life which will see me living more quietly, more resourcefully, enjoying and developing the incredible love that has recently entered my life, and, if all goes to plan, setting up my own business. For me, there is no better spread than the Celtic Cross for the kind of ‘overview’ of where I’m at that I am seeking today.


All card images are from the Mary-el Tarot by Marie White. Quotations are taken from the accompanying book, The Mary-el Tarot: Landscapes of the Abyss, also by Marie White (2012).

The present situation – VII. The Chariot

07chariotMy birth card : ) It’s taken me a years to come to love The Chariot – for a long time I found it’s controlled/controlling energy to be too harsh, too rigid and blinkered. Recently though, (well, since I attended a great seminar and found out it was my birth card…ho hum!) I’ve been paying a little more attention.

At the heart of everything right now is a strong and clear sense of direction. Well, I can’t argue with that. I’ve set myself some clear goals and I know what I need to do to achieve them. As the charioteer’s thick furs (though not perhaps her naked chest…) suggest, the journey ahead is going to be tough, and I’ll need a firm command of the resources available to me.

Whilst many images show the charioteer reining in her driving forces – most often the animals which pull her vehicle – here, she is embracing them in a warm hug, earning their trust and respect before their journey begins. Marie White writes:

The body, charioteer is threefold, a black, dark bottom, that part is covered in flesh and earth, the exposed soul of the heart in the middle and the radiant sun of the mind. The wolves are the four fold earth, the cardinal directions, the four directions we can move, our arms and legs we interact with reality with, the four elements.

This card is about pulling together the different, often opposing parts of ourselves in order to work towards a common goal. There is strength in numbers, and the journey ahead will require all parts of me to work as one.

Crossing card – the challenge – Five of Wands

It seems I have something to prove. The Five of Wands crosses the confident self-direction of The Chariot with a flaming band of fire, roaring for attention. For White, this card again is about the force of will: ‘…perseverance, unwavering, unrelenting, powerful, great of heart. Conquer through heart, integrity, greatness.’

I would add to this the ‘battling’ element of the Five – it often shows a playful struggle or an arm wrestle, the fighting out of a small contest. Whilst The Chariot sees me trying to rein in conflicting aspects of myself, the Five of Wands shows that there is still a battle going on internally. Parts of me don’t want to work hard! Parts of me just want to chill and blog and read tarot and climb hills, drink with friends and hang out in pubs. So adopting the strength The Chariot is not as easy as it may sound. I know that learning and practicing self-dicipline is part of 2013’s challenge for me, and this card serves as a reminder that I need to exercise it in an internal way as well as in my actions.

The past – Four of Swords

Yes, I’ve been resting. What of it? As winter drew in this year I felt the urge to hibernate coming on – I’ve been less social, less active, more snuggly, and more thoughtful. Sad that this energy is passing from my life now as I have enjoyed my down-time…but I’ve been very aware throughout that I’ve been mentally and physically gearing up for a busy and hardworking time ahead.

The future – XIX. The Sun

Ooh goody. Some warmth. It’s pretty damn nippy out there and although I dearly love deep, winter snow, the arrival of spring will make a big difference to my work on the campsite. What this major card could mean for me in terms of ‘the journey’ I don’t yet know…my love already brings me the feeling of pure happiness that lies at The Sun’s heart, and naturally I want to think that it tells me that I’ll be finding a real, passionate joy in this next phase of my life – through hard work, creativity and love I’ll be experiencing true happiness and a sense of one-ness with the world.. Or, as White puts it rather more dramatically, ‘the Sun is a symbol for God, but it is also a symbol of the exhaltation of mankind, the exhaltations of the Fool, and the exhaltation of the individual. The Sun is the full potential of humankind realized.’

‘Nuff said. Thanks Mary-el! 🙂

Above – consciously manifesting or understanding – IX. The Hermit

Well, I’m sitting here doing this reading aren’t I? Carrying the waning Four
of Wands’ energy into my present, The Hermit suggests I’m still acting very internally, still looking inwards for answers. I also understand that this sees me reaching outwards, to the teacher or mentor this card represents. I’m surrounded by helpful people holding their hermit’s lanterns and offering me help and guidance. I also received an astrological ‘transit report’ from Suzi Dronzek to show me what cosmic energies might be influencing my life over the coming months. Whilst also looking inwards to guide my project forwards, I am seeking and welcoming the wisdom and experience of those around me who offer me their help.

Below – what lies beneath this – King of Swords

KingswordsInteresting. I think I understand what the cards are getting at here. Underlying the changes I’m creating in my life right now is a sense that I want to do what’s right. I don’t want to keep turning up for a job I no longer love, or bumbling along enjoying stuff but never really manifesting a life that is 100% mine. The King of Swords always prods me to think harder about my place in the universe, the inner workings of our minds – collective and invividual consciousness, in order to find ways to change and develop my own self-perception.

Communication of ideas is the other thing going on here. White writes:

The rays of light coming out of his head, and the arrows and swords with which he conquers the world are ink tipped quills. […] Our ability to communicate and record that communication is our greatest strength and gift to the universe.

I want to be heard. I know I’m good at words but this ability needs honing – I need to learn to communicate in new ways, to reach different audiences. I need to communicate in a businesslike way, in a hospitable way, in a legal way for my new business. I need to communicate with friends because I count on their support. And bigger than this, I have ideas right now and I want to make them known.

You at this moment – Eight of Swords

The Eight of Swords? Really? What’s holding me back? Whilst I might think I’m not inhibited by difficult thoughts bogging me down, this card begs to differ.

The Eight of Swords shows a time when we allow the swords we all carry – the weights of pain, hurt, insecurity – to trap us and hold us down.To quote myself in an old blog post, ‘I think of the times I’ve found myself sacrificing parts of myself in order to live up to an idea of what I should be…and then of how liberating it is to finally acknowledge that bondage, to say ‘no more’, to recognise that this is a form of self harm, and that it’s time to start moving back towards freedom.’

So what does this mean for me, now? I think of my current job, once something I loved, but now completely changed and making me unhappy on a regular basis. But I don’t feel trapped here – I have plans to set myself free. I guess for the moment I am stuck here – the simple neccessity of keeping a roof over my head means I can’t yet quit and apply myself fully to my business. Until I’m reasonably sure there’s an income, even if very small, on the horizon, I have to keep going in, doing my day-job, earning money for food and flat. I’d not given this entrapment much thought; I’ve been so focused on the escape plan in the future that I’m not paying attention to what it’s doing to me right now.

I wonder if the tarot is whispering that these concerns are all in my mind. I’ve been wishing someone would say ‘just quit! You’ll be able to get by’, although I know that’s a foolish plan right at this moment. But money does play on my mind a little too much. I feel that the Eight of Swords is prodding me to think more carefully about my assumption that I need X amoung of money or that I need to stay with my day-job for much longer.

Of course it could indicate something far deeper that is keeping me trapped. I tend to interpret the Eight as pointing to more emotional concerns such as insecurity or fear. Whilst the job/money explanation is convenient, I know I’m just bending the cards to my will. It’s likely that, down there, there are some deep-rooted fears about the path I’m about to take – I’ve never started my own business, I’ve never not had a wage – hoewver small – coming in, I’ve never had to rely on my own motivation and drive to get by. Can I actually do this? Some days I’m not completely sure.

External influences upon you and your situation – Page of Swords

PageswordsLike the tattooed King of Swords, the Page also stands naked in the clear blue air, and her body too is adorned with writhing dragons – hers are red. But unlike the King, White writes, ‘she is not yet imprisoned and made hard with old beliefs; she has a beginners mind (and perhaps youthful arrogance) and can imagine and fearlessly pursue any possibility. She thinks, invents, imagines, acts and speaks boldly and without fear.’

The perfect antidote to the previous Eight of Swords, I know that this card represents Emma, my love. (Funnily enough, for Christmas I made her a jumper bearing a red dragon, like this page’s tattoos.) The way White describes her page, that’s exactly how I’d describe my Emma. Whenever I experience self-doubt and fear, she is there to tell me I can achieve my dreams. When I think things are difficult or impossible, she counters me with a list of reasons why they’re not. She just phoned me about birthday plans as I began to write this part, and now I’m laughing and grinning like a loon. She spurs me on and makes me believe in myself – an external influence who will not let me give up on my ideas but continually works to help me be the best person I can be.

Hopes and/or fears – Three of Wands

Marie White is typically, beautifully obscure in her description of this card, speaking of gods and myths of which I have no knowledge. I see a coiled serpent rising to the giant white eye of some red god, spears of flame and lightening parting before it. To me it is the very first moment of something new, when the firey snake – representing an idea – rises to meet knowledge and experience – what the eye has seen. It’s the moment of manifestation, where that idea is finally put into action. The eye is the eye of the King of Swords, working out the logistics of the snake’s idea, becoming finally ready to act.

A word of advice – Two of Wands

How cool to get these two cards side by side in my reading. I’ve blogged before about how the Two and Three of Wands work together as a pair, expressing subtle differences in the moments before putting a plan into action. But the Two comes before the Three – my advice here is something I must do before I can realise the hopes (or fears) presented in the Three above.

The card shows two trees – a doorway, or as White says, a ‘birth channel’. As a two, the trees represent balance, and also the calling of two things towards each other, drawing me in with them. At first I think the advice here is to go back to my motivations for this year’s big p
rojects – that the thinking phase is not done yet. Again, I need to bring that King of Swords up to consciousness in order to practice his methodical, meticulous analysis of the world I live in. The Eight of Swords sees me overthinking to the point of self-sabotage, but here I am told that my ideas can’t take flight until I’m mentally ready. I say mentally because of the way I usually interpret the Two of Wands – thinking through and crystalising ideas in the mind before action can take place, but in the Mary-el, the emphasis is far more on courage and spirit. Can I, will I, go through that doorway and enter the void on the other side? Why would I do this? What lies beyond those trees? I need to know this before the Three’s serpent can rise, before my ideas can become real. Like the King of Wands, this card tells me there is more to my journey than meets the eye.

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