August Sunday Spread: Ring of Fire
Hello my darlings, how is the summer of 2017 treating you?
With everything going on in my country (and the world) right now I can’t imagine it has been a walk in the park. Add in a couple of our own personal trials and tribulations and you may feel a bit burnt out – summer weather pun totally intended. You might be trying to figure out how to catch your breath before the fall hits. If your year has gone anything like mine, you might be wondering how the anticipated summer slowdown got away from you, and contemplating what a wicked and wild creature the elusive beast of rest can be.
So what now? As we head into this final month of summer, what is your intention? Do you fight the heat, wishing for Fall, or do you burn, burn, burn, into these final few weeks of fire? Is there a way to lean into the heat without going up in smoke?
You know that when heat and fuel are ignited to give off that clean blue flame, it’s because there’s enough oxygen to gas for complete combustion. For full combustion, an efficient burn, that only produces water and carbon dioxide without any other smoke by products you need… enough FUEL and OXYGEN. How do we expect ourselves to burn our brightest when we can all be guilty of deprioritizing our self-care, literally forgetting to feed ourselves well, or refusing to pause long enough to take full deep breaths? (Pretty cool self-sustainability metaphor, huh? The universe is magical like that.)
Activity and movement are an interesting thing. What I’ve noticed in my personal and professional practices is that forward movement and the flailing we may accidentally spiral into can sometimes sit very close together.
So how do we mitigate that? How do we stop the flailing without stopping the movement? Here are a few simple options for our August Sunday Spread.
Ring of Fire Tarot Spread
This spread is a tool for clarity around temperance, to find the middle ground at the intersections of rest, resiliency, and forward motion. It balances the wisdom we’ve gained with the truth we’re in and the help we need to use our precious energy resources efficiently. I wasn’t surprised to see the Magician and the Temperance card itself pop up in my own spread. All familiar lessons for this A-type personality with a hippie dippy heart.
My personal pull using the Ring of Fire Spread
Setting up you pull: Start by pulling your Moon XVIII and Sun XIX Cards from your Major Arcana. Set them in the center, Moon on the left and Sun to the right. Sit with these cards for a few moments. Meditate on the balance and journey that they represent together. Here we’re moving from darkness into light, subconscious to conscious. We’re asking our shadows to show themselves in a way that our present and futures are a bit clearer as they stand in the sun. A balance between rest/retreat and movement/energy.
I chose to add my rose quartz ring to link the two as comfortable and loving travel companions. Is there a stone, ritual, or item that makes you feel particularly comforted and grounded? Use it here. It’s too hot to struggle right now. Make an offering of ease to yourself.
Shuffle and cut as you usually do, and then choose your cards. Start to the right side of the Sun card and continue clockwise. This spread reads right to left for a couple of reasons. It reminds us that our past affects our future and that we must attempt to understand our subconscious if we’re to be in good relationship to our conscious. It also places the card representing our “present” closest to the inquirer and honors the “heart of the matter” above all else
Card 1. Wisdom to Integrate
This card is about learning from our past. What are the lessons you’ve already learned? What do you understand about your own agency, and how you work the best? Are there grounding self-care practices that haven’t made it onto your to-do list for a good long while? We’re creatures of evolution but we don’t have to “recreate the wheel.” If we stop to survey our journey we can use all the lessons we’ve learned from experience.
Card 2. Support to Sit in Presence
This card speaks to where we’re at, and advocates for self-compassion. What are we missing in our present circumstances? Are we aware of what balance looks like in this moment? Can we tell the difference between apathy/stagnation? Can we tell the difference between productivity/spiraling? Are we “holding our breath” to make it through? Are we forgetting to nourish all parts of ourselves because we don’t feel like we have enough time? Remember that clean combustion metaphor? Are you getting enough fuel and oxygen?
Card 3. Help With Intentions
This card supports us in structuring a more balanced future. What is upcoming that we should be aware of? Are there practices and/or people that will nurture temperance in our lives? What will help us stay grounded and burn most efficiently?
Card 4. The Heart of the Matter
This card sits at the top of our spread, reminding us of a core lesson. It will likely attend to any inclinations we have to stagnate or spiral. You can also read it in support of any/all of your other cards, as clarification or affirmation of the other messages.
If you like to cut your deck and pull cards in order, I generally pull this card from the bottom of the deck rather than the top. If you like to spread your cards out and pull one by one, you can similarly pull this card separately or again use the card that would be on the bottom of the deck if the cards were all stacked together.
Breath of Fire Practice
Breath of Fire | Kapalabhati Pranayama
Kapalabhati Pranayama or Breath of Fire (BoF) was always one of my least favorite pranayama practices, and is also foundational in a few different styles. Pranayama is a sanskrit word meaning to “extend” or “draw out” life force or breath. It is a Hindu yoga practice of regulating breath through different techniques for varied healing purposes.
I encountered BoF through a Bikram yoga groupon, and it really didn’t get a fair first shot with me. Even after encountering it again in my Hatha yoga teacher training it got a “side eye” emoji rating at best. I had lots of reasons for this. I thought, I’m already a pitta/fire dosha! That’s why I don’t like this! I don’t need it, I have too much fire already. Why is fire/sun/masculine so highly valued? *Insert soapbox gender deconstruction rant here.* Who wants a rock solid core – I need to be flexible and fluid in the healing work that I do.
In truth, it’s been difficult for me because I’ve been resistant to it. In both my personal relationships and professional healing work I tend to be a bit soft and mushy in the belly/boundary area. I overextend, am sometimes too porous, and can forget to listen to all the good self-care advice I’m known for doling out. I hadn’t been ready to forge a good strong conduit for that clear space between productivity and spiraling because I was attached to my going rate of letting it all in, letting it swirl about, and trying to parse it out from there. Familiarity can sometimes be just as seductive as a new adventure.
Then a few weeks ago, as I ended a really lovely and small yoga practice, with no heaters, humidifiers, or anyone commanding me to be “lock out my knees and be like a Japanese ham sandwich,” (actual script used in classes), I found the teacher setting us up for BoF. I hadn’t practiced in a long time, in fact I realized I was working through some grief around my yoga practice, which kept me out of the studio (but that’s a topic for a whole other Sunday Spread). I had been struggling to find what this post is all about, how to find temperance in a hot busy summer. And as I hit about 30 seconds in, my core started to feel the work, my lungs started to open up, and I got really clear. The beat of my breath kept up its quick pace but my mind slowed way down. (It was literally about a 4 year journey but I finally got it, and I thought, this is definitely needs to be part of the Sunday Spread for August!)
BoF can have benefits even at 1-minute intervals so it’s definitely doable for our “not so simple lives.” If you already have it in your toolkit, try it before and after this spread. If you don’t, see what it’s like to cultivate a practice. There are countless places to learn this online, but to start you off, this article covers some basic contraindications for safety and this article offers a simple “how to” and benefits. As a general warning/disclaimer, between content and ads around these articles we could probably play a bit of ‘Problematic Bingo’ together, but I still think they’re a good starting point. I figure it’s a continued practice of parsing out what we need.
Ring of Fire Playlist
Lastly, some tunes to finish off your summer. Curated to sink you into the slow down, and contemplate how to love the heat without getting a sunburn. Not too shabby for a first Sunday Spread amongst friends either.
Thank you so much for having me, Little Red Tarot Community! Enjoy the end of summer! Until next month, burn bright, darlings!
Cards shown in this post are from the Wild Unknown Tarot by Kim Krans.
Traci (She/They) is a therapist, yoga teacher, life coach, and human in progress. They offer in-person/online therapy and life coaching services from their private practice in Fullerton, CA, USA, run the educational resource hub Queer University, and write love letters by request at Shame Kills Love.
Sunday Spread: Simple Tips for Not So Simple Lives is their offering to this wonderful alternative playground of tarot. It will be filled with a monthly collection of simple self-care ideas, intentions, and rituals for the beautiful chaos that we call life.