A version of this post originally appeared on Asali Earthwork.
I’ve been working, living, creating, loving, through a low swing in my mental health.
This often means that I compartmentalize the different parts of my life, keep them separate and send energy to the one that requires it with most urgency and survival need. Unfortunately, this usually means I send all my energy into my day-to-day work, and while I’m privileged to have a relatively good job that has potential for fulfillment and allows for rent and bills to be paid most times, it is not at all fulfilling when I’m so beyond physically tired.
I channel all energy to those workplace interactions – be efficient, professional, adaptable, and creative. Come home and crash out and do it all over again till Friday comes to an end. Which is what exactly happened this week, for some weeks now – at least until I finally found a moment to sit still and heed the moon.
She spoke, as she is wont to do, and asked me quite simply if I was ready to not have to live in bursts of barely available energy.
I balked, angry. I was frustrated at the audacity of a question with such a seemingly obvious answer.
As someone living with mental illness, living with-through-around it, I get beyond annoyed with an idea that can proliferate around spiritual communities – that you can always positively charm/think/spell/intent/meditate through sadness, grief, illness, depression, or anxiety and magically BE HAPPY.
I’ve tried it. It didn’t work. And it isn’t because I did it wrong, or didn’t want it badly enough. It isn’t because you did it wrong, or didn’t want it badly enough.
I let the moon go and went to bed, but the question was still with me when I woke up.
As annoyed as I wanted to keep being, the answer to the question was always going to be yes. Of course I want to do more than get by.
Compartmentalizing, while a necessary survival strategy that got me through my day-to-day, is not filling. It does not replenish the reserves it empties everyday. I need something different, a shift.
A slow and gradual shift. As much time as I need, and all the love I want. Intentional, practical, and most importantly forgiving.
I pulled The Wooden Tarot’s Empress face up to use as a focal point of meditation with the cards. I chose her for promise of abundance, for promise of growing, for promise of wisdom and sacred memory, for promise of loving, for promise of grounded and earth-deep understanding she lives and inspires. For promise, when in a depressive low swing, can feel very far from reach if not outright impossible.
I think this Empress gets that.
Surrounded by prosperity, a crown of forest and earth, her power in her grasp. She is abundance personified. She also looks tired and a little bit sad today. I find comfort in her weariness; I breath easier knowing that The Empress can be sad, tired, and still be The Empress.
I am a healer, teacher, earthworker- a whole person even when I’m sad and tired- I am The Empress, and at the very least the promise of becoming.
The moon wasn’t asking me to magically spell myself happy. As if to emphasize that, the Knight of Bones jumped out of the deck as I shuffled it. With gritted teeth, smudges and patches of mud and dirt on her face and both horns. She’s about that work.
The ensuing Mind.Body.Spirit spread proved the moon in affirmation and provided the blueprint.
MIND – QUEEN OF BLOOMS – To be gentle and loving to myself. To live in my heart as much as I do in my head. Honoring the connection of mind and heart will also allow me more balance in my work. I also really love the octopus as the representative image of this Queen. Science continues to remark on the octopus’ intelligence, strength, adaptability, and emotional depth. She is a teacher for the Queen of Cups’ lessons.
BODY – STRENGTH – Two contrasts of strength. A diamond and a dung beetle (one of the strongest insects in the world). Does the dung beetle literally shit diamonds? Well, okay maybe this one does. Out of decay and filth, with devotion comes transformation and the result is precious. A bit of a larger-than-life message, so I followed its tether down to ground.
Very practically, it read as a reminder to watch what I put into my body. I may not always come up diamonds, but I travel in this vessel. I should nourish it accordingly. A self-care that includes embodied practice. I will not be denying myself, just finding better ways to answer my wants- homemade fresh honey lavender lemonade for that sweet soda craving, perhaps?
SPIRIT – TEMPERANCE – I love this card. We should all aim to be as content as this little beaver. The beaver signals that contentment does not mean inertness or complacency. Her gaze is direct and all three eyes are open and discerning. She has gathered all her compartmentalized and disparate parts of herself, reshaped her boundaries, and holds herself whole. At peace enough now to let the water hold her too.
As I close my reading, I can’t help but notice that all these animals are known for their particular kind of strength. Rhinoceros, elephant, octopus, dung beetle, and beaver – from sudden brute force to painstaking intent.
Shift takes force, consistency, commitment, forgiveness, and perseverance. Devotion. All forms of strength. And sometimes we are also sad and tired.
These are the hard-won lessons the Empress continues to understand.
Featured deck: The Wooden Tarot