Forgiveness as spring cleaning

It’s a beautiful, sunny day.

The kind when, after a long, cold spell, you might step outside with a steaming mug of tea and enjoy the sensation of that warmth on your skin. This newly-warm sun brings me a sense of awakening, a reminder that there is a world out there, and I am welcome to go experience it. Spring equinox was last Monday, the sun is in Aries – the first sign of the zodiac – and everywhere around me there is a sense of waking up, beginning, starting over after a long winter.

I reached for my newest tarot deck, the Personal Space Tarot.

I laid down three cards, asking “how am I transitioning into spring?” I wanted a reading to kick me into action and get me geared up and excited for the coming months, the lengthening days, the return of the energising sun.

This three-card spread is a favourite of mine. I use it for shorter client readings, for reading at events, and most of the time when I’m asked for on-the-spot readings for friends and want something short but still juicy.

If you’re not familiar, the first card goes in the centre, it gives you the key theme of the reading. This might mean the heart of your question, an important theme in your life right now, the source of your issue, or some other important factor. The second and third cards go either side and play a ‘supporting role’, that is, they provide context, deepening the information gleaned from the central card, and they provide advice for moving forwards.

I laid down my cards. But of course, they didn’t bring me what I was expecting.

1. Five of Cups.

Huh? A sad card? But I wanted something joyful, energetic, fresh and uplifting!

This is what tarot so often does. Here’s me, deciding that just because it’s a sunny day, just because the season has changed, that I’m going to mirror that sunshine. I’m going to drop my angst, sweep unresolved issues under the rug, and leap into the next season of my life as if nothing happened.

Not so. The Five of Cups reminds me that I have work to do. Not the hard work of action and resolution, not the hard work of going deep (necessarily). This card – one of my favourites, actually – is about simply being with what you’re feeling. Patience. Acceptance. Mourning, even. It’s a card of permission, one that does not demand a constant ‘moving on’, but one that focuses on the importance of just feeling your feelings in the present moment. Letting them ebb and flow. Not fighting the hard stuff or burying the difficult things, but being with them all.

And after that, it is a card of moving forwards. Implicit in this card’s permission to be sad is a reminder that when you’re done with that, there is always something on the other side. The figure in this card cries over the three spilled cups (as in many versions of the Five of Cups). But when they’ve mourned what was lost and feels ready to lift her eyes, there stand two more cups, unbroken, unspilled.

Hey, I’ve just noticed the person’s third eye, open, unblinking, fixed on the two still-standing cups. What a beautiful, optimistic little detail. It feels like a survival instinct. A will to grow and change. The understanding that we are never just one feeling, but a swirling ocean of emotions, continually moving from one place to the next. This little eye, more even than those two large cups, tells me that there is hope and love and beauty beyond the current sadness.

2. Strength

This is a card of compassion. Towards myself, yes – in this sense it strengthens the message of the Five of Cups. But also in my feelings towards other people. Right now, I know that I’m carrying some baggage. The pain of loss some years ago, and the pain of what happened last summer, too. I observe myself swing from self-flagellation, taking the blame for everything that happened and beating myself up for not ‘being better’, and feeling defensive, blameful, angry.

Strength is a card for working through these. Strength is the work we do when we are navigating these difficult moments, and choosing love – for ourselves and for others. Strength is the ability to look at our reactions and see them for what they are, then choose to rise above. The image on this card is often of a young woman ‘taming’ a lion – the implication is something along the lines of gentleness triumphing over our wild animal nature. I’m not into this interpretation; for me, it’s more about making positive choices that are grounded in real love. Loving myself enough to acknowledge that I feel those things: anger, jealousy, bitterness, and so on. Loving myself enough to choose not to let them dictate my actions. Loving myself enough to forgive others. Loving myself enough to forgive myself.

It’s a powerful next step from the Five of Cups. After the sadness, the two remaining cups. The Two of Cups: Love. The strength to process with compassion, to forgive. The unblinking eye, the optimism in its gaze, fixed on what still stands, the love that runs deeper than sadness, and the possibilities in that love.

3. Three of Wands

Then here comes the sense of energy, movement and possibility I was seeking in this reading. The three wands here form a portal, a doorway to whatever comes next. Spring. Summer. All that I am planning and wishing for. Long days, activity, creativity… at this point, it doesn’t matter what. Here, the Three of Wands represents the powerful potential for all of this and more besides, but in the context of this reading it also represents patience and presence. I cannot always be ‘onwards to the next thing’, though it is there, waiting for me.

This is a reading of loose ends.

I came for a ‘future’ reading, looking to spring and summer fun-times, wanting snappy advice or confirmation that it’s gonna be a good season. And the Three of Wands gives me that – it gives me potential, it gives me the wands’ fiery energy in the magical formation of three. But as a doorway, it also represents two sides. Here I am on one side, my baggage in tow. To move through this doorway, I first have to deal with this baggage (…and not by checking it in to left luggage.)

Forgiveness, love, and honesty – these is what I need to work with as I move forwards into spring. Funny how the tarot never lets you cheat.

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  1. Anna says:

    Thank you, Beth 🙂 I like your interpretation of 5 of cups – for me it’s a card of realizing and a new hope. I don’t understand it as a sad card at all, ’cause when we’re realizing our source of pain, we can finally feel relieved and aim for something new.

  2. Milo says:

    This is amazing–We always seem to think of ‘starting fresh’ whether it’s with a new season, the New Year, or our birthdays. This reading was a pleasant reminder that we don’t need to start over to grow. Keep up the great work!

    • Beth says:

      Right? I’m super-guilty of that ‘fresh start’ addiction (usually translates to “I’ll be a better person when XYZ change happens”) but right now, an emotional clearout feels more important than announcing some change.

      Thanks for the warm words, Milo!

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