I needed a bit of encouragement, some signal. I remembered that I could get a free online tarot reading using the Gaian Tarot. I had a simple question, and poured my focus into it: Where does my attention need to be now?
It was almost too perfect. The cards that came up for me were Temperance, the Seeker, and the Canoe. Forgive me for quoting at length what the accompanying text said. But really, click on the links to see the beautiful visual representations of the cards, and maybe go back to the last post I wrote, and perhaps you’ll see why these spoke to me so much.
You have the opportunity to find the serenity of the middle way between polarities. You are ready to embrace the different parts of your personality, both light and shadow, that combine to make your own unique self. Your inner, spiritual life harmonizes with your life in the workaday world. You have discovered that your whole life is a work of art. You may be in need of healing on a spiritual or physical level, and the Winged One — a descendant of the ancient Bird Goddesses — is here to facilitate that for you. She may also aid you as you move into the role of healer yourself.
Challenge: the Seeker
A new beginning
You are being challenged to take a risk and begin again. It’s time to hit the road, either metaphorically or literally. Every time you set out on a journey, even if it’s only a one-day hike, you embark on a spiritual journey as well. Be open to all the twists and curves in the road ahead. Be ready for surprises. Keep your heart open and maintain an attitude of innocence, trust and spontaneity. Take a risk! Before you is a brand new adventure — the chance for a fresh start and endless possibilities.
Resolution: the Canoe
Focused on your path
Resolution comes with staying focused on your path, and exercising self-discipline as you work towards your goal. Set aside anything extraneous that would distract you or keep you from completing your task. What is your goal? What do you want to accomplish? This may apply to your life in the everyday world — pursuing a course of study, a career goal, a fitness plan, a creative project. It may also apply to your inner life; perhaps you are in a recovery program or are healing from a trauma. Whatever it is, set your intention, take your first steps, and your guides and allies will be at your side to help you on your way. Be of great courage! No matter how hard it seems, you have what it takes to win the prize.
I’m still absorbing what these cards mean to me.
That part about combining opposites—it feels ripe with possibility in the face of all that feels irreconcilable. I’m taking it as a reminder to accept strange alchemy, unfamiliar medicine, the swooping in of bird goddesses carrying messages. I know I’ve been pummeled and prepared for what feels like a very long time.
I had to laugh when I read that it’s time to hit the road. Yes, literally. A brand new adventure! At times it’s been hard to approach it with trust and innocence. But there it is. Both the Seeker card and the Canoe card seemed to suggest: make sure to travel light. To me, this means don’t get bogged down with all your previous stories and interpretations—let it all go. Be an absolute beginner. This is a spiritual journey.
The Canoe card, though, took the cake. I’m still shaking my head, a little stunned. There it is, paddling with rapt focus. On the Gaian Tarot site, it reads, “The phrase ‘paddle your own canoe’ indicates self-determination and self-reliance. [The paddler] brings his strength, will and courage to the task at hand. A boat often symbolizes transition from the material world to the spirit world. Here the paddler makes his way in the world while exploring spiritual depths. His task is to live his life with meaning — to infuse everyday life with his soul purpose.”
Most of my schoolmates from years ago would tell you an immediate association to the words ‘paddle your own canoe': Spes Sibi Quisque, the motto of the school I attended for six years. That Latin phrase literally means “each person has hope in him/herself,” but it was always explained to us colloquially as “paddle your own canoe.” I remember being about 12 or 13 years old, a student of Latin and absurdity, trying to wrap my head around this phrase, wondering if it would ever make sense to me, or what my place was on such an alien planet as my school. I think at the time I interpreted the phrase as “sink or swim, sucker—don’t expect any help. You’re on your own.” This was apropos as I frequently felt like I was drowning and alone. I don’t think I can get into all the details of how desperate I felt at that time.
Just yesterday I was looking at an award I had won at age 14, a little golden eagle on a marble base, inscribed DOMINUS VERBORUM. Master of words. Are you kidding me? This thing exists in my world? It does. I had won it for a Latin translation and was presented with it on Prize Day. I don’t think I can manage describing the toxicity of the culture of über-achievement and all the Insane Baggage I have lugged around as a result and how that shiny award is such a symbol of all that, to me. Maybe the best outcome would be for me to laugh like an asthmatic hyena that I have this object in my possession, and that it’s telling me, ludicrously, that I’m a master of words.
Back to paddling, though. That’s my beautiful reality, now, truly. I’m paddling my own canoe, and it finally makes sense to me. I’m not racing anyone else’s boat. It would be ridiculous to compare my “progress” to anyone else’s, or even attempt to quantify it. I’m on the river, in the current, and the only master is that ineffable, breathtaking force that we commonly know as Love. I’m so far from any stagnant quagmire that I once knew, even on the days that feel full of exhaustion and struggle.