X. Wheel of Fortune

’round and ’round the wheel turns, never stopping; it is heartless, that way. Even if you beg, it will never pause for thee.

10_Wheel of Fortune
“Wheel of Fortune” by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I love this card, with its vivid colors and the knotwork that makes the Wheel appear as if it is truly moving. The patterns that lace the Wheel and the background make the entire image vibrant.

Of all the cards in Tarot, the Wheel of Fortune is the easiest to read, in my opinion. It’s the most straightforward and can be read positively, negatively, or neutrally, depending on the context.

The Wheel of Fortune is destiny, fate, karma*, serendipity, wyrd—whatever you want to call it. It is the “natural order” of things, or the way the path snakes through the forest of your life.

It is also turning points, the pivot point of one’s destiny where you have the option to go one way or the other. In that sense, the Wheel of Fortune takes on the idea of a map, moreso than a straight line. There are paths drawn and important sites notated, but in the end, the way you go is your own.

This speaks to me a lot, especially at this phase on my path. I have wandered for quite a while, and now, through my wanderings, I have many more options available to me. More of the map explored, though no home to call my own. Yet, the Wheel, as every wheel and every circle have, has its apex, its center, where everything comes together. It is here that I wish to one day find, and it’s possible I will.I find this card to tie in nicely with the Hermit, its predecessor. The Hermit is always seeking, always searching. The Wheel, with its map, lays the path for the seeker, gives the signs where one may go: do you go left, or do you go right at the crossroads?

*Karma in the original meaning, not the Western interpretation of the word.



IX. The Hermit

Alone upon the mountaintop, I find the star to guide me.

"The Hermit" by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
“The Hermit” by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

Over the last several months, I have sat down to write this entry at least half a dozen times. I sit here, I throw down a few words, and I read through them…and then I delete the entry.

I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about the Hermit. It is the card in which I see myself most strongly. It is the card I always find when I calculate my so-called “birth cards” of the Tarot: regardless of the method, I always find the Hermit with their lantern, still searching, still seeking.

The Hermit in the Shadowscapes Tarot bears a lantern and stands atop a precipice, white and black loons flying below their feet as they balance on a cairn of dark stone, the midst of the sky around them.

He takes his lantern. He was told by the wise woman that it was a bit of captured star, and it knows its way home. The lonely beam of light pulls him clear of the valleys and high above a glittering lake whose surface is a liquid mirror. His star-lantern marks the path, and he does not know where he goes, but each step lights the next, and the next, and the next.

-Shadowscapes Companion, p. 56

I’ve spoken a little on my time in, as I call it, The Forest of Faith, a wooded land I would “fall into” when I was in the depths of my spiritual depression, and then later my mental depression. The Hermit reminds me deeply of these times, of the ropes I found within my heart, that I was forced to rip from my essence. Still, there are times I find myself feeling as though my heart and spirit are bound in ropes, trapped and hidden beneath the surface. There, too, I found a lantern, lit with an ember ripped from my own chest.

Within this card, I also find a guide in shadow work, the mental and spiritual wrestling with the darkest parts of ones self. Now, in this dark time of the year, in this hallowed and sacred time, I find myself once more drawn to that work, drawn to the necessity of working with my own demons—especially as I begin to relapse, falling upon old rituals and routines that marked my darkest days. And the Hermit, with its lantern, can lead you through the darkest parts of the forest, the deepest shadows of the wood.

The Hermit is a two-part card of mind and spirit. It is the soul journey, the critical analysis of yourself and the forgiveness you give yourself for your flaws and shortcomings. It is the time I sit with a cup of tea and musing on how I see the world; it is the time I spend grappling with a soul-flight, of a kind, into the Forest where the Stag Queen and the Dark Hound dance the dance of the hunt.

VIII. Strength

Strength Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

This post is in two parts, as today is a very complicated day for me.

Last Sunday, my boyfriend and I adopted a dog. He’s a beautiful chocolate and cream Lab-hound mix with golden eyes and a lame back leg.

And I fell in love instantly.

I don’t do things by halves.

This week has been the first week that I have had no anxiety in a long, long time. Though I still wash my hands, I don’t do it in the compulsive manner I used to. There are small things I am still uncomfortable with, but they have diminished in the light of my love for this beautiful dog and his addition to our little family.

The Strength card in the Tarot represents tempered force, something I have always struggled with. It is patience and power, authority. It is, in a lot of ways, the kind of person I wish to be, as I discussed in “The Chariot.” With Low-Key, named after the pseudonym that Loki takes in American Gods, I have begun to learn the necessity of staying patient. Dogs are like small children: there are many things they don’t understand. And while Low-Key is smart as a whip and has the sarcasm to match both myself and my boyfriend, he will not understand if we yell at him. He will not understand if we punish him for doing wrong. We must remain patient while he learns, about us, about our home. We must teach him with serenity and love.

I never thought that getting a pup would change me so wholly. I knew I would feel more complete, having grown up with dogs my entire life, but to become something more, to find that nurturing nature within me, and to become the doting parent I have become in just six short days is still a surprise. With him in my life, I feel as though I can become more.

Being responsible for someone outside yourself is inspiring in many ways. To have another be so dependent on you is humbling. I do not wish to disappoint him.

Seven years ago, I was told to stay in my classroom on the second floor. There had been a shooting on campus and no one was sure where the shooter was. We learned later that he had taken his own life, after taking those of five students.

I watched the police trot up the sidewalk from our classroom window. We had little idea what was going on. The police ran up the sloping hill towards the main building on campus and turned out of sight beneath its walkway that connected our buildings. We watched as the ambulances and police cars and fire trucks arrived, their lights flashing and sirens silent. I watched them roll the bodies out, first of the wounded and then later the casualties. I watched students who had been released from their dorms and their classrooms gather near the sidewalks as the emergency folk did their work. I watched a helicopter hover over our campus to record our tragedy and announce it to the world.

Later, I was home with my parents. Supernatural was on; the episode was “Mystery Spot.” I acted as I might normally, talking with my family and standing in the living room. The horror of what had happened didn’t hit me fully until later.

They brought the therapists and counselors in a week later, after classes had resumed. I didn’t go. “Let them deal with those who need it,” I reasoned with myself. “I will be fine. There are others who need it more.”

Two years later, I learned about an incident outside my dorm building while I was doing laundry in the tower across the way. It shook me, but I eventually brushed it off. It had no direct affect on me; who was I to be upset by it?

Four years after the February shooting, I was sitting in the living room of my apartment when I heard the sound of gunfire. I crawled to our open window and peaked out while dialing 911. “I think there’s been a shooting,” I told the operator when she answered. “I heard four loud pops and there’s a guy laying in the parking lot across my street.”

The police arrived shortly. He had been shot in the leg and was taken to the hospital. I called my mom to let her know I was okay.

“They’re getting closer,” my mom remarked. I flashed back to the shooting tragedy that had occurred four years earlier. My mother knew that if the gunman had come the day before or the day after, I would have been in that classroom, sitting in the same seats where he took aim, as was my custom.

The next day, I called the school counseling center as they opened and told them I needed to speak to someone immediately. My voice shook, I was crying. Looking back now, it was the first panic attack of many yet to come.

They brought in one of their therapists early that day. I was in the waiting room with one of their teddy bears when she came in and gave me a sweet, quiet smile. I followed her into her office and we began to talk. I told her of the shooting the night before and we talked about the tragedy. She was saddened that I had waited so long.

“Why didn’t you talk to someone earlier?” she pressed. I began to cry again, I remember, having just recounted all the details I remembered of that day. “Watching you talk about it, it’s clear you’re reliving it as you remember.”

“I thought others should go. I thought there would be others who needed it more than me. I didn’t think I deserved to feel sad and scared.”

Since then, I have been in countless therapy sessions. Several were with the therapist at my campus, but a year or two later, I began consistent, weekly therapy here in Virginia.

There are different kinds of strength. I spoke of one above with Low-Key, and I reference two kinds of perceived strength in my second tale. The first is this: by not going to see a counselor or therapist, I thought I was being strong, being brave, in order to let others have their pain and denying my own emotions and fears. But by repressing this for so many years, I weakened myself. This left me with an open wound, raw and unhealing. It festered and grew and tainted my spirit and my soul. I may never know the extent of the damage I allowed to take root in me.

The second is this: after the shooting outside my apartment, I broke. My mother told me a few years ago that I likely have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but I’m unsure. Regardless, the sound of gunshots and seeing a body laying in the parking lot across the street, the same one I regularly traipsed through on my way to work, broke me. And in my pain and in my fear, I realized that I was not fine. I was not okay. And thought I felt like a trapped animal, scared out of its mind and unsure what to do, something in me managed to figure out what was needed.

I needed to talk to someone, and badly. And so, I did.

Strength comes in many shapes and forms. I have called on many kinds of strength in my life: borrowed from my gods, built over time in my mind, built by hard work in my limbs. Each of these has tempered me in its own way, developed me into who I am today and who I continue to evolve into.

This year is the first year I have been able to awaken on this day and not feel like I am drowning in grief, for the five peers I never met, for the way one man rocked my campus, for whatever bit of broken rubble I still have within me. It is the first year I have not felt guilty for smiling this day, nor spent it wandering in a daze and in mourning. And while I still grieve and I still recall the names of those who died, this is the first year I have felt like I can do more than grieve, more than mourn.

Seven years ago, after the shooting and the campus had begun its slow return to normalcy, I made a promise, to myself and to those who died. I wanted to honor their lives, work for the things that were taken from them. I wanted to live in some small way for them, since they didn’t get to.

There are many kinds of strength. When I was younger, I always thought of myself as a strong person, but my view of strength focused too heavily on the physical. Today, I do not think of myself as a strong person, but I am stronger than I was yesterday; tomorrow will be the same. And, with each day that I continue to live and work and better myself, I grow a little stronger.

May your path and your life do the same.

VII. The Chariot

Determine the struggle; make victory sweet.

Believe it or not, I have been trying to write this post for almost three months.

The Chariot Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
The Chariot
Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I got a little stumped about how to approach this card. The Chariot stands for victory, focus, and establishing an identity. With it comes self confidence, discipline, and authority. These last two years, I have struggled deeply with these things. All of these things.

Depression takes everything out of you, whether it lasts a short time or ages. Mine took its toll on me and I changed, all the way to my core. I am not the same person I was when I graduated college; I am not the same person I was in the midst of my depression.

Truth be told, I don’t know myself that well anymore.

Three weeks ago, in my weekly therapy session, my therapist and I began discussing what it was I wanted, out of life. Who I wanted to be. She was…dissatisfied with my answer of “I want to travel, I want to get a dog, I want to experience things.” I couldn’t understand what she was asking. I think I know now, but I won’t know for sure until next Tuesday night.

Looking at myself and what I’m dissatisfied with, there is a lot. I still have anxiety. I still get depressed. I get angry and my anger can make me vicious, violent. I don’t want to be that person.

When I strip it down to its bare bones, I guess my answer is that I want to be at peace, with myself at the very least. (Being at peace with the world is impossible.) Overall, I like who I am, who I have started to become. I like myself.

Spiritually, I still struggle. I want to incorporate my faith and my actions, to meld them into one. I want to have my faith be synonymous with my being.

So far, I have started the smallest steps in that direction. Last week, I developed a calendar for 2015, one that signifies my holidays for the year and denotes the gods I wish to honor each day. It’s even color-coded for each god’s day, though Tuesdays and Fridays are shared (by Persephone and Hekate, and by the Stag Queen and the Dark Hound, respectively). It hangs above my desk now so that I can see it when I sit here, a constant reminder of the dedication I wish to have.

So while I still do not identify with a path, I am forging my own more deliberately. Slowly, but deliberately. (I hope.)

VI. The Lovers

Reach out and touch the fire.

Often, I think of what I want out of my spirituality. Why I bother pursuing my ideas of the gods, relationships with deity and spirit, and why I keep writing on it. In truth, it is because I want my spirituality to come to me as naturally as breathing or speaking.

This has been a goal of mine for some time, but it is still something I struggle to achieve. It is something that I think of in the times when I have no time, or just before I doze off each night. So I have begun to look at it a lot like when I started taking Prozac, to make a conscious effort at it each day. In some ways, it is easier now; in other ways, it’s still difficult. I imagine it will be for quite a while yet, but my goal is still there.

When we started looking for a new place, my boyfriend and I agreed to go for a two-bedroom apartment. The main reason for this was because our old place just didn’t have enough room for us both to get our own space, so we ended up starting to argue a lot and generally get on one another’s nerves. Additionally, I lamented that the only space I had to share with my gods was in the bedroom, off in the back corner where I didn’t see it every day or, if I did, it was a glance and quickly forgotten. So when we began getting ready to move into the new apartment last May, I began to think about how to remind myself on a regular basis to practice and have visual cues for my gods.

The Lovers Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
The Lovers
Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

In my office, as soon as you walk in, you see the shrines that my boyfriend painstakingly set up on the wall. Each of my gods has their own shelf-shrine and there is also one for the ancestors and one for the land spirits. Below it is the large table that I use as an altar, currently set up for The Morrigan later this week. I see these shrines each day, but I need to make more of an effort to engage with them and make offerings to my gods of flame, smoke, and breath.

The Lovers card reminds me of this relationship between my mundane and mystical lives and how I aim to compromise on both sides, as well as bring them together in balance. It is a struggle that I deal with each day as my day-to-day and non-religious life events prevent me from doing as I like – or so I think each day. But I want to break away from that thought and consciously live, be aware of each moment of my life and bring it into the sensation of my spirituality.

In some ways, I manage this. When I have a few spare moments to sit and take a deep breath, I close my eyes and try to recognize the sensation of being alive and the feeling of the world around me. Sometimes it catches me off-guard, like when a breeze comes up behind me, its currents eddying over my skin. Other times, I get so focused in other things, I forget to find importance in it. I am trying, though, to appreciate and find the ability to love what I do and what the world offers, in all its forms.

V. The Hierophant

Stretch your roots deep into the Earth and feel the ages past.

During my darkest period, I spent much of my time reflecting on the need for a deeper meaning. I wished and lusted for a sense that my life was not only important, but that there was a reason for my personal suffering.

In 2012, I was reaching the end of a heart-wrenching fallow time, what I typically refer to as my spiritual depression. My connection to my patron Anubis seemed to have severed. I felt lost and hollow and I suffered both spiritually and emotionally. But as graduation rolled around and I began to set a course for my personal life, moving from Chicago to Washington, D.C. with my boyfriend, I began to feel more of a purpose, more of a focus on my spirituality.

The Hierophant Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

My spiritual depression, however, was marked by periods where I would “fall” into The Forest (sometimes referred to as The Forest of Faith, or as you can see above, the Wood of Smoke and Bone, that place where the aetheric and the earthly combine). These events were typically times where my eyes would glaze over and I would sense myself in battered clothes, barefoot and groping my way through a dark wood. Once, I slipped and fell to my knees, then collapse on the forest floor, bits of old wood and rotting leaves pressing into my face. It was this time that The Morrigan came into my life, urging me to pursue my own path. Later, I would find myself once more in darkness, only to plunge my hands into my chest and pull out the knotted, gnarled rope that bound my heart and release the tiny spark of flame within. I used that flame to light a lantern to help guide me through the darkness, finally starting to make my way once more to something resembling a path. It was dank and covered in brush and brambles, but I began to pick my way along it when I found it, letting thorn and stone mark my feet as I made my way.

Then, in the winter of 2012, I began to lose my mind. It’s an old story, and one I don’t like telling too much. Many of those reading this likely already have some indication of that time. During this time, I fell hard on my beliefs and my gods; fervent prayer became the focus of my life as I begged my gods to help me maintain some semblance of myself. Eventually, through therapy and medication (and the help of my gods), I arrived to where I am today.

As I mused on the Hierophant the last week or so, I honestly wasn’t sure what to write. This card denotes wisdom and knowledge, and I suppose it represents more of a goal for me than where I am in my life currently. It is a combination of scholar and mystic, two things that, it seems, I have been forever attempting to reconcile, but with much difficulty. I desire a strong academic foundation, but do not want to lose sight of the arcane mysteries of the world, or even that which lays beyond it. Once more, I find myself burning with the fervent desire of one kindling their passions and aiming to rebuild those things important to them. For me, that is my religion and my spirituality. And as I learn more and act more, I hope to find them.

IV. The Emperor

To build, to celebrate, to become; these are the symbols of our lives.

Another hard one this week, made evident by the fact that this post is a week late. I’ll admit, the Emperor is not a card I feel much resonance with, for all my masculine energy and the personality traits that found in me and the card’s symbols.

Looking at this card, the main things that stick out to me are the carvings of animals behind him and the tree roots that bind him to the earth. There is a lineage to this man, to his nature. He is one of many in a long line.

The Emperor Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
The Emperor
Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

I suppose this is why the card does not resonate with me. I have never felt rooted in any one area of my life, my heritage, my being. Years ago, I remember my mother telling me as Sara Evans’ “Born to Fly” played on the radio, “This is your song.” It was an off-hand comment as we drove to my grandparents’ new home in New Mexico, but I can remember that moment so clearly, the desert and scrubland visible through the window as I listened to the words of the song:

I’ve been tellin’ my dreams to the scarecrow
‘Bout the places that I’d like to see.
I said, “Friend, do you think I’ll ever get there?”
Ah, but he just stands there smilin’ back at me.

…But how do you wait for heaven?
And who has that much time?
And how do you keep your feet on the ground,
When you know that you were born, you were born to fly?

…Yeah, ’cause I will soar away like the blackbird.
I will blow in the wind like a seed.
I will plant my heart in the garden of my dreams,
And I will grow up where I’ll wander wild and free.

-Excerpts from “Born to Fly” by Sara Evans

Over the years, I have examined my relationships with the elements. Air and Fire, the liminal elements have always resonated so strongly with me. I have spoken on my relationship with Water some previously, so I won’t continue with that just now. Earth, however, is something that I have always pursued and desired in my life. That sense of rootedness, I guess, that comes with its resonance. Something resembling an…identity, I guess. When you belong to many groups, you feel as though you belong to none. This is the root of many of my struggles and what often causes my frustrations and disappointments to get the better of me.

Applying this to my religious and spiritual perspectives, though, I can easily find connections. While the card itself might not resonate with me and my personality, I can find some allegories for my spiritual experiences. The draw I feel to revivalism, the renaissance of ancient cultures and their practices is easily seen in this card’s meaning. To create “order out of chaos” is difficult in this respect, but that is the goal of this project, this Tarot Journey.

III. The Empress

The Empress Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
The Empress
Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

As I spent the last week musing on this card, The Empress, I thought heavily on this meaning: experiencing the senses. While there are more than the basic five senses that we have been taught, I find myself regularly reflecting back on those themselves. They are engrained in my mind, and so I fall back on them when I think on sensual experience.

For many years, I kept my altars and shrines stripped down to the bare minimum. Icons, a candle or two, and incense. But when I began to peruse Kemeticism last year, I began to think more on the power of aestheticism, of experiencing visual pleasure through my altars and my worship.

We all do it, or at least most of us do. We’ll go through pages and pages of altar photos from our fellow PPRW communities and many regularly update the items on their shrines. As I rebuild my shrines and find dedicated spaces and items for my various gods, I wish to pursue more and more of this aesthetic aspect. Function and beauty, rather than simply function alone.

When I think on the times that I feel the most spiritual, they are firmly routed in the physical, in experience. As I take the elevator down to the first floor from work alone, I dance; I do the same on the drive home as I sing along with the radio, my body and my voice a gift to the gods. I take in beauty from the feeling of the breeze on my skin as I lay in bed in the early morning and in the last rays of sunlight staining the clouds red and orange and purple in the evening. These are the moments I feel most spiritual, the ones in which I am acting, doing, or taking the time to appreciate the world I live in.

This afternoon, I finished the last few pages of T. Thorn Coyle’s “Crafting a Daily Practice.” Her lesson plans are firmly routed in the physical and the body; doing instead of mulling. Action over thought is something I have found difficult in the past, as I am far more familiar and comfortable with my beliefs and my theories than their manifestation into practicum.

There has been a fire building in my belly, an ember now become a flame and soon to become a raging inferno if I do not tend to it soon. It builds on the regular, when I have clamped down on my desires to do and to act. Often, this relates to the creative process; fitting for this week’s inspiration, as creativity, nurturing, and fertility* are also associated with this card. It is when I become like the stagnant pond that the fire begins to burn more and more wild until I explode with frustration; this day I sense is soon to come.

So how do I push forward? By doing, by engaging myself. Small things at first, but then I must trust myself to fall harder into the pool that is my spirituality. I must, instead of talking, begin to walk.

II. The High Priestess

When I looked up the third card of the Majors in the Shadowscapes deck, I got really confused. I realized when looking at the webpage that I have never actually drawn this card in a reading in the several years I have had the deck. So, trying to figure out what to write for this week and mulling on the meaning of the card for myself and my path was difficult, to say the least.

The High Priestess Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

There have been a lot of developments in the last week here at my place. I’ve come closer to finishing several of my shrines to my deities and things have come to pass that have allowed me to purchase books to continue my studies of my various deities and further develop my practice. I now have Persephone Unveiled, which coincidentally arrived today; Bearing Torches, a devotional anthology for Hekate; The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns, and Faeries, a book I have actually used in some of my former college papers; Queen of the Sacred Way, another devotional, this one in honor of Persephone; and several Kindle books, including Hekate: Liminal Rites, Hekate: Her Sacred Fires, The Temple of Hekate, T. Thorn Coyle’s Crafting A Daily Practice, and A Druid’s Tale.

As I mentioned in my first Tarot-themed entry, I have been reading Coyle’s Evolutionary Witchcraft as well. Her writings, while focused on the Feri tradition, have inspired me to think more about some aspects of my path. These ideas I will get into in later entries, after I have finished the book. (I have also started working through her Crafting A Daily Practice, which I find a little less applicable, but I am not very far in the text just yet.)

All of these, however, have gotten me on the path towards the High Priestess. In the Shadowscapes Tarot, she is accompanied by the owl, a noted keeper of knowledge; that same bird bears a key in its claws, with which he shall unlock various mysteries. Until then, though, these mysteries remain elusive and unlearned, the same status that I currently find myself in. In her hand, too, she bears the pomegranate fruit, sliced open, its shocking red seeds born for all to see. Fallen, yellow leaves adorn her belt of twigs and grasses, signifying autumn, the season of change.

I haven’t talked much about my relationship with Persephone here, but a key aspect of it is that she has urged, in various ways, for me to pursue shadow work of various kinds, both mundane and magical. In the last year and a half, I have been in therapy to deal with the psychological issues I have struggled with for much of my life. I have also begun, slowly, to do my own psychological delving – or, possibly, traveling – in order to deal with my issues and problems. Facing my flaws has been a key theme of this year, and I have Persephone to thank for pushing me that way. (Though, quite frankly, The Morrigan threw me on the beginnings of this path years ago.)

This card, despite its lack of presence in the past, has struck me now that I sit here to write on my thoughts and developments associated with it. In a way, it encompasses exactly what I am attempting to do: better myself through self-education, improve my interactions with myself and those around me, develop a stronger spiritual practice, and to honor my gods the way they have honored me throughout my life. But, most significantly, it is change, as denoted through the autumn leaves hanging from the Priestess’s belt.

When I first began thinking of devoting specific online presences for my spiritual path, whatever it is, I struggled with a name for what I was doing. There is no name for the path that I follow; it simply is a wandering journey through a dark forest in many respects. But as I tried to figure out what, exactly, I was looking for, it started to become a little more clear.

Change has always occurred in my practice. Anyone who has known me for a while religiously or spiritually, or anyone who has followed the various blogs I have started and abandoned over the years can attest to this. I refuse to remain stagnant; I am a spiritual nomad, of a sort. I always want to grow and develop. Autumn is the strongest symbol of this for me, with its progression from the lush green of spring and summer to the cold and harsh depths of winter. It is the fiery time when the earth explodes with color and reminds us of the need to shake off the old to make way for the new; it is the time of winds that push us down paths we may not have normally come across. It is also my favorite time of year, the season during which I spend most of my time in contemplation of my spiritual life, a tradition I began years ago. But I am always seeking, always searching. This, in effect, harkens back to the change symbolism of autumn. I cannot ever be satisfied, and so I am always in pursuit of more, whatever it may be. What better way to describe this than with a hunt?

And, so, we get the Autumn Hunt, the name I have more or less begun to call my path, though this is the first time I have admitted it to others. Or, even, myself.

I. The Magician

Shatter yourself into broken glass and rebuild the mosaic of your life.

In the Shadowscapes deck, The Magician has his connections to the elements. I find these appealing, these four classical elements that show themselves hanging from the young man’s wings: Fire, Air, Earth, Water. Personally, I have a temptation to add Light and Dark to the assembly; always have. But those four are chief in the way I see the world.

I see myself with connections to three of the four. My temper is my Fire; my calm is my Earth; my birth is my Air, as I was born in the sign of Gemini. I find myself drawn to the wind, to its gentle touch upon me. At night, I am restless without the cool breeze upon my body, lulling me to sleep.

The Magician Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law
The Magician
Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Pui-Mun Law

But I have never gotten along with Water. Not surprising, I suppose, since I have been so Fire-based my entire life. It was only in recent years that I felt drawn to Earth and Air, finding myself with these elements. Fire was the first, though. I still consider myself born of it, bathed in it, and its mortal enemy is Water. So how am I to reconcile with that which is my opposite?

Honestly, I don’t know.

The Magician is unique, to me, in that he has connections to illusory magic, or the sleight-of-hand magic that is common today. Smoke and mirrors to hide the truth, trick the mind and the eye. I consider myself to be extremely observant, a skill I have developed over the years, but even I can be fooled. We all can.

He is also akin to the Fool in that he finds himself shaking off barriers. The Magician is not bound by the world; he exists within it and makes the rules bend to him, his will. Yet he knows them, for one cannot manipulate the rules without knowing how they bend and break.

Most of my life I have spent in a state of hyper-awareness. Knowledge is my friend, however I may learn it. I collect it and bind it to me for use at a later time, yet this binds me as well. I have caged myself with the physical world and its limitations, yet my spirit and my self yearn for that which is past it. That which can only be learned through experience, not books.

I have been this way for years, terrified of finding myself outside the limits of my mind, of my imagination. Of finding myself a fool, actually. Tricking my mind and falling for that which is not real. But reality is subjective, I think. My truth and your truth may never match up, but we have still experienced that which leads us to that end.

I need to bring the tactile and the spiritual together, to bring the two sides of myself into reconciliation. This is another step in my path, another stone in the wall I build.