Lay Me Down

The candles were lit, the incense smoking. I pulled the blinds down and I stood before the altar, shuffling cards despite my protesting wrist and shoulder. Its pain, I offered to the gods and spirits, in hopes that that sacrifice would help them guide my hands. Sacrifice, after all, is supposed to hurt.

Since early September, I have felt a sort of itch. Like a cloth I had donned was unwashed or didn’t fit right. I tried ignoring it, as I try to do with every itch, but eventually it developed into a need to scratch. And so I did, tearing the garment in the process. And though I tried to stitch it, to hide what I had done, the damage was complete.

This is, of course, a metaphor.

As I said in my last post, I have felt Kemeticism to be…lacking, in my spiritual life. The golden beauty of the desert that I had been striding towards, so confidently for the better part of a year, has begun to turn to ash, its beauty tainted and faltered. How or why, I do not know. What prompted it? I have an idea, but that is merely that: an idea.

Today, in frustration, I pulled my Tarot deck from the main bookcase in the living room and stomped into the bedroom where my altar lay bare. Two candles and a stick of incense were all that was left from my Persephone rite, the cups and flowers having wilted or moldered faster than anticipated. It was, looking back now, as if it were ready for me in that moment. I wiped down the altar, clearing the dust, lit the candles and the incense. I washed my hands as they burned and pulled out my cards, laying the bag and my reference notebook on the books below. And I began to shuffle, speaking aloud as I tapped the cards to clear the stagnancy from them from months of disuse.

“What do I need to know right now?” I finally asked, having shuffled and dealt three smaller decks. I picked the one that warmed my palm and lay the card down.

Ace of Swords

Ace of Swords

It reminds me of Excalibur, this shining blade. The beginning, of a journey or a quest? Rightness.

Intelligence and reason. Truth and justice. Clarity.

I need the truth; the deck will give it to me.

“Is Kemeticism right for me,” I prompted, drawing the next card, “or am I fooling myself?”

Five of Cups

Five of Cups

Emotional journey, loss. Ethereal desires.

Regret; loss of pleasure and advent of sorrow; wishing and hoping and dreaming.

The third card I drew, asking “Am I headed down a new path, one of my own making, or am I fooling myself?”

Two of Wands

Two of Wands

Strength and waiting, as the hunter waits for its prey.

Personal power, influence; courage and authority.

This is the most direct my deck has ever been.

“Elaborate,” I asked the deck, drawing three new cards to join the initial three.

Four of Cups, V - The Hierophant, Queen of Swords

Four of Cups, V – The Hierophant, Queen of Swords

Four of Cups: Self-absorbed – the truth deals with myself; isolated and seeking inside myself – the truth lies in me, not in the outer world; contemplation – the answers I seek lie within meditative thought, apt for this time of year in my personal cycle

V – The Hierophant: Rigidity of a belief system – Kemeticism has its own beliefs, its own structures; traditions and the ages, ritual and ceremony – the familiar, the actions of older times

Queen of Swords: Honesty and inner knowledge – self-knowledge and being honest with myself are key ; inner strength and truth – coincides well with the Two of Wands it matches

The Important Addendum: The cards that jumped out

Ten of Wands

Ten of Wands

The last of the shuffle, it slid upon its smaller deck until it was lying more on the altar than the deck itself. I turned it over and read the card there: Ten of Wands. Overwhelming responsibility, a burden, a small world upon her back; am I the Dryad and my attempts at revivalism or reconstruction the world upon my back, the burden I carry?

Nine of Pentacles

I shuffled again, still searching for answers to questions. Halfway through, another card jumped out, a message to be read and internalized as I proceeded to the next question: Nine of Pentacles. Materialism and refinement; the balance between the spirituality and the material. Reliance on oneself rather than others.

“Do you have a message for me?” I asked, listing my gods.

Two of Wands and Knight of Swords

Again I see the Two of Wands, its hunter waiting. I ask the deck to elaborate and it gives me the Knight of Swords. He bears his blade, contemplative before the oncoming storm he shall bring. He and the hunter have done their waiting: now is the time to act.

“And the final messages, whatever they may be,” I concede, knowing the cards have little else to share. I draw three cards, then shuffle again, and deal another six cards, a more elaborate message.

The First Final Message Two of Cups, Ten of Wands, Eight of Swords

The First Final Message
Two of Cups, Ten of Wands, Eight of Swords

The Two of Cups, the Ten of Wands, and the Eight of Swords lay before me on the altar. I hesitate, not trusting the draw. A connection, a burden, and powerlessness. The draw feels wrong and I begin dealing card after card after card until half my deck lays on the altar before me. And then, only then, do I gather them, shuffle, and deal the next six cards.

The Final Message
King of Pentacles, Five of Cups, Page of Swords
Elaborations: Nine of Pentacles, Ace of Pentacles, Eight of Wands

I draw the King of Pentacles, the Five of Cups once more, and the Page of Swords. Next come the Nine of Pentacles, the Ace of Pentacles, and the Eight of Wands.

The King bears a seed in his hand, the light for a new tree – a new king, like him. The old births the new; the material and the spiritual shall coincide, entwined.

There is regret and loss, but you shall persevere. Sorrow and mourn for what is lost, but trust shall come in time and, so too, prosperity.

“Scrutiny before the journey,” says the Page as I gather my cards and blow out the candles. “A great undertaking is before you, but be honest in your desires.”

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3 Responses to Lay Me Down

  1. livingnexus says:

    I love the Shadowscapes deck. It’s my first deck, and the one I use for the tarot project I’m doing on my blog.

    The two minor arcana I feel particularly connected to are the Ace and Knight of Swords, so it pleases me to see them displayed here. Like you, I too have had some “this feels wrong” moments with this deck, but I’ve learned to trust my cards, and myself.

    Usually when Swords cards pop up for me, although especially so with Temperance, the message seems to be “Find your own Truth buried in the truths of another.” Without delving into particular card meanings, it seems the pattern that emerges here is that if you decide to devote yourself to Kemeticism, eventually you will reach a point in the road where you will need to take what you learned and move on.

    The cards suggest that it may be a difficult road, and the truths that you find may be uncomfortable ones. It may take a while to come to terms with them, but when you finally do, you will be ready to untangle yourself from your old beliefs and emerge into a greater understanding of yourself and your spiritual path.

    There’s nothing wrong with devoting yourself to a discipline for a time in order to give some structure to your spiritual growth. However, there comes a time for every tree where you have to remove the structure that once held it up in order for the plant to flourish on its own; else the tree will consume the structure and excising it will be painful and damaging.I guess what I’m trying to say is, always leave yourself an “out.”

    I hope some of that made sense.

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