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Beating anxiety with fairy tales

Beating anxiety with fairy tales

On the one hand, I can believe it’s been over a month since I last posted. On the other, I never wanted to get this bad at posting. Anxiety has taken over my posting capability for the last month; instead of pushing through it, or acknowledging it so that I can get past it, I’ve hid from the online Tarot community and my cards.

There are some things I’m brave about, but facing myself is not one of them.

I miss it, though. I did a Tarot reading yesterday, and it amazed even me at the cards that came up. Tarot proves itself over and over to me, that it taps into something greater than we are. I miss that, and I’m still working on incorporating it into my life.

There will always be brain demons telling me I’m not strong enough, or good enough, or that I haven’t done enough other work to write blog posts, or that I’m a failure so I shouldn’t try. So here’s to beating those brain demons.

I recently opened a new-to-me deck of the Fairy Tale Tarot, and I’m thrilled with it, so I took pictures.

Pack of cards on the left and companion Fairy Tale Tarot book on the right

The Fairy Tale Tarot has 78 different fairy tales represented on each card. I looked to make sure that fairy tales from around the world are represented, and while it is heavily biased toward European fairy tales, there are a few sprinkled throughout from other cultures.

But let me take a minute to show you my beat-up childhood copy of Andrew Lang’s The Red Fairy Book.

A well-worn copy of The Red Fairy Book

Yes, folks, this book was new to me when I got it, and I have paged through it time and time again. It’s even got my childhood bookmark in it still. I almost successfully bought the rest of the books in the series, but my focus petered out as the stories seemed to follow the same patterns. This one was always the one I loved best.

So you might recognize that when I say I’m into fairy tales, I’m not kidding!

I’m sure you’ll be surprised to learn that I’m absolutely delighted with this deck. From the back of the cards, the evoking the idea of unlocking the door to a world of enchantment…

The Fairy Tale Tarot deck fanned out with the back facing with its antique key design.

… to the magnificent, detailed, and complex representations of each fairy tale …

Four sample cards from the Fairy Tale Tarot

… I know I’m going to get along well with this deck. I mean, just check out those angry trees doing their own Fae thing. And I have to hand it to the artist, Lisa Hunt, she also evoked some modern-day fairy tales in the cards. For example, in the top left of the last photo, does that not look like Lyra from Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials? And wasn’t that trilogy a modern fairy tale in some ways? Other cards were reminiscent of Narnia, and I’m sure if you were a bigger Harry Potter fan than I, you’d see some of that too. Fairy tales are told over and over, and they change in their retellings: there’s something powerful about that, too, and these cards force me to consider the retellings as part of a great cultural mythos, as well.

The accompanying book also retells the stories in each card:

A sample page from the Fairy Tale Tarot of the Princess of Cups, telling the story of the Little Mermaid

Lisa Hunt combines the different versions of “The Little Mermaid” that I’m familiar with, and recognizes the commonality between all the versions is a sensitive, romantic young woman, a fitting Princess of Cups.

Check out the Nine of Cups:

A sample page from the Fairy Tale Tarot for the Nine of Cups

Cups, swirling imagery, more mermaids for the watery element—well done.

If you’re a fairy tale geek, too, you should check out this deck. I can’t get over the details in each card. They’re filled with moving stories, and they’re doing a great job of reminding me that it’s okay to take up the cards and try again.

January is a hard time

January is a hard time

The weasels have slipped out. The brain weasels have gotten loose of their cage, and I’ve been too busy making myself busy to catch them again and lock them up. Over Christmas and New Year’s, I spent ten days with my family, my parents and sibling, because it’s been so long since we’ve all seen each other and we needed that. One of my mom’s goals was to have me go through some boxes of old things and ruthlessly decide to get rid of math notes (and chemistry notes, and biology notes, and some English notes, and definitely language notes I no longer need). That part was fine, but some of the things I found rattled my core. I found evidence of a creative, driven, artistic little girl… and I don’t recognize myself as that anymore. I didn’t get a good chance to cry about that, though, because I was trying so hard to be strong for other reasons. It was hard.

Now I’m back home, and it’s still hard. I am keeping myself busy with knitting (which my wrists would like me to stop doing today, thanks), cool television, and volunteer commitments. I haven’t pushed myself to take a time out and figure out what’s going on with myself, because I’m so afraid of what I will find.

This time of year is always rather fraught for me, so I’ve been telling people about how much better it is this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that. I’m so focused on being able to breathe enough to survive right now (hi asthma flare!), and to get through every day, that I’m not working toward the things that are important to me. Part of the reason is that I’m so scared. So scared that someone will tell me how stupid I am to try to take the LSAT, and confirm my doubts. Scared that someone will point out that I will never get good with my beloved Tarot cards, because, duh, you’re nothing special, SJ. Stop pretending you ever had anything to offer.

And I looked at the pile of things that little girl I once was created, and I grieve that she’s lost forever. I fear I can’t ever get her back. I know that most of this is my depression and anxiety telling me lies, but how do I get through that? I have so many hopes and dreams that seem unreachable—especially since I’m spending all my time lately worrying about the simple act of breathing, which turns out to be not so simple when you’re me.

I’m sorry. I wish I could say I’ll do better, and update this blog, and make the design happen, and ace the LSAT, and breeze through my upcoming surgery, but I fear that’s an empty promise. I’m too far gone into the desolate wasteland of my mental illness right now. I hope someday you’ll forgive me.

When each step is a hurdle

When each step is a hurdle

I can tell winter is looming from my desire to never empty my pot of tea. I have candles burning in the room I’m working in almost daily, and my cat requires serious pushing to get her to stop snuggling up against my wrists. It’s been grey out. Getting myself out of bed to face another day has been a challenge I’m not sure I’ve overcome. I have so many things I want to be on top of, but really all I’ve been able to wrap my brain around is my knitting.

Happily, it’s been so long since I last was able to knit regularly that this is a wonderful source of delight. But it doesn’t keep me on track with my few real-world commitments. I spent seven hours last week trying to figure out the design for this site, and then got frustrated, or scared, or some feeling that’s stopping me from setting it all up again and trying again. I need to try again, because I have some better ideas of how to go about coding the things, but it’s so hard to just start. I’m afraid I’m putting something else out. I have a lot of emails I need to catch up on, because I have had such a hard time working on that lately. I have some kitchen reorganization that would be helpful to have. And I have the demons in my head telling me that what I’m doing right now is not good enough, and will never be good enough, and that’s not fair to me, either.

So I’m taking baby steps to getting back in the game. I should have gotten up and grabbed some paper to write down the List of things I should take care of, but I started a list in my head. Today so far I’ve figured out how to get to the Overcoming Racism conference I’m going to on Friday and Saturday. I’ve done some reading and responding for a workshop I’m attending next week. I’ve started boiling some tins to sanitize them. I’ll use the tins once they’re dry to store tea and to make some lotions (though those things don’t have to happen today, although getting started would be great). I’ve snuggled my cat and written a list of the people I need to email to follow up with.

Baby steps. I can do this. You can do this. We can do this.

That said, how about a draw from the Fey Tarot about what to focus on right now?

Three cards from the Fey Tarot arranged in a triangle
4 Pentacles, 6 Chalices, I – The Magician

It seems like you’re juggling everything right now, but with a focused will you won’t lose your balance. Good luck.

Looking Forward 19 October 2015

Looking Forward 19 October 2015

New week, new Looking Forward post. How are you doing? I’ve been spending a lot of time getting comfortable with the idea of opening a Tarot business, which for me means researching how to register in my state and whether I need to know anything about taxes. It’s exciting, so long as I don’t remember how much I doubt myself. Having anxiety is ridiculous.

But I’m absolutely looking forward to reading for others. While I’m waiting for things to clear through, though, I’ll be doing a lot of tweaking of this web site, tweaking of my best practices and habits, and reading and reflecting. Which I’m sure I’ll share at some point, but first it’s time for a Looking Forward reading for the week!

What should we look forward to this week?

Queen of Pumpkins, Knight of Pumpkins, and Four of Imps

Three Tarot cards from the Halloween Tarot deck: Queen of Pumpkins, Knight of Pumpkins, and Four of Imps

I see you there, Four of Imps. Telling me to have some fun. Telling me to go to a party, stop fretting about money so much, to let the forces do the work I’ve put into motion. It’s just so hard for me to let go of the anxiety and need to have everything under my control.

The Knight of Pumpkins bears the message of abundance, if I care to stop with the freaking out for a moment. That thing you’re waiting for right now? It’ll happen. Just give it time to get there.

And the Queen of Pumpkins wants to remind us that there is strength in making sure your foundations are solid. You can’t weather anything if you don’t have strong roots to hold you solidly to yourself. Is this metaphor going anywhere? I think not. In any case, an abundant garden is one with well-fertilized soil, and that’s a good thing to remember to take care of.

I realize I did this backwards, but it seemed like the thing I needed to hear most was the Four of Imps’s “Hey! Look at something else for a while. The more you concentrate on something, the less able the magic is to make it happen for you.” Which is a lesson I probably should know by now, with all the reading about magic I’ve been doing. So, as usual, I’ll be tending to my roots. I think I’ll start with enjoying some candle light. Have a wonderful week!

How to take myself seriously

How to take myself seriously

My post on navigating the road blocks to getting started with a Tarot business was inspired by a previous post on cleaning up your “money is dirty” mindset. I had a complicated relationship with the first post, and especially because there’s a section on the power of positive thinking: it took me a long, long time for the phrase “positive thinking” to stop being a trigger for my depression and anxiety. It also mentioned a few tips for taking yourself seriously with money, but it seemed like the same things people say all over the internet. I want the nitty-gritty. How do you set up a PayPal account for business? What about keeping track of receipts for growing your business? Is the IRS going to care about what I’m doing?

Some of these questions are also barriers to getting started for me, because anxiety likes to latch on to “what ifs” and turn them into full-blown awful scenarios. So yesterday, inspired by my therapist telling me to Just Open For Business Already, I sat down and tried to figure out the answers to some of my questions.

  • How do I accept payments? Is PayPal the only way to go? Haven’t I heard of a Google option? Are there any other, better options?
    I’ve heard of drama with using PayPal in the past, and I’m wary of supporting a company that limits free expression. However, after asking around for similar money-processing sites, I think PayPal will be the best option because it’s better-known and its terms of use are not as ridiculous as Google Wallet’s. Google Wallet’s terms are trying to dictate moral behavior, whereas as near as I can tell, PayPal’s are “don’t use it for anything illegal”. Other sites just are not as well known for me to start with.
  • What’s the best way for me to put aside money that’s specifically for Witchling in Flight purposes?
    I’m going to open a separate bank account purely for this. That will make it easier to track fees and income. I’m sure there will eventually be business-related expenses (though, actually, this domain itself is an expense), and it will be good to be able to see straight from a different account what kind of expenses I will have and how much I’ll get from it.
  • How do I want to word my code of ethics?
    Call it a code of ethics or a disclaimer. I want to put into writing before I do Tarot readings for people who aren’t friends what to expect from a reading and what not to expect. While I doubt I’ll run into trouble with clients to begin with, it never hurts to have a disclaimer in place. Still, figuring out what I care about is time- and energy-consuming!
  • And, the “duh” question, what spreads do I want to offer and for how much?
    I’m still figuring out this question for now! Along with what format to email the querent the reading, do I want to make a super-shiny PDF to send people, if so how should it look, etc.! And that doesn’t even begin what I want the design on this site to look like—since I had to get Witchling in Flight started somewhat quickly, I had to use the most bland theme I could find right away. Now I’m trying to figure out how I want this to look, and that is decidedly not my specialty, but I’m going to figure it out.

I think taking these questions seriously, and starting with a conscious mindset that I want to provide this service to people, is taking ME seriously. I could probably be running for the hills right now, putting fingers in my ears and yelling “na na na na I can’t hear you” when I think about being an adult with responsibilities, but instead I’m researching my options for getting started. No, I doubt I’ll make enough money in the next few months for the IRS to take notice, but if I set things up so that I have records for the future, that’s taking me seriously enough to flourish. Not haphazardly putting up a “donate” button and getting an investigation into my account once (not if!) I make enough money. This is a real investment in myself, and if I take it seriously, maybe my readers will, too. I certainly hope you do!

The bonus is that if you search for blog posts on the topic of setting up your blog for business, none of them talk about the actual logistics of earning income. In fact, my search resulted in the first 6 or 7 articles looking like they had all been written by the same person! The tips were all geared toward finding readers, which is an important first step, but real logistics of how you’re going to get that income and keep track of it is a great thing to set up in advance.

And I dropped off the face of the earth again

And I dropped off the face of the earth again

My priorities the last couple of weeks (and the weeks coming up) are to get my health care in order so that I don’t crash and burn as often as I have over the last four years. Which means that I’ve spent a LOT of time resting and thinking, and having emotions, and freaking out, and oh yeah, having weird pain everywhere. (I’m afraid if I go to a doctor about my wrists, they’ll tell me to stay off the computer for a week. NOOOOOO!)

So today I am sharing a lot of the links I’ve been pondering.

  • This nail polish hits me right in the feels. It’s from a Doctor Who episode with a character with depression, and it reminds me so much of the pain and agony I’ve gone through. It’s fascinating to look at it through someone else’s eyes, someone who doesn’t understand it, because that’s the point of view you have in the episode. That’s how people don’t understand ME when I’m feeling the brain weasels. But I also know exactly what the depressed character is going through, because I’ve been there. It’s powerful.
  • So, did anyone else experience any fallout from the emotional apocalypse of the Super Full Moon in Pisces? It hit me extremely hard, messed with a couple of my relationships, but hopefully now I’m in a better place.
  • Why the strong, sharp suite of Swords reveal your strength and courage. I only recently realized how much the Swords are about cutting things apart and destroying things, since I haven’t done enough study of the Minor Arcana, and I identify with the Swords: as a symbol of the element of Air, they cut to the truth of the matter, like I do. So now it’s fascinating to work with the interpretation that the Swords are going to reveal harsh truths, but they will be necessary for you to keep going.
  • I’ve been attempting to do a lot more research into chronic illnesses that apply or may apply to me, thanks to this post on how self-diagnosis is vital. I never thought of it that way, but this post is one of my inspirations right now to keep fighting for my right to live mostly pain-free and with people understanding my conditions and how to care for me.
  • I can’t wait to dig in to the Dark Magic Books Library, a collection of books about magic, witchcraft, and all sorts of fun stuff, mostly in the public domain. I love reading about magic and witchcraft and I definitely need to finish some of the books I have so I can start in on it!

That’s it for now! I’ll be back on Monday, Labor Day, for a Looking Forward reading.



Dealing with exhaustion is tiring. I’ve spent the last week wondering where all my energy has gone instead of where all my time has gone. I know where my time is. I just can’t seem to do things as quickly as I used to, nor can I do as much as I used to.

It’s frustrating to think that a couple of years ago, if I were on a trip, I’d be out and about all day and able to keep going the next day. This week, I can only stand to be out for a couple of hours before I lose all my energy. I’m not particularly asthmatic, I seem to be getting enough sleep, I’m eating good amounts through the day… I want to be patient that this too will pass, that this is just my body recovering from a few months of too much stress.

But it’s hard to be patient. It’s hard to let myself take a break. I’m breaking up with societal norms that people can just work all the time and not need breaks. That the body is a machine that keeps on going whether you like it or not. And breaking up with that means wrestling with my doubts about it and the approval of others’.

And yet my body won’t let me NOT take a break. So here I am, doing the best I can to shut down the brain weasels and keep resting, while yearning to go out and do lots of exciting things. It’s a struggle to be okay with where I am right now.

Looking Forward 2 Feb 2015

Looking Forward 2 Feb 2015

Every Monday, I draw three cards to focus on for the week coming up.

To be perfectly honest, I’m starting to panic about the month ahead. It feels like a lot of things are going to make a mess of my life, and I have no idea where to find a calm oasis of sanity. Or just an oasis of calm. Too many riptides fighting each other through my system.

That’s an apology in advance for quiet on my end. Everything is just so overwhelming, and in order to focus on what to write, I need more quiet and calm. But for now, what does the Tarot say for our week ahead?

Three of Bats

Yup, looks like a riptide to me: thunderstorm eating away at our emotional center.

XIV Temperance

But Temperance will see us through: finding a place of calm, where we can nurture our inner witchiness and make some potions, will be an ideal coping mechanism.

Three of Pumpkins

Ending with the Three of Pumpkins makes me feel hopeful: that despite emotional turmoil, we’re building on solid bedrock. That means a greater chance of long-term success, even if it does not feel like that right now.


What do you think? Do any of these cards speak to you, or am I the only one in an emotional frenzy? I decided against using any definitions of what the cards mean, as the image on the Three of Bats of three bats carrying a heart through a storm was evocative enough for how I feel right now. Reminds me in a way of Furies: three Furies of passion pulling us through a storm… not that the Furies would do that, but that there is that passionate force behind it.

With that, I’m off to start another long week, and a weekend that didn’t have enough for me. Talk to you all soon!

Ramped-up anxiety

Ramped-up anxiety

Those large forces at work that I talked about in my Looking Forward post for the week seem to be hitting me with everything they got, leaving me tense, anxious, and shaky as all get-out. Times like this I really wish I could get to the gym and throw myself into some upper body strength training, but my asthma has kept me from it, even though getting out the adrenaline would go a long way to alleviating the anxiety.

So I’ve been trying a combination of things to keep myself from self destructing this week. It’s been so bad that I’ve been taking a prescription anti-anxiety medicine once I get home from everything (which tends to be rather late, unfortunately). When I’m out, I spray Aura Cacia Panic Button around me to calm me down. It’s not quite the formula that works best to calm me down (Origins Peace of Mind is wonderful, especially for night time).

Last night I also tried Anxiety Relief essential oil in a oil burner that I bought at The Body Shop. It really filled the room with a soothing scent, and I am pretty sure I’ll try it again. I had a bad experience at their store recently, though, so I’d like to find another source. (Looking for metaphysical supplies in the Minneapolis area? I can’t recommend everything at Magus Books enough. Hey, maybe they can find me a replacement essential oil.)

I’ve been suggested to try meditation or yoga, but while those are wonderful ways to keep my anxiety in check on a day-to-day basis, I can’t stay still long enough for its benefits to reach my already-troubled mind. I need to move. Swiftly. But I can’t while my asthma is so severe, so I’m at a loss and the rush in my mind keeps building.

So I’m not sure what to do. I may say “screw breathing and other plans” and head to the gym one of these days. Maybe that will even help my sleep.

Disclaimer: I’ve purchased all products mentioned on my own over the years and am not compensated in any way for linking to them.