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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.

Nervous, fearful, and ready

Nervous, fearful, and ready

Today’s to-do list is starting to feel oppressively long and scary, which means it’s time to do something that makes me nervous first: write it out.

Like I said earlier, the theme so far this year has been intense. This week has held my first committee meeting where I’m a co-chair and therefore leading discussion (terrifying for the quiet kid in the corner!), my birthday that same day, anxiety and fear about surgery next week (but who isn’t anxious about having surgery?), birthday celebrations all week, and intense studying alongside doubts and fears that going to law school is the right decision. Yesterday I had therapy, where we talked about how I’m handling all of these things, and then I came home, meditated, and felt like I needed an oracle card.

Felt like I needed a Faeries #oraclecards today. 47 – The Oak Men. So beautiful.

A photo posted by SJ Witchling (@sjwitchling) on

This old, wise, caring, powerful Faerie reminded me of many conversations I’ve had with my therapist: right now I am learning all I can about how I function best, in a world that wants to put me into a box that doesn’t quite fit. But the more I know about myself, the more grounded I feel, the more able to weather the storms that are coming. And they are coming: that’s what life is. Constant change. The more I stay connected to my roots, though, like the wise old Oak Men, the more I can stay myself while tossed around.

It was a good reminder that I’m on my side, not the side our culture expects me to be on.

I should go draw an oracle card for today (maybe I’ll draw one daily?), then take a practice test. This weekend is pretty busy again, but I’ll try to post on Monday—and of course keep up with me on Instagram and now also Twitter. All bets are off on whether I keep up with everything from Tuesday on, next week: recovering from surgery is going to be my main priority.

Standing in the eye of the storm

Standing in the eye of the storm

When I first started reading about Wicca when I was a wee young girl, all the books told you you absolutely had to have an altar, and it has to have these things on it: athame, salt, wand, pentacle, imagery of the God and Goddess. “If you don’t have these things, get creative and get something like it,” they said. They never said that an altar is something you do for yourself, that you do to connect with your Gods and Goddesses, your connection to magic. This is one of the reasons I could never quite get into Wicca, despite wanting, so badly, to be a witch.

Lately there is a resurgence of people taking back the word “witch” from Wiccans. Over the past twenty or thirty years, Wiccans have worked hard to de-stigmatize witchcraft by associating it with their peace-loving religion. That’s great, but witchcraft is not synonymous with Wicca. An altar does not have to look like the books told me. Altars come in all religions. Altars should look the way that you want them to look.

I’ve been reading about altars in different polytheists faiths lately, and I’m being inspired by this secular witch’s photos of her altars. Altars are places to put things that are sacred to you. Flowers, mementos from ancestors, feathers found on a walk, things that inspire you. While I’ve been mostly curious about bloggers who call themselves “devotional polytheists” lately, I’m thinking about altars in all senses. A place for my Tarot cards. A place for a pretty rock or two, some crystals, a candle. If ever I could get my garden going, then a flower or two. An altar should have meaning for the user, especially if it’s this user, especially if this user is trying to develop her spirituality and understand what she is called to.

It’s time for me to start a practice. My practice will be inspired by devotional polytheism and witchcraft. But, you know, starting is hard. Finding a place to live where I can be free to start a practice is hard. I want to work on my relationships with the spirits of my land and house, which is hard to do when I have such a hard time just keeping clean. I’m on the verge of big changes, I think, or still riding the waves of big changes that have been building for me, and these changes are going to uproot my life. How do I trust to what’s real and true while so many new things take place around me?

I’m not sure yet. But I have a lot of wonderful support while I figure all of this out.