Suprise! #TarotTuesday lives on! Each week, I’ll pull a card from the Fountain Tarot deck with the intention to understand what messages are important for us to acknowledge in our lives right now. I’ll encourage you to reflect on how the card connects with you — feel free to share your thoughts on my Instagram, where I’ll also post the card and my interpretation. For more background info on Tarot and how I read cards, check out this previous post: a bit about Tarot.
May 7th: The Five of Wands
The question I asked when pulling this card was “What is necessary to reflect on right now?” and the Universe answered with the Five of Wands. In this practice of Tarot, I’ve come to view my role as that of a guide, using my personal experiences as tools to help you connect more intimately with yourself. The synchronicity of the Five of Wands showing up in this moment tells me that the lessons I’ve learned are valuable and meant to be shared.
Before I jump into the specific meaning of the Five of Wands, I want to dive back into the Wands more generally. In this #TarotTuesday exercise, we’ve come across the Page and Six of Wands. Just prior to starting this intentionally shared practice, at the start of Aries season, I pulled the Ace and Eight. Wands are IN right now.
Wands represent fire. (Aries is the first sign of the Zodiac and also a Fire sign; though we’ve since moved into Taurus.) Wands allow us to tap into our deeper level of consciousness, what’s available to us at the core of our being, our instincts, creativity, ambition, and energy. They indicate a need to move, go, and create — they inspire determined action and initiative. From the Biddy Tarot Guide, “Should a Tarot reading be predominately Wands cards, you can be sure that you are seeking solutions to issues that are based mainly in the realm of thought... You may also be seeking greater purpose and meaning in your life and will want to understand more about what motivates and energizes you.”
Five cards indicate conflict and change; the Five of Wands, specifically, suggests that there is some level of challenge that is preventing you from meeting your goals and showing up in the way you want to. Overlaid with the personal, inner fire the Wands represent, the conflict and competition presented in the Five of Wands begins to take on a deeper meaning — it’s not necessarily material disagreement, but often a struggle or fight with (or within) our deeper selves.
As I’ve talked about many times, I’ve been serving in the role of a mentor for a yoga teacher training program that is just about to come to completion. Over the past 8 months, I’ve not only gotten to help inspire and train a new crop of yogis, but I’ve also re-taken the training myself, deepening my own yoga practice in ways I didn’t expect.
For the second half of the program, one of the student requirements was to develop a home yoga and meditation practice. Instead of going to a studio or taking a class online from an instructor, we were meant to go inward as our own guide and move and breathe by ourselves. A regular home practice was something I’d disconnected from for awhile, and I was excited for the opportunity and discipline that the program provided to help re-establish the habit. I really dropped in during February, feeling empowered and bolstered by moving without expectation. It fueled my teaching, my relationships, my connection to myself in a powerful way.
And then, March and April happened.
Hormonal imbalances, an aggressive workload, and general fatigue and overload dragged up a lot of fear, doubt, anxiety, self-disgust, and frustration. I was angry, tired, and deeply unsure of myself. That was all under the surface, but my commitments to teaching and giving forced a smile and positive shield that felt really inauthentic and misaligned with my true experience, furthering my exhaustion.
During those months, my experience on my yoga mat and in meditation was rocky at best. Physically, I wasn’t able to move in a way I was used to, which fueled my judgmental internal dialogue. Sitting in silence was difficult and scary. The thoughts pinged and bounced with electric speed throughout my brain, and I felt deeply depleted and unnerved after trying to observe and witness them with neutrality. It was like watching a lightning storm rage around me from inside a tower of glass.
On top of that, I couldn’t shake the guilt that I wasn’t holding up my end of the deal. I committed to mentoring and being a part of this training, and I was totally bailing on the most important of all of the assignments. I would look at my yoga log and see all the empty spaces, internalizing a boatload of shame that I wasn’t doing it right.
I didn’t have some big a-ha! moment. I didn’t hear a word or see an image that changed my course. Maybe I could point to the end of the semester and the weight that lifted when 8 of my 15 weekly classes fell off my schedule. Maybe it was the bright sunshine and warmth that drove out some of the darkness. Maybe it wasn’t anything outside of me, and maybe that was the issue the whole time.
I was living in a state fully controlled by my external experiences. I was searching for an answer, a fix, a solution from outside — one less class, a new supplement, a day off, some sun, certainty and reassurance, even yoga and meditation — to calm my inner turmoil.
When none of those things provided relief, I got angrier and more desperate. I felt let down.
When I reflect on the shift, it was small. It was the glimpses of clarity provided by a freer schedule, some brighter days, light and loving moments with friends and family that gave me a chance to be gentle with myself, to put some space between the moments of exhaustion and fear. I was able to see that forcing my way through the struggle, trying to control and wrestle it down with willpower and anger wasn’t serving me. Coming to my yoga mat in a state of hatred, with the intention to fix what felt broken, was never going to work.
I had to give myself some grace, some time, some compassion to acknowledge that I was unhappy and struggling. I needed to allow for all of those emotions to be present without the need to turn them off. Sitting in frustrated, self-loathing silence was making it worse. Until I could be with the intention that I was whole, regardless of the external experience, I couldn’t be anywhere near my yoga.
I started by going back to my physical anchor to ground myself in the present moment and into my own body. I chose practices that made me appreciate my own body for its strength. I focused deeply on feeling movements and breath and sweat and effort from the inside out, unconcerned with the optics or absolute value of the exercise. I walked outside, feeling the solid earth under my feet. I cooked food for myself and others as an act of love.
And I slowly, gently, came back to my yoga and meditation with a clearer heart and an intention of compassion and love. Ahimsa, or non-harming, is the foundation of yoga. Without it, everything else is meaningless. Mindfulness, acceptance, contentment, choice… it all has to come from compassion.
I shared some of this with our students this past weekend, letting them know that there will be times that they accidentally step away, fall away, choose to walk away. There will be times when living with that much awareness and openness is too hard, when it’s easier to close your eyes, plug your ears, and avoid the darkness. There will be times that you’ll forget yourself, get caught in the struggle, the conflict, the competition that clouds your truth.
And all of it is okay. You cannot do yoga out of obligation. You cannot meditate out of a sense of “should.” You cannot be mindful with expectation. The way back to yourself is through intention and compassion. And when that’s hard, let it be hard. Let it suck and challenge you and fight you. Give yourself the space to process on your own time, in your own way, without the need for it to be different. When you’re truly allowing yourself to be right where you are in every moment, you’re home. It doesn’t matter “where you are,” objectively, because you’ll be there with intention, compassion, and love.
The Five of Wands represents that internal struggle and conflict — the fight with ourselves when we set expectations beyond our own choices, when we look for control instead of allowance, when we let “shoulds” get in the way of our compassionate truth. This card is a reminder that we have the ability to burn off and tamp out what doesn’t serve us, but only by igniting, stoking, and even fueling the fire — we have to be with it, all of it.
And now my fire is smaller. The conflagration has dulled to a gentle, warming flame that resides back within me, not around me. I’m tending to my internal spark with love and care. I know it will roar and rage and get so close to burning out again and again, and I will remember that the burn is healing, cathartic, and necessary for growth and light.
I share that story with you because processing it “out loud” in this way gives me even more clarity, but also to reassure you that we’re all having our own human experience. Perhaps in hearing about my fire, fight, turmoil, and turbulence, you’ll find the strength and confidence to acknowledge and allow your own.
I’ll ask you this week to notice where you’re in conflict with yourself, where you’re disagreeing from a place of expectation, where there’s tension because of a lack of truth. Where might you be seeking and searching for an external change instead of an internal acceptance? How can you allow for more compassion in the face of frustration and judgement? How can you hold yourself with more love?
Reply with your thoughts or share them on this week's #TarotTuesday Instagram post. I'd love to know what connects for you!