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Wheel of Change Empress

Wheel of Change Tarot
created by Alexandra Gennetti
Published by Destiny Books, 1997

The Book says: In the lives of women we can see five distinct phases: birth, the onset of menstruation, motherhood, menopause, and death. The Empress represents the middle of this pentad; she is the nurturing mother, who is the fertile and creative queen of the world. She is also the down-to-earth version of the cosmic World card, which also symbolizes the creative mother in the maiden-mother-crone triad of the Triple Goddess. In interpretation this card represents elemental creativity and the actualization of creation. It is birth and creativity in every realm of life. Thus it represents feminine creativity, symbolized by pregnancy and birth and by growing things: flowers, eggs, and an abundant harvest. The Empress is symbolized in every good meal and happy home; she is evident in artwork and music. When this card is a part of your reading it symbolizes love and joy in life, and in the process of creativity. It symbolizes the healthful nurturing we must put into our creative actions. It is a card of being with children and in mothering or nurturing them and the joy we feel in their independent creativity. It makes a good time to focus on projects that require creative solutions. Projects that are begun under the tutelage of the fertile Empress are likely to success, just as she bears fruit out of her own body.

TarotBroad’s Buzz: This Empress is the embodiment of fertility, fruitfulness, growth and the cycles of life. The green hills and pink tree speak to me of Spring and life just beginning to awaken while the yellow hills and fields suggest Autumn and the time of harvesting and preparing for the cold, dark times to come. The Empress reminds us that she rules over both these cycles. She nurtures us and supports us through the good times and the bad. Her breasts provide nourishment and her body is the source of new life and new growth.

The Moon overhead reminds us of the connection many peoples see between the Moon and women. The eggs in her basket remind us of the potential for new life and the waters dividing around her reinforce its connection as the source of life on Earth. This card speaks of the bounty offered to us in our lives as well as reminding us that there are cycles that we all follow. And we are all connected to the Earth, the waters and the stars. She is the mother of us all. If we honor and embody these traits we will find the way to bring these energies into our own lives; to enhance our fruitfulness, prosperity, creativity and nurturing.

This card is not just about nurturing others but about embracing and nurturing ourselves as well. When I see this card it reminds me of the wonder I feel when I look at mountains and lakes as I drive passed. I am awed by their beauty and majesty and feel the connection to Mother Earth. I want to honor her and allow myself to fall into her embrace, knowing that I am safe, protected and loved. As someone who has often lacked this type of nurturing in my life, I sometimes have difficulties connecting to this card. I do not see myself as an Empress (at least not in the traditional way of being a mother). But then I realize that this card is also about nurturing the creative energies of others and helping them to grow. It is about nurturing my own creative side and allowing myself to explore alternative outlets for this creative energy.

Many people believe there is a Great Mother in the Universe and whether you honor her as Mary, Queen of Heaven, the Corn Mother, the Lady or as Danu, she represents the same type of energy and nurturing support in our lives. The Empress is seen every day in the bounty of the Earth and the gifts she offers us. The Empress nourishes everything and everyone around us.  This makes it easier for me to connect with this card. It is not just physical motherhood but spiritual motherhood as well. Being able to offer our bountiful gifts to ourselves and others and being able to accept the gifts others offer to us.

For some reason today’s entry was difficult to write. The well was dry and I couldn’t come up with anything I thought was worth sharing or that I felt competent to write. Finally, as I was browsing the NYPL website I hit upon something – libraries!

I love libraries. From the time I was a child they were my haven, my sanctuary against the world. I’ve had a library card as long as I can remember. I still recall the day my mother brought me to the local library and signed me up for a card. It was restricted (I could only take out 2 books at a time and only from the children’s section) but it was a start. One of my favorite books to take out was The Little Witch Cookbook. I adored the illustrations and the recipes were very simple for a child to make. I actually reacquired a copy as an adult but it just wasn’t the same and I passed it along to my youngest niece who seemed very thrilled to get it.

I also enjoyed losing myself in Bulfinch’s Mythology. This began a lifelong fascination and attraction for mythology. I started here and eventually found my way to more adult versions of Greek mythology as well as Celtic, Arthurian, Norse and Egyptian mythology. I was so excited the day I was able to take a book from the adult section of the library – it was Mythology by Edith Hamilton and I still remember the cover.

The first time I was allowed to walk to the bigger library near me (the now gown and much mourned Donnell Branch of the NYPL), I felt so proud I almost burst. I still remember how overwhelmed I felt when I walked in because it was much bigger than my local branch. It also had a Young Adult section. Oh the books I read from that library. I could spend hours simply walking through the stacks and losing myself in the books. It was wondrous and amazing to me.

During high school and college I managed to wend my way through the maze of research materials – magazines and non-circulating books, that allowed me to complete term papers, book reports and other school assignments. Computers were not yet the omnipresent devices they have become so I learned how to work the card files. I felt such a sense of accomplishment learning to find books and make inter-library loan requests.

These days I still visit the local library – sometimes to take out books, other times for movies or music. My primary use of the library is for electronic books – it’s so much easier to request and return books that way. However I’ll always feel a sense of soul-satisfaction and deep emotional connection to the physical library. I will always love losing myself in the stacks of books and finding lost treasures I would never have known about without browsing. It saddens me that so many local NYPL branches are nothing more than computer kiosks now. So many of the books are gone, the space freed up for more computers. The people using the library don’t seem to have the same sense of awe and wonder I did. They also don’t enforce the quiet rule much these days. That sacred hush that I remember when I entered the library, that reminded me I was in a special spiritual temple, has been replaced by laughter and chatting. I suppose it’s wonderful that libraries still fill a niche in their communities but I miss the slightly more formal, quieter days.

I hope we never lose our libraries. It’s sad to see so many bookstores going out of business and libraries downsizing. There is something magical about these places; these repositories of fabulous mysteries and hidden treasures. Hail to libraries and librarians! Long may they rule!

Today I could not think of a topic so I asked the Norse Tarot “What should I share with others day?”  I drew The Empress aka Freya.  This tickles me because I am very drawn to the goddess Freya (I consider her one of my matron goddesses) but I’ve always been rather disconnected from The Empress.  I also don’t know if I would have selected Freya to represent The Empress’ energy.  Frigga seems more appropriate for this archetype while I see Freya as more connected to the High Priestess.  However I can also see arguments for this association too.

Norse Tarot Empress

So what have I learned about The Empress energy?  It is severely underappreciated and neglected, especially by women.  One of the aspects of The Empress that has always kept me at arm’s length is caregiving.  I have avoided being a caregiver for as long as I could.  I have never felt the desire to have children (and have never understood the urge to do so).  On some deep level, I have always known becoming a caregiver would require me to be more selfless and giving than I have ever felt capable and comfortable with being.  I have always been somewhat self-centered and narcissistic.  I had things to prove and goals to achieve.  I was going to be more than just someone’s mother and wife.  I also learned the hard way that children could chain you to an abusive husband and destructive marriage.  I was not going to repeat the mistakes of the women I’d seen around me.

I still think that was the right choice for me and that has been reinforced by my recent experiences.  I know that I was not meant to have children.  I can be quite protective of children but still feel no desire to have any of my own.  However becoming the primary caregiver for my in-laws has shown me that I do have the capacity to be a caregiver.  I’m not perfect – screaming and frustration seem to be par for the course., but I can do it.  I have the ability to put the needs of others ahead of my own.  I may not like it but I can do it.  Maybe at her core that is one of The Empress’ strengths.  She can put aside her own needs in order to care for others.

I don’t see this as a permanent condition or one that needs to be replicated ad nauseam (at least not in its healthiest expression) but when the need arises, The Empress can step up.  At the same time The Empress knows when to say “enough is enough” and put herself back in the center again.  Just as Freya knew how to get what she wanted, so is The Empress.  Freya realizes that love and death are part of the same cycle.  She may be famous for taking lovers as she chose but she was also the leader of the Valkyrie.  Half of all the chosen slain came to rest in Freya’s hall.  She might seem like the golden goddess of sex and love but she has a fully developed and well-honed dark side.  That was always my problem with The Empress – I could see her darker, selfish side.  She seemed like the perfect mother to me.  In my life experiences the perfect mother was an illusion that hid an emotionally needy, soul-sucking, weak personality.  Of course even this wasn’t necessarily true it was simply my interpretation of behaviors without knowing the causes.

I have come to appreciate The Empress’ energy, strength and gifts.  She can be selfless and giving but she can also be self-focused and hardline.  She may coddle and nurture but if she feels its becoming a long-term habit she will kick you in the behind.  I see her as having a low tolerance for bullshit.  At the same time she is caring and gentle when necessary.  For too long we have all bought into masculine definitions of power and strength.  Even women came to believe that true success could only be achieved via masculine outlets.  Now I think we are developing a more fully developed view of success.  For some women it may indeed  occur on a more masculine field of play while others may prefer pursuing creative outlets in more traditionally feminine fields.

I realize I will never be fully happy or comfortable as a caregiver and nurturer, that’s simply not in my personality.  However I have grown to deeply appreciate her gifts and strengths.  I have embraced this aspect of my personality and learned that Feminine energy and power are not weaker, they are simply different but just as important as masculine ones.

Dark Carnival Empress

Interesting, this is the second time this week I’ve drawn The Empress.  So for two days in a row I’ve drawn a card I drew earlier in the week.  Obviously there are some messages I’m either not getting or meant to share.  My relationship with The Empress has been a relatively cantankerous one.  In the past when I’ve drawn her my response has been a groan or a rant.  Over the last few years we’ve come to terms with each other and I’ve come to appreciate her unique strengths and gifts.

Considering that much of my time is spent in the role of traditional caregiver lately, The Empress is certainly appropriate. in response to my query.  I need to learn to be more comfortable with this side of my nature; to embrace this aspect of my personality.  Like an unused muscle, that aspect of my personality has atrophied over the years but lately it’s been getting quite a workout.  This gypsy-like wild child with a smirk on her face lets us know that although she may be engaged in traditionally “women’s work”, she’s no pushover.  This ain’t Beaver’s mother.  Gazing at her I can hear the song from the old Enjoli commercial playing in my head “I can bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan and never, ever let you forget you’re a man ’cause I’m a woman.”  She may raise a family, nurture loved ones and be generous and caring to those she loves, but she also gives off a vibe fierce independence and strong will.  She may not try to dominate you but she won’t be dominated either.  I like that in an Empress.

On another level she’s telling me that I am still not making the effort to carve out some time for myself.  I may be engaged in caring for others but if I don’t make caring for myself a priority too I’m going to burn out and be miserable (well more miserable).  I have to find the way to nurture and care for myself or I’ll be of no use to anyone else.  Maybe I also need to become more comfortable letting others nurture me.  I tend to resist efforts at mothering, comforting or nurturing from others.  I shrug it off or make a joke.  Maybe I need to be more open to those hugs and efforts at consolation and comfort.  I don’t have to do this all on my own and it’s not week to sometimes need a shoulder to cry on.  It’s just ridiculous for me to keep trying to be a “rugged individualist” in this situation.  That way lies madness and that’s what the smirk on this Empress’ face is telling me.  I may be crazy but hopefully I’m not stupid.  I need to start heeding her message before she slaps me upside the head with that plate she’s washing.

Old Path 5 of Rods Old Path 4 of Cauldrons

The 5 of Wands once again.  I drew this at least twice while working with my previous deck (Book of Shadows As Below).  In fact I’m pretty sure I drew the 4 of Cauldrons at least once with that deck too.  Obviously these two cards have a message for me that I either haven’t acknowledged or haven’t acted upon.

On level the 5 of Wands speaks to me of wasting energy in a pointless battle.  It’s about scuffles that aren’t important and don’t really matter.  It just siphons off energy that can be used more productively and more beneficially.  The 4 of Cauldrons shows me two people drowning their unhappiness in a surplus of liquid forgetfulness.  Their unhappiness and dissatisfaction with their lives is almost palpable although it’s also clear they intend to take no action that might change this.

Both these cards are reversed in this reading which suggests I’m not addressing these issues myself.  I believe they connect to the current situation I’m living as caregiver to my in-laws.  On some level I am so angry about this that I cannot accurately describe how I feel.  My life has been put on hold and I feel as though they are vampires siphoning off my energy and essence.  I am nothing, no one.  I am merely the one who cleans them, feeds them and makes sure they’re safe.  This does not even have the benefits rearing a child might because there is no growth, no improvement.  It’s simply a slow, numbing march towards death.

Well-meaning friends and family compliment me on how selfless I am to do this.  I don’t feel selfless, I feel resentful and pissed off.  I am doing this because I feel it is the moral, ethical, “right” thing to do.  It might not be the case for everyone but it is for me.  That doesn’t mean I don’t hate it sometimes.  I feel trapped and suffocated.  I think this is reflected by the 5 of Wands reversed.  I am struggling against a situation I cannot change (granted it is my decision but that doesn’t make it easy or fun).  It also reinforces the fact that I need to find a creative outlet for this energy before it becomes toxic.

The 4 of Cauldrons reversed shows the inevitable progression if I don’t make some changes.  I’ll become increasingly unhappy and dissatisfied; drowning my sorrows in junk food or other unhealthy behaviors.  I think I’m also tired of pretending I okay with this situation.  I’m no martyr or saint.  I’m just a poor shlub doing what I think is right, even if I hate it.

Old Path World Old Path The Close

The World reversed is a puzzlement to me.  The image shows a nude woman holding her breasts while a spray of stars spurts out to nourish all the life around her.  She is framed by a mantle of deep blue and stars, the symbols of the four elements decorate the corners.  She is pale and luminous; her coloring the pale reflective light of the moon.

The Close (or Death) displays various symbols of death and transition – the Grim Reaper, an owl, a death’s head moth even an infant.  Combined they offer the message that change is inevitable no matter how hard we resist.

Looking at the two of these together I am struck by the fact that The World reversed suggests that my role as the nurturer and being “the world” to two family members may be reaching an end.  I’m not sure if The Close refers to a literal or figurative ending (time will tell) but what I do realize is that it’s also suggesting a change in mindset.

Reality is that no matter how dependent the in-laws may be on me, I’m not their world and don’t want to be.  In fact I don’t ever want to be the world to anyone.  It’s much too stressful to have someone rely on me that much..  It might be time for me to start considering options and planning for changes.  As much as I hate change, I also realize it’s an inevitable as the dawn.

BoS So Below 3 of Wands BoS So Below 7 of Pentacles

The 3 of Wands reversed tells me that I need to stop trying to focus on external projects.  Now is not the time for that.  Now I need to focus on internal projects – caring for myself, tapping into my creative energies and just relaxing.  These are things I have ignored in favor of slugging (simple sitting in a vegetative state).

The 7 of Pentacles reminds me that I need to stop and enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Of course that would have to mean I’ve actually done labor so that there are fruits to enjoy.  Right now I’m coasting.  And I’m not saying that as a negative judgment on myself.  I’m exhausted, tired and burnt out so much of the time the only thing I can do it sit and stare.  I want to change that pattern but I don’t want to do it in a way that just creates more stress and more goals I can’t achieve.

I need to spend more time enjoying tea and crayons and cookbooks and friends.  I need to reconnect with the flow of things and accept that everyone’s life has seasons and cycles and I’m not exception.  No matter how much I try to fight it or how often I deny it, I end up back in the same place feeling more frustrated and defeated.  I’m setting myself up to fail and I don’t want to do that anymore.

If I want to maintain this new direction I need to take things one day at a time and keep reminding myself that this is part of the cycle.  Things will eventually change and I can embrace the change and deal with it when that occurs.  For now, I need to work within the boundaries and are my life.  They may prove to be a opportunity for transformation at a deep level, if I allow it.

BoS So Below King of Swords BoS So Below 3 of Wands

Interesting that embracing clarity does not involve an overabundance of intellect, wits or communication skills.  Instead it would appear that those needs to be become something of a non-priority for me.  I don’t need to be in charge.  I don’t need to be leading the class.  I don’t need to be goal oriented and focused right now.

Instead, like the relaxed woman on the 3 of Wands, I need to take time for tea and self-care.  Even if I can only dedicate 10 minutes to myself every day that’s better than nothing.  I need to stop and enjoy those little moments I can steal for myself.  It’s not about becoming king of the world, it’s about being happy in mine.

This past few readings have pointed out that even in my current situation I tend to be very achievement oriented.  I’m so busy looking at the map and plotting out the destination that I never look up and see the passing scenery.  These cards are telling me that it’s time to knock it off and enjoy the scenery.

There is  season for everything.  I know that in my heart but sometimes mine mind shouts it out.  It thinks it can control things if only it can figure out the pattern.  I may be intelligent and quick witted about certain things but those skills aren’t very useful to me right now.  Now it’s times for me to start fully embracing and exploring my more heart-centered, emotional and nurturing side.  Even after several years caring for the in-laws I’m not comfortable with that side of myself.  I’ve tried distancing myself from it and using my intellect to build barriers.  I guess it’s time for the barriers to come down and face some truths.  That’s the only way I’ll truly be clear and not confused.

BoS So Below 9 of Wands BoS So Below Queen of Chalices

Lack of focus and insight – that’s why I’m confused.  My energy stores are depleted and my concentration is almost non-existent.  With the situation surrounding me, focusing or concentrating on any task are absolute luxuries.  I feel as though I’m developing attention deficit disorder because my attention span has become nonexistent.  If I can focus on a book long enough to read a chapter it’s a minor miracle.

I’m beginning to realize that some of this confusion and lack of focus is circumstantial and not due to any innate character traits.  My life is not conducive to focus or concentration right now.  Things may change in the future but as things stand right now I’m fighting against the prevailing current.  It’s frustrating but I need to be more flexible about this.  It would seem that now is just not the time to focus on personal projects no matter how much I’d love to start.

I think the Queen of Chalices is telling me that I need to comfort myself right now.  I need to give myself the same support and acceptance I would give a friend going through similar experiences.  I think we all tend to be much harsher and more judgmental with ourselves in situations like this.  Those inner critics that lie in wait to shred our self-confidence thrive on moments like this.  Instead of feeding that energy I need to embrace myself and say all those kind, comforting things I’d tell a dear friend.

I don’t think I’m confused as much as I am exhausted and depleted.  I’m confusing being warn out with being confused.  I can’t focus on building a new career because I am up to my neck in my current career.  Perhaps it’s not a paying job but caring for my in-laws is no less demanding, draining and time consuming.  It’s time to stop fighting the current and go with the flow, even if that flow is taking me in a direction different from the one I would have chosen.

BoS As Above 10 of Air BoS As Above Ace of Water\\

The image on the 10 of Air is wonderful – what a fabulously different interpretation of this card.  The Tarot reader sits with her cards arrayed before her as sylphs dance around her.  I can just hear them whispering in her ears; offering divine wisdom based on the cards drawn.  She seems quite calm and confident; not the least bit unsettled by these helpful winged creatures.  She has long grown use to receiving messages from the Universe and feeling the breath of divine messengers in her ears.

The Ace of Cups is an active, vigorous card.  Barbara Moore describes it as depicting the symbolic Wiccan Great Rite; the union of the athame and chalice, of male and female.  It shows the source of all life; the activation of potential, the divine spark combining with the primordial waters.  It offers the promise of a new psychic bond; a deeper intuitive connection to the life energies that surround us all.

So what’s to fear?  Oh please, that’s easy.  I’m afraid of becoming that woman; of representing that connection to the Universe for other people.  I’ve seen how some people can react when given a Tarot reading.  It becomes a prophecy written in stone.  No amount of explaining or warning can rid them of this conviction.  That is a huge responsibility.  I don’t take Tarot readings lightly, despite the sometimes fun, light-hearted approach I sometimes take.  I would not want to frighten a client with a negative reading.  Of course I’d like to hope that I’m a skilled and sensitive enough reader to avoid this.  I think it’s time to activate my Wonder Twin powers.

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