April 2012

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Saturday, April 7th, 2012 12:16 am
A long while back, I had the idea of using every single one of my decks in series of readings using a spread that requires two decks at a time. Along the way, I lost my camera, found my camera, got an iPhone that easily sends pictures to my computer, and finally decided to get back into the groove of doing these dialectical readings.

I had a lot of fun pairing up my decks, and tonight, I paired my one of my softest, most ethereal decks, my Mystic Dreamer Tarot, with one of my most "dark and spooky" decks, the Royo Labyrinth Tarot. These are both great decks that give me solid readings on their own, so I was anxious to see what happened when I put them together.

The way this spread works is that the 1st and 2nd card each come from a different deck, giving that deck's perspective on the question. Then, cards 3 (from the first deck) and 4 (from the second deck) are read together to give an answer that is the synthesis of the two.

The question I wrote at the top of the page in my tarot notebook is as follows: "I have 120 essays to grade and 4 days to do it. Ho do I manage my time without burning out or dithering away the time I have?"

The cards I drew are:
1. (Mystic Dreamer) Five of Pentacles
2. (Royo Labyrinth) Nine of Wands
3. (M) The Chariot
4. (R) Knight of Cups

The Five of Pentacles from the Mystic Dreamer seems to describe my emotional state as I enter into this period of intense concentration. I feel drained, I feel poor in spirit. I am already setting myself up for failure by dreading it so much. This card is bringing that to my attention and telling me to snap out of it. I have been in worse situations before. I am NOT the beggar at the church door. I am in a better place than that, but if I'm not careful, I'll squander the time I have left. To keep this from happening, I can make a play for how many essays I have to grade every day, and I can set up a system that balances work and rewards that will help me to get the entire thing done without running into the wall of grading burnout.

The Nine of Wands in the Royo is another card about being exhausted and battered and down. But... it's also about defiance to the last. This card is saying, "I know it's rough. I know you feel down. But you can't give up. You have to stand your ground, fight your battle with that mound of papers, and if you do this, you WILL come out the other side."

The two cards that are supposed to be a synthesis of the two decks' messages are the Chariot and the Knight of Cups. The Chariot seems very appropriate here. It's the card about willpower, about the spark and determination to make things happen and turn "I should" into "I did." But the Knight of Cups? What's that doing there? And from my dark and spooky Royo deck? Yes. I think this card is reminding me of the human element that goes into grading. I have to disconnect somewhat when I grade quickly like this, otherwise I'll take hours on each paper and never get through them all, but the Knight of Cups reminds me that each of these papers is really important to at least one other person. That time and effort went into each paper, and that my contact with this pile of papers isn't with papers, it's with people. And my empathy needs to remain somewhat engaged even as my Chariot-driven willpower helps me to evaluate them on the basis of merit. Teaching is an energy exchange. On the one side, we have my students' hopes, efforts, class attendance, and studying, and on the other side we have my preparation for whole class activities and lots of little spurts of concentration on each individual's work. They give me energy, and I give it back to them.

If you look very closely, you will notice something very unique about the Nine of Wands. The Roman numerals say VIIII, and there are indeed nine wands on the card.  I have never seen a Roman numeral nine written that way before. I learned that the proper way to write nine was IX. I wonder if this was a printing error, or if it was a convention in the country where the cards were printed (I don't believe it was America) that I am unaware of.