Tarot in a Time of Turbulence

Four of Swords Rider Smith Deck
As many of you know, I teach Tarot and give reading in person (when social distancing is not in effect) and online. Email Sessarego1@gmail.com to set up a session. This month, I want to talk about what we can learn from Tarot during a time of uncertainty.

 

Tarot is not for the weak at heart. The cards don’t reveal anything that you, the querent, don’t already know, but they do encourage you to look at your own behavior, emotional state, and patterns honestly. Happily, even with the toughest of readings and the toughest of times, tarot is eternally hopefully for these reasons:

The tarot does not determine your future.

You determine your future (within limits, which I’ll address below). That is not to say that that we aren’t all influenced and constrained by a million different factors. However, it does say that you have at least some autonomy in your life, if only in how you deal emotionally with challenges. You certainly shouldn’t feel bossed around by a deck of cards!

The future is not set.

Don’t like your reading? Change your behavior. Change your mindset. Change your patterns. Tarot is a great tool for helping you work through what to tackle and what to let go of.

There is no endpoint.

The Fool is numbered zero or not numbered at all because he/she/they is on a never-ending journey. Get to the World card? Pass through and start a new journey. There’s always another challenge and always another thing to learn.

The tarot values community and self-care.

Lean on your family and friends. Value your accomplishments. Rest when you need it.

 

There’s a kind of philosophy of positivism that can be deeply victim blaming and oblivious to societal factors. Things will happen that are beyond our control. We live with various levels of racial, economic, sexual, and gender privilege. When I say that you determine your future, I say that with many caveats.

However, during this time in history when we feel so little control over what is happening in our lives, it’s worthwhile to take stock of what we can control. We can take certain steps to manage stress. We can take certain steps to reduce health risk. We can write letters and emails and make phone calls to our elected officials to advocate for the well-being of others. Also, as the Four of Swords points out, it’s never a bad idea to take a nap!

Between the Lines Book Club: Discussion Questions for The Ocean at the End of the Lane

between the lines book club logoThe Sacramento Public Library will be closed until at least May 1, but that can’t stop us from reading! Be sure to check out some of their online events and services. More are being added every day.

I hope some of you are reading The Ocean at the End of the Lane even though we can’t meet in person. Here are the discussion questions from the publisher. Leave your thoughts here!

1. It would be easy to think of the Hempstocks as the “triple goddess” (the Maiden, the Mother and the Crone) of popular mythology. In what ways do they conform to those roles? In what ways are they different?

2. The narrator has returned to his hometown for a funeral (we never learn whose). Do you think that framing his childhood story with a funeral gives this story a pessimistic outlook, rather than an optimistic one?

3. Because the narrator is male and most of the other characters are female, this story has the potential to become a stereotypical narrative where a male character saves the day. How does the story avoid that pitfall?

4. The story juxtaposes the memories of childhood with the present of adulthood. In what ways do children perceive things differently than adults? Do you think there are situations in which a child’s perspective can be more “truthful” than an adult’s?

5. One of Ursula Monkton’s main attributes is that she always tries to give people what they want. Why is this not always a good thing? What does Ursula want? How does Ursula use people’s desires against them to get what she wants?

6. Water has many roles in this story — it can give and take life, reveal and hide. How does it play these different roles?

7. One of the many motivators for the characters in this story is loneliness. What characters seem to suffer from loneliness? How do adults and children respond to loneliness in different ways? In the same ways?

8. On page 18, the narrator tells us that his father often burnt their toast and always ate it with apparent relish. He also tells us that later in life, his father admitted that he had never actually liked burnt toast, but ate it to avoid waste, and that his father’s confession made the narrator’s entire childhood feel like a lie: “it was as if one of the pillars of belief that my world had been built upon had crumbled into dry sand.” What other “pillars of belief” from childhood does he discover to be false? How do these discoveries affect him? Are there any beliefs from your own childhood that you discovered to be false?

9. When the narrative returns to the present, Old Mrs. Hempstock tells our narrator, “You stand two of you lot next to each other, and you could be continents away for all it means anything” (p. 173). What does she mean by this? Why is it “easier” for people, our narrator especially, to forget certain things that are difficult to reconcile?

10. Though the narrator has a sister, he doesn’t seem to be particularly close to her. Why do you think it is that he has trouble relating to other children? Why do you think his sister is not an ally for him?

 

 

April Poem: Monadnock in Early Spring, by Amy Lowell

Mount Monadnock
Today’s poem comes to you from poet Amy Lowell, who is writing about Monadnock Mountain in New Hampshire.

Monadnock in Early Spring

Amy Lowell – 1874-1925

Cloud-topped and splendid, dominating all
The little lesser hills which compass thee,
Thou standest, bright with April’s buoyancy,
Yet holding Winter in some shaded wall
Of stern, steep rock; and startled by the call
Of Spring, thy trees flush with expectancy
And cast a cloud of crimson, silently,
Above thy snowy crevices where fall
Pale shrivelled oak leaves, while the snow beneath
Melts at their phantom touch. Another year
Is quick with import. Such each year has been.
Unmoved thou watchest all, and all bequeath
Some jewel to thy diadem of power,
Thou pledge of greater majesty unseen.

Between the Lines Book Club: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, by Neil Gaiman

between the lines book club logoHello Book Clubbers! As you all know, the Sacramento Public Library is closed at least through May 1. I’ll keep you updated as I learn new information.

However, I hope some of you read Neil Gaiman’s book The Ocean at the End of the Lane anyway, because it’s a fascinating book that it easy to read but deals with some serious themes. The book won several awards, including the British National Book of the Year Award.

Here’s a book trailer:

Meanwhile, if you want to try other Gaiman works but are having a hard time reading (my concentration is shot, personally), Amazon Prime is streaming the series Good Omens, based on the book co-written by Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, and STARZ has American Gods, based on the excellent novel of the same name by Gaiman. Trailers:

 

 

Got Requests?

hands making a heart with sun shining through the middleI am stymied, people. I have no upcoming presentations to announce in the space, obviously. So much entertaining content is online right now from people other than I that I’m at a loss as to what I could add other than my very best wishes for all of you to stay safe and healthy!

So tell me – what kind of content would you like to see in April and May? Poems? Links to funny videos? I’m going to keep posting Between the Lines Book Club entries as I work with the library to see if we can meet online – meanwhile, leave comments!

Love to all of you,

Carrie

Between the Lines Book Club: Domestic Service in the USA

between the lines book club logoBook Clubbers, we are not meeting in March, but that doesn’t mean we can’t chat online. This month we read Maid, by Stephanie Land.

For some information about the history of domestic work in the U.S., check out these articles, each of which contains to links to further reading.

Mother Jones: “Invisible Women: The Real History of Domestic Workers in America”

The Atlantic: “The Decline of Domestic Help”

DomesticWorkers.org

Between the Lines Book Club: Maid, Discussion Questions

between the lines book club logoThis month our book club is reading Maid, by Stephanie Land. We will meet to discuss it in person at Arden Dimick Library on March 28, 2020, at 10:30AM. This memoir deals with Land’s struggle as a single mother to survive poverty and give her child a better life.

We may have additional questions at our March 28 meeting, but this set of questions from www.litlovers.com should give you some things to think about while reading the book.

1. What do you think of Stephanie Land?

2. What was Land’s family background? How, in particular, would you describe her parents and the affect they may have had (or not have had) on the direction of her life?

3. What does this memoir reveal to you about life on the edge—or smack in the middle—of poverty? Consider the humiliations, the fears and anxieties, even hoplessness, and the exhaustion, both physical and mental, of Land’s situation. How common do you think her experiences are? To what extent do you believe her poverty was due to her own poor choices?

4. Talk about the rules of the bureaucracy that poor people face when attempting to find assistance. Should those rules be made intentionally difficult in order to discourage their abuse? Or do the rules appear designed purposely to keep poor people mired in poverty?

5. What do you think of Jamie and his threats to apply for custody of Mia?

6. Talk about the ways in which Maid highlights the discrepancies between rich and poor?

7. What is your take-away from reading Land’s memoir? Is it an eye-opener, or does it confirm your ideas of life under the poverty?

Here is another set of questions from readinggroupguides.com:

1. What were your opinions about poverty and the poor before you read MAID? What were the sources of the information that influenced these opinions?

2. What is class prejudice? What ideas make up the “wall of stigmas” that Land is faced with? What explains the psychology of antagonism toward the poor?

3. Why had each of Land’s parents “moved on”? What explains the emotional abandonment of their daughter and granddaughter? How did this lack of support affect Land?

4. In what ways does cleaning people’s houses seem like “a last resort” to Land? What are the effects of feeling “invisible” at a job?

5. What are the particular challenges for Mia? What’s most important for children affected by poverty?

6. What state and federal programs are helpful to Hand and Mia? What are the challenges of accepting such assistance?

7. What explains Travis’ “lack of desire to wander, or wonder, or learn”? What else might prevent people from wanting to understand themselves and the world more?

8. When plagued by deep grief or other emotional pain, Land gave it her attention because “the pain didn’t like to be ignored. It needed to be loved.” What does this mean? What are other healthy responses to grief or loss?

9. Moving into the small studio apartment, Land struggles to get rid of things “equally useless and priceless.” What is the power or importance of material things? In what ways is a family’s history carried in things or not?

10. After beting overwhelmed while cleaning The Clown House, Land calls Pam, who, after listening, reminds her to “trust your strength.” What are Land’s particular strengths? How does she stay hopeful and motivated?

11. Consider the various different houses Land cleans: The Porn House, Henry’s House, The Chef’s House, The Sad House, etc. What does each reveal about those who live there? In what ways is each house challenging for Land?

12. After the frightening car accident involving Mia, Land argues to her father that she needed “to be able to tell people.” Why is this? What does Land need from others?

13. What about Missoula, Montana calls to Land? In what ways is it different from the Pacific Northwest where Land has grown up? What determines how different geographical places feel?

14. Analogous to how she cleans, Land approaches the trying challenges of poverty with “shortsightedness.” What is this? What is a healthy balance between daily focus and future planning or even dreaming?

15. In what particular ways is her client Henry valuable for Land?

16. What different kinds of writing does Land do? How is writing important to her? Of what additional value is posting her writing to a blog?

17. Over time, what does Land learn about life from cleaning and having intimate knowledge of people’s houses?

18. Land is constantly working to make “a home” for Mia and herself. What defines a place as a home?

19. Considering the epigraph from Maya Angelou, what is involved in “making a life”? What role should “making a living” play in that?

March Events

The Sun, Rider Waite Smith Tarot Card
Here’s what I’m up to in March. Note a minimum of blogging except for my book club posts on Fridays – I’m too busy doing Tarot to write about it! For a private consultation email sessarego1@gmail.com. Hope to see you in March!

March 14: Romance Book Club

Time: 1PM

Place: Arden Dimick Library

Book: The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics, by Olivia Waite

 

March 17: Tarot Readings and Workshop

Time: 10:30AM

Place: Southgate Library

 

March 19: Tarot Readings and Workshop

Time: 4PM -5PM

Place: Martin Luther King, Jr. Library

 

March 24: Tarot For Teens and Adults

Time: 4PM – 6PM

Place: Rio Linda Library

 

March 26: Tarot Workshop and Readings for Adults

Time: 6:30 – 8PM

Place: Arden Dimick Library

 

March 28: Between the Lines Book Club

Time: 10:30-12

Place: Arden Dimick Library

Book: Maid, by Stephanie Land

 

 

Where I Am and What I’ll be doing

Cover of Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics

Hey y’all! I wasn’t kidding when I said things were busy – I’ve been all over the place doing tarot workshops for teens. This coming Saturday at 10:30AM I’m doing an all-ages tarot workshop – adults welcome! Come get an introduction to the cards at Isleston Library in the beautiful Sacramento Delta.

Coming up on March 14, I’m leading Sacramento Public Library’s Romance Book Club at Arden Dimick Library at 1pm. Our book is The Lady’s Guide to Celestial Mechanics by Olivia Waite. Snacks provided!

On the fourth Saturday of every month we have Between the Lines Book Club, also at Arden Dimick Library, at 10:30AM. Our March date is March 28. We are reading Maid by Stephanie Land.