I am going to do a month-by-month forecast in which I ask the cards for two things: a “heads up” for that month and a “heart to heart” for that month.
For the purposes of this reading, “heads up” represents something I need to be on the lookout for, a possibility I need to be aware of, something that will require my brain or mind, objectivity, and analytical skills. “Heart to heart” refers to how things might unfold at an emotional level or an area that would benefit from me following my heart (or at least consulting my heart).
Next I need to choose a deck. Will it be Tarot? Oracle? Lenormand? Kipper?
Since this reading is about a New Year, I am going to use a new deck that I have not read with before, gifted to me by my daughter for Christmas: The Animal Totem Tarot by Leeza Robertson, illustrated by Eugene Smith (Llewellyn). Here we go!
Totems: Capybara, Dragonfly
Heads Up: FIVE OF CUPS / Capybara
The capybara thrives in water (suit of Cups), giving this card a link to emotions and the subconscious. There is a sense of loss or a “death” that threatens to blind me to a chance for a new beginning. I need to use my intellect/conscious mind to resist the temptation to dwell on loss or failure, guilt, shame, or ghosts from the past. I have to say, I don’t like the image on this card at all. I hate seeing the poor capybara wounded and dead, lying on the shore. It’s disturbing to me.
Heart to Heart: SEVEN OF CUPS / Dragonfly
Although it could be seen as a creature of Air, dragonflies are often found near water. Several years of their lives are spent as nymphs living in fresh water. The Seven of Cups suggests that I may be emotionally attracted to so many different ideas or dreams, that I have trouble accomplishing any of them. I need to explore which of these ideas or dreams are merely illusions and which have the potential to be realized.
With two CUPS cards, WATER (emotions, subconscious, relationships) is the key element for January. Both the Five and the Seven can suggest instability or change. Seven can also suggest spirituality as well as learning from one’s mistakes.
Totems: Tortoise, Elk
I see an emphasis here on what I have built and what I am still building, bit by bit, step by step. The suit of Pentacles is about the physical, material world, and the number Nine speaks of a cumulative effect over time, even as I move into a new phase or stage of development. I need to use my intellect/conscious mind to see the bigger picture, to understand the value of stamina and the “long haul.” Slow down. Stop and smell the roses.
Heart to Heart: SEVEN OF PENTACLES / Elk
The young elk on this card is “too young to mate and too old to play with the younger elk.” Emotionally, I may feel I am in limbo or a holding pattern, but that’s okay. It may take time to reach my goal(s), and I need to focus on what I am becoming, the process and the progress. I need to put aside my doubt and trust that things are moving forward whether I can see it or not.
The theme for February is PENTACLES/EARTH, the here and now, real-world situation and the importance of determination, patience, stability, and security.
Totems: Squirrel, Cow
Heads Up: FOUR OF PENTACLES / Squirrel
The Pentacles theme carries over into March in the form of the squirrel, a creature famous for planning ahead, gathering and hiding food to sustain it during harsh winter months. I find it interesting that the card is showing up for “March,” a month that announces the approach of Spring. Could this be advising me to use my intellect/mind to view my physical, material needs objectively, to realize that I may be holding onto or even hoarding *things* emotionally when there is really no need to do so. Winter is not approaching, and perhaps it is appropriate to give something away or let go of something I have been clutching close to myself.
Heart to Heart: THE EMPRESS / Cow
The Empress card is linked with the planet Venus, which rules the Earth sign Taurus, the Bull. In this case, I think the card is encouraging me to nurture or nourish someone or something at an emotional level, to bring something to fruition through my guidance and care. Venus is the planet of love and appreciation, and what better way to nurture than through the use of love and appreciation? The involvement of the element Earth indicates real-world implication and results from my emotional involvement.
The EARTH theme is prominent again in March, encouraging me to be aware of my physical, material world and how I operate within it.
Totems: Eagle, Blue-Footed Booby
Heads Up: KING OF SWORDS / Eagle
The suit of Swords, representing the element Air, is a great suit to apply to matters of the “head.” The Eagle advocates a point of view that is broad, stretching far and wide, capturing the bigger picture. By allowing my mind to soar above the mundane matters of Earth, I can gain a truer, more complete picture of what is going on. Then, like the Eagle, I can swoop down to claim what I need. At the same time, the card warns me against spending too much time “in my head” on mental pursuits. I need to be present in “real time” in the “real world” as well.
Heart to Heart: KNIGHT OF CUPS / Blue-Footed Booby
The Knight of Cups is commonly known as more of a dreamer than a doer, a romantic who obsesses over things, a writer of poetry, a lover not a fighter. As my Heart-to-heart card for April, this Knight cautions me against wallowing in wishes and fantasies. If I really do have my heart set on something, I need to take action to get it. The blue-footed booby’s magic lies in his feet, specifically, in the color of his feet. A bright, intense blue attracts a mate. We can imagine that, as the Knight of Cups, the bird might focus obsessively on his feet, to the exclusion of other things that could be equally important.
AIR and WATER line up nicely in April, with an Air card for “Heads up” and a Water card for “Heart to Heart.” However, both of these card depict birds, so I get a sense of how “flying above the earth” might be important. Two court cards suggest that other people or perhaps my own personality traits play a large role in how the month evolves.
Totems: Swan, Alpaca
Heads Up: THE LOVERS / Swan
The Lovers card can be said to be an Air card, as it is associated with the zodiac sign Gemini, an Air sign. Swans, of course, are most commonly seen on the water, but they can fly, and are most impressive to watch when they do: Click HERE to see a low-flying swan. Ultimately, The Lovers card is about two halves (perhaps with opposing energies as seen in the black swan and white swan) creating a whole, whether in reference to a relationship or to other energy we want to partner with. Traditionally, in Tarot, we also have the “choice” interpretation for The Lovers. I may need to make an important choice this month and, in addition, demonstrate a commitment to that choice.
Heart to Heart: PAGE OF PENTACLES / Alpaca
The alpaca on this card is young, not yet able to give of her gifts to the “family business.” She needs to take the time to grow and mature. It’s human nature to want to rush forward into something we perceive as desirable. The message to me here is that even if I am strongly drawn to something emotionally, it will not be wise to hurry things. I need to “grow into” things and accept that the timing is not right just now for me to leap forward, no matter how badly I want to see my dream become a reality.
As a Major Arcana card, The Lovers dominates, while the Page of Pentacles urges restraint and patience, emphasizing the need to learn and grow.
Totems: Capybara, Roadrunner
Heads Up: FIVE OF CUPS / Capybara
I wondered if any of my cards would appear for more than one month and, sure enough, we have a repeat performance from the capybara. It would have to be the card with the image I dislike so much, wouldn’t it? Probably that means I need to pay special attention to it. As I wrote above, “The capybara thrives in water (suit of Cups), giving this card a link to emotions and the subconscious. There is a sense of loss or a ‘death’ that threatens to blind me to a chance for a new beginning. I need to use my intellect/conscious mind to resist the temptation to dwell on loss or failure, guilt, shame, or ghosts from the past. Perhaps this refers to the same issue or issues referenced in January, or maybe it’s something else.
Heart to Heart: PAGE OF SWORDS / Roadrunner
The appearance of yet another Page reinforces the idea of “learning” or “growing” that is needed. However, the Page of Swords has a fleeting quality and suggests a message or flash of inspiration that is here one minute, gone the next. I am being put on notice about a message to be received at an emotional level, a message I may not hear or understand if I am not alert. One example that comes to my mind is the fact that I often have strong emotional reactions to the lyrics of songs. Perhaps instead of simply reacting, I will need to quickly (roadrunner) seek a meaning at an intellectual or mental level.
WATER and Air team up again, this time with Water serving as the “heads up” and Air as the “heart to heart.” It occurs to me that I have not yet seen a Fire card in this reading.
Totems: Giraffe, Mantis
Heads Up: THREE OF PENTACLES / Giraffe
I love this! For “Heads Up” we have a giraffe lifting his head via his long, long neck to nibble on vegetation above him. Keywords commonly linked with the Three of Pentacles are teamwork, resources, and manifestation. Pentacles (Earth) provides a physical, material context. I am encouraged to use my intellect/mind to explore and discover people, places, or things that I might enlist to further my goals. The giraffe “reaches up” and I am being advised to “reach out” and bring in assistance in whatever form I need it.
Heart to Heart: THE HERMIT / Mantis
A contrast and comparison can be made here between the “reaching out to others” message of the Three of Pentacles and the introspection and solitude typically referenced in The Hermit. Possibly I am being told to withdraw emotionally for a much-needed rest. I can travel into the darkness of my subconscious and bring what I discover into the light. This will be especially helpful if I have a tendency to feel only gloom and doom and fears of a negative outcome.
EARTH dominates the month of July, with the suit of Pentacles and The Hermit, which is associated with the zodiac sign Virgo, an Earth sign. The contrast between “reaching out” mentally and “drawing inward” emotionally is interesting.
Totems: Lemur, Bison
Heads Up: THE SUN / Lemur
Heads up, indeed! Like the giraffe in the July set, the lemur on this card lifts his head upward. Something I did not know about ring-tailed lemurs is that not only are they NOT nocturnal like other lemurs, they literally thrive by turning their faces to the sun, basking in its light for as long as possible every day. Seen overall as a highly positive card, The Sun tells me to take a positive, optimistic view of things, to cultivate positive thoughts, to try to look for the bright side in any situation. Our perspective, attitude, and way of looking at things have a tremendous effect on our general well-being. Let the sunshine in!
Heart to Heart: KING OF PENTACLES / Bison
Another down-to-Earth card serves as advisor to my emotions and subconscious in August. With this card, we are told, “The secret is to stop looking at what is around you and start focusing on what is inside of you. For it is the condition of the inner landscape that determines the outcome of your physical world.” It can be all too easy to make excuses or succumb to laziness, when I would be much better served by following up leads, taking one step every day toward my vision, goal, or dream.
Finally we see a Fire card in the form of The Sun, linked with the astrological sign Leo. I am reminded that my intellect/mind benefits from exposure to light, to a chance to see clearly and absorb nourishing energy. Emotionally, I am again encouraged to remain down-to-earth instead of drifting along on illusions or fantasies.
Totems: Tortoise, Pig
Heads Up: NINE OF PENTACLES / Tortoise
Looks like the cards think I will need a recap of my February message in September: “I see an emphasis here on what I have built and what I am still building, bit by bit, step by step. The suit of Pentacles is about the physical, material world, and the number Nine speaks of a cumulative effect over time, even as I move into a new phase or stage of development. I need to use my intellect/conscious mind to see the bigger picture, to understand the value of stamina and the long haul. Slow down. Stop and smell the roses.” (Oh, and notice that the tortoise appears to be demonstrating a “heads up” position.)
Heart to Heart: QUEEN OF PENTACLES / Pig
I understand that in China, people plan years in advance to have children in the Year of the Pig. The Celts also considered the female pig (sow) to be auspicious. With Pentacles as the suit of Earth – time, resources, money, energy, health – the Queen encourages me to focus on myself for a change. Self-care is important, including the celebration of personal victories. In modern western culture, we tend to associate the pig with greed or sloppiness. It’s possible that at an emotional level, I might accuse myself of having those qualities when it’s simply not true.
Another EARTHY month for me, with the suit of Pentacles and the energy of the tortoise and pig in charge.
Totems: Dragonfly, Otter
Heads Up: SEVEN OF CUPS / Dragonfly
Another repeat performance, this time in the “heads up” position instead of the “heart to heart” position: “Although it could be seen as a creature of Air, dragonflies are often found near water. Several years of their lives are spent as nymphs living in fresh water. The Seven of Cups suggests that I may be emotionally attracted to so many different ideas or dreams, that I have trouble accomplishing any of them. I need to explore which of these ideas or dreams are merely illusions and which have the potential to be realized.” And in this position, I am encourage to use my intellect/mind to determine the validity of these various ideas or dreams.
Heart to Heart: SIX OF CUPS / Otter
“Playing with others” is a theme expressed by this card, which is sometimes referred to as the “nostalgia card.” There is a simple, childlike energy here, an emotional openness and freedom that we tend to lose as we grow older, as emotional burdens add up and weigh us down. I am being encouraged to “lighten up” and rediscover some of the joyful, innocent feelings I had as a child, or perhaps to encourage others to express those feelings. The number Six often represents peace, harmony, and reconciliation.
Double the CUPS, double the Water in October, bringing a focus on emotions and the subconscious. While encouraging my “inner child,” at the same time I need to take a more adult view of childish dreams and ideas that might be too fanciful or illusory.
Totems: Grasshopper, Wilson’s Plover
Heads Up: THE FOOL / Grasshopper
In the Kung Fu television series, we were introduced to the term “grasshopper” as a reference to someone who is a novice, a greenhorn, a student/disciple, a subordinate, or just simply ignorant. This certainly can apply to the Tarot Fool, but The Fool is also seen as being guided somehow by a more powerful force, which allows him to take leaps of faith and risks that just might turn out fine. The key is not being afraid to proceed without knowing everything there is to know in advance, without having total control. In November, I am encouraged to set aside the part of my intellect/mind that wants to have everything nailed down before trying anything new. Instead, I am advised to follow my gut or instincts to make a change. The Fool card is associated with the planet Uranus and/or the zodiac sign Aquarius. Uranus is the planet of change and upheaval, a rebel, planet of the unexpected.
Heart to Heart: TWO OF SWORDS / Wilson’s Plover
The Two of Swords can represent the need to decide between going with one’s head or with one’s heart. Should we use logic or intuition? Will be be content to stay on dry land or dip our toes in the water? Will I be content to sit on the fence, refusing to decide between two options? As the heart-to-heart card, I think the Two of Swords is saying that I need to think about an emotionally charged issue, in other words, bring my mind into the decision-making process to contribute logic and reason.
Both The Fool and the Two of Swords are linked with the element AIR, suggesting intellectual or mental challenges or opportunities for November.
Totems: Ferret, Tortoise
Heads Up: SEVEN OF SWORDS / Ferret
“Heads up” seems like a good caption for this image of a ferret popping its head out of a hole. The Seven of Swords is sometimes called “the thieves card,” but that is a limited perspective. When we think about it, being tricky, sneaky, or deceptive can sometimes be not only necessary but desirable. It might not work very well if we were all 100% transparent all the time, revealing everything to everyone. So let’s look at the ferret and how it uses stealth as a form of protection, as well as a form of play. At the same time, this card may be telling me that in December I will need to come to terms with a deception or “cheating” of some kind. I may need to examine an area where I am being sneaky or sly, to determine whether my behavior is really justified or necessary. And there is always the possibility of self-deception, especially since we are talking about the mind in this position.
Heart to Heart: NINE OF PENTACLES / Tortoise
The tortoise appears for the third time, this time in the heart-to-heart position: “I see an emphasis here on what I have built and what I am still building, bit by bit, step by step. The suit of Pentacles is about the physical, material world, and the number Nine speaks of a cumulative effect over time, even as I move into a new phase or stage of development.” It looks like I will need to *feel* as well as *think* in terms of the value of slow-moving progress, stamina, and patience. It’s one thing to understand the need for such an approach intellectually, and quite another to *feel* comfortable and satisfied with that approach.
Once again I get a sort of “simmer down” message for the emotional, subconscious part of my Self, with more of an active, go-get-em energy applied to the intellectual, mental part. I don’t consider myself to be an overly emotional person, in fact, probably the opposite. But perhaps that is only because I don’t tend to wear my heart on my sleeve. The expression “still waters run deep” often applies, and if emotions are allowed to run rampant, they have to express themselves somewhere, somehow, in ways that may not be helpful or desirable.
I am deriving the quintessence cards for this reading by adding the numerical values of the card numbers that appear in the “heads up” position and, separately, the numbers that appear in the “heart to heart” position. I will then reduce those numbers to the number of a Major Arcana card. This will give me a pair of totem animals for the whole year.
Heads Up: 81
8+1 = 9
THE HERMIT / Mantis
Heart to Heart: 104
1 + 0 + 4 = 5
THE HIEROPHANT / Polar Bear
The Mantis (Hermit) appeared for the month of July in the Heart-to-Heart position. I wrote about travelling into the darkness of my subconscious and bringing what I discover into the light. This could be for my own edification and use, or to help others see into their darkness. It’s not about introspection and solitude for their own sake; it’s about sharing what we gather from introspection and solitude with others in ways that might help them find their way along their path.
The Hierophant is often said to be about faith in a larger plan that we cannot see. The Polar Bear is seen as one who keeps ancestral knowledge and tradition safe and sound – a keeper of acceptable ways of being and doing. This is an interesting card to see as one of my “quintessence cards” for 2017. First of all, I don’t actually believe that there is a “larger plan.” Or, to be more precise, I don’t know whether there is one or not. I choose not to worry about it. I do not subscribe to the belief that “everything happens for a reason.” That sort of thinking does not comfort me in the least. I don’t claim to know what, where, or who the “god” or “goddess” or “God” is. I do not relate at all to The Hierophant card in traditional Tarot decks. I actually dislike it. So… perhaps there will be a lesson I need to learn about this matter in 2017, a truth I need to see revealed, or an insight I need to acquire. Time will tell.