Shadowscapes Day 5: King of Pentacles

Today’s card is King of Pentacles.

I see a dragon and a man standing as a tree in the picture. It was hard for me to interpret, so I turned to Shadowscapes Companion, which said:

“When he sets his mind to an idea, it becomes polished brilliance. He is reliable and adept at what he does. He is a steady and solid support should you need someone to lean on. … He knows that wealth will be shared and shared again, and from those fruits, new seeds will sprout and grow to be mighty trees.”

I think this card is about regeneration and being fully grounded. It’s also about abundance from every resource around us: the loams of the earth, the ancient stones and bones of the deep. This speaks to me because I try to be resourceful and grounded however I can.

Shadowscapes Day 4: Five of Cups

Today’s card is Five of Cups.

I wanted to ask for inspiration when I drew the card. This is the first card I drew from the Minor Arcana, and before I read Shadowscapes Companion‘s description of it, I want to look at the picture to see what I notice.

It’s a beautiful card! I love how water is flowing all around. There are five cups in the picture (obviously) and the body of water she is standing is made up of little figures! It’s like people are supporting her. She’s gazing into the goldfish in the bowl, and water fairies are standing behind her, while a fairy stands in front of her, seeming to ask her about something. She doesn’t notice because she is looking at the fishbowl.

The book says the Five of Cups “wallows in regret and loss. It is a rejection of pleasure, feeling sorrow, and wishing for what might have been.” THIS IS TOTALLY WHAT I AM GOING THROUGH RIGHT NOW! I have felt so much sadness, cried so many tears, and just felt grief lately. Seeing teachers return to school has been especially hard this month because I feel like I’ve fallen behind my peers who are now in their sixth year of teaching, and I also remember what a hard time I had working in schools.

So to sum up, I do feel inspired by water: the grief that I feel, and the small signs of support that are around me. I feel inspired by the water fairies.

Shadowscapes Day 3: King of Swords

Today’s card is King of Swords.

Coincidentally, I drew the companion to the card I drew yesterday, the Queen of Swords. They have some similarities in the way they are led by truth and send birds to fly away and bring their findings back to them.

According to Shadowscapes Companion, the owl and twin ravens in the image “are the balance of night and day. They are the sharp clarity of the sun, and the owl is the truth that can only be heard distinctly in velvety light of stars and moon.”

I think the avian companions, flying, and balance of night and day, art and science resonate with me in this card. It gives a feeling of completion and cycles that I’m trying to embrace in my life.

Shadowscapes Day 2: Queen of Swords

Today’s card is Queen of Swords.

I wanted to find out what I should do today so I was asking that question as I shuffled and drew a card. The Queen of Swords is very me! I identify strongly with what Shadowscapes Companion says about her:

“With Her Blade, the Queen of Swords slices through lies and deceptions to the heart of truth. She has gazed within and knows that when she turns her eyes to a mirror, the reflection is exactly what it should be, and the light that shines within her soul blazes bright in the glass.”

What stands out the most to me in the picture are the purple dragon lilies that stand for inner strength. I will draw on my strength, seek and send out truth to the world, and let it come back to me.

Shadowscapes writing prompts — The cards will tell

In the summer of 2012, my friend Coryell gave me a deck of tarot cards called Shadowscapes. I’ve never really practiced tarot since then. A month ago, I joined a virtual writing group that meets on Monday nights, and we usually do two writing prompts and read each other our responses. I’ve been in a reflective mood and wanting to process everything that is going on, and I thought of using the tarot cards as a tool.

Next Monday, I will be leading the writing session based on tarot cards!

I also want to get more familiar with the deck myself, so I’m committing to waking up and drawing a single card to see what I need today and why I’m feeling this way. I will be sharing my writing here because I want to use it as a writing exercise as well.

Here is today’s: XV The Devil

Wow! That a scary one to start with. I have been feeling very afraid. According to Shadowscapes Companion, the card means “losing independence, overindulgence, choosing to stay in the dark. Feeling hopelessness close in and limit the options.”

When I look closely at the card, I see a woman whose wrists are chained to a cave, and the key is right above her, if only she would look up. She actually isn’t trapped because the world is open to her on either side. I feel like that sometimes because I can be very focused on one thing that I forget to look up and see that I can be free.

On the other hand, I feel read by the way the card says I am overindulging. Because I am. I have been treating myself to boba too often and I really have no reason to. I wonder if that counts as a drinking habit. I also definitely feel hopeless by collective and individual things. I feel a sense of despair, like how in the picture, the devil is tap dancing on the walls. Seeing what I have seen the past two weeks—it’s just harrowing. I am in a time of my life when I feel like I am wrestling with the devil but I am confident that I can break through because I have gotten away from the devil before.

Xiomara, Yahaira, Camino and Emoni: Elizabeth Acevedo’s Teen Girl Characters

Clap When You Land and With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo just does not miss!

There are a lot of YA novels about teen girls, but hers center them. It’s not that her main characters are perfectly active agents in control of their lives—just the opposite. Things happen to them that are outside their control. Probably more so because they are young Afro-Latinas. But we find out their reactions, plans and dreams and the way Acevedo writes these girls, they are in such good hands and I close the book feeling like, “They will be fine.” They are cared for, they know who they are, and they have mujeres in their lives who have their backs.

Her two books following The Poet X (2018) pulled so many emotions out of me. With the Fire on High (2019) made me want to be Emoni’s friend. She’s a teen mom who is passionate about cooking in her senior year of high school. I love the way Emoni talked about virginity. Tyrone, her baby daddy, was the first (and only) person she had sex with, yet everyone thinks she is a ho because she got pregnant.

There are so many details that gave the reader a sense of Emoni’s reality as a teen mom: doing her daughter’s hair before she goes to school; being able to sign permission slips for her daughter, but not for herself; and getting her phone confiscated because of school policy when she really needs it in case her daughter’s daycare needs her. These hassles show that she is a high school student at the same time that she is a mom, and she has so many responsibilities that she keeps to herself, which makes people think she is stuck-up.

But that’s ok because she has Abuela, Ms. Fuentes, Angelica and Malachi. I love how they support her even when she isn’t sure where she stands. I especially love Malachi, the transfer student who became her love interest. I love that he doesn’t judge or like her less for being a mom, and he doesn’t rush her into having sex, even though Emoni was fully prepared for that to be the case. [spoiler] When they were about to have sex on their culinary arts field trip to Spain, I LOVE how Malachi was a virgin and Emoni obviously was not! And they talked about it like adults, and it didn’t stop them from being attracted to and friends with each other.

On the other hand, masculinity was all the way toxic in Clap When You Land (2020). Camino and Yahaira never knew each other existed until their father died in a plane crash on his way to the Dominican Republic, where he had another family. The book is about the messy and painful aftermath of his death and the girls grieved. I had so many questions while reading this book and it really took me on a trip.

Like Camino and Yahaira, I had so many questions:

If you have two wives, do you love one let alone both of them? Yahaira’s mami told her that, he might have loved his wives, but his love for his children were not in question.

How do you grieve for someone who has lied to you your whole life? There isn’t an answer.

Just how much can a woman survive? I think Zoila, Yahaira’s mom and later, Camino’s stepmom, really stood out to be in her strength. At first, I thought having your husband not only cheat on you, but to start and raise a whole other family in your home country, for 16 years, would be like dying a slow death.

But Zoila surprised. Her character arc was amazing. She went from being a general’s only child, to a wife whose husband betrayed her in the worst way, to a widow, to the stepmom of the child of her husband and her friend.

I love how she had strengths that didn’t jump out until the times it mattered: She protected her stepdaughter, fiercely, even though just stepping foot on the island where her husband started a second family was excruciating for her. I also love how Camino and Yahaira slowly figured out who their mom is. Camino thought she was “una chica plastica” and Yahaira thought she was a “showpiece of a woman,” but she turned out to be a true matriarch.

The idea of a man fractured, and a family fractured, has been on my mind after reading The Bluest Eye. The pain, grief and utter sadness is also palpable here. Some reviews said the language in this book felt bruised, raw and wounded and they are absolutely right. My chest literally hurt thinking about what Zoila, Tia, and even Camino’s mom, and the girls must have gone through.

But I think I was wrong to be angry at Yano for being a womanizer. The book isn’t about him. It’s about the women healing (Tia and Camino), defending (Zoila) and making moves (Yahaira) in the absence of him.

And that is just so beautiful.