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The Filler of Cups

I like to consider myself a practical person.

I learned a long time ago to wear comfortable shoes if I was going to be on my feet a long time. I figured out that I should drink my coffee before noon if I want to have any chance at sleeping before 2 a.m. And I taught myself to never read the comment section. Well, almost never.

In addition to being practical, I am a logical woman.

I believe in science and reason. I listen to the experts. And of course, I only subscribe to a very, very limited number of conspiracy theories.

All of that said, over the last year, there has been something that has brought me solace despite it’s inability to adhere to any of my preconceived notions of reality or soundness.

You see, in April of 2020, facing the prospect of being confined alone in my house with a small child for the foreseeable future, I decided I needed a new hobby. Like any good elder-millennial, I turned to the internet to find “Top Quarantine Hobbies for 30-Something Single Moms Working 80 Hours a Week and About to Lose Their Shit!” I came away from that search with four distinct possibilities:

Puzzles. Embroidery. Learning to actually do makeup. And tarot cards.

The puzzles were fun for a bit. But my cats would occasionally carry away pieces in the middle of the night and nothing robbed my OCD brain of joy quite like a puzzle I couldn’t complete.

The embroidery was also neat. I made several things – all from patterns – and while I was pretty decent at it all, I quickly learned that I could either have fingertips that weren’t constantly bleeding or I could embroider. There was no in between.

I turned to makeup next and that was a ride. After dropping a good chunk of my personal GDP at various online retailers, I learned that there are somethings that a woman who once wore bright blue mascara in public (thanks middle school) might just not be destined to learn. Sure, I got the basics of contouring (pretty legit by the way) but no part of me will ever be able to draw winged eyeliner that is suitable for public display.

That left me with tarot. I initially bought a deck from a local retailer because they were having a clearance sale and clearance sales speak to my soul in a way nothing else quite does. I spent two days just looking through the cards and questioning my sanity. After that, I bought a few how-to books but even narrowing those down was an intimidating task. I did manage to settle on a few favorite books and would spend my evenings reciting the meaning of the Major Arcana cards in my hot, bubble bath. Within a few weeks, I realized my clearance deck of cards weren’t going to be the best starter set (they were beautiful, but not for me) so I bought a second deck off Etsy and decided to start with a simple “one card a day” pull.

I’d awake in the morning and after tending to the necessities, I would shuffle and pull a card. I’d look at it a bit giving myself time to listen to my instinct. I didn’t then (and still do not) expect the cards to somehow predict my life or give me the winning lottery numbers. No, rather, I came to rely upon them as a helpful tool in reflection, discovery, and even meditation.

This month marks my one-year anniversary with my tarot deck so to speak. Or should I say, decks. I have multiple now. Each serving a different purpose. I also have journals for my daily pulls and notebooks full of reminders and curiosities from more in-depth self-readings. I have even, on occasion, read the cards for close friends.

Yesterday, I pulled the 5 of Cups. If you search for the image, you will find a hooded figure appearing to mourn three empty chalices despite the fact that two others – potentially full – stand to the right. For daily draws, I use the Modern Witch Tarot deck and the woman on the card actually looks a bit like me. As I studied the card yesterday morning and reflected on myself and my life, I could clearly see a connection. One of sorrow. One of loss. One of grief. But of course, one of hope. Yes, the fallen chalices are empty but they are not broken and she stands in the presence of an abundance of water. It is okay for her to be upset about what she has lost or perhaps, what she worked hard for that never came to fruition. I feel her frustration. I understand her resentment. We don’t know how her cups spilled. An accident perhaps, but there is also the distinct possibility that it was not. Either way, it evokes in me a sense of unfairness. Unfair situations suck. They are draining. They make you question everything including yourself.

But in I also see the bright colors peaking from beneath her dark coat and the determination in her jawline. She will not stand there for much longer. No. She will take off her coat, roll up her sleeves, and she will refill her soul with every ounce she collects for her cups. I get the sense that she has done it before and that she will do it again and again. Not because she has to do so. But because it is what she does. More than that, it is who she is. She fills life to the brim — for herself and for others.

And you know what? So do I.

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