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The Beginning

It was the spring of my 17th year that I discovered my first Tarot Deck. I thought it was beautiful. Having no idea what it meant, I bought it for that reason alone. I had played card games all my life, so I felt familiar with 52 or 53 cards. I didn’t understand why there were no Jacks, but I assumed that the Joker must be the same as the Fool. The deck was The Aquarian Deck and reflected the style of my childhood somehow. Both clean lines of my father’s architecture and curves of my mother’s paintings and sculptures, and her color palette, as well. The pictures of the cards I didn’t recognize reminded me of my favorite series of children’s books, The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis.

On the surface, I had everything going for me by normal standards. I had friends. I was the Head Girl of my school. I had just traveled to Australia with my father’s new family. I had a lead in the school musical,  I was a winning speech team member, and was in a top jazz choir. However, as with many of us when some terrible things happen, there was an inexplicable undercurrent. I felt suicidal.

I was raped by some boys in my choir on a field trip that January. In those days the term “date rape” was just beginning to surface. I hardly knew it was a thing. All I knew was that boys I assumed I knew had crossed my boundaries with no hesitation at all, held me down in a room full of six people and fucked me. Somehow one of them coerced me into a late night endless one-sided discussion in the hotel hallway so as not to tell anyone in charge. He convinced me no one would believe me, and if they did his life would be ruined whereas nothing was asked how I was or how I was affected beyond the idea that it was my fault for entering their room with a “friend”. To be frank, I was simply in shock and in a process of complete disassociation that would last for decades.

How could a Tarot Deck possibly help? At the time, the most it could possibly do was to distract me. Sincerely, I needed a distraction. I was happy to reach into my less acceptable side in those months that followed. I perceived Tarot to somehow be a part of that. I was not one to pierce my skin or get a tattoo, but I could definitely shuffle a deck of cards impressively, I could interpret works of art, having been taken to the art museum with my artist mother a million times growing up, and I liked the idea of somehow never walking into the wrong room or making a mistake again. I was a natural intuitive investigator.

What I could not predict is how nine times out of ten, I managed to really get very close to what my friends were going through when I “read” their cards through a combination of using the pamphlet included with the deck I bought and my intuition about symbology.  That is how I began trusting Tarot. From that point on, I was hooked on finding out more. I had all sorts of internal taboos for a decade about what I was allowed to do with them, and what a reading was supposed to look like and feel like. And, reading the cards did not stop me from making many more mistakes. This did not frustrate my curiosity thankfully.

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Sage of Energy

Sage of Energy

It may seem unimportant, but my
Paintings keep the world guarded.
They are dreaming that connects
Before and after to this person,
Who drifts on the narrow ledge of
Life. Every event draws a step on time’s
Labyrinth, is a forest fire creating a new
World, and every action has results –
Whether armistice or war, freedom or
Slavery. My sunflowers soak up poisons
We’ve made for land, my snake vies with
Sun for importance, and I draw my
Soul in them, these creatures and fires keep
Me ablaze with a bright lust for life..

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson

Four of Energy

The habit of giving it away can
Burn down attachment to any
Circumstances that appear to be
More important than they are, and
Allow celebrations, both pre-arranged
And unplanned, on crisp autumn
Days when the harvest is rich with
Apples and honey and there is a
Handy lute to strike up accordance
And early spring when joys cannot
Be held in reserve and tasted later
Even the memories of them fade our
Edges, photographs with sepia tones,
These little illuminations we share.

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson

Five of Textiles

Every piece of fabric has two sides. Even
The simple ones do, though you can’t tell
The difference, and perhaps that is
What makes simple ones so worthy. I love
The complicated ones, with stitchery and
Patterns in the weave. Who can help admiring
the opposite, one side to the other? I am
Likely to wear the poor-looking backside of
A textile to fool the Fools. Let them presume
The poor gypsy wearing rags, frayed on
The edges and near the seams, if there are any.
I limp along through that fake hope of a
Crowd hiding scratchy interiors, towards my
Self, comfortable within, turning inside out.

2013 © Amanda Morris Johnson

Three of Vessels

Yes. This is the wet stamp of true
Triumph for containment. Kisses. An
Optimistic embrace of this generous
Moment when I can simply relax
In my soulful nudity and be who I am,
Right down to my emotional habits and lets 
Intuition guide me towards a state of ecstasy,
Shared with tender smiles and laughter. 
That it dares not cover my embarrassment
Instead stripping me down to susceptible
Joys that I wish would last forever, it’s
Like being in a naturally warm pool out there,
Impervious to weather, but eventually
I will have to climb out. Just not yet.

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson

Two of Tools

Sometimes deciding on which tool
To use is half the battle. My struggle
To be correct, to find a solution that
Works for everyone has a surprisingly
Uncomfortable answer: vulnerability. I
Admit the false premise that this belt
Hung around my waist actually has
Something useful for every situation.
It is a step. Sometimes the tools
I have are the worst remedy and
Holding them is a dangerous peace at
Best, and so I lay them down at my own feet
Listening in silence, and at last access
The utility I abandoned: acceptance.

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson

Sage of Tools

Finally, there is no avoiding this just and unjust
Confession: While the mighty blade protects and
Provides; it also defeats and destroys. As much a
Guardian as an Enemy, the equity of dreams
And nightmares of enlightenment, it comes to how
I use the edge that counts and that is why
I am wise to use it less than most. Grasping
The power weld with arms requires being adept.
Indifferent to the excruciating details of judgment
I prove life is as I want to live it, to be, because
I am an example of legendary existence.
Fairness is both illusion and true, and I bow,
Knowing there are no accidents, no mistakes.

The Sage of Tools is wise to how dangerous the tool, any tool, is in the wrong hands, and so he or she takes on responsibility for it in a way that no other card does, seeking neutrality even when it is illusive, and mastery of skills and strategy. I imagine this card as a sword master of old Japan, the Samurai class, who worked within specific disciplines. The sword allows for power over others, absolutely, but in this school of thought, power over one’s own passions counted as well. In many schools of initiation this is a peak experience, to master one’s passions and be able to live from a responsive and not a reactive place and finally live as an actor on the stage of life. As a Sage of this suit, we expect proficiency of some sort to occur in our mental work this lifetime. This is a different stage of learning from apprenticeship, advocacy or embodiment of principles of a minor suit. This is a refinement of mental skills taking place here and passing the trials that seem “impossible.” In all honesty, tests simply review what we have just learned and see if we really believe it and get it. An adept has done this and teaches that the main strategy is to stay alert and aware. Often called upon for strategic advice, to answer challenges no one else will touch and to be a surrogate judge in the affairs of others, the Sage of Tools offers a unique and honest approach to any situation that comes up because thinking five moves ahead comes naturally. Finally, the Sage of Tools understands that every rule is meant to be defied at one point or another, and views this aspect cheerfully because it simply means that there has been an evolution in that particular school of thought. When we think of this Sage in comparison to the other three Minor Arcana suits, we can think of the mental abilities, intellect and intelligence to be in dominion over the emotions, the body and the passionate spirit. This may cause some doubts of the feelings, the material world, and the spiritual drive to take precedence.

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson

Five of Vessels

The challenge I have in removing regret,
That space that brings nothing but
Pain into my heart, is that it is a hook
In my heart and I am a dear wife who
Abandoned one life’s sleep for another on
The shores of a great, nameless sea. Truly
Determined that my children would have
Tomorrow and my dreams would have a coffin.
I float in a life raft, then, on this sea of
Time that never forgives me completely.
The process of grief unwinds hidden
Ropes that seem useless until I see the
Indifference towards my suffering. They
Say anchors are hope to sail another day.

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson

Two of Vessels

Blessed are the mystic waters
Bagged up by glaciers in caverns
That spill over. Crystallization of
Those immortal years show exactly
How we’ve felt about our wet berths
Through time, frozen solid. Yet, there is
Potential for mutable and fluid release.
The liquid of dreams shared can cure the
World of illusions. It isn’t always the way
We expect healing to go. Clarity in a stone
Reflection of ice can be a load to
Handle, melting a drop at a time those  
Judgmental expectations until warmth returns,
and softness floods into a beating heart.

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson

Ten of Energy

Light is enough, and so when we arrive
At the end, it is no different from looking at
The sun. Going blind is definitely a possibility
Because the loss of perspective about
What we believe has likely already happened.
Though we may be towing a spiritual line
That we understood before, now we’ve gone
Elsewhere with our passions, climbing into
This immense spotlight, the brightness we
Recognize in others hits our heart like a
Lightning strike that exonerates the difference
We were so sure of and dependent on.
Ultimately, it is going to outshine even that
Discovery and pivot us in habit, to begin anew.

copyright © 2013 Amanda Morris Johnson