The Tarot card for 2020 is The Emperor. The Emperor has never been my favorite card in the deck. Nor am I particularly averse to him either. And so at the beginning of this year I figured he would be a somewhat boring focus, but I was determined to make use of this archetype to my advantage.
I had originally set the intention that I would face my financial fears (and I have many of them) and learn to empower myself in the “business” side of my business. And now, in the midst of this pandemic, I am engaging with this archetype in ways I never could have imagined. The Emperor and all he represents are so present and in my face that I honestly cannot see around them to what lies beyond.
So here I am in “Financial Fears Boot Camp.” My household lost 95% of our income in the past month due to the pandemic, and it is unclear when or even if many of those gigs will come back. My partner is a performing and teaching musician and much of my work involved public events and classes. Now, like so many, we find ourselves trying to find new avenues to offer our services in quarantine-safe ways, while homeschooling our children, while navigating the overwhelming and confusing (and ever-changing) paperwork involved with the various economic-relief programs we are applying for, working to ensure our families health and safety, and attempting to create a new budget in the darkness of a complete unknown. We vacillate between feeling deep gratitude for the many blessings we have and frustration for being expected to be productive, creative, and entrepreneurial in the midst of trauma and grief. Our days are a blur of scrambling to catch as many balls before they drop as possible, doing what we can to preserve our health (both mental and physical), and paralyzing anxiety and well I guess shock.
Early this week I finally pulled out The Emperor card from The Dreaming Way Tarot and set him on my desk in front of a stack of the largest books in my library (my makeshift computer-stand for all those video conferences) where I can see him as I work. He is a reminder of what I’m grappling with and that in January I had promised to myself (albeit naively) that by the end of this year I would not be afraid to engage with this archetype anymore.
As my partner and I adjust to groundlessness in alternating bouts of complete awkwardness and surprising moments of grace… we realize there are so many throughout the world who are facing harder loss. We brace for the possibility that there are bigger challenges still ahead. But more and more I am beginning to realize that so much of the discomfort we are feeling is the patriarch’s own discomfort at being told he must go home, he must be passive, he must take shelter in the domestic; that his system on its own is not as strong as he had thought/hoped/insisted. We are starting to notice that the Emperor’s clothing is not what we had been told.
Each year I check in with my birth card and consider how it played out in my previous year. Then I spend some time considering how that archetype may effect my upcoming year. My birth card is 8 Strength. The last half of 2019 taught me valuable (albeit scary and challenging) lessons about fortitude. Learning to not expend more emotional energy than necessary. To leap the hurdles as I get to them and not waste my energy either in nervous anticipation or after-the-fact anxiety. Strength (or the depletion of it, rather) taught me to be more present. For 2020 I’m approaching my birth card in a much more literal way that I’ve never considered much in my contemplative practice before: exploring Strength as it physically manifests in the world. Two days before my birthday in December I was in a car accident. Although minor, it physically effected me quite a bit. My chiropractor describes me as hyper-mobile. I’m flexible, my bones float in and out of place easily; a combination of some natural hyper-extension and 22 years of “finding my edge and letting go” in yoga. My chiropractor urged me to shift my focus in my exercise to building strength. Not to go “as far as I can go” into a pose but to exercise restraint, pull back just a bit so that my focus shifts to developing muscular endurance and strength rather than length and surrender. “You’ve got that part down. You have got to build strength to keep from being totally knocked out of place.” I laughed. Psychologically as well as physically, flexibility without developed strength just leaves you vulnerable to any bump in the road. I’m interested in finding where the two overlap as well. So for the first time my Tarot practice is going to focus a bit on my physical wellbeing and experience of life. (Tarot deck: Rider-Smith-Waite / page in photo from Magic of I, 2020 planner / domesticated cat skull from Oracle, Kansas City)
When I started reading Tarot professionally several years ago (for strangers, for money) I had already been studying and working with the cards for 20 years. But I was afraid to have my name associated with this largely misunderstood practice. So I chose Moth & Candle to put on my business card instead. Kept myself removed, never put my face on my website, and kept it quiet from most people who knew me. Then as my life changed and I needed to support myself on my own financially, Tarot was the one avenue of my work that was consistently there for me. As I started to be more public about my career path I got some push back, some raised eyebrows, even some “poor fallen woman” shakes of the head. Cartomancy is a living and evolving art form that has deep roots… as long as there have been playing cards there have been people assigning significance to them. I’m honored to carry on the tradition, to protect the lineage, to help push it forward and watch it transform to meet the needs of people now in this time. I still get mixed reactions when I tell people what I do for a living. But I no longer hesitate before I tell them. I am a card reader.
Every once in a while I “fall in love” (not romantically) with a client. Today it happened FIVE times. One man in his thirties, three young men in their twenties who came as a group (two fresh off of heartbreak who refreshingly carried no bitterness, just eagerness to avoid the same pitfalls again), and the woman who took this photo. She is facing major life changes beyond her control as well as significant heartbreaking grief. Their individual cards and readings fade from my memory. They normally do. I read cards in the moment and try not to make a habit of hanging onto personal info that comes up once the client has left my table. It’s their information, not mine. But the memory of having had deeply personal conversations with people that are so genuinely interested in bettering themselves and consciously finding their way through life lingers. When their eyes widen or their posture changes and the recognition arises… that’s what stays with me. So here is a photo of me, dehydrated and bedraggled, but absolutely smitten with the beautiful soul I just read for who asked if she could include me and Sadie in the photo of her cards.
New clients tend to panic when they see “The Devil” card show up in their reading. But really it’s just referring to patterns and habits we’ve developed that are no longer serving us: everything from that daily Frappuccino all the way to toxic relationships. This past weekend a very calm and poised woman sat at my table. When we got to “The Devil” in her reading she stopped me, looked me in the eye and said, “I know this well. I quit heroin after a decade of abuse 11 months ago.” I looked at her, “Whoa. That is not small. Good for you!!!” We high-fived, celebrated her strength and accomplishment, and talked about learning to have tea with our personal demons. I love my job. It’s odd, I agree. But not many other jobs have opportunities for such intense and pure moments of connection with strangers on a daily basis. I will always be grateful to this art form.
Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate partnerships. February 15th – 17th you can book a special Tarot session for two people! Treat someone you love (whether romantic partner or best friend / sibling) to an in-depth session for the two of you together! Join Tarot reader Laura Pensar in the Moth & Candle Studio for an in-depth Tarot reading for both of you. This private session includes hot tea and cookies, full reading with all the Tarot insight we can talk about in 45 minutes, and a Valentine printed with your personalized Tarot Soul Card* interpretations for each of you to take home!
$80 for a 45 minute session for two people. Reservations required. Reserve your space by emailing Laura directly with the time you prefer and she will invoice you to hold your spot!
Please email Laura to reserve your time from the list below:
Friday 2/15: 4pm, 5pm, 6pm, 7pm
Saturday 2/16: 1pm, 2pm, 3pm
Sunday 2/17: 11am, 12pm, 1pm
*Your Tarot Soul Card is calculated using your birth date (month, day, year). Prior to your appointment I will determine the TSC for both of you and write a brief interpretation of your cards individually and together. You will receive this TSC reading printed on a card for each of you. We will use the TSC reading as a starting point for your full in-person reading at the studio. The TSC is based on the method developed by renowned Tarot expert Mary K. Greer.
Laura Pensar brings over 25 years of Tarot study and experience to her coaching sessions. LP is passionate about demystifying the cards and believes understanding the history and origins of cartomancy (the art of reading cards) will help you get the most from your own cartomancy practice.
Coaching available in any/all of the following:
Tarot Basics: how to quickly get started working with the cards personally
Tarot Spreads: understanding how spreads function, different spreads for different topics/needs, and how to develop your own spreads
Cartomancy: lessons in various forms of card reading including Lenormand, playing cards, and oracle decks.
Directed Studies in Tarot: in-depth study and practice in a focus area of your choice (specific cards, spread development, reading tips and advice, working with specific decks, etc)
One-on-one coaching sessions are $50 for half an hour. Contact Laura to begin your studies.
Tarot can be an inspirational and motivating tool. Some of the most beautiful and moving conversations I’ve ever had were over the cards. Tarot sessions have the potential to help clarify goals, identify blockages, tackle difficult decisions, process emotions and navigate complex interpersonal relationships. The simple act of contemplating cards you have chosen at random can be profoundly empowering. Have a cup of tea with me in my studio as we discuss your path and your cards.
Private sessions are 45 minutes. Individual $60 / Two-People $90. Full payment due at time of booking.
Booking a reading with me implies consent and agreement with all terms noted on the Ethics and Conditions page. For tips on what to expect and how to get the most out of your Tarot session, read this post.