This January's focus is on relationships, both a harmonious relationship within the self, and how that impacts our relationships with others. The cards drawn ask us to take an active approach to enhancing balance and communication this month.
This month's featured deck is the World's Tiniest Tarot Card Set, symbolizing how even the smallest positive change can make a difference. This vintage deck, a Waite-Smith clone, measures just 1" x 1.5", but includes the complete imagery and wisdom of a full-size deck. Basic interpretation information is printed on each card face, so if you find a copy of this out-of-print deck, you might also want to pick up a magnifying glass.
Jump to any week of January now:
Here's a quick look at the overall spread for January:
Theme for January: The Lovers
The Lovers, with its symbolic union of different aspects of our character, encourages us to develop a clearer sense of identity. It is just as important to honor and maintain the relationship with the self as it is the relationships we have with other people. Personal balance makes us loving and reliable partners. All of us are complicated beings; we are balancing many parts of our lives -- work, social, creative, etc. -- and each of these calls on a different part of our character to engage. Sometimes the needs in different areas can seem at odds, even making us feel like we are composed of different people. Figuring out how to make those "different people" work in partnership is tough.
Conflict Resolution for The Lovers
What opposing needs, internal or external, are you serving in your life? What are the positive aspects of each, and what makes each challenging? The basic idea in conflict resolution is finding common ground so that both parties understand each other's needs better and can find a compromise that allows for mutual progress. How might these different aspects of self work in harmony to help achieve your goals?
For example, when I am in "work mode" I have trouble engaging with friends in a relaxed and meaningful way. The positive aspects of my professional self are focus, dedication, and drive. These allow me to get a lot done, but can be heavy and serious, making my loved ones feel I'm too busy for them. My "social self" likes unstructured time with people whose company I enjoy. It is open, caring, and flexible, but when I am in this mode, I want to forget about responsibilities. When these aspects are at odds, it causes me great stress. Though they often seem at odds, BOTH of these modes make me who I am. Both are attempting to serve happiness and fulfillment in my life. Accepting that is a first step toward harmony. My solution has been to give each one scheduled time, achieving an intentional balance between them. Each aspect feels respected, and has a chance to shine within the partnership of the self.
Weekly Tarot card
January 1-6: King of Cups
Symbolizing emotional maturity, fairness, and diplomacy, the King of Cups says it is our duty to take charge of our emotions, acknowledging feelings but taking steps to control the way we act on them, especially where others are concerned. Raw emotion can be persuasive, but usually causes intense reactions in others, and truth is not necessarily served on either side. Initial emotional responses are unbalanced, un-tempered by wisdom, not grounded by needed patience. This is evidence of our theme card for the month of January, the Lovers, already at play, as emotions and logic are another duality within that must be balanced.
Personalizing this message from the King of Cups
Court cards can be tricky to interpret. Many people think they indicate the influence of others in our lives, but they can also be manifestations of different aspects of self. Given the theme of The Lovers this month, I'm leaning towards this King referencing something internal, but what do you think? Does this King, in its current context, represent you and your actions, or is it referring to someone important to you who is exhibiting this behavior? If it's you, how can you take its lesson on? If it's someone else, how can you adjust your own behavior in response?
Weekly Tarot card
January 7-13: Four of Wands reversed
The Four of Wands, if we are reading reversed, is one of those cards of opportunity in the Tarot. It sounds alarming -- balance is tested, conflicts at home -- but if we see it as a warning or advice, there's a great chance for growth here. While we study the self this month, communication, both internal and external, is essential. This week's card warns that efforts to communicate may suffer, and harmony in close relationships will be disrupted as a result. It is nearly impossible to exercise emotional control like the King of Cups (last week's card) all the time. Instead of fearing being out of control, we can use moments of conflict to learn more about other people's perspectives, and practice our communication skills, just as the Lovers exercise encouraged us to do inside the self at the beginning of the month. Additionally, as we make changes internally, we need to figure out how to assimilate those into our external world so that others know our needs have changed.
Exercise in communication for the reversed Four of Wands
Make a simple chart to study how your needs align with others' needs. Here's an example of one that I designed for my Communication Ritual Kit:
Consider what you need in the four categories of this chart. In the ME column, write key words that describe those aspects of yourself. Choose a person with whom you desire better communication. In the ANOTHER column, complete the categories for that person. Assume nothing -- if you do not know an answer, take steps to discover it with the other person. Do not place judgement on anyone, including yourself.
After you have filled in both columns, compare the results, considering similarities and differences. If you discover an opposition in characteristics, spend more time meditating on the other's perspective. How might you change the way you interact so that the other person feels validated and conflict is avoided? How might you better express what works for you?
Weekly Tarot card
January 14-20: The Sun reversed
The disrupted harmony indicated last week by the reversed Four of Wands leads to a general atmosphere of doubt this week. There's a feeling of negativity in this inverted Sun card, like something's standing in the way of happiness. Growth is temporarily stunted. Even if problems can't be solved right away, we can take steps to boost our confidence and ability to persevere. It's an opportunity to pause and assess needs so we can progress in a more informed and secure manner. As our theme for the month suggests, life is a balance of dark and light. Each half of this whole makes the other more clear by comparison. What can be learned while in the shadows?
Exercise: Getting more Sun
Think about the last time you experienced success (on any level). Make a list of your qualities that allowed that to happen. What fuels each of these qualities? How can you connect with that energy now?
Weekly Tarot card
January 21 - 27: King of Swords
The King of Swords offers a suggestion for progress after recent self-doubt and the stalled feeling from last week's reversed Sun card: Problems can be solved with the application of the intellect. A calm and focused mind enhances our ability to find the truth. Especially with this month's hyper-awareness of internal balance, the King of Swords' decisiveness can cut straight through the clutter when opposing parts of the self are in debate. But how exactly do we achieve mental clarity? That can be easier said than done. Meditation is one helpful way to remove barriers in the mind, but here's something to try for those of us needing a more active method:
Exercise in logic with the King of Swords:
1. Find a quiet place to sit with pen and paper or some other type of notation device.
2. Allow all your feelings to come to the surface. As each concern/preoccupation floats into mind, list it. Don't judge at this point, just record. You might also hold a piece of lapis lazuli in your hand or place it on your paper. This stone for truth will symbolize and encourage your mission.
3. Consider each concern listed. Try to identify its core emotion, examining it closely from all angles. Next, step back from the situation a bit, and view it as an outsider. What do you see now? What is actually, objectively happening, and what is the emotional overlay?
4. From this more removed place, what does your rational mind think is really causing the emotions? It may not even stem from the current conflict, but from the residue of something previously experienced... Is there another logical response once some of the emotion is filtered out?
Weekly Tarot card
January 28 - 31: Eight of Swords
This week calls for an examination of how we might be standing in the way of our own progress. We feel helpless and trapped, but we are our own captors. This means a shift in thinking can set us free, but how can we release ourselves from the constraints and punishments of the mind if we can't detect our own regressive tendencies? One way is to examine our reactions to situations and people that we encounter from day to day in an attempt to reconnect with the Shadow Self. Working with this counterpart to the known self is yet another manifestation of this month's overall theme.
Shadow Work for the Eight of Swords:
This week, take notes on your most forceful reactions to things you encounter in the world. For example, what behavior in others causes you to have a strong negative reaction? Consider for a moment what might really be at the heart of that judgement. Is that behavior a previously unrealized tendency of your own? Is it something that you were scolded for at an earlier time in your life? Is it in fact a secret wish to behave as you witnessed someone else behaving?
Also consider if you repeatedly find yourself in similar situations or conversations with others (receiving the same personal feedback, having the same fight, etc.). If the only commonality across all those incidences is you, take a closer look at the cause. Why do you place yourself in this situation over and over? What unknown motivation is being served?
Fear and insecurity lead to a variety of unexpected reactions. These negative emotions can make us un-see reality if facing it directly is too upsetting. A note of caution: If this exercise is likely to uncover serious past trauma, it might be better done with some guidance (a trusted loved one or a therapist).
The heavy Swords energy at the end of this month is an absolute underscoring of our theme card, the Lovers. The emotional self and the mental self both need to be acknowledged. Tough as that can seem, the Lovers reminds us how crucial that challenge really is if we are to lead healthy, productive lives. In trying to strike any such balance, we must have compassion for ourselves. As we head into February, with Strength as the theme card, this should feel easier to manifest. The hard work we do in January will be worth it.