The Element of Fire, Part 1: Exercise and Review

Today I began an exciting series of intuitive Tarot exercises written by the professional reader and blogger Lisa Frideborg, whose detailed instructions can be found here.  Lisa’s website, Angelorum: Tarot for the Way, is a treasure trove of Tarot information and resources that beginners and adepts alike will find a delightful source of daily inspiration and wisdom.

A little about me: similarly to Lisa, I have roots in the Christian faith, and began opening myself to other sources of inspiration later in life (always that Saturn return, right?).  While I’m very experienced in meditation, I’m fairly new to Tarot, and definitely a newbie at visualization.

The Exercises

Day 1.  Light a candle, cardinal South. Invoke protection of the self, and blessing of a familiar deck.  Draw and visualize a flame in the palm of one’s hand.

This was fun!  I made a space for myself in the living room, and even with my eyes closed, I could swear the room began illuminating with white light as I prayed for angelic protection.  Never in my life have I worked with angels, or given them much thought, to be honest.  When I was a little girl, I did have one very vivid dream where one came out of the sky with a message for me regarding my father, but I’ve never interacted with them since.  Still not sure how I feel about them, to be honest.  Why ask for angels when there is the Holy Spirit?

This next bit wasn’t a part of the exercise, but feeling curious, I decided to pause and ask what I might learn this week about the element of fire.  I did a three card draw:

VII of Swords – III of Swords – The Devil

Whew, not what I wanted to see!  I thought I might draw some wands, but instead I got my least favorite cards!  My initial reaction was to recoil, but then I quieted myself and paid attention.  What on earth might this grim, wand-free spread have to say to me about fire?

The VII of Swords first brings to mind deception.  The III of Swords, betrayal and heartache.  The Devil, oppression and bondage.  Is this going to be a week full of shadow work?  I wondered nervously.  I could recall areas in my life where I might still be tethered to some past wounds.  So I recorded the spread in my journal and set it aside to digest later.

Day 2.  Select the suit of wands, creating a circle large enough to sit within.  Envision a wall of flames rising from the cards, encircling you.  Close eyes and meditate for 10-15 minutes.

I did this exercise right after Day 1, and wow… this is why meditation is a must.  As I sat with eyes closed, envisioning the surrounding wall of flames, I really enjoyed that process.  It’s a beautiful image to have in mind while allowing thoughts to simply drift in and out of your mind.

As the minutes passed, I found myself naturally meditating on the nature of fire as a source, not only of heat, but light.  I thought of how John the Baptist proclaimed that someone greater than he would come and baptize people “in the Holy Spirit and in fire” (Matthew 3:11).  I thought of the many verses in the New Testament referring to faith being tested and “refined by fire.”  The idea of purification and burning away the dross.  Fire as an agent of transformation – possibly painful, but ultimately worthwhile.

The more I meditated, the more I felt my soul drawn upward to bask in the beautiful presence of the Holy Spirit.  Communion without the passing of words; only heartfelt admiration and enjoyment.  I had neglected the practice for so long, I’d almost forgotten what it felt like, uncertain of whether or not I was even still capable of experiencing this joy.  Feeling the Spirit’s presence brought me a sense of peace and affirmation I hadn’t experienced on my own in a while; I felt equal parts relief and gratitude.

I cracked open my eyes to check the time.  Ten minutes had passed!  I did it!  I had various fleeting thoughts about the particular energies of the Queen of Wands, versus the Knight or King, but I mostly just enjoyed just meditating on the meaning of fire in general.

After completing the Day 2 exercise, I tried another spread of my own.  I thought I might just do a simple elemental cross, to see what energies were presently manifesting in each area of my life:  1. Center: Spirit – 2. South: Fire – 3. West: Water  – 4. North: Earth – 5. East: Air.

My results:

  1. Spirit: The Emperor
  2. Fire: III of Swords
  3. Water: High Priestess
  4. Earth: Ace of Cups
  5. Air: Five of Pentacles

This is where the synchronicity really began for me.  III of Swords regarding fire – again!  I snapped a photo of this spread and absently began shuffling when I realized that I had forgotten to draw a clarifier card for the III of Swords.  Oops.  I considered flipping the deck right-side up to find the III of Swords to use as a signifier, but I suddenly felt compelled to just cut the deck into thirds and draw as it was.

The III of Swords appeared again, just like that.

How funny, I thought.  I guess I can go ahead and draw my clarifier now!   So I drew the next card, and the next.  This was what my clarifier spread looked like:

  • III of Swords
  • III of Cups
  • The Hermit
  • X of Pentacles

Now I was finally able to make sense of things!  Without going into my whole life story, years ago I was lied to and betrayed by someone I had considered a close friend.  As you might imagine, I was utterly heartbroken.  The first three-card spread I did (VII of Swords, III of Swords, The Devil) told me that I was still hostage to this betrayal in the present.  If fire energy has to do with courage and bravery, then fire energy is required to face those unpleasant things in my life that I still need to deal with.  No tiptoeing around the bush here!

Why did I need to confront the III of Swords in particular?  The clarifier spread made me confront the fact that I was allowing past betrayal to affect my present friendships (III of Cups), and isolating myself from others as a result (The Hermit).  The final card I drew as an outcome was the X of Pentacles, representing both the security and stability of my current family life, as well as the outcome of purposeful, committed work.  The Hermit represents the withdrawal period of my life as a result of past hurt, but also the hope of healing as I seek the inner light of spiritual guidance, and share that light with others.  Both my son and the lovely people in my husband’s family have been instruments of healing in my life, as I’ve been learning to let down my guard and trust again.  It’s still work!  But the cards remind me that is indeed worth the effort.

Wow.  A lesson learned in playing with fire: not for the faint of heart!  The lesson I needed to learn about the element of fire this week?  Courage to face the shadows, and anything else illuminated by the light.