Is there any draw more loaded than the draw one does on one's birthday? Probably not.
After the banishing, after the Orphic Hymn, after the candle lighting and incense, I stand before the cards just as I do every morning. But on this morning, more than other mornings, I have to try extra hard to remember: (1) I have drawn so many cards, of benign and terrifying aspect equally, and I'm still here. (2) The magic is in the interpretation. No matter what I get, the meaning is mine to shape. A portent is nothing more than a symbol, and a symbol gains its power from perception, and perception is driven by intent, and my intent belongs to me alone.
I have about 4 different ways of saying this in my morning ritual, all of which I'll probably share with y'all at some point. Still, the effort can be monumental on days of significance, and none moreso than the birthday.
In the last three years, since I started tracking my Cards of the Day, I've had pretty mild messaging on the big day. Last year I got the 4 of Wands, which is literally my party card, along with the 4 of Disks, which whatever else you think of it is eminently stable. The year before, Wands and Disks again - easy 3's. And the year before, two of the nicest Swords you ever saw.
Today, I did not get one of the nicest Swords you ever saw. I got the 8 of Swords. Those of you familiar with this card may know it as the Lord of Interference or Shortened Force. The blindfold! The ropes! The swords! The muddy ground! The maiden in distress! Charming, yes?
Now, there are a lot of people who would freak out on seeing this card on their birthday. I am not going to be one of them. In fact, the 8 of Swords is way up there in my pantheon of personally meaningful minor arcana. I have an extended essay on it you can read if you like. The TL;DR on it is that this card encapsulates the confrontation of fate and free will. It is an analogue for the human condition itself. Without coming to terms with the 8 of Swords, I would argue, how can we come to terms with being human?
************** ESOTERIC GOBBLEDYGOOK ALERT ***************************
If you're not an esoteric tarot nerd you may want to stop reading right about HERE.
If you are an esoteric tarot nerd - or brave/curious/inexplicably compelled - read on.
Now we come to the interpretation. As some of my readers know, I write a spell with every Card of the Day drawing. I stand against fatalism and in favor of free will, because I believe divination goes hand in hand with magic. In other words, what you make of the draw is the whole point. Today's spell:
Burning bright, I take command:
The sword I choose unbinds my hand.
Would you like a complete esoteric deconstruction of this spell? What's that, you say? You'd like nothing better? Allrighty then!
Burning bright: The King of Wands is associated with "the Fiery part of Fire," as well as the fire sign of Sagittarius, which is ruled by Jupiter.
I take command: Jupiter, of course, is the king of the gods, so this underscores the kingship/leadership aspect of the statement. The King of Wands is also known as "Yod of Yod" or "Yod of Atziluth". The Hebrew letter Yod is the first letter of the divine name, יהוה. Court cards correspondences to the Kabbalah go in order by rank and suit: Fire-Water-Air-Earth. Yod - Heh primal - Vav - Heh final. Therefore, this King stands at the beginning of the Creation - which is sort of appropriate for a person starting a new year of life.
The sword I choose: Sword because, well, sword as in 8 of Swords. But ALSO, sword because of the 8 of Swords' association with Jupiter in the air sign Gemini. Gemini is associated with the Lovers card. The Hebrew letter associated with the Lovers card is Zayin, which means...sword. The primary meaning I use for the Lovers card - which is the same meaning many readers use - is choice. Hence choose.
Unbinds my hand: Back to Jupiter. Jupiter, which is associated both with the King of Wands as ruler of Sagittarius, and the 8 of Swords as ruler of the second decan of Gemini, is associated with the Wheel of Fortune. The Wheel of Fortune is associated with the Hebrew letter Kaph, which is associated with the palm of the hand, the receiving aspect of the hand. Unbinding, because that's what Jupiter does. Unbinding, because, I mean, look at the card. I'll also be doing a magical working that focuses on Jupiter during a six-minute electional window later this evening.
So the overall message of this spell is that: no matter what the circumstances are, no matter what I cannot see, my power to choose my fate is unabridged. I have only to reach out for that power of choice - that sword - for my bindings to fall away. The air that tries to blow out my fire will only make it stronger.
Anyway, this is the kind of reasoning that goes behind every spell I make, every morning. I'm sure my family wonders what I'm doing when I'm standing there each day in the clouds of incense, my eyes slightly crossed, pen in hand. This, in case they or anybody else are wondering, is it.