Decks: Ethereal Visions by Matt Hughes.
Tools: Gold plated clear quartz slab - great for cleansing & charging the deck before reading. (These are available on my shop right now!)

I have always been shy. I generally feel uncomfortable in social situations, I dread making phone calls and I'm happier listening than I am speaking. I have always been this way; as a toddler I used to hide from my babysitters until my parents came home hours & hours later, and I never (ever) raised my hand in school to answer a question. It took a lot of gentle and patient coaxing from my dad to get me to order something from a salesperson by myself, & to venture out into the social world on my own.

These introverted qualities have stayed with me my entire life; no matter how many breathing techniques I tried, no matter how affirmations I chanted to myself in the mirror, I was still shy, I still spoke with a quiet voice & I still had trouble asserting myself. And it used to upset me that I wasn't.. well, somebody else. I used to fight against it and put myself down for being quiet, disappointed that I couldn't be loud and assertive and confident. When I discovered introversion & extroversion, I felt even worse about myself for identifying more with the introverted than the extroverted. Introversion feels hard - so many of your general day-to-day activities are more difficult & exhausting if you're on the introverted end of the scale.

Then one day, tired of fighting myself for being myself, I thought (almost defiantly), 'FINE! I'm shy, now accept it and move on with your life'. And so the focus switched from, 'how can I force myself to be less shy? How can I pretend or trick myself into believing I am something I'm not?' to 'how do I find my own strength in being shy? How can I assert myself within the constraints of being a softly spoken person?' From desperately trying to release, to accepting and transforming.

These are the exact questions that were swirling around in my mind the morning I pulled these two cards together, having had a conversation the night before with my partner about exactly this topic. How do I find my own power in a way that is natural & comfortable to me?

This reading is a classic example of how cheeky & humorous tarot can be. Take a look at these two cards next to each other and tell me they're not virtually identical! On both cards we see female figures ("feminine" energy, irrespective of gender), each of them wearing a floral headpiece in tones of peach & purple, the presence of the lions on both cards, and the identical positions of both felines right down to the direction they face. Even the sunflower in the Queens hand is a direct reference to the Sun and thus, a direct representation of Leo energy. When they appear together side by side, it feels like the Strength card is an evolved, higher polarity version of the Queen - gently encouraging us to go through the same process of transmutation & evolution.

This highly synchronized reading is a perfect example of how a major arcana card in a two card reading can show up to strengthen the overall message, and how it can add depth and meaning to the 'mundane' minor arcana energies (or just basically make the message super freakin' obvious to you.)


Queen of Wands.

Element: FIRE. I associate the wands with powerful energy. Much like fire itself, the wands hold an incredibly strong energy within them, capable of deep transformation and significant change, as well as the potential for self-empowerment, movement (both physical & spiritual), and, of course, magic. The wands are often depicted on the cards as a type of walking stick- a tool to help you on a journey -but wands are also used to conjure magic, used to focus and concentrate great amounts of energy through them.

Zodiac association: Leo, Leo, Leo! With her fire placement, the lions around her head and the sunflower in her hand, this queen is all Leo, all Sun, all fire, and she embodies all the wonderful traits of the "feminine Leo" traits (ie: the feminine energy of the Queen cards: yin, inwardly focused, intuitive). Being ruled by the sun, she is radiant, self-confident, self-assured, but also charismatic, optimistic & charming.


Strength.

Major Arcana. When a major arcana is pulled alongside a minor arcana card, particularly in a two or three card reading, it lends it's energy to the minor card, bringing with it a deeper level of meaning to an otherwise 'mundane' card. The major card doesn't show up to overshadow the minors, but to help you understand the undercurrent of energy that the minors are trying to convey, or the general "theme" of the reading. The major card connects & ties everything together.

The interesting thing about the Strength card that is sometimes overlooked is the infinity symbol over her head. The only other card where we find this symbol is on the Magician; so the presence of the same symbol links these two cards together in a significant way. If the Magician is the outward manifestation of energy (the masculine), then Strength is it's feminine counterpart; inner strength, inner focus of energy. Outer strength compared to inner strength.

Zodiac association: Leo. Just as we saw with the Queen of Wands, this card is the "feminine" embodiment of Leo energy. Gentleness, nurturing, inward focus, intuition and finding great power & movement through these qualities.

The message:

Both of these cards embody the feminine aspect of Strength; strength in a way that isn't domineering, strength that is so gentle in nature that it's sometimes even overlooked by others, but a strength that is within you, a strength that is all yours. This is a power that you come to find within yourself, one which nobody else can take away from you. The Lion is comfortable in himself and the feline is naturally self-assured in nature; both capable of hunting and defending themselves if necessary, but generally confident enough in their power that they much prefer to enjoy life than to fight it.

For me, this was a deeply personal & encouraging message to find what strength means for me and to tap into the unique qualities I possess to find it. Strength isn't always guns blazing & explosions. Sometimes it is quiet & unassuming. Both are valid, but which one feels better to you?

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xx Amber Jane.

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