Pigs and Squirrels

Tarot for your day in the time it takes to sip from your coffee

Some days you just call it a day

Hello and welcome to Sage’s Short Sip Tarot. I’m glad you are here.

Today’s card is the five of swords. It’s one of those cards that gives the swords suit its reputation for being doom and gloom bearer of bad tidings. Not everything in life is all cotton candy and unicorns. It’s Tarot’s job to get in our face about the messy parts of life as much as it is to inspire us with the pretty ones. Tarot’s symbolism is both because life and nature is both, to borrow the sentence pattern from that line in that movie The Craft.

The five of swords is, at least in part, about winning at all costs and when the costs are too high. Hannibal and the elephants he used to cross the alps and win a victory in one battle against the Romans, but ultimately lose the war is the classic example of this. He started with 37 elephants and only one survived or some such thing.

Of course, my favorite telling of the Hannibal story is Eddie Izzard’s brilliant stand up bit about the Latin language including something about elephants looking like squirrels in the front and pigs in the back.

Thinking of that favorite piece of video (it’s on the internet, and I recommend it) might be a little carry over from yesterday’s Tarot Turnover where we talk about how to read Tarot on the members only blog. Yesterday’s card was the Page of Cups, which always carries a little bit of humor and absurdity. I mean, it shows a dude on a beach staring at a fish in a cup. Whatever other symbolism that may hold, it is on its face a little silly.

So are pigs and squirrels.

When we combine the two cards we get a reminder very apropro to a Monday morning like this.

Ridiculousness and absurdity might be a clue.

When things are dramatically not going your way, when you run headlong straight into a wall, it might be time to pack up your pigs and squirrels and cross the Alps another day.

Winston Churchill may have equated victory with survival, but is that really the victory we are stressing over? If this card speaks to you today, it may be time to stop and evaluate your goals. If it is survival, yes, by all means do that.

If your goal is a quick mocho-choco -frozo-latte when there is a line at the coffee shop, then this is your cue to ease up, and define victory a little differently. Be kind to yourself AND the local barista. Is this really as big of a deal as it feels? Is it worth it? What do we define as a success? Do we need to re-visit and change our goals and our definition of success? What is really, really worth every bit of your persistence and resources and what should be left for another day?

Thanks so much for reading and listening. I wish you and all of your pigs and squirrels a lovely Monday.

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Watch Out for those Petards

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Only Human

TaoCraft Short Sip is a Tarot contemplation for your day in the time it takes to sip from your coffee

It’s only human.

Hello and welcome to the TaoCraft Tarot blog and podcast. I’m glad you are here.

Today’s card is the five of swords from the Alleyman’s Tarot with art for this card by Sam Dow. This is my new favorite five of swords.

Ever since the Waite Smith Tarot deck of 1909 either created or popularized illustrated minor arcana cards, the five of swords has generally depicted someone striking a pose with swords at sunset. Mark Evans artwork for the Witches Tarot shows a dragonfly flying upward despite a whole frolick of fairies and five swords hanging over it like Damocles’ was having a clearance sale. All of these are heavy on the victory part of the phrase “pyrrhic victory” as they should. This certainly isn’t the full on defeat, stay down there and heal vibe that you see with the ten of swords.

Still, this card can touch an uncomfortable meaning. Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. Mistakes, for example. They are only human. Sometimes our posing at sunset victories come at the price of mistakes. In the Light Seers deck, the figure on the card is holding his forehead with a regretful vibe and a sense of ‘what the heck did I just do’. With this card, the silhouette figure looks like he is sitting in a chair and having a full on sulk. As any toddler will demonstrate, sometimes you just have to stick your lower lip out and have a good pout.

But then comes the trick of it. While you are pouting, you can also be re-assessing. If you learn from your mistakes, a pyrrhic victory is still a victory even when the thing you learn is what NOT to do next time.

Thank you so much for reading and listening. I always appreciate your likes, subs, shares, follows, questions and comments.

Speaking of comments, the comments have spoken and I’ll be cutting the deck into three stacks and drawing from the right stack for the month of August. We’ll try again in September and see if we can collectively come up with something different.

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It’s hard to win a battle with yourself.

TaoCraft Short Sip is a Tarot contemplation for your day in the time it takes to sip from your coffee. Today is the five of swords.

Hello and welcome to TaoCraft Short Sip: Tarot for your day in the time it takes to sip from your coffee. I’m glad you are here.

Today’s card is the Five of Swords. I think the energy today is perfectly summed up in the Pamela Smith artwork on this particular card. The main figure is in a wide stance, battle ready and surrounded by a stack of sword while the other figures face other directions and look for all the world like they are just taking a little stroll on the beach. The water imagery here is important. The chill people are all facing the water. Mr. Stabby Pants in the foreground isn’t connected with the water or the other people at all.

I don’t know who asked”What if they gave a war and nobody came?” but this card hints at the same thing. It’s hard to win a battle when you are the only one that shows up. It’s even harder to win a battle within yourself.

Everyone feels out of sorts sometimes. Everyone has a pair or two of very cranky pants that we wear on occasion. Everyone knows that it a bad idea to take that crankiness out on other people.

Taking it out on yourself isn’t any better.

When you are in a bad mood, feeling sorry for yourself or thinking of yourself as a victim just pushes the spiral downward. It takes a Herculean effort to turn things around and go in the other direction.

Of course, I’m not talking about depression or other mental health conditions. That is something for genuine care, not a Tarot blogcast. I’m talking about the few-days glitch. The card points toward those times when you feel punchy, out of sorts, cranky, gnarly and just not quite yourself. What do you do if you are feeling ready to pick a fight but you are the only one around?

Sometimes turning a bad mood around takes more than a Herculean effort. It’s way worse. Sometimes turning around a cranky pants day takes acceptance and time. The more you fight and struggle the more disrupted and tangled your feelings and energy can become. Sometimes feeling out of sorts is the flow you have to go with – but not act on. Just honestly acknowledging your own pain, frustration, anger, fear or sadness can take the edge off of it.

In her book Be Water, My Friend Shannon Lee describes a day when her father, Bruce Lee, was so angry that he punched the South China Sea. That afternoon in a boat began the journey that eventually gave us the “Be water, my friend” interview that has inspired so many.

Bruce Lee’s philosophy is rooted in Taoist philosophy and the Tao Te Ching famously teaches that “He who conquers others is strong. He who conquers himself is mighty.”

If the Five of Swords has crossed your path, be on the lookout for letting a bad mood get the better of you. Watch out for self-sabotage or thinking of yourself as a victim. Unleash your inner awesome onto acknowledging, flowing, and adapting.

Even on a cranky pants day, be mighty, my friend.

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Sunday Turnovers: Clarity

Sunday Short Tarot Turnovers are a blog-only intuition exercise for you where we turn a Tarot Reading on its head. Instead of YouChoose – ing a card, I choose the card and you interpret it. There aren’t any trick, tips or how-to.

My martial arts teacher always says that the best way to train for a thing is to do a thing. That is exactly the kind of routine low-pressure practice that will help you be able to read well when the emotional heat is on.

This is easy. Just read through the list of meanings and see if and how any of them speak to you or guide you….or make up a meaning of your own just for you, just for today. This is an exercise in following your own intuition. If no meaning jumps out as the right one, just ponder the card every now and then and see if anything comes to you as the day goes on. That’s the kind of “daily meditation” Tarot that my ebook PeaceTarot teaches you to do. (It’s inexpensive and available right now as a pdf download in the ko-fi shop.)

Today’s card is the Five of Swords

  • Gain clarity. Make sure you are understanding clearly before you act
  • Self-defeat, self-sabotage
  • feeling defeated, feeling attacked
  • victory, but at great cost
  • stubbornness, it’s time to change or adapt

Even though the podcast is shifting to the short form daily meditation format, I’ll still do “confessional” or Q&A episode occasionally. YOUR QUESTIONS ARE WELCOME in the comments or by email.

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A Sip of Tarot: The Struggle Is Real

A pyrrhic victory is a win at enormous cost. You win, but there is absolute carnage everywhere by the time you are done. The name comes from ancient history. I’m not sure, but I think elephants were involved (cue Eddie Izzard – I love her sketch on Latin)

The five of swords tend to be, ultimately, a positive energy card, hinting at likely victory (the dude on the card looks kind of smiley) but you still have to consider the cost. One of the meanings I’ve seen for the card is ‘stubborness’

One of my favorite internet memes is paraphrased G.K. Chesterson quote, “A [warrior] fights not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him.” I think the meme’s substitution of “warrior” for Chesterson’s “true soldier” speaks to the essence of a warrior. It speaks to the difference between defense and blind violence.

There will always be challenges in life. There will be times we have to defend our limits and boundaries. The struggle is real, but what price victory? Are you fighting to project (your idea) or protect (those you love)?

YouChoose Interactive Tarot 20-26 Sept. 2020

As seems to be the emerging natural pattern, just have a quick announcement before moving on to this week’s cards: I’ll be on a reduced Tarot / online schedule Tue-Sat. because family stuff. If you are interested in a reading or anything from the store, don’t hesitate to order. The only change is that shipping & delivery might take longer than usual. Thank you in advance for your patience.

Left: 10 of Cups (grasshopper) Take the leap and dare to be happy. Beware of self-sabotage, and allow yourself to succeed. Don’t be afraid of finishing well. 10 cards, being the largest of the number cards in any suit, are a sort of pinnacle, the essence of the suit in its greatest expression. Taoism teaches that anything in its extreme holds the seed of its opposite. Be careful not to snatch defeat from the jaws of victoty. Finish, succeed, allow your self to be happy.

“People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be” – attr. Abraham Lincoln

Center: 5 of Swords (Goose) Overcoming obstacles is a journey as well as a destination. This card has shown up previously. My hunch this is for emphasis rather than a hint that we aren’t getting the lesson. Historic things have happened between the card’s appearances to show how important the lesson is: Stay chill, stay calm, work the problem. Swords are associated with the element of air and thereby mind and logic and cool intellect. My attention is drawn more to this elemental association than the contemporary relationship style of meanings. Mr. Andrews association with vision quest grabs my attention too. Especially the quest part. Big, systemic problems aren’t solved in a day. They take time, steps, parts, cooperation, and both tactics and strategy. The journey around or through an obstacle may be long and arduous but also needed and worthwhile.

“Let’s work the problem, people. Let’s not make things any worse by guessing. The Lunar Module just became a lifeboat. I don’t care what anything was designed to do.” – Ed Harris playing Gene Krantz in Apollo 13 (movie)

Right: Strength (Lion) This isn’t going to be easy, but when you have the strength to meed the challenges, the hard doesn’t matter. This card is just exactly that sort of reassurance. You have strength, whether you feel it ahead of time or not. If you don’t, get some. The ability to find solutions and to obtain resources is as good as having them in the first place.

“When you can’t walk, you crawl. When you can’t do that, you find someone to carry you.” – from Firefly (TV series) by Joss Whedon

YouChoose Interactive Tarot: Persist – with STYLE


You know the drill….choose a card. Pause the video if you need some time. Restart it to see the reveal.


Left: Eight of Swords. The thread that connects the 8 in all decks it seems is a pervasive feeling of helplessness or a trapped situation. The Pamela Smith artwork suggests an unconventional, ‘outside the box’ solution, even though that wasn’t, of course, the language of the time. The faintness of the sword image in Thom Pham’s artwork might suggest that the barriers are perhaps mental or self-imposed. In any case, real or imagined, if you are feeling trapped or victimized, think of clever work-arounds rather than brute force bash-throughs. Sometimes life needs a little jerry rigging to make it through the day. Just ask anyone who is old enough that the word MacGyver is a verb.

Center: Five of Swords. Adapt. Challenges are ahead, but if you are stubborn, stuck to principle or habit (be it a literal habit, or a habit of thinking) then the outcome is not as good as if you were able to roll with the punches. I’m not super familiar with the Dark Knight movies, but the Keith Ledger version of the Joker is about as single minded as it gets as I remember it. Things are getting pretty Darwinian. Adapt or die, figuratively speaking. 

Right: Seven of Wands. This is a bit of an action hero card. Obyron from Game of Thrones is pictured. Every good action movie has action and conflict, right? Think of the all the pop culture renegade heroes we know and love…Han Solo, Deadpool, Tony Stark, James Kirk, Malcolm Reynolds, heck, the whole Firefly crew…you get the idea. Overcome challenge while letting your individuality show and your freak flag fly. Your greatest individual quirks may well prove to be your greatest individual source of strength just now. So persist and overcome the challenges ahead with humor and with style.

Zombie Cat Q&A: What will next year bring?

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Q: (M. Asks) “What will next year bring?”

A: 2019 will bring confusion and minor misunderstandings. You can totally change this future by reading and following instructions.

Yes-or-No Tarot formats can’t answer open ended questions like this any more than those magic 8 ball toys can BUT don’t forget 99.999% of the time, the more open a Tarot question is, the better the reading is. Set expectations can be more blinding than enlightening, so you actually did the right thing by keeping open-ness around your question.

So let’s do this instead. Let’s pull a card that will give you a theme, a general read of which way the energies are flowing for you for 2019 as it stands now. But remember all of it can change through your choices and actions. If you don’t like the card or the reading, it might hold a clue how you can change directions instead. It’s all cause and effect really, just like science. Each choice and action is a cause that gives a future effect. That is why “psychic” predictions are pretty unreliable, no more that that 50-50 coin toss probability it talks about in the disclaimer. If I make a specific “prediction” now, any little flutter of your intention could change it all 5 minutes from now. It is more helpful by a long shot to give you larger, more general ideas to help you navigate the larger, more general energy flows that seem to lay ahead.

Your card for today is: The Five of Swords


Ouf! I was teasing earlier when I talked about confusion and following directions earlier, before I drew the card. But the 5 of swords hints that this year might actually be headed in an unsettled direction. The word “jumbled” springs to mind. It doesn’t feel like it all has to do with you…that some might come from other’s indecisiveness and actions, but you have to play your part. “Clean vision” “clear planning” all come to mind. See the gray areas in the sky on the card? That might be clouds or it could symbolize the smoke, fog or confusion of a battlefield. It may be your strong suit, or it may be something you are learning, but it feels important for you to keep your head. No matter what other people are doing, no matter if they are making it easy or hard for you to do, your big task in the upcoming year is to be clear-eyed, and level headed, to see clearly and realistically, even when those around you do not. Hold on to hopes and dreams, yes, but don’t force them onto the world around you. See what is really there so you can do whatever needs done. The universe will unfold perfectly, but on it’s time frame, not ours. Things might not turn out how you want or expect….but if you are ok with that, it gives room and energy for things to turn out BETTER than you expected, too.