It’s amazing how the soft, silent blanket of snow that covers the town and absorbs the white noise of normal life seems like it can suspend time – in my mind at least. It seems to create a special sub-time, where regular life gets put on hold and we all get to take a break so we can enjoy it, walk in it, touch it, gaze at it. Normal rules can’t possibly apply, everything is weird and cold and quiet and magical and everyone is somehow connected by this strangeness.
It reminds me of power cuts in deep winter when I was a kid, putting batteries in the radio to find out if school was cancelled, and that weird, excited, lonely feeling when it was. Getting the gas fire going and making toast on it, making it warm and snugin one corner of the house, the delight of realising that we just couldn’t use normal electric things and remembering how cold it was outside. When I look out of the window across the dark, blanketed street I feel myself taken back to those times, and I feel like everyone I know is going back there too.
The Six of Cups, from the Phantomwise Tarot by Erin Morgenstern
Anyway, it got me a-thinking about the Six of Cups, which appeared as one of the stronger messages in a recent reading. The card of nostalgia and simpler times, I love how it can somemetimes be so kind and gentle, and then other times appear like a slap in the face. I mean, I’m all for a bit of nostalgia – if anyone wants to sit and talk about the good old days just seek me out, I love little more than digging out the photos and reminiscing about happier – or just different – times. Sometimes a reminder of our younger, more innocent selves is just what we need.
I’ve also had the Six of Cups come up once in a reading for someone who was involved in an acrimonious legal dispute – it came as a reminder to the querent to practice simple acts of kindness and not to let the bitterness of the courtroom corrupt her.
The most frequent interpretation I find in this card, though, is that of becoming stuck in the past. Like the boy – or rather man – in the Phantomwise card shown above, we outgrow the rabbit tea party. But do we leave? Or do we keep on hanging out there, with our too-small cups and kiddie teapot…not to mention the company? In the recent reading I mentioned, the querent said ‘oh, but it does look so lovely there, doesn’t it?’, commenting on the Shadowscapes image below:
The Six of Cups, from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law
And it does, I think. Who wouldn’t want to remain there? The Six of Cups is a sympathetic card – it shows us how pleasant it is to hang out in the past and does not judge us for wanting this. The girl on this card looks so completely like she is living in the present, surely there would be no need to interrupt her and her friends? But then you look a little closer and the fish are swimming above the water and those animal friends have ever such a glass-eyed stare, and I’m not sure I really know who that person in the background is, bringing the fresh tea… And reality suddenly hits: this really isn’t right. And then I start to feel worried about the little girl. And then I realise that she’s not a little girl at all and she could probably do with getting the hell outta there.
(Hmm. I may have slightly over-dramatised this card there! Apologies for that.)
As I lie in bed, I can hear the drip-drip-drip of snow melting from the roof.