I like playing with cards, I enjoy the stories they impart. I have many decks, and they all have different songs. Recently I was introduced to one that I absoutely loved from the get-go, The Blood & Ink Deck, by its creator, Elise Oursa.
She is a lovely human who has created an incredible online space to gather where there is much tarot reading/instructive growth called Coffee and Cards. I genuinely don’t even remember how I found it, let’s call it the magic of the internet. Her art is off the charts wickedawesome and so when she made a deck, I did not hesitate to order one.

Like I said, I have many decks, but I don’t think I’ve ever encountered one that was so determined to be as helpful as this one is. It might seem weird to refer to an inanimate object as compassionate, but weird is kind of my thing so what did you expect?

The other day we as a group did some delving into the Sun. What it represents in our lives, both as heavenly body and within the deck, and the question that showed up for me is How do I thrive? Like, bare bones, what do I need? Of course, enough money to cover monthly costs, belly rubs from appreciative animals, bonbons and tea, but that sort of thing is a given. I know it’s difficult to strip away the trappings of capitalism while we exist within it’s limiting parameters, but that’s kind of what these cards seem to do. I can ask things like, how do I thrive, and a deck might throw out the King of Pentacles (money!) which could be interpreted as ‘get yourself a sugar daddy’ or even better be your own, and I do have decks that are humourous and slightly more flippant than others.
But less flippant does not denote less whimsy. This is a whimsical deck, make no mistake. Do not be fooled by the excess of Blood. As the character of the Player said in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead (Tom Stoppard) “Blood is compulsory. They’re all blood.” Blood is life, after all.

Caveat. I have to do this because I know there will be people who make the mistake of thinking the things that are true for me will be equally true for them and that is folly. There are universal truths, to be sure. The truths espoused in this, and probably every other thing I write are what I have discovered as being true for me. This deck will likely sing a very different song for everyone who encounters it. So if you buy a deck that I said is whimsical and upon using it, you think “Whimsical? This deck is capricious, eccentric, or chimerical at best! That weird bitch doesn’t know what she’s talking about!” I assure you I do, but only as it directly applies to me. You are responsible for how you react to those things in your life you encounter. You can’t always control what happens, but you can find ways to react to those things which allow for growth and ideally, eventual benefit. Okay, caveat over.

And now to the fun part.

How do I thrive?


4 clubs.
Clubs are wands, wands are fire, fire is spark, spark is creativity, creativity is magic, magic is workings.
Imagine 4 sticks laid out on the ground to form a square. Here is a foundation, anchor points, a balanced shape to start from. Imagine those poles driven into the ground at equidistant points, throw a bright piece of fabric over top, maybe it’s purple, maybe it’s waterproof, maybe it’s only to create a shade tent from a unrelenting summer sun. Throw some pillows under it, relax, have some grapes, maybe they’re peeled, maybe they’re liquid form. From such a simple design, we’ve created a sanctuary that invites us to relax, feel safe, take space to let ideas and their sparky offshoots blossom.
It’s a four so it’s early yet in the journey, but four is a good introduction to stability after the uneven three, the balancing act of two, and the isolation of one.



8 hearts.
Hearts are cups, cups are water, water is depth, depth is emotion, emotion is the feels, all the feels, yes even the icky ones.
Within the space of the card, there are seven hearts, hazy, and one that has sequestered itself to a certain extent from the others. Imagine there are eight full cups on a tray, carrying it would be difficult at best. There is maturity in learning that sometimes it’s best to make two trips, or pouring the glasses and then doing a call out, ‘come and get your drinks!’ to encourage those around us to pitch in, understanding that while we might be strong and have excellent balancing skills, tasks and life tend to be easier when we ask for help. And with maturity, as eights suggest a wisdom that comes of being further along in the process, comes the ability to discern how and where to take space, to walk away from those things, scenarios, people who do not elevate or serve one’s heart. The ability to create and maintain healthy boundaries.


2 clubs.
Again, clubs are wands, etc….
On this card are two clubs, tails reaching toward one another, their clover heads facing opposite directions, intimating a desire to engage with the world at large. This could be imagined as a direct path through the center of the card, or picture two wands laid side by side, creating a path, a route, an indication of direction. Which direction they point is up to me, but there is no going forward without intention, without a plan. We’re all the way back at two, so we’re nearly as close to the beginning of the journey as the cards allow. It suggests a need for simplicity, a need for pulling back and making sure I know where I want to end up before setting out. And yes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry, but not having a plan at all more easily results in flailure. Yes I know that says flailure. Sparks go in all directions, indicating that one is harnessing the dynamism of fire (I stole that from the description for another deck) but the path chosen is determined by personal choice.




The Lovers(VI).
The only Major Arcana card in this reading, The Lovers is a card of communication, of interaction, of engagement. What do you hope to get out of your various relationships? What does your love language look like? Do you talk to others the same way you talk to yourself? Where are the lines between physical, emotional, spiritual love? Are they separate? Is there balance? The card has three hearts, all connected to one another, though two slightly lower, and the center one attached to a figure that has fire sprouting from it’s head, indicating an elevation, an expression of emotion that exceeds the mundane, perhaps.
For me, ideally, my relationships are ones that challenge me in ways which help me grow and broaden my scope of what it is to be human. Which nurture and comfort me when that’s what is needed, but allow me to understand that sometimes that nurturing comes in the form of kicking me in the butt. With people who, by example, show me the benefits of being brave enough to be vulnerable and delve into the deep places to discover the wealth of what I’m capable of. To embrace the sort of love relationships which make space for growth, and that includes the relationship I have with myself.


So, what do I need to thrive?
Stable sanctuary.
Strength to take space
Strategy when setting a course
Self-Love to set a tone for all my other relationships.

Simple, right?
Maybe, but sometimes the most obvious answers aren’t always clear, which is why I do things like pull cards, ask for help, seek out stories similar and different to offer clarity. And now I have the building blocks of what I need to move forward with intent, rather than flail about and hope I stumble into something that benefits me, eventually. It’s not always easy to see out when you’re in it.

In the larger picture above, there is also a 4 of Diamonds (which are pentacles/coins/earth/money/grounding/home) and it is a card of what’s been tasted, and acquired and perhaps what might be on the horizon. Again it’s a four so it suggests a stability of materials. I’ve done some work to get where I am. I’m not broke, but I’m something less than wealthy, and the temptation might be to stay within my comfort zone rather than risk losing what I’ve accumulated. Sometimes progression requires letting go of those material items that tether us, which could easily be interpreted as ideas and notions we’ve attached to money and the relationship one has with it.
It jumped out while I was shuffling, and the attention I pay attention to jumpers depends on my mood, and the parameters of the question asked. Sometimes they are worked back in, and sometimes I heed them in the moment. Being that the notion of thriving within the paradigm we exist in certainly includes money, wealth, and the trappings that go with capitalism, it seemed appropriate to let it lay.

So there you have it. Thriving (for me, at least) involves a place to be, maturity, a plan or direction, and self-respect. And I could leave it at that if I chose to. It’s a sensible place to start. But if I did want to go deeper into this? That’s where it can get interesting, where the questions I didn’t realize I was asking reside.

Sanctuary can mean anything from a stable living space to an hour carved out of one’s busy day to make room for passion projects (or writing…ahem). It could be a cozy chair that belongs to me and not the cat (nice try, btw, as if the cat isn’t claiming it first chance they get, is what I will say when I can afford to move somewhere that lets me be a foster mom to animals), it could be a tree I say hello to each day on the walk I take, even when I’m not in the mood because ultimately going for a walk every day contributes to the greater good of expanding my view beyond the windows of my apartment. Note to self, start going for walks…
Space could be as simple as unfollowing folks on social media whose posts don’t enliven. Or opting to stay home from the thing I don’t really want to go to but felt obligated out of misguided fealty to social contracts. Turning my phone/wifi/ringer off so I can focus, even just for 10 minutes. Or closing the door when I’m working, even if no one else is here, because even establishing seemingly unnecessary boundaries proves that I care about myself enough to practice when it isn’t necessary, so it becomes easier when it is. Learning my tendencies for procrastination so I can come up with ways to combat them without browbeating or finding fault with myself for being human and doing human things.

I know there are still two things, but I feel like I’ve expounded enough to make the point. Obviously there are layers upon layers in everything, and I could keep pulling cards for deeper clarity but at some point, it’s time to do, rather than talk about doing. I’ve been given basic instructions, and they resonate with me to the extent that I’m comfortable with this as a starting point.
This is easier to focus on when it’s becoming more spring-like, obviously. I can take my cues from the bulbs that are sprouting, reminding me that cycles exist, and everything in it’s time. There is no point in rushing into something unprepared, as the result might very well be flailure.

Regardless of which direction I head in, what decisions I make as a result of these cards, advice from friends, or wherever signs and portents come from, the fact that I’m asking questions such as ‘How do I thrive’ means that I have a vested interest in the answers to those questions. That I have a desire for growth, improvement, learning, and that’s what I see as the most important part of all of this.
Of course I want to live a life wherein there is a multitude of bonbons, bellyrubs, and relaxation, but as amazing as those things are, if that was all there was, it could get kind of boring. And while all those things are indicators of goodness, they don’t technically fall within the realm of what I need to thrive. So how delightful to have tools for when the questions come up, I can find my way to clarity and answers that allow broader interpretation of what is actually required.

The only path I can walk is my own, but there are no rules against asking for help. And no restrictions as to what form that help might take. Talking cats, compassionate cards, wondrous witchy friends, boisterous trees, myomancy, a 4am phone call, ukulele jam sessions, the possibilities are limitless, but for the courage to reach out.

And I am so grateful to Elise for creating both a deck and a space to facilitate that desire to reach, to ask the growthy questions, and for keeping it weird.
Weird is where the good stuff happens, often.
I like weird.

If you want one of these decks, I think she still has some, but take advantage while it’s available.
The deck can be found on her website, along with other magical goodies.