I almost forgot my new weekly feature. The day is almost over, but the card I ended up drawing is the sort of card that's best to contemplate overnight anyway.
Card of the Day: The Hanged Man
It's interesting that I chose this card just now. I just finished watching this week's episode of Supernatural, which featured a phoenix. And here on the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg's Hanged Man, the phoenix (or Firebird) is featured prominently, sitting atop the apple tree from which the hanged man is suspended. (And I just got done complaining on Twitter about how the writers of Supernatural used the phrase "hung by the neck until dead" in that episode, which is a pet peeve of mine. It should be "hanged.")
I love this kind of odd little synchronicity.
The traditional meaning of the card is the suspension of will, a period of inactivity in which the querent has no choice but to remain still and contemplate where she is on her path. As the Russian Tarot of St. Petersburg companion book puts it in one of my favorite phrases: it's the dark night of the soul, a period of doubt that precedes profound change.
The phoenix, too, is a symbol of profound change, experiencing the dark night of the soul in as profound a manner as possible: the total destruction of the self. But it also promises a glorious renewal, the phoenix rising from the ashes.
The other addition to this card, the apple tree, is a reference to the Russian folk tales of the Firebird in which a tsar's son proves himself to his father by watching over the orchard to catch the creature devouring his father's apples. Ivan Tsarevich faces a literal dark night, but stays faithfully on watch, rewarded by plucking a feather from the Firebird that ultimately allows him to defeat an evil sorcerer. The apples are at once a Christian symbol (the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil from which Eve ate) and a pagan symbol of the goddess, representative of Kore descending into Hades.
In another bit of synchronicity, the Firebird, or Zhar-Ptitsa, is a key element in the books I'm writing now in the Queen of Hell trilogy. This mythical creature becomes a symbol of my fiery heroine, Ola. Ola is my version of Kore.
I can only say what the card represents for me. Each person has to experience the dark night of the soul for herself, and as writers we may have many such nights. We certainly have to give them to our characters. But I love that this spoke to me so personally about where I am at this moment. It's this kind of synchronicity that makes me wonder about connections and the nature of reality. It's very Philip K. Dick.