Two hundred posts!!

Hey gang! I’ve made two hundred posts on this blog hooray! Thank you for being a part of it, and I hope you’ve enjoyed things so far.

So to commemorate this milestone, I’m offering a $10 Ostara card reading today! I’ll draw one card for what to bring in this Spring and one for what to let go of, and you can send me $10 via Paypal. Email me at if you want this reading. You don’t have to have a Paypal account–just an email address and a credit/debit card.

Hail Ostara! And yay for two hundred posts! ūüėÄ

Me Ostara

xo Karen xo

Handling Mercury Retrograde without Falling Apart … A Layout to Help

Today we start a new Mercury Retrograde, and we have to endure it until October 24th. It seems like every time Mercury Retrograde rolls around, people get upset and unsettled by it. Every single time, I see posts on my various social media feeds about Mercury Retrograde being to blame for everything from bad driving habits to bad luck at work and at home, bad tailoring, bad teeth, bad global news, and who knows what else. Whether or not communications really do get tripped up during these 3-4 weeks when they roll around, because let’s face it, Mercury¬†doesn’t¬†actually go backwards (or “retrograde”)¬†— it’s an optical illusion we experience based on where we’re standing vis-a-vis Mercury as we watch it go through its orbit. Still, enough people believe that everything from interpersonal communications to satellite transmissions goes¬†all wingle-wangle during these periods that they actually do. And who knows? Maybe they’re right. Seriously, I have no idea and this post isn’t about debating whether or not Mercury Retrograde is real. The effects are absolutely real, and I’ve put together a card spread to help deal with it, because in the end that’s all we can do.

So here are some questions you can ask yourself and draw cards on, to see what will help you best during the next four weeks. I’ve drawn cards for myself, so feel free to share my energy or do your own draw to see what works best for you.

  1. What is my energy doing right now as I head into this Mercury Retrograde? What is my “baseline”?
  2. What should I actively put my energy into during the next four weeks? What should I be looking for as opportunities?
  3. What energy or types of thinking should I actively avoid?
  4. What protection do I have during this time?
  5. What does this period of Mercury Retrograde have to teach me?

As you can see, the emphasis is on empowerment, on taking back some modicum of control over thoughts and actions. Here’s what came up for me (I also threw some charms to help deepen the reading but I’m not reading them specifically here):

Taking Back Mercury Retrograde

Taking Back Mercury Retrograde

  1. Page of Wands: I am focused right now on establishing new projects and new ways of doing things. I’m concerned with appearances too, and in doing a good job (or at least in the appearance of doing a good job). I’m also looking at new and exotic, different ways of doing things. The rune on the Page’s face is the Self rune, emphasizing the point that it¬†is, in fact, all about me. ūüėČ
  2. The World (Rev): I need to be putting my energy into finishing up what I’ve left undone up until now. I need to go through and close out old books, finish old projects, and clear my plate. That’s where the focus needs to be. ¬†The charms here are the Crown, Dragonfly, Bear, Life Preserver, and Passport; emphasis on finances, self-change, and travel.
  3. Ace of Cups: I need to actively avoid emotional, daydreamy, overly ungrounded thinking. I need to keep from holding onto my emotions. It’s ok to have these feelings, but I need to let them go after they pass and not hold onto them. The charms are the Computer, Other, Woman, Sun/Moon, and Clock: emphasis on my personal time-wasters: the computer, looking to others to save me, and too much focus on time management.
  4. Justice: I’ve got the Immortal Right on my side; the long arm of the law is with me as I do this. I’m doing the right thing and I’m doing it ethically and justly, which is more of a comfort to me than you guys will ever know. Charms are the Keys, the Hand, and the Snake: the key to my situation is in being ethical and just in all things, and in developing my inner wisdom as an aging woman.
  5. 8 of Cups (Rev): This Mercury Retrograde is teaching me about¬†giving up on my dreams, and on sitting in the bitterness and grief of that surrender to a difficult and painful reality. This Mercury Retrograde might as well be called Mercury Regretrograde for me. The Charms are the Heart, Ruler, Garden, and Rider: I am measuring my happiness against that of others, and I’m judging myself based on what other people are doing. Mercury Retrograde is bringing me messages that I need to hear (the Rider), if only I have the courage to hear them.

I LOVE that the Quest die fell directly in the center of the reading, and it landed on the “Why?” question. This is the story of my life, this constant asking, “Why?” that I’ve been doing since I was a little kid. Maybe on the other side of all this raw and real emotion, once Mercury Retrograde has passed, I might find the answer. Or maybe I won’t need to ask any more. We’ll see.

Just because it’s challenging and difficult doesn’t mean it should be avoided. Have courage, mes amis, and look your life in the face.

What is the best way forward today?

Being a recently laid-off person, the question that comes up most for me (usually) when I divine for myself is, “What is my best way forward right now?” It gives me at least a little comfort in that it provides some form of action I can take, where if I’d asked “When will I get a new job?” I’m kind of implying my own powerlessness, which makes me crazy. So when I asked this morning what my best way forward is at least for today, Ran came up. She is the Norse goddess of the deep oceans and the drowned. (Oh, p.s.: the deck I’m using is Ellen Lorenzi-Prince’s Dark Goddess Tarot ¬†and the charms are Carrie Paris’s Magpie Oracle II. Huge amounts of YAY! on both, and I highly recommend them.) When Ran (whose name is pronounced “Rawn”) appears in a reading, it’s time to get way into touch with your own inner depths.

Ran, Hag of Water (King of Cups)

Ran, Hag of Water (King of Cups)

Personally, I’m being called on to go deep for answers. That’s the short answer to why I drew this card for today.¬†But what else is going on here? Let’s look at the charms because there’s all kinds of stuff happening:

  • The Camera rests over Ran’s eyes. This is indicating the importance of observation and of trusting what you see. Don’t add or synthesize the data, but just SEE what’s there and record it. Be an impartial observer, if you can, of the real and the immediate.
  • The I indicates that we’re talking about your deeper self here. This isn’t about how you interact with others, it’s about how you are with you. Your relationship with your higher self (the I is at the top of the card, after all) is the most important relationship you’ll ever have, and while the charm is reminding you of that fact, the card is telling you where to find yourself. (Hint: it rhymes with “m-ocean.” ūüėČ )
  • The Clock is simply indicating that we’re all on the clock, as it were–tempus fugit and all that.
  • The dice are interesting. I try not to draw them for these types of castings because they’re best used for Yes/No questions (Red means “no,” Yellow means “ask again later” or “maybe” or “pause a bit,” and Green means “yes”) rather than for larger questions. But if they come out of the bag when I grab a handful and end up on the card, I’ll take a look at where they land¬†and what number is showing to see if there’s a significance. Here, both Yellow and Red dice show up, and both are at the number 1 which indicates the Self to me. The Yellow die fell on the little guy struggling to keep his boat afloat, which tells me he needs to just hang on a bit longer. The Red die fell on the little guy who’s sinking into the depths (i.e., he’s dead or about to be dead), which tells me to not give up, to stop acting like everything’s over because it’s not.
  • The Fan brings elegance to the equation, telling me that no matter what I’m going through, facing it with grace and beauty is ALWAYS an option, and the gods tend to like that sort of bravado in the face of adversity.
  • The Broom is a profoundly witchy tool, and it’s one that we think of whenever we think of hags in general. “Hag” = “witch” = “flying away on a broom, cackling.” There is great power here, and it’s in the darkest depths of the water (the blue on which the Broom landed is the darkest blue of the card. Go deep. That’s where your witchy power is.
  • The Handcuffs indicate that this is a situation to which one is¬†chained. This issue has happened before, and since it’s on the right, it will probably happen again in the future. Maybe movement is limited, the way you have difficulty maneuvering when your hands are tied. Well, your hands are tied here. Maybe the hands of the Divine are tied too. Maybe this is just something that needs to be gone through, to get through and move on.
  • The Plane is flying away, into the left of the card. The left side is usually associated with emotions and the unknown, so we’re being encouraged to take a trip into the wild unknown, the Mystery with a capital “M.”
  • The Shark is a wonderful sign. Sharks are very mysterious and ancient creatures, and while they are constantly moving, it’s very difficult to track all their movements. Scientists have noticed via tracking tags on Great Whites off the west coast of North America that these sharks for some reason travel to the same very very deep spot way out in the Pacific, and then they come back. Nobody knows why they go there, or what they do. It’s a shark mystery, and since they are so old on the evolutionary chain, it’s probably a mystery that goes back millions of years. Go with your inner shark. Visualize yourself following Shark out to your own inner depths, and see what you find there.
  • Both the Indigenous Chief and the King appear here, emphasizing the card’s nature as the King of Cups. You are the ruler of this element, and you are in command of yourself throughout this process. Act like it.
  • The Mask is under Ran’s feet. There is no hiding here, no putting on personas or costumes or hiding behind alternate personalities. You must be who you are in Her realm. No fakes, no phonies. All masks will be stripped away and crushed underfoot. Can you take it?
  • The Wand is another power tool like the Broom. It’s on the sea floor, so you have to go down, down, down to Ran’s realm to get it. You may even need to bring Her something to trade for it, because that’s often how it goes in these matters. But it’s there for you and can be yours to take back up to the world, IF you’ve got what it takes to go get it in the first place.
  • The Dragonfly is also at the bottom of the sea in the card.¬†Great power and the ability to transform are there, waiting for you.
  • Lastly we have the Wishing Well. Are you making wishes? Are you praying? Take time (make the time) every day to send up your wishes into the air and the sea. They are being heard, so keep it up. Wish on stars. Throw coins into fountains. Pick up pennies you find on the street. Blow dandelion fuzz into the air. These may seem like ridiculous whimsical wastes of time, but they’re not. They’re powerful spells, just like any other prayer. You are acknowledging the existence of the unseen.

Today’s Reading: Dealing with Internet Overload

Good morning, my dears! I hope everyone is doing well today. With all the horrible, terrible, awful news in the world happening right now, just being happy seems like a revolutionary act. With that in mind, today’s reading is about how to deal with information and far-flung disaster overload: what to do about it in an active sense, and what to¬†release because it’s out of our control. Let’s have a look.

earth shattering kaboom

Oh wait… No, that’s not it (no matter how much we want to deliver an Earth-shattering kaboom to some people). ūüėČ

Ah! here we go:

cards 7-24-14

On the left (you’ll see I’m using The Light and Shadow Tarot here) we have the 9 of Pentacles on the side of what we can do actively to protect ourselves against Internet overload. This is a card of great discernment and choice, and of celebration in knowing that you are creating the best things for yourself. Choose how you want your world to be; in this example, I am choosing to disconnect myself as much as possible today from Facebook and Twitter, not because either of those outlets are inherently bad. They’re not. It’s just that they’re doorways into the world, and as we know, all doors function both to let me out and to let the outside in. And that’s what’s happening in my own reality: I’ve lost control of my Inner Bouncer, and therefore all kinds of negativity and chaos is making its way into my life because I’m not using choice and discernment to keep it out. I’ve worked hard to create the life I have now, and so I imagine have you all. So let’s not let the madness around things over which we have no control and about which we can do nothing have any more space in our precious lives. Get that Inner Bouncer some Red Bull and wake her up!

On the right we have the reversed King of Swords. This position is representing what we must release in order¬†to protect ourselves. The King of Swords is the master of the realm of air, the power and energy of the element itself made manifest. We wouldn’t be far off the mark in associating him with the Internet itself because of its seeming nature as hive¬†“mind,” and in this case, he’s reversed. The Hive Mind is out of control and it’s best to just release it today. This is a validation of the desire to remove from it, and perhaps to engage in more outdoor activities like the figure in the 9 of Pentacles on the left: go play in the sun, and let the crazy news day pass. Planes will crash in this world, religio-political armies will enforce their will on weak and undefended populi, species will go extinct, pollution will leach¬†into the oceans and the air, just as they always have. We can’t stop these things, even if we tried. Many¬†of us do try because it is in our nature to help, to care, to want to rescue what needs so desperately to be rescued. But here’s the thing: what needs rescuing right now, and what we actually can rescue, is our own sense of inner peace and stability. It’s not as sexy or as sound-bite worthy as ranting about ISIS (believe me, I tried that myself this morning). But it’s what needs to happen right now. It’s what the world needs: more of us at peace in our lives. So let go of what you can’t control, and direct your amazing mind to what you can control: yourself.

Carrie Paris’s “Open the Symbol, Ignite the Spirit” Spread

Good afternoon, friends! Today’s reading uses the “Open the Symbol, Ignite the Spirit” spread from the inestimable Carrie Paris ( It’s a wonderful five-card spread that delves into elemental motivations that surround us at the present moment and bring wisdom from alchemical structures and symbols. Here is the layout from Carrie’s web site:

carries layout

I then took it and put it into a pentagram and distributed the elements in a way that made sense to me. Take a look:

cards both


And then I shuffled up and laid out the cards, using The Light and Shadow Tarot by Brian Williams and Michael Goepferd. I didn’t have a question in mind; I just went with Carrie’s direction of opening the elements, with the intention of Starting with Fire in the bottom left, I laid out the pentacle in the following order (basically opening the Pentacle): Fire, Air, Earth, Spirit, and Water. Let’s look at what came up.

Under Fire (what is burning for you), the card is the Three of Wands. This is a card of balancing the energies that have been generated so far and sent off into the world, and waiting to see what comes back. It’s also a card of growth and energy. The sun rules this card, as does Aries, so there’s a ton of power and potential here. Wands are all about fire, about creation and passion and generation. In the element of Fire, the Fire House of the spread, it adds fuel to the engine of what we’ve sent out and gives it an extra layer of oomph. It’s very important to keep those fires going even though we don’t have validation (yet) that what we’ve sent out will successfully reach its target and then safely come back to us–in the same way that you can’t send something out on its way and then keep calling it back to you because you’re insecure and you really really want to make sure it’s ok, you can’t call this energy back now that it’s out there. You have to let it go, and keep the fires of your passion burning brightly on faith. Luckily, your faith is strong.

Under Air (that which wants to be given voice), we have the first of three knights in this reading, the Prince of Pentacles. This is such an earthy card you can practically smell the buffalo. While the Prince has wings to help him rise above any earthly problems (which is a useful gift to have in the House of Air here), he doesn’t really need them. He holds pentacles lightly in each hand, signifying control over the suit without being controlled by it, and he wears¬†horns like the¬†buffalo, which symbolizes a unity with the deeply rooted force at the source of this card as well as an ancestral force for forward movement and connection with the land. ¬†He is powerfully in control of the thoughts he is channeling, and he can use the immense power of the buffalo to drive his thoughts and ideas in any direction he chooses. As a knight he’s a seeker, a searcher for truth and understanding in the world of Air, and he uses his slow, careful, methodical powers to sort and sift through everything that floats through his airy perch here, and uses it to feed the other energies of the larger Pentacle.

Under Earth (the plan that wants to be realized), we have the second of the knights in the reading, the reversed Prince of Cups. When upright, this card is sweet and dreamy, the water-bearer and the one who carries the mystery forward from the heart into the wider world. He is the one who believes without question. But now in this reading he is reversed, and all his mysteries are pouring out into the Earth House itself at the right foot of the Pentacle. He is not in his element here, and his vision is clouded by earthly concerns. His heart has been broken, perhaps, and it’s causing him to see through his “grief goggles” rather than seeing what’s really there. This foundation of the larger Pentacle is shaky, but it may not be a bad thing. It could be that, just as a mermaid struggles on land to adjust to her new legs when she’s been used to having a powerful tail, the Prince of Cups is struggling to bring his heart into alignment with earthy reality rather than living in a beautiful fantasy that is utterly unrelated to anything real. The water seeps into the soil of the Earth House, and we hope that it will bring refreshment and growth to whatever seeds are there, to give rootedness to the Prince’s emotional dreams that he so wants to make real.

Under Spirit (that which is calling your spirit to action), we have the third knight in the reading, the Prince of Wands. This Prince¬†is easily the most fabulous of the deck–check out his feathered headdress that rivals the splendor of the lion’s mane and the sun’s rays! Everything about him screams “THE PARTY DON’T START ‘TIL I WALK IN.” He holds the potential of all creation in his hand, and has the beginnings of an understanding of exactly what he can do with it. He has not yet achieved mastery, but he’s got control of the lion which is a great start. In the Spirit House, he brings fire to the soul-spark: he serves as an ignition switch (or a detonator, depending on what’s going on in your life at the moment). He will light the fire of your soul, and bring light to that which is darkest. He brings hope, which is the greatest igniter of all. The lion is a regal reminder of the sacredness of Spirit, the royalty we always are–as long as we can remember that and act accordingly.

Under Water (that which wants to be understood in your heart), we have Death. When someone we love dies, we don’t understand. When things in the world that we love and care about break, fall apart, or otherwise devolve into chaos, we don’t understand. When Russian soldiers get drunk and think it’d be hilarious to fire an immensely powerful missile into¬†an airliner carrying¬†300 men, women, and children¬†on board, we don’t understand. We don’t understand when men kill their partners, when priests molest children, when generals overthrow legally installed governments, when governments sell other governments billions of dollars worth of guns and then act surprised when those guns are used to massacre non-combatants; but most of all, we don’t understand why people we love have to die. What is Death? What is the cosmic end that is the gateway to the Great Beginning? Does it hurt? Do we wake up from it? What happens? And perhaps most of all: are the people we¬†love who have died ok? Or are they gone, blinked away into nothing? What is all this lunacy of love and loss; what is the point of what we put ourselves through? These are¬†the questions that haunt our hearts and yearn to be answered.

Or maybe that’s just me. ‚̧

Today’s Reading: What to take with you, what to leave behind

Good afternoon, dears!

Today’s reading is a simple two-card exploration that seems so relevant in summer: what do I take with me on my travels, and what do I leave behind? We’re using The Light and Shadow Tarot by Michael Goepferd and Brian Williams, a remarkable deck of block woodcuts that I’m finding¬†wonderfully chatty these days.


The card on the left is what we should take with us before we go anywhere: The Queen of Cups. We must bring our own intuition, our best wisdom, and our loving faith in the wisdom we receive from Source. Don’t leave home without it. Seriously, you guys. If you can’t trust yourself, you’re not going to be able to trust anybody else. The Queen here represents¬†your conduit to the Divine, your spark of the Sacred that you are never really without. Tap into it, and receive the wisdom it has to offer. Also don’t forget your heart: the Queen rules the realm of human emotion, so pay attention to why you’re going where you’re going. Are you running away from something, or toward something else?

The card on the right is what we should leave behind when we go: The Six of Swords reversed. When upright, this card is about movement between places (either physical or metaphorical), of leaving one situation behind and moving on into something new. So when reversed, the card can mean a stuckness, a rigidity that blocks flow and movement. Essentially the traveler’s boat has gotten stuck in the middle of the river and isn’t going anywhere. Taken with the Queen of Cups, whose element is water, it’s safe to say that we are encouraged to leave the boat entirely and immerse ourselves in the emotional waters of our lives right now. Just jump right out of that stupid stuck boat and swim to shore. The Queen is on your side to help you through the turmoil of the waters you’re in, and as the Navigator of the Six of Swords, you’ve got the tools you need to figure out where you’re going and how to get there. The critical piece of advice is to keep swimming, my friends. Don’t stop, or you’ll sink. Just keep swimming. ūüôā

New Layout: The “Coriolanus” Spread


Yesterday we here at Muses Darling Industries took a field trip down to the Guild Theatre in Menlo Park to see the new production from National Theater Live of Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse in Covent Gardens in London. It was fabulous — an outstanding, energetic production of an often difficult, occasionally inaccessible Shakespearean play. This is not a review of the production, though, although your Oracle could go on at length about the great performances, the wonderful staging, and even spend a moment or two fangirling over El Hiddleston because of all the beautiful, rippling, manly reasons. But no, this is about using the Tarot and the characters of the play to create a layout to help get us free when we’re in the midst of a difficult, sticky, crowded situation with multiple people with multiple agendas all yelling at us simultaneously. Coriolanus stood firm (read: arrogant, cold, and occasionally obnoxious) in the face of emotional and physical onslaughts brought about through war and politics, like a rock absorbing the crashing waves of the sea. The problem with doing that, however, is that the sea always wins in the end. The pounding the rock takes will eventually destroy it, and that’s what happens to Coriolanus: he is brought to destruction by the incessant demands placed upon him by others and by his own nature, by standing firm when he ought to have yielded, and being of such a character of pride (which makes him a tragic figure) that destruction was as inevitable for him as it is for the stone at the edge of the sea. In order to keep ourselves from a similar fate — because let’s face it, being a tragic hero sucks utterly — the cards are laid out to give us an idea of what the forces are that are working on us and what we can do to work with them, where to stand firm, where to compromise, and where to release our pride and learn from humility and seeing things as they actually are, not as we think they are.

The first card at the top of the reading is Coriolanus himself, the Page of Disks. Such earnestness! Such devotion to honesty and the absolute truth! This little baby jelly bean is on the path to greatness, and is absolutely clear about why and how he is doing it. Ever the volunteer, he will brave any danger, endure any hardship, and attempt any test in order to prove his worthiness. He is relentless, but completely innocent. He believes completely in the fairness and justice of the world, and how things ought to be. He embodies a profound fairness, and his expectation is that everyone else out there will do exactly as he does. He has no experience of deceit, no reason to doubt the motives and agendas of others. He believes completely in the world as he sees it, and takes it utterly at face value.

The row beneath Coriolanus contains the positions of those who would act on him: from left, Menenius, Aufidius, Volumnia, and the Tribunes.

Menenius (Death reversed) is the ultimate compromiser. He knows and understands the ways of the world, and thoroughly trusts and believes in the universal truth that there are always bargains to be made. The reversed Death card shows us how difficult and negative this position is because it is inconstant. There is no way to really know Menenius — he shifts with the currents flowing around him and does his best to say whatever he needs to say to pacify the people without any real understanding of their lives and concerns. The reversed Death is a delay, a blockage of the natural order of things, and a denial of the truth that surrounds us: that actions have consequences, and sometimes those consequences cannot be mollified with talk. Sometimes there is war, and in war, sometimes people die. If you betray a loyal person, if you break the loyal heart, do not expect to be able to fix it. There is no fixing that kind of betrayal. Menenius is ultimately rejected by Coriolanus because he is dishonest and dishonorable. He does not stand for who he is; he relies on emotional manipulation to avoid the unavoidable Death, and reveals himself a coward in the process.

Aufidius (the Page of Wands) is the activist, the messenger, the firebrand who is as devoted as is Coriolanus’s Page of Disks to his own cause, and who is as enthusiastic. There is joy in battle here, immense pleasure in learning not only about a fellow combatant but about about what a life immersed in any single activity really means. In Aufidius’s case, it’s about life as a warrior and a leader of men. There is no brooking disappointment here, no pausing for slow deliberations. He is all about fire and channeling energy. He is all enthusiasm, and is more than willing to take in the exiled Coriolanus, his professed but deeply respected enemy, despite the raised eyebrows of his own men. There is no guile here, and no dishonesty; Aufidius acts for his own pleasure, but also to bring out the best in Coriolanus. He is a champion for his ideals, and when he is betrayed, he acts accordingly. No surprises here.

Volumnia (The Star) carries with her the hope (and the pressure) of generations. She offers Coriolanus a kind of peace, a kind of redemption that is so seductive — few other powers (if any at all) could have acted on him to betray Aufidius than hers. Like The Star, Volumnia has been with Coriolanus his entire life. She has followed him and guided him through all his campaigns, and she’s been as constant as the North Star in his life. Her voice is the loudest (literally: in the Donmar 2013 production that I saw yesterday, the inestimable Deborah Findlay played “Volumnia” at such an intense volume [I wonder if Shakespeare did that intentionally…] that a few times I wish I’d brought ear plugs to soften the assault on my eardrums), and it’s meant to be. She is the voice of Mother, director, gadfly; she is the shaper of destinies. She’s also the bringer of hope and redemption unlooked for, and the occasional grace that comes when one is brought to humility.

The Tribunes (Temperance) are the voice of the people, and if you are wise, you’ll be careful. The people are a mixture of many forces, and there is no knowing what will happen if they are stirred up without care of the consequences. The same people that wave palm fronds at your arrival in Jerusalem will be screaming for your crucifixion in three days. Those who beg you to go to war for them will grasp at any reason however manufactured and manipulated to destroy you utterly. How many empires have fallen to the mob? The card in this position shows a tiger swimming through water (note: I’m using the Mary-El Tarot). Tigers represent intense fire energy, so in the image of a tiger swimming we see the fire and water working together in perfect balance, the one not extinguishing the other. When opposing forces are in harmony, there is nothing they can’t do because each will draw on the strength of the other, and each will defend against the other’s weaknesses. Temperance is the art of alchemy bringing disparate elements together to reduce the weaknesses of the individual elements and create the strength of something new. The Tribunes alone seem to know this truth and its political applications, and are willing to exploit it for their own ends. They skillfully direct the people’s emotions, playing a tricky and dangerous game. They alone are the enemy Coriolanus does not see coming, the power all around him that he takes for granted, to his eventual destruction.

If you want to sort out the forces that are working on you, to sift the voices into their component parts and figure out who is saying what and from what position and agenda, try this layout with yourself in the Coriolanus position. Lay out the cards to help you figure out who your Menenius is, who your Volumnia and Aufidius, and who your Tribunes. Who is trying to help you? Who is fighting against you to bring out your best self? Where do you need to compromise, or is compromise deadly dangerous to you right now?