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2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part IX September 30, 2011

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Good morning, everybody. Hope reading about Death didn’t keep you up all night.

This is the penultimate position in this spread, and deals with some of the more subtle influences that may crop up. This position deals with the subconscious; the unseen; and the unexpected. If there are any potential surprises, that’s what this position will show. Fortunately, we’re not looking at any Major surprises here. The cards here are the 6 OF SWORDS (Jah El) and the 2 OF WANDS (Moti El).

In a way, both of these cards represent progressions. The 6 of Swords represents progress over defeat, which is what the 5 of Swords is about. No, the 5 of Swords isn’t out on the spread, but getting swept out of the playoffs can be represented by, among other cards, the 5 of Swords. The 6 of Swords, traditionally, is about leaving old conflicts behind, which is part of what I wrote about yesterday, interestingly enough.

See, in tarot, every suit tells a story as you go from Ace to 10, Knave to King, or The Fool to The World. So after dealing with the defeat of the 5 of Swords, the next step in Swords, the 6, is about moving on from that defeat, learning your lessons, and moving on to a better place ahead. Or so you think while you’re on that path…but the rest of the Swords cards get progressively more perilous. That’s not happening here: for the record, both cards in the Outcome position are Chalices, but you’ll have to come back tomorrow to see which ones they are. But I digress.

The 6 of Swords, as an unseen element, can mean a subconscious sense of calm determination. That’s definitely a good thing to have in your corner. We saw a few positions back that even though the team has to be very unhappy with the results of last season, they also are coming into this season with very high hopes. That dovetails perfectly with a 6 of Swords in this position, because it means that not only is that hope there at a conscious level, it’s also there at a subconscious level. In other words, the Capitals are coming into this season believing, to a man and with every fiber of their being, that this is their year. The team Believes, all the way.

The other card here is the 2 of Wands, and again we’re looking at a progression. Yesterday, we had the Ace of Wands representing the fans, and today, we now have the 2 of Wands working behind the scenes this year. The 2 of Wands is about taking all that energy from the ace and actually starting to apply it. With the 2 of Wands, you take your first steps toward your goal. Now, the 3 of Wands would represent initial success, but with the 2, you’re not quite there just yet. You’re taking your ideas, your plans, your dreams, and taking the first steps to make them a reality. We’ve heard this one a lot: “Starting today, we are on a path toward winning. To be successful, you must throw away all fear.” Caps Nation, you know how the rest of that goes, and you know where it ends, too. It’s almost like a litany of sorts…but I digress.

What I would interpret these two cards together as, can be summed up very briefly, as follows. The Capitals know what they need to do to succeed when it matters; they know that they can take the needed steps; and they will proceed to take those steps.

But where do those steps ultimately lead? What will be the ultimate result of the 2011-2012 season? That’s what I’ll reveal tomorrow at 8 AM. It’s likely to be a very long post, so make sure you give yourself enough time to read it. I’ll see you back here, 8 AM tomorrow, to discuss the Capitals’ destiny for 2012. Trust me: you don’t want to miss this.–CS


2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part VIII September 29, 2011

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Morning, all.

Today’s position is where we’re going to take a look at outside influences that are going to come into play this season. Outside influences can be fans, family, other teams–anything outside of the team as a whole, though I tend to read this as representing the fans (that’s us). So what am I to make of these two cards–the ACE OF WANDS (Jmri El), and DEATH (Archangel Cassiel)?

Before I write any further, don’t freak out on me because Death is out here. This may actually be good news, but I will get to that in a second. First, this ace.

Aces are very high-energy cards. Essentially, they ARE their element, expressed almost in totality. Wands represent fire, spirit, light…a very high-energy suit. So we’re talking about a high-energy card in a high-energy suit–you think Caps fans are chomping at the bit to get the season started? You have no idea, says the Ace of Wands. We, the fans, are going to be that high-energy reserve that our team draws upon this year. If this ace is correct, I think this could finally be the year that Caps Nation finally figures out this whole unconditional love for our team thing. If so, it’s about time, I say.

Now, bear in mind, I did note a couple of positions back that the beginning of the season could be a bit rocky. Stick with this team, Caps Nation. There are several new faces in the room, some old stalwarts have moved on, and the early going could involve some growing pains. Don’t get discouraged!! We need to continue to be the fire, the spirit, the light of our team. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again here, and in forty-eight hours, you’re going to find out why I’m stressing it all over again.

We have to be the fire that burns in our team. We have to be the spirit that compels our players. We have to be the light that guides our men home. And if you’re not ready to sign off on that, then come back here for Part X and I’m going to stress it all over again…and give you another reason to want to be this ace.

And strangely enough, that leads me right into the other half of this position, Death. For copyright reasons, I cannot scan this card, and I can’t find an image of it online, so I’m going to describe it. This being an angel deck, there’s an angel in the foreground. She’s holding a scythe in her left hand, which runs all the way, vertically, up and down the card, and divides it neatly in half. The angel is holding a lighted lantern in her right hand. On her left–the card’s right–her wing is in shadow, the sky behind her is dark, and there is large crowd of people standing behind her. On the angel’s right–the card’s left–her wing is a bright white, the colors on the ground are much brighter, but there’s nothing animate in the background.

Now, some background on Death, the card, so that nobody freaks out on me here. It usually has nothing to do with the demise of the physical body. It usually means that something is coming to an end. That’s it. It’s not that scary of a card, really. Because something new usually follows from whatever it was that ended. It’s like the old song says: every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. (And yeah, it is an old song at this point. Twentieth century old. Man, I feel like a dinosaur.)

Now, here’s the part where it gets a little complex, so stay with me on this. Go back over the description of the card, and try to understand it as best you can. My interpretation of this card in this position is as follows: I think the crowd that’s in the dark behind the angel is us. You, me, and Capitals fans everywhere. For thirty years and change–less for some, admittedly–we’ve been gnashing our teeth in the darkness, watching our team underperform when it counts. For a lot of us, it can be hard to keep cheering for a team that so consistently manages to let us down.

But there is a way out of that: there is a light shining before us, a way forward, a chance to leave our darkness and despair behind. It is time for us–all of us–to step forward, follow the light, and leave our old disappointments behind. There is a new season before us; a new start; a chance to Believe anew. What needs to end, is our pessimism, and our incessant waiting on the drop of the other shoe.

Taken together, the message these cards have for us, the fans, is hard to misstate. We need to be the fire for our team, and let our old doubts go away. These Capitals, right now, have what they need to win the Stanley Cup. It is now up to us, each and every one, to be a full source of spiritual support for them. If our players give all they have on the ice, while we give all we have off it, there is no telling how far this team can go.

Oh, wait…there is. That’s what the Outcome position is all about. 🙂

But before we get there, we need to take a look at some of the unseen influences that may come into play. That’s tomorrow, 8 AM, and I hope to see you back here then.–CS

2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part VII September 28, 2011

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Good morning, everyone, and I hope yesterday’s post didn’t make you lose any sleep.

Today, we’re going to look at the energies surrounding the team as a whole, and I’m going to discuss the potential involvement of a major archangel in the season to come. The position we’re looking at today deals with what the team is bringing to the table, where they are, and what’s the condition of the ground on which they stand. The two cards in this position are the 9 OF SWORDS (Behemi El) and THE STARS (Archangel Uriel).

First, let me address the 9 of Swords, because it’s the less pleasant of the two. The 9 of Swords represents cruelty, nightmares, suffering, despair…yeah, not a pleasant card, is it? In fact, I’m reminded of a toy I got from a family friend when I had surgery done way back in 4th grade. (Bear with me!) It was called “Nine of Swords,” and if my parents had known that was a tarot reference, they probably wouldn’t have let me have the thing. The puzzle involved nine plastic swords, which had to be slid through a diagonal cube, with three swords on each axis. I never actually solved the thing: the swords were cheap plastic, and one of them broke inside the (impossible to open) cube. But while it was intact, it drove me nuts trying to figure it out. Nine of Swords, indeed!

What this represents, I believe, is the frustration that the entire team has felt, and maybe even still is feeling, about last season’s unceremonious playoff ouster. If getting swept out of the playoffs doesn’t make a hockey professional feel despair, nothing will.

HOWEVER. That’s not the only card in this position.

The other card in this position is The Stars. (And I don’t mean Dallas, either.) The Stars, at their simplest, represent hope, faith, peace, and a whole lot of other, very welcome aspects. On a clear night, you can navigate by the stars, so there’s kind of a sense of “finding the way home” with this card, as well. While there’s technically no such thing as good cards or bad cards, The Stars is definitely a card I like to see.

Putting the 9 of Swords together with The Stars–seemingly two completely contradictory cards–actually isn’t that hard. The Capitals are coming into this season fully cognizant that they let a lot of people down last spring–not the least of all, themselves. Losing to the Bolts in four straight was a very hard way for the season to end, and I suspect that quite a few players on the roster used it as motivation to train that much harder this summer.

But now that the despair is over, they’re coming into this season with unbridled hope. They know they can do this. Each and every man on that roster knows damn well that this team, and these players, have everything it takes, right now, to win the Stanley Cup, this year. They know it. We know it. And I think it’s safe to say the whole hockey world knows it, too. They were bowed, and they were beaten. But this team is now ready to reach for the stars.

Now, as for Archangel Uriel.

If Uriel were a hockey player, he’d be Donald Brashear. This is one archangel that you just do not mess with. He’s God’s enforcer, he does not tolerate evil, and he’s really looking forward to Judgement Day, when he will drag the iniquitous before the Throne in chains.

Uriel also isn’t all that into sports. Some angels are, believe it or not. In fact, unless I miss my guess, every sports team in the world probably has its own individual guardian angel. According to the Talmud, every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers, “Grow, grow.” Is it that much of a leap from there to the idea that groups of people, sports teams included, would have an angel assigned to the group, as well? Even excepting that, individual players have their own individual angels already. And the idea that Alexander Ovechkin’s guardian angel doesn’t like hockey at all seems a bit of a stretch. So, yes, I have to submit that there are some sports fans amongst the heavenly host.

But Uriel wouldn’t be one of them, so his involvement with the team–as indicated by this card in this position–has me scratching my head. Why would God’s chief enforcer get involved with a sports team, when he doesn’t much care for athletic competition to begin with?

One thing I know about Uriel is that he’s not going to get involved with any venture that would be–to crib a line from Sergei Lukyanenko–injurious to the cause of Light. So if the Capitals are trying to pull a “Catholic school” strategy–that is, trying to win because they’re “the good guys”–then it might actually work, if it’s true that Uriel’s getting involved.

Overall, I like what I see here: it speaks of lessons learned, high aspirations, and perhaps even some higher assistance.

Now, not to scare anybody or anything, but Death is in the position I’ll be talking about tomorrow. See you tomorrow, right back here, at 8 AM.–CS

2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part VI September 27, 2011

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Good morning, Caps Nation. I hope you slept well, because after you read this, you may not sleep as well tonight.

Today, we’re going to be looking at the Immediate Future position. Now, a note on the timeline here. I actually dealt and pre-wrote this series before the preseason got underway. I assume these cards refer to the early going in the regular season, but believe me, I would be pleased as punch if they were only talking about the exhibition slate. There’s no way to sugar-coat these cards, so here they are: the 3 OF SWORDS (Heci El), and THE HANGED MAN (Archangel Barqiel).

Before I explain what these mean, I want to emphasize right away: these cards represent the immediate future, and not the final outcome. They represent the beginning of the season, and not necessarily the end. What I’m about to write is less than pleasant, but take heart: this is not a permanent situation, just what’s coming down the pike short-term. And since I’m writing this before the preseason starts, it may even have taken place by the time this post goes to press.

Okay, 3 of Swords. This may, pound for pound, be one of the saddest cards in the deck. It usually indicates mourning, heartbreak, and sometimes even loss (and I don’t just mean an L in the standings, either.) It is a sad, sad, sad card.

Did I mention it was sad? Just checking.

This would seem to indicate a rough start to the season. I can’t pretend this a “party” card like the 4 of Wands or something. It’s not. The immediate future does not look pleasant. The 3 of Swords is all about sadness, and that is what we could be dealing with early on in the season.

The other card in this position is The Hanged Man. Readers with good memories (or a nose for my archives) may remember The Hanged Man turning up in the preseason reading I did last year. For those unfamiliar with Tarot, The Hanged Man is typically depicted hanging by his foot, upside down. He’s not being executed, and I want to make sure I stress that. In fact, the image on this particular card has him with his eyes closed, and a peaceful look on his face, looking for all the world like a Renaissance-clad Bruce Wayne taking an inverted snooze. So this isn’t a “scary” card, just a “goofy” one.

Now, what the heck do I mean by that? Well, from The Hanged Man’s perspective, the whole world is upside down. He’s therefore got an unusual perspective on things, and this card can indicate quirkiness in that sense. Sticking with the Batman theme for a second, Bruce Wayne has an unusual way of looking at the world: having your parents killed right smack dab in front of you will do that to you every time. And sometimes, Batman ends up ticking off Gotham City’s finest because his drive to stop criminals leads him to extralegal means. Again, unconventional, which is more of what The Hanged Man is all about.

Another aspect of The Hanged Man is the concept of being stuck in one place. Sure, he’s got an unusual perspective on the world, but don’t forget, it’s the only world he can see. He’s doesn’t get to go hang upside down in Berlin, or New York, or Johannesburg. He stays where he is. He’s got an interesting look at the place he’s hanging around, sure, but he’s also stuck there.

Now, how does all that go together, and what does it mean for the early going to the Capitals’ season?

I think what we’re going to see early on could be a sense that we’re watching a rerun of a prior season episode of deja vu all over again. And if so, it’s not going to be fun to watch. If it really does come to that, there could be no small amount of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Put simply, these two cards, put together, do indicate a rough start to the season. It could be a rough start, but not necessarily a rough finish. There is better news to be had further along in this reading.

In fact, some of it is going to come tomorrow. By now, you’re probably sick of me teasing the “major archangel getting interested” bit. Well, that’s tomorrow, at 8 AM sharp. See you then.–CS

A Few Random Observations: vs CBJ, 9/26/11 September 27, 2011

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Just back from the Caps’ preseason home opener, a generally well-played 3-1 win over Columbus. Some observations from the nosebleeds:

  • Borque, Perreault, and Eakin looked like they wanted to make Coach Boudreau reach for the Excedrin, and I mean that as a compliment. Borque had a trio of assists, Perreault stashed one from the doorstep, and Eakin looked like he wanted to wear a red sweater for longer than just September. Coach Boudreau may end up getting quite a headache having to decide on whether or not to send any of those three up I-83. On the other hand…
  • Jay Beagle had a quiet game, and the preseason is the wrong time for that.
  • Fans booed a bit when Brooks Laich was announced as a scratch. I hope that was just a precautionary move.
  • Tomas Vokoun was supposed to the the #1 goalie, but Michal Neuvirth played like he had other ideas. Other than one third period goal that you could clearly see he wanted back, he was stopping everything the Jackets threw at him–including a couple of “how did he do that” sequences that got the crowd buzzing.
  • Speaking of the crowd, well…it wasn’t. I know it’s Skins versus Cowboys on Monday Night Football, and the Caps game was just preseason, but come on. I hope I’m not the only hockey fan in DC who’s been dying to see a live hockey game ever since we left it at “so long” against Tampa Bay after Game 2. It wasn’t quite dress like a seat night or anything, but that’s as empty as I’ve seen Verizon Center in a couple of years.
  • One sign that there weren’t enough fans in the building: Game Entertainment actually put me up there for a live shot, for the first time in a long time. Guess they just ran out of better fans to put up there, and opted to settle for me.
  • Speaking of Game Entertainment: Watch your abbreviations, guys. COL is the Colorado Avalanche. The NHL’s 3-letter code for Columbus is CBJ.
  • You have to give mad props, even in defeat, to Jackets tender Curtis Sanford, who saw more rubber in two and a half hours than a Formula One pit crew. 32 saves on 35 shots faced isn’t a horrendous night at the office by any means, but when the other goalie is on a mission to keep the #1 job, what can you do? Even though it was 3-0 at the second intermission, Sanford came out in the third and looked like he was going to single-handedly will the Jackets to the win.
  • While we’re on the subject of trying to do it all himself, let me mention Alexander Semin. Some of his good moves were jaw-dropping; some of his not-so-good moves were forehead-slapping. All he had to show for it on the score sheet was two minor penalties, one of which erased a Capitals power play. Semin has been giving interviews in English; he had a couple of shots on goal, with no misses and none blocked; and he was +1 on takeaways. Both of the penalties he took were successfully killed, so his mistakes didn’t up hurting the Caps on the scoreboard. He did look, to me at least, like he was trying to turn over a new leaf, but he didn’t quite pull it off. This wasn’t a horrendous night at the office for Semin: he’s definitely had worse (go pull the Event Summary on Game 3 against the Bolts last spring if you don’t believe me.) But I thought he was trying to do more than he could, and his over-corrections ended up giving the PK unit a bit more practice than it might have otherwise gotten. He’s got room for improvement, to be sure. But he needs to be given that room to improve, and not summarily thrown under the bus. Wait and see.
  • Alex Ovechkin, meanwhile, didn’t really stand out. 4 shots on goal in 15:28 of ice time, 2 misses, 4 hits, two giveaways, and -1 defensively…hang on a minute. Who was that impostor in the #8 jersey, and what did he do with the real Alex Ovechkin?
  • Meanwhile, what was going on with Marcus Johansson? 33% on faceoffs, and a team-worst 3 giveaways? I hope he’s not dealing with a personal crisis away from the rink, because he was less “MoJo” and more “No, NO!” tonight.
  • This is the first time I’ve seen Dennis Wideman on the ice since his injury last spring, and I liked what I saw. A power play goal and two blocks isn’t bad, and being on the ice for the Caps’ other PPG is no small feather in #6’s cap.
  • The championship banners for both the Caps and the Bullets/Wizards were missing from the rafters tonight. The Mystics’ 2010 regular season championship banner was still there, as were the retired Caps numbers. I didn’t see anything from Georgetown, either, but that’s on the other side of the building from me and I wasn’t exactly looking for it. I’m guessing they’re figuring out where to put all the division banners the Caps seem to have been racking up these recent seasons. Hope they leave room for three more…
  • Next home game is Friday night against Buffalo. Seriously? Do we really need another visit this year from some of the most obnoxious visiting fans in the NHL?
  • And finally…the pretzel stand behind Section 111 is gone, replaced by, of all things, a Hard Times Cafe. Order some Cincinnati and thank me later.

Not a bad night for the boys in red. See you back here tomorrow at 8 AM for the next part of my predictions.


2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part V September 26, 2011

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Good morning, Caps Nation. Grab some coffee, settle in, and let’s take a look down the road.

Today’s position is the “crowning” position, at the top of the Celtic Cross. This represents where things are generally heading. It’s not the outcome per se: it’s more a matter of how you GET to the outcome. If the outcome card were, say, “New York,” then this position would be saying something like “6 AM train out of Washington Union Station. Oh, and you’ve been upgraded.” Not that I’m going to be reading it THAT well, mind you, and the cards here are a mixed bag: the 9 OF PENTACLES (Hak Jah) and the 2 OF SWORDS (Ari El).

Yes, Ariel is the name of an angel, but I’ll get to that in a second.

As I mentioned in closing yesterday, there was a comment in these cards about the ones I outlined yesterday. If you read yesterday’s reading, you saw me worrying a bit about that Ace of Pentacles that’s now in the past.

The 9 of Pentacles is about prosperity, and material independence. So how that relates to the Ace of Pentacles yesterday could mean something like this. Yes, there’s a lot of material gain in the past, and yes, that is going away. But that does not mean that things will suddenly turn sour on the material front. This is a 9, not a 5, so what that suggests is that the gains from the past will be sufficient to carry the team forward throughout the coming season.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that this might also indicate overall good health for the team throughout the coming season. No hockey season is injury-free (unless you’re playing a video game), but the 9 of Pentacles would indicate that when there are injuries, that there will be enough reserves to see the team safely through. The Capitals have got a very good farm club up in Hershey, and this deck seems to like what it’s picking up about the Bears.

So this 9 here seems to be telling me not to worry so much about that ace that’s in the past. The gains that have been made are sufficient, is what this 9 would say. This seems to be a good sign for the upcoming season: the prospect of material independence is something I like to see.

What I don’t like to see as much, is the 2 of Swords. Yes, it’s a minor, and it’s also a dinky little 2 of a minor, but Swords aren’t fun nonetheless. The number 2 can represent equal opposites: day and night, light and shadow, yin and yang, you get the idea. So on the one hand, the 2 of Swords could represent stability. But since it’s Swords, there’s also an undercurrent of conflict. In this case, an equally balanced conflict would be irresistible force meeting immovable object.

In hockey terms, that would mean something similar to Alex Ovechkin against Tim Thomas; last year’s Vancouver power play against last year’s Pittsburgh penalty kill; or a perpetual Capitals sourpuss sending an email to Ted Leonsis.

It’s not that something’s gotta give, it’s that something may NOT give in a case like that. The 2 of Swords can indicate an equal balance, but it can also indicate a stalemate–nobody wins, nobody loses.

The other interesting thing about this card is that the angel assigned to it is Ariel. Ariel means “Lion of God,” and in the Old Testament, it was a poetic name for Jerusalem. As an angel, though–and this is the intriguing part–there may be some question about exactly whose side Ariel is actually on.

John Milton, for instance, in “Paradise Lost,” cast Ariel as one of the rebel angels who got thoroughly housed by the obedient seraph Abdiel in the War in Heaven. Other sources insist that Ariel really is one of the good guys, and always has been. Here again, we are dealing with a situation of equal opposites…although I have it on good authority that the good guys will win in the end.

How does that all work together?

If you want to take an optimistic view of it, you could say that not only does the 9 of Pentacles represent independence, but that the 2 of Swords indicates that that independence will be stable throughout the season. If you want to be a pessimist, you could say that the 9 of Pentacles is leading to a false sense of security, and that some needed changes may not be made because the situation is stuck in neutral.

My gut reaction was the optimistic one: that the material prosperity of the 9 of Pentacles will be good and stable throughout the year. And they do say to go with your gut. So, not bad.

Tomorrow will be the first of three very big days of readings. All three days feature Majors, two of which are less than pleasant, and one which indicates a potentially major spiritual interest in the Capitals. Be here at 8 tomorrow–you don’t want to miss this.–CS

UPDATE: Thanks to Ted’s Take for the mention. *blush* For those of you who are just picking up this series today, please check out Parts I through IV, if you have the time. Parts VI through X will be going live daily at 8 AM, DC time, from now through October 1, and I do hope you come back for those. Thanks for stopping by.–CS

2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part IV September 25, 2011

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Rise and shine, Caps Nation. It’s 8 AM, and you know what that means.

Today we’re going to be looking at the Recent Past position. These two cards show influences that are either just passing or are about to pass. Essentially, this is the old stuff that’s going away. Bear in mind, I did draw the cards for this a while ago, so this may be a bit older than slightly old now that this has gone to press.

Of the two cards in this position, one is something I’m glad to see going away, but the other concerns me a bit. The one I’m glad to see going away is the 7 OF SWORDS (Doumi El), and the “uh-oh” is the ACE OF PENTACLES (Gamali El).

The 7 of Swords is one of tarot’s ways of saying, “Hey! No fair!” It’s like being short-stacked in a poker tournament, getting Ace-King under the gun, moving all in, and getting two callers: one with a suited Ace-King, and the other with pocket aces. (Yes, that really has happened to me at the poker table.) Hey! No fair! That kind of situation is very, VERY 7 of Swords. I’d make a Nancy Pelosi reference here, but a) that would be way too easy, and b) I’m trying to keep the current events content to a minimum in this series. So, onwards…

7 of Swords…no fair, that bites, are you kidding me? That’s the kind of energy you’re dealing with here. So I’m glad to see that going away. I’m guessing that the cards are sort of commiserating over the playoff loss to Tampa Bay here, because the offseason has, I submit, gone smashingly. The Tampa series was a heartbreaker, a very 7 of Swords kind of way to end the season, and that’s probably what the cards are referring to here. Don’t forget, this deck goes with me to Caps games, so it may be just a tiny bit partisan in some of its pronouncements. Still, 7 of Swords going away…I’ll take it.

What worries me is the Ace of Pentacles. And maybe I’m over-concerned here, making The Tower out of a 5, which I have a way of doing sometimes. The Ace of Pentacles is about material gain, so I’m slightly concerned to see it going away.

Now, I could be over-reacting here, and here’s why this may be better news than I think. What this could be referring to, is all the offseason acquisitions. The Caps did address a whole lot of needs in very short order in early July, which would very much be an Ace of Pentacles type of situation. Lots of new faces in the room this year, as always in hockey, and the cards seem to be saying that the offseason has been, well, aced.

Taken together–when you put the 7 of Swords together with the Ace of Pentacles–the cards seem to be saying here that yeah, the playoffs were a clunker, but the team has rebuilt nicely over the summer and is ready to take a very strong shot at the Cup this year.

But my concern here, is that the Ace is in the past. That seems to indicate that the majority of the good moves have already been made, and that the only roster adjustments we may see during the season itself won’t quite be as gainful as the host of moves over the summer.

Now, perhaps that could mean that George McPhee really was playing it straight when he said he’s happy with the team as of July. Not that I distrust Mr. McPhee, but he typically doesn’t show his cards like that. It’s out of character: he’s usually got something shrewd going on, and I don’t think he’s going to stand pat all season. But this Ace in the past seems to be hinting that the major changes are done, and all that’s left is some minor tweaks. If that’s it, then hey, next position.

But the other possibility is that if there IS a blockbuster move, that it may not quite work out. If this Ace that’s going away is telling me the truth, that would mean the major gains are over; thus, another attempted “major gain” this season might be illusory.

Again, I don’t want to over-react here–I can do that sometimes–but seeing an Ace in the past is a bit of a yellow flag for me. Good news that’s going away is something I don’t much care to see.

However, my initial read on it was that these two cards, together, reflect both the bummer of a way our season ended last spring, and that the offseason moves to prepare the team for the season ahead were well-executed. That was my first impression of this combination, and your first impression is usually the right one. I may be over-thinking it a bit in being worried about that Ace in the past.

That said, the major gains seem to be done. That part I can’t quite feel comfortable with, is seeing an Ace on its way out. It’s not panic territory, but it is worry territory.

Tomorrow, we’re going to start looking ahead. This is where the fun starts, ladies, gentlemen, and hockey fans of all ages. Tomorrow may be a little on the quiet side, but after that, we’re going to be dealing with a whole lot of Majors, not all of them pleasant. I’ve already written that The Hanged Man is out there; and I’ve also written that Death is out there, too. I’ve also written that a major archangel, one I did not expect, may be taking an interest in this team. I’ve been teasing that stuff long enough, and over the next four days, I am going to get to all of that. Promise. Tomorrow’s going to be a bit quiet: there are a couple of minors here, but one of them actually comments on one of the cards I discussed today.

So I’ll see you at 8 AM tomorrow, same Caps time, same Caps blog.–CS

2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part III September 24, 2011

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Good morning, everyone, hope you slept well.

Today we’re going to be looking at the Distant Past position of the reading. This is where we take a look at older issues that might still be hanging around, or long-term concerns that might come into play this season. The cards in this position are the 7 OF CHALICES (Becali El) and the 4 OF PENTACLES (Hen El). Well, now…darned if this doesn’t repeat something I’ve been writing for several seasons.

Okay, 7 of Chalices. This card usually refers to mixed emotions, or (more traditionally) to being overwhelmed by too many choices–you just don’t know what to think. You may have heard of what’s called an approach-approach conflict. That’s when you’ve got two choices, both of which you want, but only one of which you can have.

Well, the 7 of Chalices is an approach-approach-approach-approach-approach-approach-approach conflict. There’s too many choices, dagnabbit! Even worse, there’s sometimes an undercurrent of “pick one soon, or lose them all” associated with this card.

Now, if this doesn’t speak to how a lot of people see this team, nothing does. On the one hand, there have been 30-plus years of hockey in the District, and only two playoffs that have extended beyond the second round. On the other, the current squad has a ridiculous amount of talent, headlined by one of the best players in the world right now. On the other other hand, well, the past few springs I need not comment upon.

So we don’t know what to think. Do we Believe, or not? Is it really safe for us to go all-in with our emotional investment in this team, or not? Will the Caps finally figure out this whole playoff thing this year, or not? As of now, we still don’t know…but that’s why I’m here, if I may say so myself. 😉

And it’s this indecision, this “what can we believe,” which could spell a bit of trouble at some points this season. The first purpose of a fan base, and let’s be honest here, is to pay the bills. Verizon Center isn’t the cheapest building in the District, players don’t pay themselves, and unless I miss my guess, all those road games come out of the team’s pocket, as well. That’s where fans come in: we buy the tickets, we buy the merch, we hit the concession stands on game night, we patronize team sponsors (at least, I HOPE we do), and on and on.

But AFTER that, once you take off the green shades–and this is where the 7 of Chalices comes in–the purpose of a fan base is to support the team emotionally and spiritually. (At least, it had BETTER be, or else I’ve been getting it wrong for years.) We cheer on game nights; we attend practices; we lustily boo the opposition; we blog; we spread the word among friends and family; again, on and on.

Spiritual support matters. I’ve written more than once that a mass expectation can have a way of becoming a mass intention. What we all think, as a group, matters more than you would expect at first blush. It’s true spiritually, and it’s also true at a quantum level: the observer matters. Just ask Schroedinger’s cat, assuming that a) it can talk, and b) it hasn’t been poisoned, poor thing. Observations matter; observers matter; thus, fans matter, and we have to be careful what we expect.

Now, how do I explain the Tampa series last spring, when almost everyone was expecting plain sailing coming in? Sean Bergenheim scored the opening goal for the Bolts less than three minutes into Game 1, and you could just FEEL the energy get sucked right out of Verizon Center. Add a power play goal with less than a minute in the second period, and you could almost feel it in the air, that sense of “Oh no, here we go again.” And, eventually, there we indeed went again. I’m not going to presume to know the hearts and minds of every Capitals fan, but I do have to wonder in print how many of us had our Belief shaken so badly that night, that we ceased being the support our team needed us to be. Again, I don’t know–I’m just wondering.

And that sense of “What do we believe” may end up becoming a factor in the season we’re about to start–for better or for worse.

The other card in this position is the 4 of Pentacles. 4 tends to indicate stability, and Pentacles are all about the material, so that’s good news, right? Well, hang on a second. There’s also an undercurrent of “I don’t want to lose this” with the 4 of Pentacles. Sometimes, the 4 of Pentacles can indicate a reluctance to commit to something. And while you could snarkily reply that you’d be reluctant to commit, too, if you knew the next card was going to be a 5, that kind of misses the point…as well as the 7 of Chalices that’s in the same position.

See, the cards are emphasizing this. Getting two near-in-meaning cards in one position is essentially the cards’ way of yelling in this spread. The biggest issue, the biggest undercurrent this season, is that spiritual uncertainty, and that reluctance to fully invest in this team. Don’t forget, this position is at the base of the Celtic Cross, so we are looking at foundational issues, issues that are holding things above them–perhaps, even, holding things UP in an idiomatic sense.

Expectations create intentions; intentions create outcomes. Put simply, it is time to Believe, Caps Nation. For if not now, then when? Are we just going to keep thinking we’ll believe it when we see it, even though we have to believe it BEFORE we can see it? It. Is. TIME. The train is leaving the station, and you can stay on the platform and watch it go; you can try to stop it, and get run over; or you can jump on board and enjoy the ride. I know where it’s going, and I’ll share that in due course, much to my trepidation.

But every present comes with a past. And tomorrow, we’re going to take a look at the recent past, and some things that are soon to be behind us, for better or worse.

Don’t forget–there are some Majors to come, including The Hanged Man (which could spell trouble) and Death (which, believe it or not, shouldn’t.) And I did mention that there’s a major archangel who may be taking an interest in the team this year, and I will get to all of that in due course. Tomorrow, though, we’ll take a look at the recent past, and see what’s going away.

See you tomorrow morning at 8 AM, Washington time.–CS

2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part II September 23, 2011

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Good morning, everyone, and welcome to Part II.

The second position in a Celtic Cover spread is the “crossing” position. There are a lot of ways this position gets interpreted: some read it as “the road you’re on”, some read it as “an obstacle in the way,” and some even read it as “well, it sounds good, but not so fast…” Probably the best way to sum all of that up is to simply say, “This is what covers you,” because that’s what a crossing card does: it literally covers the first card. So another way you can read this–and the way I’m going to read it here–is to take it as the larger atmosphere surrounding the question.

The two cards in the Crossing position are the 10 OF CHALICES (Jehadri El), and the 3 OF PENTACLES (Ereh Jah).

Those of you who read Part I yesterday–if you haven’t, please go back and do that–know that I referenced the 10 of Chalices as the “happily ever after” card. So what’s that doing in the here and now, especially with how last season ended?

My read on that is that the team, the fans, everyone associated with the Capitals is LOOKING for that Happily Ever After, and more to the point, EXPECTING that Happily Ever After, and sooner rather than later. The Hockey News said that this would be the Caps’ year, and they’ve got their reasons for saying so. I’ll have none of the curse talk: if previous events were any guide, the Caps should have been in the Stanley Cup Final last year after winning the Winter Classic. The Caps do have a historical way of telling trends where to go, and not always in a positive way. But I digress, again.

Back to the 10 of Chalices. The expectation from a lot of DC hockey fans is that this is the year–almost that it has to be the year, although I can’t endorse a strained desire. What do I mean by that? There does come a point where wanting something more than anything else in the world becomes the most sure-fire way of actually keeping that something away. It’s okay to want something–focusing on what you WANT, and not on what you DON’T want, is a major rule in the art of manifestation. The Universe doesn’t understand, for instance, “I don’t want it to rain on my parade.” What you’re thinking about, what you’re attracting, is the rain on your parade, and if you keep thinking “No, no, no, don’t rain on my parade,” then it’s actually going to rain on your parade. The right way to frame that desire would be, “I want a sunny day for my parade.”

Now, what the heck does that have to do with the Capitals, and what’s up with this whole “strained desire” business? See, when you start getting into the realm of “I reeeeeeally want the Capitals to win, REEEEEEAL BAD!!!”, then you actually are sending out more of an “I don’t want the Caps to lose” vibe. See where that goes?

The key to keeping up a high expectation–a 10 of Chalices expectation, a Happily Ever After expectation–is to do just that: expect it. But don’t force it: “Please, please, please, please win!” ends up being read as “Please don’t lose,” which ends up being read as “Please lose.” Expect; anticipate; but above all, accept what happens with love, no matter what happens in any one game, period, shift, whatever. Understand that expectations have a way of becoming intentions, and intentions have a way of becoming outcomes. If we all lovingly expect, and intend, the best, that would be no small 7th man, spiritually speaking.

And honestly–I’m way off topic here, but this is what I’m thinking as I read these cards, so it plays–I think part of the reason the Caps seem to have been so hard-luck as of late, is over-intention, desperation, that whole “strained desire” bit. I think part of what the 10 of Chalices is saying here is, It’s okay to expect the best, but also remember that happiness and love go hand in hand. So love the Caps as they are, and not how you wish they should be. This is our team, no matter who we’d rather have (or not have) on the roster. Our players–all of them–deserve our support–all of it. And that means accepting the occasional setback as a necessary step on a much larger journey. No hockey team is going to go 82-0 in the regular season, and then go 16-0 in the postseason. Losses happen, sometimes in bunches; but the more we intend “No more losing!”, the greater the danger that we end up intending, “More losing, please.” Again, the Universe doesn’t get this whole “I DON’T want that” concept. You manifest what you’re thinking about. And if you think, “I DON’T want my chocolate to melt,” what you’re thinking about is melting chocolate, so melt your chocolate will. Get the point?

Don’t strain. Don’t panic. Don’t want victory so badly that you end up subconsciously intending–and ultimately creating–your own defeat. Like they said in that Nissan commercial back in the day, Life is a journey; enjoy the ride. (That’s quite possibly one of the most epic car commercials in history, by the way, and sorry for the so-so video quality.) A hockey season is a long road, full of many twists and turns. It’s tough to love the team on a losing night, but those are the nights when it’s needed the most. Happily Ever After usually doesn’t happen without some danger along the way.

Another thing. 10, from a numerological standpoint, is a number of rebirth, and Chalices represent emotions, typically love. So there’s also a bit of “love reborn” with this card. In fact, what I want to challenge my readers with is this: go back to when you first became a Capitals fan. I don’t care if that was last spring, or back in the Ford administration: go back to your first love in your mind, and bring that emotion forward in your mind. Experience it again; revel in it; and do all you can to keep that with you. Don’t forget what it meant to discover a game to love, a team to love, and a newfound family of fellow Capitals fans. Remember that newfound love. And this year, love these Capitals just that much.

Yes, there have been way too many disappointments in the past. But what’s in the past is the past, even now in the present; and the present will only be the past of the future to come. Let the past be the past, love this team in the present, and the future will take care of itself.

Good heavens, that’s a lot for one card. We’ve still got another one to talk about today, and that’s the 3 of Pentacles. I’ll try to keep the word count in this part merely in triple digits, and no more, but no promises.

3 is a number that tends to deal with completion and initial success. Three dimensions…the Trinity…past-present-future…beginning-middle-end…three-act plays…goalie-defensemen-forwards…you get the idea. There’s a bit of an “Okay, check this off, next up?” vibe to the number 3. And Pentacles deal with the physical and material, so if I take this as a straight rank-and-suit read, I could say that the Capitals, as of now, seem to have taken care of their material needs as well as could be expected this offseason. 3 has a different sense of completion than 7 or 9: it’s more a case of, “So far, very good,” than “over and done with for good.” So, there’s an atmosphere of some initial success right now in terms of the Earth side of things: the physical, material, resources, that sort of thing.

Now, as far as personnel go, George McPhee said he liked this roster a couple of months ago, and since he’s the professional, I’ll trust his judgement.

Also, since I’m such a fail player in Be a GM mode in EA Sports’ NHL series, I know I couldn’t do any better if I tried.


There’s also a possibility that this could also be referring to the Caps’ overall financial health: that the team is making good progress from a financial standpoint. (Given how much my tickets went up this year, they’d better be!) I’ll throw that out here briefly, though I’m not going to speculate too much about it, as a) it’s really not my place to do so, and b) there won’t (and shouldn’t) be any confirmation from the team one way or the other. Again, this is one possible meaning for this card, and I’m going to mention it, but that’s it.

Now, taken together, what does that mean in terms of what’s covering the team? Well, first, these are both pleasant cards to see, so there’s a lot of good mojo working around the team right now as the season is about to get underway. We’re happy hockey is back; the roster looks nicely upgraded; and an air of pleased expectation seems to be the general mood as the season gets closer.

Also, expectations are through the roof this year. I don’t want to say the overall expectation is Stanley Cup or bust, but only being on the right side of one handshake line next spring is not going to cut it. This team looks ready for that (10 of Chalices) Happily Ever After, and it’s (3 of Pentacles) ready to do so from a material standpoint. The roster looks ready; the players are no doubt ready; the fans have been ready; but now what?

It would help to take a look back before we look forward. So, tomorrow, we’re going to look at the Distant Past position, and see what’s still hanging around the team.

See you right back here tomorrow, 8 AM Washington time.–CS

2011-2012 Capitals Predictions: Part I September 22, 2011

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Okay, welcome to Part I of my reading for the Capitals’ 2011-2012 season. Today, we’re going to look at the first position out of ten, the two cards at the center of the Celtic Cross. This position deals with the general atmosphere surrounding the question–kind of the deck’s way of saying, “I know why you’re asking. It’s because…” Well, the “because” in this spread has two very contrasting cards about it: 8 OF SWORDS (Akhib El), and ACE OF CHALICES (Manah El).

Couple of things about the 8 of Swords. First, since we’re going to be seeing a lot of these, let me talk about what Swords mean in general. They represent the intellect, the mental, the ability to cut right through to the heart of the matter, seeing things as they are, and so on. That’s a good thing in a way, but Swords can also represent more troublesome stuff.

I tend to overstate the bad news when I see a Swords card. One professional reader that I saw once told me that “It’s the 5 of Swords, not The Tower.” Meaning, yes, Swords are no fun, but they are still the Minor Arcana. For you Windows users, it’s like the program is not responding, so to speak, and not the blue screen of death. No, Swords are NOT fun, but they’re not the end of the world, either.

Now, as to the 8 of Swords in this position. The 8 of Swords is generally about restraint, about being held back from where you think you want to go. But in a lot of decks, the restraint of the 8 of Swords is usually depicted as…not necessarily SELF-restraint, but that it’s easier to break out of that restraint than you think. That’s not necessarily out-and-out good news–the restraint is still there, you are still being held back–but it does come with a hopeful note. Yes, the situation sucks, but there is a way out, if you’ll open your eyes and see it–that’s probably the best way I can put it.

Now, as for the Ace of Chalices. What I’m getting here, first and foremost, is a sense that the Capitals are coming back into this season bound and determined to bring home the one chalice that really matters in this game.

Wait a second–8 of Swords, restraint–bound and determined…that was NOT intentional, folks, that just came out of nowhere, and I’m going to run with it.

Now, Aces represent beginnings, and Chalices represent the emotions. Chalices tend to be the “sweetest” cards in the deck. Even the 5 of Chalices, which usually means an emotional loss, has a bit of a “cheer up” vibe about it. In a traditional Rider-Waite deck, for instance, three cups have been spilled, but two are still standing, so all is not lost. So Chalices tend to be a suit I like to see, not least because I tend to relate to the suit so well. But I digress.

So an Ace of Chalices can mean “the beginnings of happiness.” Yes, Chalices are generally about emotions, but that emotion tends to be happiness with most of the cards in this suit. The 2 of Chalices is all about love; the 3 of Chalices (which is in this reading somewhere) is all about celebration; the 9 of Chalices tends to be the “make a wish” card; the 10 of Chalices is “happily ever after”; you get the idea. Yes, there are a couple of Chalices that deal with less pleasant emotions (the 5 and 7, for instance), but most Chalices cards tend to either reveal or portend happiness. And given some of the cards in later positions–as well as a timeline I’m getting from another Ace that I’ll sum up in Part X–I think this particular Ace of Chalices could very well indicate the beginnings of a LOT of happiness for the Capitals and their fans…to the point where I’m not quite sure I want to believe what I’m being told. But I’ll get to that in Part X.

For now, though, the general atmosphere of the season to come is one of easily broken restraint, and the beginnings of happiness. I think what we may be in store for this year is the end of the history which seems to have restrained this team, and the start of something big…really big. So big, I can’t believe what I’m being told, in no uncertain terms, by these cards. Stay put for the rest of this series, Caps Nation, and don’t just come back for Part X. There’s a lot that you need to know besides the outcome–old issues that seem to be going away, a potential rough start to the season if the Immediate Future cards are any guide, an archangel that appears to be taking an interest in the team…and where, exactly, IS that Death card, anyway?

See you back here at 8AM Washington time tomorrow for Part II.