The Lion, the Rose, and the Deadline

Maya Bairey
3 min readMay 7, 2024

I am not a believer in Tarot or I Ching or reading chicken guts. I do, however, believe that people can find meaning in them, like when you flip a coin and secretly hope it lands on heads. People love to use exterior tools to help them interpret what they really want.

In my final push to edit Painting Celia, I started to spiral a bit. There were parts of the book that I could make 3% better if I took another week! But I didn’t have time! But I should do my best work!

I have a friend who listens patiently when I get on that hamster wheel, and out of the blue she suggested we consult the Tarot. She knows I don’t believe in signs from the universe but that I’m open to seeing what thoughts come up for me when I stop and listen. I agreed, because thinking on my own wasn’t moving me forward.

Tell Me, Oh Universe

I held the thought in my head: “is the book ready?” We turned over just two cards.

The first card was Strength, which in her deck shows a lion with a rose in his mouth.

The peals of laughter that followed!

I know it’s random — and I don’t think my friend set me up — but Lion > Leo > León. And Celia is frequently called Celia Rose, for reasons that become clear when you read the book. The card literally could not have been more relevant to me. I’m still not a believer in the mystic, but this could be considered a decent joke by the universe!

tarot cards showing a lion and two wands

The Strength card, in its context, was comically apt. It’s said that this card represents inner strength, courage, and the mastery of one’s own raw emotions and challenges. I decided to agree that I have what it takes to see this project through to its end. The card prompted me to consider the resilience and determination I’ve poured into my work, and that I might be strong enough to release it into the world as it is.

The second card was the Two of Wands, traditionally emblematic of standing at a pivotal crossroads. My interpretation was of my immediate challenge, to keep refining ad infinitum or to move into the publishing phase. This card also means timelines, quite literally hinting at two days or two weeks. Could I set a tangible deadline to transition from writer to publisher? Well, it had to come at some point. I decided to go along, and gave myself the weekend (two days) to call it done.

Art Requires Being Open

There’s nothing wrong with listening to our gut, even if we don’t buy into the woo-woo. Being open to these experiences can still bring a curveball of insight or, at the very least, a hearty laugh. Art requires that mindset, I think. We need to leave ourselves open to whatever can illuminate our inner selves. That’s where art comes from.

We can’t discount the value of pausing, reflecting, and maybe letting the universe have a whisper in our ear, even if we’re sure it’s just echoing our own thoughts. Honestly, the sheer coincidence of the lion and rose card was worth the whole experiment. I needed a belly laugh and I sure got one!

Mystic assistance or no, I finished editing, and Painting Celia is now online in pre-order.

First published at bairey.com

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Maya Bairey

Maya Bairey pens tales of relatable, stuck characters who find solutions within, aided by real relationships. Discover her book, Painting Celia, at bairey.com.