Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Throughout my lifetime, I have dedicated a lot of thought to the concept of happiness. I’ve studied the idea from a psychological lens, such as through positive psychology, toxic positivity, and even addiction. I understand the definition of happiness and I’m clear that it’s a state of mind. On the other hand, I’ve wondered how and why people arrive at said state of mind. How do [people, places, things, feelings, activities, etc.] evoke happiness? Why do people enjoy cosplay? Puppies? Seafood? Hunting Bigfoot? Watching those videos of people carving huts and swimming pools out of the middle of the dense jungle? And why, exactly, do rainbow sprinkles make me so incredibly happy? We’re talking bright-eyed, wide-smiled giddiness! After all, they’re just cornstarch and food coloring. Even so, bring that container over here and pour those multicolored waxy bits all over my entire life, please.
Happiness. I’m convinced that I’ve dissected every aspect of the construct—from joy to satisfaction, contentment, well-being, and wonder. For many, happiness is a choice, and as I’ve grown older and wiser I’ve observed that in addition to all of the aforementioned themes, happiness is both relative and intentional.
Years ago, when I was working as a Regional Programs Director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, I facilitated a family caregiver support group in a rural town almost an hour away from our office. One of the meeting’s attendees was the husband of a person living with Alzheimer’s. An older gentleman, at the very least an octogenarian, he greeted me at the door, and I helped him step into the room. “How are you today?” I asked the man. His response was both startling and puzzling, and it has stayed with me all these many years later. That man looked me square in the eye, smiled, and said, “I’ve never had so little and felt so good.”
While that gentleman had every reason to be sad about his circumstances—visiting his wife, who had Alzheimer’s disease, at a skilled nursing facility—his joy seemed intentional, as if given those circumstances happiness was the best option he had. While there were plenty of unavoidable negatives, the man chose to focus on the positive. What were the positives? In dissecting the meaning of his answer, I would venture a guess that despite watching his partner suffer, maybe he was carefree because visiting his wife at a nursing home was a much better option than visiting her at her grave. As such, perhaps he intended on making the most of the time he had remaining.
Like its placement along The Fool’s Journey, I am over The Moon to explore how The Sun card can shine on your storytelling practice. In continuing to contemplate happiness, joy, success, and all the feel-good words from a storyteller’s point of view, let’s examine this card and its possible meanings.
What's happening in The Sun card?
A large yellow sun shines bright over a field of sunflowers. The flowers peek over a stone or brick wall where a naked baby is riding a white horse. The child wears a flowered and feathered crown—Can you recall another fair-haired figure in the Tarot who also wore a feathered crown? Is this child The Fool when they were a kid? In the child’s grasp is a large red banner, reminiscent of the robes worn by several figures in the Tarot including The Magician, The Emperor, The Hierophant, Justice, the middle woman on the Three of Cups, the Queen of Pentacles, the woman in the Eight of Swords, and the person standing in the Three of Wands.
The Sun: A Deep Dive
The Sun shines light on our actions, dreams, reactions, and how we outwardly express our desires and urges, whether conscious or subconscious. Like my story about the elderly gentleman who chose a positive outlook on his situation, this sunny revelation reminds me of something else I heard that I believe resonates The Sun card.
In the recent past, I was listening to an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, The Tarot Diagnosis, when one of the hosts (I can’t remember whether it was Luna or Shannon) said—and I paraphrase, “Never forget about the time when you dreamed of having the things you have right now.”
As a storyteller, I can relate profoundly to this message, because at the time of penning this book happiness doesn’t look the same as it did when I first started writing. Years ago, simply finishing the first draft of my very first novel was the goal I dreamed of most. Once that accomplishment was made, the goal post moved, and writerly happiness moved with it; I found excitement and joy (initially) in seeking literary agent representation. After the newness of that process wore off and the struggle of rejection wore me down, I changed course and endeavored to self-publish. That process brought so much fulfillment to my craft! After publishing a few books, I started my own self-publishing assistance service, and for a few years I channeled happiness from helping my clients achieve their individual writing and publishing goals.
Today, as I write this book, while I’m still not a world-renowned novelist and my work hasn’t yet won an Oscar or a Pulitzer, I haven’t forgotten all the blood, sweat, and tears that brought me to where I am right at this very moment. I appreciate every experience, every lesson learned, and my writerly happiness has shifted to writing this book, researching for a Southern Gothic, magical realism series of novels, and dreaming of the moment when the accolades and honors might possibly happen.
As I venture through the next phase of my storytelling journey, I’m choosing to keep The Sun card in my pocket, a reminder that I have achieved everything I once dreamed of accomplishing.
The Sun Reversed: The Shadow
When The Sun is reversed, you and/or your characters could be dangerously close to being a “Pollyanna.” First appearing in Eleanor H. Porter’s novel by the same name, Pollyanna was an orphan who had an excessively positive attitude. Since the novel’s publishing in 1913, the name Pollyanna has become a term synonymous with a person who is positive to the extent that it becomes unhealthy. People who display Pollyannish attitudes tend to avoid negative thoughts entirely. Such an outlook leans toward toxic positivity, which can be detrimental to oneself and others.
Another interpretation of The Sun reversed is falling victim to or being taken advantage of by someone who portrays themselves as a positive, kind, and jovial person. Even the sun can burn you if you stay in it too long.
Notable Symbols for The Sun Card
Spirit / Fire
In numerology, the number 19 is associated with completions, success, honor, joy, and happiness. When combined, the number 19, 1 + 9 = 10, which harkens back to The Wheel of Fortune. Tens in the Tarot represent finality and/or a return to center. And when reduced again, 1 + 0 = 1, the number of new beginnings and new ideas. One is represented by The Magician in the Major Arcana and the Aces in the Minor.
Absence of a saddle—Riding without a saddle indicates positive thinking and free will.
Feathered crown—Crowns indicate life and feathers represent truth and justice.
Nakedness—freedom and innocence
Red banner—While the banner is symbolic of celebration of victory and success, red is the color of love, passion, and power.
Stone or brick wall—safety and security
Sun—confidence, clarity, direction, energy, life, peace, positivity, and warmth
Sunflowers—adoration, fame, and fortune
Yellow—the color of joy, energy, happiness, honor, intellect, and loyalty
White horse—White is symbolic of purity and horses in the Tarot represent direction, movement, and progress.
The Sun, Characterized
What makes a writer as happy if not happier than [you fill in the blank: quiet, free time, reading, people-watching, tea, coffee]? Writing. When The Sun card shines on your writer’s desk, representing you, the writer, whatever you’ve been working on, however you’ve been writing it, stay the course. Your writing is a gift to this world. The Sun is enlightening and can bring clarity and awareness. As for the act of storytelling, that awareness looks like knowing exactly what you want to write, how to write it, and clarity in identifying an audience and market for it.
If The Sun card represents your character(s), that individual is most likely a happy person. Perhaps they’re a baby, a young child, a person with good news, or someone with a proposal.
Notable characters, people, or personas
Sunny in J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye; People who live in Finland; Pharrell Williams; Betty White; Leslie Jordan; Soleil Moon Frye; Eddie Jaku; Tibetan Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard, who has been called “the world’s happiest man.”
Hunter, B. C. M. (2022, March 18). The world’s happiest countries for 2022. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/travel/article/worlds-happiest-countries-2022-wellness/index.html
Report, T. (2020, September 14). “World’s happiest man” says the secret to being happy takes just 15 minutes a day. The Business Standard. https://www.tbsnews.net/feature/wellbeing/worlds-happiest-man-says-secret-being-happy-takes-just-15-minutes-day-132904
On Magic Monday, I will continue my Tarot Stories series with my thoughts around The Judgement Card and Purpose.
In her more than thirty years as a storyteller and visual designer, Amanda “Mandy” Hughes has written and designed over a dozen works of upmarket, literary, and women’s fiction under pen names A. Lee Hughes and Mandy Lee.
Mandy is the founder of Haint Blue Creative, a space for readers and storytellers to explore, learn, and create. Although she earned a Bachelor and Master of Science in Psychology, she has yet to figure out her family, much less herself. And that's a good thing!
When she’s not writing, Mandy loves going to the movies, theater, traveling, nature walks, birdwatching, margarita-making, and binge-watching The Office. She is a tarot enthusiast who uses the cards to promote wellness and enhance creativity. She lives in Georgia with her husband and four boys, two of whom are furrier than the others (but not by much). Visit her website at haintbluecreative.com and follow her on Instagram @haintbluecreative.