Boredom, abuse, and the Four of Cups

Last week I pulled the Four of Cups, and my phone ate the post. I meant to come back to it, but didn’t have time.

This morning, I pulled the Four of Cups again and I am thankful for the opportunity to come back to this. I’m also so conscious of how our relationship with the tarot deck is so contextual – this card lands differently today than it did last Saturday.

Today, I flipped that card over and in the femme checking her nail polish I saw so many women and femmes in my own life who have experienced abuse and are bored with it.

I thought about those moments when you’re shocked that someone would say or do something abusive, but you also know that they’re just reading from the same ratty old playbook as so many people before them. I’m thinking about how predictable and unoriginal abusive people are; the gaslighting, the victim-blaming, the blame and shame and fragility and violence.

And it doesn’t really matter who they are, we see it all over the place. TERFs abusing trans women in the same boring old ways. Men abusing women and non-men in the same boring old ways. White folks abusing people of colour. Across every gap of privilege and dominance, there is the potential for this abuse and when it shows up, it is horrible and unacceptable and boring.

The effects of abuse are real. When I say that abuse is boring, I am not at all intending to downplay the impact. But where I see creativity, resourcefulness, innovation is in the responses to abuse. Abuse is so easy – our whole culture is set up to comfort and console and protect people who misuse their power. Capitalism, white supremacy, heteropatriarchy – it’s all designed to make it easy to misuse our power in the same old ways. At the end of the day, it’s the same old Scooby Doo villain reveal – looked like an exciting new monster, but it was the same old thing again.

I see this boredom in the Four of Cups today.

I feel this boredom in my heart. And I feel the heaviness of it in my shoulders, my temples, my hips. Because it may be same old same old boring shit, but it’s also pervasive, entrenched. It’s everywhere. Yes, it’s the same thing. Yes, we can predict the gaslighting, the victim blaming, the revisionist histories. We can predict the response of the media and many of the people around us. But that doesn’t make it any easier. That doesn’t make it hurt less. That doesn’t give the disenfranchised access to power or stability or security. The boring abuse still takes over lives, leaves people hurting, alone, living with trauma.

So, back to the Four of Cups.

Personally, I have always read this card as being about scarcity. It shows up when I’m feeling restricted, afraid. There’s often a sense of constriction in this card for me. I’m holding all those cups in reserve, because I don’t know if I’ll have anything left tomorrow. I’m unwilling to engage, because engagement feels risky.

In Carrie Mallon’s interpretation of the Four of Cups in the Wild Unknown, she writes:

This card tends to get a bad reputation, but it’s one of my favorites, and it has a very nuanced message. In some circumstances, this card suggests a person who is closed off from opportunities. Being too absorbed in your inner world can be a detriment, leading you to miss golden opportunities. Disconnection and apathy can be inherent in this card.

But in another view, emotional withdrawal does not have to indicate a negative form of apathy. Sometimes you need to hole yourself up, forget about what shiny things the outside world is offering, and let your emotions stabilize. After all, four is the number of structure and stability, and cups are the suit of emotions. Therefore, the Four of Cups can advise you to come back to your own emotional center.

Even in the more “negative” interpretation here, I wonder: what has led this person to be closed off? What has been happening in their context that has them turning inward to their inner world? What is the context that invited disconnection and apathy into their lives?

I think this is especially relevant when we are examining our own responses to someone who has experienced abuse. Do we see them (or ourselves) as “missing out on golden opportunities” (without holding compassion for how much those opportunities might cost)? Are we frustrated with them (or ourselves) or not engaging in their/our own lives? For not leaving, responding, resisting – all the other “opportunities” available to people who are experiencing violence (which are often not actually as available as they seem).

The Next World Tarot guidebook interpretation of the 4 of Cups highlights the potential positives that come with disengagement and withdrawal. I think this is relevant to the current theme of responding to abuse which is so present in my life these days.

In the Next World guidebook, Cristy C. Road writes:

It feels as if she has been in the middle of this argument for centuries. The 4 of Cups is strong, but exhausted, and unwilling to part with the quiet. She is happy now – along the seaside, surrounded by her most comforting possessions. The 4 of Cups asks you to question your exhaustion. Is it due to unhappiness, disinterest, or boredom?

Living in a society so complacent with injustice, the 4 of Cups asks you to transform exhaustion into your own disengaged moment of accidental self-care.

Are there ways in which exhaustion can highlight injustice? Can our exhaustion and disengagement be an indicator of where something is wrong, and we are unwilling to cooperate with it?

Is there a way in which exhaustion can be refusal? Is there a way in which our acknowledgement and response to exhaustion can be self-care?

So often, interpretations of the Four of Cups can feel incredibly victim-blaming. (In Michelle Tea’s Modern Tarot, she actually says, “Often when this card comes up, the problem is you but you’re too deep in your own bad feelings to see it.”)

When we locate the problem internally, it becomes difficult to see the wisdom and creativity of people’s choices to disengage. Disengagement, turning away, avoidance – these things are all massively devalued in our capitalist, productivity-worshipping, success-chasing, “manifest your best life”, “law of attraction” culture.

But people are always responding to the hardships and traumas in their lives.

People are always resisting.

Nobody is a passive recipient of hardship.

Certainly, there are times when we want to be engaged, and there are times when we want to shift away from the restriction and isolation of this card. But what would happen if we brought curiosity to our interpretation of what’s happening?

What if we asked:

Am I feeling disengaged right now? Does this card reflect my feelings in my own life, or is it an invitation to think about how I’m viewing the world around me?

What have I learned about disengagement as being either good or bad? Who taught me this? Does this learning align with my own values, or my own lived experiences?

If I am disengaged right now, why am I disengaged in this moment?

What am I disengaging from?

What does my disengagement make possible?

What have I learned about greed, or selfishness, or self-absorption (also strong elements associated with this card)?

Whose values do these lessons about greed, selfishness, or self-absorption align with? Do these values apply differently depending on the social location of the person who is behaving in “greedy” or “selfish” or “self-absorbed” ways?

What have I learned about self-care? From whom?

Is there a small moment of self-care that I can engage with today? What might that look like?

Who does it serve or benefit when I engage in self-care? Who does it serve or benefit when I do not?

How can I reevaluate (the key word on the Next World Tarot version of this card!) what I have been taught? Can I choose to engage with these discourses and narratives with curiosity, and to honour my own insider knowledges?

This week, in fact the last few months, has been focused on being a support for people responding to violence in their relationships (both intimately and socially/structurally). I have been so thankful for the gentle invitations that the tarot has offered me over this time. I’m particularly thankful for Cristy C. Road’s Next World Tarot and the liberation and justice-oriented interpretations offered in the guidebook.

Card of the Day – King of Swords

Today’s card is the King of Swords. The throne of knowledge.
What does it mean to know something?
What is the work of knowledge? Does knowing something mean that you have an obligation to do something with that knowledge?
Who taught you what it means to know something, and what the work of knowledge might be?
What motivates you when you share your knowledge?
How do you navigate the difficult path of knowing something and not being able to make other people know it? (We know, for example, that “facts don’t change minds” but where does that leave us?)
How do we challenge hierarchies of knowledge from a throne of knowledge?
How do we honour the insider knowledges of the people around us, when we see them making mistakes?
How do we honour our own insider knowledges when we see ourselves making mistakes?
How does the King of Swords access Temperance? How does the King of Swords find balance?
Today, consider this card a gentle invitation to explore the things you know and the things you might not know. An invitation to bring curiosity to your own experience of knowledge, and to what you consider the work of knowing. An invitation to think about which throne of knowledge you are sitting on, and which you want to sit on.
In my own world, this means that I am going to resist the urge (which is so strong) to give advice.
I find myself with a frantic desperation to prevent my community from “making mistakes” – I can see their patterns and I can see what they need, so why can’t they?! This is not helpful.
This desperation tells me that I am afraid, that I feel the safety net beneath us to be frayed, that I am overextended and under-resourced. I want to help, but I want to help because I feel frantic, chaotic, restless, afraid. This is not coming from a place of compassion, or from the knowledge that people are the experts in their own lives. It is not in alignment with my strongly held belief that people are always already responding to the problems and hardships in their lives, that every person has skills, values, hopes, and dreams that will help them find their way to their preferred stories, preferred selves.
My own insider knowledge tells me that I am so desperate to make everyone else “safe” by convincing them of what I know, not because it will help, but because I am trying to control the outcomes. I am not trusting what I know is true – that people are the experts in their own lives – because I am far away from my own feeling of safety and truth. But I, like everyone else, have choices. I have skills and values and hopes and dreams. I have preferred stories that I can move towards.
The outward focused knowledge, which urges me to convince, cajole, control – this is not the throne I want to be on, today. It positions me as an “expert” in someone else’s life, a position that I actively and intentionally resist!
So, instead, I’m going to turn inward, to my own insider knowledge. What is happening within my own heart and mind? What efforts can I make towards strengthening the safety net, rather than preventing it from being needed? How can I contract, bring myself in, offer myself some comfort?
What I (think I) know about everyone else is so loud. This tells me I need to find some quiet, and figure out what I know about myself.

The Ten of Swords and Intimate Partner Violence

I am tired of watching the people in my life suffer at the hands and words of people who claim to love them.

And it does not escape my notice that it is more often the femmes, the women, the disabled, the neurodivergent, the vulnerable who are experiencing violence and abuse from their partners.

I am overwhelmed with listening to people who consult me for narrative therapy, and who consult me as a friend, talk about what has been done to them, talk about what has been said to them, talk about what has been said about them, and to hear them questioning themselves with the oppressive voices of our culture.

Was it really so bad?
He didn’t mean it.
Am I too needy?
He was drinking.
They were having a panic attack.

Everything I say makes her angry.
He really tries.
Maybe it’s not so bad.

Maybe it’s not so bad.

Of course they doubt themselves! Our culture chronically gaslights marginalized communities. Marginalized communities are often operating within transgenerational trauma, poverty, scarcity (if not in our families, then in our communities). Marginalized communities may also have to contend with other structural and systemic issues that make naming abuse and violence more challenging – Black and Indigenous communities are at such increased risk of violence from any system. Seeking help often means finding more violence.

There is so much normalization of violence in our culture. And although it is not an issue that only impacts women, or is only perpetuated by men, there are patterns. They are painful patterns to witness.

One of my friends recently posted this open letter to men:

Dear men,

Just wanted to let you know I am so over it. I talk to your partners every day. I see their tears and listen to their self flagellation in the effort to make you happy. I watch them cram themselves in tiny boxes so they don’t threaten you. I fume as they suggest, gently, kindly, if it’s not too much trouble, that you consider their needs, but your wants are more important. Men, I watch you casually ask for sacrifice as if it were your due. I seethe as your partners ask for the simplest things of you, and you just don’t even bother. I see you go through the motions and call it love, when it doesn’t even pass the bar for respect. And then, as it all falls apart you claim you need a chance, as if you haven’t been given dozens, that you didn’t know, as if you hadn’t been told relentlessly, and that you can change, as long as you won’t be held accountable.

Men, I am so over watching your partners unilaterally trying to fix relationship problems that are yours. I am tired of knowing your partners better than you. I am exhausted having to buoy them through the hard times because you cannot be bothered. I am tired of you cheapening what love means by buying the first box of chocolates you see (not even their favourite) and calling it an apology but changing nothing.

Don’t hurt my people. Men, do better or go home.

And still, the questioning. Maybe it wasn’t so bad? Maybe it wasn’t so bad. Maybe it wasn’t so bad. Because each incident on its own might not be so bad. Might be a bad day, a bad choice. Might be a bad moment. It’s not the whole story. Maybe it’s not so bad.

And on its own, maybe it isn’t.

Image description: The Ten of Swords from the Next World Tarot.

From the guidebook by Cristy C. Road:

This is the final straw, and the 10 of Swords is exhausted from counting. They have lost themselves, over and over, in the name of love, self-worth, trauma, post-traumatic stress, healing the body from abuse, healing the mind from manipulation, and unwarranted, non-stop loss. The 10 knows healing, they studies it and have been offered power, candles, bracelets, and messages from their ancestors through local prophets who run their favorite Botanica. They are listening, but they are stuck. Proving to their community that while they have known power, they have known pain they don’t deserve.

The 10 of Swords asks you to trust your pain, own your suffering, and don’t deny yourself of the care you deserve from self, and the validation from your community. That validation is the root of safety. The 10 of Swords believes now is the time to ask your people for safety.

I pulled this card after another conversation with a beloved member of my community about an incident of misogyny in an intimate relationship.

I had brought this question to the deck – “How do we invite accountability into our intimate relationships?”

I wanted to know –

How do we create the context for change without putting the burden of emotional labour onto the person already experiencing trauma from the choices and behaviours of their partner?

How do we deepen the connection to values of justice, compassion, and ethical action, for people who have been recruited into acts of violence and abuse?

How do we resist creating totalizing narratives about people who use violence and abuse? How do we resist casting them as monsters? How do we invite accountability while also sustaining dignity?

How do we, to use a quote by one of my fellow narrative therapists, “thwart shame”? (Go watch Kylie Dowse’s video here!)

In moments of distress, I often turn to the tarot. When I don’t know how to ask the right questions, and I don’t know what to say or do, I turn to the tarot. Tarot cards are excellent narrative therapists.

I flipped this card over and the image moved me immediately. These acts of intimate partner violence and abuse do not occur in a vacuum. It is not just one sword in the back.

A misogynist comment from a partner, directed towards a woman or femme, joins the crowd of similar comments she, they, or he has received their entire life.

A racist comment from a partner, directed towards a racialized person, joins the pain of living an entire life surrounded by white supremacy and racism.

An ableist comment from a partner, a transantagonistic comment, a sanist or healthist or fatphobic or classist comment – these comments join the crowd.

And so, how do we invite accountability while preserving dignity? How do we resist totalizing narratives of either victims or perpetrators, resist recreating systems of harm in our responses to harm?

See the whole picture.

Even though it is so painful to look at, see the whole thing.

Rather than locating violence and abuse as problems that are localized to a relationship, individualized and internalized to a single person making choices, recognize that these things happen in context. And for many folks, these contexts are incredibly painful.

It will take time, and patience, and compassion, and gentleness, and a willingness to do the hard work of both validation and accountability. It will take community to find safety.

We need each other to say, “it is that bad, even if this incident might not be.”

When the victim-blaming, isolating, individualizing voices start clamoring, we need each other to say, “this is not your fault.”

We need something more nuanced than “leave,” “report.”

We need to show up for each other, with each other. We need safety. We need validation.

Can we do this by asking questions like:

How did you learn what it means to be in relationship?

What examples of making choices in relationships have you seen around you? What was being valued in those choices?

Does what you’ve learned about being in relationship align with what you want for yourself, and what you value for yourself?

Do the actions you’re choosing in your own relationship align with your values or hopes?

Who has supported you in your values and hopes?

Do you share any hopes or values with your partner(s)?

What have you learned about violence and abuse in relationships? About who experiences violence and abuse? About who enacts violence and abuse?

When did you learn this?

Does this learning align with what you’ve experienced in your own relationship?

What insider knowledges would you add to this learning, from your own experience?

Have you ever taken a stand against violence and abuse in your relationship?

What enabled you to take this stand?

When violence or abuse shows up in your relationship, are you able to name it? Have you ever been able to name it? What supports this ability?

What have you learned about what it means to be accountable in relationship?

Do you have supports available to you that invite accountability while sustaining dignity?

Who can support you in being accountable for the actions you’ve taken when you’ve been recruited into violence or abuse? Who can support you in asking for accountability from a partner who has been recruited into violence or abuse?

Here are some resources if you’re looking for ways to respond to intimate partner violence:

The Stop Violence Everyday project.

Critical Resistance’s The Revolution Starts at Home zine.

The Creative Interventions toolkit.

(This post has been cross-posted to my narrative therapy blog. You can find it here.)

Card of the Day: Seven of Wands

Today’s card is the Seven of Wands. Courage.

From Cristy C. Road’s brilliant Next World Tarot guidebook, “You recently had a vision – you are a priestess, a leader, an energetic plea for peace and justice. You have what you need – the resources, the knowledge, and the revolutionary intent to create something both educational and breathtaking – but a community, an individual, or a system unwilling to comply sits beside you. There is a system of power that excuses hate violence; this system could run through a police state, a political power, or a love. Through intimidation, scare tactics, and lies, they urge you to run from your own magic. The 7 of Wands cultivated a force field that surrounds the space she creates her elixirs, makes her art, and strengthens her intuition – away from the claws of the oppressor. She asks you to do the same.”


What is your vision? Your dream? What secret, precious hopes are you holding close but feeling unable to bring into the world?

Maybe it’s a book. A course. A career change. Involvement in a project or process of justice-doing. Maybe it’s just speaking what you know to be true into a world that you know to be hostile.

What is the system of power that sits in your way?

How can you resist this system?

How can you show up for your dreams, for your own deeply knowing self?

What are we doing with, and for, our dreams?

What do you think it means to your dream or vision that you have not forgotten it, despite the resistant system that you face?

Where did you first discover this dream or vision?

Who in your life, past or present, would not be surprised to know that this is your dream or vision? Who knows the secret magical heart of you?

Who supports you in this dreaming? Is this person living, no longer living, fictional, historical? Can you bring this person closer to you in the moments when you need courage?

I believe in us. In you, and in myself. Sitting with this card early this morning, I felt it deep in my bones. Both the vision and the fear.

If you are here in this Seven energy with me, welcome. Let’s put up our force fields and protect our magic. Let’s build.

Card of the Day: Eight of Swords

Image description: The 8 of Swords in the Next World Tarot.

Today’s card is the 8 of Swords. Restriction.

There are so many things that I love about Cristy C. Road’s Next World Tarot, but perhaps my favourite is that the deck offers something liberatory and strong in each card. It’s a deck that welcomes reflection, accountability, and the acknowledgement of how even our “maladaptive” coping strategies are born from inner knowing and self-preservation.

In the introduction to the guidebook, Road writes, “When we’re up, the system wants to tear us down. When we’re down, we sink in an act of resistance or self-preservation that comes from the horror of exhaustion. How do we hold each other up in a world where oppression can be louder than self-love?”

“We sink in an act of resistance.”

I really appreciate this framing of what it can mean to sink in response to feeling down. This is so counter to narratives of positivity and positive thinking, which push us always towards rising, growing, freeing ourselves. There is so little space for contraction, constraint, restraint, restriction. This leaves us with a thin narrative available for this card – it’s something to get rid of, get out of, get past.

Michelle Tea writes, in Modern Tarot, “When the Eight of Swords arrives, you are so deeply stuck that you have given up any hope of fixing the situation. Or maybe you delayed fixing a situation until it swallowed you whole and now you’ve lost hope… If you did allow yourself to see, you’d have to acknowledge that this miserable situation is at least partly your own doing. You have tremendous personal power, but for some reason you are choosing not to use it, or you have handed it over to someone else.”

This is a common interpretation of the card. And sometimes it’s true! But other interpretations are possible. I’m thinking of the cocoon in the Wild Unknown, and the idea of restriction as being about the moment before growth and the painful period of transformation.

Image description: The Eight of Swords in the Wild Unknown tarot.

But I’m also thinking about the Next World Tarot, and this interpretation – “The 8 of Swords was burned once and refuses to be burned again. She hides from the possibility, but knows deep inside that she is greater than her triggers. The 8 of Swords is self-imposed limits for her own protection. She embodies a moment of validation. She asks you to name your needs. What do you need to heal? What do you need to avoid? She asks you to choose your limits and trust your body is the foremost guide for your healing… She asks you to unearth your truth and your personal accountability in order to begin crawling through the exit wound.”

How different is this interpretation!

So, an invitation to explore the discourses we have internalized about restriction.

What has your experience of limitations or restrictions been? What is the difference between self-imposed limitations and externally-imposed limitations? Is there any overlap between the two?

Who taught you about limitations or restrictions? Were these framed as a positive or a negative? Have you had experiences that stood against or challenged this framing?

What are the limits you have imposed on yourself?

What wisdom informed the setting of these limits? What were you valuing for yourself when you set these limits?

What do these limits make possible in your life? Now, or in the past?

Do these limits still align with what you value for yourself? Do they feel necessary? Is there a way to shift your relationship to these limits?

This card is richly, beautifully, complexly multi-storied. There are many true stories that coexist and contradict each other without overwriting each other. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to explore, so if you have had a relationship with this card and would like to talk about it in a narrative session, let me know!

Card of the Day: Page of Cups

Today’s card is The Page of Cups. The home of expression. And so instead of my morning pages, I sat at my desk with my coffee getting cold, reading poetry.

salt. by nayyirah waheed. I read the whole book. I feel thankful for being invited into an experience that is not my own. I feel thankful for her centering of Blackness. I feel thankful for the poems that are about me, too.

‘if i write
what you may feel
but cannot say.
it does not
me a poet.
it makes me a bridge.
i am humbled
to assist your heart in speaking.
– grateful’

I am thankful for this book. This, and another book of her poetry, Nejma, gifted to me years ago by someone who was a metamour and is now a good friend.

I think about the Page of Cups. Cristy C. Road says, ‘Page of Cups learned to speak in poetry through both suffering and living life to its fullest… They ask you to take your gut reaction and your infatuations seriously. These are your gifts. Your raw talents. Now prepared for battle.’

And I read my signed copy of Pansy, by Andrea Gibson. Crying, as I always do, about halfway through, when the poems spoken under my breath have pulled the emotion out of me like a chemical reaction. This is not my favourite of Andrea Gibson’s poetry books (that is Pole Dancing to Gospel Hymns) but today it felt like the right one. It is an ‘Angels of the Get Through’ kind of day. It is a ‘Letter to White Queers, a Letter to Myself’ kind of day.

So, beloved tarot companions.

What poetry speaks its way through your heart today?

When did you learn to tell your own stories?

Who has been a bridge for you, who has helped assist your heart in speaking?

Today, consider this card an invitation. Seek out poetry that speaks to you. Find your story, or a story that your heart needs to hear.

The Page of Cups zine is almost ready. Since I’ve pulled this card again, and found it so rich and meaningful, I’m going to open up submissions to the zine for the rest of this week.

Send your 500-ish word story, on the loose theme of playfulness, curiosity, and storytelling to

Being called out by the Eight of Pentacles

On December 24, I shared:

(image description: The Crow Tarot Eight of Pentacles against a bright orange background.)

This morning I’m being called out by the Eight of Pentacles.

Maybe I’ll write a blog post up about it, but not right now because I have too much time-sensitive work I have to get done and not enough time for it.

I’m glad I took a moment for a card draw, even though it was so sharp.

I’ve been working with Michelle Tea’s book Modern Tarot. I really love her interpretations, and for the Eight of Pentacles she includes some suggestions on how to shift our relationship to work when the drudgery becomes soul-crushing rather than meditative.

In my own life, I can see many sides of this card – I love much of my work, but I also have fallen into a pattern of working too hard, too much. The bills DO need to be paid, but my heart needs some attention, too.

This has been a big theme for me lately. “The bills need to be paid but my heart needs some attention, too.” This keeps coming up.

A small selection of where this is coming up in my morning pages journalling:

December 17, “The new year is coming and I want it to be good. I’m so anxious about money, work, creativity, the world…”

December 18, “I want to figure out how to have a work life that feels sustainable and joyful. I just don’t know how that looks… Part of why I don’t know is because it seems so far away. It’s been ages since I felt like I had that kind of stability.”

December 19, “Last year one of my goals was to take a day off every week and I completely failed at that… There’s such a churning excess of tasks-to-be-done swirling in my head. Every time I think about the future, I get distracted by thinking about all of the things I must or could or want to do.”

December 21, “It just feels like I am always too busy for any kind of softness or ritual. By the end of the day, I just want to watch TV and go to sleep.”

Reading back over these days, I see myself valuing sustainability, valuing a feeling of joyfulness and accomplishment in my work.

In many ways, the Eight of Pentacles is one of my heart cards, because I love so much of my work. There can be so much joy in work, especially when I am working with my cherished queer, trans, racialized, neurodivergent, poor, fat, disabled, and otherwise marginalized communities! Even difficult, time-consuming, expansive work experiences can be, if not always joyful, then rewarding. Michelle Tea uses the word meditative, and I can think of many times when I’ve found that deep well of nourishing work.

When I am reading tarot for someone, bringing a queer, trans, and intersectional lens to my reading, bringing in my narrative therapy skills and my connection to the cards and my compassion and that soft purple energy that infuses my tarot practice, I love the work.

When I am engaged in collective narrative practice, consulting with communities and creating resources that collect their insider knowledges, skills, insights, and experiences, I love the work.

When I am meeting with individuals, families, or groups for narrative therapy sessions, bringing curiousity and skill to the conversation, I love the work.

I love writing.

I love generating content.

I love working when it is the work that my heart feels called towards.

I don’t want to not work. But I want joyful work. I want a work life that is not sucking me dry, leaving me sad and overwhelmed.

A lot of this struggle is because of capitalism – it’s worth naming that context!

But some of it is my own habits, my own fears and anxieties getting in the way. The sharper edge of the Eight of Pentacles. The drudgery of it.

I suspect that I am not the only person struggling with this, especially because so much of it is a result of late-stage colonial capitalism. How many marginalized community members have work that they want to be doing, but the drudgery of paying the bills gets in the way? Based on the people I see around me, there are a lot of us. We may feel called to do our heart’s work, but rent is in the way. Underemployment is in the way.

So, when I’m engaging with the Eight of Pentacles in this way, it is not because I want to locate the problem in myself or in any of my community members. The problem is not just our relationship to work, the problem is primarily the context of our work. And so much of this context is out of our hands.

But not all of it.

We have choices, skills, insider knowledges. We have agency. And I think the Eight of Pentacles, in highlighting some of the non-preferred ways I have been working, is also inviting me to extend some effort into changing or challenging, resisting or responding to, the context.

This is not a new struggle for me, but it is particularly present right now because I have just finished my Master of Narrative Therapy and Community Work degree and I’m trying to figure out what comes next.

I want to build this tarot practice and do more readings for other people, and I also want to figure out how to integrate narrative therapy with tarot practice (this had been one of my ideas for my practice innovation project, but I ended up working on narrative therapy and polyamory, and on using narrative therapy to respond to the fear, anger, and despair of our current political situation – you can find my presentation on part of this work here).

There’s so much that I want to do, and there’s so much work in my life. I am currently working two ‘day jobs’ to pay the bills, and neither of them is fulfilling or joyful for me. But I do not make enough money with the tarot work or with my narrative therapy work to replace this income, and I am just so tired.

And into this context, the Eight of Pentacles.

(Image description, Eight of Pentacles from The Crow Tarot, Linestrider Tarot, Next World Tarot, Sasuraibito Tarot, Darkness of Light Tarot, and Wild Unknown Tarot, all against a dark background. These are the decks I am currently working with.)

Michelle Tea writes:

If the Eight of Pentacles has arrived, you can be sure it’s all work and no play… No slacking off, no cutting corners, no daydreaming. The type of work the Eight of Pentacles is engaged in can be tough for a lot of us…

Even creative work has its drudgery. If the Eight of Pentacles arises, you’re probably drowning in it.

Cassandra Snow, in their Queering the Tarot series (which is coming to book format in 2019, and I am so excited about this! You can check it out and pre-order it here) writes:

If the Seven [of Pentacles] is where we are called to plant our own seeds or right our life’s wrongs, then the Eight is where we learn how to do that. This is where we find our own groove and become comfortable doing the work of running our own life. No one expects you to be a master gardener overnight, but they do expect you to do the work of the Eight of Pentacles; the work of learning, studying, and trying. This card is fun when it shows up in readings, because I’ve seen it be this deeper, all-encompassing message…and I’ve also seen it literally mean it was time to take up a new career by studying under someone or going back to school…

The biggest way this card manifests in our queer lives is when we are learning to pave our own way.

All of the hard lessons of the Seven and needing to pull ourselves up and create something out of nothing begin to resolve in this Eight, though not as effortlessly as we would like. It is a hard, gradual learning process, but in the end we move ahead to the next card (the very affirming Nine of Pentacles). First though we land here: in a place of apprenticeship, and the question to ask ourselves is not what we want to learn, but who we want to be after we learn it. That is where the real growth happens, and what the Eight has been trying to dig at all along.

Drudgery, apprenticeship, paving our own way and doing the hard work… All of this resonates for me, but it also feels heavy, overwhelming.

Writing specifically about the Eight of Pentacles as it relates to her business, Beth Maiden shares:

What does ‘taking a break’ mean, and what is actually left of me if I’m not working? What do I truly love to do, besides work? How do I feel right now about the work that I do? And how do I want to feel about it? And you know, who actually am I, these days? How much does my work define who I am?

These questions are present for me in this moment of drudgery and effort. How can I take a break, what does a break even look like? Who am I beyond my work, and do I even need to experience a “beyond” or is it possible to feel integrated into my work in ways that are sustainable?

I’m not sure what the answers are yet. I know that it will be a question that recurs across the year – the Eight of Pentacles showed up in my Elements of the Coming Year spread in the bridge between water and air, heart and mind. In the Next World Tarot, the keyword for the Eight of Pentacles is creation.

In my write-up of this spread, I wrote:

I see Creation in the bridge between heart and mind. The 8 of Pentacles, which often haunts me, calling me out for my unsustainable work habits. But here, coming from my well-tended roots, I see the potential for this to be a new way of experiencing this card.

So that’s what I’ll take forward.

Hope and action.

If you would like to book a tarot reading, either an Elements of the Coming Year spread or something else, get in touch! Coming Year tarot spreads are available on a sliding scale from $75-150.

Narratives of Work – a tarot exploration

(This post was available a week early to my patrons. My Patreon helps support this work, and I appreciate my patrons more than I can say! This was also cross-posted with my narrative therapy blog, Wayfinding.)

Tarot is an important part of my life, and has been for quite a few years.

I use tarot as a way to think about what’s happening in my life, with tarot spreads acting as invitations to think about situations in specific and focused ways. I have also used tarot in narrative therapy in a similar way – inviting community members to engage with the cards as a visual way to explore their stories. I also use tarot as part of my slowly developing spiritual practice. I’ve written before about how I use tarot as self-care, in this post that introduced my tarot practice, and in this post about how to use tarot as a self-storying tool.

I participated in parts of the Owl and Bones August tarot challenge on Instagram. There was a prompt for each day, and it was an interesting process to notice was came up, what kept coming up, and how I responded to the cards. (I will admit that my participation was a bit more hit and miss while was away, mostly because I was so sick.)

On August 22nd, the prompt was “Where are things out of balance?”

I drew the Nine of Wands.

Image description: The Nine of Wands from The Wild Unknown tarot deck, against a black background.

This card is about stamina and inner strength – it’s about continuing on the long path.

Carrie Mallon, a tarot blogger who has written posts for each of the cards in the Wild Unknown deck (which I’m using here) writes about the Nine of Wands:

“The Nine of Wands shows that sometimes we need to draw on our inner reserves. We need to protect what is important to us, we need to protect our energy. We need to keep going, even though we may feel a little tired from being so on-guard. This kind of perseverance can be admirable, but can also lead to weariness.”

I thought, of course. Work is out of balance! I’m working too much. I’m always on the edge of burnout. I’m too busy, there’s too much going on, there’s too much pressure and stress. Work. This is about work.

But for some reason, I paused before posting the picture and that little response to it on Instagram. Instead, I sat with it for a few days.

I wondered why it was so easy to come to that interpretation.

I wondered about what the effect of having this story so prominently in my mind might be – how does it impact my days to always be framing myself in terms of “the edge of burnout” and “doing too much”?

I was a little uncomfortable with this line of inquiry, because I am always cautious when I feel myself edging towards “shift the narrative.” So often, this is used as a bludgeon against people who are legitimately struggling with injustice.

“Just shift your narrative!”

“Just focus on the positive!”

How about, just bite me.

However, this idea of shifting my own narrative is a theme that’s been coming up for me in a lot of areas lately. I have noticed that I’ve pushed so hard away from weaponized positivity that I sometimes feel like I’ve lost my connection to any kind of positivity at all. It’s easy, lately, to find myself feeling hopeless, trapped, powerless.

Even though it is unjust to demand that hurting people “focus on the positive,” that doesn’t mean there is never a time to re-frame.

In my narrative therapy training, I’ve been taught to “linger with intent” in the problem story – to invite community members to talk about their problems without shame or judgement, and to look for ways to strengthen their connection to preferred outcomes and preferred selves within those stories.

What this looks like in practice is that I listen to the stories that community members bring into narrative therapy sessions with an ear open to “double-storying” – what’s not being said here, but might be present anyway? In a story of anger, for example, there is sometimes a sense of justice that refuses to be silenced. In a story of hopelessness or exhaustion, there might be a cherished belief that things could be, and should be, different.

This means deepening stories of resistance and response, looking for those moments of choice and asking questions that connect people to their own acts of agency and to the ways in which they’ve responded to the problems in their lives. It also means looking for what people are valuing – what they hold to be precious or cherished, what they want for themselves and the world, what they hope for and dream – and working to strengthen their connections to the histories of those values.

This feels different than telling people to “shift their perspective” or to “think positive.”

It’s hard for me to write about this in clear and confident ways because I’m in the middle of the struggle myself.

What I do in a narrative therapy session is try to help people shift how they are oriented towards their problems and their own stories. I try to shift the narrative!

But outside of narrative therapy sessions and the respectful framing that I’m learning in my narrative therapy training, what I see in so much self-help writing is demands to “change your perspective and change your life,” with a subtext that seems to say that people have invited their own suffering, that they’re experiencing the consequences of their own “low vibrations” or “negative thoughts,” or that they have both the power and the responsibility to single-handedly and through the power of positive thinking change their external context. I hate these demands so much.

But what I’ve noticed in myself is that in rejecting the culture of “manifest your best life” positive thinking, I have also rejected a lot of helpful wisdom (wisdom that shows up in narrative therapy, too, and that I love in that context!) In rejecting the idea that individuals are responsible for changing social contexts that they can’t control, I have found myself also rejecting the hope for any change at all. I have focused so much on the harms of individualizing problems that I sometimes think I have forgotten the hope of collective action. I have focused on resisting narratives of “manifestation” and I think that I have sometimes lost sight of narratives of agency and choice.

I don’t know what to do about this.

But I do know this – when I pulled the Nine of Wands, my mind leapt to a very specific narrative of myself. It is the narrative of overwork. The narrative of “the edge of burnout.” It is a narrative I know very well, and anytime a narrative comes that easily, it’s worth questioning.

Because, even though it is a narrative that comes with my critique of capitalism and my feelings of powerlessness in the face of late stage capitalism, it’s also a thin narrative of myself. (“Thin description allows little space for the complexities and contradictions of life. It allows little space for people to articulate their own particular meanings of their actions and the context within which they occurred.” – from What is Narrative Therapy on the Dulwich Centre’s excellent site.)

I started wondering, what if the thing that’s out of balance isn’t work, but my narrative about work?

(And, since it’s Sunday when I’m writing this, and Sunday in the Tender Year is when I pick a binary and challenge it, what if it isn’t either/or, but rather both?)

I started asking myself what is rendered invisible when I focus only on the part of my working self that is so tired and overwhelmed?

The answers came slowly, especially because I was sick. But they did come eventually.

What gets erased is the joy I take in my work.

What gets erased are the positive effects of my work.

What gets erased is the support I have in my work (including from my patrons!) and the growth that I am inviting into my life by continuing to do this work.

My choices get erased in this narrative, which is a narrative of work being foisted on me – work that I have to do in order to pay the rent, work that I have to do in order to get where I need to be.

But I do feel joy in my work.

There are positive effects that result from my work.

I have so much support for my work, and I do make choices.

After sitting with this idea of work / narratives of work, I laid out another tarot spread for myself.

Image description: A Wild Unknown tarot spread and a muffin on a wooden table. The spread includes the Nine of Wands, the Four of Cups, the Ace of Wands, the Four of Wands, and the Son of Pentacles. The Father of Cups is also visible on top of the deck.

I pulled out the Nine of Wands, and then laid out my favourite spread with that as the focus.

My favourite spread is the elements – a five card spread with a focus card (or a card that represents the situation or the whole), and then cards for air/mental self, water/emotional self, earth/physical or material self, and fire/creative, passionate, or spiritual self.

In the air position, I had the Four of Cups.

The Four of Cups in the Wild Unknown always strikes me as being a card about feelings of scarcity – that rat is trying so hard to keep control of all the cups, to make sure they don’t tip or get stolen. The Four of Cups is often about feeling like there isn’t enough, and in this deck (more than most others) it makes me think of the way scarcity can invite us into desperation and a desire to control our situation more tightly than we need to, more tightly than we actually can. This card says, “I can’t let go of anything, or I will lose everything.”

It landed like a hammer and I almost didn’t even flip the rest of the spread. This card speaks directly to what I had been thinking about over the four days since originally pulling the Nine of Wands.

Maybe I’m out of balance about this because I am so focused on scarcity. I am so terrified of scarcity. I am terrified of financial insecurity – I have experienced acute financial scarcity in the past, and I am chronically on the edge of it (and have been since my divorce), and those thoughts consume me sometimes. Especially when I think about work, and about throwing myself more fully into my narrative work.

I noticed the moon in both the Four of Cups and the Nine of Wands. That dark crescent in the Four is a rich golden colour in the Nine of Wands – two different narratives of the same moon. Am I working towards that bright sliver of light, or am I clutching what little I can in the shadows? It’s the same thing, but it’s a very different story of that same thing.

So that first position is air, how I’m thinking about the situation.

I moved on to the rest of the spread.

Water – how am I feeling about this situation? Where are my emotions here?

The Ace of Wands. This is a card about new beginnings, and about passion. When I think about work, I do think in terms of scarcity – a lack of time, a lack of money, a lack of resources, a lack of faith in myself. And a lot of that is justified, but it isn’t the whole story. Because when I feel about work, particularly about my narrative work, my community organizing work, my writing work – I feel passionate and excited. I feel like I’m building something! I feel like there’s value here, and the potential to do something new and needed. This card resonated for me, too.

Then across the spread to Fire – where is my passion and creativity here?

The Son of Pentacles. I see the same golden crescent moon as in the Nine of Wands, and notice the pentacle (a symbol of earth and grounding and materiality) centered in it – another narrative of this same story that adds stability to the potential and “enoughness” of that rich crescent.

Carrie Mallon writes about this card:

The Son of Pentacles leans into the card, pressing forward slowly but surely. An orange crescent moon frames a pentacle above him. The background is dark, but lightens where he gazes.

The Son of Pentacles is not one to act with great haste or passion. He is purposeful and careful in all that he does. Once he has decided to move in a given direction, that is simply where he goes. He sticks the course and slugs through the mud to reach his goals. He doesn’t always trust easily, but if someone does earn his trust, he stands by them without fail.

On the positive side, this attention to detail can be essential. The Son of Pentacles is thorough and has unparalleled determination to finish what he starts. On the negative side, he can fall prone to tunnel vision.

…[The] Son of Pentacles is looking down at his chosen path. He is so resolute in his endeavors that he may forget to look up and assess his current surroundings. He may have a difficult time with changes and flexibility.

That also resonates with what I’d been thinking about this whole work/narratives of work thing. I recognize my own determination, but I can also see how sometimes I get focused on a particular idea or narrative and it’s hard for me to deviate from that. I also find this interesting because this card is in the fire position – it’s all about passion. But the Son of Pentacles is not a passionate card. He’s determined, focused, attentive but not passionate. And I am passionate. I am passionate in general but I am especially passionate about my work.

Except, not so much lately.

Lately, I’ve been so tired. I’ve been so fixed on how hard it is, how hard I’m working, how hard I have to keep working, and I haven’t been feeling my fire. I’ve been feeling sad and hopeless lately – climate change, economics, politics. I’ve been doing my work, but I’ve been doing it more like the Son of Pentacles than I would like.

And the lovely thing about that is that I can make choices about whether I continue like this! The cards are not fixed, fatalistic. The cards are a conversation. And I can make choices, make changes. I can invite more fire into this part of my life.

Finally, Earth – where is my physical and material self in this?

The Four of Wands. Where the Four of Cups is about scarcity and lack, the Four of Wands is about celebration and reaching milestones.

I’m interpreting this card as an invitation to notice successes as they happen, rather than constantly watching for upcoming failures or challenges.

The fact is, some things have gone really well in the last while! I have First Class Honours in my first course of the Masters program. My birthday offer of $37 narrative therapy sessions has been popular, and I only have 25 of these sessions left. (If you’d like to take advantage of this offer, get in touch! I’d love to work with you.) I have a lot of ideas for posts and projects, and lots of people are interested in participating in these projects. The next zine is almost ready to be printed!

I’m going to try to notice those things when they happen, and to let myself linger in those stories of success and hope.

It’s really difficult looking at our narratives and allowing them to shift (or even acknowledging that a shift might be possible or desirable).

I appreciate the way that tarot invites me into these difficult and rich conversations with myself and with my stories.


A Spread for Parents

Parenting is challenging.

Sometimes we’re parenting a child. Maybe we are biologically connected to the child that we’re parenting. Maybe we aren’t. Maybe we adopted them. Maybe we fell in love with one or both of their parents. Maybe we’re in their extended family (biological or chosen).

Sometimes we’re parenting ourselves. Maybe we didn’t get the kind of love we needed as children. Maybe we did! Maybe we’ve lost a parent. Maybe we just know that we continue to need parenting throughout our lives, and we’ve chosen to take on that sacred role of caregiving for ourselves, within ourselves. Maybe we are extending the loving parenting we received, and maybe we are healing trauma.

Sometimes we’re parenting in some other way – bringing a project or an idea or a dream into the world and then nurturing its growth.

Parenting is challenging in all of these contexts.

Here is a spread to offer some guidance as we parent!

Image description: A drawing of a 5-card spread (described below) and a small purple flower with a green stem, brown roots, and blue water lines.

I designed this spread from the perspective that parenting is both something we are (a part of our identity), and also something we do (a set of actions the result from that identity), and that when we are doing parenting, we are working towards the highest good of the life we are caring for.

This is certainly not the only way to view parenting, and I am particularly conscious of the fact that not everyone views parenting as part of their identity – so the first card, “Being a Parent,” can also be interpreted as the way you are viewed in your parental role.

I designed this spread on Mother’s Day, because I wanted to create something that could reflect my own experience and orientation to the idea of parenting – I am a non-binary person in a nesting relationship with someone who has two kids half the time. I’m not legally any kind of parent, but I’m functionally a stepparent.

Alright, let’s dive into this!

As always, I fully support choosing these cards intentionally or drawing them after shuffling, and I also think that there is so much room to draw further cards, swap cards out, and otherwise engage in a conversation with your cards. Parenting is, in my experience both parenting myself and parenting these two stepsquids, in a constant state of flux. It is always a conversation between dreams and reality, between conflicting needs and resources, between the self and the other, the self and the young self, the self and the echoes of our own parents. Let that complexity and flux be present in this spread!

1 – Being a Parent. This card represents you as a parent – either your interpretation of how parenting is part of your identity, or how other people perceive you because of your parenting role. If you want, you can draw two cards – one for the internal sense of identity, and one for the external perception.

2 – Doing Parenting. This card represents how you are doing the actions of parenting, and offers an invitation to consider the impact of those actions. What are you doing as you parent? This is another position that invites a second card – one for what you are doing, and one for what you might consider doing.

3 – Nurture. What are you invited to nurture in the child in your life, in the child in yourself, in the project or idea you are bringing up?

4 – Validate. What are you invited to validate? This is so important for those of us parenting children or parenting ourselves. What is present in the experience of this person that may be hard to see or believe? What are they/we feeling, noticing, experiencing that is not finding validation elsewhere? Allow the person you are parenting to be the expert in their own experience.

5 – Witness. Part of parenting involves witnessing the growth that results from our nurturing and validating actions. Especially if we are parenting a child or a project, witnessing how they operate in the world and allowing ourselves to hold a decentered role – to be on the outside of that, witnessing it – is so important. And even when we are parenting ourselves, releasing our own desire to control the outcome and witnessing how we move through the world can be such a healing step.

Let me know if you try this spread out!

Here is the spread that I drew for parents on the margins on Mother’s Day this year.

Being a parent: The Devil. Text on the card reads ‘Justice is not blind’ and ‘when silence equals profit.’ Being a parent in this time of ecological, economic, and political collapse and injustice means seeing and fighting against this. Cristy C. Road writes, ‘how do we evade systems of oppression in eras of destitution?’ That’s the question for us as parents. 

Doing parenting: Wheel of Fortune. ‘Keep spinning until you feel totally safe.’ In the *doing* of parenting there is a push for change, to turn the wheel, to make choices, to think twice, to ask the hard questions. 

To nurture: Page of Wands. Nurture the bravery and power of whoever it is we are parenting. 

To validate: Revolution. Validate the rage and energy of whoever we are parenting. Validate their/our truth, and the the refusal to continue to support systems of injustice. Text on the card reads, ‘defend the sacred.’ Validate that. 

To witness: King of Wands. Nurture those first steps in bravery and power, and then witness the results. The King of Wands ‘doesn’t fear the journey toward enlightenment and global security; he is present for every step of the ride.’ 

Parenting on the margins can feel exhausting, overwhelming, isolating, terrifying. I found this spread encouraging and demanding. This work, however we do it, whoever we do it for, is good work. Hard work. Revolutionary work.

Project Kindling Spread

I’m still working my way through Evvie Marin’s fantastic ebook, Eight Useful Tarot Spreads for Times of Resistance and Change. Today I’m taking the Project Kindling Spread out for a spin!

I’ve been holding off on this spread because I’ve been getting some ducks in a row. Fox and Owl Tarot launches officially – official official! – next weekend. I’m going to open up the shop and start offering readings professionally.

This has meant some behind-the-scenes technical work, and some behind-the-scenes shadow work. (I really love Northern Light Witch‘s Shadow Work Spell Kit, and highly recommend it. I’ll be posting a review, with some snippets from the work I’ve done over this last while, next week.)

I needed to figure out how I feel about money, and about tarot, and about bringing the two together in this way. I needed to figure out how tarot fits in with my other work, because in my non-tarot life, I’m a narrative therapist and I believe deeply the narrative practice of decentring the practitioner and bringing people fully into the centre of their own story. If I believe, and I do, that “you are the expert in your own experience,” then how does tarot fit with that? (It fits beautifully, I think! But I just really had to sit with that for a while and make sure I was fully grounded in my ethics and my focus as I get ready for this launch.)

But this evening, I finally let myself try out this spread!

Focusing on Fox and Owl Tarot as the project I am kindling, I got a reading that is strongly influenced by the work I’ve been doing over the last week and a bit.

Image description: A spread from the Steampunk Tarot deck, with King of Pentacles, Ten of Swords, and Seven of Cups at the centre, The Sun to the left, The Tower to the right, Page of Cups below, and Queen of Pentacles above.

Cards 1, 2, 3 – The sparks: King of Pentacles, Ten of Swords, Seven of Cups. There are the elements that will spark the project into life.

I laughed when I saw the Ten of Swords. It’s true, I am an Eeyore. I bring my despair and my outrage at the injustices so common in our world into this work. I reallly appreciated uncaged-tarot’s recent thread about social justice in tarot, and when I saw this ten, that’s what immediately came to mind. Exhaustion at the many cuts that marginalized communities face. Existential dread. Even a bit of melodrama. But this is not a negative in this context. This is a spark! This is the sharp awareness of injustice and the crushing effects of the kyriarchy on the people I work with.

The Seven of Cups made me pause and think. In this card, I see my indecision, my daydreaming self, my pie-in-the-sky imaginings of what Fox and Owl might end up being. For a moment, I felt myself sinking into judgement and discouragement, but then I thought about how daydreams are beautiful when the spark action. In the moment of imagining so many potential outcomes – will Fox and Owl take off and become a major part of my work life? Amazing! Will I write a book about narrative therapy and tarot? Maybe! Will I develop an entire tightly connected community of fellow Social Justice Mages? I hope so! – and I thought, fuck the judgement. These daydreams are perfect, and they are sparking this project. When they burn down over time, I’ll be left with the glowing coal of whatever lasted. The heart of this will stay, and in the meantime, the daydreams are perfect kindling.

And then the King of Pentacles. I struggle with the King cards in most decks – I am working on a series of posts about how the Next World Tarot queers the kings and gave me my first truly comfortable engagement with that energy. I have found Siobhan’s post on Little Red Tarot about the Kings incredibly helpful, and I came back to it in interpreting this card. Given my interpretation of the Ten of Swords – that this work calls me to be conscious of the cuts and exhaustion of living under marginalization – the presence of a King (with all the privilege that is brought in there) challenges me to be present with balance, to honour my own intuition and wisdom, to be grounded in my own practice just as much as I centre the wisdom and knowledge of the person I am reading for. Sioban writes, “Power is a practice, a pose, a reciprocal biochemical signature that we can share with other humans or experience alone; it’s a privilege that we’ve taken for granted (and which we can use for good). Work with it. Acknowledge its misuse and, also, reclaim it.” I can bring this power into my work. And, in fact, I must bring that power into my work, or the spark won’t kindle into flame.

Card 4, Internal influences: The Sun.

What do I bring to the table? A fuckton of energy, is what. Joyful energy. Generative energy. Hot, bright, Leo Sun energy. I don’t associate myself with The Sun (or with my Leo sign) very often. I feel more Moon, more Cancer-rising. More dark, more watery, more gloom – there is a reason my alter ego is the Gloom Fairy. But there are moments when I know the fire in myself, and I know that this card is accurate. This project was deeply influenced by my energy, my desire to create and to be part of nurturing growth. I bring that fire to this project.

Card 5, External influences: The Tower.

Just like the Ten of Swords, when I flipped this card I immediately laughed in recognition. Fox and Owl Tarot is the product of a few things, one of which was a friend identifying a lack of queer, trans, and polyamory-friendly tarot readers in Calgary. But it is also the product of my ongoing search for ways to participate as a healer and support for people as we go through this calamitous time. Climate change, global economic and political turmoil, the resurgence of overt fascism… These are Tower times, and that external context is a huge influence in how I view this project and what I want to bring to my readings.

Card 6 and 7, Let go of and Move towards: Page of Cups and Queen of Pentacles.

These two cards came out together, so I am reading them as interchangeable in these positions. I think they both have insight to offer in both positions.

Page as card 6 – I’m not a newbie to the cards. This is not the beginning of my journey. I have a strong connection to my cards and to the practice of tarot, and to my narrative practice and my work as a community organizer. I can let go of my imposter syndrome and my anxiety that I don’t have anything worthwhile to offer yet.

Page as card 7 – I will always be a student of the cards. There is always more to learn, and embracing that fact and moving towards it will be a benefit to my work with Fox and Owl Tarot.

Queen as card 6 – Don’t worry so much about the money. I struggle under capitalism, especially right now with the costs of grad school and the challenges of launching my counselling business. I am constantly stressed about money. In this position, I see the Queen of Pentacles as an invitation to let go of some of that stress when it comes to Fox and Owl, and to just let the work evolve how it evolves.

Queen as card 7 – Move towards valuing my work. Recognize that my work with tarot is work and that it does have value. Don’t be afraid of bringing money into an interaction, especially if I maintain my commitment to sliding scale and accessibility. (This has been a bit focus of my shadow work – money shame and anxiety! I am actually putting together a zine on this topic, so if you’re interested in participating, let me know!)

I really loved this spread! The cards challenged me to think, connect to my stories of myself and my hopes for this project, and tie into the wisdom that already exists in the tarot community.

I feel hopeful, optimistic, and ready to launch.