Fueling Social Justice Work with Tarot

Tarot will only ever be a side-project for me. I may have mentioned that here before, but now I feel ready to talk about why.

I feel called to protect the environment. This is a deep calling, and one that I can remember feeling even as a child. And it’s more needed now than ever before – climate change is an imminent threat, and we need people who understand the science of the environment and who also understand the way policy is made to work for solutions. This is challenging work, and work I am extremely dedicated to.

Environmental activism is at an intriguing intersection. We all need clean water to drink, clean air to breathe, and a climate that supports our food system and our lives. Too often, communities of color and other marginalized people have to disproportionately bear the burden of pollution. To fight for the environment is to fight for a livable future. In my activism, I know it’s essential to dismantle the systems that perpetuate racism and poison our land and water.

And just like any justice work, it demands a lot of perseverance and strategy.

But why, if I have such an intense calling elsewhere, am I moving forward with this project?

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Image: The sun peeks through clouds over a beaver pond and the northwoods forest.

Tarot and my spiritual practice are essential tools for me to tap in to my spirit and keep fighting. Tarot has become an essential part of my self care, and I’m at a point in my practice where I want to share my knowledge with others.

When I am doing daily draws, I typically do two-card draws. Energy and Action. Energy helps me understand where I’m at, what lies within me that I need to understand to move through my day. Action tells me what actions I can take to tap into that inner energy if it’s positive, or how to turn it around if it’s negative.

How does this relate to my work for justice?

It helps me understand when my justice needs to be external and when it needs to be internal. What that means is that sometimes I feel like a star, shining bright and able to give energy to the fight. And sometimes the cards tell me to slow down, to replenish my internal energy so that I can continue to work.

Self-care is important for everyone, but I believe it’s especially important for people whose calling is to fight for a better world. When you’re putting your energy into fighting the inertia of injustice, you’re using a lot of yourself. And this is not an easy fight – especially if you’re in it for the long haul. And so it’s important to check in on yourself daily. It’s important to monitor that energy.

It’s important not to lose yourself in the fight.

Let your witchy rituals bring you back to yourself. Let your intuition guide you.

Sometimes, it’s not always clear what’s next on your path to justice. Sometimes, you need a little extra guidance – a message from your intuition. Sometimes you need a kick in the pants, or a sharp refocusing of your energy. I know my cards have given that to me many times over the years.

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Image: Taken at the 2013 Forward on Climate Rally, protesters congregate on the lawn of the Washington Monument in DC. Two hold up a banner that reads “Minnesotans for Climate Justice”

Sometimes when you’re in the movement, and you’re feeling stuck or uninspired or burned out, you need to look inward to find direction. Direction for your work. Direction for your campaign. Even just a sense of whether or not you’re on the right path, or need to change your strategy.

Tarot is here for that too.

Any time you have a question about your career, or about where you’re headed, tarot is here. You get out of it what you put in to it. Symbols matter, and our interpretation of these symbols is critical. It can reveal so much about us, where we are and where we want to go. And when you’re fighting against the system of oppression? When you’re not sure what a future looks like, only that you want it to be better? You need to harness all of the tools at your disposal.

This isn’t purely rational. This is a deep, gut feeling. And the tarot is here to help you figure out what your gut is telling you.

We need all the resources we’ve got to sustain this fight and win a better future. Why not tap into our intuition?

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State of the Moon: Equinox Season

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This is a post of reaction. This is a post of looking at the energies that have been floating around, and sorting through the feelings of the last several weeks. There’s been a lot of energy floating around, and I can feel the transition happening within me – winter to spring, last eclipse season to this eclipse season, lots of things moving and shaking.

I’ve been feeling a lot of big emotions. Emotions about things I left behind last season. Emotions about what’s coming next. Feeling both gratitude for what I’ve been offered, and worry for what hasn’t been settled yet. I’ve got lots of work to do, and I’ve come a long way.

This eclipse season has almost felt like a sort of limbo – between the old and the new, taking time to recuperate before the next leg of the journey begins.

This is one of the first Big Deal things in the stars this year. But what does it really mean? And what does it mean to you?

There will be four eclipses in 2016. The first one happened on March 9 – a solar eclipse that was visible in the Southern Hemisphere up through the Pacific. The solar eclipse also happened to fall on a new moon. The next one will be on March 23, a full moon.

The influence of this eclipse season extends out for another 6 months. Basically, the idea behind this is that as the astronomical bodies move through the sky, it takes time for some of these influences to be felt fully, and once they are that energy reverberates until it is outshone by another energy. This season is also influenced by the Vernal Equinox – depending on where you are, it was either yesterday (3/19) or today (3/20). Coincidentally, this is also the weekend that Pisces changed to Aries, sparking a new astrological cycle (Pisces is at the end of the Zodiac, Aries at the beginning).

So – what does that mean?

LOTS of new things! A fresh start!  Spring equinox + new astrological year + eclipses? There’s a lot of energy floating around, and it looks like energies at the beginning.

Because the first eclipse was in Pisces, it was all about water – all about washing away the pain of something, all about letting go and moving on. I know that I’ve been feeling some intense emotions, feeling a lot around the losses of the last six months, feeling a lot of energy but grief, and needing even more time to myself to process than usual. Be gentle to yourselves.

This second eclipse happens right after the sun has entered Aries – an extremely driven fire sign and the first sign in the next phase of the zodiac. This already speaks to a powerful beginning to the next phase, given the close proximity to the equinox and the changing seasons, you’re probably already feeling this energy.

If you want to harness the power of this eclipse season, think about things to let go and what kind of creative energy you want to bring into your life. Personally, this feels very career-oriented: my studies and career are on fire, and I need to preserve my inner energy to make sure I can make it through and harness the power of this season.

Some ways to honor the season:

  • Plant something! This is a season of growth – find some soil and an herb or flower you love and plant it.
  • Make some healing tea. Tea can be lovely for both healing and meditation, so grab those herbs and make yourself a brew. There are a ton of great ideas out there, but check out this post from Autostraddle for simple teas, the Kitchen Wiccan for a huge directory of teas for every ailment, or grab some inspiration from Paige Z Tarot and Tea.
  • Take a walk in the woods. Look for buds. Look for flowers. Listen for the birds singing. Connect with the earth.
  • Light a bonfire. Dance. Ignite your passions.
  • Do a tarot reading, throw down some runes, read your tea leaves – now is a powerful time for divination for the next six months. Use these tools to help plan for the season.
  • Relax. Repeat to yourself: it will all be fine.
  • Rejoice! Celebrate all you’ve done to get where you are now, and all you plan to do in the near future!

 

Good luck with your own goals, star-friends! Keep your inner fire alive!

A Spring Equinox + Eclipse Season Tarot Reading

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I was buried deep in my reading for class last night, when I came up for air and decided to take a walk. Sometimes, walking helps me process what’s happening in my mind, and moving my body wakes me up. As I was turning a corner, I saw the moon in all her glory. There was a bright ring around the moon, and it shone bright through the city lights. Next to the moon in the sky, I could clearly see the outline of Orion.

And I knew that I couldn’t just go back to the books. I had a vision – immediately – for a tarot reading dedicated to this specific transition.

First, I took the meditative bath I’ve been meaning to. I filled the tub with hot water, added some epsom salts, and imagined all the tension of the last season draining away. I lit a candle – Balsam Fir – whose scent reminded me of the winter season, and the things that happened to me then. When I came upstairs to do the reading, I blew out the old candle and lit a new one: a vanilla/coffee candle a friend had given me. It represented the change to the new.

I knew it was time. I took my oldest deck – Arthurian Tarot – down from the shelf, and started to shuffle.

This is a very powerful reading, and it’s also very personal. I’m sharing it with you all now because this is important to me, and I hope that the structure of this reading – and the insights to be gained from it – can inspire you to create your own spreads.

This is a tarot reading in two parts: The first part, the part I did last night, was assessing where I’m at now (both internally and externally), and a mind/body/soul reading of what I’m leaving in the last season. This morning when I woke up, I finished the reading, by drawing three more cards in the early light of dawn: representing the mind/body/soul guidance I will feel in this coming season.

Cards 1 and 2: My internal and external faces

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Ten of Swords and King of Cups:

I have come to the end of a great struggle. It was a success, but hard won and I have made some sacrifices. Internally, I’m trying to pick up the pieces. Externally, I’m a reclusive but very caring leader.

Cards 3, 4, and 5: Mind/Body/Soul influences to release from the last season

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Mind: The Adder Reversed: Competition has gotten the best of me. There’s an adder in my mind that has lurked, a harbinger of deception.

Body: 8 of Spears: I have an unattainable vision. I’ve been plagued by low self-esteem and toxic thoughts about my body type. I need to leave this behind.

Soul: 3 of Spears: My soul has been urging me toward a new undertaking. I’ve begun the process – that beginning was in last season. I don’t need to see this as a beginning anymore – the ventures are now underway.

Cards 6, 7, and 8: Mind/Body/Soul influences to welcome this season

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Mind: Death: I will welcome a death of the old ways of thinking. I need to make way for a revolution of thought.

Body: 10 of Spears: The tremendous pressure of this season will be felt in my body. I feel the need to play by the rules of the game to succeed – which may lead to restrictions I place on how I present myself physically.

Spirit: King of Spears Reversed: I will learn to be more firm in my opinions. This is a time when my soul is focused on trying/striving for myself. This is a message to stay firm in my convictions, but to remember to stay grounded with others’ needs.


 

Overall, the reading is very spears – focused. Very focused on the mind, on intellect, and on success dependent on thought and thinking. This makes sense – I’m a graduate student, I work in public policy, a lot of my professional life is spent with my mind at the moment.

Particularly intriguing to me is the “body” portion of the reading. I may need to think of more readings to explore perceptions of my body. This could be a healing journey, and I haven’t thought of tarot as a way to check in with my body image or body positivity before, but it definitely reflected things back that I needed to hear.

I think it was very powerful to do part of the reading before bed, and part of the reading in the morning after I’ve slept. I’ve been tracking my dreams lately, so there’s some added magic to the night.

The Healing Power of Household Chores

It’s spring break! Which means that as a grad student I’m taking a deep breath and doing some much-needed self care. My boss even said that I could take most of the week off, so instead of my usual 60+, I’m only working 10!

It feels strange to take full days to just do whatever the hell I want. And it’s so needed.

I’m taking some time, as I outlined in my last post, to reinvigorate my spiritual practices. But it’s going to get busy again soon. And it’s times like these that I remind myself of something:

It doesn’t need to be a full on ritual to be a spiritual practice. It doesn’t need to be anything outside of your normal life to be a spiritual practice.

That’s why I’ve been drawn lately to “kitchen witchery.” A kitchen witch is someone who has a very grounding presence, who infuses their home and the mundane with love, and adds a little magic to the every day.

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Open windows! Rejoice!

 

And the thing that’s bringing me joy and peace this week? Spring cleaning.

Cleaning can be a stress reliever for me. When I’m really busy, I tend to let things slide – my environment reflects my cluttered mind, my bedside table becomes littered with books half-read and notes to self, clothes all over the floor (clean – they just never made it to their drawers and hangers), papers stacked a mile high, and just … clutter. Everywhere.

But then when I do get a break, it feels deeply cleansing to sort through it all. Because not only am I sorting through the crap that needs to be picked up, I’m sorting through my thoughts. My mind continues to reflect my surroundings – but this time, it’s clear.

If I’m feeling like I need to infuse even more meditation in my life, amp up my natural magic just a bit more, there are some things I’ll add to my cleaning ritual. They are:

  • Light candles! The fire of a candle, even if it hasn’t been blessed, helps me feel energized and passionate as I’m cleaning. It also makes me feel a little more special.
  • Burn some Frankincense and Myrrh incense. This scent is supposed to drive away negativity. But it doesn’t *have* to be this scent – whatever scent encourages you to be positive and to chase away the negativity.
  • Cleanse my crystals while I’m cleaning my room. I usually do this by holding my stones over a lit candle, then soaking them in water I have blessed.
  • Find beauty in nature to bring in to your space. These could be fresh picked wildflowers, driftwood, stones you’ve found, or any other found objects that caught your fancy.

And now, for some tarot! I’ve had a lot of just … stuff going on, and I feel like there’s a lot of emotions I’m dealing with right now around some endings and beginnings. I feel like I could use some help finding direction on what to continue to carry with me, and what to let go of. I used the Cosmos tarot deck, because it felt a bit more lighthearted – it was at the level I wanted to confront myself.

Here’s the “spring cleaning” spread, written by Beth Maiden. Check out the original post here at Little Red Tarot.

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(c) Beth Maiden, Little Red Tarot

1 + 2: You, now.

3 + 4: Clutter floating around to clear out

5 + 6 + 7: Redecoration! Fresh Ideas!

8: Ok, but really. Time to throw this one OUT.


This one came out a little weird – 5, 6, and 7 positions seemed to come out first for me, but after attempting to read the cards as drawn it was just … too weird. Especially when all of this makes more sense the way I ended up laying them.

1 + 2: Me, now:

2 of Earth crossed by the Hanged Man: Looks like this is a huge time for learning for me! Specifically, these cards together are about the importance of learning in the sciences, but also learning wisdom from within. I am just soaking everything up right now, and this is very affirming (learning and engaging with science, math, and economics are a huge part of my education at the moment).

3 + 4: Clutter floating around to clear out:

3 of Water Reversed and 4 of Fire Reversed: This is a pretty humbling combination. I think the cards here are telling me to chill out, that I don’t need to be the perfect one all the time, that I don’t always need to be the one at the epicenter of the action. I feel very insecure about where I’m at sometimes, and here the cards are telling me that I’m trying to overcompensate my insecurities by appearing overly confident. Just chill out.

5 + 6 + 7: Redecoration! Fresh ideas!

The Sun + 1 of Fire + Queen of Earth Reversed: This is all about passion and creativity. While I may not want to be the most attention-grabbing person now (remember: chill), but that I need to find ways to tap into my creativity. Sometimes I feel like I’m all go-go-go, and that I don’t have the space for creativity. I feel like I’m drowning, like Cassiopeia as depicted on the Queen of Earth card. But a way to remedy this feeling, as I’m constantly going and moving and changing and growing, is to find low-key ways to create things on my terms.

8: The thing I most need to throw out.

8 of Water: Hiding from judgement, insecurity. Hiding myself, and feeling like I can’t have any flaws. Perfectionism, being unwilling to show my quirks for fear of being judged incapable. This plays into the 4 + 5 cards well, because those cards are all about presenting a perfected image. This cuts to the core of that: I shouldn’t be ashamed of who I am, and I shouldn’t have to present a perfection. It’s ok to reveal my flaws. It’s ok to reveal myself.

Here’s to a week of self care and creativity!

Coming Up For Air, Reorienting My Practice

It feels like it’s been forever since I engaged on this project, and that makes me sad.

The reason for my somewhat extended absence has been my extremely busy schedule. I’m a graduate student, as I’ve mentioned here before, taking a very full coarseload and pushing myself academically in ways I never have before. I’m also the member of several organizations, taking on active roles as a leader. And I’ve been working 20 hours a week at a fairly stressful internship, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity for me to learn more and gain more contacts.

My life is blowing up with opportunities right now, and that means I’m getting very excited for my future.

It also means that, outside of this blog, I’ve been working 60-80 hours a week. 

In order to be fully present in my practice, to be able to listen to the cards and my intuition, I need to be there. And it takes energy. And energy is something that I’m lacking right now.

When I started this blog, it was because I had started reading for others, and had a lot of thoughts to share about that. Eventually, I would like to create a business of reading for others. But because of the immediate opportunities that came my way this semester, those plans are being pushed back.

And that’s ok.

For now, I want to find community. I want to share my journey as a witch with you, and I want to keep this blog running as a space to comment on what’s happening in the community. And I want to support myself in others in learning these intuitive skills.

I hope to be more present over the next week, and over the second half of this semester. But I’m here, and I’m committed, and tarot and intuitive things are becoming an essential part of my self care.

I hope to share more of this journey with you.