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.

 

Tools of the Craft: A Review of “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need”

I mentioned to a friend that I was interested in learning more about astrology, and she immediately said “I have a book you should look at.” That book was “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need” by Joanna Martine Woolfolk. I started paging through it, and knew instantly that I needed to have my own copy and use it as a reference. For a while, it became the “coffee table” book for my roommates, who were both also fascinated with it.


In this post, I’ll review this book as a working tool, and tell you a little about what you can find in its pages. I don’t think this is the only astrology book you’ll ever need, but if you have a casual interest in astrology it is a good point to jump off from.

Like I said, this book is a great reference point. The author gives lots of information and context about the different signs, what the planets mean in the chart, the different astrological houses, rising signs, the importance of sun signs vs. rising signs vs. moon signs and all the rest. She includes charts of the planetary motions, so you can really easily draw your own chart or someone else’s chart.

Look at this pretty ascendant chart!

Here are some key features from the 21st-Century Edition:

  • Astrological tables for 1900 – 2100, including all the planets (but no Chiron, though that is a discussion for more advanced astrologers)
  • Specially designed rising sign tables (I found this a helpful revision from the older edition)
  • Sections on “astrology and love” and “astrology and health”
  • This is a great reference! It’s laid out in such a way that you can get more information from a section, or you can just use it as a general reference when drawing a chart or to remind yourself of certain astrological aspects.
  • This book really helps you to physically draw your chart, understand the astrology wheel, and figure out how to visually represent the information you’re gathering.

Here are some key drawbacks to using the 21st-Century Edition:

  • This book is only written for the northern hemisphere! It does not take into account planetary movements as they impact the southern hemisphere. This is especially clear in the rising sign tables – they only show rising signs at 30 and 40 degrees north.
  • This book is definitely written from the 1960s/70s New Age tradition, which feels a bit outdated to me. I definitely try to depart from this tradition.
  • Am I the only nerd that really wants historical charts? Probably. I bet there’s a different book for that.

I live in the northern hemisphere, so that first bullet isn’t a concern for me. I think this is an incredibly useful general tool to have in your toolbox, and has been a fabulous introduction to astrology for me.


This book left me thirsty for more. It’s pretty “traditional” (and by that, I mean very 1960s/70s New Age astrology), and increasingly that doesn’t jive with me.

I find the way that a lot of astrologers talk about romance and the signs to be problematic, or to not work well for my queer or polyamorous friends. “The Taurus Man” or “The Gemini Woman” seems very outdated to me. Yes, as a woman-who-likes-women I can read about the “gemini woman,” but my understanding of gender is that this is a spectrum. There can be biologically female people who exhibit masculine tendencies. There are people who are neither male nor female, but somewhere else on the spectrum – whether they are intersex or genderqueer.

I really want to read a book about astrology that takes into account a more modern understanding of gender and sexuality. Even if that means writing the gendered language out all together, that would be an interesting exercise.

But that’s not the purpose of “The Only Astrology Book You’ll Ever Need.” The purpose of this book is to give you a reference.

This book makes a fantastic reference. This book is a jumping off point, or a book to keep on your shelf as a reference. It’s huge, fairly comprehensive, and you’ll at the very least learn the basics.

My Tarot Philosophy

I’ve been practicing tarot for ten years. How I’ve used the tarot has shifted and changed a lot in that time, as I’ve grown in my study as a witch. This blog is still fairly new, so I just wanted to tell you all a little bit about how I come to the practice.

There are a lot of ways to do tarot. I want to talk about how I use the cards, and the ethics involved in reading for others.

You can use tarot to learn about yourself, to prioritize your goals, as a creative tool, as an artistic prompt, to create spells and rituals for your spiritual practice, to learn about others, to set intentions, to write stories, any myriad of things!

I use the tarot in a lot of different ways. I have used it for spellwork, I have used it to learn about myself. I haven’t used it as a creative-writing tool, but I’m interested in trying that out.

I don’t see or use the tarot as a way to predict the future. It’s more about exploring the different options available to you. It’s more about learning and understanding yourself, less about predicting the future. It’s all about how you react to the energy of the cards, and to the energy of others. And that holds through whether I’m reading for myself or for others.

I do not see tarot as a way for myself or my querents to get in the heads of others. I find that unethical and at its core messes with an energy I’m not willing to mess with. So I read for myself, and for others present for the reading. Consent is important. I will not read for someone else without their consent.

When reading for myself, I use tarot to learn.

I see tarot as a beautiful way to get to know yourself. The art can speak to something deep inside of you that your consciousness may not be able to reach. I have also used tarot in my magical practice as well – trying to take tarot out into the world with me, to see it as a way to help my dreams manifest. The energy is powerful. I sometimes use tarot to explore my dream world, my shadow self. It helps to connect me to the deep corners of myself.

Tarot also brings art to my life in a gorgeous way. Learning about new decks, exploring deep into my own decks, connects me with many artistic traditions and brings its own richness to my life.

For the first 8 or so years that I practiced tarot, this was largely a solitary pursuit. I was afraid to read for others, unsure how to ground the energy I was receiving and unable to take up the cards publicly. I was afraid.

But this year, I’ve found community. I’ve connected with other tarot readers around the world, and have learned new ways of using the cards from them.

When reading for others, I use the tarot as a conduit to help them learn and heal. 

Usually, when someone comes to me for a reading, there’s a reason. There’s something large shifting in their lives, or they’re at a crossroads, or the way forward appears murky, or their energy feels seriously depleted. I am so grateful for the trust they place in me, and I am grateful to be on this path.

I think that connecting over the cards is a beautiful thing. It is an act of self-care, an act of trust, an engagement with the mysteries of life. When I read for others, I want the process to be give and take. I want it to be about the journey of life, and a way to get real with each other and with the world around us.

Anything that comes up in a reading, any decisions the querent might make after leaving the reading, are entirely up to them. I merely aim to be a mirror of sorts, reflecting aspects of their journey or their inner self that they may have overlooked.

This is a beautiful, old practice. It can mean what you want it to mean. It can take many forms, and I’m still experimenting and finding new ways to use the cards.

How do you use the tarot? What resonates with you?

New Year Intentions

This is my first post! Wowee!

I’ve been thinking and dreaming of this moment over the last year, and it finally felt 100% right to start this project. It’s time to be more public about my journey. It’s time to dust off those old writing and blogging skills and put them toward something.

2016 feels amazing.

I’ve been wanting to do more reading for others, and so I put it out there on social media. 13 tarot appointments booked, and I’m feeling like there’s something here I can’t ignore anymore.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about my intentions for 2016. I love the beginnings and endings of phases – I love the transitions, as messy as they can be. But I also know that New Year’s “Resolutions” can be pretty toxic for people. This year, I’m focusing on intentions. Knowing that they are intentions, and that they are fluid, and can respond to things that come up in my life, I think is very helpful for keeping the anxiety down.

So, here are my intentions for 2016:

Continue to take care of myself. Get outside. Eat veggies. No dairy.
Focus on my career. Find a paid internship, a fellowship for the summer.
Continue doing well in graduate school.
Do more tarot, do more readings for others.
Develop this blog.

And finally, just a little somethin-somethin for your tarot interests.

My tarot card of the year is: Judgement. 

Judgement Legend Japaridze Cosmos

Hmm … Certainly some big things happening! Each deck that I drew from has a slightly different take on judgement, so I’ll spend some time exploring them here.

The Legend: Arthurian Tarot shows Arthur’s arrival on Avalon. It’s both the end and the beginning of his journey. It appears a very positive card, a card of taking care of the details, of celebrating natural endings and beginnings.

Judgement Legend

Judgement in the Cosmos deck is also linked to Capricorn. This is fitting, because it’s currently Capricorn season. Capricorn is all about setting priorities, efficiency, and practicality. This is about prioritizing your projects, methodically pursuing one’s goals, analyzing the appropriate means to an end.

Judgement Cosmos

The Japaridze deck shows an apocalyptic landscape, birds swarming toward the light in the sky. It highlights the journey toward the light. It speaks to me of rising above the confusion, finding a new understanding, and beginning new projects. This is a card to mourn the endings, but also a card to celebrate the beginnings.

Judgement Japaridze

You can find your own card for the year! I grabbed these directions from Story By Tarot, who originally got them from Eternal Athena Tarot.

To find out your Year Card for 2016, add the month and day of your birthday to “2016”. Then add together the individual digits of that number one more time. Whatever card that number corresponds to in the Major Arcana is your personal Year Card.

If you get a number over 22, reduce that number again by summing the individual digits one more time. Year Cards hail from the Major Arcana. And because there are only 22 cards in the Major Arcana, any number that exceeds 22 needs to be reduced again.

What’s your card for the year? What are your intentions for 2016? Let me know in the comments!