A point of passage, told through tarot

Earlier this month, I bought myself a tarot card deck, as I had been long intrigued by intuitive practices of magic, revelation, and healing. There are very many tarot decks available, some of them perhaps more “faddish” than others, but as I follow adrienne maree brown on Instagram (@adriennemareebrown) and read some of her tarot card posts and found that a particular set of cards spoke to me especially, I chose the Next World Tarot deck illustrated by Cristy C. Road. The narratives of the deck are decolonial, transfeminist, anti-racist, centering radical healing and dreaming and rooted ancestral magic — very much what my soul thirsts for in this wretched year when the callousness and brutality of racial capitalism has left far too many people to die from the pandemic, from police and prisons, from the profiteering of the uber-rich…

At first I did a few three-card spreads roughly of the format past-present-future, and one of those readings helped to guide me during a tough finals week. Then, on Wednesday, I decided to do a Celtic Cross — or rather, the version of the Cross that Cristy C. Road describes in the deck’s instruction/inspiration book. I was stunned by the results. So stunned, that I was thoroughly unwilling to shuffle the cards back into the deck afterwards and have since reviewed several times the spread and the narrative it gave me. I recorded in my journal this narrative that the cards told, and now I share it here.

The Celtic Cross spread. Ten cards are laid upon carpet, with six of them on the left in the shape of a cross (two cards are overlaid in the center of the cross) and four on the right in a vertical line.

The fall semester was absurdly intense for me — there was, of course, the thrilling and at times distressful experience of a student strike from the end of October to the middle of November, which I passionately participated in, led by Black women demanding that Haverford be actively and concretely anti-racist and fully meet the needs of BIPOC students — but that was only one part of my wacky and anxiety-ridden semester, in which poor physical and mental health seemed to feed into each other and gradually wore me down. Electrified with new self-understandings and activist visions, I engaged with concepts of identity and justice so enthusiastically even in September that I forgot to care for myself, to be gentle to myself in the difficult processes of unlearning oppression and developing into the person I want to be (and figuring out what that person is!).

So, as winter break has begun — though I still have work for one course that I got an extension for — and a new year daunts me especially as I still struggle to process the introspectively intense happenings of this current year, I asked the cards, how do I get through this difficult passage? Where am I going? What will help me to live, to survive?

For each card I have identified the meaning given by its position in the spread, according to the interpretation offered by Cristy C. Road, and from the often lengthy descriptions of the cards themselves I have summarized what most strongly spoke to me. The cards comprise a coherent narrative that feels extremely personal to me — a beautiful synchronicity that nourishes me with energy to live. Notably, these are not simple happy endings which the cards foretell, but rather more difficult journeys ahead, yet still lit by even a small flame of hope and purpose warming the dark.

The 8 of Cups. Abandon, Saturn in Pisces.

Current Reality: I have abandoned the complacency and conformity that suburban schooling tried to teach me (and only partly succeeded) for a new life, in search of liberation and new, more affirming and empowering self-narratives.

The Hermit. Earth, Virgo, 9, Mercury.

What’s crossing, affecting, or challenging this reality: My flight from the cramped comforts of the old has set me on a journey of frequent, essential solitude. I must care for my own survival.

The 2 of Wands. Dominion, Mars in Aries.

Where I am now in this: I bask in my accomplishments, the growth and discoveries I have made so far in my quest for liberation, and I acknowledge the traumas that these discoveries have freshly unearthed. Though I frequently feel insecure, I am beginning to define and declare my dominion, my realm of strength and of healing.

The 7 of Cups. Imagination, Venus in Scorpio.

What brought me here: I have imagined wildly, envisioning new worlds of justice and revolution, exploring new, resonant ways of expressing and naming myself.

The 8 of Pentacles. Creation, Sun in Virgo.

Projected Outcome: From deep knowledge of my truth, embodying Philosopher, Artist, Awakener, I shall create powerfully, rooted in justice, anti-oppression, and sacred partnership.

The 5 of Pentacles. Turmoil, Mercury in Taurus.

Result of this Cycle: I will face instability, loss, turmoil, but I will stay strong and resilient. Even when my spirit has lost its former home, even when I feel stranded in a world of destruction, there is hope.

The Lovers. Air, Gemini, 6, Mercury.

I as I see myself: There are contrasts of energies within me, queer and archetypal, that I strive to hold compassionately, lovingly. Self-care is especially important when my intensities turn into doubt and self-criticism; I must remember there is a difference between being “broken” — which I never am truly despite what capitalism tells me — and being vulnerable, which I am and which it is okay to be.

The 4 of Pentacles. Arsenal, Sun in Capricorn.

My environment, community, and my relationship to it — or its influence on me: My arsenal of survival includes the friends and mentors in my support network and the magic of sounds, images, words, multi-sensory arts in which I immerse myself. It also draws from my heritage, from ancient Chinese wisdom. Though my suburban home is stifling, my connection with my ancestors is sacred, creative strength that can inspire me.

Justice. Air, Libra, 11, Venus.

Top Secret overlooked guidance: I must hold myself accountable for when I have hurt others or perpetuated injustices, becoming more aware of my privileges and how to navigate them in service of justice. Yet I also must recognize and validate my vulnerabilities, my needs, my identities, my unapologetic body, for self-love is foundational for the Revolution.

The 9 of Swords. Despair, Mars in Gemini.

Final Outcome: In despair is strength; darkness is power in vulnerability. Things will continue to be hard, but that shall not stop me. I shall feel the sadness, the anger, the fear, the pain — and let these powerful emotions drive me to fight for Liberation for all.

If this resonated with you in some way, feel free to comment below! I highly encourage you check out Cristy C. Road’s website which showcases her art and music — and consider supporting her work by purchasing this tarot deck and/or powerfully evocative prints and zines from her store!

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