You might not think to look at me, but I can be surprisingly ‘woo-woo’. By that, I mean I read tarot cards (currently, just for myself and for friends), keep an eye on current moon phases, and wore a rose quartz necklace when I was going through my heartache last summer. I’m writing a tarot based ‘cross worlds’ fiction novel. I even say ‘hi’ to the little things I can’t quite see out of the corners of my eyes. It’s probably bits of my own hair or bugs. But it might be fairies, and I’m not taking the risk of pissing them off. Piskies seem crazy annoying if they don’t like you. I tend to blame C.S. Lewis and Marion Zimmer Bradley for these tendencies, as I read the Narnia and Mists of Avalon books at very impressionable ages, and from then on, I’ve never ceased checking the backs of my wardrobes (it’ll be there one day goddammit) or trying to ‘summon the power of the earth’.
I’ve also recently started paying attention to my horoscopes. Chani Nicholas in particular. In the past, I dismissed them. This is silly. How can a system created by the ancient Greeks have any bearing on my day to day life? I still have those thoughts. In fact, I do not believe that horoscopes or tarot cards tell the future. Oracles and prophesies only come to a very select few folks throughout history, and I’m pretty sure none of them work at The Austin Chronicle. (But if so, please introduce me!) I’ve heard similar dismissals from other people: Of course folks like horoscopes and tarot, card readers and astrologists only tell you what you want to hear! My answer? Well, duh. You do hear what you want to hear. But the magic happens when you add an extra question. I ask myself ‘Why is this what I wanted to hear? Why is x the first thing I thought of?” When I ask myself that question, it transforms my card spread or my horoscope into a deeply introspective tool. Each reading becomes my own personal therapy session.
Overall, I’ve never felt connected to my Scorpio sign. In the standard definitions, we’re described pretty negatively: Machiavellian despots, power hungry, jealous, manipulative and full of forceful determination. That didn’t feel like me. But yesterday morning, I read a post on Little Red Tarot talking about the Cups suite in Tarot. The author focuses on the water symbolism in a way I hadn’t heard before:
“As someone with a lot of water in my birth chart and as a creature who grew up in coastal cultures, I’m always surprised by the overemphasis in tarot of water’s “wishy-washiness” and lack of ability to set boundaries or be tough. If you have ever been bowled over by a crashing wave and feel the force of our ocean planet slam you down into the sand, you have experienced the fierce strength of water.
Water is formless and therefore has the freedom to make many forms, whether that be the hammering might of a waterfall, the soft gurgling of a brook or hot, angry tears. [author’s emphasis] Now, there are certainly moments when cup cards come up because someone has become too diffusive and need to set up firmer boundaries in their life, but they also appear to signify stagnation (where the emotions are not flowing and being released with ease) as well as emotional intelligence and strength.”
I immediately thought of myself as a Scorpio (a water sign), and the notion of emotional mutability. Yes, formlessness! I thought. That is so me. Which pulled me up short. Why is that what’s resonating with me? Why is that the word I latched onto? I think it’s because, right now, I don’t know which way my life is flowing professionally. Yes, I’m studying. Yes, I’m dreaming about possibilities. But I can see myself in so many different fields and paths. Like the water that molds itself into any crevasse, I picture myself easily sliding into different potential lives. Which tells me that I need to work on focusing in on what I really want.
All that from water imagery.
And that is the beauty of ‘oracle’ style practices. You get presented with these deeply meaningful symbols, and see what ‘sticks’. These archetypes: the Empress (mother), Water (emotions), Hierophant (hierarchy and ‘the Man’) etc., are symbols for what’s going on in my life and how I feel about myself. It’s the semiotics of the self. These supposedly woo-woo practices give me tangible tools to self reflect.
Often, these oracle practices are presented as traditionally feminine. I try to stay away from ‘Essentialist Feminism‘ (pretty rampant in the Mists of Avalon to be honest), so I’m not going to say that tarot and horoscopes are for women, while psychiatry and other hard sciences are for the dude bros. What I do believe though, is that we’re culturally conditioned to view hard science as ‘Masculine’ and the ideal, and to reject introspection based on feelings and storytelling as being ‘Feminine’. So, there’s something deliciously transgressive in turning away from the scientific/rational approach when I reflect on my life. When I do a reading and feel that rebellious frissant, I put each tarot card down with glee, silently chanting hey ho hey ho the patriarchy’s got to go! It’s a rejection of the dominant culture, and more importantly, might one day open the door for me into a land where:
“Instantly she joined hands with two of the Maenades – fierce, madcap girls – who whirled her round in a merry dance and helped her take off some of the unnecessary and uncomfortable clothes that she was wearing… Everyone was awake, everyone was laughing, flutes were playing, cymbals clashing.” pg 277
Hopefully I’ll see y’all there.