Like many people, over the past week I have found myself wondering many things. Things like, how can I step up and serve my community? What is my role in the revolution? What skills can I offer to the world right now? Where should I focus my energy when to be honest everything feels just completely fucked? In times like this, I find tarot is an amazing way to kick-start my explorations and my mind-mapping so I can find ways to make myself useful.
I truly believe that tarot is a valid tool for the revolution. This is partly because I believe self-awareness, self-love and self-care are revolutionary, and tarot is one of many rad tools that enables us to achieve — or at least work towards — these things. I also believe that tarot can encourage us to face up to messages we find hard to hear. It can point out ways we are fooling ourselves and call bullshit on our masks. It can show us skills and qualities we might be too afraid to accept, and point to situations where we are needed.
Last Thursday, I offered free, short tarot readings for folks who were deeply affected by the US election result and who needed words of encouragement and hope. These were not cards of the ‘canned hope’ variety with sweet slushy reminders that you’re awesome and everything is gonna be okay. No, that would be too easy for the tarot. We got cards about facing up to truths and walking away from mainstreamed lies. If you need that kind of message yourself, I shared some of the most common cards on my blog.
Taking this further, this week I put together a tarot spread to help me figure out how I — or you — could ‘be the change’. Though I don’t live in the US, Trump’s election (along with Brexit and the UK re-election of the Conservatives a couple of years ago) has been a wake-up call in terms of realising that I need to be doing more to fight the right wing. Tarot cards are one of a whole range of tools we can use to explore this.
This tarot spread looks not only at practical skills, roles, and ways to help out, but also prompts self-enquiry. The fight for social justice begins within ourselves, with deep questioning. These cards want to look at your fears as well as your resources, your complicity as well as your ideals.
We begin with hope, of course. The first card, which represents a goal, an ideal, is chosen consciously. Begin by working through your cards and find one that seems to answer this question best:
1. What does a beautiful society look like to me?
Then shuffle and lay the following cards as normal, or alternatively, continue to choose the cards consciously — whichever feels better for you. Lay the cards in a circle around the first.
2. What am I most afraid of right now? This card probes at the stuff we’re usually too afraid to talk about when we’re discussing social justice. I chose Justice to represent my fears, because for me this card shows me the inescapability of cause and effect, which is intimately tied to my inaction and my willingness to live in a middle-class white girl bubble.
3. In what ways am I complicit in injustice? Nobody exists in a vacuum; our actions and, crucially, our inactions affect others.
4. How can I approach my fear/complicity? This card is about being willing to challenge yourself. How can you call yourself out in a compassionate and productive way? How can you turn things around?
5. What practical skills or resources do I have available right now?
6. How can I take care of my community?
7. How can I take care of myself? Don’t you ever forget self-care, you guys!
I chose my cards consciously — for me that feels more appropriate for a spread like this. I won’t go into detail about my own reading, but these cards and questions for me touched on topics of collective hard work (Four of Wands) and breaking out of my comfortable bubble (Nine and then Eight of Cups), creating safe spaces by demonstrating my own vulnerability and holding space of others’ (Two of Cups and Five of Pentacles), and remembering to reach out, that I want my life to be a partnership, governed by kindness (Six of Cups).
Also: If this kind of tarot practice interests you, you might also want to check out Siobhan Rene’s 7 Questions for Earnest Allies. Siobhan is posing important questions aimed at white folks who are serious about allyship with people of colour, and they probe into subtler shadows of racism. You can work though these questions ‘straight’, or use them as a tarot spread, as I did.