I have a few major issues at the moment! The biggest emotional aches centre around my integrity and gender expression, and relationships.
How can I balance or better integrate the masculine and feminine sides of myself, in a healthy way? As a genderqueer individual I’ve been struggling in expressing these traits as I feel completely at war with myself. It doesn’t help that I have huge astrological conflicts in my chart around authority, power, masculinity and femininity, making me feel like I’ll never be at peace. Lately I’ve been trying to find my strength again, but it seems to be coming out all wrong.
Furthermore, my fiancée is struggling big time with me being GQ as I change like the seasons. They basically feel like they don’t know me at all. I’m feeling unseen and unaccepted, which is making it that much harder to embrace myself and show up authentically. I don’t know how to move forward or how to feel okay in this relationship anymore.
How can I find and create harmony?
Dear reader, I want to thank you so much for trusting me — and all of us — with your question. It takes courage to share what you have shared, and I’m grateful for this exchange of trust we’re entering into together.
To answer you today, I’ve used Kim Krans’ Wild Unknown Tarot, and a spread I call ‘Begin now, with what you have’. This is about establishing a goal, getting a clear picture of where you’re at right now, and then looking at the steps you need to take to get from one to the other.
One reason I chose the Wild Unknown Tarot was that it contains binary gender expressions (the court cards are named Mother, Daughter, Father, Son). As you refer to dualities in your question, I wanted to give those polarities a chance to come through in different areas of your reading, to explore in simple terms the astrological ’battle;’ between masculine and feminine that you experience. Yet they chose not to. Your cards are decidedly un-gendered, steering away from any language of ‘male’ or ‘female’, but illustrating duality, balance and harmony in other ways.
At the top of your reading, we see your goal. It’s Temperance, possibly the most apt card I could imagine for the goal you’re seeking. I toyed with the idea of pulling Temperance out on purpose and placing it at the top, but decided against. Yet when I laid your cards, there it was all the same! What you’re aiming for and asking about is both magical, and completely possible.
Temperance is all about blending opposites, the process of alchemy, creating harmony and magic and getting dualities which may normally be at odds to work together. In traditional tarot decks, the image is often a ‘dual gendered’ angel, said to be both male and female — or, in queerer terms, anywhere between the two. Here, the image is a calm, wise heron, engaged in the witchy process of blending water (often considered a ‘feminine’ element) with fire (often called ‘masculine’). It’s a spell! One that you can perform.
You’re looking to integrate masculine and feminine sides of yourself and to find a harmonious gender expression? Temperance is that expression. It represents a place of real balance, where every element of yourself is acknowledged, experienced, enjoyed. This theme of balance is echoed throughout your reading, as you’ll see.
So. How on earth to get there? Let’s begin with the bottom row, which shows us where you’re at right now and the resources you have available.
On the left and right, you have two sixes: the Six of Cups, and the Six of Pentacles. One shows a tree, it’s beautiful roots going as deep as its branches go high. The other zooms in on one of those branches, showing the budding fruits, glowing with potential. There’s a calm, wise message here about being in a process of organic growth and development, something that, like a tree, can’t be rushed.
Balanced in this way, the two sixes give equal importance to your inner and outer self-expression, inextricably linking the two. Your gender expression, that which you share with the world, is only half of the story – the Six of Cups asks you to spend some serious time thinking about your roots, about what is beneath the surface. By roots I mean family background and ‘the place you come from’, sure, but beyond this, your lineage as a genderqueer person, your relationship to your trans and genderqueer ancestors, the history and story that you inherit as you begin to piece together your own identity. There are some real depths to explore here, and a feeling that in going deep and getting a sense of your lineage, you root yourself more firmly in your own identity, it becomes a firmer foundation for you. Then the fruits — the outward expression of your identity — can come forth, nourished by those deep-running roots.
The Six of Pentacles is also about power dynamics, cooperation, and how we give and take with relationships and communities. It asks you to think about how power is distributed between you and your fiancee. In what ways do you nourish each other? In what ways do you take from each other? Are there times when one of you is needier, and then the other? The Six of Cups reminds you that at the very root of your relationship is love and kindness. This is a simple message, so easily forgotten, especially in a time like this where the ground is unsteady beneath your feet. When you find tension, confusion and pain in your relationship, come back to that root. You love each other dearly. Practice kindness towards each other, every day, and don’t lose sight of that very simple foundation. Love and kindness are the glue that will hold you together in partnership as you ride out this unstable period.
In the centre, the Five of Cups witnesses the pain you’re in right now, the ’emotional ache’ you describe. It’s a gentle reminder that this isn’t easy, and that it’s okay for you (both) to be struggling right now. Think of this as permission to be present in the moment with what you’re feeling. Remember, this is an ever-changing process. You can’t skip over the painful parts — the times when you feel lost, or sad, these are moments in time that will pass, but they’re valid and real. You are allowed to struggle with this. Your fiancee is too.
The middle row is where we find the pro-active advice, what you can do, how you can take positive steps to move yourself forwards. Here we see balance again, between two opposites: the Wheel of Fortune on the left, all cyclical and ever-turning, and on the right, the Two of Wands, linear, sharp, focused.
This is about stepping up to the things you can change and control, and letting go of what you cannot. The Wheel of Fortune explore these of fate and free will — it’s a symbol of life in all of its unpredictability, its highs and lows, its changing seasons. And of your every-changing identity, your internal and astrological battle between masculine and feminine, sun and moon. The Wheel turns, and so does your identity, ever changing. Though you’re looking to integrate conflicting elements of yourself to create a coherent whole, there’s a certain amount of changing that you have to accept. Each time you go around the wheel, each time it comes full-cycle, you have evolved, you have moved closer to the wholeness you’re seeking.
All of your cards illustrate a slow process of growth and a lot of this is going to be standing back and allowing your identity to emerge, bit by bit. It’s frustrating when you are caught up in this process and you want to grab hold of the wheel and become the driver, but the thing is, you’re not sure exactly where you’re going just yet. That is all to come, it’s emerging slowly. The Wheel advises patience. You mention big issues around power dynamics in your birth chart — this card speaks to that, encouraging you to do exactly what is the most difficult – to let go of the urge to control this process, and allow yourself to be in the flow of it.
Which parts of your situation can you control? How can you give your fiancee something consistent to hold onto when, as you say, you ‘change like the seasons’?
In answer to the Wheel’s advice to be ‘in the flow’, Two of Wands encourages you to actively step up. To start small, but with intention. We can see these two wands as two sides of yourself that you want to integrate. They begin wide apart at the bottom, growing closer and closer together as we move up the card, eventually becoming a point. This illustrates your identity, gradually becoming clearer and clearer until eventually, you are able to articulate who you are with confidence.
Don’t overthink or force this integration, but listen to your gut. This is about finding out what you really enjoy, there is no set recipe for your identity, one of the beautiful things about queering gender is that this is fluid and you get to play with it. The suit of wands is dynamic, fiery, exciting – fuelled by passion. This card is about having fun and remembering that despite the immense challenges you’re facing as a genderqueer person, there is also so much that you can enjoy here. You get to play with these apparent opposites, these dualities. It’s okay for this to be an experiment – you don’t have to make some definitive statement about who you are. Focus on the things that turn you on, that bring you pleasure, follow the strands of femininity, masculinity, find out where they lead you.
Actively involve your partner in this process. Where it feels right, find ways to make these experiments and discoveries something fun that you can do together. These two wands represent separate parts of your identity coming together, but they also show you and your partner as two individuals, growing closer, learning to hear and each other.
Where the Six of Cups encourages you as a couple to practice kindness as a simple expression of love, the Two of Wands adds passion, excitement and fun. No, this isn’t easy. The ground beneath yours and your partners’ feet is unstable right now as you work out who you are, and as they react to this changing identity. But you can do this, together — we can see the depth of your love in Sixes of Cups and Pentacles. As a couple, visualise yourself as those two magic wands — it’s a powerful image. Let it be a representation of the two of you, growing stronger, focused, working towards something really beautiful.
Of course, the Two of Wands asks specific questions. I can see all of this love in your cards, but the Two of Wands brings things into sharp focus. Is your partner totally on board with your journey and ready to support you? Are you okay with them having their own, separate journey as the ground constantly shifts beneath their feet? Does that image of the two magic wands truly resonate? Are you both totally signed up to supporting each other through this? Don’t hide from these questions. There’s an opportunity here to take a really honest assessment of where you’re both at, individually and as a couple. Take this opportunity.
Those two wands are pointing directly upwards towards your goal: Temperance. Harmony. Balance. Fire and water, blended effortlessly as if by magic. Despite your challenges and emotional ache you feel, there is so much beauty here. It’s not effortless right now as we can see! But this place of peace and calm and integration is completely possible. Your goal is in sight and you are constantly working towards it, both passively and actively.
Throughout your reading, there are dualities – but what we don’t find in these cards is conflict. There’s a consistent message that you can have both. Both passivity and activity. Both roots and branches. Both inner and outer confidence. You can be both in the flow, letting the wheel of life turn and carry you with it, and an active participant, experimenting, discovering. The most powerful message I’m getting as I read your cards is this idea of a slow, slow process.
To round off your reading, I shuffled again and drew two further cards for you. Once again, duality: The destructive Tower, then the peaceful Star. And once again, a reminder that you are within a process: these cards are sequential, the Star (number 16) following the Tower (15) in the tarot’s major arcana.
This is an illustration of your situation. The Tower is a scary card, one of instability. The status quo is blown apart, everything you held true is suddenly…not true after all. You and your partner are standing in the dust, trying to work out what is what, who is who, how the land lies. As the dust clears, slowly, we see the Star. It’s the essence of who you are, constant, unchanged. You are still you. That core of you that your partner fell in love with and committed to — it’s still there, genderless, unshakable. It’s a beautiful symbol of hope, truth and simplicity. Keep your eye on that star, that constant reminder of who you are. Your gender expression and so many parts of your identity are in formation right now, but your essence is pure and true. Let it guide you to an expression of yourself that feels right and true.
Are you a tarot reader or learner? What do you think of the cards in this reading? If you have a different take on these cards or your own interpretation of this reading, please add your ideas in the comments!
Got a question? Ask my cards! Email beth [at] autostraddle [dot] com
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I just wanted to say, I love these readings so much! The compassion and insight are astonishing, and I feel very grounded and peaceful when I read this series. And I always take away something to use in my own readings.
Thank you @katekari! I’m so glad you find these posts helpful. x
My friend drew the temperance card for me in a reading at the new year and I’ve been entranced by how it relates to my genderqueer experience.
And then this!! I nearly can’t believe it.
Thanks Beth, you’re amazing <3
Beth, this is such a beautiful and compassionate reading! I do have a (little) something to add about the 2 of Wands appearing and the 2 of Cups (not) appearing, which says to me there is a bit of combustibility there rather than full-on emotional support of the fiancée… this is not to say that it can’t be worked on/worked out, especially with the 6 of Cups being present, a card as you said that is well-rooted. :)
Thank you for this: this spread is great!
Ooh yes Hilary, that’s a good point. I love the Two of Wands so much I often forget about the ‘combustion’ element, fire’s explosive and destructive qualities are always present, balancing its creativity and passion.
I did my own reading with this question (because it’s something I relate to) using the same card deck, and it was beautiful. A lot of masculine energy.
Side note, my card of the day is Temperance!
I really love Temperance @vark. Years ago I used to think it was a boring card…
Wow,this is gorgeous and totally made me cry. How perfect.
I came out as nonbinary about 6 months ago and this is still so relevant and a good reminder for me in my process of embracing and nurturing my own fluid and sometimes frustrating identity and expression. Thank you to the questioner and to the writer for this beautiful piece! (And those cards are so gorgeous and evocative!)
I admire the questioner for their courage to share their questions and struggles and, Beth, I love this reading so much. A “fool’s journey” calms me every time and today I needed that. Thank you.
As the person asking for this help, I want to say thank you so so much Beth. This hit me hard in the feels and I have heaps to sit with. All of it resonates deeply.
All up, the Tower definitely defines my situation right now, and the appearance of the Star is my guiding anchor that says it will be okay. With deep gratitude xx
Also appreciate variations and further insight on these cards, and experiences of other GQ or non-binary folk, as I believe in the power of group minds and value every itsy bit of information.
This was an amazing reading and as an NB tarot reader I’m going to bookmark it and come back to it, both as an example of what I’m striving for in my own readings and as a source of comfort and strength as a non-binary person looking for confirmation of self. Thank you to both Beth and the Reader for letting us witness this.