Fool’s Journey: I Can’t Find The Words

I’m in the midst of figuring out what to do with what I truly love, which is writing. The thing is I’ve heard connections are everything, hence my question:

What should I do differently while conversing with people? You see, I can take people’s feelings into consideration and I’m a great listener. I yearn to let people in, yet I struggle with my trust issues. It’s difficult for me to keep a conversation going and/or keep people interested, I feel. My writing lets me vent everything I have pent up and my poems allow people to comprehend what I’m thinking. But when words are meant to come from my mouth, they’re all zig zagging in my head, I tend to over think on what to say.

Most people who I consider close friends tell me how they barely know me and that bothers me deeply. And those I wish to get into a relationship with want to know of my past and that weakens me.

Thank you so much for trusting me with your question. This is a really interesting one. You start out talking about one dilemma in your life — how to go about being a ‘writer,’ whatever that may mean for you… and this leads directly to feelings of wordlessness. It boils down to the simple differences between the platforms you choose — you’re awesome with the written word, yet find face-to-face communication difficult… so how do you get your message across to people when it’s not appropriate to hand them a manuscript/refer them to your blog (i.e. most of the time)? I think this is something a lot of people struggle with — myself included.

I created a tarot spread for you called ‘howling at the moon’. I imagined you as a lone wolf (hope you don’t mind) out under a full moon, howling out your message… yet for some reason no one can hear it. What are you howling? Who will understand it? How can you make sure the people hear you? And what about those trust issues?


I’ve used The Collective Tarot for your reading today.This is a deck which brilliantly reinvents (and re-communicates) many of the traditional cards. For tarot learners who don’t know this deck, I’ve included the ‘regular’ card names too.

The message you are howling

Liberation (Judgement)

Wow. Just… wow, Kat. Your message has the power to change lives — and to transform yourself. Whether this is you as a writer, a colleague, a lover or friend, you have something truly important to say.

Liberation is about facing up to who we are and truly accepting ourselves, so that we can live authentically and honestly. It’s an incredible place to be, but this card isn’t so much about achieving that as the process of getting there, through forgiveness and self-acceptance.

It takes a shedload of work to really look ourselves in the eye, accept ourselves as flawed, scarred, beautiful humans with baggage and stories and mistakes — but if we can do this, and if we can forgive ourselves for our mistakes, and even forgive others for hurt they may have caused us… then we are really achieving the ultimate kind of liberation.

Back to your personal message, Kat, which is represented in this card in two different ways. On the one level, this quest for self-acceptance is your own. You have baggage, and you’re working through it, as you say in your question. I can’t imagine who you may need to forgive, or what you might be carrying right now, but writing is your way of doing this.

You have a story to tell, Kat, and this story is part of who you are. In telling your story, you change yourself. You understand and accept yourself, you develop, you emerge. You achieve liberation. For people to get close to you, for you to trust them, they need to understand this about you, even if they don’t know the whole story. Of course, you’re asking for advice in more day-to-day conversation, and I’ll come on to that in a moment.

On a wider level it feels like you are calling everyone to this place of real honesty. In traditional versions of this card the focus is often on an angel with a bugle, calling out to people to undergo the process of ‘judgement’ and be reborn. You’re like that angel, your message is that bugle-call. It’s a message for people to wake the hell up, to.

What’s blocking it?

Mentor of Keys (King of Wands)

You know what? A lot of people just aren’t ready for your message. They aren’t prepared yet for the level of honesty you demand from them, the depths to which you can go. I know you’re a great listener and people are happy to share their secrets with you, but what you’re asking — of yourself and of them — is so much more, and that’s incredible.

I think you’re worried about the influence you might have on people, Kat — what might happen if you actually did tell your story. You have this real deep awareness of your own power — not in a bad or egotistical way at all, but enough to intimidate yourself into silence. You’re respected by your close friends, to the point where they may even find you kinda aloof.

Your words have power, and you are all too aware of this. Power to influence, power to touch, power to inspire and to change. Your message can do all of this — and that’s intimidating! What’s jumbling up words in your head and rendering you speechless when you’re in face-to-face situations is an awareness of this power, a fear of the effect you might have on others.


Any underlying issues?

Four of Bottles

Like the guy on this card, stuck in a bottle, you’re trapped, and it’s your emotions that are keeping you there. Stuff is all pent up and needs to get out — just as you say in your question, you express this through your writing, but it’s harder face-to-face. It’s frustrating, because that’s exactly your issue! The illustration on this card is you, in a bottle (representing emotions). It’s like the opposite of ‘keeping everything bottled up, right? Instead though, it’s you that is bottled up, inside your feelings.

What does this mean? That you’re overwhelmed. And at the same time, stagnating. Time passes and things don’t change and there is less and less air in that bottle for you to breathe.

You can’t sneak out through the neck of the bottle — the glass needs to shatter completely. I imagine you in conversation with people as you describe, and inside you there is this whole other person. Ask yourself — does she want to come out, or stay put? What would happen if she really did come out? All of that amazing transformative stuff I just talked about, right? Which is scary. You talk about struggling with trust, and here it is. It’s like the power of your story (including the ‘past’ which you suggest you don’t want to share with potential partners) is what is keeping you trapped. It’s not other people you don’t trust — it’s yourself. So you keep yourself in this bottle, so things don’t have to change.

How can you get your message out?

The Code / Accountability (The Emperor / Justice)

There are ways of communicating aside from the “standard” practice of simply chatting. The Code (depicting an attractive boi in a queer bar who you maybe want to hook up with) references the unspoken languages we use to communicate our preferences, our desires, which groups we belong to, which identities we claim. It’s a metaphor for the whole gamut of recognisable signals we put out there to let people know who we are and what we’re about.


There is practical advice right there in the card’s title: code. Your message doesn’t need to be word-perfect-super-clear, Kat. It just needs to be out there. The right people will hear you — trust in that. When you feel tongue-tied, can you give signals that you have something to say? Is there a different medium you can use to speak to people? Could your writing help with this? Play to your strengths.

It’s okay to be awkward in conversation. It’s okay to get tongue-tied. You’re asking about making connections in the literary world and also about talking with friends and potential partners — and there are different ways you can communicate with all of these. If small-talk (or big-talk) isn’t your forte, there are other ways people can understand you. Do you have a website where people can look you up? An email list to keep in touch with those who are interested in your work? Among friends, can you drop hints about the things you want to share, songs on a mixtape, the loan of a significant book, a poem read aloud at an open mic… I’m reeling ideas from the top of my head, but you’ll need to find your own.

I also get this really strong feeling that you haven’t found ‘your people’ yet.  The awkward face-to-face meetings you’ve had, the friends who say “they don’t know you”… I’m not saying “ditch your friends,” but there are others out there who are gonna be really, really receptive to what you have to say — even if it comes out all awkward.

Accountability shows you how to communicate this in the most authentic way of all — by living it. By being a living, breathing example of what you have to share with the world. Accountability is about living in accordance with your principles, about standing by your words (even if they are jumbled or stammered), about sticking to your personal truth, not hiding it. It’s hard, and scary, to put ourselves out there. Sometimes, as you find, it’s hard and scary just talking to a friend. But your story is yours. No-one can take it away from you.

Between these two major cards, there is some real, sound advice. Go back to your actual message (see Liberation, above), and get this really clear first. What is your personal truth? What do you know about the world that others don’t? This demand for honesty holds others accountable — they’re scared by it, and that in turn scares you…yet it is a real gift to give to the world.

What the world already hears

Artist of Bottles

All that worry about how you come across, and look:


The Artist of Bottles is… an artist. A creator. Someone who is almost made of feeling, who is defined by their heart. This is how you are seen! When you’re struggling to get your words out and people say they barely know you, they understand you to be a complex, creative person with depths that are not often seen. They understand that your language is the language of the heart.

People are drawn to you, more than you know. They know you have something incredible to teach. Not everyone can handle it, but there are plenty who can and they need your story. The world needs your story. And yeah — perhaps people are disappointed when you don’t open up. You worry that you don’t hold people’s interest when you share your story — take it from the Artist of Bottles — you do.

The key message in your reading is about not being scared of your own voice. What you have to say can make people feel uncomfortable, and that can totally make you close up or jumble up your ideas. Keep writing, this is a healing process for you. And share your writing. This is where your amazing, brilliant, totally authentic voice comes through! When a friend says “I feel like I don’t know you,” don’t worry that you can’t explain it — give them a poem to read, share your truth in the medium that works for you.

I drew one last card to ask for an actionable piece of advice you can do today, tomorrow, straight away.


I think of this as the ‘interim report’ card. It’s where you get to check in with yourself and see where you’re at, look at what’s working and what isn’t, and look how we can build on this learning. You’re obviously doing this already, right now. But are you seeing the things that work? Build on these, never mind the rest.

Annie Murphy, who illustrated this card, expands on this in The Collective Tarot, writing about the physical effect fear can have on us – in your case, being tongue-tied.

[This card is] a constructive reminder that we do have the ability to confront our fears head on, and in doing so we can loosen their grip on our bodies and minds. It is not easy. But neither is living your life in fear. […] There are constructive things you can do to lessen the fear and ease the pain. With every triumph over fear, we build confidence in our ability to change the way fear and anxiety control our lives.

I expect that you were looking for something more practical when you sent me your question… and the cards have focused on the deeper elements of your situation.

You’ve got some big stuff going on here, Kat. Three of these six cards are majors, indicating the significance of your question and this moment in your life. But you’re doing the right thing in exploring your message by writing. Don’t worry that taking isn’t your best method of communication — it’s not for everyone and you are so lucky that you’ve found another outlet. Keep on with that. Work with what works for you. Be true to your message and understand that its power is amazing and beautiful and needed. Know that people respect you and love you and admire your creativity — share this with them when you feel you can’t simply sum yourself up in conversation. There is a lot more to you than this, and you can be really, really proud of that.

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

Rules and disclaimer-type thing for readings:

  • In sending in your question, you’re allowing Autostraddle to publish your dilemma for like a million pairs of curious eyes to see.
  • But don’t worry – we’ll keep you completely anonymous (and we’ll let you know in advance if your dilemma has been picked.)
  • No third party stuff. This is all about you. That means no “does she love me?” and no “why is she doing this to me?” Sorry guys, but that shit ain’t cool.
  • This is entertainment. I am so not responsible for anything you do as a result of your reading and neither is Autostraddle. Dear reader, you are a full-grown person with a brain and you (not I) are 100% in charge of your own destiny. You wouldn’t want it any other way.
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Beth Maiden is a tarot reader and writer based in Machynlleth, mid-Wales. She has two cats, a hot builder girlfriend, far too many tarot decks and not enough coffee cups. She's really into bread, the colour red, camping and brand new notebooks. She'd love to cut your hair, read your cards or hang out with you on her blog, Little Red Tarot!

Beth has written 111 articles for us.


  1. Great reading!

    Also, I am in love with the Code card, both its meaning and aesthetic. It makes me want to reread Jose Munoz’s Disidentifications. Seriously, that card makes me want to create an entire deck based on subversive queer culture (although I’m sure one or more already exists).

    • Let’s do it @tttango! I’m totally nagging for an Autostraddle tarot deck featuring all our subversive queer selves AND our alternative lifestyle haircuts and signifiers… the time is now, right??

      And yeah. This card. It was the first card I pulled when I first got the deck and blammo – SOLD.

      • Yes!!! We need a Subversive AutoStraddle tarot–“Oh, let me whip out my SAS deck” and then I can just make sassy remarks while guiding queers to the best possible versions of themselves. <3

        • If you guys are serious I would LOVE to do some of the illustrations! Do they all need to be done by one person? Can you have a deck with a bunch of different artists in it? Is that a thing? It seems like it is probably a thing. Anyway AS Tarot needs to happen.

          • I think the whole idea of AS tarot is beautiful, and getting a bunch of different artists to contribute would be really cool. I as well would love to do illustrations if that is a thing (I’m actually in the process of making my own tarot deck right now), but I’m pretty sure there’ll be no shortage of people who want to contribute. I really hope this ends up happening though because I think it’s a fantastic idea.

          • I’m workin’ on it! Basically if this can happen, it will happen :)

            As for multi-artist tarot decks – for sure! The Collective Tarot featured above is multi-artist, and there are plenty of others out there :)

          • Oh my golly gosh goodness, I NEED an AS tarot deck in my life!

            I’m no illustrator, but I’m a kickass project manager. So if this does creep its way into fruition, I’m down for doing to the contacting, organizing, updating, communicating, etc. I don’t always have the best ideas myself, but I can always find/form ways to make others’ ideas blossom. :3

  2. I keep on trying to read the reading bc these readings are always really great but I keep on getting distracted by the Collective Tarot pictures. WHY DIDN’T I BUY THE DECK WHEN I HAD A CHANCE?

  3. I know these readings are for a specific person, but I always finish feeling like there is so much wisdom within for me too.
    I’ve been struggling a lot with balancing between finding my voice and not talking over others who experience different layers of oppressions. This reading helped me see how paralyzing fear plays a central role in my inhibitions.
    Thanks Beth, for this amazing work you do supporting the AS community :)

    • Wow Anna, thank you. It’s my pleasure and a massive privilege to do this. I’m so glad these readings have resonance for other readers besides the querent!


  4. As someone who counts writing among her dearest passions, and struggles with forms of communication that go beyond that, I felt this really resonated with me. Thank you.

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