The Turning of the Year

Y’all. 2017 has been rough.

I don’t think that comes as a surprise to anyone. Almost everyone I know feels a bit beaten about the head by this year, and when you look at our political circumstances… Well.

It’s been rough on a personal level, too. In the spring, I made the difficult decision to leave a job I’d been in for seven years and a town I’d been in for almost a decade. There was a lot that I loved about being there. There was a lot that was increasingly giving me panic attacks. Change of some kind was necessary. It was also hard. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, after all. Finding the energy to make that change required me to dig deep into reserves I hadn’t tapped for a while.

And at first, that change went well. Spending the summer at the beach was restorative. I love being there, I love working at that bookstore, and just being in that environment is excellent for my spirit. Unfortunately, I then undid all the good effects by making a move that I almost immediately came to regret. The past four months have been almost unrelentingly stressful, for a wide variety of reasons. I think with some frequency of a quote from The Handmaid’s Tale: “I feel like the word ‘shatter’.”

IMG_3698Today is the winter solstice, a time for reflection — and a time for hope. Yule is the holiday where I try to focus on shedding what is no longer needed from the previous year and on bringing in the light that will guide me into the next.

Oddly, the song that comes to mind isn’t a seasonal song at all — it’s from The Lion King musical, “Endless Night”. The refrain of I know that the night must end and that the sun will rise is such an appropriate sentiment for this holiday — and it’s a good thing to keep in mind during trying times.

I don’t know what 2018 is going to hold. My book will come out, but Juno knows that’s no guarantee of success. I have irons in a few fires, but who knows what will catch? I’ll be making another move, but will it be any happier than this one?

This is a year when… it’s hard to have hope. In a year when it’s felt like the very act of hoping for something is a jinx, it feels like a waste of effort.

But the night must end. The sun will rise.

May it do so for all of us.

Holiday Tarot Readings!

IMG_2502I had so much fun doing single-card tarot readings on twitter the other night that I’ve decided to expand the practice and perhaps get a little extra gift-buying money from it!

I’m offering tarot readings for $5 to $15, depending on the reading. Simply use this form to tell me which reading you want, what deck you’d like me to use, and if there’s any particular question or topic you have in mind, and I’ll send you a PDF with a picture of the reading and a write-up interpreting the cards in their positions. For an extra $5, I’ll record myself doing the reading and send you the video. Payments will go through Paypal!

You can order a reading for yourself or for someone else. Heck, I’ll read for fictional characters if you want me to. 😉 Let’s have some fun!

Readings on Offer

Past-Present-Future ($5): What it says on the tin. Three cards, one representing an aspect of the past that’s currently influencing you, one representing where you are now, and one representing where you might be headed or where you might want to aim your efforts.

Five Card Draw ($8): Five cards that I’ll let tell me their story. It might be a central figure or situation with four influences; it might be a decision and its repercussions; it might be a sequential story.

Solstice Reading ($10): A seven-card spread themed around the turning of the year, looking at what you need to release, what you need to nurture, what should lay fallow in the dark season, what might bring you light, what you might give or receive, and a look at aspirations for the coming year.

Celtic Cross ($15): A ten-card spread that gives a comprehensive view of your current situation in life, looking at past influences, future possibilities, what might be blocking or inhibiting you, where you could look for help, and what sort of outcome you might want to aim for.

Standard disclaimer: Tarot readings are for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken as any sort of guarantee as to what will happen in your future. I think of them as meditative and therapeutic — a way of focusing your energy and reflecting on your life and the people and situations in it.

My Decks:

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  • The Shadowscapes deck is my current favorite. The art is gorgeous; the deck itself can be a bit cheeky.
  • The Celtic Dragon deck is one I used for a long time. I find its art highly evocative. It has an unusual variation in that it associates Swords with Fire and Wands with Air, instead of the other way around as is typical.
  • The Steampunk deck tends to be pragmatic and a bit blunt.
  • The Goddess Oracle tends to be gentler; its Major Arcana cards associate to various deities, so there’s a lot to read into there.
  • The Medieval Scapini deck is the most traditional deck that I own; I find it useful for focusing energy.

Interested? Fill out this form!

Now is the month of Maying

“And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in like wise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.”
–Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur, Book 18, Chapter 25

Today marks the beginning of my favorite time of the year! We don’t have the best Beltane weather in Virginia today, but I’m sure it’ll perk up as May goes on, and from now til Midsummer — even through July — is when the world seems to resonate with me. It’s a good-luck time of year, warm and optimistic, as tender blooms grow into strong, vibrant greens. The world seems new and full of possibilities. And it is, as the songs says, a time for frivolous whims, for throwing self-control away, for divine mistakes.

Want to celebrate Beltane like I do? Indulge yourself. Eat something decadent. Wear heady perfume. Put on your favorite dress, or vest, or shoes. Listen to great music. Watch your favorite movie. Dance in the sunlight or in the pouring rain. Buy yourself flowers. Take pleasure where you can find it, in company or on your own. Spring and flourish in lusty deedsIMG_5241

Say hello to the world. Look at the sky and notice its colors changing moment to moment. Find flowers in different stages of blooming. Save a snail on the sidewalk. Watch the patterns birds make as they swoop and whorl. Breathe deep; seek peace.

Nourish joy. Be creative and courageous. Start a new project. Revisit one you haven’t looked at in years. Reach out to a friend. Take a picture of something beautiful. Write out how you’re feeling, or paint it out, or sing it out. Decorate your pathways with chalk.

Find someone or something to love today. A person, a moment in the sun, a flower blossom, a pet, a poem, a word, a wonder. Fill the world with love.

Celebrate. Because we’re alive and sharing this world. Because you have a soul and it strives. Because when the world renews itself, it reminds us that we can, too.

O, the rising of the sun and the running of the deer

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The winter solstice has always been an important day for me. It’s my second-favorite holiday in the Wheel of the Year (which, as an eclectic pagan I kinda-sorta follow, though I’m prone to forgetting a few spokes, and I often insert other things stolen from the Romans as they feel relevant to my life), and it’s definitely the one I’ve most often celebrated with a group. Throughout middle school, high school, and college, I had a small group of dear friends that would congregate to see each other through the Longest Night. Some of my favorite memories are of those sleepovers, whether we were huddled around candles on a kitchen floor, holding hands and confiding our hopes and fears in fervent whispers, or, as we got older and spent less time together during the rest of the year, just catching up with each other, reviving our friendship, and eventually giggling ourselves into exhaustion. It’s been harder to get together the past few years — when you’re all adults with careers and significant others and such, it’s just not that easy to get together for a sleepover — but I always take a little time to remember those nights, and I apply that same spirit to my solitary practice.

Yule is, for me, a lot about clearing out the old and refocusing myself on the new. I use it as time to re-evaluate. It’s a sort of preemptive New Year, really, when I can look back on what I’ve accomplished and commit myself to trying harder, working harder, being better in the year to come. And, it’s a time to let go of the things and emotions that are no longer productive. I think part of why I’ve always liked Yule is because it’s a reminder that I can redirect myself, reinvent myself, even, whenever I choose, whenever it’s necessary. However dark things might seem, nothing lasts forever. The night will end; the sun will rise.

I often mark holidays with Tarot readings, which I keep record of in a journal. It’s a nice way to track where my head’s been at, month to month, and it’s a good contemplative practice for me. I don’t use it strictly as divination, but it does help me sort out my thoughts and make sense of my life in constructive ways. Last year’s winter solstice reading ended with the card Temperance in the Advice slot. My comment to myself at the time was “This is not awesome advice to give to someone like me.” Moderation has never been my strongest suit. I feel things intensely, and not just bursting out with everything I feel as soon as I feel it is a skill I’ve had to learn over a lot of years. So I wasn’t sure what to make of it then — it’s not a card that turns up for me very often. I couldn’t suss out what its message to me was. But looking back at 2014, I can see the sense in it now. A lot of this year has been about learning patience and about endurance through flexibility and resilience. There’s a difference between stagnation and fruitful development. I haven’t always had the good sense to see the difference between the two, but I think 2014 taught me a lot about that.photo (3)

This year’s reading, conducted lakeside at sunset, at a park near my parents’ house, ended with Strength. The card stands for courage, resilience, perseverance — an even more powerful message to receive today, considering that it’s always been one of my personal signifier cards. It’s particularly beautiful in my current deck, an image I always find inspiring. Perhaps this means 2015 will be a year to come into my own, to let my inner fires burn as brightly as they may. At least, I hope it will be — and the beautiful thing is, by living like that’s going to be true, I can make it so.

So, whomever you are, whatever you wish, good luck to you on this, the Longest Night. May it pass swiftly, and may you be safe and warm and loved in these dark hours. When the dawn rises, may it do so on a brighter and better year. Whatever you’re working on in the coming months, I hope you have joy in it. If you need to refashion yourself, may you find the courage to do so. If you need to be stalwart in who you are and what you want, may you have the strength to hold on. Happy Solstice, and here’s to the next turn of the wheel!