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Roguescopes with Sarah Maria Griffin: 28 June

In our first ever – first of many – edition of Roguescopes, our tarot queen Sarah Maria Griffin talks through her process, her virtual last page of rogue’s online magazine, and gives each starsign a ten-day reading…

Here’s the thing about the back pages of women’s magazines. Sometimes one whole page, sometimes a sliver in a corner, or a column of text – there were horoscopes. Generally, horoscopes are made up. Randomly generated advice. Recommendations to wear the colour orange this week. Whatever. Still, I’ve gravitated towards them ever since I can remember, looking for something in these tiny boxes of text. I think, if I’m honest, I was looking for poetry.

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I was looking for a tiny revelation, a piece of hope. Something to hold on to. I don’t think there’s any indignity in seeking something to buoy you in an otherwise chaotic – and in 2020’s case – seemingly unendingly painful landscape. So here are some horoscopes, sort of. Flick to the last pages in your digital issue of rogue, and here we are. A place, hopefully, of tiny revelation.

This is, and isn’t, a new undertaking for me. I’ve been reading the tarot for more than half my life, since I was a teenager in school poring over oracle cards I didn’t fully understand, but hid away in my schoolbag anyway, carrying them from place to place in the hope that eventually meaning would just appear from their cardboard and ink. I’ve been at this a while. It’s important to note, too, I’ve met head-on critique about the social dangers of mysticism – from atheists, more so than Christians – and, if I’m frank, largely men.

So, if this isn’t your bag, I’m not here to convince you I can read your future or that magic is real or that the stars that were in the sky the day you were born have any meaning at all. I’m not interested in convincing people, or dictation: that’s not what the tarot is for. The zodiac holds a slightly different tradition, but in the case of this column, the zodiac acts as more of a place-holder than a rubric for divination. I’m not out here trying to connect pieces of card to the cosmos. I’m trying to talk to you about storytelling, about query, about taking a moment’s pause to put ourselves inside of a larger narrative than just our own.

Here is how this is going to work, friends.

Find your zodiac sign in the list below. Every column, I will draw a tarot card with each individual sign in mind. The card beside your sign is what we’re going to talk about. I’m only loosely educated in the tradition of the zodiac, but the tarot I have a good footing in – I’m always learning though. That’s what the cards are for, learning.

The deck I will be using, largely, is the original Rider-Waite tarot, illustrated by Pamela Coleman-Smith. The images are old, and have been read many times by many, many people. The tarot is comprised of 78 cards – 78 moments from the story of life. Fifty-six of those moments are minor, smaller, in some way happening to every single one of us at every second. Twenty-two of those are major – louder signals from the deck that mark bigger moments in our lives. If you can read an image, you can read a tarot card. This, effectively, is just storytelling in response to a picture. I love the tarot, and it gives me powerful touchstones when I’m seeking perspective, or my place in the bigger story of being alive.

This week, our first step out, is smack bang in the middle of Mercury Retrograde – and just days after the end of Venus Retrograde. I know I wasn’t going to say anything about the zodiac, but forgive me – I couldn’t not say something about it, given that we’re stepping into the esoteric. So if things have been feeling a little intense lately – communications off, technology breaking, arguments feeling more charged, exes surfacing out of the mist to hand you their unwanted emotions, subtweets feeling louder – this is your carte blanche to put it down to the movement of some celestial bodies.

I’ve been taking this time to step back a little from reacting quickly when things go wrong, or hurt more than they should, and asking if the issues at hand are personal, or about something bigger? Our hot press leaking on Thursday, for example, was absolutely not about me. My printer having a full meltdown when I really needed it? Nope, not about me. I take times when the planets move differently than they usually do more as indicators of how I should move in the world, rather than ‘this factually changes reality’. Or, I don’t know. Maybe it does.

I’m open to the suggestion.

This being our maiden voyage, I’ll go into the interpretations with a little more depth. As we move on, I’ll be working with slightly more brevity. I promise I will never tell you that you have a lucky number this week, or that wearing orange will change a single thing about your life. (Even if it might. Like I said. I don’t know.)

Oh. And before we start, my Sun is in Aquarius, my Moon is in Gemini and I’m a rising Libra. My Mercury is also placed in Aquarius, too. So my chart is ruled mostly by air signs – but the elemental chat is one for a different day. Right. Let’s get into these cards.


Ten of Swords

Before you get too unnerved by the image of the figure lying face down with their back full of swords, take a moment. This card comes at the end of the suite of swords, and is indicative of the completion of a cycle. It signifies feeling totally defeated, done, wrecked. The battle is over, and we have either lost, or we are so exhausted that we may as well have lost. The sky above is blackened, the figure’s face is turned away from the frame of the image. This card speaks of endings, and the pause we must take before we get ourselves together again to pull out the knives, stand, and heal. My query for you, Aries, is what can you learn about the world when you are laid flat in defeat? How can you stand up different, when the time comes for your
revival? How can you prepare yourself for the beginning of something new?



This is the first of several Major Arcana cards in this spread, and is one of my favourites in the whole deck. Strength depicts a serene, wise figure taming a beast with long teeth and an open mouth. Without fear, they put a hand on the muzzle of the creature, and one on its head. This is a card about a time of immense serenity and power: it speaks not to the strength of the body, or even the mind, but of the spirit. Strength tames the beast with love, not violence. My question, Taurus, though, is not about how we can be strong in our kindness. It is further than that, about brutality, and freedom. How can we organise our lives so that we are not always putting our hands in the mouth of beasts? Does it always have to be sharp teeth and terror? What steps can we take to move our strength to a place of reciprocal love, not a world where we are one swift
movement away from drawn blood?


The Four of Pentacles

This card is midway through the suite of Pentacles, which speaks of the material realm: money, finances. It depicts a very focused looking figure who is guarding the golden discs they have with all their might. They have cash on the brain, cash under their feet wherever they go, cash cradled close to their chest. I think they’ve lost focus on the bigger story, the more important things, because frugality has brought them there. They are holding on so tightly to the material realm that it has become all they think about, dream about. I want to tell them to let go of this weight, you know? There has to be a way to keep our material safety parallel to our personhood: to remain focused on our goals of safety and security, but to allow ourselves to experience pleasure, and joy, too. How, Gemini, can you make sure what is important to you is kept safe,
but that it does not govern your every waking moment? How can you open up space in yourself to keep those worries, so they don’t control you?


The Eight of Pentacles

This is a card about work – seemingly endless work. The long grind. This figure we see is carving and carving, and the product of their labor is displayed proudly in their workshop, but they aren’t looking at what they’ve completed – or the fact that the work is almost done – but focused entirely on the task at hand. There is something to be said here about perfectionism and myopia: while remaining closely attentive to the details of a task at hand, it can be really easy to lose sight of the grander scale of things, and therefore, lose joy in our abilities. How can we look up from the carving and summon the courage, and sense of self, to look upon what we’ve achieved so far with pride? How can we let how far we’ve come motivate us to go the last few steps?


The Ace of Pentacles

Our third Pentacle in a row, this one more auspicious than the others. I mean, the image itself shows a giant hand arriving out of the sky to hand you an enormous golden coin – what could be better, right? More seriously though, this is a card about a windfall, or an investment. Not necessarily a major one, but a vote of confidence or a small financial boost towards your goal. The most important feature of the story we see here isn’t actually the giant hand with the massive gold disc – for me, it’s the exit, there in the background. A path has cleared through some dense brush – an arch is open. A door. A way forward. This card is less about the technical value of the investment – be it material, or just somebody believing in you and your ideas – and more about the potential it holds. How can you make sure not to get dazzled by the gold, and keep your eyes on the path, and the mountains you have to climb in the distance? How can you stay focused on the bigger picture?


The Knight of Cups

In many old, old stories – and some new, a knight in shining armour is only a page away from sweeping in and saving the day. Virgo, here is that knight. Their armour is dazzling, they wear the wings of Hermes on their helmet, and let’s be real. Their horse is so fancy. They hold a cup – and all cups in the tarot are signifiers of emotion, love, and creativity. In a straight reading of this card, it would be easy for me to tell you that a gorgeous, energetic stranger is about to bowl into your world and sweep you off your feet – but I’m not going to do that. Rather, I’m going to talk to you about illusions and chaos, and invite you to remain grounded. Across the tarot, Knights speak of momentum and speed and recklessness. At this time, how can you protect yourself against recklessness? If you can feel yourself getting swept off your feet or losing control, how can you make sure you keep one foot on the ground? Equally, if you are the one riding into the
picture on a white horse, are you making any promises you cannot keep?


The Star

In no uncertain terms, this is my favourite card in the tarot. You absolutely love to see it. The Star is a Major Arcana card, so it asks to be paid attention to, and speaks to a significant moment. It shows a naked figure (an uncommon sight in the tarot), distributing water from the river to the land, watering the ground, making sure it stays fed and fertile. Above them the sky is alight with stars. This card is often interpreted as a card that marks an ascent into ones’ powers after a time of pain: a time of huge creative fertility. Here is where I talk to you about vulnerability, though – while it would be nice for me to gesture at this card and say, ‘Well done, great job at being fantastic!’ which is a very straight interpretation of a joyous, bountiful card, I can’t leave it at that. The Star is comfortable in their nakedness, showing the world who they are without fear.
Great art makes us vulnerable: caring about people has a cost. How can we be brave enough to walk into the world in our skin? There is great reward to be had in being truthful, being vulnerable – but this raises the stakes of things, too.



This Major Arcana card is a call to action: it depicts an angel (many of the cards in this deck hold religious and otherwise very patriarchal imagery, but I’ll be working around and outside of those rules) with one foot in the water, and one foot on the land. This speaks to a balance between the emotional realm and the tactile, material earth. In the distance, a road runs ahead towards a rising sun. The angel is passing water from one cup to another – tempering it – eyes closed in focus, halo glowing in meditation. This card asks us to consider a balanced path at this time, even if a road of extremes might seem quicker, or easier, or more fun. It asks us to consider the importance of keeping one foot in both worlds – of a conflict, or between work and rest – but it does not underestimate the work that involves. How can you take yourself outside of the situations you are in and find a balanced path? When it seems difficult, this card asks us to remember that the sun is coming up, and it won’t be dark for long.


King of Cups

This card, in some ways similarly to the Knight of Cups as noted above, shows a figure who holds great emotional promise. Unlike the reckless knight, however, the king here has moved long past times of fast paced behaviour and is confident and controlled in the emotional realm they deal in. They oversee their kingdom with a full cup and a sceptre – no weapons in sight. They look out, smiling. This is such a warm, loving card. My favourite detail is to the left of the image – a tiny sneaky fish peeking out into the frame. This reminds us that the king has a playful spirit, too, one they can balance with their governance. My query for you, Scorpio, is how can we aspire to lead in this way? With our hearts, with our love, with our playfulness? How can we look over our kingdom knowing that we can guide the way with care and tenderness, without losing any of our power?


The High Priestess

The deck is really loud today, bringing us yet another Major Arcana card, a more mysterious, internal one this time. The High Priestess is a figure who possesses a great deal of knowledge: they hold close to them a copy of the Torah, they wear a crucifix on their chest, the moon is at their feet. They sit firmly between the world of light and the world of dark – against a fertile backdrop of pomegranates, the fruit of the underworld. This card asks us how we can use our quest for higher knowledge to guide us through uncertain times: to remain confident in our balanced state. It also signifies a leader we may look up to: often a feminine one who feels wise to us, who has completed many of life’s journeys and is in a position of authority and education. Who are our mentors? What does a mentor look like to us?


The Hierophant

This is a card that a fellow tarot reading pal of mine and I fondly call the Tarot Pope. It isn’t always a welcome sight for me, or for anyone: a figure ruling over worshippers, the keys to the kingdom at their feet, a crown on their head, crucifixes on their cloak, their shoes. Traditionally, this card suggests that those in power are deliberately obfuscating the truth in order to maintain their power: a dishonest illusionist. Like I said, a Pope. So the call to action here is my very favourite thing: rebellion. How can we push back against the powers that be? How can we redesign the systems of power that we have access to so that they are more focused on transparency? How can we overthrow, push back, refuse to be complicit? It takes courage to
stand against the Hierophant, or walk out of their court, but as a fellow Aquarius, I know we have it in us.


The Lovers

I mean. Pisces. It’s June, nearly July. The sun is hot, the sky is blue, there’s a snake wrapped around the apple tree and there’s a bush in the corner that’s literally on fire but the last time we heard about a situation like that nothing went wrong, right? This is another one of those Major Arcana cards, as if my deck was responding to how this 12-card reading was going to be an important one. Messing aside, the Lovers is such a gorgeous and auspicious card for you, Pisces. It represents a divine connection – two people bringing their whole vulnerable selves together under the eyes of the universe. They aren’t touching – yet – but they can see one another in their totality. This is a card about union, romance, fertility, and let’s call a spade a spade – it’s about love. How can we use this time to hone in on the love that we have available to us? How can we,
despite this burning world, surrender to our vulnerability and let ourselves fall in – or back in – with the people who cherish us and respect us the most? How can we do away with cynicism and yield to the summer?

Photo by Jake Weirick on Unsplash