A unique week of card-pulling for our tarotscope queen Sarah Maria Griffin, as she takes in the historic election results that came to us last night from across the Atlantic…[restrict]
I am sitting at my desk, deck of tarot cards by my right hand, having already pulled your cards for the coming fortnight, reader. To my left is a large plastic goblet, stained with images of palm-trees, full of Prosecco. In the last couple of hours, Donald Trump lost the race for the next term of presidency in the United States of America. In the depths of the early winter of this pandemic, the only way I have of witnessing collective joy is through my phone. I watch Americans dance in the streets, hit pots and pans with ladles, sing, blow whistles, be relieved. Feel the crushing pressure lighten. I am with them, I am lighter for this. I feel like a page has turned – or, a card.
It feels silly to hope, doesn’t it? After all this. After the strange right-wing-swing that the leadership of the world’s superpowers has taken. After the intensely conservative shift in climate, despite glaring evidence that this conservatism benefits few and harms many. To admit hope feels kind of childish: but I keep wondering, this far into this brutal year, what else are we here for, other than hope? Hope needs to be muscular: it needs to be used regularly, it needs to be strong. It has to operate with memory, despite circumstance. Like riding a bike.
But learning how to do anything in earnest is always going to seem foolish at first, especially when we are so worn down. That’s where I am, anyway, wearing cynicism like a poorly fitting business-casual blazer, posturing as something I’m not. Continually shamed for my hope by pithy takes and sharp tweets by people, who, realistically I’ll never meet, and therefore are irrelevant to my day-to-day. How desperately uncool is it to be like, yeah, I really hope things will change soon. I really hope we’re going to be okay. I still want to feel things, to be curious about what the first dance floor after the pandemic feels like, to imagine home in a safer world. I’m never going to be a cynic – all of my politics are informed astutely by my class, my gender, by the experiences of people I love, by respect for the oppressed, by intersectionality, and above all, by hope. I will not let despair crawl inside my bones and become a part of who I am.
So instead of reading you your sign this week, I thought I would go out on a limb and do a small, playful reading for where we are, all of us on the big starry wheel of the zodiac, all of us working out what this vote means, what comes next, what it is to feel hope rise in us for the first time in a while. This reading seeks the Fool – and doesn’t it feel foolish to hope, to celebrate, after everything? Have we ever been closer to the young figure stepping off the cliff, white rose in one hand, bindle on their back, dressed in their finery, blind to what is ahead but going there anyway?
This game is simple: we shuffle the deck, cut it a few times, shuffle again. When I say ‘place our intention in the deck,’ I mean, think about hope. Then, we turn the deck to face us, and shuffle through, looking for the Fool amongst the 78. I was nervous, looking for this card, this time. I mean, there is a lot of ways to read the tarot but some cards roar disaster, some roar victory and I was real concerned to be honest that I’d be sitting here trying to justify the presence of the Tower or the Devil or the Ten of Swords to you in this, a column where I proclaim hope (I will find hope in any and every card, by the way, as training for finding hope in any and every hard ugly corner life has to force me into).
The Fool arrives, and the cards that surround him are, to say the least, apt.
Here’s how we play. To interpret our past, we look at the card that comes before the Fool when we find him. To interpret our future, we read the card that comes after. Simple. It’s at times like this that I remember that the tarot is a parlour game, as well as a domestic instrument of divination.
Tonight, the card before The Fool appeared as the Seven of Swords.
This minor arcana card depicts a figure performing an act of theft: they are stealing weaponry from the battlefield, at dawn, before anyone else is alert enough to catch them. This card typically speaks to selfishness: sometimes, in personal readings, I encourage my querents to be selfish, to take what they can from a bad situation and move onwards without feeling obligated to other people. In this context I am generally speaking about stealing time: stealing moments to oneself in a world that largely demands a constant state of social servitude.
Here, though, on the eve of the democratic swing, I feel our direct past depicting a figure in an act of theft is pretty accurate. The suite of swords governs intellect and the cerebral: so at this, the beginning of the fall of Trump’s time in the sun, we bid farewell to a person who stole space in our minds with cunning, and chaos, and outright self interest. Notably, too – this card is in the minor arcana. I choose to read this as a refusal of a legacy of cruelty: the shrinking of his power.
Now, I am not about to sit here and with my whole chest tell anyone that the incoming administration is going to be perfect. For one, I’m not educated enough to tell you the ins and outs of the legislation that Biden and Harris have pushed forward or stood behind in the past: I don’t live in America. I only lived there for three years, and every day I learned something new and complicated about their country – and if there’s anything we’ve learned this past week it’s that their systems of government are beyond complex.
However. I am going to tell you that I am relieved that we are stepping out of the long shadow of the stolen presidency, and I am warmed deeply by the presence of a woman of colour in such a globally powerful position of authority, that I am so glad so many people showed up to vote for change.
So, as the card that followed The Fool in my spread revealed herself to be The World, I am not going to tell you that means we’re sorted, the good-guys-won, that we’re on the victory lap – but I am going to tell you that this is an auspicious sign.
In the story of the tarot, the Major Arcana begins with the Fool and ends with the World – and here they are together, side by side. The World depicts a naked woman, vulnerable but triumphant, surrounded and watched over by the four elements, at the end of one cycle and ready to begin the next. She is complete: she has to take stock of what she has learned, and she has to prepare to begin again – though not from scratch. There is the sum of experience here, which isn’t to be taken for granted.
We honour the path we’ve walked by taking stock. This card only goes to tell us that something huge is over, and something huge is about to begin – and we are ready for it, whatever it is. Be it triumph or challenge within the change, every single one of us. You wild fire signs, you determined signs of the earth, you deep-feeling water babies and my fellow space cadets, signs of the air – something is over, something is starting.
I raise a glass this Saturday night to all of the hope you have, stranger. We’re about to step off a cliff, all over again. This time, we’ll land somewhere different.
Onwards we go. One star after the next.[/restrict]