Skip to main content
First personTarotscope

‘We have a long way to go, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up.’

By January 23, 2021No Comments

Sarah Maria Griffin on moving from mindfulness to intention, moon rituals, and going against the usual turn-and-reveal method of reading tarot…


In early January, on the night of the new moon, I got out of bed a little after two in the morning. I am a dead sleeper, after years of trouble with insomnia – and I value my sleep more than anything. I haven’t been much one for late-night vibes around the house in a long time. But still, I’d been invited to a party of sorts, across the world in a city I used to live in, by a trusted friend. Out of my pyjamas, and into my day clothes, in the middle of the night. I wasn’t really going to be seen, but for a sense of some formalism, I still put myself together.

We’ve just moved here, so walking around the new house late felt strange, sort of like trespassing. The cat was surprised to see me when I went up to the living room and kitchen (our upstairs is downstairs, our downstairs is upstairs, like in a sitcom apartment, designed for farce rather than living: I love it) – outraged at my appearance during his own hours.

In the silence, I gathered a handful of items as instructed. A candle, most importantly – fire. I had only a jar of water for that element, and nothing found for air or earth as the minutes ticked closer and I had to be present on Zoom.

In the new year, I was more alone and disconnected from my friends and family than I’d been in a long time, and staring down the barrel of a long, tight lockdown, adjusting how I am in the world to this silence. As I’ve written here before, being a hermit suits me – but that doesn’t make January any less difficult. All of my choices are gone, now. I just get from one day to the next, in the bottleneck.

So. This friend was hosting a new moon ritual with her community out of California, and kindly extended the invitation to me. Even though the hour would be late, I didn’t think twice before agreeing. I’d never attended any kind of ritual that wasn’t a holy Communion or a Christening or a wedding or a funeral – though I’d read about them, and written about fictional ones. Weaving the esoteric and the digital should be a strange experience – attending a ritual on the internet shouldn’t work, but it does. I’d been feeling disconnected from my own relationship to the tarot for various reasons, and felt like this would bring me closer again to the 78-part-story that keeps me buoyed and brings me perspective.

I wish I could position my voice in a more stylish way here. Maybe even write from a position of cynicism. But I can’t. I operate largely from a point of earnestness: I like the tarot, which is why I practice. I’m interested in the esoteric, which is why I keep myself open to these kind of experiences. People turn to different things during times of crisis, and since I was very young this is something I have turned to – like books, like cinema. I didn’t approach this late night ceremony with any part of me closed. I wanted to be there, just the same way I want to turn over cards for twelve zodiac signs here a couple of times a month. Just the same way I’m happy to perform a reading for a friend when they ask, or as a service to a fundraising charity. However, I’d become stagnant in my practice – a kind of reader’s block. This doesn’t mean I’d become cynical: just that I’m tired. But not so tired I couldn’t rouse my bones at half two in the morning to attend a ritual at three.

So in the dark I lit the candle and opened my notebook and listened to my friend, far away in California, with her daughter and her cat, lead a group of thirty of us in all different places through a meditation: a set of intentions. I won’t go into the closer details of the experience here, because I don’t think that’s mine to share and I hold immense respect for the space I was invited to. However, instead of my regular tarot readings for this period, I would like to offer something back from what I learned during my time at the quiet, charged digital gathering.

As part of what we did together, we were asked to take our decks (what a thing to see over Zoom, thirty people holding their own decks of cards) – and go through them face up. This is not something I’ve really ever done even in my own practice. I’m well accustomed to my shuffle – not quite Vegas dealer just yet, but we live in hope – and the blue and white backs of my Rider-Waite, the now slightly ragged, soft edges of the cards. The turning over one by one to reveal the story, the power the tension and reveal has. So flipping them, and going through the deck picture to picture felt new and surprising.

The approach of this reading we each did for ourselves was different to any I would do for myself, but perhaps is exactly what I needed this month of all terrible months – this year of all battleaxe years. We were asked to seek the images we felt closest to in the deck. To choose the pieces of the story that we needed. To select our answers intentionally.

I pulled through familiar picture after familiar picture and selected six cards, all laid out in front of me in the dark, not unlike the movement of the thirty other people in this liminal, digital space. I felt differently about the tarot then – and this, I hand back to you, reader, especially if you’ve come with me all year as I’ve read card after card, told tiny story after tiny story.

Intentionality is the bigger, meaner sister of mindfulness. It is one thing to be mindful, to be present in the world – to take notice, and pay attention. It is another thing to make decisions and act on them – to live with intention.

This month, I will not draw you a tarot card from the stack of seventy eight. Rather, I would ask you instead to set something into motion yourself. To make your own good news, to hold that responsibility. If you have a deck yourself, I would encourage you to turn it up to face you. To go through the story and choose an image that most looks like what you want. To set that intention and work out the steps you need to take to get there. It can be tiny. It can be enormous. It can be an act of service to another, or something you purely do for yourself: either way, as every day we get a minute or two more of light, use it to set something into motion. We have a long way to go, but that doesn’t mean we have to give up. There are still things worth getting out of bed for. I promise.


Photo by Emilio Sanchez on Unsplash