Each month I share a reflection on a tarot card in the service of self- and community-care, healing, and social and political transformation. I am still relatively new to tarot and nothing I post is meant to serve as an expert guide to the deck. Rather, I hope to illuminate, as I learn in public, the ways in which the tarot can act as a tool for healing, activism, movement building, and worldmaking. I am thankful for the teachers who have guided me in this embracing this modality and humbly recommend visiting more seasoned readers and intuitives to learn more (on tarot and/or related practices), including: Sara Gottesdiener, adrienne maree brown, The Firebrand Witch, Lindsay Mack, Dori Midnight, The Hoodwitch, Little Red Tarot, among many others!
The new apartment is beautiful and sparse, one window covered in ivy, one wall a color blue that reminds me of a punk house in Chicago. I can’t find my matches in any of the moving boxes, so instead of lighting a candle I place three drops of ritual oil on the underside of my finger tip, my knuckle, my palm. I am cross-legged on the floor (our chairs are in the pod that has not yet arrived) preparing to pull a card for the August tarot reading in a space that is not yet furnished, and not yet home, but is, at least, a stable resting spot. “What is your wisdom for us in August?” I ask the deck three times, shuffling between each question. It answers: The Four of Pentacles.
The Four of Pentacles is both a congratulations and a warning, or at least it’s a reminder. The card suggests that things have come into fruition for you--a job was won, a home was secured, a goal was attained. But it’s asking us to consider, perhaps, our attachments to that outcome. How does accomplishment make us feel? Content? In search of the next best thing? Terrified and clingy?
I think it is difficult for so many of us to practice presence with whatever we have (relationship, job, home, and so on). Instead we think of what we might lose or gain, or we think of how it compares the past. In yoga philosophy, this is addressed through the Yama aparigraha which translates to “non-grasping.” How can we not grasp our perceived best outcomes? How can we let go of holding on to what we think we we need and allow the universe to grant us what is in actual alignment with our power? I have learned, with heels-dragging reluctance, that a breakup can be a gift, a job loss can be a portal to new worlds. (I know, sweet ones, it is so hard for us to believe it when we are in the thick of it, so just remember to be gentle with yourself in process).
This card, for the collective, is, I think, a reminder to both take stock of our victories and also be open to alternate and improvised paths to our next one. I am reminded of the ways in which Occupy Wall Street was considered a failure because, at first glance, no goal was attained, and not much changed from it. But, in actually, it changed everything. We went from a nation who didn’t believe in class differences to one where mainstream newscasters frequently dropped “class warfare.” And for many young people -- the ones who were a bit too late for the anti-war movement of the early aughts -- it became a foundation for political consciousness and organizing skills. Did it overthrow capitalism? Of course not. But it did create dents and fissures and awakenings that sparkled through the streets and the tent cities and the bustling train stations. The four of pentacles wants us to remember this and to celebrate that even if the BIG GOAL wasn’t reached, we must (we must!) honor our efforts that inch us closer by creating unthinkably tangible new worlds in the shell of the obstinate old.
...And, but, also: it’s asking us to not get too comfortable. It’s asking us to not cling to the methods or the outcomes, it’s asking us to take heed of the lessons learned. The four of pentacles is a tool we must call on everytime we feel too rigid in our convictions. And trust me, as a Marxist Aquarian, I am QUEEN of Rigid Convictions. But what if we just maybe consider someone has a viewpoint that might add to or edit a given path and better support our collective liberation? The Four of Pentacles was what guided my pencil to write, “I am questioning everything,” in the margins of adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy when she talked about prioritizing critical connection over critical mass. The Four of Pentacles is what encourages nonviolent resistors to invite the use of armed self-defense as a supplementary tactic in the struggle for justice. And the Four of Pentacles is ultimately what can encourage landowners to shift from seeing their “property” to actually seeing the expansive possibilities of the common.
This August, gentle fighters and fierce lovers, we are being called to consider our notions of possession of home, of tactics and strategy, and of, ultimately, the fleeting and permeable nature of all of it. May you bring this wisdom to your homes, your communities, your hearts.