One of my favorite people in the tarot community is Kelly-Ann Maddox, whose wisdom enriches any conversation about tarot or spirituality. I first came across Maddox on Instagram, but the real gem of her online presence is her YouTube channel, where she has posted hundreds of videos of a wide variety of topics relating to spirituality, tarot, ethics, and more. Although much of her channel is about witchcraft, which I don’t practice, I still get so much from watching her videos because of her genuine understanding of the processes of emotional healing, self-understanding, and personal empowerment. And she is really, really no-bullshit.
Recently, I saw that back in December she had posted a couple of videos about what she calls “Witchy Consumerism,” which includes the urge to buy tarot decks, but also expands to crystals, ritual objects, altar setups, etc. I wish I had seen them before writing my #decklust post, because there’s so much overlap and I could have gotten further by using her videos as a jumping-off point. I hope to talk more about #decklust/consumerism in the future, but in the meantime, do take a look at these videos if this topic at all interests you. She has great theories about why consumerism leaks into our spiritual practices and practical ways for beginning to examine and undo those habits.
I’m doing two tarot challenges on Instagram this month, one being #shadowworkoctober and the other being the #batmtarotchallenge hosted by Claire Goodchild at Black and the Moon. Except for retreat days and religious observance days, I’ve been faithfully keeping up with my tarot challenges, putting a hold on my daily draws and a lot of other tarot activity in order to do them. Both challenges have given me a good tarot workout, but I will also be glad when they’re over at the end of the month because of the amount of time they take up. (I know exactly how many hours I’ve spent on Instagram this month because I use RescueTime, and let me tell you, it’s not pretty.)
The Black and the Moon challenge has felt like more of a general tarot exercise. Most of the questions have been good check-in questions, such as “What do my relationships need?” and “What is a negative influence in my life?” I’ve also been using the challenge to get a little face time with each of my decks, since my tarot collection has made some interesting and unexpected shifts over the course of the month.
Since I don’t really have time or inclination to recap every single draw over the past 25 days, I’ll go over a few that have struck me as being particularly significant or helpful. The first is one that happened a few days ago. The prompt was to ask who our “spirit guide” is from the Major Arcana. I wanted to draw a card from my new William Blake Tarot, but since the High Priestess is my birth card, I decided to dig her out of my Smith-Waite deck and set her alongside whatever I pulled from the other deck. Well, as it turns out, I ended up pulling Mystery from the Blake deck, which is the equivalent of the High Priestess.
Coincidences like this always interest me. I’m less inclined to believe that they have some sort of supernatural origin, but I do think amazing things happen when we open ourselves up to chance. I don’t often take chances in other areas of my life, so I enjoy watching some of the incredible chance outcomes in tarot that can happen.
In the past two days, the challenge also had us answer the questions, “What can I learn from the sun in Scorpio?” and “How do I accomplish this?” I rephrased the first question to, “What can I learn from the next month?” since I’m not an astrology person. I decided to draw two cards each day from the Victorian Fairy Tarot, which I recently swapped for one of my other decks. Here’s what I got: What can I learn? King of Winter (Swords) + Goblin Market (The Devil.) I took this to be about my materialist impulses that I’ve been struggling with other the last few months. They have centered on tarot and oracle decks for the most part, but the content doesn’t matter so much. The King of Winter signifies that I need to take a more detached, analytical approach toward my materialism and recognize when my best intentions to not buy any more stuff get sprinkled with what Zen teacher Cheri Huber (there will be a blog post about her coming up) calls “stupid dust.”
Stupid dust is the illusion of confusion. Suddenly you can’t remember when self-discipline is or why you ever thought it was a good idea or just exactly what is compassion anyway? It’s a variation on the old “You are getting very sleepy…” as conditioning stupifies you and lulls you to unconsciousness. Even very intelligent people periodically get sprinkled with stupid dust.
–Cheri Huber, Making a Change for Good: A Guide to Compassionate Self-Discipline, p. 77
I had an incident lately where I had made all of these resolutions about not buying any more decks, and then I saw some Christmas presents that I wanted to buy for others online, and then WHOOPS! two more decks made it into my shopping cart! How did that happen? Stupid dust.
Alright–so I know I need to work on this, but how do I do it? The Queen of Winter and the Eight of Winter. I find it interesting that the Queen and King of Winter showed up in the same position on successive days. The Eight of Swords/Winter is traditionally about victimization–self-victimization. The Rider-Waite-Smith card shows a woman loosely bound and blindfolded in a creepy landscape surrounded by swords stuck in the ground. However, it would be pretty easy for her to get out of her situation if she understood that she wasn’t being held there by anyone. In this card, this poor governess fairy clearly has a shitty job and just needs to quit. These cards tell me that I need to take a hard, analytical look at the ways in which I’ve gotten myself into this situation and to accept no bullshit or excuses. Again–even if there is no supernatural guidance to the drawing of the cards, I still find the message incredibly helpful.
The Black and the Moon tarot challenge ends in a week, and given the backlog of unfinished blog posts I have here (and the number of new decks and books I need to get around to reviewing) I probably won’t do a wrap-up post. In any case, I’m glad I undertook this challenge because it’s taught me a lot of things about myself and my decks. But I’m also ready to have a break from tarot challenges.