A strong marker of my life, and of many people of my generation, is the propensity toward fandom. Fandom being, in my own definition, an intense intellectual and emotional attachment to the characters and world of a book, movie, TV series, or something else. I was predisposed toward fandom from a pretty young age, no doubt because, as all of the adults in my life said when I was growing up, I have a strong imagination. From pre-pubescence to my early 20s, I bounced from fandom to fandom, going through cycles of obsession, writing and reading fics, contributing to discussion forums, and engaging in light cosplay (generally only on Halloween.)
However, while I have respect for fandom in a lot of ways, I’ve since given up on it almost entirely. I almost never watch movies or TV anymore, preferring to spend my time reading, knitting, doing tarot, taking walks, etc. I have done this because I have begun to realize that I actually don’t like the feeling of having someone else’s fictional universe imposed on my mind. I said that I spend a lot of time reading, and even that is usually non-fiction or poetry because I don’t even really like to read novels anymore.
All of this is apart from the actual quality of the novel/TV show/movie in question. I understand that there’s a lot of really good stuff out there that I would enjoy reading and watching, but I just don’t like being immersed in fictional universes. Why? It feels like limerence to me. (I had a lot of experience with limerence in my late teens and early 20s and have to say that I have come to intensely dislike it, as much as our culture fosters and promotes it.) Fictional universes pull me out of the present moment and set me on a track of obsession. I have spent a frightening amount of my life fantasizing about people who don’t exist, even when said fantasizing brings me no material or even social benefit.
However, there is one fandom—not even the entire fandom, just one ship within a fandom—that has continued with me. There’s a fanfic in my mind that I have been composing on and off for about 15 years. I’m not going to say what ship it is, but I have started to think about it in different terms. For a long time, I wished that I could just get rid of this fantasy, but it would always come back. I do wish that it played a smaller role in my life and took up less of my energy, but nowadays I’m examining it with curiosity more than anything.
This is why: I’ve noticed that, as I’ve matured as a person, so have the characters become more deep and complex. The lessons that I’ve learned in my life, especially about relationships, then make their way into the fic. In other words, the fic has become a tool for witnessing my own personal growth and testing my beliefs about relationships and personal development. Usually, the fic only exists in my mind, but I’ve been writing about it more openly in my journal to record these insights. I also decided to build a tarot spread about it, which is why I’m sharing here.
This spread is very customizable, and can be modified based on the particular details of whatever fic or recurring fantasy that you have in your head.
Card 1: In creating/modifying Character A as they are, what do I long for in myself?
Card 2: In creating/modifying Character A as they are, what do I long for in others?
Card 3: Same as Card 1, but with Character B.
Card 4: Same as Card 2, but with Character B.
Card 5: In bringing these two characters together, what do I want from how the parts of myself relate to each other?*
Card 6: In bringing these two characters together, what do I want in my relationships?
Card 7: What shadow is in this story that I can’t see?
Card 8: Is this even a healthy story for me to be telling?
Card 9: How can I take steps to make this story useful for myself in my own life?
The answers I got were interesting. They did not dredge up any deep shadows, but they showed me that continuing to work with the fic in this vein will be useful and that there are insights that I can put to practice in my life if I look at the fic with curiosity and detachment. That is—if I stop running away from it and being embarrassed by its existence, but also stop getting completely caught up in it.
This is a preeetty embarrassing topic to write about, but I decided to put it here because I bet that many of us have a ship/fantasy/story rattling around in our heads that might be better served by curiosity and analysis.
* This very awkwardly phrased question comes from my realization that each of these characters represents different parts of my own psyche.