Annually on the new secular year, I do what many do: a divination spread that outlines what I can expect in the coming year, the good and the bad. I pray to Apollôn and spend about an hour interpreting the cards.
I do an Astrological Wheel spread that I’ve used since my mother bought me a vampire tarot deck in my early teens (or late preteens). It’s in the shape of a clock, and it’s not like any of the ones in Google Images. 1 is in the midnight/noon position, and the numbers proceed clockwise until 12. For years at this point, I have wrestled with the Pythagorean Tarot — part of why it takes me so long, as it’s truly an overwhelming amount of information — supplemented with one of those tiny insert interpretation pamphlets from that first deck I owned.
What the Cards Gave Me for 2019
- The questioner: 5 of Swords — Intellectual crisis.
- Knowledge, material things, finance: 10 of Swords — Resurgence of intellect.
- Close relatives, friends, letters, news: Fortitude — Strength, vigor, courage.
- Home, family, distant future: 5 of Wands — Spiritual crisis, disruption, disorder.
- Sentiments, love, life, children, creations, arts, pleasures: Queen of Swords — Overflowing understanding.
- Activities in general, work, health: Ace of Swords — Urge to think.
- Relationships with the world and partners: Hanged traitor — Overturning an established order.
- Capital, credit, heirlooms, inner changes, sexuality: Three of Swords — Separation.
- Studies, spirituality, travels, philosophy, religion: Nine of Wands — Master of will, final challenge.
- Social status, ambition, honors: Courage — Balanced wholeness.
- Relationships, prospects, hope to come: Moon — Rejuvenation and trials before rebirth.
- Trials, struggles, hidden/secret things, illness: Idiot — Struggle of inner world vs. everyone else’s experience.
Comments on 2019
I return over and over again to what the spread says during the calendar year.
Last year, it guided my decision-making process through many tumultuous things. My girlfriend and I came to a head over perspective differences early in the year, and we had to reconcile them and come to a new mutual understanding.
The spiritual disruption and challenge was a bifurcated thing. First, there was the fact that Syrianus-as-taken-down-by-Hermias melted my brain in early May, and I don’t talk about that in detail in public. Second, a lot of shit hit the fan on social media (see #3, news/letters, and #4, for the home front bit), and a lot of people other than myself had hit a crisis point. It was social, it was spiritual, it was … a lot of things. I did some additional divination that told me to look back to my roots, which is how this series of poems came about suddenly. While in the thick of everything, I reflected on what the cards had said in January and decided to stop taking easy paths and to do what should be done. That is how Hellenistic Syncretic Polytheism became a thing — we will continue eating one another alive until we come to an understanding of who we are and how we relate to one another, and if I want the American polytheist revival to be healthy when I die and not the absolute mess it is right now, we need to do the difficult things.
The thing I had the most trouble with was the Queen of Swords, who was in the love/life/&c. #5 position. “At risk of turning away from the world” was something in the interpretation. During my Twitter hiatus, I truly did worry that I had overstepped the balance and drawn too far inward, and I wrestled with a lot of uncertainty. Any regular reader of this blog knows how critical of online communication tools and “AI” I am now — it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and there is definitely a risk of going too far in my disdain and throwing out the good alongside the bad.
Many of the cards had something to do with the baggage that was responsible for me having such a rough mental health time in my teens and young adulthood — intellectual crisis, too much understanding, thinking that went into the danger zone of rumination. I prayed to Hermês for help (also to Dionysos and Apollôn, but most of that came later), and he answered me through a winding sequence of events that ended with me hunting down a French ebook that explained why my inner world is such a trip. When I was in fourth or fifth grade, I took the gifted exam, which was a timed test. My score was 1-2% too low on the math portion of the exam (my mom says I may have gotten a 92% or something?) to qualify. I grew up believing I was stupid no matter how much I accomplished — winning poetry contests, taking 200/300-level college classes while still in high school and doing fabulously in them, getting into Smith, receiving praise for how easily I could synthesize information about completely unfamiliar subfields of physics when I was tapped to do a citation analysis writeup for a library science journal, and so on. Whenever my parents called me smart, I truly believed that they were lying. (Other students would bully me if I missed anything and they found out, so I maintained my grades as close to perfect as possible. It was difficult in subjects like math. I would panic and break down crying or mentally shut down if I got anything wrong or couldn’t understand something on the first try. The number of times I cried in college and grad school is astonishing.) I have about a 95% overlap with all of the coping symptoms mentioned in the book for gifted adults who are not thriving. I started applying the suggested techniques and strategies, and it fixed most of my problems and about 80% of my anxiety. I’ve never read a self-help book that did that before, and admitting that I might be smart (even if I frequently feel intellectually embarrassed) and that I needed to learn how to cope better with my brain did cause a major intellectual crisis. Cleaning up my mind likely enabled what happened in May, and what happened in May was even more healing.
I still deal with feeling utter panic when I don’t understand concepts on the first try, but since I’m reading a lot of Platonism, it’s hard, and I’m persisting, I assume that I will eventually get desensitized to the feeling of not understanding something on the first try.
Ahead to 2020
The year-beginning divination practice is like a road map — important to have in the car, yet one cannot assume the journey one has plotted out is the one that will end up happening.
Next year, I may write something up like this entry. However, some general themes — not all, but some.
Fire. 🔥 25% of the cards were Wands. I see this as a good sign. The Ace of Wands is in the creative slot this year, which is very lucky.
The Pythagorean deck uses different names for the major cards — and a different order for them from other decks — and my card for The Questioner this year was the inverted Kosmos. The visual iconography of the card reminds me of the rooted up imagery in the Platonists, so I don’t take this card as negative. As a theme — especially in relation to the other cards like the one I received in the 12th position — it does bluntly point to how jaded and cynical I’ve become about a lot of things in the world. I feel stable and grounded in the Gods, somewhat detached from the world around us, and I bet that one of my big challenges this year will be getting into a healthy relationship with this
dumpster fire of division challenging Earth of ours — to roll with the punches, to keep faith in us even when it hurts, to learn how to handle what Tykhê bestows, and to not slip into unhealthy facsimiles of virtue.
Religion-wise, I’m expecting that this year is going to be a maintenance year — a time for getting things done. I need to avoid burnout, though, and to get out of my head and into my heart a bit more.
Last of all: Time devours all things.