Well, I was dead wrong. That collective rainbow rush was powerful, and I found myself gobsmacked by a tidal wave of unanticipated thoughts and emotions.
It inspired me to use my tarot cards in a different way than usual, in an exercise I’m going to call Sorting All The Feelings.
I didn’t need to gain any fresh, external insights or perspectives. I needed to pull apart, nail down, and sort out the hovering cloud of chaotic thoughts and impressions I could already glimpse in my sphere. Instead of choosing a deck and a question, and drawing random cards in response, I pulled out all of my decks and flipped through each card one by one. I pulled out any cards that reflected my half-baked thoughts and impressions, and any cards that represented the stories I was seeing around me.
I found that The Wild Unknown Tarot represented queer stories better than the other decks by far. There are a couple reasons for this. First off, the imagery is all abstract and/or nature-based. There are no humans on the cards, and the only figures are animals. Even many of the gendered cards, like Mother, Father, Emperor, Priestess, and so on, can be seen as representing a person of any gender from the visuals. The abstraction and nature imagery let you connect to each card’s qualities, without the distraction of seeing those qualities assigned to a person with a different gender, body type, race, or age. They make it easier for everyone to see aspects of themselves reflected in each of the cards.
Plus the Wild Unknown deck is full of rainbows, so there’s that.
Once I realized I wanted to work with the Wild Unknown deck on this topic, I narrowed all the cards I’d pulled down to six just from that deck. I played with putting them in different orders, until I settled on an order that felt right.
1. The Wheel of Fortune: It’s About Damn Time!
We know the wheels of history and society turn towards progress, justice, and human rights. We see this over and over. Many of us have felt that marriage equality was inevitable, and that it was only a matter of time before it took hold of the entire country. However, our collective free-will allows us to speed-up, slow-down, stall progress, and even regress for long stretches of time.
I expected to see marriage equality in my country during my lifetime. I didn’t expect to see it now. Maybe it was inevitable, maybe it wasn’t. I don’t feel invincible right now. I feel grateful that the wheel spun in the right direction on this issue at this time. Let’s keep it turning in the right direction, and use this momentum to make some much-needed progress on other human rights and LGBTQ issues!
Equality isn’t something that can be handed out by the state. It’s an innate, divine birthright that we all claim and all share. The wheels of human law and spiritual/universal law don’t always turn in the same direction. We do have the collective free-will and power to align them. Let’s make that happen and keep it going.
2. The Lovers: Love Celebrates.
Something unsettles me about the #LoveWins hashtag. I’m not offended by it, nor do I object to its use. Something about the nuance of it just strikes me as slightly off. Can Love really win if it was always present, neither created nor destroyed? Love is the glue that binds us all together, and is an intrinsic part of our lives and experiences. Not every person loves at every time. Some individuals have very little love in their hearts, but people as a whole always love. Love is present within every group of people on Earth, no matter what oppressions they face. It’s always there, and it’s always expressed, whether or not our laws align with it. Can something win that was never threatened to begin with?
Queer folk have always been around, creating, exploring, falling into, and expressing love. Oppression doesn’t change that, and neither, really, does victory. Yes, there was a big win this week. Individuals won, families won, and society won - on this one particular thing. Love was golden to begin with. Love doesn’t so much win here, but it does celebrate.
3. The Star: Partial Healing.
The Star shows us a pinprick of light in the darkness. It helps us navigate, and it ushers us through our first steps in a healing cycle. The healing is only beginning. This change in law is a soothing balm to a festering wound that’s gonna take a lot of work to heal completely, and may leave a permanent scar.
We’re on the right track, and we’ve set a good course, but we’re not out of the dark yet.
4. The Six of Swords: Eye of The Storm.
Big key phrases for this card are “safe passage” and “eye of the storm.” We have a moment of calm, with drama behind and ahead, wherein we can safely transition from one state to another (better) state. I just love this image for the six of swords: a rainbow arcing over a haphazard pile of blades.
Activists adopted the rainbow as a symbol of gay pride in the 1970s, largely because it was a natural symbol representing a spectrum of diverse identities. Even though some Christian groups hate on rainbows now because of that, the rainbow is actually, ironically, a significant Biblical symbol, too. I remember being told in Sunday school how the rainbow was “God’s promise” of love to humanity post-flood. Kind of a big, majestic gesture of “sorry for killing you all - won’t do it again (exactly that same way).” It would take a whoooole nother article to unpack the rainbow in Christianity. Point is, the rainbow is symbolically loaded in a lot of ways beyond the gay, and the Christian symbolism, as a signal of hope and reparation, is fairly relevant here. We’re celebrating hope within a relatively calm point of what is otherwise a violent storm.
The dropped swords remind me of those who’ve fallen. The peak of the AIDS crisis in the US was not long ago, and it still rages on across the globe. It still devastates queer communities. We still live in a world where people are persecuted, attacked, and even murdered for their sexual orientation and gender expressions. Too many of us never make it to the point where we can express openly and share our love and commitment with our families and communities.
Queer Americans can get married now, but all over the country, we can still legally be fired from our jobs and denied housing. That caterers and florists can refuse to serve us is one of the smallest problems. Too many of us can’t walk down to the church or city hall without facing harassment. Black churches across the country are burning. It’s difficult to celebrate anything to do with marriage when Americans of color can’t even sit in a church without fearing for their lives.
My celebration is all tangled up with my mourning. One does not diminish the other. They go hand in hand. This can be sobering, but it can be empowering, too. I believe in embracing the love and the good with joy and gratitude, and facing all that is wrong with the criticism and courage to fight it. Sometimes we have to do both at the same time. We’ve got a whole lot of fighting left to do.
5-6. The Ten of Cups & The Ten of Coins: A Piece of The Pie.
These cards go together here because they both represent different sides of fulfillment: emotional/spiritual for cups, and material/social for coins. I chose these both because, at the end of the day, this matters. It really really really matters. We have access to a piece of the pie today that we couldn’t claim days ago. We officially have a stake in an institution that, for many people, is a cornerstone of emotional, spiritual, social, and material fulfillment.
It’s not just about getting married. It’s about being able to, and having your personhood recognized by your community, your government, and your country. It’s a big fucking deal, and I reckon that’s why it affected me more than I ever imagined it would.
This all serves as an example of the many ways we can work with tarot. It’s a powerful introspective and organizational tool, with many potential applications for journaling and creative work. Fortune-telling is just the tip of the iceberg.