Strictly speaking, there are no “bad” tarot cards, just the ones with ominous images that frighten those unfamiliar with tarot symbolism. That being said, it would be deceitful to pretend there weren’t certain cards or combinations therein that didn’t provoke some sort of negative reaction from even the most seasoned card reader –a quiet “oof,” or an expletive muttered under their breath. Starting on March 20th, I started pulling a card that I had almost never pulled before, one of those “oof” cards that people don’t want to see: The Hanged Man.
When most people think of a hanged man, they think of execution. So, when I pulled The Hanged Man five days into quarantine, I thought “oof.” But I knew from study that it means not physical suffering, but adopting a new perspective through sudden, extreme measures. It was so apt that I felt moved to read more about the nature of this card. Here’s what I found:
“Retreats both silent and artistic resonate with the Hanged Man and his resolve to withdraw from the world for a greater personal good. And yes, the greater good of this card is personal.” -Michelle Tea, Modern Tarot
But the thing is, I don’t think that message was meant for me alone. I think we all need to understand that a little inconvenience is worth preserving what is important, and that change is inevitable.
I’m not a poet. But while I may not be able to bring clarify and comfort using only turns of phrase, I can at least read my tarot cards. And I’ve done a group draw, for all of us, right now. Three card draw: past, present, and future.
Our past – The Emperor, upside down. He’s a juggernaut, and a leader of men. He’s logical to the point of coldness and detachment. He represents power, and sometimes an imbalance between kindness and control. I feel this card is telling us we were too concerned with what we could do that we forgot how to be kind. We compromised our flexibility in order to just blindly achieve.
Our present – the Four of Swords. A knight, perhaps dead or wounded, lies interred on his back. This card traditionally represents a retreat from battle. What battle have we been fighting, exactly? We can’t see COVID-19, can’t aim our guns at it. We can’t swing our swords at it. So, who have we been battling, exactly? Maybe it’s time to leave the battlefield and lie in repose.
Our future – the Ace of Wands. This card has bright colors, leaves, growing and living things. Michelle Tea describes this card as “the creativity stick,” bold and fierce. The wands are associated with fire, and this is a card is a forge. New beginnings, new energies. Good things will come when we rise from our battle wounds. “Count your breaths until the situation remedies itself. And it will.” -Michelle Tea, Modern Tarot