Writing through the TAROT deck, one card at a time. This is number twenty-six in a 78-week durational project.
Intuition / Powerful Retreat / Knowledge Through Study / Depth Work / Incubation / Books / Secrets / Veiled Experience / Mystery / What Can’t Yet Be Seen / Slowly Earned Revelation / An Opening to Transformation / Initiation / Vibratory Communion / Purity / Contemplation / The Act of Writing / The Power of Concentration / Focused Attention / Matriarch / Sorceress / Witch / Seer / Visionary Artist /
A female figure sits alone in a cloistered space. She wears a head covering as well as a crown, and her body is almost entirely covered by richly embroidered clothing. She radiates a sense of great stillness.
THE HIGH PRIESTESS (II) does not come to play. As is my weekly practice, I meditated on the card immediately after pulling it for this newsletter. The first thing that surfaced was “you have to get off Instagram until the end of the year.” Ok, I thought. I’m pretty inconsistent in my social media use already, and deeply ambivalent about the platform’s benefit-cost ratio, so though a break isn’t without some discomfort, it’s not in the territory of pain. Fine, done. Take a breather and come back to that tool with more conscious intention. But of course, the message grew to be about a lot more than an app on my phone. To paraphrase something I heard the poet Ariana Reines say about the way we live with language in contemporary life, we have become very sloppy in our forms of address. THE HIGH PRIESTESS requires that you tune into who you are speaking to, and that you listen carefully to the voice that only speaks when you’re alone with your thoughts. THE HIGH PRIESTESS is a very clear channel, but you can’t hear a thing this station is transmitting if you also have a movie running in the background, multiple email accounts open, and are scrolling through well-targeted ads for sustainably made sweatpants printed with the phases of the moon. Stepping away from social media is just another way of thinking about forms of address, thinking about audience. When I was in my mid-twenties, the imaginal threshold between the stage and the audience became the first place, for a time anyway, where I felt comfortable in my own skin. I don’t mean to say that I wasn’t messy, or to suggest that I wasn’t burdened by anxieties and insecurities. I knocked myself in and out of the body I was moving through space. But even so, I felt an ease in my bones knowing I was exactly where I wanted to be. It was a moment. And in this moment, most of the people around me had nothing to do except pay attention to each other. Thinking back, I can’t believe the luxury and intensity of how unmediated our experiences were. How naive I was, and how direct was every exchange. I responded to what was in front of me even as I ached for what I couldn’t quite see. What I want to focus on here, now, when the idea of focus itself is so slippery, is that feeling. THE HIGH PRIESTESS is that feeling.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER
What do you want to learn right now? What do you need to learn right now? What is your relationship to audience? What are the secrets at the centre of your life?
IDEAS FOR PRACTICE
Make something in secret. Meditate more. Remember to turn away from everything that isn’t teaching you something. Remember that everything is teaching you something. Seek out interesting conversations. Read, read, read. Tell an old story from a new angle. Challenge your assumptions. Drop into a deeper rhythm. Identify the curtain and step behind it.
This week marks six months of IF IT’S ALIVE, FEED IT — one full year lies ahead. Not until recently, as a result of this project, did I realize that the TAROT deck can be divided into three equal units of twenty-six. Twenty-six is, of course, the number of letters in the Latin, or Roman, alphabet. Though many esotericists like to link this system to Kabbala and the Hebrew alphabet, and it was at one time fashionable to insist that the deck had its true origins in ancient Egypt, the earliest known deck was made in Medieval Italy. This is a good week to look at language, and how it is designed to keep secrets as well as tell them. Listen deeply. Peel back the veil. Don’t be afraid — you are protected. If you’re ready, step through into the unknown.