Bored with the news of the kingdom, the Emperor had requested the Priestess’s presence for casual entertainment. She approached his throne with her head held high, projecting bravery even as she rubbed the protective talisman in her pocket. The Priestess was afraid. She was descended from a long line of women who had burned for speaking truth to power, and she suspected the verity the cards contained would tempt him to imprison her as a heretic.
She kneeled before the Emperor and unfolded the cards at his feet. As she took in the spread before her, she knew she would not disguise the truth in false flattery. The message the cards contained was too important not to share. It applied not only to the Emperor, but to every soul who filled his courtroom. She cleared her throat, and then began to speak:
1. The Four of Pentacles is a card of materiality. You have constructed a rotten empire on a foundation of greed and corruption. It is already crumbling, although what is born from its necessary demise remains to be seen. In the death throes of capitalism, you cling to what is familiar: the coin. You tie it tight around your neck like a cloak. By gripping so tightly to property you have built yourself into a prison of wealth. Your feet are bound to the coins beneath you. Money makes you immobile. Destroy it and be freed.
2. Be freed or perish. At the center of your reading, the Star card is crossed with Strength, indicating your material greed has drained your spiritual health. The Star has always been the symbol of divine will. Just as the queer, femme peacock is able to transcend the aesthetics of its surroundings when it unfurls its tail, the Star urges you to listen to your intuition in order to guide you—to break yourself open in order to water the earth. In turn, nature will nourish and guide you. Here, the Star is in reverse, suggesting that the queer femme spirit has been silenced and the guiding celestial light covered by clouds. Without the Star’s direction, the divine feminine is drained of Strength. Strength is an alchemical card; the divine femme’s pure intuition tames the egocentric lion’s fire. This strikes a necessary balance between what is possible and what one desires, leading to the highest order of creation. If harmony between emotion and intellect is not restored to create conditions prime for the Aquarian soul, Strength will be consumed and her magic destroyed by masculine desire.
3. Under you, the Empress in reverse signifies the loss of personal power through placing too much emphasis upon materiality. The Empress represents the Mother Goddess in all her forms. She is the source of natural law: what provides us with water, with food. When in reverse, her nurturing spirit has been abused or drained. Infertility ensues, as well as famine and emotional scarcity. Restore this imbalance in your subconscious by connecting to the Divine Femme through tending to your emotional needs. Mend yourself through nature, rather than continuing to fill your spirit with material possessions.
4. Above you, grief. This is a grim moment. Logic and intellect, symbolized by three swords, pierce a tender heart. An acid rain falls. Your untended wounds are polluting the earth. The Empress and the Star provide a path to healing: nourishment and security can be found by drinking from the spiritual waters of your emotions.
5. In the near future, conflict will continue to follow you, symbolized by the Five of Swords in reverse. You may think that the battle is over. You may already be cleaning up the field. But you will find that misfortune will continue to befall you if you are not willing to change the things you choose to believe, and lay your weapons down. To do otherwise will impede your dreams and lead to your empire’s eventual–although prolonged—defeat.
6. Right now, your surrender seems unnecessary because the culmination of your efforts has resulted in perceived bounty. You have a family, a kingdom, and a field that bears fruit. This is the result not only of your work but the work of generations that came before you. But the success is not static. There is a sense of unease and non-recognition in this wealth. The Ten of Pentacles depicts a child, looking over his shoulder, who will not be satisfied with his inheritance. He will depart from his father’s domain to seek access to divine feminine magic that exists only outside of the castle gates. This card evokes Odysseus, who left his kingdom and returned from his journey vulnerable and beyond recognition. It is necessary to leave old, intergenerational structures behind in order to find your true self.
7. Your environment binds you, symbolized by the Eight of Swords. In this card, a femme is blindfolded and bound in a field of swords. It recalls the abuse of the Empress in your subconscious and the tied up Four of Pentacles in your recent past. The femme’s feet are free, and so she could walk away from the violence, carnage, and chaos that exists around her, but she is unable to see where this path leads. Cutting yourself free of your bindings may be painful. It might seem to put yourself at risk. But in order to save yourself, you must leave the field of battle that’s become hostile to life.
8. You fear betrayal, and the chaos and hysteria that might ensue if you leave the battlefield behind you. The Ten of Swords depicts a corpse on the edge of the sea, a dozen blades buried in their back. The scene evokes the death of Caesar. Protect yourself by ceasing to proceed along your current path. There is no progress to be made here. (But if you continue and are defeated, fear not—this will lead to a cycle of renewal. The Ides of March was observed in the most ancient Roman calendar as the beginning of the new year.)
9. You do not know how to drive your chariot because you do not understand the vehicle you are controlling and you do not understand yourself. The chariot is formed through the combined elements of the universe. It is pulled by the dual force of sphinxes – one dark and one light – their polarized energy creating a magnetic unification. The alchemical symbols on the charioteer’s tunic echo the alchemy inherent in the Strength card. Fire is balanced by water; air is balanced by earth, and this balance is what steers the chariot on its course. No reins run from the sphinxes to the charioteer’s hands. Sphinxes, who speak in cypher and code, are often incomprehensible to man. They can only be guided by the Magician’s wand, the symbol of creative intuition. Trying to exert control over these elements without respecting, studying, or understanding the way they operate will lead the universe to take things into its own hands and restore the natural order. Your chariot will flip and you, the charioteer, will be crushed beneath it.
The cards don’t lie. Listen to your Star. Leave the city and its false, material gods behind you. Unify with the queer Star of your soul. Strike balance between what your body craves and what your soul needs. Embark on a new path of spirituality, guided by the balance of the elements. Water the earth with your cracked human vessel. Weep to shower the fields in a fresh rain. Only then can you heal the trauma manifested in the abuse of your Empress Earth. Only then might you be able to leave your shattered physical form behind and access the highest evolution of the immortal spirit.
Image Credits: Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons, n0cturbulous, BnF Gallica, Wikimedia Commons, Learn Tarot, thunderlittle, circasassy, Jessica Mullen