imbolc

poised halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox, imbolc is the time when we begin to release the dark rest of winter and look to spring's renewal. we can let go of some of the pain or restlessness we may have experienced over the last few months, and instead look forward to fresh starts, new beginnings, a clean slate. in the spirit of release and renewal, i used liz worth's simple tarot spread for imbolc this morning to better understand my own growth and potential for this new season.

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what is beginning to grow within me now? the emperor. i've been working on multiple projects lately, with my tarotscopes for autostraddle, creating a new website on another platform, intense instagram challenges through the major and minor arcana, and a project for readings that i hope to announce in a few more months. i'm learning that structure is so important in keeping me organized and focused as i tackle all of these various tasks, and that when i have a framework in place to help me remember deadlines and ideas, my work itself becomes better. i love everything i'm doing and am so excited to devote more time and energy to my tarot business and work this year, but i know that in order to be successful and satisfied i have to maintain boundaries and awareness.

what can it become by springtime? the magician. raw potential, endless manifestation, powerful resources, boundless vision - for me this card is the promise of creation, showing me that if i continue on this path of attention and structure i can do literally anything. i'm deeply inspired by this card here, as it seems to open my eyes and mind to the infinite possibilities surrounding me. i love the connection between the emperor and the magician, the ways in which they support each other - magic needs rules to function at its best, and structure must be challenged and flexible to be effective. by harnessing one i can utilize the other, and both will be essential for me this spring.

what change might this growth bring? eight of wands. i've been trying to maintain space for myself, taking time to rest and recover from the chronic pain i've been dealing with and spacing out challenges and work in an effort to not burn out. but the eight of wands is a card of rapid movement, charging forward and believing so deeply in the self that others are drawn to our work and want to join. it could be that the work i'm doing helps to create a community, sparks interest in others or draws new folks into my circle. it could also be that i'm creating at an intense clip, moving forward effortlessly and relentlessly towards my goals. i need to monitor this, make sure i don't go so quickly that i leave things behind or get off course.

what divine guidance surrounds me in the process? seven of wands. a spirit of independence, confidence, and pride will help to guide me during this season of renewal and output, reminding me that i am worthy, i can do this, and the work is valuable.

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what are your imbolc rituals? how to you celebrate this time of rebirth? and what are you looking forward to in this coming season?

yule & winter solstice

it's been a busy few months - completing #nanowrimo in november with a series of personal essays around tarot archetypes, leading a major arcana instagram challenge (follow along with #decembermajors), and beginning to plan projects for the new year. we're planning a temporary move to san diego, i'm working on several new tarot projects, and i'm hopeful for what the future may bring. with yule upon us and the holiday season in full swing, it feels like the perfect time to take a step back from all the madness and do a simple six-card reading. i love this spread from sarah knight, which combines the reflection and magic of yule with celebrations of our present and hope for our future.

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release: what do i need to let go of as i move forward? ace of wands. a card often associated with incredibly high energy, the ace of wands is bursting with inspiration, movement, and power. there's excitement here, a feeling of momentum and potential and adventure - but if we don't do anything with it, the idea can slip through our fingers, or stop feeling quite so exciting. i spent a lot of time this year coming up with ideas and then running out of energy to do them, losing excitement for things i had been previously infatuated with. i need to release the intoxicating sensation of beginning something new, and instead work to focus more on following through with current or older ideas. starting things is exciting, but finishing things has power and weight.

increase: which aspect of my life needs more energy now? six of wands. i've been through a lot of challenges, and this year was a tough one. but rather than dwelling on what i've lost, this card serves as a reminder of how far i've come and how much i still have to look forward to. this is a card of power, self-worth, lighting our own fires and pushing forward with confidence. i'm much better at building up others than i am at being sure of myself, but the cards are asking me to put more energy towards doing the things that make me happy and strong. it's time to be proud of who i'm becoming, of what i'm good at, of what i love to do.

decrease: which aspect of my life needs less energy now? strength. while this is a lovely card of maturity, patience, and restraint, in this position it can be seen as a literal weakness - i struggle to put myself out there, to take chances, to reveal my own wildness. i am much more likely to be holding a camera in a corner of an event than be on stage or speaking with confidence. and yet, when i've taken risks this year, even when they haven't paid off they have still taught me a lot. those chances have brought me to some really cool places, have helped me build some wonderful relationships. restraint and maturity are really good things, but if i use them to hide behind i'll never get all of the places that i want to be. it might be time to be a little bit louder, to be a little bit more confident, to be a little bit more willing to put myself out there.

induce: what do i need to bring forth in my life at this time? two of pentacles. i tend to be a bit obsessive, especially when i'm working on a new project - i constantly research, plan, organize. i get consumed by the next big thing, blaze through it quickly, and sometimes wonder how it went by so fast. this is a card of balance, hard work, juggling multiple things. and while it is often a kind of warning to not try to take too many things on, in this position it's asking me not to focus too much on any one thing, and instead bring multiple passions into my life. i've been focusing really hard on tarot and writing since finishing my first marathon - but i haven't been running, practicing yoga, taking many photos, or reading new books. i miss the other passions in my life, and i need to bring them back so that i have a bit more balance and energy.

celebrate: what should i give thanks for at this year's end? ten of swords. this card often pops up for me in positions of gratitude or personal strengths, and it always makes me laugh - the depression and insomnia that have dominated my adult years is summed up nicely in this rather gruesome card. but while the darkness that i carry has created a lot of challenges for me, it has also served to strengthen me, to force me to be honest about who i am and what i need, and has pushed me to care for myself in ways that i might not have otherwise. it's given me inspiration to write, and ways to connect with others in a way that feels deeply authentic. i try to be aware of when i'm indulging in self-pity or being overdramatic, but i also know that my mind can be a scary place where things feel bigger than they actually are. i am grateful to still be here, breathing, writing, connecting with people. this card is a constant reminder of where i could be, and where i have been. i'm so thankful that i don't have to live in this card every day.

activate: what should i be calling into my life for the year ahead? six of pentacles. growth, prosperity, and generosity - next year is a time to enjoy the things i've created, and continue to give back as much as possible. reciprocity is an important part of this card, and i think in this context it can act as a reminder to value myself and what i can create while also working to serve others. i've pitched a project that i'm really excited about and it's been well-received, which gives me hope that next year i'll be able to connect with others and do what i love in a new and beautiful way. but it's also important to know when to ask for help, to remember humility, to be kind always. next year has a lot of space for growth and giving, and i'm so excited to see what 2019 will bring.

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how do you celebrate yule? i'd love to hear about your rituals for the holidays, the solstice, and the new year. bright solstice and blessings for the new year!

samhain

as someone raised in a very conservative protestant tradition, i've been slow to adopt the pagan wheel of the year that so many witches follow. it isn't that i feel that it clashes with how i was raised - on the contrary, i love celebrating the seasons and honoring the past, present, and future, and i really enjoy having holidays and celebrations that are separate from my christian roots. but i have a bit of imposter syndrome, as i rarely cast spells, light candles, or use an altar. i don't generally refer to myself as a witch, even though i want to. for me, praying feels like setting intentions and spell casting. my desk feels like an altar, a place where i can sip tea and consider each day. and reading tarot cards feels like daily magic. my approach may be simple, but i'm slowly learning to make these new traditions feel like my own.

samhain feels like a beautiful time to start fresh. this is my favorite time of year - the crisp air, the sense of change, the slow cold creeping in. the thinning of the veil feels tangible, impossible to ignore. and as a scorpio, with my birthday just around the corner, i can't help but feel like this time of year was made just for me.

with that in mind, i'm using this simple tarot spread to celebrate samhain, the witches' new year.

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what have you accomplished this past year? queen of cups. introspective, kind, generous, caring, creative, empathetic - this mother of water is sensitive but strong, deeply trusts her own instincts, and takes endless joy in both giving and receiving. she takes time for herself, gives herself space to consider and recover when needed, but still honors those around her as often as possible. the depth of her spirituality and emotions are as bottomless as the sea. for me, seeing this lovely archetype fills me with gratitude. last year at this time, i was coming out of a deep depression, having damaged relationships and feeling that i was fully unloveable. a group of friends i deeply cared for seemed to fracture, all because of my selfishness and inability to communicate. but now i have people in my life that understand me, and i have a better understanding of what i can do for others and what i cannot help with. i'm learning to trust my intuition in a way that makes me feel both empathetic and powerful. i feel calm, but there's a little bubble of joy in there too.

what lessons are to be learned from the spirits of the past? five of coins, a card of loss, hard times, illness, lack of resources. it's felt in the past that my depression and insomnia have severely limited what i can accomplish, the amount of energy and empathy i can provide - and that's still a reality, whether i like it or not. but growth can come from challenges, and experiencing those difficult times is a reminder that it's okay to take care of myself. i don't have to fully deplete myself in order to show others that i care for them, especially when it leaves me with nothing. sometimes it takes courage to prioritize myself, and to honor what i need rather than giving too much away or asking someone else to provide for me.

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what advice can we take from the spirits for the upcoming year? ten of cups. fulfillment, connection, overflowing love, boundless gratitude, profound joy. this is a card of completion, of true acceptance. we've fallen in love with ourself, found our chosen family, navigated some difficult decisions, discovered a spiritual path that brings comfort and joy, and now we feel whole, true, content. this is a lovely card under any circumstances, but as advice it encourages me to keep diving into community. going to a-camp earlier this year was a huge risk for me, but it paid off in spades, both in terms of helping me find true friends as well as giving me confidence to put myself out there, make new connections, and open myself to people that feel safe and right. this upcoming year can be one of true community, as i continue to build my chosen family and creating lasting, meaningful friendships with those i trust.

it was a simple spread, but a beautiful one. i feel so blessed by the cards that appeared, and i know i'll be thinking on them in the coming days.

thank you for reading, and have a blessed samhain! i would love to hear how you celebrate in the comments - do you make an altar, cast spells, leave out an offering? do you combine the sabbats with other traditions?

autumn equinox spread

blessed mabon! i enjoy the long, lazy days of summer, the heat on my skin, the warm rain, the bright green of nature - but this transition is my favorite time of year. the air is starting to cool, nights are coming sooner than before, there's a crackle of electricity all around. even in new york city, this concrete playground so many of us call home, the arrival of autumn is lingering. i can smell it already. as we celebrate the autumn equinox and the changing of the seasons, i wanted to use this lovely transitional tarot spread from sharron basanti (@seedsofshakti). it's the perfect way to welcome in this beautiful new harvest season, and to prepare for monday's full moon.

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as the days get colder, what will the frost nights wilt & wither that needs to be shed? two of plumes/swords. in the last week i've pulled the two and three of swords, and have really been feeling this transition from difficult choice to sudden sorrow. the more traditional two of swords puts a real emphasis on two ideas working against each other, making a decision to move in a singular direction. but these wings have to work together to accomplish anything, even under an ever-changing, cyclical moon. this sense of choice, finding a way to move forward, is tempered by the idea that several ideas can work together to create something new. the tension in the idea of perfect balance and symmetry is something that i should be working to shed - art is rarely "perfect," but rather continues to evolve and grow with us.

what energetic cords need to be pruned during the fall, so that i can bud & blossom in the spring? six of blooms/cups. this card is often associated with roots, memories, a nostalgia for times past. all of those eyes springing from the heart of this blossom serve as a reminder to be aware of the many possible perspectives, of how our memories can shift as we grow, of the various ways we remember ourselves and our own histories. but sometime we can get trapped in our own past, and spend so much time looking backwards that we cannot see a future for ourselves. i need to gently correct my vision, learn to look forward more frequently, rather than spending so much time reflecting on where i've been and how i came to be.

as the darkness grows, how can i bring in the light? four of blooms/cups. this blossom is withered and wasted, picked before it had a chance to fully develop. there's a strong sense of loss, but it's of our own making - selfishness, impatience, dissatisfaction caused us to choose poorly, to be greedy, and now nothing is what we hoped it would become. i love this time of year, but i often feel regret for what i didn't do in earlier months, for the goals that were set and not met. but rather than focusing on the negative, on wishing things were different, i can bring in the light by owning my choices, by noting self-destructive patterns, by appreciating what i have.

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what dreams have ripened that need to be harvested & celebrated with a grateful heart? nine of stones/wands. i've been pushing myself to the creative limit, taking new jobs, trying new things, expanding my imagination beyond what i thought i was capable of. this card often represents nearing the end of a long journey, stamina and focus and gathering strength for that last push. that antler with all of its fiery crystals is beautiful and powerful, but it also looks heavy, like it takes a lot of effort to hold. this is a time to begin releasing all of that effort, to consider this the end of a long journey and celebrate what has been accomplished.

what blessings will emerge as the season transitions? three of bones/pentacles. cooperation, different ideas or people coming together, is beautifully represented here as three bones forming a joint. each piece is strong on their own, but by coming together in a creative way, the final product has strength, flexibility, and can accomplish something that none of them can do on their own - bend and move. while the company i've been working for has shut down, i'm busy forming a new team, starting an entirely new business out of the ashes of the old one. there's so much we can do when we work together, and i can already see the blessings that have sprung from this unexpected adventure.

message for the autumn equinox: six of plumes/swords. so much of this spread is about looking ahead, moving forward with joy and appreciation, balancing new ideas and new people, and leaving certain things behind, so seeing this lovely little mallard shedding those feathers that were weighing him down is the perfect message for my mabon. making mistakes and taking risks can result in painful situations, or even outright failure - but we can always learn from these choices. and knowing when it's time to walk away, when something no longer serves us, is a wise and often difficult moment. i'm in the process of leaving several situations, but am keeping the new ones in my sights, moving with strength and purpose in this new season.

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have a blessed equinox and happy mabon! and if you do this spread too, please tag me - i'd love to see what the new season has in store for you.