exploring the fool

the fool has been popping up a lot for me lately. i’ve written about it some on instagram, but it’s also come up in private morning readings, when pulling cards with friends, and anytime i’ve wondered about how to move forward in my writing work. in spite of my structured pieces, my regular column, my ongoing patreon newsletters and moon phase pulls, i’m still craving more. and while i joked on twitter about the fool just being a strong person saying “do the damn thing,” it’s not wrong - this card is begging us to take a chance, to surrender to that idea or journey or desire that’s been building in us for longer than we want to admit.


i want to write - essays, personal pieces, finding ways to tell my tarot story and link it to my life in more complex ways. i don’t know where to start, how to pitch, when to submit, who to ask for help. it feels overwhelming, but the desire is still present, in spite of the many obstacles i can see or conjure up to delay my own progress. the fool doesn’t care about how possible something is, about success - she simply begs us to take that first step, to seek joy, to follow our hearts. she needs us to start the journey, to take the chance, to dream. she asks us to try.

so today, i’m asking: little fool, what do you want me to do? some people don’t pay much attention to stalker cards, but for me a reoccurring card signals a missed message, an ongoing need, a chance to revisit an important theme or idea. the fool is such an important card in tarot, representing that moment when we leave behind what we are sure about and step into that beautiful, wild unknown. and while i know she is craving exploration, i need to understand how to start, how to move, how to be brave. i need her wisdom, which comes not from experience or knowledge but instead from her ability to listen to her deepest needs and most profound desires. the fool has no time for bullshit, and understands how to prioritize herself. she dreams so big, and i want to do that too.


what is the importance of this card in my life right now? nine of wands. my writing doesn’t feel stale or stagnant to me, but perhaps my willingness to take risks has slipped away, and now i feel protective and scared. the fool keeps asking me to take chances, to put myself out there, to share my work and my emotions and my history - and while i want to do that it also feels deeply frightening, and terribly vulnerable. what if i get hurt, get rejected, simply fail? the nine of wands is so much fire, knowing that we are close to the end, but also represents strength and tenacity, a willingness to keep fighting. the fool sees where i am, recognizes my insecurities and struggles - but she still wants me to try, in spite of all that fear and anxiety and uncertainty. not knowing the outcome and doing it anyway is the fool’s whole message, and being scared or lacking confidence doesn’t mean i shouldn’t still take the chance.

what is preventing me from hearing the message of this card? nine of swords. i tend to get in my head a lot, rationalize why i shouldn’t do things or make arguments for staying safe. the nine of swords is terror, insomnia, nightmares, and represents the ways that i mostly think about how things could go wrong in my writing, rather than what could work out in a positive way. by focusing only on the negative, by imagining the worst case scenario, i lose all the possibility, the potential, the beauty in mistakes and the ability to learn and grow. i’ve created a powerful trap, haven’t been able to see outside of my failings and lacks, and it’s keeping me from taking the chances that the fool sees.

how can i release any blockages? the magician. just fucking manifest. if i can simply see the potential ahead, can envision possibility, can start actually writing and follow where it leads me, everything will shift. worrying and dreaming endlessly about how things could go wrong, without even having pieces that i’m trying to place or writing what’s flowing through my head is a bit ridiculous. i need to start creating works that i’m proud of, harnessing the resources at my disposal and the people around me that are cheering me on, and see where it goes. the magician knows their power, understands their abilities, and doesn’t let fear get in the way of creation. by beginning the process, enjoying the mistakes, harnessing my magic, i might actually get somewhere.


this spread was incredibly helpful for me, kicking my ass and acknowledging how much i’ve let fear limit my progress. sometimes the cards have to remind us of truths we’ve already uncovered, weaknesses we’ve already acknowledged, and i’m deeply appreciative that the true black tarot pulled zero punches and reminded me of how far i’ve come. the fool isn’t actually foolish, and she knows what she’s asking of me. sometimes we have to take chances to find the most substantial rewards, particularly when it comes to creative work - writing can be intensely personal, but i’ve seen it pay off for so many. i want to be brave enough to start the process, to push past my fears and rationalizations and start creating work i love.

time to get writing.

confidence & courage

i'm still struggling with writing letters to my family, and i've been obsessing over it all week. i decided today to do a larger spread to help me find confidence and courage, in the hopes that i can finally finish this difficult task. this spread is from beth at little red tarot, and while it was designed to help build personal confidence on a more general level, i'm going to use it for my specific situation.

1. the root of my insecurity & fear


the four of pentacles, a card of possession and control. this is not a card i've worked with before, but its themes are clear: brilliant threads hold the pentacles in tight formation, letting nothing else in. energy from the outside bounces right off, closing off the spaces between. the lines are so rigid and stiff that they do create a lot of security and protection, but perhaps this is simply an illusion. everything cannot be controlled - no one has that much power, even when we think we do.

it made me nervous to only have one card in this first position - after all, coming out as bisexual to my conservative brother and religious in-laws isn't exactly a simple scenario, and there are many reasons for my fears and worries. but ultimately, control is a big part of this - i have to give them part of myself, hand them my heart with trembling hands, and hope that they don't crush it. i have no control over their reaction, their feelings, their potential for anger or fear or sadness or betrayal. it's taken me a long time to get this point, and they deserve space to think and feel and react too. but once i reveal my truth, all i can do is trust them not to destroy it.

2. how to overcome these feelings


a colorful card of harmony, light, and positivity, the ten of cups radiates energy. every cup is giving and receiving, sending out beauty and taking in love. this is a card of completion, of balance, of wholeness, and it reminds us to stay open and joyful, sharing our blessings with those around us and seeing the good everywhere.

i'm not typically known as a positive beacon of colorful light (my power cards below back me up on this), but the sense of karma and balance here is impossible to deny. and remembering how much i love the people in my life, how i try to offer kindness and support to those that need it, makes me hopeful that if i can continue to be positive and loving, i will receive that back. with only a few exceptions, when i've come out (which for me is always scary, every single time, to every single person) i've been accepted with open arms. friends and strangers alike have made me feel like i belong, and remembering their generosity gives me strength too.

3 & 4. my main sources of personal power


seeing the devil and the hermit as my cards of personal power is, frankly, hilarious. these are some big, powerful cards, and while i imagine plenty of others might be horrified by them, these boys feel just right to me.

let's start with the devil. i think it's easy to recoil at the sight of this card, but i'm not afraid of his energy. as a scorpio and a water sign, there's always a bit of darkness, mystery, wickedness present in me. i don't seek out evil, but i definitely live in the grey areas, trying to see all sides, working the angles. and the devil can help us to challenge our assumptions, look at things differently, try to avoid snap judgements. temptation doesn't have to be bad, as long as you understand it. making your own choices can be a strong path, one that may look wrong to others but feels right for you. and indulging can be a beautiful thing, as long as it doesn't take over.

i can also see this card as a reference to difficulties in my life, from my very conservative, religious upbringing to my severe depression to my challenges as a married bisexual woman to my unusual sleeping problems. i've definitely had my feet in the fire, had to resort to deception and denial in order to keep myself safe, had to make impossible choices that weren't always the right ones. but it's made me stronger IMG_0361and more powerful than i was before. and while no one chooses to go through difficult things, the end result can be something wonderful.

my second strength is the hermit, a card i love. i'm definitely an introvert, someone who prefers intimate gatherings to giant parties, someone who prefers a book and a glass of wine to a loud venue, someone who needs a lot of personal time to recharge and consider. the hermit trusts his own inner light, relies on it to reveal the path he should follow. and while i do need the love and support of others sometimes, i've had to face most of my challenges alone. no one can make me sleep, or not hurt myself, or change my identity to something more "acceptable." no one can take away my past hurts or my present fears or my future challenges. just like now - no one else can come out for me. i have to do this myself, on my own strength, in my own way.


5. how to tap into that power to build confidence


the fool, another card i haven't worked with before. represented in the wild unknown as a baby bird, eager to take his first steps away from his secure nest, and speaks of new beginnings, spontaneity, potential, and inexperience. this bird is excited but naive, with no idea what is ahead. she exists entirely in the present. the future is limitless, sparkling with possibility. as carrie mallon says, "this card speaks of pure, unbridled potential. in order for that potential to take shape, risks are required. taking a leap doesn’t necessarily guarantee a favorable outcome. but if you never leap, you remain stuck on the precipice, never fully immersing yourself in all that life has to offer."

there's a lot to unpack here. but something that i immediately noticed is that the devil and the hermit are both stationary, whether standing in flames or retreating into a shell. they're self-aware, sure of themselves, sometimes to their detriment. the fool, however, is moving forward, even if it's into a completely unknown place. she's about action, taking that big leap, being open and ready and saying yes. she may be young and inexperienced, but she also isn't shackled by fear or expectations. if i can look to that trust and love and beauty from the ten of cups, and channel the strength and assurance from my power cards, perhaps it'll give me what i need to take that big step forward.

6. something i can do right now


so what do i do? the ace of pentacles is all about new beginnings and growth, planting a seed and letting it take root. this card reminds us to stay grounded and consistent, to commit to the process, to activate the resources we have and the ones we may have forgotten.

aces are always brimming with potential. and this ace of the earth, with its stable growth rings and blooming branches and tough outer layer, speaks to me of strength and balance. i need to remember that my letters are the start of something, rather than the end - i'm beginning a conversation based on truth and honesty, and need to keep faith in the process. i have resources - supportive friends, a wonderful therapist, an online community, and my beloved cards. they can give me strength and courage, and help me remember why i'm doing this at all.

this is a fascinating, complicated, challenging spread. but it reflects so much of who i am, what i need, and why i'm pushing myself to come out to my family. i'm grateful for the wisdom here, for the honesty and difficulties presented by the cards.

time to write some letters.