(This post first appeared on Substack: Writing Magick with Maggie Sunseri. Click to subscribe.)
So, I took a little holiday break from… everything, but I’m back! And The Discovered releases TODAY. It is just insane to think about what 2022 has in store for me, like the fact that my current trajectory has me publishing six whole books this year. Three in rapid succession, and the other three more spread out, but still. It’s insanity. That means three of those I actually have to, uh, write. Which ensures three pending breakdowns where I wonder how the hell I wrote the first three, and whether or not I even remember how to write a book. Actually, let’s be real, a great many breakdowns, freak-outs, panics, and blunders are automatically queued up for me this year just by nature of being an indie author launching her career.
And me being who I am.
It’ll be fine though.
Anyway, so things are finally happening, and I’ve said goodbye to 2021 already. I honestly barely knew what year we were on to begin with, as everything since 2019 has just felt like one muddled bowl of cosmic soup. Like I could’ve sworn Biden has been president for at LEAST two years, if not more. And Covid has been doing her thing for at least three… right?
But what even is time anyway? In a more ultimate sense it’s all a meaningless earthly construct because of spacetime or relativity or whatever. Time just gets weirder and weirder the older I get is all I’m saying. As a self-employed person still working on establishing boundaries, I’m just trying to focus on remembering what day of the week it is on a regular basis. And failing.
I know some people hate New Year’s resolutions, which is understandable, because who likes letting themselves down? But now that I have my relative shit together for the first time in my entire life, I actually really like writing out my little yearly intentions. I won’t bore you with all of them, but the one that’s really near and dear to my heart is that I would like to raw-dog reality all year long, AKA pull in a year of sobriety. I’ve got 3 months under my belt as of Christmas from alcohol, and this is actually the first time I’ve publicly mentioned sobriety at all, so yay! I’ll definitely go into much more juicy detail on all of that at a later date because I know people live for that shit. And I’m happy to oblige. Can’t say I have it all figured out just yet, but I’m so incredibly proud of how far I’ve come as a human being in the past few years. It’s been one hell of a journey.
So, in the spirit of the New Year, I present to you one of my favorite self-improvement tools.
My Tarot Card Practice
My experience with tarot cards has been nothing short of magickal. Sometimes it’s been downright scary how clearly my deck has spoken to me, often when I’ve needed it the most. When I was a baby witch and in the broom closet, just beginning to discover my own spiritual identity and practice, I actually started off by using a regular playing deck. Which of course was pretty limiting, considering the whole point of tarot is the symbolic artistry in the cards’ images. And the Major Arcana (the cards without a suit, like Death, The Moon, The High Priestess, etc.) is very important and obviously impossible to substitute with regular playing cards. The first real deck I bought is also the deck I still use today, the classic Rider-Waite.
The deck was originally published back in 1909 by two incredibly insightful occultists who made sure each card contained a wealth of spiritual symbolism from various mystical, religious, and mythic contexts. It’s the most popular deck to date, and it’s a great beginner deck to deep-dive into the traditional meanings and correspondences of each card until you feel more comfy leaning on your intuition. I won’t spend too much time on the ins and outs of tarot reading in this post, as there’s a wealth of knowledge available if you’re interested in learning more about the specifics. I will say that my all-time favorite tarot book is Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack. She’s enriched and deepened my tarot study like no one else. I really vibe with her understanding of the cards as an archetypal journey of the subconscious (or soul, if that resonates with you) through a kind of personal Hero’s Journey. It’s a very Carl Jung and Joseph Campbell type approach to spirituality, and I think I’ve mentioned before how much I love that lane of depth psychology and philosophy.
In short, I was always drawn to ways to commune with something higher than myself—something infinitely wiser than my own limited understanding of the world and my life. It’s not enough for me to read about other people having spiritual experiences; I need to have them myself. And I have, many, many times. In small, everyday ways, and in ways that have shook my entire perception of reality and humbled me to the wonders of the Universe that we may never fully understand. (Corresponding card: The Tower. The Tower often points to a total crumbling of the ground beneath your feet. Which can be either horrifying or awe-inspiring, and very often both. See? You’re already learning meanings! Unless you already knew that, in which case, you’re probably a very cool person I would like to be friends with.)
The big, fundamental “why” of tarot cards is up to you. I have my own perception of reality, and you surely have yours. And that’s a beautiful thing! One of the coolest parts of tarot card reading is that it can be as secular or spiritual as you want it to be. To many people, tarot is a psychological tool to connect with our subconscious minds—like a form of self-therapy. Drawing cards thus acts as a way to work through the problems we currently face, allowing us to view our experiences and relationships from a new perspective. They’re a means for creativity, reflection, and meditative inquiry and expansion.
To others, tarot is a way to connect to one’s ancestors or spiritual guides. People who are no longer with us, but still have plenty of wisdom to impart. Some like to imagine that a higher version of their soul is speaking to them, guiding them on their way through the karmic wheel. And others believe that tarot connects them to the Divine, in whatever form they worship or commune with. Others, like me, flip flop between all the different theories depending on the day because I’m just contradictory like that.
I don’t know why they work, I just know that they do, at least for me. I think what has weirded me out the most is not only the eerily accurate cards that have popped up for very specific and stressful situations, quickly bringing me out of states of utter confusion and hopelessness and into renewed clarity and raw faith, but also the fact that I’ve freaked out other people with insightful readings. Gotta admit, there’s something a little satisfying about reading into someone’s mind and life in a way they absolutely were not expecting. Also, of course, I’m glad to help them or whatever, obviously.
Another strange phenomenon is that I always tend to draw the same constellation of cards over the same time period, as if the Universe is trying really hard to hammer in specific lessons until I learn and evolve. (I’m not always a quick learner. Actually, I am really quite slow. Sorry, Universe.) There are seventy-eight cards, so it’s always been kind of unbelievable that I will draw the same ten cards over and over again, often the exact same ones when I ask a question twice over time. I’m bisexual, so I can’t do math, but I’m pretty sure if someone did the p-value on some of the shit I’ve witnessed, it would be a little nuts. I also will often get a card in the “past” position of a current reading that I used to get in my “present” position, which is, well, weird. And very cool.
We haven’t even gotten to the times I’ve been shuffling and a card has just happened to slip from my grasp only to land face up and blind me with the truth before I’ve even asked my question. (The Devil card in particular has flown out not once, but TWICE when I’ve been in the midst of a crisis concerning addiction. For the uninitiated, the Rider-Wait version of this card depicts a man and a woman chained to The Devil, representing bondage to hedonistic pleasures, vice, the material world, and the like. It’s referred to as the addiction card very often. So yeah, rude. But also truth.) Clearly, a lot of my experience with tarot is a “you just had to be there” kind of phenomenon, so all I can really say is that it’s been magickal and life-changing for me, and I will always recommend the practice to anyone wanting to connect with the sublime in an intensely personal, creative way. Aside from the initial cost of purchasing a deck, it’s also free. And therapy is expensive. So there’s that, too.
One of my favorite parts of this spiritual activity is that it sometimes feels a lot more engaging than the typical meditation and prayer combo, which so often can feel disconnected and hard to get into. Or, at least, I find it hard to keep up with a consistent meditation routine. Tarot is a way to be actively mindful, to check in with yourself and your priorities, and to work through problems in ways you never would’ve thought of ordinarily. Also, with enough practice and study over time, the cards start to develop their own personalized meanings for each practitioner. Now when I do a reading, I not only have access to the traditional meanings and symbolism of a card, but also what that card has shown me in the past and its connection to my real-life relationships and experiences. The cards evolve as I evolve, their meanings a reflexive dialogue with the deepest parts of my psyche and my own lived experience. They’re a way for me to connect with myself, the people around me, the world, and ultimately, the Divine, in whatever form I’m subscribing to that day. It’s beautiful, transcendent, and I’m grateful I’ve found a meaningful way to understand and make sense of the confusing chaos of our existence.
I’ve also used tarot to connect with the story and characters of The Lost Witches of Aradia. I’ve done readings for a specific character generally or a situation they’re working through, and it’s yielded insights that have allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of that character’s personality and motivations. The artistic symbology contained within the cards is perfect for drawing connections and sparking unique approaches to creative projects, so I can’t recommend enough just playing around with a deck when you’re stuck or in need of inspiration.
On that note, something that is absolutely on my vision board for the coming years is a Lost Witches of Aradia Tarot Deck.
HOW COOL WOULD THAT BE?
I’m putting a lot of psychic energy into manifesting a like-minded artist to cross my path who would be willing to help bring this vision into existence. I already have so many ideas for the characters, locations, and symbols I would want for some of the cards, and I can’t wait to link back to this post when this project is in motion. (Typing it into existence!) A movie or TV deal is on the vision board as well, if you’re listening, Universe. 😉
Okay, so I’m not really sure if I even answered my own title. It’s feeling more like a stream of consciousness jumble, but hopefully you got something out of it! If you want a more detailed account of readings I’ve done and specific spreads I like to do, let me know in the comments. I will be doing a Wheel of the Year spread again for 2022, which is when a card is drawn for each month to form a circle, with a main card in the middle. The middle card represents the overall tone of the year, or the main lesson that needs to be understood and integrated. Last year, I pulled the Queen of Cups as my main card, which was incredibly apt. I spent the year doing a lot of healing at the emotional and spiritual levels, and if sobriety is good for anything it’s for bringing every single repressed feeling right up to the surface to finally be dealt with and understood. It was a year of immense creativity, spiritual development, and emotional unblocking, all key meanings of the Queen of Cups. All good stuff. Hard, but good. Each month’s card was equally accurate in predicting the main tone and lesson of the moment. I cannot wait to see what I draw for 2022! Let’s cross our fingers for no scary cards… because I think I’ve had enough of The Devil, and I don’t know a single person who enjoys when The Tower makes an appearance. Death gets a bad rap—Death just lets us know when it’s time to let go and move on to bigger and better things. It’s The Tower we should all be wary of, trust me. She spells chaos.
The point is, tarot cards are aesthetically pleasing and spiritually and artistically rich. They mean different things to different people, but at their core they are a tool to improve our conscious understanding of ourselves and our world. Each deck contains a wealth of wisdom from the spiritualists and mystics who’ve crafted them with devotion and care, imbued with so much hidden meaning that an entire book could accompany each card. It’s incredible.
Tarot cards are a guide on our own microcosmic hero’s journey. They can offer a great comfort in the darkest of times, when we are lost and grasping for anything to hold onto, and they can restore our faith that there just might be an order to this chaos, after all. Tarot cards have helped me to believe that there is something or someone out there who is rooting for me, who wants the best for me, and who wants to help me on my way. Even if it’s just a higher version of myself. In the end, we might just be guiding each other, all born from the same primordial great spark of all of existence, united by our illusory notion of separateness that obscures the truth of our oneness with the ultimate Source.
As Ram Dass said, maybe “we’re all just walking each other home.”
Or maybe playing with pretty cards makes our brains feel nice. I dunno.
Hope everyone has a fantastic New Year! I myself am grabbing dinner with a pal, and we’ve decided to celebrate NYE on U.K. time because we both want to be cozy in our own beds by 10pm. She’s Irish, and time isn’t real, so it all checks out. It’s going to be AWESOME. Bringing in the New Year by being sober and asleep is exactly how I want to start off 2022.
Be safe out there! And if you get around to reading The Discovered when it releases, be sure to let me know. Unless you hate it. In which case, please don’t. ❤️
(This post first appeared on Substack: Writing Magick with Maggie Sunseri. Click to subscribe, like, or leave a comment. This newsletter is currently 100% free, but if you want a way to support me you could always share my posts with your friends or Buy Me a Coffee. Or you could buy my kinky witch books! The Discovered is LIVE now!)