9 min read

june 2023: on the strangeness of hope

the star is not the absence of grief, or pain, or regret. it's instead about being real, whatever that looks like in each moment, and letting the sky and the sea and the clouds and the shadows bear witness to our pain, and our tenderness, and our desire, and our wonder.
star from the numinous tarot
star from the numinous tarot

hello, friends, and welcome to june. happy pride.

life has been extremely busy and extremely stressful, so you may not see me on socials or in this space quite as often as usual this month. (you can still expect the usual new and full moon spreads, an exclusive spread on this essay, as well as a piece on the shift to leo season, but i likely won't have anything else for you.) this month my partner and i will be moving to a new apartment (still in nyc) and i'm also planning to move my website to a new platform, so i will be closed for readings until we get settled and my website is operational once again. thank you so much for your patience and support!

with my web presence shifting, i've been continuing to add new printables, spread collections, and other tarot tools to my etsy shop. it's been really fun putting these together, and i would love if you checked them out. (marking shops and items as your favorite also helps gives me a little boost in the etsy algorithm.)

my plan for this month's star essay was to focus on vulnerability, healing, and especially hope: hope for the present, hope for the future, hope for change, hope for peace. i wanted to write about brené brown, about the history of pride, about queer kids and queer elders and queer spaces and queer perseverance. i wanted to write about autostraddle, and chosen family, and finding joy on the other side of pain. i wanted to give you a gift, to remind you that it’s okay to still want, to sit with you in the impossibility of this moment.

this is not that essay. i am simply too tired, too overwhelmed, too removed from that headspace, to gift you that kind of piece.

that’s not to say i’m in a completely hopeless state — far from it. with so much of my life in a space of transition, when i’m looking for both a job and a new place to live, when i’m working with some of the writers of autostraddle to reimagine what that space could be, when i’m revamping my entire website and creating a new menu of services and offers, when i’m considering what my next book might be, when i’m reimagining my future every day, my current sense of hope is present but muted, blurred around the edges, hard to wrap my hands around.

but perhaps, that’s okay. perhaps, in letting this archetype be a little messy, a little unfinished, a little swirly and strange, we can dive deeper into that pool of starlight and see what we find. perhaps in viewing the star and hope itself through a lens of not-yet-done, we can learn even more about it.

take a deep breath, friends. let’s get into it.

few cards in the tarot are more frequently associated with hope than our archetype for this month: the star. often defined as a moment of optimism, faith, and trust in the future, the star comes on the heels of the devil's self-deception and the tower's necessary destruction. when the clouds part, when the dust settles, when our vision begins to clear, the star's gentle light guides us forward into a new future, illuminating our path and showing us the way.

shadow, tower, and star from the numinous tarot
shadow, tower, and star from the numinous tarot

it's all very romantic, a lovely promise of silver linings and half-filled glasses. but if you're familiar with my work, if you remember my essay from last month, you might already know where i'm going with this: the star is not something that reveals itself overnight, something that shows up without effort. the star is not a quick hit of dopamine on the other side of loss. the star doesn’t magically appear like a fairy godmother to deus ex machina us out of our problems.

instead, let me paint a different picture of what this moment could look like.

in the wake of destruction, we often fixate on the smoldering crater that’s left. our gaze, our mind, our hearts stay locked on what we’ve lost, staring at the wreckage, trying to figure out how this happened and what it means. we feel ourselves shuddering, internal spaces shifting, as we try to put ourselves back together, willing stiff joints and broken bones and exhausted muscles into their former places. but it’s like trying to jam a key into a broken lock, feeling tumblers shift but not click. we are different than we were before, and it's uncomfortable. we can't quite breathe right. we don't quite know where we belong.

eventually a peculiar light begins to break through the internal fog, beckoning us in a completely different direction. it might feel confusing, even irritating, to notice this light. where did it come from? what is it for? why is it distracting us? but slowly, so slowly we might not even perceive it at first, the light begins to grow, until we find ourselves twisting towards it, curious. the light is steady but distant, unclear but warm in its persistence. it asks us to do something that feels strange, uncomfortable, impossible: to rest, to breathe, to simply be.

as we fix our gaze towards this new light, the burning need to continue surveying what was lost gradually begins to fade. the light starts to soothe our tender aches, gives us permission to grieve and believe in more, in different, in better. it urges us to remember peace, even if we don’t feel it yet. it gently lights a possible way forward, one that includes stillness, compassion, faith. it doesn’t push us to do something: if anything, it begs us to do nothing.

we sit, and breathe, and weep. we wait. we listen. we heal. we hope.

we realize that we are a new creature, remade, reborn, renewed.

and eventually, when we’re ready, we start to move towards something that we don't necessarily understand, but want to seek out anyway.

i want to believe / instead i look at the sky and i feel nothing / you know i hate to be alone / i want to be wrong - phoebe bridgers, chinese satellite

in the wake of the tower, in the gradual quiet that descends after chaos and rapid movement and permanent change, the star feels almost alien in its calm, gentle guidance. that subtle starlight, glowing in the distance, acting as a beacon back to self — it’s hard to believe in sometimes. it's hard to imagine that something is really there at all.

but what is faith, if not the longing to trust that something we cannot prove is real?

what is pride, if not the authentic, loving, courageous reclamation of self?

what is hope, if not the active, consistent desire to believe that what we want is truly possible?

these gifts are not simply given: they are earned, fought for, craved, and clung to.

the star isn’t about things being beautiful, or perfect, or even finished. it’s about recognizing what could be, and paying attention to which parts of that possibility make your heart light up, make your eyes dance, make your soul sing.

the star is sinking into quiet, letting our bodies find ease and comfort, soaking up joy wherever we can find it, and let that joy soothe our sorrows.

the star is not the absence of grief, or pain, or regret. it's instead about being real, whatever that looks like in each moment, and letting the sky and the sea and the clouds and the shadows bear witness to our pain, and our tenderness, and our desire, and our wonder.

the star is not just finding hope, but also seeing ourselves fully, in the wake of transformation, and recognizing ourselves. this, too, is necessary, powerful, magical.

this, too, is a gift.

who am i / if not a wave in this ocean / an unconfined vial of stardust / no one knows me / like the sky feels me / like the clouds kiss me - maria minnis

when we’re talking about hope, we’re not just talking about a feeling. this isn’t a vague longing for something to work out, or a blindness to the challenges in our reality, nor is it a definitive expectation that we will always accomplish what we set out to do.

sometimes we don’t know what shape our hope will take, and the tarot reflects that ongoing uncertainty, that endless faith. the fool has hope, that their dream is possible, that they will find the path that they need to reach the place they want to be. the empress has hope, that their raw outpouring will be received with gratitude and grace instead of judgment. justice has hope, that ideals can be made tangible, that balance and equality are not impossible asks.

even death has hope, that we can say goodbye with dignity, that what is buried will eventually fertilize what is growing.

hope, as brené brown says, is learned. it's something we choose, something we build, something we invest in. it’s something we decide to pursue, over and over.

and days when we feel hopeless, when we feel overwhelmed, don’t mean that hope is forever lost. they just mean that we're human. they just mean that sometimes we long for things we no longer have, or yearn for things we haven't found yet, or crave something we can't quite define. they just mean that our desires are changing, and our hopes are growing into something new, something real, something even more authentic.

they just mean that we are still figuring our shit out.

i wanna be happy / i'm ready to walk into my room without looking for you / i'll go up to the top of our building / and remember my dog when i see the full moon / i can't feel it yet / but i am waiting - boygenius, letter to an old poet

i don't know what is going to happen next, truly. i don't know where i'm going to live next month, or who i might be working for. i don't know how my business is going to shift. i don't know what autostraddle might become. i don't know so many basic, important, essential things. yet the star holds space for my uncertainty, and for my hope, all in one cloudy, peculiar tangle. the star gives permission for my hope to feel strange, and acknowledges that i want to hold it anyway.

sometimes, a falling tower takes our hope with it, and it takes time to build that hope anew.

sometimes, we have to relearn how to hope, because we have to relearn how to move, how to survive, how to dream.

sometimes, all we can do is wait for that light to get bright enough that we can’t help but twist towards it, to stretch out our fingers and let gentle starlight spill into our suddenly eager, hungry hands.

is this how it is? / is this how it's always been? / to exist in the face of suffering and death / and somehow still keep singing? - florence + the machine, free

hope and pride, in 2023, might feel strange. they might feel foolish. they might even feel impossible. and i get that, truly. i feel that.

but then i look at the queer community, who keeps showing up, who keeps fighting, who refuses to let the world dim their light. i look at queer kids, who know what’s right and what’s wrong, who aren’t afraid to speak up against people older and more powerful than they are. i look at queer elders, living lives that they shouldn't have had to fight so hard for, wanting better for all that follow.

i look at activists and protestors and strikers, who are working hard to stand up for what’s right, what’s fair, what’s true. i look at the people who keep showing up, yelling and whispering, writing and singing, who make their voices heard with the knowledge that there are so many voices in a screaming chorus behind them, cheering them on.

i look at my fellow writers and creators, people who keep getting up and finding words and making art, who keep putting magic in the world, who keep fighting to take up space. these artists and makers who know the value and power of stories, of connection, of seeing ourselves in both beauty and mess.

star from the numinous tarot
star from the numinous tarot

i look at my chosen family, who show up for me even in my endlessly messy imperfection, who laugh with me in times of joy and rage with me in times of frustration, who never fail to be there when i ask, who listen and share, who fight beside me.

i look at my partner, who loves me in spite of how much of me she sees and hears and knows of my flaws and fears. who shows me what it is to be strong, who isn’t afraid of my weakness. who encourages me to be better, while simultaneously reminding me that i’m doing my best.

and i cry, and i sing, and i hope.

wishing you a restorative, authentic, and hopeful june, friends. happy pride.