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november 2023: on the world, and the world, and the world

november 2023: on the world, and the world, and the world
the world from the this might hurt tarot

hello, friends.

october has been heavy, terrifying, impossible. "the world is too much with us," wordsworth lamented, and it's true: i'm not ashamed to admit that i don't always know how to navigate this world, don't always know how to find my way back to self when things feel this hard, this massive, this relentless.

but i do know this: i'm glad you're here. i'm glad i'm here. i'm glad we can connect in this small way, consistently and collectively.

there's a part of me that feels silly even writing this essay for you, that wonders if i should just send you a list of resources and action items to support a free palestine and leave it at that. when i started this series back in october 2021, writing an essay for every card in the tarot, i had no idea that we would reach the world archetype at this particularly intense moment in history.

but i also know that we need more than just things to do, words to speak, tears to cry: we also need hope, connection, recovery. we also need to acknowledge our humanity, in the midst of so many human beings being dehumanized. we also need to look to the things that keep us ourselves, the spiritual and the mundane, the creative and the clarifying.

as so many activists have said over the past month, lessons learned from years of organizing: rest can also be an act of resistance. showing ourselves care allows us to keep showing up for the work. remembering tenderness, allowing ourselves to feel, is essential, so that we don't lose sight of the world we want to see, to make, to sustain.

it's my sincere hope that these words find you comfortable, surrounded by loved ones, with fresh food and clean water in your home, with electricity and internet, with comfort and pleasure. it's my hope that you can read this and feel gratitude, that these words will sustain you in your longer efforts towards something better, something more beautiful.

take a deep breath, friends. release it slowly. let's get into it.

i didn’t know that i was raised zionist until my mid-twenties.

if you’ve been reading my work for awhile, you may remember that my family on both sides, through the generations, are ministers and music leaders and missionaries, and that i was raised in a conservative, fundamentalist, evangelical home. i believed in jesus christ, in the resurrection, in original sin, in eternal damnation, in the whole nine yards. as i said in a recent tiktok, i drank every flavor of kool-aid they had.

it wasn't until my late twenties that i started to hear people refer to evangelical christianity as a cult, or that i started to agree with them.

as a teenager and young adult, i didn't have clear language for my beliefs, especially when it came to the fraught places where politics and spirituality intersect. i knew only that i was deeply ignorant about the middle east (and politics in general) for a long time, that my questions were always brushed off with claims that it was all too complicated for me to understand. i was constantly told that i wasn’t intelligent enough to understand such complexities, that i should leave these concerns to people who were older and wiser than i.

even my christian liberal arts college, with all of its claims of progressive faith and free discussion, still heavily censored our internet access and limited our libraries. some fruit is still forbidden; some knowledge is still considered too dangerous.

it took a long time for me to untangle all of that nonsense, to realize that i'm actually pretty smart, to find resources i trust and slowly start to fill in all of the gaps in my education. i'm confident that i will spend much of my life unlearning alongside the learning, finding blank spaces as i go. it's uncomfortable, and strange, and often makes me feel ashamed. yet i know that i have to keep reaching, keep questioning, keep expanding.

yet i know that this is the work of being human.

our souls were made to stir. -cole arthur riley, black liturgies

it is generally much easier to stay stagnant than it is to change. it’s much simpler to stay entrenched in groups that don’t challenge us, to surround ourselves with people who tell us we’re always right, to stick to what we know instead of venturing into mystery. it’s much more comfortable to follow the familiar path of least resistance, to tell ourselves familiar stories, to comfort ourselves with familiar platitudes.

we see this more and more, on social media and in politics and with celebrities, especially over the last month: an inability to admit when we’ve made a mistake. somehow, any concern about being wrong has become overshadowed by the fear of seeming weak. somehow, the concept of learning more and changing our minds has become conflated with not knowing ourselves, with not sticking to our guns. 

yet being brave enough to make real change, to open our eyes fully to something, to let the truth of what we see transform us: that, i think, is where the magic lives.

and that is the kind of hope that i see in the world archetype.

the world, the empress, and the hanged one from the this might hurt tarot

after twenty-one other massive archetypes, somehow the world still manages to be associated with some of the biggest, most audacious keywords in the tarot, words that can feel overwhelming in their grandeur: evolution, perfection, completion. the world is the last card in the fool's journey, a destination and end game, a resting place. it feels final, finished, in a way that can be deeply satisfying as well as wildly uncomfortable.

what does it mean to acknowledge that we have internally shifted, that we have leveled up, that we have attained something that we may have once seen as unattainable? how often do we look at something and see it as flawless, pristine, impeccable? when are we able to say that we have something figured out, that we’ve gone as far as we can go in a particular direction?

what does it mean to be perfect?

impossible to talk about this archetype without acknowledging the world as a three card. not a nine card, the end of the sequence. not a one card, the beginning of something new. not even a five card, the breakthrough that leads to liberation. no, the world is a three: sharing a constellation with the empress and the hanged one, embodying the tangled joy that lives between authentic expression and valuable, internal sight.

three is not the end of the numerological cycle. it's not even the midpoint. but it is a number of expansion, of something being resolved and something else being revealed. three cards are about expression and cyclical movement, generosity and outpourings, letting something become tangible. all of these three archetypes have a sense of satisfaction and craving simultaneously: seeing something being realized, coming into form, clarifying and crystalizing, while also recognizing what more there is to hunger for.

the world shows us what it means to be content while also striving, to find safety and power in the midst of evolution. this is not about having all of the answers, or about having complete control. it's about having wisdom, about having experience, about having perspective.

the world doesn't actually push us to say that we are perfect, or finished, or done. the world instead asks us to simply find contentment, stability, and calm within that state of becoming. to find perfection in the movement, power in the evolution, joy and contentment in the process.

the world simply wants us to celebrate where we are, so that we have the magic and drive and focus for the endless next beginnings.

was i most complete at the beginning or the bow? if past you were to meet future me would you be holding me here and now? -historian, lucy dacus

if you live the way that i do, paycheck-to-paycheck (but without the consistent paycheck itself #freelancelife), it might feel impossible to recognize this concept of stability within movement. capitalism keeps us hungry, wanting, always on the edge of collapse. we keep grasping, reaching, trying to find something to lean on, something to anchor ourselves to.

and when the world is as hard as it is right now, when the news threatens to drown us, it's far easier to sink into ourselves, to turn our gaze inward, to focus on what we can see. it takes less energy to stay in the day-to-day, instead of dreaming of the far-off horizon. who has the energy to rethink their entire worldview, to challenge what they have always believed to be true, when there are bills to pay, food to buy, bosses to appease?

and yet. in spite of growing up believing that my only value was in being chosen by god, in spite of not always knowing what my purpose was beyond serving others and staying quiet, i've managed to make a relatively stable life for myself. a life that holds love, community, play, joy, connection. a life that includes both struggle and victory, pride and perseverance, a constant cycle of learning and changing. a life with space for rediscovery, even when it’s uncomfortable.

remaking ourselves is never easy. yet we do it anyway, finding ways to survive, endlessly evolving to find safety and rest within ever-changing circumstances.

we keep re-finding our footing, keep glimpsing new horizons every time we can stand tall, keep finding new support systems to lean on.

my knees are aching, back is breaking thinking 'bout the state of the world when we're riding all together it's a different kind of world when we're riding all together i'm a different kind of girl -different kind of world, maggie rogers

in tarot wisdom, rachel pollack refers to the world archetype as “a restoration that occurs within us.” and what a beautiful notion, that something intrinsic to who we are, something that perhaps was missing or just lost for a time, has been returned, renewed, reborn. a coming back to self, if you will, but in a fuller, truer sense — a deep and resonant recognition of who we are, who we were always meant to be.

this perspective on the world focuses on authenticity, on rediscovering who we always were, and being brave enough to fully embrace that self. a coming back to the beginning, but with all blinders dropped, all blockages cleared.

how does this happen? how do we get here? after the highs and lows of the major arcana, the discoveries and doubts, the choices and conflicts, the big moves and quiet moments, how do we find this deep authenticity, this personal sense of awareness and fulfillment?

the answer: we look to each other.

the world is not a solitary card. it's not an archetype that we can hold or reach or sustain alone. it's not a marker of individual success or personal gain. it's not one person reaching their goals and celebrating on their own, praising themselves for this massive accomplishment. this kind of perspective on the world, of a single person's achievement or perfection, is hopelessly capitalist, recklessly hyper-individual.

the world can only be found, can only be felt, when we are in rich, authentic, conscious community with one another. there are gifts of truth and tenacity in what we say, in who we become, when we feel safe and loved and held and supported. and there is joy, so much joy, in loving ourselves in our fullness, and letting others love us that way too — even (especially) when we know we aren’t perfect.

what is revealed in the not-perfect, to others who are also not-perfect, can be its own kind of perfect. a perfection based on honesty, rather than flawlessness.

look how bright we are look at all the things we have come from sometimes it hurts when you become them sometimes i bury myself in my own wreckage and don't want to come out which part of you is still in the wreckage? which part of you clipped your own wings? which part of you will begin at your own end? which part of you will you let live again? -sum of our parts, mary lambert

the world is all of us. not just the parts we’re proud of, the parts we find attractive, the parts we let others see. and not just the parts we hide and fear, the parts we are ashamed of, the parts we wish didn’t exist. the world is every facet, every nook and cranny, every secret thought and joyful noise. the world is everything we are, everything we have been, everything we will be. 

and it’s also all of us. us as a collective, as a community, as a body of people. it’s who we want to be as citizens of our countries and of the world, the ways that we understand and embrace our humanity, the ways that we strive to be better and richer and more generous than those who came before. it’s the world we want to make, alongside the world that we already have, and the worlds that have come before. it's the world we can imagine, the one we fight for, the one we work towards.

evolution, transformation, metamorphosis: these might seem like concepts that define reaching a fixed destination, finding an end point, crossing a finish line. but instead, we can let these be words of ongoing movement, of devotion to change, an awareness of endless progress and adaptation. 

the world means recognizing that we are in a constant state of becoming, and finding stability in that flow. finding stability in one another. finding stability in our most authentic self.

no individual can resist despair on their own. we steady each other. -cole arthur riley, black liturgies

with all of this in mind, perhaps it's time to leave some of these old keywords for the world behind, and instead invite in some new ones: recognition, integration, celebration. in her upcoming book, maria minnis writes about the world as an opportunity for accountability. what have we learned, and how have we allowed it to change us? what breakthroughs have we experienced, and how have they reshaped us, helped us reach the end of a particular cycle and stand at the threshold of a new one?

because the world is not being born perfect, or never making a mistake, or already knowing it all. no, the world is in having the courage to grow and to let others see that growth, to step fully into ourselves, to stand tall in the knowledge that we have worked and sweated and cried and reached for a new version of self — and the knowledge that in finding that version, we are actually coming closer to being who we have been all along.

what happens when we shed the skins and costumes and masks, the ways that we hide in plain sight? what happens when we stop striving for perfect and instead look for restorative, for accountable, for wise? what happens when we let ourselves be true and real, when we stop fearing the judgment of others, when we embrace and enjoy and fall in love with ourselves? what happens when we raise our voices in fury and power with those around the world, when we become part of something so much bigger than ourselves and let that participation transform us?

the world from the this might hurt tarot

what happens when we scream, laugh, dance, and sing, and let the world echo our cries of rage and pleasure? what then?

wishing you a powerful, transformative, world-changing november, friends. and if you're itching for creative community, looking for daily support and inspiration, or wanting a safe space to tap into the energy of the empress, my latest offer starts today — and you can still get it on it until midnight tonight!