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  • Writer's pictureKatie

Wahoo? No, woo-woo

Things are getting a little weird around here.

It started with me following one of R's friends on Instagram. She initially had a presence that was just a standard personal account, but at some point she rebranded as a "soul coach" and started pulling tarot cards, burning palo santo and providing generalized spiritual guidance.

Then my book club read Star-Crossed, which is all about astrology, and our meeting about it was full of horoscope readings and readings of the stars. On the heels of this was a close friend of mine, who is extremely smart, revealing she is also very into horoscopes. I started following a fun astrology Instagram account as a result — mostly because I really liked its infographics and fonts.

And then, the thing that finally tipped the scales: my friend Katey, who I hold in the highest esteem for her intelligence and judgment, started telling me about her exploration into mysticism and that she'd visited an "intuitive" and purchased her own tarot deck.

With that, I was officially in for a experimentation with woo-woo.

No, not Woo Woo (though that particular drink does sound delightful). I'm talking woo-woo — unconventional beliefs regarded as having little or no scientific basis, especially those relating to spirituality, mysticism or alternative medicine.

Before I go further, let's get a few things straight at the outset — I'm not doing the alternative medicine part of this. I'm simultaneously reading "Educated" right now, and it is WILD to me how many members of author Tara Westover's family suffered through traumatic brain injuries and other dismemberments with only faith to heal them (spoiler alert: it didn't). I will always go to the doctor when something hurts, and I will always take all medications prescribed to me exactly as ordered.

But, I might also have a bloodstone on my desk at work right now. I don't think it's going to heal my ailments... but it certainly can't hurt, right?

Additionally, I bought a tarot deck and have been using it in a morning meditation ritual. I turn off the TV, get the dogs calm and cuddled beside me, then shuffle the deck as I think about the day ahead. I pull a card, read the interpretation and think about what that might mean for my life. To me, it's a little bit like a journal prompt, although I'm not actually journaling — just breathing deeply and searching within.

I'll give you an example from this morning's meditation. Today, I pulled this card:

When you look up the meaning of the Moon, this is what it says:

The Moon represents your fears and illusions and often comes out when you are projecting fear into your present and your future, based on your past experiences. You may have a painful memory that caused emotional distress, and rather than dealing with the emotions you pushed them down deep into your subconscious.

I sat for a minute and contemplated that. And the thing is, even though I've felt pretty good lately, if I'm being real with myself there's still a lot of work I need to do to process everything that happened with me last year. In 2020 thus far, I've been using a sledgehammer on my life, pushing myself back into boxing, nutrition coaching and training for the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler as well as going like gangbusters at my new job. I haven't spent time thinking about the grief of last year much lately because, well, I haven't had time to spend. But it creeps in when I'm not expecting it, such as the moments where a celebratory evening with family is upended by me holding my breath until my sister-in-law orders a glass of wine, or when I recommend a memorial tree marker as a gift for a grieving friend and find myself weeping silently over my lunch.

The approach I'm taking to my emotional life right now is one of avoidance, which is simply unsustainable for the long-term. I have a therapy session coming up in the next few weeks and I'm planning on discussing ways in which I can claw my way out of this hole and return to being a functioning member of society.

And I needed a tarot card to help me clarify that for myself.

Other cards I pulled have included the Four of Pentacles, which is a card about fears surrounding money that inspired me to open up a conversation I'd been considering for a while with R about the two of us making living wills and sharing account passwords with each other to be prepared for worst-case scenarios; the Four of Swords, which is all about resting before you take on new challenges, so I decided to try to give my job more of a chance before determining I don't like it (and, in literal rest, I gave myself permission to take two days off from boxing each week since I was finding myself utterly wiped and starting to physically break down); and finally, the Hermit, a card about solitude and introspection, confirming for me that it's OK to take some time off from people and that meditating in the morning, breathing deeply and taking those moments for myself is a very good idea indeed.

So, I mean... that's good, right? A daily meditation, a moment of reflection, an arrival at clarity. So what if I added a little mysticism to the mix?

I guess at the end of the day, I'm a little embarrassed. I sloughed off organized religion like a snake shedding its unwanted skin as soon as the ink was dry on my Catholic Confirmation. I briefly toyed with agnosticism before settling in as an atheist, and I won the battle to keep my wedding completely religion-free. A part of me feels a little silly now to be reading tea leaves and wishing on a new moon. And honestly, it's not judgment from the wide world out there I'm worried about; it's judgment from R. I don't want him to lose respect for me over this, so I've been hiding my tarot deck like it's drug paraphernalia. Luckily, he gets out of bed way after I do, so he's yet to have caught me mid-shuffle (though, I suppose as soon as I hit "Publish" on this post, the jig is up).

But, at the end of the day, I just keep going back to if it makes me happy and keeps me calm, so the fuck what? Me drawing a tarot card each morning isn't hurting anybody. I haven't tithed away my last cent to some wayward prophet; I have not and will not eschew vaccines. The sum total I've spent on this is less than $200. I've spent way more money on way dumber things.*

Now, move along and don't mind me — I'll just be over here rubbing a rock on my desk and howling at the full moon.

*Incidentally, this is my same rationale for buying an accordion. One of my goals for 2020/beyond is to learn how to play. Seriously, imagine yourself at a party and someone shows up with an accordion and starts playing pop hits like "Everybody (Backstreet's Back)" — you would lose your mind!!

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