A draw for the new year

I recently wrapped up a long-term collaboration that was very significant to me, and was the basis of my spiritual life and work for the past seven years. It was time, maybe a little past time, so I don’t regret the ending exactly, but I’ve been feeling a bit adrift in the time since that decision was made. So on the 1st, I pulled out my Rider-Waite-Smith deck and did a little 4-card spread for clarity, asking the following questions:

  • What do I mourn the loss of?
  • What is most recently behind me?
  • What have I made space for now?
  • Who is my unacknowledged ally in this work?

What do I mourn the loss of? Here I drew the Three of Cups. This card has such a sense of joy for me, the image of the three women coming together in what looks like ease and celebration. It’s a perfect card for what I am mourning, because when it’s working just so, that’s precisely what both collaboration and spiritual community feel like to me – a coming-together of people, in joy, and for a common purpose.

What is most recently behind me? I pulled the Nine of Wands for this position. The image in this card feels to me like the aftermath of a conflict, with the bandaged person holding onto a staff for support (or out of sheer stubbornness) while looking back toward several others that appear to be arrayed against them. If I’m being really honest with myself, this is also how collaboration can feel sometimes. That’s particularly true when it’s about something important – something that one brings their self, their beliefs, and their passions to. When the ease and the joy feel distant, but the importance is still there, conflict and challenges can arise. It’s not that one or the other is “real,” of course. They’re both real, and that’s the magic and the challenge of it all.

What have I made space for now? Here I drew The Hermit. So this is interesting in a vacuum, because hey – there’s one figure, seemingly out in the wilderness, lighting their own way with that lantern. It’s a pretty natural image as a counterpoint to collaborative efforts. I think it’s even more interesting in the context of the previous card, though. It’s another 9, for one thing, the ruler of the other 9s in the deck. And there’s also that staff, again, not clung to stubbornly but held in one hand, for stability and balance. There’s certainly a sense, in this context, of the Hermit being a model not for loneliness, but for exploring and valuing what’s uniquely mine to offer for a while. That feels both emotionally and pragmatically resonant for me right now.

Who is my unacknowledged ally in this work? The last card I pulled was The World. This is a big card about transitions and vulnerability and that edge between “being fearless” and “doing it afraid.” It’s aspirational, which feels like a good characteristic in an ally. I could say a lot about the card and what it symbolizes for me generally, but the context of this draw, it simply comes down to a reminder not to dream small.

It’s interesting. I can’t remember a time when each card in a draw has felt as “perfect” as they did this time around. Usually there’s a challenge, somewhere, in seeing how a card resonates for the question at hand (and I love that, actually – I really enjoy the process of stretching my mind and interpretation in that way), but this time it felt more like a draw in a movie or a book, where everything seems almost too on the nose. When that happens, I think it means that the clarity I was seeking was probably already there, and I just needed a framework to allow myself to feel it.