the reality of transformation

june 2020 reflections

hello friends, and welcome to june.

in the northern hemisphere, this is a month when we should be outside soaking up the sunshine, walking barefoot through soft grass, watching waves crash on a beach or wandering through thriving forests or just staring up at the clouds from a perfect, quiet rooftop. summer feels like a time for socializing and relaxing, for dancing in the dark and talking into the wee hours and exploring beautiful new places. but here, in the united states where i live, we’ve been moving through some radical shifts. the pandemic has kept us isolated and uncertain for months, and rage and frustration have been building - and now we are in the midst of a revolution that is taking place against police brutality and systemic, racist violence against black people and their communities. we are rising up, crying out for change, for justice, for reform. we are demanding a powerful, permanent transformation.

it’s an impossible time. lives have been lost, broken systems continue to fail us, and the future feels deeply, horribly uncertain.

i don’t want to pretend that this isn’t our reality. refusing to acknowledge the ways that our lives have fundamentally shifted feels reckless and thoughtless, and i’m unwilling to deny the things that we are collectively pursuing, enduring, suffering. but i also want this space to be one of quiet stillness and reflection, an opportunity for your mind to explore new ideas and directions, to give yourself a break from grief and anger and endless news cycles and instead find opportunities for expansion. i hope that in reading these thoughts and ideas, you can find some new mental pathways to consider, some new truths to investigate. i hope that these moments of reading and reflection help you find a bit of comfort, a bit of curiosity, perhaps even a bit of joy.

thank you for being here.

on transformation

in the tarot, there are endless ideas to study, infinite possibilities for analysis and exploration. but one of my favorite aspects of tarot is the theme of metamorphosis, evolution, shifts and changes and transitions. the journey of the fool is in many ways a slow and profound unfolding, as new possibilities emerge, new pathways reveal themselves, new ambitions and dreams and wishes come forward. after that leap of faith, that first big moment of trusting the self, the fool continues to choose growth, exploring and creating and planning, learning to reflect on the past and dream of the future and sometimes, to sit firmly in the present. not every challenge is perfectly met, and there are stumbles and mistakes, moments of darkness on this long and winding path towards the light. but even in those failures, the fool continues to strive, eventually reaching the end of the cycle with the world. and while we tend to see this final archetype as one of perfection and completion, in truth this is simply a shift into another beginning, one major step in our lifelong movement towards evolution. the world is not the end - it’s just a stop along the way. we are never done with this process, never have to be finished with growth.

within this beautiful, endless cycle, there are bumps in the road. certain cards are always associated with difficult release or staggering loss: death, the tower, the six of swords, the eight of cups. these are cards of painful awareness, of acknowledging the harder shifts, of looking into the unknown and recognizing that we have to move through it. they’re not always convenient or welcome, these moments - they sometimes arrive without warning, shaking us to our core, forcing us to confront truths that change everything. there is no way but forward into the unknown, in the hopes that the other side will find us stronger, braver, more certain of the path we are on.

but the transformation itself - what does that actually look like? how do we move through this painful, confusing, impossible process? what does it mean to allow ourselves to fundamentally change?

the archetype of death may signify an inevitable end, a loss that has been coming for some time - but just because we could see it on the horizon does not necessarily make that pain easier to bear. the archetype of the tower may bring freedom, destroying those broken parts of us in order to make space for a new foundation - but the process of falling can be terrifying, and the impact can leave us feeling shattered and broken. the choices that we make in minor arcana cards like the eight of cups and the six of swords may feel absolutely necessary, as we decide to leave behind something that is no longer worthy of our ambition or energy - but that doesn’t make the action of turning our backs on the past and choosing a new direction any less complex. knowing what these cards are allowing and being able to move through them with grace and joy are not the same thing. and giving ourselves the space to grieve, to mourn, to acknowledge what we are losing, is both painful and deeply necessary.

the truth is that transformation itself, the nitty gritty, is not glamorous. it rarely feels empowering in the moment. instead transformation can be ugly, disorienting, confusing, frustrating, make us want to tear out our hair and crawl out of our own skin. enduring a massive shift, taking apart the person we are and letting ourselves be put back together in a profoundly different way, does not happen overnight. transformations strip us bare, pull us apart, force us to look at ourselves clearly. and when we’re in the midst of transition, watching the life we knew change permanently, releasing things we once loved and making space for new things to take their place, it can feel like we’ll never come out the other side, like we won’t be able to make it through the darkness to find that dim light ahead.

the beauty and truth of the change come later, when we emerge reborn, when we’re able to look back on our old self with clarity and acknowledge how necessary the shift was. but we cannot reach that state if we hold too tightly to where we started, if we deny that the change is happening, if we bury our heads in the sand. when we insist on clinging to the past, to the things that cannot be undone or unbroken, we limit our ability to truly grow. and when we pretend that everything is fine, that we aren’t feeling pain or loss or sorrow, we end up frozen in place, unable to move in any direction. we cannot keep our feet in both worlds, cannot hold on to the old shattered pieces while also building something out of the new. we must choose, and in the choosing, we give ourselves the privilege of another kind of future, a different kind of dream. we allow the transformation to be one of growth, instead of seeing it only as destruction.

on the other side, we find cards like the star, like temperance. both come in the wake of loss and fear and heartache, giving us the stillness we need to process, to acknowledge, to heal. death and the tower may be the catalyst for transformation, the moments when we are forced to release something that once felt like everything - but it’s with the star, with temperance, with the nine of cups, that we begin the process of recovery. in these cards we start to remember hope, to allow ourselves to dream again. these are the opportunities to choose growth, to let our evolution become more permanent, the real points of change - when we stop fighting against reality and instead allow ourselves to surrender to what’s real, to what’s ahead.

i know, it’s easier said than done. i haven’t forgotten that our world is in a state of stagnation, of disruption, with so many of us grieving and screaming and crying out for movement. we are collectively mourning, uncertain of the future, wishing we could magically appear on the other side of this shift. yet it is in these moments of sorrow that we may find ourselves beginning to alter, evolving and adapting. as i said before, these changes may not always feel welcome - we are not always able to choose the ways that we transform, and our current moment proves that we are sometimes powerless when it comes to our own growth. yet if we can create space for learning, for finding new ways to thrive and expand and make progress, we may be able to push ourselves in unexpected directions, to find beauty and power and magic that we never would’ve noticed otherwise.

what is changing within you? what are you discovering about yourself? how have you adapted? as impossible as things may feel in this moment, grief and loss allow us to recognize what truly matters to us, and where we’ve been caught up in situations or challenges or dreams that don’t fully resonate. what can you abandon, release, let go of? what have you been clinging to out of comfort, rather than out of need or desire? what patterns have been broken, and how is that shift freeing you to build new ones? where can you release yourself from old ambitions, from goals that your heart is no longer captivated by? what new potential is emerging within you?

there’s another card of release and transformation that we haven’t explored yet, one of the most powerful in the tarot. in some ways, the archetype of judgement is the ultimate shift, the last big evolution in the major arcana. after manifestation and exploration, after times of solitude and times of connection, after grief and growth and shadows and sunshine, we walk with confidence down the path we’ve carved for ourselves, building upon this new, more solid foundation. yet the final step in our metamorphosis is sometimes our biggest challenge: because rather than responding to an external shift, this transformation is one that we choose, one that comes from within us.

part of transformation is acceptance, letting go when we must and making space for something new. but another, perhaps even more significant part of transformation is forgiveness. it’s allowing ourselves to have been flawed, to have made mistakes, to have wandered or gotten lost in the process of finding our truth. we never know everything, not really - we just slowly grow and shift, discovering new pieces of ourselves, making space for new truths, gaining glimpses of who we can be. and in recognizing who we’ve been, that younger version of ourselves that made some stumbles, that caused some pain, that felt lost or confused or frustrated, we can make space for who we are becoming. we can forgive ourselves for what we didn’t know.

judgement is the final piece of the puzzle, the last unlocking. it’s within this archetype that we embrace everything, the flaws and wishes and errors and dreams, the times that we failed, the ways that we recovered. it’s celebrating the full cycle, recognizing how the things we lost strengthened us, celebrating the patterns that we broke and the habits that we changed. throughout the fool’s journey we view the world through so many different lenses - but in the wake of judgement, we see its truth. the world is not perfect, it is simply present. and in letting ourselves be, in loving every single bit of who we are and where we’ve been, in granting ourselves dignity and agency, we can transform in rich and permanent ways, into people that see and honor their fullest selves.

evolution is not always linear, is not always clear. sometimes we can be in the midst of an impossible transformation, but feel like we’re just struggling, failing, drowning. we don’t always know when we’re experiencing that profound kind of growth, because it’s often impossible to see the bigger picture when we’re in the midst of change. and yet by being able to forgive ourselves, by giving ourselves permission to be present, we can find unexpected moments of deep clarity and powerful truth in those periods of darkness. and sometimes, when we find the light again, we look at ourselves in that brilliant new reality and discover just how drastically we have transformed.

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i won’t be posting on instagram this week in solidarity with #amplifymelanatedvoices, but you can check out my latest blog post on my cards for june over on my website, and i’ll be sending out my full moon in sagittarius spread and reflections to both free and paid subscribers of this newsletter later this week.

be safe and be well, my friends.

all images feature cards from the spacious tarot. photographs by meg jones wall.