The Opposing Factor / Challenge Card

This is the second in a series of guest blog articles by Timeless authors and affiliates. The S.L.o.T is an irregularly published series featuring pithy, critically-engaged, outward-facing content. We named this series after The Second Law of Thermodynamics, which says that entropy will either increase or stay the same; entropy is the measure of the amount of energy that is unavailable to do work, and we hope that these essays will make you a little bit less productive. Happy Monday.

Read the first installment of Brittany Billmeyer-Finn's series here

Queer to me always begins under the skin, the quick beat of the heart as the one prohibited catches your eye. Queer, to me is the feeling and effect of the fear of kissing the one you love due to potential, even subtle acts of violence. Directed at you and your lover’s bodies: IRL. Queer to me elicits a political imperative towards skewing, slanting, ruining, inventing, contorting, embellishing, anti-assimilating: autopoesis! In! the! Flesh!

- Jh Phrydas, Levitations 


The Opposing Factor’s position in the tarot spread is action oriented. Known also as the Challenge card, it calls for immediate and urgent change.

As I shuffle the Collective Tarot deck, I consider the complexity of the initial position of the Heart of the Matter as it is located in the tension of visibility/invisibility and action/inaction relating to one’s socio-position and how this is affirmed/othered by that of daily encounter. I pull the Death card. The Death card is number 13 of the Major Arcana. Generally, the Major Arcana represents overarching themes in the cyclical nature of the tarot journey.

The Death card in the Collective Tarot is stated to represent, “the closure of what exists, making possible new feelings, patterns, relationships, opportunities and ideas. This card signals the end of stagnation, routine, or lack of personal movement. […] The snake shedding its skin is leaving parts of its old shell behind and is moving toward a new self. This is a death of the former self and transition into something beyond what was previously possible.”

The Death card offers something to the narrative of encounter as it relates to embodiment. Moving from the tension of the Heart of the Matter (visibility) the Death card offers an end to the encounter itself. When I say encounter I am talking about the seemingly mundane act of being visible. Those encounters that occur walking down the street, at work, at a café, in a line. The same way the Seven of Keys and The Death card must encounter each other to create a more nuanced meaning the same happens as people encounter one another. In these encounters are markers of privilege and marginalization. Often micro in the exchange but damaging in its repetition of power dynamics that prioritize white/cis/able bodies.

I am someone who passes. As I walk from place to place my identity is not up for debate.  I certainly endure various objectification, and while I do not want to diminish mine or others experience of objectification via beauty standards and sexualization a la rape culture it does not erase my passing privilege or the safety that my whiteness and cis categorization brings. My queerness is generally only visible when I am with my partner or in relation to my queer community. This relationality illuminates the significance of intersectional experience and representation to the political work of queer poetics. And self-awareness is a significant part of this work as well.

If the Death card is pointing to the end of the encounter (though not erasing its reality) that might manifest for the individual in practical ways; it might mean radical self-care practices, talking or dancing with friends, sitting in a hot tub, organizing community events or political actions or writing poems.

Or it might look something more like configuring our communities and ourselves in a way that represents the society we wish to co-exist in. This is difficult work; including ongoing internal work, collaborative work and imaginative work. It is a labor.

Suppose then emotional labor is implicit in a queer poetics. It is in this regard that a queer poetics is transformative, offering a queer visibility less attainable in the day to day or an entrance into imagining a different social possibility.

In this regard I echo Lisette’s call for feminization as a way to revolutionize and counter capitalism. “in reaching for an affective politics, I ask that we make ourselves sociologically weaker MORE emotional, more supposedly FEMININE – and that everybody does this. 

Meanings: closure, possibility, embracing change, new feelings, return, ending.


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