By Brittany Billmeyer-Finn
It questions its own effectiveness, engaging in constant reflection and self-evaluation. And it is about practice and process rather than a point of arrival, resisting hierarchies of truth and reality and instead naming and refusing state violence. —Dean Spade, Normal Life
In his introduction to, Normal Life, Dean Spade explains the primary goals of his text. This epigraph relates to “showing how critical trans politics practices resistance.” This quote exemplifies the convergence of the political and personal work of a queer poetic practice as it points to the labor intrinsic to a queer poetics, that of “constant reflection and self-evaluation.” Practicing tarot aims to offer self reflection and evaluation, to engage in the nuance of self and here to do so as a political gesture in forming a poetics that “resists hierarchies of truth and reality.”
As I shuffle the deck, I think about the Goals position, card 3 in this reading. The Goals position illuminates desire. This position also considers present circumstances and obstacles in the pursuit of the goal.
I pull the Eight of Feathers. The Feathers suit in The Collective Tarot is represented in more tradition decks as the Swords. The Feathers is about communication and intellect.
Interestingly in more traditional decks, this card is very gendered in its representation and meaning as it shows a woman bound unable to escape her constraints. Though there is a logical escape, the character is bound by emotional reasoning. The Collective Tarot reimagines this card by valuing emotional intelligence, “We use reason to develop our principles, ethics and political convictions. The progression of the Feathers suit, from ace to ten, follows the trajectory of a spinout in which the gift of the air suit, when taken to extremes (intellectualizing, hyper rationality) becomes tragic. In this masculinist society, we are taught to dismiss knowledge that is not based on empirical and scientific truth, while knowledge like feeling, intuition and magic are feminized and disparaged.”
I consider, in the last post a state of imagining and creating opposing configurations of community to counter the violence of capitalist encounter. But of course this process is a labor in itself. Being a part of politically engaged, poetic and queer communities (these communities are multiple but not mutually exclusive) the work within these communities while offering alternative spaces to patriarchal structures also must undo the long historical and ever present internalizations of white supremacy still present among these counter cultures.
Francesca Lisette writes: “We cannot pretend wielding rhetorical power, even if only in the process of argument, does not risk preventing others from adequately expressing their own opinions—this is structural oppression and the nature of power itself […] I’m tired of the devaluing of emotional ties in political action, activism, discussion and theory.”
The Death card then as it relates to the Eight of Feathers seeks an ending to the devaluation of emotional labor and a rebirth of communication that upholds the rational and emotional as equally valued forms.
Following Goals, is position 4, is The Future card. This card offers a potential reality if the guidance of previous cards is put into action offering a manifestation. In this case we might consider the potential outcome of valuing emotional labor as that “constant reflection and self evaluation.”
I pull The Hermit. This is own of my favorite cards. The Hermit offers an internal wisdom a sort of light to guide oneself and others. The Hermit, according to The Collective Tarot, “asks ourselves to create a new container that can literally hold a new vision.” The Hermit is the wiser more experienced Fool. The Fool is number 0 of the Major Arcana and sometimes considered the protagonist of the Tarot. The journey from The Fool to The Hermit is the journey of looking inward.
The relationship of The Fool to the Hermit brigs to mind the relationship to subjectivity in queer poetics. The Hermit is a poetic subject holding the simultaneous journey of daily tangibility and the abstract. The state of being in a queer poetics requires constant reconfiguration. A queer poetics might offer a transformative subjectivity meaning that it is in constant motion and changing its position and formation to reflect the internalizations of the outside world.
The Collective Tarot continues its description of The Hermit, “She wears the key of transformation and a dagger to cut through illusion and she holds a tin lamp to illuminate our truth […] the real life hermit can be a subtle creature and may at first glance, seem preoccupied with the minutia of mundane life. But while she looks busy doing this and that, she is actually at work traveling the dark terrain of miracles and there is nowhere she wont go to see her truth.”
The Eight of Feather: self-imposed constraint, accountability, need for communication
The Hermit: introspection, inner guidance, wisdom