tarot · zine excerpts

Group Tarot Reading – 23/08/18

This is the complete transcript of a tarot reading I did for a new zine I’m working on.

Deck : Pacific Arcana
Spread : Custom 4-card cross

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1. Where we are :

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Knight of Pentacles :

This card represents a state of balance between inner well-being and outer (financial, physical) prosperity. It encourages you to find new ways to use your skills and assets to keep encouraging your growth. It also reminds you that personal growth is an active process which necessitates physical involvement on your part.
This is an important message at the end of the holidays when part of yourself might want nothing else than to be lazy and wait for time to go by. You need to keep investing in your own future, moments of balance can sadly disappear very quickly.

2. Where we want to go :

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The Empress :

The archetype of the Ruler as Caretaker, the Empress represents inner balance which materializes as support to others. This support you can offer will probably in large part be emotional, and you can expect it to be rewarded through deeper connections with the people you offer it to. Be careful, when trying to take on the role of the Empress, not to over-exert yourself : taking care of others should never happen at the price of your own happiness.
Considering we start our journey as the Knight of Pentacles, we should have enough stability right now to be a force of good in our relationships to others. This strength should never be taken for granted, however, so don’t forget to check in with yourself. The Empress is also about establishing relationships, and these go two ways. You have kindness to offer to other people, trust that they will reward you with the same and demand your due if they don’t.

3. First influence on the way

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Five of Pentacles (Worry) :

This card can represent either worry for other people, or anxiety. It warns against the fact that these feelings of fear can cloud our judgement, make us react too strongly or take decisions that are harmful to ourselves and others.
Considering our journey is one towards becoming the Empress, I think you should feel particularly watchful of moments in which you put other people’s emotional well-being over your own. Spending too much time worrying over others can lead you to ignore the signals your own body is sending you, and so to fall into a negative spiral that will render you unable to help anyone – yourself included. The Five of Pentacles also warns you that rationality is necessary when trying to assuage other people’s suffering.

4. Second influence
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Nine of Cups (Happiness) :

This card asks you to allow yourself to revel in moments of happiness. Taking time to enjoy a moment and be happy does not mean you are denying the responsabilities you have towards others. You can only cultivate happiness in the people around you if you are able to let it bloom within yourself. It is also a card that invites discovery. Seek out new hobbies, new opportunities, new people that can bring light into your life.

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bits & pieces

Hairy Summer Body

The summer days are here! And with them the promise of suffocating heat and random strangers staring at your body hair.

Imagine this:

It’s 29°C outside. You’re sweating all over, but there are groceries to be done. Since wearing only your underwear is frowned upon in public, you put on a super cute crop top and pants rolled up to the knees. You look awesome. You’re only semi-melting, as opposed to what you would be wearing jeans and a longer t-shirt.

You step outside, and the looks begin. You start wondering. Maybe they’re staring at you because of your awesome fashion sense? Or your extra punk undercut + dyed hair combo? You’re not wearing any make-up, so it can’t be your make-up. Is it because you look tired? Should you have put on make-up?

Let’s be honest, though. From the disgust in some people’s eyes, you know very well that what they’re staring at is your hairy legs and the happy trail on your belly.

Flash news people: even people with vaginas grow body hair, and sometimes they don’t shave it. And sometimes, when it’s hot, people want to go outside without wearing full-body armor. They don’t need you to point it out.

So yeah. I have feelings about my unshaved body hair. I have feelings because I know that in any public space that’s not feminist or queer I’ll probably be the only person read as female that has visible body hair. I’ll feel singled out, and sometimes made seriously uncomfortable. It’s not super cool.

But luckily there’s something you can do about it.

Don’t freak out: I’m not asking you to stop shaving if you don’t want to.

You enjoy shaving and it makes you feel good? Awesome for you. Keep on shaving if you want to. But, for the love of god, refrain from telling people around you how much you could never stop shaving because “it’s gross and ugly.”

1. Not shaving is perfectly healthy. Body hair is natural. You don’t see health professionals telling all unshaved men who come into their office that their lifestyle is unhealthy, do you?

2. Beauty is subjective! Also, other people’s beauty is none of your business!!! If shaving makes you feel pretty, by all means, do shave. But people who don’t shave don’t need your opinion about the aesthetic value of their body hair. Really. They don’t. And you won’t die because you held your tongue. Pinky promise.

You want to be an awesome person and make some random person on the internet (me) really happy and proud? Don’t just refrain from commenting on other people’s body hair, but call out the people around you who do. This is how we can normalize not shaving while still giving people the choice to shave or not. Personal choices over societal expectations!

Okay, but why is it important to normalize the choice not to shave?

Because femininely-read people who choose not to shave often face a lot of stigma. Despite having perfectly valid reasons for their choice! Also, because some people who would like to stop shaving lack the confidence to do so BECAUSE of stigma.

Nobody gains anything from this situation, except the shaving products industry.

Which leads me to my next point…

Why do people choose not to shave?

1. Anti-capitalism & ecology: Shaving products are part of an industry. Fashion and advertising have normalized shaving partly as a way to sell more products. Not shaving can be a political statement against mass-consumption of unnecessary products. It can also be a decision made in name of the environment: disposable razors need resources to be produced, and then are quickly thrown away to fill landfills. (Note to people who shave: you can find stainless steel razors with removeable blades! Better for the planet, and better for your wallet in the long term!)

2. Feminism: Feminism takes many shapes, and there’s no one way to “liberate women.” The goal of feminism should therefore not be to ban everyone from shaving. However, some people do see the act of not shaving as a feminist statement: they are protesting against the double standard of women facing stigma for refusing to shave, while men don’t have the same problem. It’s also a way to protest against the way society ascribes value to women based on aesthetic factors, i.e. how much you conform to the current/local beauty standards.

3. Mental health issues: Some people might not want or even be able to shave because of mental health issues. This is definitely a factor in my own decision to greatly reduce how much I shave. I don’t want to go in depth about it here, but put mental health problems next to razors and do the math.

4. Time: Let’s be honest. Shaving/epilating is time-consuming and not particularly fun. I would personally even call it annoying as hell. I just don’t find it worth it to invest so much time in something that doesn’t even make me happy.

5. Probably some other factors I haven’t considered: These first four reasons are the main ones that motivate my own (lack of a) shaving routine, but I’m sure other people have different ones. For example, I can imagine that shaving your legs must be pretty complicated for some disabled people, and those people might not want to have to pay for professional epilation services.

Super profesh outro~

Conclusion? No matter your reason, you should have the choice to shave or not. Sadly, that’s not the case right now, because the social stigma against hairy legs for women/feminine-presenting people is still very strong. For example, my parents still make me understand very clearly that they expect me to either shave or wear tights at family gatherings. I sometimes feel uncomfortable in public due to people staring at my body hair.

The truth is, things won’t change on their own. They won’t change until people start calling out each other’s bullshit. They won’t change until people start actively working to make public space a safer environment for everyone, no matter their beauty routine.

In the meantime, go enjoy the sunlight in whatever clothes make you feel confident. Or stay inside next to a fan. Your choice. I respect you.

poetry

Are You My Mother? – A Poetry Tryptich

(I’m trying something new here, this post will contain the three poems, then a personal discussion of them under the cut. Long post ahead, even with the cut.)

I. The Woman who Gave Birth to Me Wants Me Dead.

When I told my mother that I am not straight
She said it was a phase.
And when I told her I had a girlfriend
She said
Ouch.

She said
Ouch,
As if
By making it real,
By turning it into something
More than words,
I was physically hurting her,

I was driving a knife
From her heart
Through her ribcage
And in her entrails she revealed
A future that was pain.

And she forced me to look at it
And to see my own existence
Reflected in her bloody womb.

And she forced me to admit
That this was about her
And not about me
And that Truth doesn’t matter
If it goes against Beauty,
Beauty defined by the Norm
And the Norm defined by God.

From age 15 onwards,
I knew I would be a disappointment.
Not by virtue of failing school,
Of getting drunk
Or of going out.
Not by virtue of forgetting
To buy her a present
On the second Sunday of May.
I knew I would be a disappointment
By virtue of being me.

I was always told that being nice
Is the only way to be loved.
So every day
I forgot to tell my mother
That if I do not cry in public
It is because I keep my nails
Pressed to my skin,
And I forgot to tell her
That I haven’t owned a razor
Since I moved out for college.

But I have to admit that some days
I also forgot
Not to forget
To tell her I love her.

I was always told
That being nice
Would be enough.

So when I started hating her,
And when I started hating myself,
I left my body to decay,
Hoping that the rot would help me transcend
To a better human being,
To a nicer person,
To a more appropriate child,
To a good daughter.

Strangers keep telling me
That loving their mother
Is the most important thing
Children can do with their lives.
I believed them for a while.

But today I know better.

And today
I turn to all the kids
Who were told they’re not good enough
By the people who raised them not to lie,
Today I turn to all the kids
Who closed the door to their bedroom
And dreamed of getting away,
Today I turn to all the kids
Whose identity is a crime
Against the person who gave them birth;
And I say to them
– And to you –
That you can have one hell of a time in jail
But you cannot smile
If you’re dead.

II. AA Meeting: I Killed My Mom.

Todays I am all lies
And bad apologies
And I wish I could empty
A vodka shot without drowning

But I carry bad habits
Tattooed red
And writing this
Is the most honest thing I’ve done
Since waking up & sighing

And it has started hailing now
Not for the first time I wonder
If I can influence weather
And ponder how neatly these stones fit
Into Christian symbolism

I was taught Father-Son-Spirit
And maybe that should excuse
How I hurt my mother
Except I stopped believing in God
Long before discovering

Feminist theory
And my Sorry
Is broken echoes
Of vitriolic poems
My whole being is
Balancing act
And still I pretend to burn
Hypocrisy with Bibles
Likes it’s some kind of sober
Alcoholism

Today I am all lies
And bad apologies
And I wish I could empty
The vodka shot that tells me
I was never anything else

III. Can I Still Be Yours?

My mother says my name
With a hint
Of self-conscious laughter
But good intentions
& my trans body grows lips
Like wings of wax
So that finally I can speak
& kiss & be heard
& be loved in return.

How do you tell someone
That you forgive them
Without acknowledging
That they hurt you?

It took us hours of tears
Like spilled liquor at shitty bars
On nights like running mascara
Before getting the words out:
Sometimes you cannot see
The elephant crushing your kin;
But that doesn’t mean it isn’t
Filling up the room.

How do you tell someone
That you love them despite
Without acknowledging
You hate them a little?

My mother calls me the wrong thing
& my heart clenches up again
& I am running again
& my trans body once again
Feels like a cage
To keep the words trapped in
Like a thing that’s always
On the verge of
& never truly my own.

How do you tell someone
That you are hurt
Without acknowledging
That you deserve it?

I write about my mother
And the Sorry is like a drug,
Like a knife I take to my chest
Asking:
Can I still be yours?
Can we still be each other’s
Even if only as wounds?

How do you tell someone
That you want to try again
Without acknowleding
That you gave up first?

Continue reading “Are You My Mother? – A Poetry Tryptich”

bits & pieces

So I Have Panic Attacks.

18:20.

I arrived late to a class called “English: Language & Society” because the professor of my class called “Authors of the United States of America” refused to acknowledge the wristwatch lying on her table.

I arrived late, but I’m here now, trying to listen to the lecturer. Except I can’t focus. My brain feels fuzzy around the edges. My body is thrumming, monotonously humming, a guitar endlessly plucked, atoms trying to vibrate themselves apart.

18:21.

I pick up my Rescue Spray from my bag. Three sprays on the tongue, then fingers crossed, hoping it will be enough to side-step the oncoming panic attack.

The gesture is unremarkable to me. I had my first panic attack when I was 11, and started using the Bach flowers Rescue Spray a few years later. I used to start hyperventilating in the middle of classes in highschool.

The spraying-on-tongue is not a strange gesture, but it’s still one I perform with discretion.

Don’t bother your classmates. Don’t burden the people around you. Tell them you’re fine over raspy breaths. Go calm down in the hallway. Out of sight, out of mind.

18:27.

I’ve calmed down a little. I still can’t focus on what the professor is saying. Something about America. About mass shootings. I know the statistics better than her anyway.

I’m tired.

Not just of America and death and numbers. I’m anxiety-tired. Tired because shaking takes energy. Breathing takes energy. Staying alive takes energy, and what is anxiety except being hyper-alive in a painful way? What is being alive if not drowning in the instinct that you should be scared?

It usually doesn’t take me very long to calm down from panic attacks. If I can get myself to a quiet place where I can focus on my breathing without being bothered, I can pass as fine within ten minutes. I say “pass” as fine, because the real recovery time is much longer than that.

I usually feel exhausted for at least two hours after a bout of hyperventilation. If I can avoid a full-blown panic attack, focusing on calming down the symptoms before they peak, it’s probable I’ll recover in less than that.

Still, for the rest of the class, everything feels too loud, too bright, too painful. I get a headache. I feel a flower of pain blooming behind my left eye. I stay quiet.

What would I say if someone asked me what was wrong?

I don’t know, I’ve never been formally diagnosed.
You have to understand I’m not scared of anything in particular, except maybe the panic itself.
The risks of having an attack are higher if I’m tired, but dealing with an attack makes me tired, and I had plans for tonight, you know?
They used to take me by surprise but now I can usually feel them coming a few minutes beforehand.
I still don’t know what they mean.
I’ve got it better than a lot of people, they usually don’t interfere with my life that much.
I’m just a bit out of breath.

I’m fine.

Lying about it is an unremarkable gesture for me. I started doing it after my second panic attack. Before I even got the Rescue Spray.