What are the limits of the Tarot?

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Holistic Tarot

First, I want to say I have major respect for Benebell Wen. I think she is utterly brilliant when it comes to the occult as well as the Tarot and I would not be where I am in my own Tarot practice if not for her.

With that said, I do have quibbles with her stance on fortune-telling as articulated in her comprehensive and authoritative guide to the Tarot, Holistic Tarot, as well as an amendment to the text on her website (which I discuss below).

Benebell Wen begins Holistic Tarot by stating “I do not support fortune-telling and I do not believe in future-telling. My approach to tarot is not predictive. It is analytic. The signs and symbols of the cards facilitate the retrieval of information from the unconscious and move it to the forefront of the conscious plane of the mind, which can then help us form creative solutions.” (p. …


On the fallacy of thinking we’ve exorcised our racist demons

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Photo by Simone Fischer on Unsplash

First I want to clarify this essay is written for fellow white people, particularly white people who consider themselves to “not be racist”.

My thesis: white people think explicitly racist thoughts all the time.

Elaboration: white people who consider themselves “woke” ALSO think explicitly racist thoughts all the time.

The only difference between “real racists” like the KKK or your average MAGA-Trumper and white people who proclaim to be anti-racist is that we act differently in response to our thoughts. Moreover, the action I refer to here is both internal and external. Given our conscious thought is under voluntary control, we have a choice on how to internally respond to our own thoughts. This is an important battleground independently of how our thoughts translate to actual behavior. …


My nonbinary identity has led me down the twisting path of gender

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Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

I find myself thinking a lot about the balance of energies within myself, those that are constituted by what could be called the masculine and the feminine. As a nonbinary person, what does it mean to find balance within the gender binary? Is balance necessary? Does it necessarily have to be balanced to be composed in a beautiful fashion? Is it not enough to just exist along the spectrum, within the multidimensional space of gender? Can I put my thumb on the scales and still be nonbinary?

On a superficial level there is my appearance. I come off as vaguely feminine, with long hair and casually feminine gender expression. But there is also a harshness to my appearance, indicated in my voice and facial features, as well as my undercut, which is a deliberate move to inspire androgyny, to send off queer energy. This is to push the observer to a state of ambivalence that leans towards the feminine. Such a state is often a source of anxiety for me yet strangely it is also what is most comfortable. Such is nonbinary life. …


Why do we seek comfort in the cards?

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Photo by Jen Theodore on Unsplash

If you haven’t noticed, tarot is a worldwide phenomenon among young people. It has exploded in popularity with hundreds of decks being sold all over the internet and in real life, all bursting with creativity, diversity, and the modern push for inclusivity. Social media is filled with instagram posts and youtube channels dedicated to the tarot. People are doing readings on themselves and their friends and seeking professional readings. …


Working past cis normativity in a cis-centric world

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Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

What does it mean to “pass” as a trans person? Typically, it means to blend in the cis world, for nobody to be able to tell you are trans. For this reason, some people call it instead “cis-passing” to be more specific. It’s about coming off as something you’re not: a trans person appearing to be a cis person.

But that’s precisely the issue: why should cis people be the standard? When I walk into the grocery store it is not my intention to be somebody else. I’m just being myself. Yet if I pass, am I deceiving people? …


A few words of advice for those just getting started

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Photo by Joshua Ness on Unsplash

Passing isn’t the key to happiness

So this might be controversial but if your only goal in life is to pass then you are not guaranteed happiness when you achieve it. There are other things that are just as important: friendship, relationships, mental health, economic security, healthy hobbies, etc. While yes, passing is important to many to either relieve dysphoria or achieve safety, it is not the end-all-be-all of existence. There is more to life than just looking like a cis person. Cis people are not the gold-standard for everything. …


When it comes to gender, a little agnosticism isn’t a bad thing

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Photo by Andre Mouton on Unsplash

The typical narrative surrounding gender involves gnosticism, the idea that we all know our gender, or that we should know our gender. That we have justified true beliefs about who we are.

Decades ago, psychologists started thinking about gender in terms of a solidified identity that is cemented by around age 5, like learning a new language. This gender was locked into place and we either knew it or didn’t.

In the cis media, the “standard narrative” of trans people is that we have known our genders since a very young age. It’s often assumed that the younger you are when you realize you’re trans, the more valid your identity is. …


Turns out you can have one without the other and vice versa

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Photo by Andrew Wulf on Unsplash

I’ve always considered myself pretty nerdy. Except that my nerdiness wasn’t usually expressed in the typical medium of being obsessed with particular fandoms like Harry Potter, Marvel, and Star Trek. Instead, I was a nerd about philosophy, science, psychology, etc. That’s what I got really obsessed about.

But lately I’ve been thinking to myself: I need a pop cultural fandom to get interested in. In our modern pop culture dynamic, it seems like various fandoms rule the cultural world, especially big fandoms like Marvel or Star Wars.

Why? Why did I feel like getting involved in a fandom is necessary to be a nerd? Why would I even want to be a nerd? I think the fact that I am seriously asking these questions tells you volumes about where we are as a culture. Being a fandom nerd is no longer seen as necessarily a bad thing. …


Trauma porn and the cis media machine

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Photo by Aliyah Jamous on Unsplash

We’ve all seen it. The cis media loves to digest the trauma of trans people. It’s why you will see articles like “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy” in the New York Times but not “My New Vagina Is Awesome.” The latter is boring, the former is edgy.

I’m not saying it’s wrong for depressed trans people to tell their stories. Everyone deserves a chance to tell their story. But there’s a reason why the cis media loves a good misery narrative. …


“Everyone is female and everyone hates it”

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Verso books

Chu declares ethics to be “a commitment to a bit,” which tells you everything you need to know about her vision of feminism in this book. There is no real ethical seriousness. No fundamental ameliorative vision. It’s just misery through and through, with no political will.

Andrea Long Chu’s book starts off with a surprising claim: “Everyone is female,” followed immediately by another howler: “The worst books are all by females.”

She then follows this absurdity with a long list of everything that is “female,” including many obvious non-females, indicating that her statement is not to be taken at face value. She basically says every single person or thing is female. But if everything is female, how can that be a meaningful statement? …

About

Rachel Anne Williams

Author & writer, ex-academic philosopher. Author of Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics with @JKPBooks — Out now!

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