Cards of Anarchy

Often, we come to tarot when we face a challenge.

We pull a series of cards to help us contemplate the next step.

Political chaos is no different.

Part of what makes tarot such a powerful healing tool is its emphasis on personal power, resources, choices, opportunities. 

With that, it sometimes gets lost in the sauce that we are tasked with the responsibility to extend that knowledge, that power, beyond ourselves and show up in our communities.

For example, let’s say you’re feeling rightfully distraught by the weekend’s (ahem, the past several years, decades, centuries) political turmoil. You pull some cards hoping to find a way to navigate. 

The Tower comes up.

“Of course,” you remark. 

This energy has Tower vibes written all over it. The chaos. The upheaval. The detriment. The despair. 

You nod, roll your eyes, and sigh, unemphatically, receiving the card as validation of your feeling of crisis. You shuffle the cards back in the deck.

But what if there was more? What if The Tower had layers of meaning, not just poignant insight to current events, but a message about what to do?

It’s important to remind yourself that the cards are not one dimensional. That they have layers of meaning and the context of your question, your situation, adds more and more depth each time you pull them.

What if The Tower was not just an agent of chaos but an agent of change?

What if the lightning bolt was not a message for your life and how you feel, but impetus to strike while the iron is hot? To destroy what was built and let the high and mighty fall? What if this card was calling you out about your place in this system and what you can personally do to activate change?

More on this card later, but The Tower is not the sole card that can give you insight about how to dismantle systems.

I could make an argument that every single card in this deck has a message of anarchy – how to topple systems, how to create mutual aid, how to use our personal sphere of influence to make change, how to open our minds.

But there are a few that really stand out for me. Meditate on them, or consider alternative interpretations when pulled.

WHEEL OF FORTUNE

I know, I know. Isn’t this a card of good luck? Of favorable times? Not necessarily. When the wheel turns, the tides change. This is the ultimate card of revolution. Before the tarot was a tool of divination, it began as a collection of art, commissioned by the wealthy. There is a theory that the artists were revolutionary themselves, and certain cards indicated a satirical commentary on wealth and power. The Wheel of Fortune is one of those presumed cards. That it did not represent coming into more fortune, but the opposite, that those with all of the money and power would lose it.

Possible interpretations:

  • change direction in how you are participating/showing up in community
  • to stop setting sites on stories about those in power, which gives them more power. instead shift focus toward how to give attention to more
  • start the revolution where you are: What are ways you contribute to upholding the system? What is one way you can stop contributing to it? What are ways you can create change in your sphere of influence?
  • turn over the wheel to someone else/use your privilege to release your power and control, give access to more people
  • create sustainable donations to causes
  • redistribute resources

THE EMPEROR

When the tarot originated, Emperors ruled. To place this card in the deck inherently speaks of authority, of power, of “the way things are,” and the big ass foot that we all must shrink under. It gives me vibes of legal matters, so policy, legislation, law, etc. I also think of those in power, especially elected officials.

Possible interpretations

  • learn who is in power at local levels
  • learn about policies and legislation that is showing up and how 
  • research people running for office that represent more change/who are actually doing the work, not just talking about it
  • if you are a lawyer or policymaker, how can you contribute your skills and resources?
  • organize, join organizations, join unions, support causes, contribute to anarchist or abolitionist causes
  • support abolitionist businesses in major ways, sustainably
  • become a better leader, make sure your people have what they need to succeed

THE HIEROPHANT 

Even just looking at the image itself in the Rider Waite Smith deck, we see a problematic story. It appears that someone is in power, raising a hand to perhaps command, and there are people at the character’s feet. It speaks to imbalances of power, about following, about obeying. To me, it’s like a zoom out of the The Emperor, it’s how that power affects the people. To receive this card to me, begins a challenging but liberating process of critical thinking.

Possible interpretations

  • unlearning systems and conditioning: what can also be true beyond what you’ve been told/taught?
  • find new teachers that are different than what you’ve learned so far
  • zoom out your own lens of the issue beyond yourself, how will some of the things you believe impact people from different viewpoints, accessibilities, opportunities. How are you upholding the systems of oppression by following what you’ve been told?
  • notice if you are idolizing a politician or influencer or celebrity
  • if in a position of trust with people with any kind of power: economic, political, influence, how can you use your proximity to advocate and demand change

The Hierophant also has connections to two other cards in the deck, The Devil and The High Priestess that I find interesting

THE DEVIL

In the Rider Waite Smith deck, I like to imagine the sequence of The Emperor, The Hierophant, The Devil, as a continual zooming out of the situation. The Devil and The Hierophant have uncanny similarities. As we grow, we begin to see a bigger and more complex picture of authority and systems. First we see the authority, then our dependence on it. With The Devil, we break the illusion that the systems of power are for the greater good of all. By staying complacent in it, we further chain ourselves to a life and society of trusting people that are devils in disguise, that actively cause harm. Our support of them causes harm.

Possible interpretations:

For me, many of them are the same as the Hierophant, but more intense. 

  • indication that you have not separated from the harmful powers
  • more interconnected to the systems than we realize
  • in relationship with harmful people or agencies
  • speak the truth that you know of said people or agencies
  • acknowledge your own toxic and harmful behaviors, wrongdoings
  • break cycles of oppression

THE HIGH PRIESTESS

This is another card that potentially could have got under the skin of those in power. Originally named The Popess, the positioning of this card, coming as number two in the Major Arcana, while The Hierophant, formerly known as The Pope, came later at card number 5. This is unsettling – to not only bestow authority to a “woman,” but place this person ahead of the Pope? Radical. 

Possible interpretations

  • knowledge is power
  • research history of leaders and people our society deems as heroes or leaders 
  • research who is leading behind the scenes, both in radical progressive ways, but also in harmful ways
  • research from reputable sources (not bloggers, not influencers, not doctors/politicians paid to peddle misinformation) about the legislation, health, and what our rights actually are 
  • step up as a leader in your sphere of influence in the way that makes the most sense and supports the change agents already doing the work
  • shake up your system of leadership: how can you ensure people are being heard and access is equitable?

THE TOWER

To me, this is the most obvious card about dismantling systems. It really can read simply as a validation of the chaos and crisis we feel, however. It’s important to not get swept up in the despair, but to see it as a guide to something better. This would only be part of the point. For me, this card can also represent the falling of the system, the breaking of our own apathy, the catalyst for change.

Possible interpretations

  • being radical and unapologetic where able: this is especially the responsibility of those with privilege
  • sacrificing own comfort/using your own privilege for the benefit of the greater good
  • doing or supporting anarchist and abolitionist work
  • calling out people in power for their wrong doings, sharing your stories
  • calling yourself out, accepting consequences of actions, taking corrective action
  • land back. Reparations.
  • breaking ties with family and friends who discriminate and actively perpetuate oppression
  • channeling rage into sustainable, actionable commitment to change in your community

These are just some cards I interpret as anarchist. Every card in the tarot deck could be observed and read as a commentary or call to action about dismantling systems–and it’s possible they were intended to do just that. 

Just like with any reading, at the end of the day, it’s up to us to trust the insight and actually take action. The cards are the catalyst – you are the action.

%d bloggers like this: