This is my meditation tree, it’s a good place. We chose to shoot the Knight of Pentacles. Or the Apprentice of Bones in the Collective tarot. I feel like I didn’t choose this card, as it chose me. It’s been showing up for my constantly for the last few years and it feels like good friend abut also it is me because it seems like the obvious choice. It feels like this is the life stage for me, and big part of the personal growth work I’ve been doing in terms of really studying and really learning Earth. That stable foundation in my life of my body and my household and my job and feeding myself. All those really tangible things. In the Collective Tarot the image is of a deer, and he’s studying the anatomy of the deer, so it’s also the process of studying of myself in a very embodied way. In the last year especially, but this last year I’ve finally actually started doing it consistently. That earth stuff, I started a new career this year, I moved at the end of last year, so I have this new house with this family and we live together.
One of the really tangible way [learning earth] is I started bouldering, rock climbing. I’ve never really done a sport that used my body in that way, and so it has been really neat to get to know my musculature and skeleture and my fear. It’s been a really earthy thing to learn. When we originally shot this card we were in the forest just north of Squamish, in a place called Evans lake, on the territory of the Squamish people, now we are further south in the city in Central Park in Burnaby which is in the Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh & Musqueam lands.
If someone pulled my card in a reading, the first thing that comes to mind is that it’s about work but it’s not about toil. There’s stuff you got to do, and it not stuff to think about or to just to pray on. This is a doing action card. And it’s also not stuff you’re going to finish – you’re not going to finish feeding yourself. It stuff you probably already do and will continue to do, and for me it’s getting better at that, doing it better and having it be easier. Doing it more intentionally. So self care as self love instead of self care as self flagellation. One of the most tangible things that is important to me with self care is, which allows everything else to happen is “Go outside”.
“Go outside Andrew, you have to go outside.” And best case scenario that means coming to a place like this, coming to a some big trees or the woods. Even walking to the train, walking to the grocery store. Going outside I’m going to get dressed, put my shoes on. I’m probably going to shower beforehand, all the things that go into “going outside”, and once I’m outside, maybe not everything is better, but I’ll probably get some food, I’ll get a bit of exercise, and by the time I’m done going outside, I’ve checked off a lot of things on the list. Especially in the forest, the forest is a lot bigger thane, it holds a lot more than me, it can decompose more than any of the stuff I’m worried about. So it feels like theres space, to not even let go of, but just be present with all that is going on in my life, and it’s not too much. Maybe it’s too much for me as an individual on my own, but I don’t have to be an individual on my own all the time.
I think a queer tarot deck is important to me because if I hadn’t found one, I probably wouldn’t be into Tarot. My first exposure to tarot at all was the collective tarot, and on it I saw images of people like me, and communities like me, and places where I was from and the types of magic that I like. It’s very queer and very intersectional and very pacific north west, and very much about ‘found magic’. Keys and bottles, bones and feathers. Which is very different to your standard Rider Waite historical, very straight and upright medieval looking figures with wands and chalices and horses. Which is fine, but it’s just not my life at all. But now I can look at those and go oh that’s a card like this card that I know. The card that I know, is my life, so I sort of work backwards. So having a deck with queer representation in it, or images that I see myself in, allowed me to get into tarot, and tarot is great. It’s a powerful tool for self learning and self reflection, and magical dialogue, that I wouldn’t necessarily have had otherwise.
Thinking of the reversal of this card, made me think of a couple of things right away. One was the self care thing taken to unhealthy extremes. Working out is a great thing to do, but 7 days a with severe body dysmorphia and never being able to have your body the way you want it is maybe not as great. All the negative extremes. The other thing it made me think about is the cult of self care that we have where you’re expected to do it all yourself. There is all these thing you have to care for you and you have to do them by yourself and if you’re not, you’re not as good. A good example of that for me – I was living on my own for a few years, and I love cooking and I love cooking for other people, and I’m bad at cooking for just myself. I always beat myself up about that, it’s not like I didn’t know how to or that I didn’t have access to the resources to get food. I had all of that, and yet I still wasn’t doing it. In this past year when I have been living with my family, one of the people I live with does almost all of the cooking for all of us, and I’ve been eating really well and healthy and in ways I feel really good about. And part of that was accepting that maybe I can’t do all of that by myself all the time. Breaking out of that western individualism. It’s ridiculous because there’s all sorts of things where we just assume people will help us but we don’t think about it. Like having roads, and having busses and logistics systems to get food into the city. Those are all things we can’t do on our own, but those aren’t moral failings. I can’t grow all my own food – yea that’s fine, but “Oh you’re not cooking for yourself?!”
I would say to my younger self that some of these physical earthy practices are always going to be hard for you and some of them you’re going to get a lot better at, and some of them you’re going to learn ask for help for. Start working on them! And start working on asking for help.
The woods we’re in right now are a particularly queer part of the woods, because it is a cruising place. One of my favourite things is to wander the woods during the late afternoon in summer, and just listening to the sounds of the forest, and seeing men moving through the woods, feeling my body, and other bodies and the warmth of the sun. Maybe there’s ripe black berries or huckleberries, and it just hits on so many things. I’m in my body. I’m in the forest. I’m connecting with other bodies. I’m indulging in sweet things. The last thing about this card for me is that it is grounded in curiosity, he’s not learning about it because he has to, he’s learning about it because he wants to.*
*Transcription of Audio Interview