Maranda and I were sharing tarot spread strategies last night as she lit candles for me and Lelly the Lionhearted; this morning we shared our one-card draw for the day.
Hers: The Magician. Oh hell yes! She exclaimed over text. I’ll take it!
Sweeeeeeet! I said. Here’s mine! … I drew: the Empress.
Maranda texted: HELL YEAH, WOMAN!
I was puzzled again. The Empress is usually that sort of overly-glorified maternal power that’s typically reduced to woman-only-valued-as-reproducer. Or in the more sexually explicit decks (of which there are a ton), she’s inevitably the boob fetish goddess. (Seriously, in one of the decks I have she’s got, like, twelve boobs. What the hell?)
After trading laughs about essentialist metaphors about being “pregnant with ideas” or “nurturing wisdom”, I just said, this is less relatable than the High Priestess right now. I have the maternal instinct of a tumbleweed. I get embodied theology and the wisdom of women’s experiences — all kinds of women, not just mothers and subjects of male sexual fantasies — but I’m not getting what the Empress is telling me today. Yeah, the full moon was last night, in Scorpio no less — and for Cancerian moonchildren like me, it’s a time for a shields-down vulnerability, which can be good or bad depending on the sign the moon’s in. (My moonchild best friend and I both agreed a full moon in Scorp night included bubble bath, whiskey, and the damn radio off.) So illumination, reflection, and fullness, and the height of our magical power as embodied women.,, yep, the metaphors I surely get, but my embodied knowledge most certainly doesn’t look the way it does in the Pagan moms I knew, who schlepped through festival campgrounds while their little ones swirled around their long skirts, grabbing the slices of watermelon their flower-festooned mama was handing out.
What do I do with this? I asked Maranda.
In her marvelous effusiveness , she said: Good food! Great joy! To notice your creature comforts (bubble bath and whiskey again) — and your beauty, your inherent and soft feminine power . She told me to get dressed and do my hair and dance to Lizzo.
Oh, yeah. Lizzo is the Empress.
We laughed. I’m still an emotional pincushion after these last few weeks, especially last week… I mean I rarely feel like stuff’s too much, but it was all too much…
Maranda said, being emotional is POWER. To hell with being a brick wall– to be soft, loving, empathetic? That’s a superpower so many wish they had!
That struck me. That’s my meditation today, I said to her. I totally needed to hear that. Gods, how often I’ve been taught that emotions are weakness… that they are “drama”, that they are outsized responses to situations, that they are openings for weapons of verbal abuse, that they need to be stifled in order to be taken seriously or professionally. All those goofy literary dichotomies of “emotional woman” and the “rational man” (as if!) still float around in our culture… but they actually are the release of our power…
That power makes you a champion for others, Maranda said. And a champion for your own feelings. It gives you the power to care about the generations ahead and behind you, aware of what’s above you and below you…
She asked: Want to see the best example of Empress and empathy power?
Of course, I said.
Then she sent me this picture of Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis, in our Cities, beloved Paganistan:
Oh my God, I gasped. Yes. Hell yes.
People took to the streets, Maranda said, not just for justice, but with compassion… with a call to all mothers everywhere.
I recalled a book in my possession by China Galland called The Bond Between Women: A Journey to Fierce Compassion. The author, a venerator of the Black Madonnas and the Black Tara, traveled the world looking for actual activist women who embodied the fierce compassion of the ferocious feminine deities of Vijrayana Buddhism… you know, those dancing, boogly-eyed, toothy, fiery wrathfuls that are often mistaken as demons. Galland met them, alright — women who rescued abandoned children, who set up schools in slums in opposition to the police, who planted trees on lots while forbidden by the government to do so, who stormed into meetings and argued with dictators… and she discovered not angry, tough-as-nails warriors, but ecstatically vulnerable, joyous, wounded-hearted women who knew the world would change with their work. It’s an amazing book, and it chronicles amazing spirits, stories and women around the world.
And I’m realizing that these compassionate, wrathful goddesses were dancing on Nicollet Mall, at George Floyd Square, and in both downtowns Minneapolis and Saint Paul. They were in the tears of those whose trauma finally had a release. And they were in the next-morning statements from all of us of: This was good. But we’re just getting started. There’s a long way to go. The Empress is that compassionate, emotional power that gives us the rest and renewal and strength and love to move the work on.
I am truly looking forward to a tarot depiction of this call to mothers, this fierce compassion, this wounded-heart full moon magic. Enough reclining matriarchs. The Empress is marching and dancing and wailing in Minneapolis.