During the day, I ping pong back and forth between my social science and STEM classes. In both my Calculus and Physics courses, we work with raw numbers, drawing endless diagrams to somehow interpret a 3D plane on a piece of paper, recalling everything we learned in Calculus I, and doing direct applications of Trigonometric identities and the unique qualities of the angles and sides of triangles. I take a lot of comfort in these classes, especially since finding a community of brilliant women of color, and feel a level of emotional connection and comradery to the other femmes in our classroom. We gush over our favorite albums, Solange’s newest release in particular, and bond over the common struggle of being brown/black and femme in spaces full of toxic masculinity and suffocating whiteness. We check each other’s work, never failing to share our answers with one another and talk through our processes. After full days of analytical thinking and processes, I come home at the end of the day to a house that smells like sage and palo santo, shedding my hard exterior and allowing myself to be centered for the first time that day.
More and more, holistic health is what’s been keeping me sane and grounding me through one of the roughest couple of weeks at school. I’m still pinching pennies, almost always on a verge of a breakdown whenever I think about the hoops I’ve had to jump through to receive the blood money that continues to add to the weight of my ball and chain. As someone who’s lost in the world of equations, diagrams, and the language of math and physics, digging deeper into myself has been the relief that’s keep me level-headed and able-bodied to tackle the stress of school. More recently, I’ve started to soften my hard exterior and let people in, connecting emotionally and spiritually with the ones I love through gifting blessed crystals and interpreting their cards. The practice and art of tarot in particular has kept me not only in tune with myself but those around me, reaching a deeper meaning of self and love for those around me.
Tarot reading works as spiritual therapy. Someone is entrusting me with their fate and problems in a way most people will never experience. The emotional connections I’ve had every person whom I’ve read their cards for, regardless of how well I know them, hangs as the cards force you to look and feel deeper. The act of chance and fate within tarot itself is what’s so unnerving but effective, since my role is simply interpretation. The energy of the cards themselves, as the individual allows themselves to bond to them, is what guides a person. Tarot is more about the person being read digging into themselves in a way they never had before, with the interpreter regulating the energy of the cards and making their overwhelming power and knowledge digestible, cut into bite-sized pieces.
Whether or not anyone believes in tarot isn’t my concern. I don’t do tarot because I expect some kind of validation from those around me, and I especially keep it hidden from the cold, stone-faced world of STEM. I do tarot for the emotional connection it brings with those around me. Every single person I’ve read has reached some kind of clarity and emotional relief when doing tarot. It could be that it’s simply a deck of cards that just have clever, open ended meanings. It could be that tarot is complete bullshit, with no mathematical basis to prop it up in the world of STEM. It could be that I’m just very good at reading from a tiny book of explanations. Tarot is less about whether or not it’s true but more so about what it does do: heal.
Tarot forces the interpreter and the one getting a reading to talk through their problems. Tarot forces you to take a long hard look at yourself, pushing for change and growth. It gives comfort to the direction you’re taking with your life, or guides you to a new path and chapter of life. That’s what’s so special about tarot; regardless of who you are and what you believe, it cradles your heart and helps to give you some sense of direction moving forward. Tarot, whether or not it’s “real”, is the most emotionally vulnerable, grounding kind of coping mechanism one could take up.
I probably won’t tell my friends in STEM that I do readings anytime soon, since it’s hard enough to be brown and femme in those spaces, but it’s not something I’ll actively hide and tuck away. Tarot has helped me round myself out and lower my anxiety down to a happy, functional level, better than any medication or therapy session ever has.I look forward to the people I’ll meet because of my readings, and those I have yet to help guide and comfort, as I continue to carve out what spirituality means for a brown femme like myself, caught up in the world of stars and planets.