let yr freak flag fly: on recovery, feelings, magic, & Tarot

Throughout my recovery, I’ve been reconnecting with my teenage self. I still have some objects that were in my bedroom when I was thirteen. I have the first book about witchcraft I’d ever read and practiced from, some little stones I’d gathered from a witchy shop without remembering their purposes, memories of the ill-fitting band t-shirts I wore (in particular, I recently remembered one of my Coal Chamber t-shirts; it said “LET YOUR FREAK FLAG FLY” on the back and it made me so happy).

When I was fifteen, I bought my first deck of Tarot cards, and I tried to teach myself how to read them alone in my little lavender bedroom filled with pictures of Marilyn Monroe and Marilyn Manson on the walls, sitting atop my twin bed which had been detached from the bunk beds my twin and I shared when we were kids (I slept on the bottom bunk because it felt cozy, hidden, secretive). Back then, I had no friends who were into Tarot (no friends at all, actually), no internet access, no weird used bookstore with an occult section hidden at the back, and I’d never made a zine; no ways of learning what I wanted to learn, or even being able to name what I wanted to learn seemed available to me. I had a couple of books about Tarot and other oracles, but they were too complicated for me to understand at the time.

For a long time, I gave those things up. I’ve spent most of my life being conditioned to think that everything I think, feel, want, is wrong, and magic is something I had to leave to behind to survive. Although I got rid of the Tarot decks I’d begun to collect as a teenager when I left my hometown, I held onto those crystals; I also held onto my rage, my trauma, and my alienation. But so many of the ways I found to survive stopped working; they burned me out and isolated me. So I’ve returned to magic.

After realizing last year that I’d created a life that my teenage self would have adored but my current self was unsatisfied with, I knew I had more work to do. I still have this obsession with the objects of my youth, this gratitude that I have a kind of personal power that I could not attain back then, and yet, I was still so acutely unhappy. When I imagined all the things my teenage self would want by this age (my own little apartment, purple hair, published books, etc), I forgot one thing: feelings. Back then, the possibility of feeling loved, validated, empowered, blessed was outside of my realm of imagination – it was so far away, I didn’t even know I could dream it up, let alone work toward creating the causes and conditions to feel those feelings.

But lately, I’ve been reconnecting with my teenage self in different ways, and seeing new possibilities for creating a life worth living for me back then, and for me today. I remember being told that I felt too much back then, that I was too sensitive – so as an adult, as a traumatized Libra, I developed the skill of turning off those feelings altogether. They were so inconvenient. I learned how to not feel at all, but when I did (and do) feel, it was still too much. It’s only very recently that I’m learning how (or re-connecting with my forgotten ability) to feel without being overwhelmed, without hurting myself. I feel like I’ve found this big treasure chest inside me that I’d forgotten I’d buried so long ago!

On July 31st, with the Full Moon / Blue Moon in Aquarius, a true weirdo moon for real, I released my Tarot readings to the universe!

Justice, Libra’s birth card, and the scales on amethyst, for healing, balance, and psychic intuition.

You can now book a Tarot reading with me at schoolformaps.etsy.com!

Tarot is one of the many paths I’m wandering through my process of healing from trauma, mental illnesses, and chronic pain & illness. This is a life-long path, in which I am more likely to be “recovering” than “recovered.” Tarot has offered me access to the wisdom, guidance, and magic I may not have found on my own, and it has new lessons and reminders for me everyday. For me, Tarot offers incredible insight; sometimes a gentle nudge in a new direction, sometimes a rug pulled out from under my feet, and often, more questions. Tarot can be a validating and magical way of taking care of ourselves, understanding ourselves and our surroundings, offering an escape route when we’re feeling stuck, and comforting us when we’re feeling lost.

There are infinite questions to ask the Tarot! My intent is to be open, validating, and encouraging in my readings with you. You may have questions related to creativity, spirituality, recovery, self-care, friendship, relationships, boundaries, healing, self-expression… whatever! I’m here to search for the answers with you, to nurture your inner weirdo, and help you feel more at home with yourself!

My copy of The Practice of Witchcraft: An Introduction to Beliefs and Rituals of the Old Religion by Robin Skelton, a witch who died the year after his book was given to me.

This book was passed onto me from a friend who’d been given the book by her aunt but, luckily for me, wasn’t interested. I used it to start a coven with three of my friends in junior high, whose parents eventually forbid them to talk to me, which did nothing good for my precarious mental health, and I’m still learning about the impacts those situations have had on my current understanding of my health and my psyche.

The Ace of Bones, Nine of Keys, and Seeker of Feathers in The Collective Tarot. What a reading!

I’ve been keeping up my daily ritual of writing gratitude lists. Some of the things I’ve been feeling grateful for lately are: the astrology fundamentals course I was able to take; writing 1,000 words for my next zine; learning about crystals; daily Tarot readings; bumping into friends around the city; feeling re-energized rather than drained after talking to friends; community acupuncture; sunshine; 99 cent nail polish at Honest Ed’s; $2 pizza slices; talking to my twin a whole lot; remembering my dreams; sobriety; getting rid of stuff I no longer need, putting it out on the sidewalk, and watching it disappear; resisting apathy & cynicism; delightful encounters with strangers; butterflies that fly in through my windows and land on my body; femme solidarity; the images captured below!

***quick little content note for self-injury below the photos, as I’m celebrating one-year without cutting myself & wanted to talk about it a little***

The infamous, elusive white squirrel of Trinity Bellwoods Park in Toronto, Ontario! Some people don’t believe this magical creature even exists, but this weird little squirrel hung out with me for like half an hour on a sunny Saturday morning. A truly special moment for me!

A bunch of crystals gathered on my windowsill.

Zines! This is my table at yesterday’s Midsummer Pop-Up Fundraiser for Toronto Queer Zine Fair, who are raising money toward the costs of hosting an accessible zine fair on Saturday, October 17th! This was the first zine thing I’ve attended for I-don’t-know-how-many-years without having a panic attack, getting a headache, or feeling sick & gross in general. A weird, delightful, new experience!

Oh! And tomorrow night, I will be celebrating one whole year without cutting myself by going to a Marilyn Manson and Smashing Pumpkins concert! A magical experience for both 13-year old me & approaching-30 me! I have lots of complicated feelings about cutting and self-injury, as you know, and while I don’t believe cutting is necessarily unhealthy, and is definitely not bad or wrong or negative or shameful or embarrassing or immature or any of those things that we’re supposed to think it is, one-year cut-free is still a very important date for me to celebrate. As you may know, I started cutting myself when I was eight, and this became a pretty regular survival skill for the next twenty years of my life. So, I’m welcoming myself to a strange, new phase of my life by honouring my past, honouring the music that kept me alive, honouring the skills that kept me alive even (or especially) the ones I no longer need. Onward!

Magic-makingly Yours,

P.S.: If you’ve benefited from my writing in any way – if my words have inspired you, helped you feel less alone, or sparked some weird feeling within you; if you’ve felt encouraged, or curious, or comforted – please consider compensating me by offering a donation of any amount. Whether you’ve been reading my writing for years, or just stumbled into me this afternoon, I invite you to help me sustain the process!

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