Being an ✨Astrology Girlie✨ is fun
How I got into magick, astrology and tarot, and a couple of tips if you're interested too. If you don't like woo-woo witchy stuff, skip this one :)
On Sundays, full and new moons, and significant events it has become a common sight in the Ruby household to see me tidying up, lighting my favorite candles or incense, putting on a playlist that corresponds to the vibes I want to emulate, and then shuffling up a deck of tarot cards in preparation of a reading related to whatever is going on at that moment. Bjorn doesn’t care, David glances over sometimes curious about what’s prompting the reading this time. For me, it’s a ritual that makes me feel calm, connected, and deeply curious.
I never really grew up religious. I can count on one hand the number of church services we attended during my childhood. I have my issues with organized religion in general, but I do believe in the power of community, shared values, and ritual and totally get why we have these institutions in society. I just wish they weren’t so easily corrupted. And I feel like as I got older I desperately wanted to be more connected to something. Growing up white in the Midwest suburbs, I was surrounded by families either deep in Evangelical territory or Protestantism and there was no dominant culture outside of religion, race and consumerism. If you weren’t part of that kind of institution, and you’re about 4 or 5 generations removed from your immigrant ancestors who all assimilated to gain access to the privileges of whiteness, there wasn’t really any other centralized community out there besides the Nuclear Family. That’s the whole point of capitalism and white supremacy, right?
I think that’s why paganism, mysticism, spirituality and New Age ideas can seem attractive to people coming out of the fog. But without deconstructing whiteness, hierarchal thinking, and capitalism, it easily becomes a pipeline to QAnon, the Alt-Right and other toxic, racist outshoots of what people were wanting to escape from in the first place. It can be rife with appropriation and misinterpretation. I didn’t want that! So I think I got into my own practice with a degree of skepticism and wanted to figure out what would be best for me, without being harmful to others, and it’s an ongoing process of deconstruction.
Diving into the world of Magick
So with all of that said, I’ve been on a dedicated journey for a few years now, and I’ve found a lot of meaning through it and I’ve had a lot of fun. It’s become a way to creatively express myself and connect to my ancestors and others. I think there are three main parts to my practice today, and I’ll break down each.
Connecting with my ancestors and heritage through genealogical research and reading about folk traditions from the areas they’re from to help inform my practice in an authentic way that doesn’t borrow or bastardize practices from other cultures I’m not a part of.
Connecting with my astrological chart (focusing on Hellenistic Astrology), keeping up with the moon, and relating the phenomenon to the world I experience around me. It’s also a way to introduce seasonality to my day-to-day life and routines.
Connecting my intuition to the journey and archetypes in Tarot (particularly in the RWS tradition) and using those as a lens to view different life situations through for creative problem solving.
Through those I’ve developed my own little rituals that get me into the right mindset and help me feel a deeper connection to the practice. I’m still very much learning, but it’s interesting to be in a spot I saw others in just a few years ago! I’ve been asked how to learn more about both tarot and astrology now! I feel a responsibility to ensure I’m still learning as well as continuously deconstructing and decolonizing my practice so that when I do share my experience or advice with others getting into this, I’m not spouting BS.
The Roots of the Family Tree
As I was diving into the world of magick and building out my own rituals, I was connected to more and more resources and content around folk magic and traditions. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t appropriating from closed practices, and I wanted to find a deeper meaning and connection in my own. I wanted to know who my ancestors were before they assimilated in America a few generations back. What were their home practices and beliefs?
I started building my family tree on FamilySearch, and throughout it all, I kept notes of all the towns and villages my family came from, and then would look them all up on Google Maps. I feel more familial connection to the side of my family that’s German, so I started diving into that history as a start (although I’ll get to the other branches at some point!). This side came over in the early to mid 1800s which makes it a little challenging to find out more information since most of them would’ve been long deceased in my living family’s memory. The hard part of German ancestry while researching the folk traditions of specific areas is that a lot of it was wiped or distorted during the late 1800s and Nazi era as Germany manufactured a national ethnic identity. So not only do you have to deconstruct the American tradition of assimilation and white supremacy, but then you have to deconstruct the unforgiveable horrors of Nazi, fascist Germany, and then hundreds of years of antisemitism before that.
On more of the folk tradition side, Germany has an interesting history with Catholicism through the Holy Roman Empire and Protestantism (have you heard of Martin Luther?). Most families would subscribe to a flavor of those with their own local/family beliefs and traditions mixed in. I’m pretty sure this side of my family would’ve been Catholic because living descendants are or grew up Catholic. But digging into specific traditions they might’ve had is complicated. The Grimm Brothers don’t help this investigation further because their Romantic-era story collections are a mix of adapted German parables taken out of context from the areas and ethnic groups they came from (which, surprise, surprise, the Nazis definitely used these to progress nationalism and promote antisemitism). Overall, this experience has been sifting through a lot of information with nuance and leaving me with more questions than answers. It would help if I could read German too!
Through this research though, I’ve found some cool resources! I’ve found content creators much further down this path into Germany folk tradition like a.hearth.witch, @de_spoekenkyker and @Hexmarie. I also found this great anthology of translated folklore organized by specific German areas with helpful context added to the footnotes! Because it’s straight translations of any documented stories found, you can kind of glean some of the folk traditions and beliefs. I’ve loved reading some of those stories and feeling connected to my ancestors who probably knew of them or shared them around the table or hearth.
All this to say, is that if you do plan on starting your own journey into magick, especially if you are also a white person, I think it’s wise to start with your own family traditions and heritage. It’s important to learn the backgrounds and foundational values of the traditions you want to be a part of! But you also need to reclaim and decolonize those traditions as well! Just because they’re old or ancestral, doesn’t mean they’re perfect and good! Romanticism, antisemitism, imperialism, and racism did a number on folk traditions for hundreds of years. Know that your ancestors have complicated and nuanced histories, they won’t be perfect, and they likely were harmful. But through examining and learning from the past, we get to heal generational traumas and harm, and work towards building a more just world and culture. This is asuccinct and informative video from @Hexmarie who I mentioned above which puts it way better than I ever could!
Just doing whatever the planets tell me to do
Before I got into it, I think I had the typical amount of interaction most people have with astrology. I’d read my horoscope from time to time for fun. I’d look up if my sun sign was compatible with my crush’s. I’d notice when the moon was full and heard teachers complain that it was making kids act feral. I had a scary accurate horoscope one time that actually prompted me to keep the plans I had for a first date (spoiler alert: I’m now married to that guy).
Once I started getting FOMO of all my friends who understood their signs and charts, I got intentional about learning my own! I started by saving my chart to my phone as a shortcut. I personally like Astro-Charts. Then anytime a Tiktok or some other content came up talking about a specific house, planet, or sign, I’d pull up my chart to see how that information would relate.
Some time later, I read Chani Nicholas’s book You Were Born for This. It’s a quick read on how to understand your chart, the planets, the houses and placements. I think her content is a good stepping stone, and I like her app for the weekly readings specific to your rising sign as well as recommended rituals. She’s popular for a reason!
I’m the same way with astrology as I am with tarot (that I’ll get into below too), but I don’t necessarily think it’s making strong predictions of the future or controlling all of our lives. I’ve heard it explained well before (can’t remember from where, probably Chani Nicholas) that it’s like a weather report. Weathermen aren’t controlling the weather when they say it’s going to be rainy, they’re just reporting on the patterns and conditions that they’re seeing and making predictions based on past experiences with the same patterns and conditions. Astrologers are doing a similar thing. And like with tarot, astrology is based on very human behaviors, milestones and archetypes we all encounter throughout our lives. That’s why it’s so relatable and feels scary accurate!
I could do multiple posts all dedicated to different thoughts on astrology, but I’ll end this section with a couple of tips I’ve found helpful along this journey.
Create your chart and make it easy to access! Use whatever app or website you like! Bring it up whenever you think about it or when the stray astrology content comes across your Feed or FYP.
I downloaded a phases of the moon app that comes with a widget you can keep on your home screen. I use this to stay aware of the different phases of the moon and build corresponding routines and rituals. I tend to do tarot spreads with themes that align to the sign the new or full moon is in.
Practically apply what you learn. As you familiarize yourself with the planets and signs, start finding ways to integrate the knowledge and themes in your life. I created a couple of moon related playlists that are based on the type of energy of that phase. I do tarot spreads based on the themes different astrological happenings. I’m in my first Saturn Return, so I’m finding ways to integrate the lessons of that (the tarot class I took and this newsletter in particular are a couple manifestations of it so far). You could also use the phases of the moon for gardening or other practices!
Beware of pop astrology. Astrology content and memes are a lot of fun, and I enjoy them! It’s important though to be aware of different astrological traditions and how Western astrology can differ from Hellenistic astrology, Vedic astrology, and many other astrological traditions from different cultures around the world and time. As I’ve learned more, I realize that modern, Western astrology does somewhat get ego-centric and oftentimes is a little toxically positive. I think it’s important to be careful with content creators who are borrowing from a lot of different traditions or try to spin every aspect, planet, or transit in a positive way. We want to avoid appropriation and baseless interpretations. Astrology is a powerful tool for self-examination and awareness, so don’t shy away from the more negative traits and aspects, and don’t take everything at face value without digging in a little deeper.
A Fool’s Journey into Tarot
On a whim in early 2021, I bought my first deck of tarot cards. I’d do frequent Thinking, Feeling, Doing pulls, and would look up the meanings of the cards online as I went. I never felt super confident with my interpretations, but felt like I had a start and it was fun to see what stories I could tell with the cards. Since then I’ve read a couple of books related to the symbolism and meanings, participated heavily in a fun Slack channel dedicated to magick where we often share our pulls and interpretations (shout out to the AP :) ), and I took a 6-week tarot class for beginners earlier this year. I think that class was a turning point as it added structure and accountability to my learning and helped me get a better sense of how to use a mix of intuition, visualization, and general knowledge to find my own meanings and interpretations of the cards.
I personally don’t think the cards predict the future, although some people use tarot as a divination tool which is totally cool! For me, it’s a way to look at situations through different lens. It’s just like in English class, you can evaluate books through different theories. You can dissect The Great Gatsby though Marxist, Queer (I’m a Nick is in love with Gatsby truther), or Feminist perspectives, and gain new insights and meanings each time you turn it over in a new light. When you apply tarot to your life, I think of it as creative problem solving because you’re taking a look at your situation or questions from a forced perspective with its own paradigm and norms and seeing what meanings you derive from that practice.
The Rider-Waite-Smith tarot tradition is based on the “Fool’s Journey” which is a story of how we grow up and move through life, and the teachers, lessons and archetypes we all meet along the way. It’s the process of self-actualization and knowledge. Of course it feels relatable, coincidental, and maybe even prophetic, because it’s made up of incredibly recognizable life themes, patterns, and imagery. Even without the divination element, I think the practice is still meaningful and powerful because the understanding we get from it brings us closer to ourselves and the world around us.
I did a year ahead spread for 2023, and ended up bringing it to a therapy session. My therapist is acquainted with tarot and astrology and she said she’s actually down to use them as therapy tools whenever clients want. We decided to go through my spread together, and it was one of the most beautiful and impactful sessions I’ve had. I lead with my interpretations of the cards and their placements, she asked me questions to connect the cards and some of the experiences brought up in new ways I hadn’t considered before. This experience locked in my feelings about tarot being a powerful tool for building self-awareness and creative problem solving. Since then, I’ve brought up what’s going on astrologically in session when it feels connected and it’s nice to have a dedicated discussion about it with someone who has all the background info.
If you’re interested in learning for yourself, here are a few tips I usually share with others:
I think it’s easiest to start with a traditional Rider-Waite-Smith deck. This system is what most other fun and beautiful tarot decks you’ll see are based on and it’s well-documented so you can easily find references and resources. That’s not to say you can’t use other decks or ones that are close to the original. If you don’t want to do RWS at all, that’s fine too! I just recommend sticking with one style and learning the themes before bouncing around to others because it will make it a lot easier to understand and connect to them.
The traditional deck has 78 cards. That feels like a lot! Break it into chunks. Start with the major arcana and learn the big life lessons they’re associated with. These follow the Fool’s journey so if you can put together a beginning, middle and an end of a plot and learn the main characters of a story (how many TV shows have you become an expert in over the years?), you can do the same here! For the minor arcana, start off with pattern recognition. There are themes for each of the suits telling a linear story specific to those themes. The numbers are specific milestones/plot points in those stories.
Start with understanding the suits. For example, the Pentacles tell a story about the material world, your physical skills and assets, vocations, and money. Lots of earth-sign energy. Then move on to the number. For another example, all Aces in the deck are the first of their suits, associated with new beginnings and opportunities. It’s raw potential you can start to work with, and they’re the purest energy/vibe of the suit. Put the suit together with the number, and you get a specific outcome. For Ace of Pentacles, it might be a sign to put in the work and pursue the career goal or entrepreneurial idea you have, learn a new trade, buy a house, or make an investment of some sort. Now, instead of completely memorizing 56 individual minor arcana cards, you can learn just 14 and the themes of 4 suits and then you’ll know enough to be dangerous :)
Practice makes perfect! Make it part of your daily routine. You can ask a simple question of, “What do I need to know today?” to get the hang of it. After a while you can develop your own spread, use a traditional one like the Celtic Cross, or you can find spreads others have developed with specific themes!
Again, find ways to practically demonstrate understanding! Once you feel comfortable, read for a consenting close friend or loved one, or ask your deck silly questions like “How can I cause some mischief this weekend?” Find a group of tarot enthusiasts and start sharing pulls and interpretations with each other.
This is the first deck I got and the one my tarot class instructor gave to everyone when they signed up for the class.
Labyrinthos is a great (and free!) app that includes specific learning paths going through each part of the major and minor arcana. They don’t have the traditional RWS cards in app, but they do have decks based on it you can use to do pulls which is an easy and free way to get started on your tarot journey!
I recommend “The Modern Witchcraft Book of Tarot” by Skye Alexander if you’re more of a book person! I think this book is an easy-to-read resource for learning the symbolism and patterns of tarot.
I could continue rambling for days about all of these topics (and would gladly, I’m always curious and down to chat about it with fellow magicky folks!!), but I’ll wrap up here! I thought at first this would all be simple to jump in and memorize astrological placements and tarot cards, but the process itself has been enjoyable and helped me learn about history and the world in so many nuanced ways and led me to different magick practices and rituals. There’s incredible power in ritual and tradition. Not just on a self-care level, but on a deep, spiritual, ancestral level. And it’s fun! I think we could all use more ritual, celebration, and natural world connection in our lives. The joy and connection from these practices is what makes life worth living! If you walk away from this read only starting to look up and notice the phases of the moon (there’s a new moon in Aries this week!) or take a peak at your family tree, that makes me happy for you!
What I’ve Been Up To Lately
Why We Speak More Weirdly at Home. I think this older article was brought up in one of the newsletters I read lately, and then I brought it up with friends when we were all talking about the weird things we say at home. Familect is fascinating!
CEOs suck, what’s new? Interesting interview with the CEO of Substack. I like the model of Substack, but I do think they have an obligation to actually moderate the content they host. You’ll see how much they want to skirt this issue in the read.
Help, I can’t get the best song ever out of my head this week.
I’ve been getting into Pinterest Shuffles over the last week. It’s been a fun and creative outlet for me, and it makes time move really fast when I’m making a collage! I’ve started a personal project of creating a collage for each of the major arcana cards. If you’re on Shuffles, I’d love to follow you!
We’ve been trying to do our future selves a favor by decluttering and packing up the house as much as we can! We got half the basement and 2 stuffed closets packed. It makes you think about your stuff! Although it’s pleasing to note that the majority of what we sifted through this weekend we’ve definitely used in the last year, so even though we have a lot, we’re using it!
If you stuck through this novel to the end, hi! Thanks for reading! See ya next week!