Ash and Stardust, a monthly column by artist and writer DHIYANAH HASSAN, explores the intersections of tarot with healing and creativity. These are personal essays and articles sharing experiences of growth as someone who has recently found a deep connection to tarot. You can read the rest of the pieces here.
As a Scorp Sun with Cap rising, this Mars Retrograde plus Capricorn full moon has been at the forefront of my headspace. It’s proving to be a groundbreaking combination for energetic upgrades. Nevermind that since Neptune stationed retrograde, I’ve spent most of my night-time hours getting deeper into dream work. Maybe I’ll write more about that one day – I’m mostly reeling from how absolutely sublime and affirming these experiences are and although I do feel like sharing about them, I still tip-toe around the language for it, hesitant for now. Mostly I’m just allowing things to unfold while my body nags me to both get some work done and to take time off so it can fully catch up with everything.
This Mars Rx reminds me a lot of the Knights cards in reverse, particularly the Knight of Wands. A warrior in reverse is a warrior that performs best in the shadows – observing, strategizing, recharging. Forced into action, this warrior might catalyze chaos via misunderstandings, accidents, or battles with no victory in sight – but not all chaos is unnecessary and a warrior can hold this knowledge well in their body when they’re able to get out of their own way. One way to override self-sabotaging habits is through intention setting and gratitude journaling.
Intention-setting is a powerful tool all around, moreso when there are intense cosmic shifts bouncing around in the skies above. New moon seasons are great for setting intentions, drawing out possible maps for what needs to be released or initiated. But remember that anything you make in the dark moon will need to go through its own phases of growth to emerge whole at the end of a cycle. Gratitude is potent magic for full moon nights. Affirm your intentions, review the structures you’re subscribed to, release dependencies and articulate what, if anything, is ready to be revealed.
Coupled with Capricorn’s no chill energy, it can be particularly challenging this week to discern what’s nourishing or draining for ourselves. Capricorn energy is very Knight of Pentacles – reversed or upright, work becomes a constant nagging feeling that doesn’t go away until something gets done. A warrior aspect that strives to embody the King of Pentacles energy, they can often forget that transformation involves becoming temporarily unfamiliar with the self. It’s a process of embracing difference on a soul level, learning how to function beyond existing expectations and programmings.
Meanwhile, our Sun is pulsating in Cancer. Themes surrounding family, emotions, and connectivity emerge from the psychic collective terrains shaped by Gemini season’s intellectual typhoons.
Collectively, we’re witnessing power structures separating family members from each other for the preservation of fictional borders – in the past week, my dashboards were filled with heartbreaking news of a country caging children and another attempting to criminalize a young woman for removing herself from abuse.
Internally, more of our soul family connections are coming online. Insights and triggers around chosen families show up to fine-tune our intentions surrounding why and how we connect to each other.
We are being guided now to dive deeper into ourselves and how we shape belief and kinship. Regardless of whether the paths we’ve chosen is one of healing and ascending or one of navigating illusions and compromises, there is an increasingly badgering need to pay attention and take stock of what has brought us here – to how we view ourselves, the values we project onto each other, the languages we forge out of our experiences, and the trajectories we are willing to open up to.
Mars Rx is a teacher that blindfolds you and drops you off in the middle of nowhere with only your intuition as a tool, then tells you to find your way home while driving off into the distance. Typical.
But the warrior might be on to something. Rebecca Solnit writes in A Field Guide to Getting Lost, “Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.” What will it take for you to step into the unknown?
In these next two months, we are the warrior in the shadows – on a planet that is half at war with itself and half at war with its own people, in a universe where our bodies are constantly being tuned in to the memories of otherworldly bodies orbiting around, through, and in between narratives – and we are being asked to define what that could mean for us and for how we show up for each other.
Through a series of synchronous events, I’m being called to explore my ancestral and spiritual lineage – something I’ve collaterally rejected when removing myself from patriarchal and oppressive definitions of family and heritage. As per usual, the lessons we resist the most are the ones that return to us when the tides are high and the waves crash hungrily across our planet’s shorelines.
As a way to show up for myself, I’ll be taking a short hiatus next month to go offline and tend to whatever needs my attention – physically, emotionally, and spiritually. How will you be showing up for yourself, this week and beyond? Eclipse season is coming up and with it are opportunities to become more aware of what roles are available for us to thrive in, to explore where we can affect positive changes for our communities and causes, and to remove obstacles blocking us from our truths. This is the process and the practice is in exercising trust in your intuitive self, convincing the ego and all its programmings to get out of your way.
Below is a little offering in the form of affirmations and suggestions revolving around intention-setting, gratitude, and self-love. I chose three affirmations and for each I pulled a card using The Wild Unknown deck (by Kim Krans) – unsurprisingly, all the cards are reversed! I provide brief readings for each. Please take what feels right for you, leave the rest – I also encourage you to write down your own affirmations that you can reread, rewrite and repeat to yourself for the next seasons ahead.
Show up for your shadow, as if welcoming home a beloved old friend who’s been living in exile for decades – understand where they’ve been, what they’ve seen, and the patience they ask of you.
The Reversed Ten of Pentacles is directly calling out any fears of failure that we might be harboring in our heart-guts. We sometimes hold on so tightly to an image of what success looks like that that we block off the experiences that can provide us with meaningful achievements. What’s significant about this card is that it looks exactly the same as it does upright, except that the tips of the pentacles are pointing downwards, towards us, asking us to acknowledge that the more rigid our perspective of success is, the more limiting our definition of failure is. Failure is not the opposite of success, it is a learning experience and even though we have been bred to fear it, we’d accomplish more by embracing it. Have you ever sat with your fears and unwrapped them like unassuming presents leftover from an event that didn’t go exactly as you wanted? Can you see where these fears have been rooted in, what childhood woundings have created patterns of discord in your life? Anchor them into words and then shift them away from fear and into gratitude. Do this everyday for two months, at least – each day, write three to ten things you are grateful for.
I am grateful for the time I felt like I wasn’t enough because it showed me that I have been spending all my time, energy, and talents on situations that couldn’t provide for me. I am grateful for that lesson as it has taught me to discern experiences I want to go through from ones I no longer want to repeat.
Show up for your language, the weight you carry in each word, the offerings and intentions you imbue in your speech and writing, the history behind your tongue, the sounds within your mouth – listen to how they project, reflect, resonate.
There is powerful magic in the most subtlest of gestures. The Death card reversed suggests resistance to big changes, but also perhaps a need to spend time with the concept of “rebirth.” Rebirthing seems to be the next step after symbolically allowing to die what needs to die. With the removal of blockages comes an influx of the unfamiliar. A butterfly that emerges from its pupal casing is one that has rebuilt itself from the essence of its being – the primordial soup of its selfhood, the death of its past self – into something entirely different. Its emergence is slow, painful, and messy, its body reorganizing itself. Leaking. Redistributing the rivers of its life force to best carry it forwards and upwards.
If you aren’t in the practice of keeping a journal, now is a great time to start. Document your dreams, your moods, the things that stir you from inside out. If you have been keeping a journal, now is the time to observe how you’ve been utilizing your words. What are you articulating when you write to yourself – do you ever pen love letters to your past selves, or organize useful reminders for your future self? Find ways to articulate the softness within.
Show up for the world that exists inside you, the one that lets you love fully and freely – it may not be here yet, but it’s real.
It would be so easy – so easy – to ignore all this and just keep our heads down, keep doing what we’ve always been doing, but why would we want to. The existing power structures in our peopled world are the same structures that taught us that life is a rat race, that we must eat each other up with our longings in order to be seen, that we must shout above marginalized voices to be heard. It would be easy, only because going back to the familiar is always a shorter ride than journeying to a new place. And departures can be anxiety minefields. But we are so much more than the fears built into us by society and trauma. Look around. There are people here who are doing the work of living a world that others deem impossible – people who rearrange themselves to live their truths, those who express love in ways that expand our understanding of it, and people who despite all odds, are creating miracles out of their experiences. We are responsible with the way we carry and use our energies. Have we been judging others without looking at our own limiting perspectives? Have we been faulting each other to the point where all our conversations are downward spirals? Where can we change, where are we ready to change?
Any chance you get, whenever you have the energy to, send an affirmation to someone around you – a friend, a loved one, even a stranger online. Tell them how they’ve enriched your life, or what you admire about what they’re doing. Do this without envy, without demand. Do this with yourself too.
Take this gift you have just offered and carry the warmth it brings into your body, into your heart. Let this feeling remind you that even if you are in need of building high walls to protect yourself for now, or if you are learning how to manage healthy boundaries, know that you are always connected.
You shine your light in everything that you do and that is enough. You are enough.
Dhiyanah Hassan is an artist and writer whose works investigate the importance of personal narratives, particularly in the context of healing. She lives in Malaysia and is the Art Editor of Burning House Press. Find out more about her and her works on Instagram, Twitter, and her website.