Ash and Stardust was a monthly column by energy worker and artist/writer DHIYANAH HASSAN exploring the intersections of tarot with healing and creativity. You can read the full series here.

When I started this column in January 2018, I was still calling myself a tarot noob. I confess I didn’t thoroughly believed it but lacked the confidence to openly claim myself as a card reader without having gone through some kind of an initiation period.

Who I am now is so far traveled from the person I was at the beginning of 2018. This was my Saturn Return year and it was so full of magic – this was my first happy year, ever! Connecting to the healing tools that I accepted as available to me really went a long way in teaching me what my happiness could look like. And I took it, ran with it, and trusted in everything I am that is strong and soft and beautiful.

During the span of this year, I received confirmation after confirmation at each level of release and growth I experienced once I committed – not just mentally but also physically, emotionally, and spiritually – to my chosen intentions to heal, to love, to have fun. I know now that writing Ash and Stardust as a monthly column was a sort of initiation I designed for myself to activate within me what I thought I was running low on – the ability to trust myself.

I’m writing this now, already at home in my new wilderness, on the eve of the new year cycle. I’m writing this as the last post of Ash and Stardust on Burning House Press.

I felt it in my bones first, the calling to close this column right here and right now after twelve installments (including this) that documented so much of what I’ve learned, gifting it as an offering.

And now, I’m learning how to receive.

And so Ash and Stardust, the project itself, will be going through its own transformation and will continue in other ways – after a hiatus. During this time, I will be more focused on hosting healing and card reading sessions both long-distance and in-person.

A while ago, I collected a few questions from friends who were familiar or intrigued by tarot. As part of my last Ash and Stardust offering on Burning House Press, I answer some of these queries with the hope that it inspires you into newness and openness – as has always been my intention with this work.

I’d like to ask about energies – where they come from, how they affect us – and which tarot tools are good for dealing with them?

Energy is the fuel of our life force. It’s what allows us to drive our will, intentions, bodies. It’s what flows through us when we are actively creating and what we fill ourselves up with when we take time off to rest. One of my teachers, Maryam Hasnaa, defines energy as soul currency. I love this wording because it brings awareness to how we spend our energy, reinforcing that we can choose how we use it.

Energy doesn’t run out, it can only be transformed. And it is, by its very nature, ever-transforming. It flows freely through us as well as in every seen and unseen beings or things around us. Even in moments where we feel emptied or drained, weighed down by heavy exhaustion or deep depression, we still find ways to survive, imagine, create, and keep going. That is energy flowing through you, moving you.

Tarot itself is just one tool to help us recalibrate our energies with our intention (to heal, to take care of ourselves, to create art). How it helps is each card – each visual illustration and messages the cards provide – act like keys to unlock questions, affirmations, and possibilities that we ourselves may not reach on our own. Because sometimes we’re too caught up in the stories we’re telling ourselves to take enough steps back for perspective. This practice is more potent once you have – or at least tried to – articulate your chosen intentions for this lifetime. Are you here to heal? Are you here to catalyze? If you could choose anything that you want from life, what would that be and how would that feel? Committing to intentions and affirming that via journalling is powerful practice. Utilizing the tarot as a supplementary tool is just one way to rewire your brain towards more solution-finding thinking and flexibility. After all, it takes a lot of openness to look at some of these cards and thank them for their messages!

What’s the benefit of using tarot rather than other tools for guidance and self-care?

I’m not sure I can say why you should use tarot over any other tools for guidance, self-care, or healing. Tarot works for me because it mixes visual and oral or written storytelling – and I connected to that so easily, so readily that it was silly not to embrace it. What do you connect to easily?

I don’t use tarot on its own. I utilize tarot alongside journaling and meditation, which is reflected in the sessions I hold for clients. Meditation harnesses mindfulness. Journaling is a space for us to catch up and dialogue with our inner selves be it our higher self, past selves, or inner child. Other healing tools may include body work such as yoga, qi gong, massage, or works that include sound or scent.

Journaling, in my experience, is one of the most crucial tools for self-healing and inner work. It can look like writing, vlogging, sketching, or voice notes. I find that it doesn’t always have to be daily but developing the openness to record thoughts, insights, messages, or gratitude lists absolutely whenever it feels right to – and revisiting the more affirming posts – is worth it. It’s an exercise of reclaiming narrative. The more you tell your story, the more dexterous you become at owning it. And eventually, at creating new ones.

How often do I do readings and how should I use it – can I just pull a card whenever I feel like I don’t know what to do? Can I ask the cards what will happen today, etc?

You may absolutely just pull a card whenever you feel like you might appreciate an external prompter to ease you out of confusion. The card-a-day pull can be used to gauge what the theme of the day might be. And you can do readings as often as you’d like to, as long as you do not develop a dependency on pulling cards whenever things feel a bit difficult or stressful. You want this practice to be supportive and nourishing – not addictive. Reading tarot requires openness, which in itself requires knowing how to utilize vulnerability in ways that amplify your own clarity and discernment. So use your discernment, exercise it. Ask your heart-guts, your instincts, if you are open for the messages these cards may bring, if you have the capacity to sit with these messages and explore what comes up for the purpose of making progress with your inner work.

I skip daily draws when I feel like I don’t need any external affirmation or prompter for what I should focus on for that day. I also don’t pull cards when I’m feeling stressed or confused. I don’t enjoy using tarot when I’m feeling low (for that, I journal and work with the body or sounds) – I don’t enjoy expecting the cards to fix my problems or tell me what to do. I like being in a state of clarity where I can converse with them or meditate on the possibilities they’re presenting me. However, some may feel like pulling cards when they feel like their heads or hearts are messy could be beneficial in moving them away from that state. That’s valid! But there is a difference when this happens with the intention to move through anxiety as opposed to working without any clear intention, where reading a card may amplify that messiness. Play around, see what works for you – and remember to treat the cards and any other healing tools as friends. Be generous with them – look up cleansing methods and see what feels right for them and for you.

I have trouble memorizing the meaning of each card. I tend to need to refer to the booklet that comes with it. What is your advice or tips on how to improve and understand the cards better?

Connect to your intuition, embody the clarity you wish to bring to the table in readings for yourself or for someone else. Practice. Show up for your intentions. If your intention is to be able to pull up information related to each card’s traditional meanings, then focusing on guidebooks, blogs, and other resources will help you with this – study how these narratives have unfolded across decks and history. If your intention is to connect to intuitively with the cards, spend more time with it visually. And if you aim to connect with the visuals while maintaining knowledge of each cards’ known keywords, then spending more time with creative visualization meditations and writing or conversing with the cards while keeping your own list of keywords can deepen your relationship with them.

Whatever intention you are working or experimenting with, take the time and patience to engage and connect with the deck(s) you’re working with. Each deck has its own voice, with a unique vibe for each reader or querent. Trust the process, stay true to the things that expand your heart.

Thank you so much for reading, sharing, and growing with me through this series. It has been such an honor to bring this column to you and these pieces will continue to live on archived on Burning House Press. There aren’t enough words for me to express the gratitude I hold for this space, for the BHP editorial team and the love and support they gave me, all of which made this series possible by giving it its first home. BHP will always be a big part of Ash and Stardust’s trajectory – and I couldn’t have asked for a better space to grow this work!

I am so excited to see how this series will evolve when it’s time to return to it. I’ll be sharing future updates and announcements on my website, instagram, and twitter – keep an eye on those sites to see when Ash and Stardust is coming back or to stay in touch with my works.

Booking a reading

I aim to have more information about this available on my website but since everything is in the process of being set up now, I’m available to take bookings for one-off readings via email at bydhiyanah at gmail dot com

Please note that if there is no reply within 2 weeks, I’m probably unavailable so please don’t sit around waiting for too long. I am clear about my intentions and boundaries and will only accept queries or readers who I feel I can hold space for in a positive and nourishing way. For art commission slots, please visit my shop and do read the ‘About’ page in full before making a purchase.

Happy New Year, lovelies! It’s been fantastic. I wish you a year full of all that is good and heart-expanding – go be the love that only you can be.

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