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Ash and Stardust ii: Trauma and The Lovers

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 sharing experiences of growth as someone who has recently found a deep connection to tarot. You can read the first piece here.

On a night I was forced to lose a war to my father’s rage, I stopped myself from crying by carving the word ‘HATE’ into my leg. The conclusion of these encounters with either of my parents had never meant the end of physical abuse. Their anger grew inside me like an infection.

A huge part of my history is that I grew up with adults who couldn’t protect me from their own ugliness, who refused to remember what they did after the fact, who until today won’t say anything when decades of their choices landed me in hospitals and finally on the disability spectrum.

Since childhood, I was not given the tools necessary to know how to love myself. What I saw in my parents’ eyes as my body absorbed impact after impact was what I mirrored back to myself; hate. And that ruined so much of my life, as this still does to countless children all over the world, crying quietly in places they have to call home.

Children know things on a raw and intuitive frequency before they find the language for articulation, so I knew there was something wrong with it all. To cope with the terror no one else could see, I developed imaginary worlds I’d submerge myself in for hours – days, even. In this world, I was loved by a group of adults who’d co-parent me through the perils of daily life. In the external world, I couldn’t talk about what was happening to me without being pegged as too difficult or ‘too much.’

Continue reading “Ash and Stardust ii: Trauma and The Lovers”

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Ash and Stardust i: Here We Are

This is the first instalment of Ash and Stardust, a monthly column exploring how my tarot practice intersects with self-care, healing, and creativity. Note: I don’t claim to be a tarot expert! This is me learning as I go, overcoming creative blocks along the way.

“Everyone deserves an outlet; a reservoir of safety – a comforting warmth in the ribcage – the space surrounding the heart.”
– from the guidebook of The Next World Tarot by Cristy C. Road

I can’t say exactly when I was introduced to tarot. It would appear or get mentioned in passing here and there during my teenage years. I remember once-upon-a-time friends spreading cards on bedroom floors to articulate desires and what-ifs. They’d ask if I wanted a reading done and I had always said no. It didn’t feel right. I don’t mean that I had trouble with the idea of cartomancy – the mystical world fascinated me. I was, however, having trouble seeing myself as someone who could hold these archetypes in my hands, to shuffle and create a narrative out of them that can serve not as divination, but as guidance – or even to satisfy curiosity.

In those earlier years, I was nowhere near okay enough to claim my own story, let alone see it as part of something bigger.

Continue reading “Ash and Stardust i: Here We Are”

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