Prologue: Scattered Thoughts
You know that cheesy thing writers do where, like, the world’s foremost Hitler scholar can’t read German? Or an alien being who lives on a mostly-water planet can’t swim? Or a “genius” detective doesn’t know how many planets there are? I— cheesy writer that I am— have done exactly that, but to myself. I don’t know any card tricks and I can’t juggle. Every fiber of my personality says that I should excel at both, but nah. It’s a big dumb gap in my abilities. A crack in my background. My own personal Mandela Effect. I’m working to correct it, though— I’m a forty-year-old gay man who’s learning entry-level circus magic—, because … because, fuck it, I think card tricks and juggling are cool. And I still wanna be cool.
Apparently— according to The Good Place— the idea of a “leap of faith” comes from Kierkegaard. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to pretend to have read Kierkegaard, so I’ll have to take the TV’s word for it. I will, natch, take it on faith.
“Faith is belief without evidence.” I have no idea who said that, but I don’t +believe+ that it was me, not initially, and anyway it’s crap. Relying on the limited evidence we can gain with human perception on a human timeline is a gambler’s fallacy of outrageous proportions. Evidence and statistics and the law of large numbers certainly have their place, but they aren’t everything. And when you are a you, an N=1, in a situation you haven’t experienced before and won’t likely experience again, then a religious devotion to evidence is … not super helpful. And, anyway, the evidence is usually incomplete, and any number of results can be fit to the data, which is why we all diagnose ourselves with something awful anytime we have a scratchy throat and access to WebMD. Sometimes, dear readers— sometimes we have to rely on something other than evidence. Sometimes, we have to leap.
I’m working on being okay with leaping. Leaping, jumping, allowing myself to go un-grounded, become unmoored, tumble through the air, uncertain of the landing, not knowing how it will all turn out.
I’m trying to be cool with not knowing. I don’t know what comes next and I want to accept that, sure, but I also want to accept that I won’t know what else could have been. I can’t know what my life would have been like down any of the other paths, on any of the roads that diverged in my yellow wood, and maybe none of it would have made any difference, but I don’t know. I won’t know. I can’t know. … I’m trying to be cool with that.
Let’s talk tarot and the
Eight of Swords. The Eight of Swords shows “a woman, bound and hoodwinked, with the swords of the card about her”— that is, she’s blindfolded, arms tied up, and surrounded by swords. She can’t see, she can’t explore, and in almost any direction she moves she’ll get cut. I used to hate the Eight of Swords.
Most interpretations of the Eight of Swords focus on the temporary nature of the bindings and that the blades aren’t entirely blocking her; these readings tell you that when the Eight appears it signifies that you’re trapped by your own perceptions, that you’ve got too much going on in your head, that you’re blind to the truth, and that all of it is self-imposed. You need only change your perspective, think it through, accept the facts… etc etc etc. Also, the sky is grey and the ground is muddy, so the card probably indicates despair and lack of creativity, too. Harumph.
And, like, that’s fine. I’m still a novice in this, so y’all can keep reading the Eight of Swords like it’s The Yellow Wallpaper if you want, but that’s not how I’m going to read it.
I doubt it’s an accident that the figure is feminine, and that we were told by a man that we should read the fault in the card as her own. I’m not calling A.E. Waite a misogynist, per se, but I’m also not comfortable telling the woman surrounded by knives that she’s a victim of her own making. Her vision is blocked, and even though it’s only a temporary blindness, she still can’t see what’s happening right now— she can’t see where the sharp edges are, or where there are puddles and where there’s mud. And although her bindings are loose, although they’ll fall away soon and she’ll be free, still, in this moment, she can’t feel around for her options. Just because the situation is temporary doesn’t make it suck any less. The cure for depression is not simply telling yourself to be happier. Fuck that. It’s time we stop victim-blaming the Eight of Swords, y’all.
So here’s my reinterpretation. I’ve decided I’m going to read the Eight of Swords as a card of faith. It’s a trust fall. You put the blindfold on because you’re doing a Kevin Costner from The Bodyguard (where he’s in the forest and closes his eyes to take the shot?); the evidence you’re getting from your physical senses isn’t doing you any good right now, so ignore it. Trust your intuition, trust your gut, go on instinct, make the leap and keep moving forward and you’ll find your way. There’s no evidence to draw from, only faith. Leap into faith, sister. No one can say what will happen along the long road of life, but it’s time to trust in Universe to guide you.
George Michael told us we had to have faith (and/or Limp Bizkit; dear lord, I wanted to fuck Fred Durst so much…jesus.), and, yeah, sure. I guess asking how in regards to faith kinda misses the point, but I laid my cards last night and there she was again, so here we go.