Me: “Does [redacted] have feelings for me?”
Oracle: [long drag on herbal cigarette] “What you really want to know is if the superficial face you’re presenting to this person is enough to garner the outside validation you crave, or if you’re going to have to take a risk and let him see the Real You, which you’re already convinced will scare him away.”
Oracle: “So are you doing anything to manage your mental health, or nah?”
In retrospect, I probably should’ve waited until my latest round of depression fully cleared before throwing cards on relationship issues. But my pre-ordered copy of Laura Tempest Zakroff’s new Anatomy of a Witch Oracle arrived in the midst of it, and I was battling some random, probably unhealthy infatuations, so I figured the deck might offer an objective second opinion.
How the oracle already seems to know me better than I know myself is beyond me, but I’m not about to complain about it. (At least not where it can hear me.)
The spread above was a reading on a spell I was thinking about casting. I’m recently (and amicably — we’re still friends) single, and while I don’t have any desire to cannonball back into the dating pool, I have been catching myself crushing on people, which, honestly, feels like a trap: It’s like, “Oh, if only this dude liked me as much as I like him, then I wouldn’t be so depressed. Except he doesn’t like me as much as I like him, so now I’m even more depressed.”
Better, I thought, to avoid the arrows of Anteros all together, at least until my dopamine levels were back on track. So I had this idea that I would do a binding on myself, and, like, lock up my heart until further notice. I even bought a chain bracelet at work that came with a little padlock — once snapped into place, I would never again feel the agony of love.
In other words, I was being dramatic. But I did have the foresight to pull some cards before I started manifesting generational curses, so that was wise of me.
The guidebook that comes with the deck includes really good three- and six-card spreads, but for this reading, I went with the four-card spread I’m most familiar with. In the present position, I pulled Hands, which could be taken literally to mean a hands-on approach to the matter: Since I was gearing up for spellwork, this made sense. Crossing Hands was Equinox — as an influence on the present, it suggested putting in effort to achieve balance, which also made sense, since I was ultimately just trying to get my head on straight.
Poppet in the past threw me off, though, since it was calling me out for trying to control everything. And the first keyword of Banish is “unbind,” which was encouragement to not cast a binding on myself and instead focus my magic on letting go.
So that’s what I ended up doing. And the following day, in an awe-inspiring display of patience, I was like, “IT’S BEEN ALMOST TWENTY FOUR HOURS AND I DON’T FEEL ANY LESS OBSESSY.” Which was also kind of dramatic but really just my alcoholic brain having a tantrum.
The main reason I drank was to change how I felt, and even now, after ten years of sobriety, I can still get twitchy and impulsive when attempting to navigate uncomfortable emotions. Fortunately, I have the tools to deal with that, but it’s still pretty gross when I’m in the middle of it, even if I’m fully aware that it’s a temporary situation and will pass sooner than later.
I didn’t put any real deadline on the activation of the spell, other than the visualization of romantic feelings draining and washing away from me. And while I had no reason to believe the spell wouldn’t work, I did want to get an idea of when I would start benefiting from its effects, and what, if any, obstacles I might encounter in the meantime. So I dealt out four more cards and got to interpreting.
Here’s that spread:
In the present, Witch Braid crossed with Touch: another sign that I’m a bit of a control freak, but also a pointed reminder that there are people whose lives are intertwined with mine, with whom I need to maintain contact, regardless of how I may feel about them. Basically, I can’t cut anyone out of my life just because being around them makes me all fluttery. In the past, Create — I conceived and cast the spell, which leads to Birth in the future. The spell will come to fruition. Awesome.
Birth can be painful and messy, but it’s also a process, and after years of 12-Step Recovery, I’m trained to trust the process. As long as I make self-care a priority while I continue to heal, and I let the spell do its job without any extraneous poking on my part, I’ll emerge on the other side of this whole. So that’s something to look forward to.
All that said, I do want to take a moment to acknowledge the disclaimer at the front of the guidebook:
This book contains advice and information concerning the body, mind, and spirit, and is not intended for use in order to diagnose, treat, or prescribe medical conditions or other health issues. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician or other licensed healthcare professionals. … Be mindful of any medical conditions you may have and listen to your body.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc., there are excellent resources out there that can help you — an oracle deck is not a substitute for therapy. However, if you’re actively doing everything you need to do to take care of yourself and just need a second set of eyes on the things sometimes, the Anatomy of a Witch Oracle will definitely be an asset.
And if you happen to have a crush on me, do me a solid and give it about three months before bringing it up, okay? Or at the very least wait until after I crown.