I’ve performed divination for the coming year at Samhain for the past 24 years. Last year was the first time I divined for the new calendar year. I had planned to do a Tarot reading but ended up doing divination by coloring book. It turned out to be surprisingly accurate, at least for me.
But I think that was a one-time thing, so rather than pulling out the coloring book and pencils again, I’ve gone back to Tarot. This is my preview of 2018.
The deck is Kristoffer Hughes’ new Celtic Tarot – it’s become my go-to deck for pretty much everything. I use the Celtic Cross spread. It’s always done well for me and I’ve never had a reason to change. I don’t read reversed.
In this reading, I’m not trying to predict what will happen in politics or economics – I’ll leave that to the astrologers. For me, divination is less prediction and more like turning on your headlights when you’re driving at night: it shows you where you’re going. Don’t like what you see? Hit the brakes and take that left turn at Albuquerque.
Here’s my look into 2018.
At the heart of the matter:
Wheel of Fortune: change, randomness, fate.
Crossing it for good or for ill:
The Tower: sudden, dramatic, irreversible change.
That sets the stage all nice and pretty, doesn’t it? We’re living in Tower Time, a time when everything built on a weak foundation (which is pretty much our entire mundane world) comes crashing down. My Tarot teacher said “the Tower tears down the false to make way for the true.” She was right, but there’s a lot of falsehood that needs to be torn down – not even the youngest among us will see the bottom in our lifetimes.
This is the new normal. You don’t have to like it. But you do have to deal with it.
Your goal, what you seek:
Eight of Swords: bondage, confusion.
For all the work we have done – for ourselves, our communities, and our Gods – we remain confused and divided about our goals. Are we seeking a religious movement or a political movement? Is our treasure to be found together or as individuals? What is the proper balance of devotion to Nature, the Gods, and our ancestors? Should we honor non-divine spirits? Does devotion even matter? There are many paths and they are not all the same.
It’s one thing when a community is divided around its goals – we need not all pursue the same thing. It’s another thing when you yourself are divided. Until you know where you want to go, you’ll remain in bondage… though your bonds are looser than you think.
This card also points to our inability to distinguish our enemies from those who are merely seeking a different goal, or even from those who seek the same goal by a different path. “If you’re not with us you’re against us” is a pernicious lie. Take off the blindfold and use one of those swords for discernment. Know your enemies, and stop attacking those who should be your friends and allies.
In the distant past:
Page of Cauldrons: creative beginnings, a message of awakening.
What is passing:
The Sun: enlightenment, vitality, regeneration.
At the Winter Solstice I asked “what needs to be born?” These two cards virtually scream “the birth is complete.” I do not have children, but I am well aware of the massive amounts of nurturing and care required to raise a child from newborn to toddler, toddler to school age, school age to adolescent, and adolescent to adult. We eagerly anticipate new births and we should – they are well worth celebrating. But after the birth, the raising begins.
For me and for some of you, 2016 was a year of preparation and 2017 was a year of birth. 2018 will be a year of nurturing… and probably a year of sleepless nights as we tend to the needs of our precious fledglings.
Your timeline may be different. But these cards tell us that what we need has already been born.
What is coming:
Eight of Wands: swiftness and manifestation.
In 2016 I said “the Gods are getting impatient.” I heard “we told you to do this last year” “why isn’t this done yet?” and “this is needed now, not next summer.” In 2017, the tone changed to “your work matters – don’t get distracted.”
In 2018 the foundational work we’ve been doing will begin to manifest, and it will do so quickly. It will not manifest fully formed (see the previous section) but it will grow at a rate that will be challenging to keep up with.
Unlike the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, in this deck the Eight of Wands has a person in it – a rider moving toward a small gathering on a hill. Are you the person on the horse, moving toward a community? Or are you part of the community, preparing to offer hospitality to those who show up on your doorstep?
Either way, things will move quickly, and so must we.
You as you see yourself:
Ace of Shields: material abundance and success, practicality, the essence of groundedness.
Our mainstream culture constantly tells us we need more – more money, more stuff, more of whatever they’re selling. They parade “the successful” in front of us to taunt us, to make us feel inferior, to keep us working harder and harder toward an illusion that would turn to dust if we were ever able to grab it. And we believe them.
Our economy is unjust and we should not forget it – if your calling is to work toward economic justice, know that you have my gratitude and support. But we must not allow economic injustice to keep us from doing the spiritual work we’re called to do.
This card reminds us that we already have the resources to do what we need to do. If the only offerings you can make are singing hymns of praise and pouring libations of clean water, so be it. Do it faithfully and your offerings will be accepted. If you have more, give more – in offerings to the Gods and in support of your community. Scarcity mentality has no place in a religion that celebrates the abundance of the Earth.
The environment in which we work:
The Druid: education, formal learning, liturgy.
In the Rider-Waite-Smith Tarot, The Hierophant is a rather negative card, representing authority, rules, and lessons learned at the hands of a strict teacher… often because we refuse to learn any other way. In this deck, The Druid replaces The Hierophant – the artwork is similar but the meaning is subtly different.
See the Awen in the background. Its rays are striking the students as well as the teacher. With his greater knowledge the Druid can help the students receive the Awen, and with the experience coded in his liturgies he can help them understand how to translate its Otherworldly inspiration into this-world creations and manifestations. But the Awen is the source, not the Druid, and the students must ultimately learn to channel it for themselves.
There are many Druids in our environment, though most call themselves something else. We can learn from them and with them if we will seek them out and listen to what they tell us, and more importantly if we watch what they show us. There are also many Hierophants in our environment, whose motives are less honest, whose skills are less developed, and whose methods are far more painful.
Do not let your bad experiences with Hierophants keep you away from the Druids. We need what the Druids can teach us. But let us learn to discern one from the other.
Hopes and fears:
Five of Swords: conflict, defeat, betrayal.
For years we were warned “a storm is coming.” In 2017 the storm arrived. We know there is conflict – we’re caught up in it, whether we like it or not. But we do not know how the battle will play out, and while we have confidence in ourselves and our allies, we fear losing.
We also fear betrayal. We have seen allies, friends, and even siblings turn on each other, sometimes out of treachery but more often from untreated infections in very old wounds. Is your commitment to our Great Work strong enough to endure careless slights and injuries? Is your commitment strong enough to do the work necessary to heal yourself so you do not harm others from your pain, even though that pain is not your fault?
There is no shame in fear – unlike the foolhardy, we recognize the seriousness of the situation. As always, the challenge is to move forward boldly in spite of our fears and to do what must be done.
The final outcome:
Ten of Shields: home, family, permanence, abundance.
This card says we win. We will build our families of blood and families of choice. We will build homes for ourselves, our Gods, and the spirits with whom we live and work in hospitality and reciprocity. We will have enough for ourselves and enough to care for our own. Perhaps someday we will have enough for all, but one thing at a time. Most of all, what we build will last.
Once again, though, the Celtic Tarot differs subtly from Rider-Waite-Smith. The seated man is Math and the woman is Aranrhod. She is about to step over the wand that will cause her to give birth to Lleu Llaw Gyffes. She will deny him a name, arms, and a wife, but through magic and cunning Math and Lleu will insure he obtains all three.
The specifics of this story are not relevant to our look into 2018. But they remind us that even when we win, the game goes on. We will be successful in 2018, but 2019 will bring its own challenges. Ever and always, the only constant is change.
It is a huge leap from the Five of Swords to the Ten of Shields. The cards do an excellent job of describing our situation, how we got here, and what we face in the coming year. They tell us that if we stay on this course we will get where we want to go. But they do not tell us the specific challenges we will face, nor how we should meet them.
The rest, of course, is left to us.
May the blessings of the Gods and ancestors be with you in 2018, and may you find your place of shelter and your place of service in this challenging new world.