Divination for 2023

Divination for 2023 January 1, 2023

This is the sixth consecutive year I’ve done a Tarot reading for the new year. I can only hope this reading is as accurate and as helpful as the 2022 reading.

A reading for an entire year can’t provide a daily planner level of prediction and guidance. What it can do is to provide a sense of direction – a theme for the year. It can’t tell you there’s a lion in the bushes ahead of you, but it can tell you to keep your eyes open – and you might want to pay particular attention to the right side of the path near the ground.

The 2022 reading warned that last year would be another painful year (Ten of Swords). It recommended building and strengthening a strong spiritual foundation (Page of Shields, Six of Shields). Stop fighting foolhardy battles (Knight of Swords) and move on toward what’s coming next (Eight of Cauldrons).

In last year’s divination blog post, I said “the final three cards are brighter – quite literally … the final outcome is the Ace of Wands: the essence of inspiration and new beginnings. Great good can come from this year, but we have to make it through this year first.”

2022 was three years in one for me: a “meh” beginning, a terrible middle, and a pretty good end. During the worst of it, remembering this reading helped me keep going, because I expected things would get better.

And they did.

Will this trend continue into 2023? That’s what we’re going to find out.

The question for this reading was “what does the new year hold for me and mine?” The closer you are to me, the more this reading applies to you. If you do ritual with me in my back yard, it’s very relevant to you. If you follow a Pagan polytheist path, it applies a fair amount. If you’re a casual blog reader, less so. You must decide how much weight to give this reading in your planning for the coming year.

I’m reading with the Celtic Tarot, because it speaks to me and gives me better answers than any other deck. I’m using the Celtic Cross spread, because it’s the best I’ve found for broad readings such as this.

The first thing that stands out is what’s not here. Unlike 2020, 2021, and 2022, the Ten of Swords is nowhere to be seen. That’s usually an unpleasant card – I’m glad to see it gone. The Six of Shields was in all three of those readings – it’s gone too. The sense that we’ve been living in one long Westeros-length winter started shifting for me in late August of last year – that shift pretty much finished by Samhain. This confirms it. Whatever 2023 brings, it’s not going to be more of the same.

But as I’ve said all along, we’re not going back to 2019, or 2015, or to any other year. Time marches on. The first card in this reading, “at the heart of the matter,” is the Wheel of Fortune. Expect more change and more randomness. “Crossing it for good or for ill” is Rebirth (Judgement in Waite-Smith). Again, expect a new and different year.

There are two cards that repeat from 2022. The Nine of Wands moves from “hopes and fears” to “what you seek.” This card shows someone resting after a serious battle. He’s injured, but he’s still standing. We’d like to have a time of rest in the coming year. The Ace of Wands moves from the final outcome to “what is passing.” As much as I’d like for the positive trends of the last four months to continue on into 2023, this says that’s over. What we get is something new.

Will that be better or worse? It will be different.

The Seven of Cauldrons is in the “far past” position. The time for daydreaming has passed – it’s time to act. The Two of Wands indicates that good things are coming, but notice how the figure is looking to the left, away from all the other cards in the reading – and toward the unused cards left in the deck. Long-term goals and plans are good and necessary, but keep your attention on this year’s business.

The only two Shields (Pentacles in Waite-Smith) in this reading are the Four of Shields, indicating we’re feeling a sense of lack and are inclined to be tight-fisted and closed off. But the next card in the reading is the King of Shields in “the environment in which we work” position. This is not the time to hoard what we have – it’s the time manage our resources wisely, for the good of all.

This is also one of those times where the Celtic Tarot differs slightly but significantly from Waite-Smith and other decks in that system. The King of Shields is Math, King of Gwynedd. His foot is resting in the lap of a maiden, here a representative of the land and the sovereignty of the land. The land is the source of his power – and of ours. Maintain your relationships with the land where you are.

Our hopes and fears are represented by the Queen of Swords. We’ve made it through the last three years – we have the confidence to handle whatever the Wheel sends our way – and the wisdom and judgement to handle it well.

The final outcome position is occupied by The Merlin – The Hermit in Waite-Smith. I don’t think this card points toward solitude and introspection so much as it points toward guidance: The Merlin holds his lamp, offering light and wisdom to all who come to him. Remember that he’s a sage, not an evangelist – he imparts his wisdom to those who come to him and request it. He doesn’t preach it from a streetcorner. Do not expect The Merlin to send you a text and tell you what you need to know. You have to seek him out – and then ask for his guidance.

Who are you in this card? Are you The Merlin? Do you need to help others find their way? Or do you need to seek out guidance? Perhaps you’re both?

Pay particular attention to the rising sun on the horizon. This isn’t The Sun or The World – everything’s not going to be great by the end of 2023. But we’re moving toward something better – and that’s very encouraging.

2023 is not going to be 2020 Part IV. It brings different challenges and new opportunities. We have what we need to make this a good year (whatever “good year” means to you) but we must keep our attention on the business at hand. Let us seek wise counsel when we need it, and let us offer wise counsel when it is requested.


Want to learn to read Tarot? I’ll be teaching an online course in Tarot For Divination beginning January 26. Look for all the details in a blog post next Tuesday, January 10.

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