Dinging in the New Year

Using divination to seek inspiration in 2024

Amethysta Herrick
Amethysta Herrick
The Queen of Swords finding her Princess again - image by the author via Midjourney

Last month, I published an article detailing my plan to change how I worked throughout 2023. I have grand plans in the works for 2024, some of which I want to describe now.

If I begin an activity I intended as ongoing, a sense of guilt arises when I stop. This past December, however, I remembered the Pagan Wheel of the Year. I began to wind down during the Autumn, the season we think of as the harvest. While we do indeed enjoy the corn that grew during the Summer, it is easy to forget most of the corn plant is discarded.

Cornstalks are cut and left on the ground to decompose through the Winter. At first, this process seems wasteful, but composting ensures the nourishment for next Spring's crop returns to the soil where it can be reused.

The cycle is sustainable only because of compost. We never harvest the fruit of our work without some of it left behind as fertilizer.

In 2023, I built up a body of work - a good start on thought leadership. In 2024, I am honing my message with the intent of bringing it to a greater audience.

I'm currently working with a publicist to accomplish my goal, and one of the first questions she asked me was to consider what I want to be known for.

Amethysta's legacy

I dreamed up plenty of reasons I'd like to be known, many of them not very academic. And while I believe introspection is a critical skill, sometimes the engine of inspiration needs a jump start. To this end, I decided to turn to divination.

On an impulse last October, I bought a new copy of Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot deck. I owned a copy in graduate school, but it always seemed a bit too spot on. I stopped using it when several of my friends got creeped out by it. This new deck feels very friendly to me, and with a question about my future, I felt clarity and honesty were paramount.

For the layout, I chose Directional, in which cards are placed in the Earth's cardinal directions. Western Magical Tradition corresponds cardinal directions with Earth's seasons and the four Elements. The combination of symbols felt very applicable to beginning a new phase of my life.

If you've done much divination, you know occasionally you come across the perfect set of symbols, where every card in every position fits the meaning of the question and speaks an eloquent answer. That didn't seem to be this reading. Instead, when first I laid down the cards, I was a bit befuddled.

The wisdom in the reading quickly emerged as an inspiring, intricate pattern of my past work.

Thoth Tarot cards in Directional Layout - image by the author

The big question

The center position represents the source of the question - the real meat of the problem being addressed. The card placed in the center is the Ten of Wands.

Ten of Wands represents a sense of burden - even to the point of oppression. More importantly, Ten of Wands stresses burdens are frequently assumed, not assigned. We pick up these burdens, and in doing so, we oppress ourselves.

The sense of oppression represents the paradox each human experiences from the obligation of social expectations. As part of a society, we are taught to pick up and honor social expectations. As an individual, we feel an undying fire to be the person we truly are.

The core of my question begins when we pick up the burden of social expectations, believing it to be ours. The solution to the problem involves learning to put it down.

The North

The first cardinal direction to consider is the North. The North is correlated with the Winter season and the Element of Earth. Winter is a time of quiescence and stability, and from a stable platform, we can launch great endeavors. The card placed to the North is the Princess of Disks (Crowley's name for Page of Pentacles in the Rider-Waite-Smith (RWS) deck).

The Princess of Disks is a quiet and contemplative sort. Similar to the soil in Winter, the Princess contains within her the seeds of great creative potential...if they can be nurtured to life.

In the North, the Princess of Disks represents the latent potential each of us possesses that could sprout given the appropriate conditions. Many of us may never explore these potentials without first setting down the burden of social expectations.

If we can launch ourselves, however, we may manifest new thought in our world - possibly a new, better life for all humanity.

The East

Moving sunwise in the compass, we find the East. The East is correlated with the Spring season and the Element of Air (in the magical tradition I follow). Spring is a time of new beginnings and constant change, an exciting time for the planet. The card placed to the East is The Fool.

The Fool represents boundless possibility. At the speed of thought, the uncertainty of the future turns to excitement at the prospect of what may take root.

Each of us wants to take part in The Fool's journey - to cultivate the seeds of creativity currently lying dormant. Our excitements fades, however, when we face that burden of social expectation.

If we can convince ourselves to take that first step - possibly off a cliff, possibly on a safe road to success - there is no limit to what we could learn and do and be.

The South

Our next point of the compass is the South. The South is correlated with the Summer season and the Element of Fire. Summer is when the seeds we plant have the potential to manifest as a bountiful harvest of success...or burn in the heat of the brutal Sun illuminating them. The card placed to the South is the Three of Swords.

The Three of Swords represents heartache. It is frequently associated with a failing romantic relationship, but human experience of loss and sorrow is more expansive than only romance.

Prior to questioning our role as bearer of the burden of social expectation, we feel only disappointment. We yearn for the union of our dreams with their manifestation in our lives. We want to love the world, yet suppressing our true nature leaves us heartbroken.

Instead of celebrating our creative nature, we seek solace in the ephemeral pleasures of what already exists in the world. We allow our seeds of creativity to die in the Fire of Summer instead of nourishing the possibilities.

If we can sprout our seeds of creativity, could our lives be filled with more love? Could they be rewarding and give us the sense of wholeness we crave?

The West

The final direction is the West. The West is correlated with the Autumn season and the Element of Water (again, in the tradition I follow). In Autumn, we reap what we have sown, but also discard that which no longer serves - perpetuating the cycle of our planet. The card placed to the West is the Princess of Swords (Crowley's name for Page of Swords in the RWS deck)

The Princess of Swords is an inquisitive sort. She is ready to find the answers, but also maintains a sense of detachment from the questions. The Princess of Swords represents our need for introspection, for going within and giving ourselves permission to let go of what does not serve us.

But even fertilizer serves a purpose: to act as nourishment for the seeds of creativity planted when Winter ends. Although we may feel nostalgia for past accomplishments and guilt for current failures, introspection must be honest and clear.

If we are to lay down our burden, it will only happen by seeing our world not as it is, but as it could be.

The cycle continues

In this divination, I asked what I want to be known for. My answer derives from one card I've never been certain could represent me.

When asked to name my Court Card, I typically choose Queen of Swords. She lives a life of wisdom hard-won from the injury of difficult experience. But could the Queen of Swords transmute her sorrows? Could she revert to a Princess and learn the excitement of a child again? Could a gender transition restore a jaded Queen's faith in the world?

In this reading, the Princess of Swords in the West acts as a psychopomp. The world itself is not evil - there are underlying patterns in humanity that give us sorrow. The Princess of Swords guides us to drop the unwarranted burden of social expectation and reclaim our freedom as individuals. That is what I wish to be known for - as a psychopomp of the status quo.

In 2024, my purpose is clear. To look beyond the obvious so that humanity can see the world not as it is, but as it could be.

It’s time for this Princess of Swords to get to work.


Amethysta Herrick

Ami is a transgender woman dedicated to exploring identity and gender. She is Editor-in-Chief of Purplepaw Publications, LLC.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the offical policy or position of Purplepaw Publications, LLC. Please view the Disclaimer page for further information.