Oracle of Ybor: Grief can be a dark, dangerous sea so move slowly and take care of yourself

Oh, and that hawk that killed your chicken isn’t a bad omen for your future.

Dear Yboracle, The other day when I was getting sun with my three young chickens, a hawk swooped down from the sky above my yard and fatally wounded one of them. Is this a bad omen for my springtime and future ahead? What can I do to escape this fate if so?—Celestially yours, Darkened Spring

Cards: World reversed, Four of Swords, Ten of Pentacles reversed

Dear Darkened, First, I am so sorry you saw some sumbitch hawk swoop down and kill your chicken right in front of you. That sounds terribly dramatic, a touch traumatic—and it probably shook you up something mean. While it might be cold comfort, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a bad omen. 

Send your questions to the Ybor Oracle to [email protected] (“SUBJ: Oracle”) or pass them directly to the Oracle on Instagram (@theyboracle).

The Four of swords is removing the ego, so the good news is that this has nothing to do with you. That hawk would have killed something, but only to eat, not out of spite. (Do hawks kill for kicks? Ornithologist, please write in.) It is simply a brutal part of nature (The World) and the part of that bloody path known as “the circle of life.” Ten of Pentacles is the completion of work, and with its earthy energy, it’s an apt metaphor for shaking off the mortal coil.

Still, I’m very sorry. That’s really rough, my friend. If you feel so moved to, perhaps you could make a small donation to the Ybor Chicken Society in your feathered friend’s name. They help protect the fauna around these parts, and they do a mighty fine job of it too. Take care.

Dear Oracle, I’ve been unemployed during the pandemic, and now I’m looking to make a fresh start, possibly a new career, but I’m not sure what that means. Any advice?—Starting over

Cards: The Devil, Four of Pentacles, Four of Swords reversed. 

At the risk of sounding like a high school guidance counselor, start with your passion. The Devil doesn’t show up unless there’s something substantial pulling at our hearts (a new relationship, work, opioids), and if you’re looking to start something completely new, then that passion might be a good north star.

It’s also important to give some deep contemplation to what you could see yourself doing and make sure it’s not just for an ego-fix but a job you actually want to do. (For example, plenty of people love saying they’re “a writer,” but not as many like the tedious act of sitting down and writing.) This is what the Four of Swords is representing.

A new career change might also require some financial risks, especially at the beginning. The Four of Pentacles can be a financially conservative card (savings, trimming spending), but it can also be a paralyzing fear of losing what money or possessions you have.  

And that fear, coupled with the oh so powerful Devil, can lead to a nasty feedback loop of anxiety and dread and worry that you’ll never be employed again. As someone who was unemployed and underemployed for 18 months, I know how fucking terrible that feeling is. But just because the Devil tells you something doesn’t mean it’s true!

Figure out what you can actually see yourself doing, what you want to be doing, and where those two overlap. Then, prepare for what you can. Do you need to take a coding class? Get a teaching certificate? Build a kiln? Let that devilish passion excite you. And then start applying or forging your path forward. Good luck!

Dear Oracle, I recently lost my dear Grandmother first to dementia and then to COVID-19. Though she always loved me she certainly did not always approve of my politics, my appearance, or the gay family I was proudly raised by. There are so many questions I never asked her, topics I never dared to broach, and now it is too late. Can your cards tell me how to feel more at peace with our relationship and her passing?—Black Sheep

Cards: Three of cups, King of Wands reversed, The Hanged Man, Eight of Swords.

Black Sheep, I am so so sorry for your loss. This was and still is a painful situation; the Eight of Swords is often seen as a shorthand for “depression,” and it is, but it goes deeper than that. It can be a depression from self-imposed restrictions. Often the card shows a blind-folded woman (mine is simply sleepwalking out a window), which means that we’re choosing to turn a blind eye to our situation and how it’s making us miserable. But, we don’t always put up restrictions because we’re scared or petty or masochists. We often put up boundaries for self-preservation.

The King of Wands is a powerful protector. Perhaps this is you, maybe it’s a member of your gay family of origin, but whoever it was, they were not going to let you go into harm’s way. In the suite of intuition, the King knew what was up. Human beings are complicated creatures; this leads to complex relationships and complex love. You loved your grandmother, and she loved you, but you may still have needed to be protected from her, first by your family and finally by yourself.

But that doesn’t heal the hurt. The Hanged Man is a card for surrender, for intuition, and also for improvement. Be very kind to yourself, first and foremost. Grief can be a dark, dangerous sea, and you might have to move slowly through parts. If you have a spiritual or creative practice (or both), that might be something you can lean on to guide you on. Be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling and let yourself feel it—and do not be hesitant to reach out to friends and loved ones at this time. Three of Cups, the card of friendship, came out of the deck when I was shuffling. If you have a set of good friends, go ahead and lean on them and ask them for things you need, even if it sounds silly or shameful. 

And, as always, seeing a therapist, if you can swing it might be a great relief to you. Good luck, my little lamb!

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