WN16 Six of Swords (2020 in Review)

Wasn’t going to do a year in review post. But since Christmas plans are officially cancelled. Here’s what I’ve got.

I have been experimenting with tarot, and at other ways of approaching the world. Trying to balance the analytical and intuitive sides of myself. I’ve also fallen into the into the orbit of Gordon White. His his discussions with Austin Coppeck introduced me to longer cycle astrology.

In The Chaos Protocols, Gordon White describes a process of planning. Check your calendar and what you consciously know about what’s to come. But, also consult the space weather (your horoscope), and the cards. What are you missing? What is the terrain going to be like?

If it wasn’t for this openness to framing, this year could have been very different for me.

As far back as January. I had heard the astrological space weather being a “meat grinder”. Sophia and I also did a tarot spread for the year. We did a large spread. And the cards that stood out to me were The High Priestess and the Six of Swords.

The High Priestess is a card of internal contemplation and receptivity. It was in a position for the personal realm. And it aligned with where I had come where I was. The Six of Swords represented conditions in the world.

The deck we used was the True Black Tarot. And it is gorgeous. Each card is a thick, matte, black card stock. Each with a full colour image that pops against the background. The glossy black detailing plays with the light in the room. I have had some particularly striking reads with it. Pulling a card with a clam on it when we visited The Shell Grotto in Margate in January was apt and fun. Pulling a bloodied white wolf the day that I found a little old lady bleeding in the street freaked me out. (She was well looked after.)

The Six of Swords depicts a caravan of boats in the fog. Which, as an analogy, maps well to 2020. Supply chain disruption. Cancellation of travel. Stagnation. Isolation. Even an awareness to the quality of air.

And this has been in my wider awareness since January. It surprised me how good the month had been to us. We saw family. We got to spend time by the sea in Margate. We visited galleries and roamed vintage shops.

In February, I was busy doing FAWM. In the middle where we got to see some friends for a long night of drinks in London, starting in the Black Hart. One of my best friends had recently returned home from an extended stay abroad. Another was talking about buying a house and moving in the summer. This did not happen. But they are now looking to move the beginning of next year.

On the weekend of the 14th of March, went to an event in London, and then followed it up with drinks for a family birthday. And everybody had the feeling like this was the last moment that we had together for a while. Two days later, measures were announced, and lockdown began the week after. But, it was already on the tip of our tongues.

I have a confession to make. I wanted to work from home more. When the early stories were coming about China, then Italy I was thinking “no, it can’t be that serious”. I also thought back to the cues from the cards and space weather. I wouldn’t have chosen it, but I was prepared to flip to “this is how I live now”. If it lasted a day over a month, I was prepared for the storm to last eighteen. I embraced it with a knowing of what was out my control. An opportunity for The High Priestess to shine.

That first lockdown was announced for one month. Then extended three weeks. I was hearing the statement we’d be back in the office by summer, then in September, then Christmas, now Easter. My sympathies for that not coming to pass. For me, there is a dissonance between the claim for extreme measures and an optimistic timeline.

That last night out in March was fantastic. Host knows how to put on an event. We had a live band, a dancer, and drum ‘n’ bass. When our hired venue closed, we then went on a bar crawl with parents, cousins and aunt in tow. We stayed out as late as we could. It was a rare night with everyone on the same wavelength, up for enjoying it, as full as we can.

March into April was a month of great shifts. The lockdown brought Sophia and me into our home, and devastated our plans for the year. We had intended to go to Roadburn. The Netherlands was not yet at the point on its timeline where things were closing. And there was a lots of uncertainty. If everything did blow over perhaps we would still be able to go from the UK to the Netherlands. This did not come to pass. They cancelled the event as late as they could, with the intention to reschedule for 2021. At this point, that is not happening, either. The event is now pushed yet another year.

During this time, Spain was having a more extreme moment, compared to what was going on in the UK. In May, friends were due to wed in Madrid, and to emigrate there. And over April, there would have been a stag do. The planning stalled as we knew that we would be unable to see each other. With heartache, the wedding was postponed for a year. We shared our condolences about the personal impact.

The summer is a blur of a groundhog day. Roll out of bed. Commute one room to an improvised desk. Both of us working in the same room, ignoring each other, on video calls to different people. It took me too long to find a desk I liked, and to move my working space into another room. My back is still suffering for it, but improving.

It was a jarring and disembodied time. A breakdown of communication ensued. She was hit harder by the disruption to our routine. And the removal of travel, live music, and casual drinks. Not only from the present, but the plannable future. We were stripped of our usual coping mechanisms.

We did have a high point of seeing the family during the summer between stricter lockdowns. We had more candid and reflective conversations. We all had stuff to deal with, and have had the time to think.

We went to emptier and emptier cinemas. And, other than the Cyberpunk campaign, summer felt like undifferentiated time. Even though we could, maybe, see people, nobody was organising. We had been catching up with friends online, but this came in waves too. The need for the change of pace was why we went to Wales, before the opportunity was taken away from us.

The more recent months have been documented in Weeknotes. Internal work has allowed public writing, as a response to the conditions forced upon us. It provides a pulse and definition to the week that was otherwise lacking.

In many ways, I’ve had an easy year of it. The company and my work was able to adapt. I do not live alone. I live near green space in a less affected area. My family are in good health. For which I am grateful. But this was not hermiting by choice. Returning to The High Priestess, it has been a process of coming to terms with a stolen year and sundering of expectations. As it has been for us all.

And since the middle of the year, in small ways, each month has been better and better. The removal of all travel has shown how much of a drain it can be. And, it’s made space to put some of the fundamentals in better order. And, it’s made time to think, and read, and make music (sadly without company). We’ve gone from binge watching old TV shows, to putting our energy into things that interest us.

I don’t know what next year holds. But consulting wider sources has served me well. Some thing will need focus, and others to be accepted. I intend to do the same for next year.

This interregnum must come to an end. And it will. The timeline is just out of our individual control.

Have your best Christmas. It’s all you can do. x

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