I have been in a tizzy for over a month about buying a car. With everything that’s going on in the world, how can that possibly be a big deal? But it is. (Also I’m not sublimating you’re sublimating.)
I think it’s class stuff. I was raised middle class, but have been broke for most of my adult life. Then, about six months ago, I got a job with a solidly lower middle class salary. So many feelings! They ranged from “I should move into a shed and give every penny I’m not spending on stale bread to immigration and prison abolition groups” to “but what if I cashed out my bank account and piled up the money so I could sleep on it like a pale, smug dragon LOOK AT HOW MUCH MONEY THIS IS.” I’ve been trying to find a middle ground, with some amount of income redistribution and some amount of slowly restocking crappy, worn out socks and coats and bras and stuff (and a few new tarot decks; I regret nothing).
I also decided I wanted a car. I bought a truck this summer, having not owned motorized transportation for many years, and it was a charismatic mess, lacking fancy things like power steering and a functional transmission, so eventually we had to part ways. Therefore, given my newfound STACKS OF CASH, I thought I’d buy a car that didn’t suck.
My attempts so far to do so have been unsuccessful. Fresh from the frustration of the charismatic yet totally broken truck, I was determined to take any potential car to a shop for a pre-purchase inspection. But cars were selling so fast that no one wanted to waste a day driving their car to the shop to get inspected.
This made me feel kind of nuts. After so long of not being able to afford a car, or at least a car whose transmission wasn’t about to fall out, I had the exact right number of dollars to get the exact thing I wanted and no one wanted to sell it to me! I slowly realized that the friends who kept telling me about reliable dealerships and easy online purchasing were talking about situations in which the cheapest car available cost twice what I had to spend.
It was in that context that, after walking out of a sketchy dealership on a freezing, windy Sunday afternoon in tears because the owner refused to drive a car literally one mile to an independent mechanic for an inspection, I swore off car shopping for at least 24 hours—only to find myself awake the next morning at 5 am, checking Craigslist. Not good.
So I decided to do a tarot reading about it. I think my actual question was “Cars! Or—argh! All of this bullshit! Dammit!”
The cards never let me down, y’all. I was prepared to be bewildered by whatever came up, because I wasn’t feeling terribly focused and I don’t know this deck very well, but the reading did not disappoint.
I did a celtic cross, which I rarely do because I think the spread is too complicated, but it worked out really well. First impressions: lots of Majors and knives, with stones and branches also represented. Also—cars! There are two cards in this deck with cars on them and I got both of them.
It starts with the situation: The World, reversed. That feeling of having made it to a new level, but not quite being able to access it. Not really there, or there and also not there at the same time. Makes sense.
Then the conflict is Six of Knives. The standard meaning for this card is about accepting help and moving away from sadness/discord. But it’s also a picture of a car being driven across a rocky road under a sky full of knives. This is my actual car shopping life right now. And it's a white car, which is interesting in relationship to the leaving influence, so let’s move left…
The leaving influence (major theme from the recent past that is now receding in the… rearview mirror, if you will) is The Chariot. I suppose we could talk about the standard meaning for this card but let’s just jump to the fact that it’s a picture of a red pickup truck from which a cute queer is stargazing, which is the exact fantasy I had for my life with my charismatic, broken-ass pickup truck, which was, for the record, RED. And the white car in the Six of Swords looks suspiciously like the white car I’m borrowing from a friend and considering buying, even though I promised myself I’d never drive stick again.
Tarot is not usually this literal for me, friends. MOVING ON.
The incoming influence is The Guild, which corresponds to The Hierophant in traditional decks. In sequence with The Chariot and the Six of Swords, I read it as telling me to let the red pickup fantasies go,* and buy the white car even though it has a stick shift (it’s a very nice car) so that I can stop being so isolated in my house because I’m too tired to take the bus to community building things.
The surface reason for why I’m so wound up about this (top card), the Six of Stones, is all about giving and receiving. In the traditional image, a rich dude is tossing money to one poor person while ignoring another poor person and waggling a scale (of justice, one presumes) at said poor people. I’m not quite sure how this image tracks to that, but what I see in this card is coming to terms with feelings of loneliness and exclusion. The little black dot in the center of the stones seems like it’s more integrated into the community because it’s surrounded by its megalithic friends, but it’s also kind of boxed in and flat. The rose is off to itself, but it’s vivid and alive, and it has lots of grass to be friends with.
I think this is speaking to the feelings of wanting to have Middle Class Stuff (i.e., a Prius), partly because it has great resale value, low maintenance costs, and stellar gas mileage, but also partly because it’s a symbol of being financially secure and one of the group. Those aren’t my real values (well, not the part about being one of the group in that way), but it’s real that I struggle with them. We’re all indoctrinated in our class background and it’s natural to wrestle with that. I would buy the hell out of a Prius if I could afford one though.
The deep reason (bottom card) for why I’m so wound up about this is The Alchemist (Temperance in a traditional deck). This card is about holding space for opposites and finding balance. Part of what’s been happening this week is that I’ve been all about crunching data and numbers and trying to control every variable, but I'm doing that in an environment that is inherently uncontrollable. Calculating the difference between the fuel costs for a Civic and a Prius over five years is soothing if you love spreadsheets and data (I do!!), but it doesn’t do a thing to solve the problem of car sellers not being willing to drive their cars to the shop for an inspection, which is the actual problem. I’m spinning because my airy, intellectual labor is mostly useless in this situation. I can’t make people want to do a thing they don’t want to do (even though they are totally wrong, gah). I need to balance out that air energy with some earthy pragmatism and an emotional gut check. And maybe funnel some of my smart air energy and creative fire energy into figuring out how to practice scary stick shift situations so they are less scary (go white car!).
Moving over to the self position, we have the Nine of Knives. Yup. This is exactly how I’m feeling right now. Like a disembodied skull with scary teeth and a bunch of pocket knives in its head! This is generally a card about nightmares and worrying and being taken over by fears and waking up full of dread. Or, as the case may be, with an irrepressible urge to check Craigslist. Nine of Knives, you get me!
Above that is the environment card, which is the Two of Branches. This is usually about planning—after the seed of a new idea is planted, but before it’s ready to send up its first leaves. I think this is connected to that reversed World; it’s all about being in a space where I still really don’t have the means to get some of the things I want and need. It’s a caution to wait a little longer, be a little bit more patient. And a reminder that things are growing, things are moving, things are changing, even if it’s all under the surface still.
The hopes and fears position is The Oracle (The High Priestess in the traditional deck). I think it’s telling me that my hopes and fears about this car go a lot deeper than the worries about money. Those feelings are a deeply intuitive sense that I need help being more connected (as indicated by The Guild) and that easier transportation is a key part of that, coupled with some fears about being a sellout because I drive a car instead of riding a bike. I’m comfortable with my reasons for choosing to own a car, but that fear still nags at me sometimes.
And, finally, the Seven of Stones. I read this as “a word of advice”, as suggested by Beth at LRT. This one is about tending the garden. It’s the process of checking to see what’s ripe and what’s growing well, what needs to be weeded out to make space for new growth, learning from the past, and working for a good future. This card is so grounding and summery. I feel like it’s saying, friend, it’s okay to relax a little. You’ve done a lot of good work and you’ve got some great stuff going. It’s not all fully mature yet, but that’s okay. Keep showing up and watering the plants and caring for them as best you can. Try some stuff, make some mistakes, try again. You got this.
Y’all, I love tarot. I felt frustrated and spiky when I started this reading, and now I feel relaxed and settled. I’m so grateful for all the tarot readers who came before me and shared their wisdom so I could have access to this tool and companion. Sending out good thoughts to all of you on your tarot journeys.
*I’ll just mention that my most amazing red pickup truck stargazing experience, while it was truly epic, ended in me peeing all over my sleeping bag as I attempted to empty my bladder into a mason jar to avoid a 3 am journey over the tailgate, so it was not all starry nights and cute undershirts.