Ask Arcanalogue: Advice from the Arcana | Haute Macabre

Ask Arcanalogue: Advice from the Arcana

Dear Arcanalogue,

Congrats on beginning this column offering guidance and advice to Haute Macabre readers! I was wondering a few things, though: Who the hell do you think you are? Why should anyone come to you with their questions? And do you actually expect this endeavor to be successful? 

Oh, and lastly: what advice do you have for someone who is starting a big, scary new project? 

Affectionately, 
You From 10 Minutes Ago

Dear You,

I have to say, this message comes as no surprise. While your tone is dubious, the questions are still welcome! I figure others may be wondering some of the same things.

Who the hell do you think you are? 

I’d love to turn this question back on you, but I guess someone else would end up answering it, about 10 minutes from now. Right? 

It’s actually something I’ve spent decades trying to answer, with lots of help from the tarot. The name I chose for my web project, Arcanalogue, basically translates to “conversation with the unknown.” At some point I finally stopped losing sleep over wondering who or what is answering when we call out. I have my own answers, and others have (or seek) their own. It’s the act of calling itself I wanted to honor, that instinct to reach beyond our awareness for clues that guide us to our fate. The fact that meaningful answers are so often forthcoming, regardless of who we believe we’re addressing (ancestors? spirits? deities? aliens? The ghosts of our dead alien forefathers who were worshiped by other civiliazations as gods? ) is the ultimate weird human trick. 

The symbolic structure of a tarot deck is doesn’t just help us glean and interpret information in the world around us — it also guides and illuminates our own inner experience, ideally joining the two together, harmonizing them, erasing the perception that the inner and the outer are two different realms.  

As someone perpetually aspiring to that state, and who also wants others to experience it as well, I feel obligated to stick my neck out and share what I’ve learned in my practice. Divination has been like a second home to me — especially in the sense that I don’t share it with just anyone, though I do still offer it happily and freely (and also sometimes for money). On occasion it was what I had instead of a home, and I’ll never forget the comfort and peace it afforded in those times. 

In my experience, a good reading serves as a sort of advertisement for the very act of seeking the search for answers to all life’s questions…  which invariably points us back toward these conversations with the unknown. 

(And then there are the less-good readings, which hopefully remind us of the importance of continuing to refine one’s own practice. I could tell you some stories!)

If anyone wants more in terms of biographical details, a few can be found here. But you don’t need these, do you Querent? You’re me. You already know them.


Next query:

Why should anyone come to you with their questions?

Here’s what I drew in response. The obvious answer is that I can offer solutions impartially, perhaps moreso than you might get in a face-to-face reading. Those “cold reading” and people-pleasing instincts can be so hard to foil in person, and that’s even if your reader is aware of them. You can ask me things you might hesitate to say out loud to someone else; Justice’s blindness plays to our advantage here. 

My divination process is rather formal, I make sure to draw as if the asking really matters, approaching each question in the spirit in which it’s offered. (That includes humor, because sometimes the deck is definitely laughing at me.) I’ll go ahead and pass along answers I don’t fully understand, just in case they make more sense to you — and I’ll try to be up front about the limitations of my view. Also, at the end of the day I’m just a muttering voice several degrees of reality away from you: easily ignored and easily banished, if you don’t like what you’re hearing. 

Justice is also cardinal virtue, which may be a message to me, as a reader and advice-giver, to keep your question in mind, every day: Why should someone come to me? The rule of thumb governing advice has always been: “Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?” That’s the standard I’ve tried to maintain as reader over the years of Q&A interactions on my own website.


Do you actually expect this endeavor to be successful?

No reason it shouldn’t be, as long as I apply myself industriously, stay flexible as it evolves, and prove myself to be very, very clever. 


Oh, and lastly: what advice do you have for someone who is starting a big, scary new project? 

To this, The World says: Proceed without limiting yourself. See all outcomes as potentially within your reach. Always be starting something, and never live in fear of endings. That sense of wonder and budding potential will keep dreams alive even during phases when the means to access them remain frustratingly out of reach.

All any of us really want is simply to know our own story. What kind of story am I telling with my life? Just give me hints, and then I’ll know what part to play in it. 

As we set out on a new path, we want a glimpse of that feeling we imagine we’re supposed to get at the end, looking back: your story laid out clearly behind you in all its peculiar swoops and sharp turns and long uneventful stretches. Ideally, you’ll look at it and recognize it as yourself. “That was me,” you’ll say. 

That’s all we aspire to in divination: a bit of extra certainty as we go forth, manufacturing our story out of mere hopes, suggestions, and wisps of fortune, making our decisions or resigning to outcomes in a way that still lets us recognize ourselves. 

“This is you,” we’re saying to that being in the future, however far off. “This is what you ended up doing, and this is why it mattered.” 

I think I can live with that. Can you? 

Thanks again for spending your precious present-tense moments setting up this conversation, Querent. I hope readers will be inspired offer up questions of their own — vague ones, detailed ones, practical ones, philosophical ones — which they can do by opting into the Haute Macabre tier on my Patreon. 

I’ll always remember our time together affectionately.

Yours in the future,
Arcanalogue

Find Arcanalogue on Instagram // Tumblr // Patreon


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