Collective Reading for Mormon Misfits

I come from a Mormon background. My family has been part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as The Mormon Church) for generations, and I spent my formative years deeply devoted to the teachings of the church and the community that gathered around those teachings.

In adulthood, I somehow joined the broad community of Mormon misfits. This was nothing I expected, nothing I planned, but it happened, and I am grateful every day. We’re a fringe segment of an already fringe religion, and it’s a weird space to occupy, but also a powerful and instructive one.

A few nights ago, during the New Moon in Libra, I did a collective tarot reading for all the Mormon misfits, because geez louise, it is one thing after another lately. The church’s semi-annual General Conference just took place, and with it came a lot of complexity, difficulty, pain, and anxiety for pretty much every Mormon misfit I know. I feel like tarot is really amazing at giving direction and clarity when things get way too noisy (metaphorically speaking), and this was something I felt I could do for my community and myself.

For this reading, I pulled three cards and used a spread I really like called "Mirror - Medicine - Message." The first card is a mirror, reflecting the core truth of this moment. The second card is medicine, basically an invitation to take in something that will nourish and heal. The final card is a message from the divine.

Mormon collective reading

Here's what came through and how I see these cards working together:

Mirror: Four of Cups reversed

The Four of Cups shows a person sitting at the base of a tree being offered a cup by a mysterious, celestial hand. At least in this moment, the person isn't accepting the cup, and we also see that they have three additional cups already sitting before them. In essence, this card is about trusting your own sense of what is right for you, especially in terms of timing. Sometimes we feel like we have to take every opportunity that comes along, or we're worried that if we don't seize what's being offered to us, we'll never get the chance again. The Four of Cups rejects that idea, rejects the belief that we have to accept things just because they're offered. If we're not ready for something, that's okay. If we've had all we want to drink, we don't have to take another swallow. It is our divine right to know what is correct for us, as well as to say no to anything that isn't. It's okay to wait, to take a pause.

The fact that this card is upside down is significant. Any time a card is reversed, the message of the card is still there, but with a bit of a twist. In this case, I'd say that the message is to trust our intuitive timing not only when it tells us "STOP" or "WAIT," but also when it tells us "GO." If there's something in you that is ready for movement, or is ready for accepting something that's being offered, then honor that as well. The soul is wise; if a refreshing cup is stretched out to you, believe in that wisdom, whether it tells you to say yes or no.

Medicine: The Hanged Man reversed

This is another card that came out upside down, and The Hanged Man itself is all about being upside down anyway, so it's almost like a double negative of a card, if that makes sense — the upside down is turned upside down. This card shows a person hung by his ankle, looking peaceful and centered. When the card appears upright, it represents surrender and the willingness to evolve through discomfort; the inversion of the man's body is an initiation into a kind of death, a time of intense growth and searching. Surrender is the key word — allowing the body (and the soul, and the mind, and everything) to just be present with what is for a brief moment.

Seeing this card reversed is really interesting, because instead of dangling by a foot, it looks like The Hanged Man has become The Dancing Man. It's a very ballerina-esque posture, balancing on a toe with the other leg bent behind, the hands and head in perfect alignment. Essentially, the Hanged Man reversed in this reading is an invitation to second-guess the surrendering. What if you don't have to submit to an uncomfortable physical situation? What if you don't have to just let this happen? What if instead it's time to dance? Even just considering that we don't have to put up with whatever we're asked to put up with — that's powerful medicine.

Message: The Hierophant

I kind of couldn't believe how on-the-nose this card was when it showed up in the reading. Like many, I've been feeling the emotional ripples of this most recent General Conference (even though I didn't watch it at all!) and the (in my opinion) harmful energy that's being put out there by church leaders. The Hierophant is a religious leader, basically a pope or prophet. And the meaning of this card is all about reflecting on who and what has authority over you. It's about examining the beliefs that have been handed down to you. It's about what unites a community. It's about learning to believe in your own authority. That's really the crux of it: opening up to trusting your own authority.

The Hierophant and The Hanged Man are deeply connected to one another. Having both of them in this reading is hammering home the points of spirituality, surrender, and community vs. solitude. The two reversed cards (Four of Cups and Hanged Man) are both emphasizing choice and personal empowerment.

The short version of all that is this:

As a MIRROR for this moment in our community -- we are empowered to decide whether to reject or accept what we're being offered, whether to hold still or move. We are each individually wise enough to know what is correct for us, even down to the timing.
As MEDICINE for us as individuals and a collective -- we are invited to take a healthy dose of critical thinking, to inquire thoughtfully around what we feel we must surrender to in order to "learn" or "grow" or "improve" or "be good people."
As a MESSAGE from the divine -- look to your own authority as a primary source of inspiration.

One final thing I'm struck by: The Hanged Man and The Hierophant have some visual similarities that are highlighted even more by the fact that The Hanged Man is reversed.

Mormon collective reading

Notice how they're both centered on the card, how the greenery on The Hanged Man mirrors the positions of the worshippers on The Hierophant, how The Hierophant's staff is laid out a lot like The Hanged Man's body.

And most illuminating: notice how they both have golden crowns. The Hanged Man's seems to radiate from his being, while The Hierophant's is elaborate and tangible.

What this says to me is that these two figures are, in a sense, the very same being. One has all the trappings of fortune and power; the other is kind of a lonely weirdo. But that's all superficial. They are parts of one whole — the same soul seen from different vantage points. It reminds me of a quote from the always-brilliant Audre Lorde, in her essay "The Uses of Anger." She talks about how we can be especially harsh or unsympathetic with people who are like us in some ways but act in a manner we don't fully understand. She says, "If I fail to see them as other faces of myself, I contribute not only to their oppression, but also to my own." It can be so instinctive to separate ourselves from The Other, whatever Other is. And sometimes it's important to do that, at least to a point. But what I'm seeing in this reading is an invitation for us as individuals (most certainly myself included) and as a community to see the other faces of ourselves, to see how the people we think are so different from us are actually a part of us, as much as we are a part of them.

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With love to all the Mormons and all the misfits and all the everyone,

Sara

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