This week we're getting to know Nick from Queer of Cups! I'm so excited to have Nick on the blog, I discovered him through Krystal of Power Femme Tarot and have been a fan ever since. He works closely with astrology and tarot, and offers mini-astro consultants. Check out his interview below!
Hello, can you tell us about yourself? How did tarot find you?
I’m a queer, trans bear, and in my day job, I’m a professor of gender and sexuality studies. I recently stated a project/little astrology business called Queer of Cups, which offers short 400-600 word personalized write-ups about astrological transits. Astrology is my first mystical love, but I’ve got a deep love of tarot as well. I’ve been doing daily draws for myself for about 3 years now, and this fall, I started doing tarot readings for students at the LGBT Center on the campus where I teach. I was inspired to pick up tarot by my best witchy bestie Krystal (of Power Femme Tarot), and it’s been an invaluable tool for developing my intuitive capacities. What I like best about tarot, though, is that when cards are on the table between two people, my experience is that people will say things and get deeper into conversations than they would otherwise. Meaningful connection is what I’m always longing for most, and I really love the way tarot facilitates that.
If you could remove any card in the deck, which card would it be and why?
I can’t think of a card I’d want to remove permanently. I’ve got an okay relationship with the wisdom of the “really bad” cards like death and the tower, and even the 10 of swords really only seems to have come up for me so far in moments when I already know something is ending and I’ve appreciated its validation. But I do wish the lovers wasn’t so regularly so heterosexual across so many decks, and I would like a break from the knight of pentacles. He stalks me pretty regularly, and I feel quite a bit of resistance to him. I had an interesting meditation exercise experience to ask him what he had to tell me where I ended up making out with him instead, but I haven’t made sense of what that means for my relationship to the card.
What's in your tarot toolbox?
I’ve loved Kim Huggens’ Tarot 101, and more specifically, her 5 senses exercise. I’ve gotten some surprising intuitive insights about card meanings from that exercise. I’ve learned a lot from the Biddy Tarot podcast and more recently, Lindsay Mack’s Tarot for the Wild Soul podcast. Before I draw a card each day, I smudge with a palo santo stick. I have a wide selection of crystals on my coffee-table altar where I read for myself, but selenite and labradorite are my central tarot crystal tools. I rotate my selenite palm stone through the three decks I use, setting it on top of each deck in succession for a day to cleanse it, and I hold a big chunk of labradorite during my brief pre-pull meditation. I’d say the final crucial component of my altar/tarot tool box is the “chalice” I have on the corner of it. I have a very watery, sensitive Pisces moon; it’s been a struggle to get comfortable with my own feelings and to not absorb others’ emotional energies. A chalice full of water on the altar holds some of that extra feeling energy for me and cools all the fire I carry in my chart.
What do you think the Empress would say to the Emperor?
"Hold your structure with a little more softness.” Though the empress most often comes up for me when I’m giving away too much of my healing energy to others who won’t or can’t reciprocate, I nevertheless see her as an aspirational archetype of the best kind of “holding space:” creating a safe and flexible container in which someone else can incubate and heal themselves while being watched over with compassion. (However, this message only comes through for me in the Thoth tarot. The empress in so many other decks seems so anemic and reduced to a really simplified and boring representation of “fertility” without all the complex fierceness that could be imagined for her even if the artist was only working with a pretty heteronormative understanding of “mother.”) We do need access to the kind of firm boundaries and solid structure the emperor represents, but with masculine vibes running way too high in the collective at this moment in history, we could use a little more softness from the emperor.
What or who inspires you the most?
I’ve gotta give a shout out here to Krystal of Power Femme Tarot, my witchy bestie. We became friends in grad school before either of us got serious about our mystical online businesses. She’s been an amazing thought-partner, emotional support, and witchy biz guide/marketing consultant. She’s introduced me to most of the resources that jump-started my tarot practice, and my relationship with the cards is so much deeper because of our ongoing conversations. We’ve also been having this really inspiring and generative exchange recently, dreaming up possibilities for various ways of witching in the academy or integrating these two areas of each of our lives more fully. I’m so grateful for her friendship and for the technology that facilitates our communication across time zones, and I’m really looking forward to being a crabby, old, professorial witch in friendship with her.
If you could be any court card, which would you choose and why?
Queen of Cups. I love this card so much, and it’s central to the inspiration of my astro-biz name, Queer of Cups. She rarely comes up for me in my regular draws, but I really regularly pull her out of my deck and put her on the nightstand next to my bed to watch over me while I sleep. She signals the best qualities of my Pisces moon, deeply intuitive and compassionate, healing and holding space. I’ve found a lot of healing through this archetype, turning this energy inward to mother myself with compassion. It’s that energy that I’ve used to heal myself that I bring to my astrology write-ups.
Which deck could you absolutely not live without?
The Starchild Tarot is my go-to deck for reading recently, but this question actually makes me think most of the way I pull cards out to put on my nightstand when I got to bed. For that purpose, I’m most attached to my Wild Unknown Animal Spirit oracle deck. I love most of the water creature cards—but especially the oyster and the whale—and I also love the horse, deer, lion, and elephant. All those cards feel deeply protective and companionate to me, exactly the kind of energy I want to call into my bedroom as I’m turning inward for sleep.
If you could go back to day one of your tarot journey, what would you do differently?
I would read book definitions less and make more space for intuitive explorations of card meanings. A tarot journal would be a necessary component of that as well. I’ve started one at this point, but I’m still quite bad at remembering to write things down in it.
What tarot habits or quirks do you have?
I think this habit of consciously selecting a card from a deck to put on my nightstand each night is my main tarot quirk. Sometimes I’ll put my daily draw card on the nightstand if I want to open up to the possibility of letting a deeper lesson from that card come through my dreams. More regularly, though, I look for the archetype I want to snuggle with that evening. Usually the queen of cups for its tenderness and intuitive vibes, sometimes one of the other tarot archetypes that are generally seen as clear blessings, but sometimes I want something more regal and protective like the lion from the Wild Unknown Animal Oracle. The “Big Bold Vision” card from the Sacred Rebels oracle is also usually on my nightstand. That card alone makes purchasing that deck worth it, but there are a lot of other really beautiful cards and messages in that deck as well.
If the Hierophant had a favorite curse word, what would it be?
“Fuck”—as an adjective, not as a verb. I identify with the hierophant some in my role as a professor, though I think of that archetypal role as channeling the wisdom of the universe more than handing down some kind of rigid, hierarchical, or authoritative “knowledge.” I use “fuck” as an adjective in the classroom—very selectively—to put a bit of distance between the authority granted to me in my role as “college professor” and allow myself to be more human with my students. So I’ll say someone is “fucking brilliant” or that sexism and racism are “fucked up” or something like that occasionally during class discussions. This aligns a lot with the ways I’ve imagined the hierophant as someone who’s available, humbly, as a channel for wisdom rather than a someone positioned as an intellectual or religious authority.
Do you think the Hermit prefers decaf or regular coffee?
I would say decaf. The hermit strikes me as such a sober energy of turning within. Though I don’t think “grounded” is the word that most comes to mind for the hermit, it seems like caffeine is a jolt or buzz that doesn’t quite vibe with that introspective turn. But I’m also not a coffee drinker, so my perspective on this is influenced by imagining the unpleasant, distracted jolt I’d get if I drank coffee at this point.
Lastly, do you have anything you would like to share? News? Event?
I would love to do a personalized mini astrology reading for you! You can find more details about what these entail and how to order them at my website. Follow me on instagram @queer_of_cups for astrological thoughts, updates, and occasional astrologically-themed tarot spreads. Finally, starting on April 14, I’m going to launch a moon tracking “challenge” through my instagram. I’ll provide some guidance there about several options for how you could engage with this process, but the basic idea is that I’ll post about where the moon is in the zodiac each day with keywords for that sign, and you can either paper-journal, comment on my post, or repost my image or your own to track your observations about how you’re experiencing the energy of that moon. It’s a great way to connect intuitively with the energy of the zodiac signs, and I’m so excited to see what people come up with! We’ll do at least one lunar cycle and see how it goes. We might do another round in the future to follow the moon around through different layers of astrological information/our charts if there’s enough interest. Join us!
Where can we find you?
Are you a tarot reader? Want to be featured on my blog?
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