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Illustration by Irene Goddard

Happy New Year, woo ones! We’re kicking off 2020 with a full moon in Cancer — a water sign that’s known for its emotional depth and vulnerability. If you find yourself pretty deep in your feelings in the coming weeks, this full moon is calling on you to lean in and embrace it.

Full moons are a time of release, symbolically-speaking. So if you’re looking for a real release, pull a chord from Cancer, and pop queen Kim Petras: it might be time to let your guard down.

As Kim Petras sings in “Heart to Break,” “Don’t care if this is my worst mistake… even if it means that I’ll never put myself back together, gonna give you my heart to break,” it’s clear there’s no question: Kim is all freakin’ in. Not one foot out the door, not straddling the fence.

She’s not denying, minimizing, or repressing her emotions and desires — and so we will not pick and choose which emotions to be fully present for, either. All feelings are welcomed, regardless of the chaos they might bring.

This full moon is calling for total abandonment of emotional restraint.

So eat until you’re full — and then go for dessert. Sing until you lose your voice. Dance until the DJ cuts the record and tells you to go home. Laugh until you cry, and then cry until you’ve run out of tears (and then hydrate, please!). Juice the sun, babes, and savor every last drop of light.

No sign knows Big Feelings quite like a Cancer, whose unapologetic emotional intensity sets the tone for the weeks ahead. Go get it.

Your card: Three of Swords

The internet likes to make a lot of jokes about being “emo.” Emo is often equated with dark music, heavy eyeliner, and comically-angst-ridden LiveJournal entries. But Cancer, hear me out: I actually believe “emo” is one of the best things that happened to the internet.

It happens to be a significant shift in popular culture, which makes it difficult to say “I’m not okay.” Emo is where countless teenagers (and adults, too!) found an avenue to embrace their more difficult emotions, to be vulnerable and reclaim their struggles and channel them in cathartic, honest ways.

These gateways are precisely what teaches us about our emotional realities, particularly when we’re not always encouraged to access them.

So why am I waxing philosophical about the word “emo”? Because the Three of Swords epitomizes it. It’s the card of utter heartbreak, and truly one of the more dramatic in tarot, with three sharp swords piercing straight through the heart.

While we can be eager to push away such intense emotions, being “emo” is ultimately the opposite: we’re encouraged to linger there, to feel our feelings, and find ways to express them, however dramatic and messy they might be.

When you were a teenager, having an angsty “stomping away from the dinner table and slamming the bedroom door” moment, what did you do to get things off your chest?

This is a practice I think we could all use a little bit more of. Personally, I listened to Radiohead and wrote a very sad blog, but your “emo rituals” will probably look a little different than mine.

But yes, long live the era of the “emo kid.”

Your card: Three of Wands

Ease and convenience can be beautiful things. Sometimes you just want to get your microwave meals and your face masks, use the self-checkout lane, and catch your Lyft home with minimal human interaction so you can Netflix your way through a mediocre evening.

Life is exhausting, and frankly, sometimes mediocrity is what keeps us sane.

Sometimes, though, comfort becomes complacency and even avoidance. I say this as someone who has had to resist the strong impulse to text his therapist at 2 a.m. with “WHY DO I NEVER GO TO THE BEACH??? I LOVE THE BEACH.”

It wasn’t really about the beach, so much as it was an observation on how small my life had become.

When I was a closeted queer teen in the Midwest, I imagined adulthood to be indie concerts, pride parades, and kissing strangers at bars. And while that sounds very tiring to me now, the spirit of that desire — the desire to be totally free — is still stirring somewhere underneath my jaded millennial exterior.

The funny thing is, we don’t need to flip our whole lives upside down just to inject a little adventure into them. Sometimes we just need fresh air and a little novelty. And if there were ever a time to broaden your horizons, this full moon has abundant opportunities for you to switch things up.

Your card: Four of Cups

I’m going to say something a little obvious, Virgo: It feels bad to feel bad.

And it’s human nature, it seems, to do whatever we can to avoid feeling the bad feelings. It’s also human nature, though, to suffer when we don’t give ourselves permission to — for lack of a more eloquent phrase — sit with our sh*t.

The Four of Cups depicts someone who’s got the “sitting with it” part down. But take a closer look and you’ll see them pouting, rejecting what might be a helpful offering to steep in their own misery instead.

This card holds a pretty essential piece of wisdom: Yes, feel your feelings, however icky or uncomfortable they may be. But if you then use those feelings as an excuse to isolate yourself from the rest of the world, pushing everyone away, you miss an important kind of healing, the kind that comes only from our connections with others.

So when the Big, Bad, Icky Feels start to wash over you, Virgo — and they will, such is life — resist the urge to hole yourself off, or keep yourself so busy that no one notices you’re hurting. Feel bad, and let yourself be seen feeling bad.

No, it’s not going to be cute… but being messy is part of the human experience. Don’t you think it’s about time that you joined us?

Your card: Six of Swords

Libra, it’s time for some tough love. Who hurt you?

Whenever the Six of Swords comes up in a reading, it’s almost always connected to past baggage that you can’t seem to untangle yourself from.

The Six of Swords came up a lot for me during a time in my life when a friendship had ended badly, but I refused to let myself move on from it.

The ironic part was that it wasn’t a friendship I even wanted anymore, deep down. It was toxic for me in every way. And yet I became fixated on its ending anyway — and what I could have, should have, would have done — rather than taking that energy and investing it in the healthier relationships in my life or, better yet, my own healing and self-care.

Libra, as something of a peacekeeper, it wouldn’t surprise me if you’re the type that sinks with the ship. Sometimes we choose to stay stuck — literally or just mentally — because we’re convinced that if we stay there long enough, some kind of magical solution we haven’t thought of will suddenly make itself known.

Or worse, we may even push buttons with the hopes someone else will pull the trigger and end things for us, or we unconsciously try to provoke them so we can enjoy the sweet righteousness of anger… instead of the emptiness of grief and disappointment.

The answer you’re looking for right now is really simple, though. Sometimes things work until they don’t. Sometimes people change in ways that we aren’t down for. And sometimes? Sh*t just… happens.

The “why” will likely become much clearer later on (that’s the gift of hindsight, my friend), but when your gut is telling you it’s time to let go? It’s time to let go.

Your card: The Emperor

As a fellow Scorpio, I didn’t initially understand what astrologers meant when they described us as “mysterious.” I certainly didn’t feel mysterious — and wouldn’t I know if I was? It was one of the alleged qualities assigned to me by the stars that I had trouble buying into or believing… until pretty recently, actually.

My boyfriend (a Taurus, in case you’re wondering) recently said to me, “Sam, sometimes when I go back and read your text messages, I find more and more layers that I missed the first time.” No one had ever expressed anything like that to me before… and it made me question my frequent claims of being a “direct communicator.”

So I got curious and started doing the same — rereading texts that I’ve sent with fresh eyes throughout the week, putting myself in my boyfriend’s shoes. And you know what I found?

The way I communicate my innermost feelings is actually pretty cryptic, for one. And when I need or expect something? Forget it. I’m going to bury it in a joke, downplay the intensity, or talk around it and just hope you get the message.

What does this have to do with our Emperor? Consider him the antidote. The Emperor is straight to the point, vocalizing his needs and boundaries with ease. He holds the line, and he doesn’t concern himself with people-pleasing nor with puzzles. When you’ve got an entire kingdom to run, there’s no time to be cryptic or coy.

So Scorpio, enough about me, let’s talk about you… when’s the last time you directly asked for what you need?

I get that it feels much safer to have other people doing the emotional legwork — because ew, who wants to be that vulnerable? But for the purposes of your growth, with yourself or others, we’re going to see what happens when you get a little more direct.

Your card: The Lovers

With the “New Year, New You” mentality everywhere you look, it can be tempting to do a deep dive into all of the ways you want to change your life, your body, and yourself. “Optimize” quickly turns to “criticize,” motivation into self-deprecation. For a lot of people, resolutions are just a covert way of bullying ourselves under the guise of “self-improvement.”

That sounds like a cruddy way to kick off a new year, doesn’t it?

I want to invite you to do things a little differently, Sag. Do you remember what it’s like to fall in love? It could be the last time you crushed hard on someone, yes. It could also be the time a book captivated you so completely, you stayed up all night to finish it. Or maybe a concert, so inspired, you felt like you were walking on air for an entire week after.

Maybe it was the time you locked eyes with a furball at the animal shelter and knew they were yours, or when you tried a new recipe, and the aroma of that new dish made your apartment feel cozier than ever.

There’s no better way to embrace an emotive full moon in Cancer — and an entirely new decade — than to re-experience falling in love. With a friend, with a stranger, with a book, with a band, with a stray cat, or a really good casserole — whatever it is, there’s no wrong answer.

Your card: Seven of Swords

Cap, has anyone ever accused you of being a little uptight? Maybe you’ve been described as inflexible, or you’re familiar with those backhanded “wow, you’re so ambitious!” compliments… which felt more like a questioning of your priorities than an actual compliment.

I’m not here to drag you — I have a LOT of Capricorn in my chart, and I can really vibe with someone who knows what they want and has a plan of attack for it.

I’m not going to ask you to change your stripes. Instead, I’ll remind you that while you’re tackling your next project or tearing through a to-do list, you might want to consider adding a little bit of playfulness to your day. Because while getting down to business can be a very attractive quality, human beings — social and strange creatures that we are — seem to require a little bit of silliness, too.

Take a look at our Seven of Swords, and you’ll see a mischievous figure, practically dancing away with a stolen sword. And while I will forever advocate for being gay and doing crimes, that’s not exactly what I recommend for this full moon.

Instead, I’m wondering: Where can you bring a little healthy mischief into your life? You know, the kind where no one gets hurt?

Your card: Seven of Wands

Aquarius, as a recovering people-pleaser, my go-to strategy when conflict emerges is to — you guessed it — people-please. I haven’t always been the best at trusting my judgment and standing firm in my truth. That often meant that my needs, wants, and desires were eclipsed by stronger personalities.

At first, I mistook this for being a “nice” person. I mistook it as a strength of mine, the ways in which I could disarm and pacify other people. But in actuality, I was making myself smaller, and smaller, and smaller until there was very little of my authentic self left to give.

The Seven of Wands is a fierce card. In the face of opposition on all sides, a powerful figure stands unwavering, prepared to defend what matters most.

And it’s easy to tell you, Aquarius, to hold your own — and that it’s okay to do so. But it’s a much harder thing to practice, because (at least in my experience) we don’t always realize when we’re slipping back into our people-pleasing ways.

I find this card comes up a lot for people who have lost their backbone — not because they don’t have one, but because they broke it bending over backward for other people far too many times. But this card is a promise, because one of the core promises of tarot is that we all have within us the power to heal ourselves.

This full moon, you’re sure to confront a lot of emotional intensity emanating from the people around you. But I believe that the timing in this New Year couldn’t be more right to strengthen your trust in your authentic, whole self.

Your card: Six of Wands

Pisces, real talk: I know it can be difficult to own your accomplishments. It can be especially awkward to ask people to show up and celebrate you. But hear me out… having people hype us up once in a while is a very important form of connection and healing.

So I have to ask: When’s the last time you allowed your people to joyfully recognize your achievements? And I’m not just talking about a promotion or an award or an important gig. I’m talking about the strides you’ve made in areas of your life that matter most to you, regardless of how others might view it.

Some self-disclosure: I’m graduating soon from an intensive eating disorder recovery program. It is, far and away, the hardest work I’ve ever done. It was a marathon of exposing myself to my deepest fears, unraveling years of struggle and buried trauma; I had to fall apart and then reassemble myself on a daily freaking basis.

I thought about quietly transitioning back into my “normal life” without much fuss. But the truth is, I’m deeply proud of all the work I did to get to where I am in my recovery. I’ve started thinking about having a graduation party, and I might even splurge on some decorations I’ve had bookmarked for a special occasion.

Because while society doesn’t necessarily recognize this as an “achievement” worth celebrating, I know that it is. It took incredible strength to invest in my own healing — I don’t think I’ll ever do anything quite so important.

Your card: The Star

Aries, I have a confession to make: I’m a huge geek.

Maybe this isn’t breaking news to you, but for a long time, I really struggled with embracing my inner nerd. Having dated a fair number of men who were know-it-alls, I was afraid that I might come across as full of myself, boring, or just plain weird.

In my mind, I thought I was just tempering my unattractive qualities. In reality, though? I was denying myself a lot of happiness and connection because I was insecure. I thought my enthusiasm for things like philosophy, tarot, interior design, and psychology would be off-putting to other people.

Philosophy is just navel-gazing! Tarot is for weird people! Interior design is too materialistic! Psychology is for depressed undergrads!

Little by little, I chipped away at everything I cared about… and then I wondered why I wasn’t excited about my life anymore.

Aries, some tough love: Life is too short to play it cool.

Yes, being your fullest, weirdest self requires a certain amount of bravery, but the alternative, frankly, sucks. The last thing you want is to wake up 10 or whatever years from now, and realize you played it too safe.

If you think your FOMO is bad now, just wait until you start to notice how much you’ve gotten in your own way.

Your card: The Moon

As a tarot reader, a lot of people ask me about my favorite cards. And while I have quite a few, the Moon is one of the most sacred to me. Part of what I love so much about it is that it holds one of the most important pieces of wisdom that tarot has to offer: You are allowed to change.

Just an observation here. Often times, when people have a resistance to change, it’s because change hasn’t treated them too kindly in the past. Keeping things the same can feel safer — it creates an illusion of stability. For earth signs, that sense of groundedness can feel essential.

And because Tauruses tend to be a grounding, stabilizing force for their loved ones, too, there can be an added pressure to maintain that illusion for others. You might even derive your sense of self-worth from taking on this role of “the rock,” sometimes to your own detriment.

You may find everyone around you looking to you as an anchor. But over time, this can feel an awful lot like being surrounded by people who just don’t want you to change. Ever.

Taurus, you probably don’t need me to tell you that this is a recipe for burnout and resentment. Personal growth literally requires change. But if you’re clinging desperately to a static sense of self just to be everyone else’s constant… you are inhibiting your own healing.

Lovely Taurus, sometimes all you really need is to give yourself genuine permission to change. Not because it benefits everyone else, not because you’re a self-improvement project — but because you deserve the spaciousness you need to grow, period.

Your card: The Sun

The Sun is a card of pure, radiant joy. Symbolically, it reminds me of the bravery required to step into the light.

I recently did some research around a chronic illness I have. It wasn’t a fun rabbit hole to fall down. It was a bleak picture: about a third of people who have it will struggle with it for the rest of their lives, and a third will die from it. Only the remaining third of folks with it will truly recover, and even then, it requires a lifetime of vigilance around potential relapses.

I won’t lie, I didn’t like those odds one bit. Part of me wondered why I should invest in my recovery at all if my odds are so slim.

Optimism, though, isn’t actually the most natural orientation toward the world. In fact, for some of us, the sun is less a reminder of joy and more a fiery ball of climate-change-induced-angst. It’s very easy to slip into despair, because despair is a lot easier to rationalize than hope, isn’t it?

I’ll tell you what I’m doing though, Gemini: I’m stepping into the light. Not because I’m certain I’ll defy the odds — none of us playing this lottery we call “life” know the odds — but because I believe that I deserve the best possible shot.

My optimism doesn’t mean I don’t feel afraid or reluctant. I feel terrified. But my survival depends on me orienting myself toward optimism. Yours does, too. If anyone is going to survive this scary, chaotic world, we have to learn to hold our grief and nurture our hope, at the same time.

Luckily for you, Gemini, your sign is known for your duality. Your ability to hold this kind of complexity just so happens to be your superpower — and it’s yours to harness when you’re ready.

Sam Dylan Finch is a writer, editor, cat dad, and Professional Internet Gay living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Say hello on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and, if you can find it, a really old Ello account that he still doesn’t know how to delete.