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Illustration by Irene Goddard

It’s Scorpio season, loves. Scorpios are the sign most closely associated with transformation — more specifically, getting acquainted with our inner darkness to become the best possible versions of ourselves.

If things are feeling a little tense right now, it’s not just you. Since we’re approaching a new moon, which symbolizes new beginnings, you can expect a necessary breakdown in order to reach your breakthrough.

Trudging through the darkness requires so much trust, though. It can be easy to turn on our heels and run from it, scared that we aren’t strong enough to face it. But how will you know whether you are if you keep trying to outrun it?

There’s seldom real, radical growth without pain (ask any Scorpio — they’ll tell you!). Remember that even the most relentless storms will water our garden so we can bloom when the time is right. As Kesha gently reminds us in her song “Rainbow,” “When the winds are howling strong, hold tight, sweetheart. You’ll find a rainbow.”

This new moon means the timing is right for finding your rainbow. With a little bit of magic and your deepening intuition, I don’t doubt for a second that yours will appear. You just have to know where to look.

Your card: Ace of Cups

My fellow Scorpios, I am sorry to report that this will be a self-drag. Just know that we’re in this together, OK?

Let’s talk about the Ace of Cups. It’s a cup of abundant emotion — namely, love. And when we’re talking about a new moon that asks us to examine our darkest corners, the uncomfortable truth is that this isn’t a journey we’re intended to take alone. It’s love we’re going to need — it’s a well we’ll have to draw from.

Do you struggle to receive love from other people, Scorpio?

Do you meet every “I like you” with a side-eye and every “I love you” with the urge to ask “Uh… why?” Like I said, this is a self-drag, so I get it. Sometimes we’re so acquainted with the scary parts of ourselves that we can’t fathom why anyone would want to hold our hand through it.

But people want to, Scorpio. And you don’t have to be perfect or charming or easygoing to be worthy of the love you’re being offered. You don’t even have to totally “get it” to accept it. Their love is yours. They want you to take it.

While your instinct might be to retreat when things get difficult and simply try to fend for yourself, the uncomfortable truth is that this won’t work forever. You’ve scraped by on more than a few occasions, but whenever you do, you’re pressing your luck.

Your luck may run out one day, Scorpio, and the people who love you are waiting to catch you. Yes, it means they’ll see you fall. Yes, it means you have to trust that they’re ready to hold this. But that’s what love is, Scorpio — a trust fall.

Your self-care to-do:

The name of the game is “emotional honesty,” Scorpio. I know you like to shroud yourself in a little mystery because it makes you feel safe, but right now isn’t the time for that.

It’s time to take ownership of your feelings. Whenever you feel the urge to ask “Why do I feel this way?”, take a pause. Instead of explaining away your feelings or derailing, can you practice simply naming them?

Your card: Page of Pentacles

The Page of Pentacles is the card of material opportunity. It’s the card of turning dreams into reality. Make no mistake — it doesn’t guarantee success. But it means there’s the potential for that vibrant Big Project Energy, whether you’re fully aware of it or not.

Our Page of Pentacles is definitely a Sagittarius. They derive their creative energy from being a student of life, eagerly learning and developing new skills. Being a lifelong learner is what allows our Page to build momentum. They care about the projects they take on, and they find ways to keep them interesting.

So, Sag, I have to ask: Do you care about what you’re doing?

While it’s true that in life, we have to get into something of a groove, that doesn’t mean things should feel stale. Do you feel connected to what you’re passionate about? And are you prioritizing it?

Lately I’ve been wrestling with my former life as a folk musician (I know, what a weird sentence to write). Writing songs on my mandolin doesn’t exactly “fit” into the rest of my life as a Very Online Media Person. It doesn’t serve much of a purpose other than being meaningful to me.

But does it have to? Can it be enough that songwriting simply holds a special place in my heart, a place worth holding on to?

What is that for you?

Your self-care to-do:

Your passion doesn’t need to be pragmatic, Sag. If you’re really passionate about bird-watching, go get some binoculars and do your thing. If you’re nerdy about science fiction, fall down that rabbit hole.

You don’t have to justify what moves you. Just embrace the motion.

Your card: The Star

Capricorn, sometimes hope is a single star that tells us which direction to move in. Sometimes it’s just a slight shiver down the spine, or a spark in the distance, or a shimmer in the corner of our eye that tells us “This is the place.”

We can’t always explain it. But sometimes the right answer isn’t one we can explain. There are times when all we have is a gentle intuition, nudging us along.

You can’t put it in a spreadsheet to make it more digestible, or make a pro/con list. You can’t run it through a rigorous series of rationalizations, testing its practicality. Intuition doesn’t work that way. It softly knocks on your door, and you decide whether to open it.

Sometimes, Capricorn, you’re looking for the explanation when what you really should be looking for is the star.

Instead of the 5-year plan, you should be listening for that gentle knock at the door. The right thing, the good thing, the important thing doesn’t always fit into the logical scheme of your life. It defies explanation, and that’s exactly what makes it so challenging to work with.

And the right thing, the good thing, the important thing can begin as nothing more than a feeling, a tap-tap-tap at the door of our hearts. Do you answer it? I can’t tell you that. I can only tell you that there are times when I think it’s worth listening to.

Your self-care to-do:

Capricorn, you have enough to deal with as it is. Just drink a lot of water, remember to stretch once in a while, and keep things simple while you wait for clarity. (And if you know your rising sign, I’d read that one too.)

Your card: Seven of Pentacles

The Seven of Pentacles is, in essence, the “fruit of your labors” kind of card — where you’re kicking back, looking at all you’ve managed to accomplish thus far (hopefully with pride!).

While it’s wonderful to savor moments like these, many of us have a tendency to set our sights on the next goal and charge ahead while the momentum is still behind us.

But the issue there, Aquarius, is that burnout is a thing. And blowing off steam with drinks or a loud concert might seem like the right balance, but I’m not convinced of that, either.

Proposal: Motion to amend the phrase “work hard, play hard” to something more like “work hard, rest harder.”

If you feel pent-up or you’re up to your eyeballs in stress, it can be tempting to distract yourself with bright lights and late nights (or whatever the equivalent is for you). There’s room for that in your life, of course, but when the work and play are the whole pie instead of a couple slices, where, exactly, does rest come in?

Your self-care to-do:

If you aren’t prioritizing rest, you will run yourself ragged before you fully realize it. “I’m not tired!” you might protest, and maybe you aren’t yet.

But would you wait to fix a leaky pipe until your basement was completely flooded? Or would you take a hint before you turn the bottom floor of your house into a swimming pool of sewage? (Blunt, I know. Not sorry.)

Aquarius, consider the ever-evolving art of the perfect afternoon nap. Invest in a really nice eye mask, a gentle alarm tone, a super-plush blanket, and some lavender essential oils, if desired. Invest in rest. Your body needs it, and your brain does too.

Your card: Seven of Swords

Pisces, as a fellow water sign, I know that sometimes it can be tempting to brood alone.

Like our Seven of Swords, quietly slinking away with his share of swords, we sometimes have secrets that we keep close to our chest because we’re afraid to leave ourselves vulnerable. It means we don’t always fight fair when it comes to our inner demons, because we’d rather rely on our own precious resources than have someone witness us struggle.

We’re afraid of being found out, Pisces. Found out for being human. Found out for being fragile. Found out for being messy. And the longer we hold on to our secrets, the more they pile up, burying us underneath the weight of our very private grief.

Or is it just me?

Pisces, you don’t owe anyone beauty or posture. You are allowed to be broken or bent. You are allowed to crumble without one iota of grace. You can fall to pieces and let someone else help put you back together.

Welcome to the very terrible mess of being human, Pisces. I’m glad you’re here.

Your self-care to-do:

Spill a secret to someone. Write it down if you can’t speak it — send it off in a sealed letter to someone you love and trust. You don’t have to let go of every burden all at once (though if you did, that’d be OK, too).

You can share yourself one piece at a time, at whatever pace feels right for you. Some flowers unfurl overnight; others take a whole season. It’s the opening up that matters, Pisces.

Your card: The Empress

Whenever our Empress comes up in a reading, I’m struck by how blissed out she looks — and frankly, a little envious. She exudes radiance and contentment. If any tarot card were going to be in an Herbal Essences commercial, the Empress would be the chosen one, hands down.

What’s her secret? Well, to my knowledge, it isn’t shampoo. The Empress knows how to indulge, Aries. Pleasure isn’t frivolous for this queen — it’s a life source, giving her this unmistakable glow.

Self-care is a necessary part of survival. But I would also argue that self-indulgence is a necessary part of thriving. Giving ourselves permission to unabashedly pursue joy and pleasure is part of what endears us to our own lives, Aries. The pursuit of pleasure is part of what makes our lives feel meaningful and vibrant.

Self-indulgence is almost always the first thing to go when life gets serious. It’s the forgotten, dusty keepsake we tucked away in the attic, mistakenly thought to have outlived its usefulness. And we wonder why everyone is so burnt out!

Reclaiming pleasure can be a radical act. Caring for ourselves is important, but I would argue that there are times when spoiling ourselves — reveling in abundance instead of simple necessity — is just as important, if not more so.

Where could your life use some of that abundance, Aries? Maybe it’s rereading one of those favorite beach reads while soaking your feet (FYI: Foot baths are both very underrated and very awesome).

Whatever your joyful equivalent is, capture a piece of it like a firefly in a jar and carry it with you the next time you need a breather.

Your self-care to-do:

Rule #1 of Self-Indulgence: Find your “Disneyland.”

Is there a place you can think of that feels like pure happiness for you? For some, it’s reading a cheesy novel underneath a big, colorful umbrella at the beach. For others, it’s literally an afternoon at Disneyland.

Whatever it is, can you think of one element from that place that you can weave back into your life?

Your card: Nine of Swords

Taurus, I’m a little worried about you.

Take one look at this card and you’ll understand why — it usually depicts someone sitting straight up in bed, their face collapsed into their hands, clearly in distress. This is the card of sleepless, anxious nights. If you’ve been having more than your fair share of those lately, I think my tarot deck should just @ you next time.

Why is our insomniac wide awake? When the Nine of Swords appears, it usually signifies the kind of anxiety we’ve inflicted on ourselves.

It’s when we spend so much time imagining the worst-case scenario — thinking we’re protecting ourselves by being one step ahead of it — that we don’t realize we’re retraumatizing ourselves. By ruminating on our worst fears over and over again, we trick our nervous systems into thinking they need to be on high alert.

Taurus, what have you been hypervigilant around? Where are you anticipating the other shoe will drop? What makes you flinch, fearful you’ll be hurt again? It’s time to bring your (gentle) attention to that wound.

Your self-care to-do:

Breath and bodywork are always helpful for getting grounded. I think many of us are reluctant to dabble in them, though, because they often bring to mind skinny white ladies in athleisure wear calling themselves “yogis.”

Have no fear, Taurus — I have a remedy for this! Check out The Underbelly by Jessamyn Stanley. Jessamyn is an unapologetically fat and Black yogi who makes yoga accessible to the rest of us.

If that’s not your jam, try some meditation apps to see what strikes your fancy. Become a student of your body, breath, and heart. Reacquaint yourself with the oasis of safety within you.

Your card: Seven of Wands

Gemini, the Seven of Wands is such a fierce card. We see a figure on the defense, heels dug in, ready to protect herself from opposition. She’s outnumbered, but she’s not sweating it — she is rooted in her truth, sure of herself even while being challenged from all sides.

This is a difficult practice in reality, though, sweet Gemini. No matter how righteous our convictions might be, it can be hard to hold on to them when we’re being shouted down or even gaslit.

That’s why the Seven of Wands is such a potent card to draw: You are being asked to deepen your self-belief, even in spite of the chorus of naysayers who deny your truth.

You are allowed to protect your heart, Gemini. You are allowed to own your experiences. You are allowed to step into the light of your truth, even if that means standing alone.

Do you have an animal companion? I have two cats myself, and whenever we have guests over, there are some pretty important ground rules established.

The first is that you don’t enter their space uninvited — you allow them to approach you when they’re ready. The other is that you always pay close attention to any cues that suggest they’re done engaging with you. They’re under no obligation to continue a relationship with any human they don’t like, for any old reason at all.

As a people-pleaser, I could probably benefit from assuming these boundaries myself. And isn’t it interesting how many of us have better boundaries for our *pets* than we do for ourselves?

Your self-care to-do:

This new moon is a good time to establish what self-protection looks like for you — it’s easier to own your truth when you feel aware of your own boundaries and what the rules of engagement are.

Consider exploring the boundaries you might have for an animal companion or a dear friend (write them down!) and how you could take on those same boundaries in your life.

Once you have some ground rules, take a moment to reflect on how often you actually protect these boundaries in your life. It probably won’t come as a surprise that, more often than not, we de-prioritize our boundaries and yet fiercely defend them for the folks we love. It’s time to extend some of that love to yourself!

Your card: Knight of Swords

Cancer, I love a good knight, and this one especially. I’ll explain why: This knight did NOT come here to play. He’s cutting through the BS, laser-focused on the goal in front of him, charging ahead. And as someone who doesn’t always put my foot down when I should, I’m a little envious that our knight doesn’t spare a second to doubt himself.

Your zodiac is known for its loyalty and empathy, both of which are lovely qualities to possess. But on the flip side, your tendency to be very attuned to other people’s emotions might make you a little… let’s say, reluctant when it comes to being assertive.

You’ve probably heard this one before, but it bears repeating: Assertiveness isn’t the same as aggression. Naming what you want and need isn’t “being mean.” Repressing your emotions so as not to “rock the boat” isn’t kindness, and allowing people to traipse all over your boundaries isn’t “keeping the peace.”

All of this is self-harm.

Assertiveness is the unapologetic practice of honoring your own humanity — needs, desires, emotions, boundaries. It’s the deliberate acknowledgment of our whole selves and how we negotiate space for them in our lives and in relationship with others.

Where is that space in your life, Cancer?

Your self-care to-do:

Before I ask you to be assertive, I think it’s worth exploring what underlying beliefs might be holding you back.

I want you to get a piece of paper and create two columns. In the first column, write what you fear around being assertive — e.g., “I’m scared of disappointing others” or “I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes.” Aim to come up with at least seven fears.

In the second column, I want you to respond to each of those fears. With the previous examples, you might push back by saying, “I’m not responsible for someone else’s disappointment” or “I am allowed to take up space.”

Ideally, you’ll now have seven responses — these will be your mantras for the next week. Assign a day of the week to each response and carry it with you as a source of empowerment as you begin to explore assertiveness in your life. You’ve got this.

Your card: Four of Cups

“Wait a minute, Sam,” you might be wondering. “Didn’t I have this card last time? What gives?”

Leo, I pulled this card for you three times in a row. Believe me, I wanted to give you a different card, but the universe apparently wants to hit you over the head with this one. It spooked me a little — I shuffled the deck each time, and somehow it kept coming back.

So I’m guessing the universe really, really wants you to hear this one.

In my last column, I talked about how the Four of Cups often signifies knowing when to turn something down. I also alluded to the fact that it’s just as much about knowing when to say “hell yes” and accept what’s being offered to you. The Four of Cups is about discernment.

So let’s examine the flip side of this, Leo: Do you accept help when you need it?

That fierce Leo pride might make this challenging for you (an understatement). Getting vulnerable and acknowledging that you can’t do something alone, and being willing to accept generosity from others, can be so hard.

But Leo… that’s part of the whole “being human” thing. You might feel like a killer queen sometimes, but I’m sorry to report you’re just as messy as the rest of us. Which means there’s seldom a challenge in life that won’t require you to lean on others.

Your self-care to-do:

I’m going to guess if this card is nagging you like this, there’s something you’re putting off. So, tough love time: Make the call, Leo (or whatever the metaphorical equivalent is for you).

Pick up the phone and make that appointment with a new therapist, make the coffee date with a trusted friend, or simply let another living person know “I’m not as OK as I thought I was.”

We all know that you can make do and power through, Leo. But why should you?

Your card: Two of Pentacles

Virgo, when I was in high school, I wanted to be part of every after-school club, every musical, and every committee. I think I gave off the impression that I was a big bundle of (neurotic) energy, always wanting to be at the center of every activity. But truthfully, that wasn’t why I kept signing up for things.

I was signing up for things because my home life was really, really hard and I didn’t want to leave school. I made myself as busy as humanly possible to avoid the situations that were most harmful to me. I kept myself busy because, once upon a time, it kept me safe.

But as an adult, I’ve kept myself busy as a way of avoiding discomfort — not unlike our Two of Pentacles.

When you’re trying to juggle all your commitments, it can become an all-consuming task. If you don’t leave yourself enough spaciousness to “feel and deal,” it’s alarmingly easy to avoid your discomfort altogether.

But Virgo, here’s the thing: Emotions can’t be outrun forever.

You can certainly try, but I can guarantee you it will catch up to you. Sorry, I don’t make the rules. That’s just how feelings work — they’re meant to be felt.

Your self-care to-do:

I know my pro-journaling stance can be obnoxious, but I’m just going to say it: Get a journal if you don’t have one. And dedicate just 10 minutes before bed to scribbling out your anxieties, fears, and frustrations.

You don’t have to do anything else with that journal. Just carve out a space for yourself to acknowledge what you spend a decent amount of time circumventing. And then go to bed, Virgo… preferably early. You’ve probably accumulated quite the sleep debt.

Your card: The Chariot

Libra, I know that in an ideal world, every decision we make would have a gentle, appealing “middle road.” We’d find a beautiful balance of both of our options — if there’s anything Libras are masterful at, it’s the art of compromise.

You probably know by now that life doesn’t always work this way, though.

Sometimes, there are two options, totally distinct from one another, and you only get to choose one. And no amount of rationalizing will make your middle path appear. You can choose door number one or door number two. And if I had to guess, this probably isn’t your favorite situation to be in.

If you take a look at the Chariot card, you might feel the same kind of envy I do: How could someone manage to look so at ease, so in-control, when they’re being pulled in opposite directions? How do you manage to steer when life decides to go buck wild?

Well, for one thing, our driver isn’t just steering with emotion. But he’s also not steering with logic alone — this chariot is moving far too fast for careful calculations. The critical ingredient here? His gut.

The metaphor here, Libra, is steering with conviction, knowing what you’re about, trusting that you have everything you need at your disposal to cross the finish line with your integrity intact.

Some decisions require your head and some require your heart, but nearly all of them require a gut level of trust.

Your self-care to-do:

For your self-care assignment, I’m going to suggest you get a little physical. Search for an activity that requires balance, calculation, and trust — whether it’s floating in water, scaling a climbing wall, or taking on some challenging yoga poses.

Get in touch with how your head, heart, and gut all work together harmoniously to move you forward. And be sure to take those learnings with you the next time you hit a fork in the road.

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.