Oracle of the New Year

I have a confession to make: I consult oracles. This might not be a huge shock. I’ve written about the Tarot deck in this space before, about a year ago, in a post titled “The Star.”

But I don’t think I’ve ever written about astrology or horoscopes. (I’m a Virgo). Even though I’ve read my horoscope my whole life through, pretty much for as long as I’ve been able to read. I used to read it in the daily paper; but now there’s an app for that.

Maybe it’s the imaginative aspect to divination that’s always appealed to me. Isn’t the Future, the Capital-F-Future, all about imagination? Our imagined hopes, fears, dreams?

It’s the same with imagination and fiction writing. For the past few years, approaching writing the way I have has meant a full-scale engagement of my imagination. It takes imagination to compose stories, sure, but it also takes imagination to find the time to write, to commit to the process of writing. Some necessary things in life I can do by rote. For instance, I don’t need to perform any visualization exercises to do things like brushing my teeth, driving a car, showing up at my job. Writing is not one of those things for me.

So, a few years back, I started a new New Year’s tradition: consulting an oracle on New Year’s Day morning, shortly after awakening. And the consultation has always been about my writing — what can I expect regarding the process, the process of writing, editing, and publishing — in the year ahead?

My New Year’s oracle of choice is The Book of Runes. My sister Elizabeth gave me this book, along with a set of twenty-five runes, when I was a teenager. They’ve followed me on the various pathways I’ve taken in the decades since. These runes are largely based on the ones devised by the Nordic ancients. I like how the symbols are like letters, how they denote words. Ties in nicely with the writing thing.

I pull what the book calls “Odin’s Rune” on New Year’s Day. The book describes it this way: “This is the most practical and simple use of the Oracle and consists of drawing one Rune for an overview of an entire situation. That single Rune encompasses the issue, present conditions and resolution.”

So what did Odin’s Rune tell me for 2019? As much as I would have loved for it to tell me that this will be the year I’ll write the thing everyone wants to read, that the world will clamor for, that will bring financial stability to my writing career. . .it was not to be. Truth be told, I don’t need an oracle to tell me that. My gut tells me that I have more work to do before I can begin to expect this type of success.

The rune I drew for 2019 is “Isa.” It means ice, or stillness. Hmmmm.

Determined to find the positive in “standstill” as it relates to my writing, I’m going to work with the following: a website called “runesecrets” tells me Isa “governs development of concentration, will and focus.” Okay, that’s good, my writing could use more of that. Also, The Book of Runes says this: “Shed, release, cleanse away the old. That will bring on the thaw.” Definitely in need of some shedding and releasing, too, after so many accumulated years on this planet.

The Book of Runes’s chapter on Isa concludes this way: “Trust your own process, and watch for signs of spring.”

Believe me, I’ll be watching. But trusting my process will require some concentration, will and focus.

The Star

Our local star rises over City Park in New Orleans, December 3, 2017

I recently read about the 17th card of the Tarot deck, the Star. It’s a pretty hopeful one, coming after the Fool has emerged from his encounters with Death, the Devil, and a creepy Tower with people falling from it. I couldn’t help but draw the comparison between the Star being the 17th card in the Major Arcana, and this being 2017…

The book I was reading was Juliet Sharman-Burke’s The Complete Book of Tarot; I’ve had this book for decades, but have referenced it more and more these past few years as I focus on my writing. Regarding the Star, she writes: “The Star has always been an emblem of hope and promise; a light to steer by.” She goes on to reference the Magi following a star to Bethlehem. It seemed another interesting coincidence that I just happened to read about the Star on the first Sunday of Advent.

And I got to thinking, I realized I am personally feeling more hopeful in December 2017 than I was in December 2016, for several reasons. First, I feel a lot more confident about my fiction writing than I did a year ago. It seems I spent the better part of ’16 consumed with and worried about the publishing part of authorship. Truth be told, it felt like a distraction. I couldn’t see how I could keep all the plates spinning and finish the trilogy I had begun in anything resembling a timely manner.

Fast forward to now: book 2 is written, and I’m in the midst of editing and re-writes. Book 3 is outlined, and I’ve begun writing it. Working with After Glows Publishing has made a world of difference—they’re who I have to thank for the confidence boost.

Next, I start a new job next week as a Technical Writer. It’s with the same company I’ve been working for; but it’s outside of the marketing department. So, no more trade shows for me. Believe me, it’s a welcome change—I’ve been involved with trade shows or “experiential” promotions for roughly twenty years. I’m excited about taking on a new challenge, and having the chance to hone my word skills with a different type of writing.

Finally, I find the #metoo movement really hopeful. I try not to stray too much into political/societal musings in this space. My intent is keep it to things I have some authority over—mainly, my personal experiences and how they relate to my writing. Since I’m a woman who has worked in a corporate/business environment for many years, I definitely have authority over my own experiences in that sphere, and those experiences definitely influence my writing.

And I know this: it takes boatloads of courage to come forward and expose the bad behavior of someone who has power over you and your livelihood. Too often, I’ve seen that courage met with, at best, some temporary disciplinary action; at middling, indifference; and at worst, reprisals against the powerless. The fact that some perpetrators are now losing their jobs—their positions of power—feels like a sea change to me.

A quick aside: I’ve written here before about The Writer’s Almanac. I hear it has been canceled since Garrison Keillor was dismissed from Minnesota Public Radio. While I will miss hearing the content of that syndicated program, I was never particularly attached to Garrison Keillor’s hosting of it. I’m impressed that Minnesota Public Radio didn’t let his “brand name” outweigh the claims that were brought against him.

I’ll conclude with the December quote from my 2017 “First We Dream” calendar. It’s from Louisa May Alcott, and it seems fitting that it involves a star:

Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.