A black and white illustration of 3 tarot cards sitting side by side. The left cards depicts a person sitting on a large animal. They’re wearing a black bra, black underwear, and mesh on their torso and chest. They have spikes above their head and are looking left. There’s plants growing around them. The bottom reads “Knight of Pentacles.” The middle card depicts a person sitting cross-legged holding a cup in either hand. They’re wearing a large, black hat that covers their eyes. There’s a fish jumping into both cups and through the hat. The bottom reads “Page of Cups.” The right card depicts a person holding a severed head by the hair in either hand. The person holding them is smiling with their eyes closed, and they’re wearing a low-cut leotard. There are two more severed heads contouring their torso and legs. The heads all have long hair. The bottom reads “The World.” Illustration by Karla Rosas.


The Knight of Pentacles enjoys the confidence one experiences when following a path that is either well-worn or guarantees a specific outcome as long as the stated steps are adequately followed. The road this Knight travels offers a sense of purpose so assured it is easy for her to delay gratification, plan for the distant future, and feel she has earned her success. While she eschews the status-quo, she strives to meet the standards that she believes will make her appear worthy in the eyes of those to whom she wishes to register her dissent. In other words, once she wins the game, she plans to call the game meaningless and brutal and unethical and every other insult she can summon. Of course, it takes a lifetime to win the game she is playing and few among us would dismiss and demean our own hard-won accomplishments thusly. Our Knight is no different and as she rides toward her chosen destiny her greatest downfall is a tendency to overlook—or downright judge—those with a differing approach or altogether differing desires.

Our Knight of Pentacles is fortunate to meet the Page of Cups, who delivers a message: A person’s shadow aspects are darkest around their very best qualities. It is a rare epiphany to notice the complicated nature of what we might consider our most positive traits. The Knight of Pentacles is good at working steadfastly toward the goals she sees as good, but her pursuit of such is often rooted in a belief that this makes her better than others, not to mention more deserving of material comforts and social approval. The Page offers up her one and only cup to our Knight as it sloshes with unruly emotions and creative waves that keep irregular hours and are frequently wholly misunderstood for decades or centuries or until the end of time. Take it, she says, before you lose the very heart that set you on this path. Our Knight comes to the full sobering recognition that every being exists to live the dream that is life and follow their own destiny through the mighty numinous.

The World card appears to validate that the tethers have indeed been cut and we will no longer be taking orders from the person we no longer are. We know what shadows cling to the undersides of our best traits and this makes us more capable people in every area of our lives. The best part of this new insight is freedom from the judgments we were once required to carry in order to make the worst of our behavior acceptable. We likely even judged those like that sweet Page of Cups who offered so much and expected nothing. How do we treat those who can do nothing for us? How will each of us take our lessons from those we have been taught to see as unfit to teach? May we remake the world now in the knowledge that all beings are sovereign.

@michelle_embree | illustration by Karla Rosas