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Masculinity & Tarot Kings

The Kings in the Dark Days Tarot Deck | Photo by Wren McMurdo

The concepts we call "masculine" and "feminine" are difficult to define because they are subjective. Gender is expression, inherent to freedom and unique to each individual.

As a queer, I’ve learned to use gender like a palette rather than an assignment. I express my gender like a mood, to find empowerment and evoke my sexuality. The Kings and Queens in Dark Days were inspired by queer and drag concepts. Think of them as gender-charged costumes worn for the sake of expression.

There is masculine and feminine energy in life and all beings. With that being said, there is a lot of understandable resistance to masculinity in our culture. Patriarchy has caused a toxic breakdown in gender expression on the whole. The Kings in Tarot can lend a helpful hand in managing this breakdown.

There is a difference between sacred masculinity and toxic masculinity. Toxic masculinity gains security by disempowering others, while sacred masculinity feels healthy and empowers others. It is important to make this distinction. Observe and reflect on sacred vs. toxic masculinity as they cross your path.

Wren McMurdo in Paris, 2011

Left: The author in Paris, 2011.

Becoming more aware of your own masculinity can be helpful in moving through a patriarchal world.

I find that my femme qualities feel more authentic when I'm also free to express my masculinity.

The practice of exploring gender as a palette for self-expression will invite more plentiful sacred masculinity into your realm. The idea is that by freely expressing yourself through gender, you create that freedom for others.

Use the Kings in the Dark Days Tarot to inspire your own sacred masculinity. For example, perhaps for you, a smell is enough to trigger a positive association with masculinity. Let’s say that smell is wood.

Use the smell of wood to inspire you to build a fire, don your overalls, hike in a forest of trees or craft in your studio (and again, these are just examples, not definitions of masculinity). Let these actions raise your awareness of your own sacred masculinity, whatever that is. Let it be fun, for the sake of experiment.

To continue with this example, you might allow wood to be associated with the king of Wands if that feels good. Let positive associations with your own woodsy masculinity come to mind when the King of Wands shows up in a reading.

Wren McMurdo on Orcas Island, WA in 2018

Develop life-empowering associations for each of the Kings in the Tarot, and consider them outfits hanging in your very own proverbial gender closet. Give these outfits themes. The King of Pentacles is the king of earth. How might earth masculinity show up in a sacred way? Mentally construct these sacred traits into a glimmering example of masculinity and add it to your gender closet. Do the same for the other kings.

This mindset will help to inspire and create a more well-rounded Tarot practice and an action-oriented approach to the overwhelm of Patriarchy. It may also help to move our culture toward a non-binary gender norm; a world where gender isn't assumed--it's discovered and explored.

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