Hi. My name is Rebecca, and I’m a non-drinking Neptunian*. And while no one had ever referred to me as an alcoholic (at least not to my face!), I certainly had an inkling that something wasn’t right with my relationship with alcohol for a long time. And although I am sure I swore off drinking many times before I starting reading Tarot cards, it was there that I started to understand and there where my journey began.
You see, I couldn’t be an alcoholic. I had spent much of my twenties drinking far more than I should — those were the college years after all — and had retired from that hard-drinking, fast-moving club scene I associated with folks who drank too heavily. I’d moved on to wine tasting, whiskey sampling and book clubs with tasteful appetizers and rotating designated drivers — alcoholics couldn’t be designated drivers, right? I was a responsible drinker now, never having more than a few drinks (except the few times a year I “let loose”), almost always controlling my intake — certainly a wino in the streets didn’t count their drinks!
If you asked anyone who knew me, I was successful at most everything: cooking, cleaning, writing, knitting, hiking, traveling and whatever else I decided to take on that particular month. But if you asked me, I knew something no one else did: I wanted more booze. The only thing that stopped me from drinking to oblivion was the fact that it wasn’t socially acceptable.
But the tarot knew it. Every single time I would pull out my cards to do a Celtic Cross or a more simple spread, Temperance would sit in front of me. And I would curse the card; I hated temperance. I saw it as a synonym for moderation, which for me was simply a cross I had to bear. Why was moderation so easy for some people? Why was it that my husband could leave a beer unfinished while I had to empty the last of the wine bottle because well, you just can’t leave that little amount in there, can you? I didn’t understand those folks that would have one drink, nurse it all night and then leave some of it on the table. I never left a drink unfinished. It simply was not done, and if I’m honest, I often thought of my next drink before the one in my hand was half-finished.
Temperance told me that these behaviors were simply unacceptable. When the card was reversed, all I could see was its own judgement of me. You had too much to drink last night. Why else would you say the things you did? Why else would you be the person you are? Your inability to moderate makes you a failure.
And so, with every turn of the card, I would strengthen my resolve. I would make another rule for myself, and later I would create another loophole.
- I won’t drink on weeknights. Is Sunday a weeknight really?
- I will only have two glasses of wine a night. I bought new wine glasses that you could practically empty a bottle into.
- I wouldn’t drink before dinner. Unless it was a bloody mary. Who has bloody maries in the evening?
- I abstained for thirty days and liked sobriety, deciding to stick with it, but caved on my birthday. Who stays sober for their birthday?
It was around that birthday that I bought myself a new set of tarot cards. I had been reading from the Rider Waite deck, the first set I owned — a gift. But I needed new cards, I believed, as it was probably one of my greatest joys as a hedgewitch, aside from my healing cooking. A new set caught my eye in an old esoteric bookshop in northern California. Called the Druid Craft Tarot, it incorporated a lot of symbolism that meant more to me and made more sense than the deck I had before. I had been christened a witch by an old Welsh woman, after all. My family name suggested an English history. Why not embrace that side of my past a bit more fully?
As I sat looking through the cards at home (sipping on some wine of course!) I noticed some significant differences in the deck. The Devil was renamed Cernunnos, which I appreciated coming from a very Christian background. The Empress and Emperor were the Lord and the Lady. But most notably was Temperance — it had morphed into The Fferyllt, a druid alchemist who combines fire and water to create balance and transformation. She stands in front of her cauldron with a besom propped against the wall and herbs drying around her. She looked a bit like a hedgewitch. And according to the suggested interpretation, turning this card over in a reading indicated a fluency between worlds, creativity, harmony, peace, alchemy and magic. These words resonated in a way that balance, moderation, patience, purpose, meaning — what I associated with the interpretation of temperance — never did.
After that, I gave my Rider Waite deck to a friend and moved fully into my Druid roots. And The Fferyllt would come up as loyally as Temperance ever did. But to me there was something different about her. I wanted magic. I wanted to find fluency between the worlds. And I desperately wanted peace. These promises were more my style, more in tune with the forest-dwelling, creative and emotional lady I was. Temperance had felt so patriarchal. So stoic. So without reward. So final. Slowly the idea of leaving behind alcohol crept into my mind, and while AA felt stoic and final and patriarchal, I gave it a try. I felt the Fferyllt urging me on.
It dawned on me soon after that maybe the Internet would be a better place to look. Within minutes I found so many women online blogging, talking, learning from each other, sharing magic with each other. What I realized is this: While some of us are able to moderate, to be temperate, that is not the goal. The goal is to find what brings us peace, what helps us create and find harmony within ourselves. The goal is to be our own alchemist, figuring out how much fire and water we ourselves need. Because there is no one-size-fits-all recipe when it comes to alcohol (or firewater, if you’re so inclined).
After three-plus years without it, each year more lucid and beautiful, more magical in ways I cannot describe aptly even as a writer, I realized that my Neptune nature doesn’t need firewater. As much as the world had convinced me that artists must be drunks, as much as I had convinced myself that my best tarot readings came when I was buzzed, these were lies. The truth came from that place inside me where no lie can ever live: I am a non-drinking Neptunian and an alchemist of my soul.
Rebecca – the Non Drinking Neptunian is a Mystic Medusa subscriber & clearly a gifted alchemist-scribe. You can read her awesome blog here.
* Neptune people (Pisces + Neptune influences strong in their astral) are classically more likely to seek transcendence in both spiritual and not-so-spiritual outlets. It’s explored more here. And yes, depending on where/how it falls in your Tarot, Temperance often means it is time to give something damaging or draining up. To gain the simple peace of more moderate living. Pay attention to repeat cards!
Bottom Image: Gertrude Abercrombie