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Green Is The New Black

How Are You Really? The Tower Comes Before the Star: Notes on 2020

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how are you really 2020 green is the new black

It’s okay not to be okay. The combined energy from the full moon lunar eclipse and the realisation that it’s the final month of the year make for quite a bit of collective anxiety and serious questioning. Let’s lean into it, and talk 2020.


How are you, really?

It seems almost cliché, at this point, to ask anybody how they’re doing. The common answer is probably some combination of the words “fine”, “could be worse”, “you know how it is”, “pandemic”, and maybe a cautiously optimistic “it’ll get better”. But I’m going to be honest here…It’s going terribly.

It’s been almost a year since we found out about the global pandemic. We’ve more or less normalised wearing masks, and staying at home—which is great. But we’ve also normalised a bunch of other things—not so great. For example, we’ve normalised functioning without our communities. We’ve somehow come to a point where we expect ourselves to function (as in meet deadlines, complete assignments, show up for meetings, etc.) without fulfilling our very human need of being social creatures. (Unless you’re one of those influencers who’s throwing parties as if you’re somehow magically immune?!)

Can we just acknowledge for a second that we’ve collectively normalised the pandemic? Or rather, more accurately, that the capitalistic system we’re all living in forced us to normalise the fact that we’re living through a global pandemic? Because yes, it’s the pressure from the system that demands you work to earn a living or suffer, that’s forcing us to pretend as though it’s business-as-usual, even though it’s absolutely not. So yes, it’s going terribly. And I’m well aware that I’m not even close to the bottom of the barrel.


How do we not have an emergency universal basic income in place yet?

Remember when the pandemic just became recognised as a collective reality? Remember the early months of 2020, when the world finally started to wake up to the fact that our system is not working? That we couldn’t return to business-as-usual? What happened to the revolutionary propositions of a universal basic income? Of Green New Deals everywhere? Is there a hotline that I can call to get a refund on this bootleg version of whatever I expected? If these are the questions you’re asking, then you’re not alone.

But if there’s anything I’ve learnt from activism, it’s this: nobody said revolution was going to be easy, nor would it happen overnight. In 2020, the world finally realised that the system is broken. And we’re now in the midst of fixing it. Here’s something I read just last month that was particularly on point: “the tower comes before the star”. For those of you who aren’t too familiar with reading the tarot, this is a reference to two cards in the tarot deck. The Tower is one of the cards that people absolutely dread pulling: it’s the card that represents upheaval, chaos, and all kinds of rude awakenings. Usually, people take it to mean that you’re walking into an absolute shitshow. (See why nobody wants to pull this card?)

The good news is that the tarot cards have a sequence to them, and what’s after the Tower is… you guessed it, the Star. It represents renewal, hope, faith, fresh beginnings, transcending limits, lifting the veil, much like a lotus emerging from the mud (you get the point).


2020: the year of the Emperor

But if you’re anything like me, that alone isn’t a very satisfying answer. And as it turns out, it’s not exactly the answer. Corinna Rosella (@riseupgoodwitch on Instagram) posted the image with that reminder “the tower comes before the star”, and with it, they captioned this. “Many have called 2020 a year which relates to the Tower’s energy, but this has been an Emperor year and what happens when we live in white supremacy, corporate bodies govern and the cisheteropatriarchy reigns? It means the Emperor feels a whole lot like the Tower.”

Context: the tarot card for the year is the Emperor because when you add all the numbers of 2020 together, you get 4, and 4 corresponds to the Emperor card. The Emperor card embodies masculine energy; it is a card of authority, establishment and structure. Which is to say that these themes were supposed to, as they did, come to the forefront in 2020. They were front and centre, and the world finally realised how destructive these forces have been and can be.

And all this is not to say that “the tower comes before the star” is not valid anymore. If anything, we need to be hopeful, actively, if we even want to have a shot at revolution. Instead, if what we’re going through, which feels like the Tower, is actually because of the Emperor, we have our work cut out for us. This means that we need to put in the work to dismantle the structures in place that have led us to where we are today. This means that we need to confront the Emperor: both inward and outward manifestations of all the energies the Emperor entails.


So what now?

Confronting the Emperor is no easy feat. But I’m of the belief that it is first an inward journey, and the fact that we’re moving into the final month of the year is the perfect time to get started on that. Forget New Year resolutions: I’m starting now. And while I can’t tell you what’s the best way to dismantle the structures of White supremacy, oppression, capitalism and cisheteropatriarchy in you—that’s a journey you have to figure out for yourself. I can share my list, which perhaps will give you some ideas, which might inspire you to make your own list.



First up on my list is reflecting on the concept of decolonisation. For a while now, I’ve bookmarked this free, entirely online summer seminar on coloniality and decoloniality, but I haven’t had the time to actually hunker down to do the readings. I’ve also bookmarked Progressive International’s YouTube channel because it has a series of in-depth talks and panels about related topics. Then recently, Cricket, an Indigenous activist I follow on Instagram, posted about “decolonisation”, which served as a reminder that I need to actually make time to go reflect on what this word means (PS: check out these two posts on decolonisation).



The next thing that I’m recommending everyone do is subscribe to newsletters (join ours here). We all know that Instagram is becoming seriously commercialised now, which isn’t fun. But the upshot of that is a lot of my favourite creators, who also happen to be revolutionaries, activists and writers, have started newsletters. Check out Studio Ānanda, which is focused on “highlighting alternative modalities to healing, as well as the powerful position of marginality, to bring focus to the future of our collective, global society.” Or Annika is Dreaming, “a digital learning garden, planting seeds across communal care, art, design, tech, poetry, queerness, & Blackness.” Or, last but not least, WRITE, TO HEAL, which is all about “using the written word as a healing practice”. 

Along with subscribing to radical newsletters, I’m also going to be listening to podcasts (they’ve become all the rage this year, huh?) Two podcasts that have been on my radar this year that are perfect to get into this season are Green Dreamer Podcast, which talks about “eco regeneration, intersectional sustainability, & true abundance and wellness for all”, and YIKES Podcast, started by two of my favourite influencers: Mikaela Loach and Josephine Becker. If you’re looking for sensible, but radical hot takes—and not the surface-level kind—look no further.


3. READ!

Now, all this is more than enough to keep most people busy for a month, but since I’m going to have a lot of time on my hands, I’m also going to be reading. Some books I’ve lined up to read include: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis, The Mushroom at the End of the World by Anna Tsing, and Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed. (I’ve already started with How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell.) Many of these are classics and are perfect reads for 2020.


Oh, and let’s be there for each other. Ask someone today – how are you really?


Image credit: United Nations 

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Tammy is an environmentalist and social media advocate who believes in thinking bigger and deeper about climate change. She hopes that with her actions, we will all grow to become environmentally conscious citizens (not consumers) with hearts for this beautiful planet we call home.