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“Yikes” was the word that came to mind at the beginning of 2020. Before COVID, before BLM, before any elections, I had an inkling that something big may happen this year.
As a tarot reader, I use the lens of numerology to meditate on what’s around the corner. To calculate the numerology of something, you add up the digits. That makes 2020 a “4 year” numerologically (2 + 0 + 2 + 0 = 4). Once I’ve calculated the numerology of something, I look to the tarot to see which cards correlate to that number. 4 correlates to both the 4th tarot card, The Emperor, and the 13th tarot card (1 + 3 = 4), Death. The Emperor represents stability, structure, practicality, while Death represents change and transformation. Paired together, I could see some shake-ups were coming.
Death, understandably, makes some of my clients nervous. When Death appears in a client’s tarot reading, I usually reassure them that “Death” is not as bad as it sounds. Death is about change. There is a natural process of death and rebirth — it’s how we grow.
When we see something within us that doesn’t serve us, Death invites us to release it and change it. Then, something new can come in, and we are reborn. Death can be quite beautiful when done with ease and flow. When we kick and scream, resisting change, the death that needs to happen is blocked. Just like water in a blocked pipe, pressure starts to build — something’s gotta give.
COVID threw us all for a loop by making us question how we find stability in our lives, and whether that stability is as solid as we’ve convinced ourselves it is. Prior to COVID, if you had unmet needs or anxiety to deal with, you could distract yourself with partying, drinking, overworking, or even traveling. You could pretend you were stable, even if that wasn’t reality.
In 2020, this intense Death energy partnered up with The Emperor to insist on change by destabilizing us. COVID threw us all for a loop by making us question how we find stability in our lives, and whether that stability is as solid as we’ve convinced ourselves it is. Prior to COVID, if you had unmet needs or anxiety to deal with, you could distract yourself with partying, drinking, overworking, or even traveling. You could pretend you were stable, even if that wasn’t reality. COVID threw all of our go-to habits and coping mechanisms out the window and required much, much more from us in order to deal.
For me, I experienced The Emperor and Death energies most acutely in my love life. At the end of 2019, I consciously uncoupled from someone I’d been dating for seven years, whom I had considered a partner and best friend. I was looking for a new apartment in the cut-throat San Francisco rental market while in the middle of a major career transition. At 41 years old, I found myself single with the opportunity to start over.
I roared into 2020, excited for a new kind of relationship. I was looking for my divine counterpart. My next relationship would be passionate, spiritual, interdependent, and supportive. Passion was at the top of the list of my priorities. I had denied myself passion in the past. My relationships had always been either “nice boys, OK sex” or “bad boys, great sex.” Fearing the bad boys, I settled for men whom I got along with, but were unable to have the fiery chemistry that I really wanted. I didn’t think we could have both. As women, we don’t always give ourselves permission to have passion, especially in sex. We sacrifice and compromise, making ourselves feel bad about it being important to us. For me, passion became a non-negotiable.
My relationships had always been either “nice boys, OK sex” or “bad boys, great sex.” Fearing the bad boys, I settled for men whom I got along with, but were unable to have the fiery chemistry that I really wanted. I didn’t think we could have both.
2020 made passion, well… challenging. For those of us who were dating, social distancing, shelter-in-place, and the shutdown of public spaces made dating feel impossible at times. How are you to know if there’s the possibility for passion in a new relationship when a global pandemic is dictating how you interact? If you can’t even touch each other? I’m a firm believer in trying the goods before you buy, so there was part of me that felt impatient. I didn’t want to waste my energy on someone when the synergy didn’t exist.
In late spring, I was half-heartedly on a dating website, but hadn’t had much luck. I barely checked the account, but still had my email notifications turned on. I saw an email come in saying I had a new “like.” As I opened it, my former co-worker’s face filled my screen. I snapped my computer closed and ran to my bed to hide under the covers.
After I got over the initial shock, I asked myself, “How do I feel about this?” It was hard to imagine this platonic co-worker I knew as a romantic partner. Since I was coupled when we worked together, I didn’t play the “Would I?” game with my co-workers of the time. I finally climbed out from under the covers and opened his dating profile. I liked what he had to say. Along with the light-hearted, humorous personality that I knew him to have, he also revealed a deep spirituality that I was looking for in a partner.
Even then, I hesitated. From his profile, it was clear he wanted to have kids. Having a family is still a question mark for me — it has kept coming up for me in my healing journey, but I haven’t landed on any conclusions. I also wasn’t convinced we could move beyond being co-workers. We had a friendly working relationship, but that was it. With passion being a priority, I wasn’t sure if things would work. Ultimately, I didn’t respond. Why start something you aren’t sure of?
A month later after receiving a friends with benefits proposal, I realized my search for my divine counterpart wasn’t going well. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with friends with benefits, but it wasn’t what I was looking for. I had to say “no” so the Universe could give me what I did want. I was meditating on what to do next, when the situation with my former co-worker popped into my third eye. My higher self communicated that we have an incompletion between us. She wanted me to tell him why I didn’t respond. I messaged him right away on Facebook. He responded saying he understood and asked if I was interested in catching up on Zoom. I figured it couldn’t hurt to catch up.
As we got to know each other virtually outside the “co-worker” label I’d placed on him, I got to know more about his healing journey, service work, and spiritual perspective. Much of it was congruent with my own. Even in those parts where we disagreed, there was a mutual respect, and we gave each other space to have our own beliefs.
We both had experience sharing openly in healing circles, so we were comfortable authentically connecting during our two- to three-hour Zoom dates. He was open and direct, asking questions that cut to the chase. He wasn’t playing games. Rather, he had a conviction for what he cared about, which I appreciated.
I could feel myself genuinely really liking this person. Spiritually and emotionally, we were on the same page. In the back of my mind though, I worried about my non-negotiable. “What if there’s no passion when we’re together?”
When we finally met in person, I got no answers. We went on socially distanced dates, taking a walk around our neighborhoods or sitting 6 feet apart from each other at our apartments. Trying to stay far away from each other didn’t lend itself to much passion.
After a couple of months, he asked if we should take COVID tests, so that we could relax our social distancing. It was a vulnerable check-in. Really, the question was “Do we like each other enough to become part of each other’s COVID pod?” I agreed, and a week later — with our negative results secured — we sat next to each other to watch a movie.
At this point, I’m sure you’re looking for a climax, so I’ll get to it. Yes, the sex is good. But, it’s been different this time. In every previous relationship of mine, I’ve had sex on the first date. I’m no prude clearly, but after the circumstances of 2020 where I was forced into new ways of relating while dating, I can see how my impatience may have robbed me of the experience of passion built on a foundation of spiritual and emotional connection. I can see what they might have been getting at in the old paradigm with the “No sex before marriage” rule. Looking back on these very strange six months of abnormal dating, I learned that passion isn’t just about whether the sex is good. Passionate partnership is built on spiritual and emotional connection, effective communication, and respect.
I began to understand that passion doesn’t show up the way I thought it did. Instead of “falling in love,” I now know that I can “build in love” to create the deep spiritual and emotional intimacy I was seeking.
In 2020, Death and The Emperor energies transformed my dating life. I couldn’t do things the way I’d always done them. And by working with the new constraints (as opposed to resisting them), I began to understand that passion doesn’t show up the way I thought it did. Instead of “falling in love,” I now know that I can “build in love” to create the deep spiritual and emotional intimacy I was seeking. Each time my partner and I choose to visit that vulnerable place, trust is built. Brick by brick, we’re building a foundation for a lasting relationship built on safety, lovingkindness, and authenticity.
As we move into 2021, the good news is that balance is coming! 2021 is a “5 year” numerologically (2 + 0 + 2 + 1 = 5), correlating to the 5th tarot card, The Hierophant, and the 14th tarot card (1 + 4 = 5) Temperance. The Hierophant represents tradition, institutions, and values, while Temperance represents balance, moderation, and patience.
After the destabilization and crumbling of 2020, we can start to pick up the pieces we want to keep in 2021 in order to build our strong foundation. The combined energies of the Hierophant and Temperance invites us to ask, “There are good things about current institutions and traditions, but much has been revealed that’s not working. What needs to change?”
In my own life, my new relationship has me reflecting on the institutions of marriage and family. “What fits my values? How can I make these my own?” Having avoided such institutions for fear that they’ll keep me tied up, I now find myself in my new partnership asking whether my rebelliousness still serves me, or whether I can come into a new relationship with these institutions.
From a macro perspective, many of us have found a renewed appreciation for the role of government in keeping us safe and the tradition of voting after 2020. We saw how these institutions play a direct role in our everyday lives, where previously we may have taken them for granted. Just because we now appreciate them, however, doesn’t mean the work is done. With everything that has happened in the past few years, we must examine our values and question where we’re going. Who are we as a nation, as individuals to have allowed our world succumb to such divisiveness? We’ve seen the cracks. Now, it’s time to roll up our sleeves to implement balanced solutions.
If you’re reading this right now, you’ve survived the
tire sacred fire that was 2020. You’ve likely come out this side with new eyes for what matters. As we move into 2021, take a moment to journal on these questions to ensure that all the shittiness you survived in 2020 doesn’t go to waste.
And, as we move into the energy of balance in 2021, ask yourself:
Rev. Bonnie Ho is a spiritual counselor, energy reader, and author of the Living in the Third Eye column for Jumble & Flow. After spending most of her adult life trying to prove her own worth through an analytical career, Bonnie found a spiritual path that led her back to herself and her own heart. Now, Bonnie aims to help others heal their wounds, find their joy, and embrace their intuition and true desires, in a grounded, balanced way.
Bonnie is available for spiritual guidance and energy readings. Visit bonniehoinsights.com to learn more.
Our mission is to help you deal with your jumbles and find your flow.
Adventures in Perimenopause, essays by women in perimenopause and menopause
In My Prime: interviews with women thriving in midlife
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