On Fossil Fuels & Responsibility

I started this blog in January of this year as an experiment. After studying tarot starting in 2017 and practicing mostly with friends, family, and comrades, this blog and this website was launched both as sort of a professional coming out and as a home for continued exploration of using tarot as a tool to also analyze collective organizing work. Tarot, any divination tool really, can be used for any sort of purpose, not just for individual self-care, but that is currently the popular use. So it is the common way to teach, and it is the way I have learned. In furthering this experiment, I’m realizing how I might also shift the way in which I practice. This month’s reading is a little bit different to shift practice in a way that gets closer to illuminating meaning in a way that resonates with the purpose. These shifts have been heavily influenced from my reading of Josephine McCarthy’s Tarot Skills for the 21st Century.

To start, I decided to hone in on a particular question, one that has been very active over the past month for me and those I am in community with. From last winter there have been increasing number of direct actions to stop the Line 3 pipeline, and next week mass mobilizations are planned in MN and DC. The IPCC report came out earlier this month with dire predictions if fossil fuel investments continue. There really isn’t a new angle on ultimately what needs to be done to address the climate crisis, but there are so many roadblocks and varying strategies to get there. The intention of this reading is to look to the cards for concrete answers.

The Question

How can organizers in social justice movements best take action to stop fossil fuel investments at this time?

I used MacCarthy’s “Solutions” layout which calls the reader to focus in on a few of the strongest cards rather than analyze every card pulled. I’ll share the full drawing but only write about what I consider the most resonant cards that point to strong solutions.

The Reading

– The event – Father of Roots
– Passive unfolding. Just let the situation work itself out: let Fate and Time do their jobs. – Mother of Roots
– Random action. An inspired or random unplanned act will trigger a solution. – 6 of Roots
– Economic – 3 of Feathers
– Health – 8 of Arrows
– Responsibility. Taking responsibility for an action you caused will bring about the solution. – The Chariot
– A cool mind – 6 of Arrows
– Mercy – 5 of Arrows
– Fight. Fight your corner, stand your ground, and do not give up: this will bring about a solution. – 3 of Roots
– Pay your dues – 2 of Arrows

Cards are the Brady tarot

The Solutions


Mother of Roots (Pentacles) – Passive Unfolding
This card is a reminder of how small we humans are. Our negative impact is greatly outsized for what is needed to sustain human life here–meaning extraction for profit is wasteful and unnecessary. But the Earth can take care of itself. We would be much better humans and neighbors in right relationship with the Earth and other beings, but whatever we choose to do, the Earth will be here regardless. In addition and to be more specific, if all activists and organizations kept on autopilot doing the exact same they have been doing, Fate and Time are in one way or another on the side of either running out of or ceasing investment in fossil fuels. In a way, the future is bright, though maybe not for us. 

6 of Roots (Pentacles) – Random Action
This card speaks to the transformative power of sacrifice where we have a mentality of generosity and we take action to give to others. The card references part of the Aztec creation story where the Hare sacrifices himself and is remembered in the Moon. It is in giving that we create new worlds. What are ways we can do this creatively, spontaneously, that foretell a future of abundance where basic human needs are met by just taking what we need and giving the rest? Make this even simpler: do more random acts of kindness. Not just for people you like, people you already trust. Prove to those most skeptical about kindness that it’s the right way to live to help us collectively remember who we all really are.

The Chariot – Responsibility
This one is the most relevant for interpreting organizationally, and I think the most important card drawn in response to this question. This card represents actual vehicles to aid in our forward motion, and organizations are vehicles for our social movements. They are imperfect, often haphazard, not necessarily built to last, but infused with our will and experience, and with them we move through worlds. It’s time to take responsibility for the vehicles we’ve created, and do a serious reckoning of what we need to achieve our goals. How much of the work to stop fossil fuel investments is hindered by organizations struggling to function, coalitions unable to make critical decisions, energy spent in turf wars instead of against targets? All of this we are responsible for. There are obvious structural reasons why nonprofits and other social movement organizations struggle, but what part of the problem can we directly address? Can we get better at actually having hard conversations instead of avoiding them, building trust with allies like the future of the planet depends on it, revise HR policies for a fairer, more equitable workplace so people don’t burn out? Anything like this is squarely ours to do, and it may not be as sexy as other actions we can take, but it’s vitally important.

3 of Roots – Fight
This card is exactly what it looks like to be in it for the long haul. Where fighting isn’t necessarily brash or look heroic, but it is the consistent effort over time to build with others. Here the effort is worth it, and if we keep at it will result in greater stability and resources. This card resonated strongly to me in this position because of how often doing movement work well is consistently holding the line to defend your position, to make small advances where possible, and requires tremendous amounts of faith that a lot of fairly monotonous things you’re doing add up to positive change. When I got involved in the tenant movement in 2011 I was mentored by people who had been in it since the 80s and 90s. They described the work as trench warfare. Those were the political conditions at the time and the work isn’t always going to feel that way, but we have to be tolerant of not seeing immediate payoff for our efforts. Like water that consistently flows and cuts deep canyons there is payoff in waging a fight rooted in sheer determination and faith.

Have a specific question you’d like to be considered for next month’s blog post? Send it my way! info@aimeeinglis.com

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