The first time you see someone, what do you really see? Their aura, the outline of their hair as it glistens in the sun, the energy swirling around them in an endless dance with the cosmos, the small spot on their shirt they didn’t notice or they would have chosen something else? Maybe you see all these things, but you don’t really see them, not their face. Not really. There’s too much else to take in, like how you feel beholding them.
Your face is a thumbprint, unique to you, only you could be the carrier. You’re unlike anyone I’ve ever known or seen before. I am enthralled in the private witnessing of you.
Sometimes when we’re together it’s like you’re not even there at all. There’s a smudge where your face should be as if you’ve been erased. Maybe I tried to erase it because the things you did and said were not to my liking. I decided it would be better if there was no you behind that smile. I couldn’t get rid of you, but I could obliterate your mouth. Your ability to speak.
At some point I looked down and realized there were giant gaping holes beneath you, and felt immediate concern. Your vulnerability was clear. You weren’t a monster after all, just a person with holes in your story, in your auric body, your soul. I felt compassion for you then, a desire to assist you, to prop up the parts that still remained. I realized that it was not me who effaced you, but yourself. And the whole world. How I loved you then. You, self-destructive creature like myself, swirling and twirling gloriously, but still always so worried about the holes beneath, about crashing down.
The last time I saw you I realized you had stepped on me and that’s why I wasn’t seeing you properly. My face bore the imprint of your shoe. I wondered what kind of person would hurt another so badly just to keep from being seen; to wound and scar just so I could never properly lay eyes on you again.
Now when I think of you all that remains are the sparkles, the bits of floating light, and the memory of the fire that danced around us when we came together. Now when I think of you I feel peaceful because all that’s left is the impression of you, the indents my sneaker left in the mud of a well trod path. The imperfect beauty of their jagged patterns.
[Editor’s Note: Laura actually produced two pieces from this prompt! The second piece will be released when the artists working on that stream are done. Stay tuned.]
Interview by L. Valena
Can you describe to me what you responded to?
I think I really responded to the colors. Specifically what I most responded to was the fact that it looked like two people but they didn't have faces. So there is this kind of swirling, rubbed-looking mass in the middle of each of (what I perceived to be) people, which was really disturbing to me at first. There was like this part of me that was like, “oh my gosh. What?”
"Don't make me dig into this"?
Yeah. Like no face, eh? Great. I'm really enjoying going here. I'm a big first impression person and I'm notorious for really disliking the people that then become like my best friends and most important confidants when I first meet them. That's a joke with myself. So I think that it was the colors and the lack of descript features in the images that I responded to.
I think it's so cool that you kind of related that those thoughts to tarot cards. How much do you want to talk about tarot cards? Do want to talk about tarot cards?
I went to school for creative writing because I'm really interested in stories- I think they have so much power to heal. I think they're medicine- a really ancient medicine, and I think that they're how humans have always made sense of our experiences on earth. For me storytelling is some of the oldest medicine that we have. I have been really into astrology and Tarot since I was very young and essentially what both of those systems do is use symbols that correspond to archetypes to tell stories. I'm now a professional astrologer and tarot card reader, and part of what I do is look at the archetypal symbols in people's charts and tell them stories about their lives. And for most people those stories are incredibly powerful and resonant and facilitate the healing process. So there is an aspect that is medicinal in hearing stories. As a fiction writer, there's something that they really love to tell you in creative writing classes. Like there's only twenty-two plot lines.
Oh my god- I've heard it's like five or seven!
Well, twenty-two is the number of the major Arcana! It's so demoralizing to be a young person in a writing class saying "I have something to say!" and to have people be like, "there's nothing new under the sun". Which is really beautiful and comforting, and also a little uninspiring to me. I think I find inspiration is in accessing and telling stories that feel like the archetypes. These archetypes exist in our collective unconscious, and are always renewing themselves through us. Every time a new human being is born (or an animal, or anything on Earth), we embody a unique expression of divinity, or of these Divine archetypes.
I study these ancient arts and ancient divinatory practices, and they are having a complete revival right now in our modern society and this intense relevance in our mass culture. More people than ever before are buying tarot cards. The religious right is actually like tracking it because they're afraid. The mass hexes that witches in Brooklyn put on Brett Kavanaugh, the patriarchy and all rapists and all who abet them. It's because these really ancient, deep (existing on a cellular, DNA level within us) archetypes are being made new and we need them. We're being called into healing on such a profound level with the crises that we're having in our society, and I think the Earth is like all hands on deck! Every single thing. And the divine's like anything that's ever worked for humans. Let's just throw it in the mix right now. So on a collective level, tarot is very resonant with people. I have a lot of clients who come to me just for tarot card readings, most people like astrology and tarot together, but it's something that anyone can access. You could just go buy a deck, and then you could start to have a really profound spiritual experience with yourself.
Having really deeply studied the archetypes of the tarot, one of them is the lovers card. A lot of times when people come to me, they ask about love. People really want to see the lovers card- they really want to get that happy lovers pronouncement and outcome and it's not common! It definitely happens and I tell people "You should feel good that you got this- this is not what everybody gets!"
My own novel that I'm working on is about a group of queer friends in New York City at the turn of the 21st century. It's about them as a group and a collective, but it's definitely about the individual relationships. They're all kind of like orbiting this center- the magical community that existed at the time, but within that they're having their own constellations of those relationships and different formations of lovers. So what I looked at this image, I saw a relationship between the two figures. The other thing is that in the tarot, two can signify a gate or a portal, and a threshold. So to me, it looks like they were turned towards each other and that all of the stuff in the background was kind of like the magic and the energy and the invisible interplay in their relationship that's always going on when we're having a conversation whether we can sense it or not. Some of us are better sensing that stuff than others, but it's always happening whether or not you can see and feel it.
I was really just thinking about how as someone who reads tarot intuitively, I don't use inverted cards as a different meaning. I think everything is contained within every image and when I read it intuitively, different things pop out to me. Some people that could get the Lovers, but what I'm looking at is like the fact that the church looks like it's gonna fall down. Just because you get the lovers card doesn't mean it's good, and within the lovers card is also everything that's awful in a relationship. What I liked about this image is that it felt like there was so much going on between the two, that there was so much that had already happened and was continuing to develop. When you first meet someone there is like truly a magic, and truly like a chemistry that happens that makes you kind of love/dope sick. As that slowly wears off, you start to negotiate with like all the different sides of people. Then if you have real intimacy, you'll encounter their shadow side. There was definitely a lot of shadow, and kind of Yin Yang interplay in this for me. I think I think intimacy is the most craved experience of human beings, and the most difficult, the one that people run towards and simultaneously run from more often than anything else.
Well, it's terrifying.
Yeah, it's pretty horrifying.
When I read your poem and looked at the piece again, it really made me think about that period between the first time you meet someone and you begin to know them. I can only speak for my own experience, but I feel like people's faces actually change as I begin to know them. It's such a strange phenomenon, because the more you get to know somebody that continues to develop. So there's something really interesting about the idea of these faceless figures being so connected to each other.
How can we ever really know anybody, right? You know the weirdest part to me about relationships is that you can know someone, you can spend so much time- years of your life with them. And then one day you can just part ways, you can stop talking and you can never see them again. And all that you have is your memory, and it's very very confusing. How is it possible that I felt like I needed to be with you every single day for over half a decade, and then now I like will spend the rest of my life without you? And relative to hopefully getting to live a long life, it was actually a really short amount of time. How can both be true? That I just never want to talk to you again, when I literally had to be near you. I think that's really common in all relationships. It's not just romantic. I just feel like the way that we do relationships changes as we age.
Call Number: C14VA | C19PP.caLo
Laura Campagna is a story teller from Boston, MA. Also known as The Wednesday Witch, she is a practicing astrologer, tarot card reader and energy healer who posts weekly and monthly forecasts on social media. Laura's first novel, The Eleventh House, about a group of friends in New York City at the turn of the 21 century is forthcoming.