Beth Maiden is a tarot reader, writer, and web designer, currently based on the Isle of Skye. She regularly contributes to Autostraddle.com. She will be giving tarot readings on a pay-what-you-can basis at our daytime event, 2 to 7pm, 20th August in the Art School.
What initially drew you to Free Pride as an organisation and event?
I love celebrating with my queer peers, celebrating our resilience, inspiring each other to keep on living and keep on fighting. The queer community is so huge and diverse and Pride is at its roots a political festival – yet I don’t see that reflected in most mainstream parades, which seem mostly about drinking and corporate sponsorship. I recently moved to Scotland and was googling for queer pride alternatives – I was so happy to find Free Pride Glasgow!
What can attendees expect from your pay-what-you-can tarot readings on the day?
I’ll be offering short, three-card tarot readings at Free Pride. Folks can come alone or with a friend and ask what they wish, or let the cards do the talking. I ask each querent (the person asking the question) to hold the cards and shuffle them, then lay out three cards. I’ll explain what I’m seeing in these cards and how their messages and energies are playing out in the querent’s life and situation. Typically, the cards will illustrate a challenge the person is facing and offer a positive route forward, or show resources and sources of strength. Sometimes the cards will bring up something that the querent is avoiding.
The foundation of my tarot practice is the belief that we all have within us the answers we seek and the resources we need – often we are struggling to connect to that deep wisdom, or we’re choosing not to see it, for any number of reasons. My aim is always to provide new perspectives, alternative paths for the querent, though most often, I find that the cards serve to confirm what they already know, deep inside. It’s a warm, encouraging process that can sometimes be a little challenging, too – though when I do these short readings at events, I tend not to go too deep.
Why do you think many LGBTQ+ women and people are attracted to the cultures of tarot, astrology, and witchcraft?
In part, it has to do with history and liminality. Witchy practices like these have always existed on the margins of society. Much like ‘queer’, ‘witch’ is a loaded word with a painful history – to claim this identity is a political act. Historically, to have the label ‘witch’ given to you meant ostracisation and death for huge numbers of women.
Tarot, astrology, ritual, herbalism and DIY healthcare – these are tools for self-empowerment, for self-actualisation, for working through our own shit in our own ways. In a world that tells queer people that they are different, that they are less, that their love is worth less, and that punishes those who want to challenge structures, these liminal tools provide a way to take hold of our own wellbeing and work with our beautiful, messy lives and loves in our own ways.
Queer people and women inherit generations of oppression, pain and misunderstanding, but many are finding ways to connect to ancestral wisdom and energies bigger than the restrictive worlds around us. It is empowering and political to grab hold of these tools and find our own ways to use them – but that’s what queer people do. We look for alternatives, we see what’s growing at the edges, we refuse to conform and we create beautiful community, safety and culture in the places where the mainstream fears to tread. (Until it becomes cool and marketable, that is.)
What are your experiences of connecting with queer community while living in rural places like the Isle of Skye?
It’s not so hot. I’ve only knowingly met one other queer person since January, though my gaydar has been beeping quietly at a couple of others. When I asked one new friend if they knew of any gay folks nearby, they asked why I can’t just be happy hanging out with normal people. Another person thought I was taking the piss when I expressed excitement when they told me there was a lesbian couple living nearby. Meh.
That’s partly why I value events like Free Pride and will travel such a distance to get there, and run an online business where I can connect with my peers on the regular. If I stay on Skye (unlikely, as it’s so expensive here) then my partner and I will try to start something up. We’re always talking about the queer festival we’d love to organise.
Do you have any other creative projects in the pipeline that you’d like to share with us?
Ah man, I’ve always got a load of creative projects on the go, I’m terrible for starting things and not finishing them. Right now, I’m working with Rowan trees, learning about their mythology. I made myself a magic wand from a rowan branch on the summer solstice this year and am now trying to make a few more for my friends. And experimenting with recipes using their beautiful red berries. I’m also trying to paint them, though I’m not very good! I love how the process of drawing and painting plants makes me look really, really closely and notice their intricate and unique details.
I’m also writing a follow-up to my online tarot course. I actually just booked myself a week in a bothy on the Isle of Eigg so as to hammer it out and get it wrapped up. I prefer to work in obsessive bursts rather than ‘a little every day’.
My partner and I are building our first home – a tiny house on a chassis. She’s a builder and this will be the first major project we’ve done together. It’s exciting!
Interview by Ellen MacAskill