One of our first activities in Moonshine 2023 this year was to engage in some preliminary work in preparation for the little spells that my Wing Witch, Sarah Trumpp will be providing us with all year long. She instructed us in finding our “soul number” and our “year number” using a combo deal of tarot and numerology.

Of course, I’d long since done this way back in the early aughts (like, the late 1980’s) when I first immersed myself in all things witchy including tarot, so I knew that my soul number is 9 which correlates to The Hermit in the tarot.

Here’s what that looks like in my favourite deck – the one I cut my teeth on and the one I still reach for all these years later.

Here’s what it looks like in the deck I recommend to beginners with tarot – The Colman Smith (or Rider Waite if you prefer – I just like to honour the artist, Patricia Colman, because she’s a part of my spiritual lineage).

I’m sharing this with you because as I started filling out my little worksheet in prep for the coming year of tarot magic, it got me to thinking about how this shows up in my life. It reminded me that the number one question I get from people – students and casual observers alike, is something like this:

“How do you manage to be so “authentic” and “honest”?” The answer is complicated, but I’m going to give it a whack.

First, it’s probably the ’tism. Yes, I’m coming to accept that I am, as friends and family have suggested, most likely actually autistic. No, I am not pursuing a formal diagnosis because I don’t “need treatment” for it. I need accommodation, and I’m already providing that. It’s also incredibly difficult to get a diagnosis if you are a woman because studies on autism were done on young white boys. It shows up in a million different flavours that weren’t covered in those studies or in the current diagnostics, but when I’ve done the quizzes – even the long-form ones – I get “You are probably autistic”.

Fine. If it helps me understand myself, if it helps me be gentler with myself about how I work and what my needs are, I’ll take it.

I’ve also got neurodivergence as a result of complex trauma so I am extra spicy. This extra spiciness means I *can* play along with social norms, but I find it so exhausting, so costly to my sense of well-being, that I mostly *don’t*. And that means saying what is true for me, even when it’s uncomfortable. That means I’ve got no bandwidth for pretending I’m okay when I’m not. That means if my boundaries are violated, I’m likely to say so. It means that I’m too fucking tired to pretend I’m perfect, and I’m way too invested in being accepted *as I am* to try to twist myself into configurations that are socially acceptable but impossible for me to sustain.

It also means that I can drop you like you’re hot if you harm me. This usually takes a few strikes because I trauma bond easily and I have a powerful fawn trauma response, but once I get that you’re not good for me, I’m done like dinner.

Does this make me risky to love?

Sure, if you’re planning on fucking me over. But if you’re willing to do rupture and repair with me, I’m easy to love and not just easy, I’m a delight. I’m full of grace and empathy. I’m loyal. I’m *devoted*.

But fuck me over? I’m out. I may still love you. I’ll probably love you forever, but I will deny you access to me so fast your head will spin and it will take *a lot* to get me back.

So, all of that. The autism. The trauma. I’m also INFJ, and I’m The Hermit.

Identifying as The Hermit means that I have befriended my solitude. I don’t need to be in constant contact with humans. I don’t need a romantic partnership to feel complete. I do yearn for a friend group I can feel at home in my own skin with, but I don’t feel like my life has less value because I haven’t sorted that out yet. Some people find me a lot to take. I get it. I will look you in the face and say “I love you” and mean it and some people find that uncomfortable. I will also look you in the face and say “You are hurting me. I need you to do better.” and boy, do people find THAT uncomfortable. I don’t smile when I’m angry like so many of us have been conditioned to do.

I’m a lot for the neurotypical to handle, and so the longer I live, the less I try to fit in with the neurotypical. The less I mask. The more I shrug off being misunderstood, because look…

I am tired. ;) This is the size and shape of neuro I come in. There are billions of other people for you to choose from. Let me be this rusty bucket of bog water, okay? Go find your perfect cup of tea and leave me be.

Thankfully, blessedly, the people that get me tend to be neuro-spicy, too, so they appreciate knowing that they’re always going to know exactly where they stand with me. There’s no subtext. There’s no risk of me saying anything about you to anyone that I wouldn’t say to your face. I will not lie to you about how I feel about you. I will not pretend to like you if I don’t. I won’t be uncivil about it – I can not like you and still be perfectly civil, but you’re not going to catch me faking something I don’t feel.

Truthfully, I like most people but I am also terrified of most people, so the whole “not liking” people isn’t really an issue. It’s more that if you give me a reason to be afraid of you (eg. you don’t say what you mean or your words don’t align with your actions or you do a lot of projecting of your own stuff onto me), you might find me aloof. Not unkind, but not accessible, either.

If you want me to be warm with you, you have to know this:

I am out with lanterns looking for myself.

I am not here for you. I am not about the business of collecting friends. I’m not a social butterfly. I’m not “tribal”. Social connections cost me a lot of life force, so I’m not going to be easy to lure out of my hermitage. I’m most comfortable when I am alone.

I used to think that this meant there was something wrong with me, but I don’t think that anymore. I have learned how to meet my needs for connection in ways that don’t burn me out or overstimulate me. I know how to dip when I need to dip, and I flake without shame when I need to flake. I take my life force very seriously, and if I find that my interactions with someone are too draining and I have no contractual or familial obligation to interact with them, I won’t interact. I prefer one on one to large group gatherings. Hell, I prefer ZOOM to in-person interactions because I have *total control* over how long that encounter may last.

And on the subject of “honesty” or “authenticity”, aside from all the neuro reasons, there’s this one:

I’d rather be loved as a complicated and sometimes ugly truth than mistakenly loved as a pretty lie.