Learning with the Devil: An Interview with Maria Minnis
by Sarah Gottesdiener·
Maria Minnis is one of the brilliant contributors for the 2022 Many Moons Lunar Planner. For the July Full Moon, Maria wrote about the Devil Tarot card and all its possibilities. Read the interview below to get a preview of the her essay, and to learn about the Void, what it is like to work on magical projects, and how the Devil archetype is one of Maria’s dearest friends.
For the 2022 Many Moons Planner, and the Capricorn moon, you wrote all about The Devil Card (the Card of the Year's Teacher Card). In your piece, you share: "Luckily, The Devil arises when we're already capable of confronting the things we've allowed to restrict us." Can you speak about what working with The Devil has helped you with?
The Devil archetype has become one of my dearest tarot friends, as I’ve worked really closely with them for the past two years. It is difficult work that has offered so much in exchange for my discomfort. One “devil” I’ve unchained myself from is my habit of saying yes to every possible experience. I’m generally comfortable saying no, but I sometimes have to tango with this mortality-driven voice in my head that says, “Life’s short, so do it all!” I’ve had too many run-ins with the 10 of Wands to know that I can’t. There’s a limit to how much I can do in a day, and the limit to what I’m willing to do is even more restrictive. So rather than being chained to a nagging voice with lofty expectations of capacity, I’m choosing to be more intentional about saying yes and more accepting of the situations where I have to say no. I am freeing myself.
When we’re with the Devil, we have choices. We just need to realize them. Completely abandoning something isn’t the only option this archetype gives us, and we can’t use the same strategy for every demon. We can banish them, work with them, transform them, romance them, spice up our lives with them … the list goes on! The point is that we have choices, and working with the Devil has made it abundantly clear how my everyday decisions affect my ability to live a life of breadth and depth. Whenever I find a new way that I’ve chained myself, I learn about a new choice that I can make. I’m always surprised at how many options I’ve had all along when I meet up with the Devil!
You had the rare experience of being both a contributor as well as copyediting many of next year's essays. What other content got you excited? What themes popped out at you in terms of what to expect for 2022? How do you think this planner will be a support?
This planner is amazing, absolutely amazing! I’ve been editing professionally for over a decade, and this assignment was the first one that required periodic cry breaks. I had several takeaways from every single essay I reviewed. I can only imagine how potent these stories, wisdom shares, and activities will feel as I work with the planner throughout the next year. I was particularly moved by Lisa Olivera’s January Full Moon offering. I was shocked by the depth of the practices she offers to help us come home to ourselves. What an amazing essay and activity for our first Full Moon of 2022! I’ve also been thinking a lot about the powerful prayer Lama Rod Owens shares for our March Full Moon. March feels like light-years away, but I get the sense that having those words with me as I move through the spring equinox has the potential to feel very profound.
When I step back from the details of copyediting and consider the overall experience of moving through these essays, my first response is: wow. It’s incredible how generous the contributors were in sharing their wisdom, experiences, and rituals. Beyond that, I was so pleased (but not surprised) to see a lot of topical diversity. I’ve had plenty of planners say the same things to me each month, repackaged repeatedly into different word sets. These essays are fresh, relevant, unique, thought-provoking, and sincere. There are few collections quite like the ones we get in these planners.
Your anti-racism with the tarot series is phenomenal. It works on so many different levels and is an example of how expansive, relevant, and adaptable these archetypes are. Can you share more about your process around this series?
Thank you! I’m so impressed by the ways people around the world have used it to prompt meaningful change in themselves, their relationships, and their communities. Writing this series has been one of my favorite spells!
Tarot can be a powerful analog for the entirety of our life experiences. And the truth is, for many of us, our life experiences are markedly shaped by structural oppression, whether we benefit from it or not. As I wrote each post, I kept in mind why I was integrating spirituality work and social justice work: our evolutionary experiences in both spheres are iterative, personal, and relational. Our actions are spells. From a vision, we combine intention, will, and action. That is a spell. Creating a more equitable world parallels that definition: we need intention, will, and action to make a vision come true. That’s a spell for the world.
Often we hear about spirituality through the lens of the Self (e.g. spells for personal development), but the Self is so intrinsically interconnected to the universe that it’s impossible for our magic to only be about ourselves. And even if it was all about us, what happens when we’ve done all we can to become our ideal selves? Then, what? At the end of our lives, the magic we’ve made beyond ourselves (the impact we have on our relationships, communities, and beyond) is how we live on. It’s how our magic lives on and influences our world, even after we’ve passed through this life. We know that our magic becomes more powerful because we’ve extended devotion and action to something bigger than ourselves.
This work we do—the magic we create—ripples. And that’s why I decided to share some perspectives of anti-racism through the lens of the tarot by using numerology, symbology, astrology, and other spiritual perspectives to illustrate different topics that we may learn about and act upon in our liberation work. I absolutely believe a different world is possible.
What advice would you give someone looking to weave their interests and their spirituality together?
I’d suggest trying to identify the ways that their spiritual practice supports their lives in general. For instance, I know that my morning grounding ritual helps me feel more stable before I start my workday. It’s a consistently effective spell. At some point, I might recognize that I could use some of that earthy, sturdy energy in my personal art practice, so maybe I create a grounding ritual that’s specific to my art. Or maybe I create a spell for inspiration or design a visual offering to an ancestor or deity. I know that sounds so incredibly simple, but it is so incredibly simple sometimes. I think that online spaces like Instagram can make the idea of spirituality seem quite complex, compartmentalized—and quite honestly, ornamental. Yet, we can integrate our spirituality with our everyday lives, including our interests, any time we want, even if it’s untraditional. We take our “spiritual Self” with us wherever we go because it’s an integral part of who we are. De-compartmentalizing our spirituality can unlock layers and layers of ways we can more intentionally bring it into our daily experiences, and I think weaving spirituality with our interests can be a safe and pleasurable place to start.
The experience of being in the void has opened up a lot for you. Could you share an experience with the void that deepened your self-knowledge, or created more freedom for a specific opening or you?
The void is so expansive, and that’s the reason why I gravitate toward working with it. It’s spacious, freeing. There’s nothing to prove when you’re occupying the same space as your fears and shadows. The void is a place to dream. It’s a place where I have to let my inner voice lead, a voice shaped by my experiences and the wisdom of many generations. At the same time, the void can also be pretty scary! Rose-colored glasses turn clear, ancient self-narratives expose themselves—the void sure can leave many of us feeling naked. But this is where the magic happens! Our magic needs room for dreaming, doing, celebrating, reflecting, and resting. At least, I know mine does.
One thing people may not realize is that I worked with the anti-racism tarot series alongside the readers each week. I’d engaged in racial justice work for years, but I still needed to make a lot of energetic room for untangling my internalized racism even further. I created a spacious void by wrapping up several loose ends and staying away from new projects for a while. Then I sat in the void, lying awkwardly next to some uncomfortable truths. Albeit awkward, the void offered me a space to truly feel into my reflections and revelations, identify issues and strategize around them, and visualize how I would transform my racial justice efforts in tangible, sustainable, and meaningful ways. It can be hard to confront one’s biases when you are marginalized at so many intersections. It’s even harder to do it when you don’t have the room for it. Deep shadow work needs space, and the void’s got a lot of it. Some things are more important than our sense of comfort, and the void invites us to explore those things expansively.
What do you think the collective needs to leave behind this year?
I’d love to shift some of our attention away from self-care and more toward community care. Self-care practices are important, but so are actions that support the wellness of our communities. Like I was saying earlier, we’re infinitely interconnected with this planet and its inhabitants, and such is our magic. We’re so concerned with showing up with ourselves, but what about showing up for each other? How many of us are checking up on people (even if we see their social media every day), just because? How many of us even make eye contact with our neighbors? Scrolling through the news makes it clear that tenacious individualism has run its course. Yes, we have to take care of ourselves. But we’ve also got to take care of each other. This is why I’m co-facilitating Liberation Co-Creation, a yearlong community program structured to support integrating spiritual practice with social justice through ritual, liberation work, and self-study. We can’t think community care is someone else’s job. It’s ours. It’s not enough for us to build, curate, and use toolkits for self-care. We need them for our communities too.
What are *you* leaving behind this year? How?
I’m saying an enthusiastic “Goodbye!” to inbox zero vibes. I used to have the energy for it, but I have different priorities now. People are so surprised to learn that I resonate with the fact that my astrological “big 3” are all fixed signs, because I’m a pretty go-with-the-flow person. Those folks don’t know that working on my flexibility is a daily effort! I used to be so hooked on the feeling of crossing everything off my to-do list that I would complete something unplanned and then add it to my to-do list so I could immediately check it off. (I’m cringing.) This year, I realized how much I was living by my to-do lists, and how rigid that habit felt. I’d create unrealistic task lists, only to feel guilty over and over again for not having completed everything by bedtime. I’d decline plans because it was 3pm and I still had 7 non-urgent things to do. Unsurprisingly, I got tired of setting myself up for shame every day. Why would I chastitize myself for not answering every single email every single day? Why would I limit my spontaneity so harshly and meaninglessly? The satisfaction of finishing a checklist is not as valuable to me as are the joys of talking to dear friends and following random urges to go frolic in a river. These days, I still make my daily plans, but I have a “Need to Do Today” list and a “Can Do This Week” list. This way, I make sure to devote my energy to the things I must do and then choose other tasks based on my energy levels and moods.
I’m also leaving behind the idea that sensible shoes are uncool.
Maria Minnis (she/her) is an artist, writer, teacher, ritual facilitator who teaches about everyday magic and holographic thinking. She is the author of the popular blog series, Anti-Racism with the Tarot. Maria has worked with the tarot for 20 years and considers herself an eternal student of life, and thus the tarot. Follow Maria on Instagram by clicking here. Learn about Liberation Co-Creation by clicking here.