All change

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September, my personal ‘new year’ month, has been a real ride.

So much has happened in the past four weeks and today, finally, I have a day to myself to gently think it all over and reflect on the changes within me.

I left Todmorden – my home of ten years.

This small Yorkshire town embraced me when I left uni without a clue where to go or what to do. I have made so many friends in Todmorden, and learned the meaning of community through joining all kinds of projects. I had my first ‘proper jobs’ living here, I lost my life partner and my best friend, made a long series of mistakes for which I am now grateful. I got my first cats, lived alone in a secret flat and in a huge shared house, and renovated and moved aboard my narrowboat during this time.


It was here that I met the love of my life and here that we honeymooned.

Our civil partnership was necessary paperwork for legally joint parenthood – but it surprised me, feeling like so much more than a bureaucratic exercise. Afterwards, we swam at Gaddings Dam and camped under the supermoon, which was still there the next day as we watched the dawn of the most beautiful morning I have ever seen in my life.

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Over the past two weeks, Em and I have been moving to Manchester.

First we brought her boat, Flo. 20 miles and 67 locks down the rough and ready Rochdale Canal, a journey of around 3-4 days. I wrote about that here. Then last week, we brought Swallow – my little red boat – to join her.


It’s a strange sensation moving your home.

The cats come. The business comes. All of my worldly possessions are inside as I steer Swallow across the water. It’s a gruelling journey – utterly physical, exhausting and beautiful as you operate lock after lock built 200 years ago at the height of the industrial revolution. Emma and I took her from rural West Yorkshire over the Lancashire border. We climbed up through locks to the Pennine summit, then down, down and further down for miles, all the way to the city of Manchester.

And now here I am.

Married (of sorts), moved in every way, and about to begin a whole new phase of my life. I have a weekend to myself, it’s sunny and quiet on the marina. I’ve pottered about with some DIY jobs and taken a bike ride along the canal to orientate myself. I can feel me head starting to come back together.

It’s time to do some tarot.

I’m going to use my ‘New Year’ tarot spread – it’s one I created a few years ago to use at a major turning point, looking back, looking forwards, assessing resources, determining focus. You can find this spread here.

I’ve used the wonderful Gorgon’s Tarot, by Dolores Fitchie. A new era requires a new deck, a new perspective – I’ve only just received this deck and have barely used it yet. As a gift from someone I barely know, it feels like a good way to mark this turning point.

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1. Centre

Three of Swords  |  Six of Swords  |  The Hermit

There’s a real sense of sadness here, despite the excitement of the past month, and it’s true, I do feel a keen sadness right now. Everything is awesome, and yet at the same time all these life-changes remind me of the passage of time, the ease and speed with which I move from one era of my life into the next – illustrated perfectly by the Six of Swords. This journey across a sea of emotion describes my journey on Swallow – with Emma so often at the helm and the kindness of so many strangers on our recent travels.

The Three of Swords reminds me of my heart’s resilience, my human ability to carry on through sad times, to bear scars rather than open wounds. And The Hermit? That’s where I long to be, just for a moment. For a quiet time where I can go inwards for a while, processing and reflecting. That’s how this weekend, and today in particular, have felt.

2. Dusk

Six of Pentacles  |  Queen of Pentacles

I’ve had a lot of help to get here, to this comfortable, warm, functioning little boat I call my home. The Six of Pentacles so often describes the give and take of community life, and here it reminds me to be grateful for the generosity of so many people on the boatyard in Todmorden. In the ‘passing’ position however, it suggests also that I may be more self-sufficient in future.

The Empress is leaving? Just as I’ve finally made myself at home? After a difficult start to the year where quite frankly I wanted to blow holes in this boat and sink it, the summer has been spent nesting – focusing on creating a really secure home for myself, painting her red, coming to truly love her at last.

3. Horizon

Knight of Pentacles  |  The Empress

More pentacles…but now the pace seems to slow. After so much speed, as the Knight of Pentacles I am plodding rather than galloping my way to the end of this year. And I’m absolutely fine with that. I relish the thought of getting my head down for a while and focusing on my work. In monetary terms I’ve effectively taken the summer off, but as all of the boat work quietens down, I am ready to come back to my two businesses with renewed focus.

And could The Empress indicate pregnancy? I don’t believe in predictive tarot, but I am happy to see mother earth appear at a time when I am planning to have children.

4. Focus

Eight of Cups  |  The High Priestess

An understanding of death. A wise goodbye. Here is the water element of my reading. Emotional wisdom is a powerful force in these cards – the High Priestess encouraging me to act from a deeply soulful place (and to focus on my tarot more?), the Eight of Cups telling me that there is still more I have to let go.

I lost two relationships in Todmorden – my life partner, and my best friend. Since all that happened, I have held on to a little hope that one day our friendship might be resurrected. This hope was bolstered by the fact that all three of us lived within the same small valley community. Now I’m in Manchester, it really does seem like time to let go of that hope and leave those relationships behind me.

5. Tools

Page of Swords

My most useful asset right now is an enquiring mind. It’s time to keep my eyes and ears open and pay attention. This will be a learning time.

Further thoughts…

After a very busy and exciting time, a time of powerful creativity and of course a time of change in my life, what seems to be happening now is not so much ‘more change’ but a natural development. I set myself on a path this year, and that path continues, though the landscape has changed.

I love the way The Empress in the ‘horizon’ position sits opposite the ‘passing’ Queen of Pentacles – she suggests a progression from the Queen’s creative, ‘nesting’ feelings that characterised the summer towards something bigger, something stronger. Contrary to my Hermit in the ‘now’ position, I get the suspicion that I will be opening my home up in some way, or using it as more than just a home.

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There is more symmetry in the cards directly above these, too. The exchange of resources in the Six of Pentacles seems to move into a more self-reliant, solitary style of working going forwards – less give and take, more focused and steady.

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I mentioned that the Six of Pentacles refers to the help I’ve had with my boat, but making this comparison suggests it represents my relationship with Emma. She has helped me so much with my boat, and I with hers – we’ve shared so many resources whilst moored next to each other and have relied on each other to make the practicalities of boat life easier. But in two weeks’ time she’s going to the states and I’ll go through the next few months without her.

Again, this is something I welcome – with our two tin boxes side-by-side at times we’ve felt we’ve been living in each others’ pockets, and whilst the past year has been 99% wonderful, there have been moments where I know we’ve both wished for a little solitude. With the Knight of Pentacles, I seem to be getting mine 🙂

This reading feels calm, yet powerful. Gentle in terms of things slowing down, powerful in terms of dealing with both The High Priestess and The Empress. I get the impression that the next few months will be ‘quietly big’ for me and in my heart that makes a lot of sense to me. My life has changed, and now my head and heart will be catching up and re-settling. I’m grateful for the calmness in this reading – it gives me a real feeling of strength and readiness to embrace this new era.

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  1. sagegrayson says:

    I consider September to be the start of my new year too. Must be left over from my school days. I hear you about moving being stressful and kind of unsettling. I’ve moved 4 times in the past 3 years. Your little red boat looks awesome! 🙂

    • Little Red says:

      Four times in three years? Wowee – that’s a lot. I hope it’s the fun kind of moving 🙂

      Yes – I wonder if the September thing is connected to school… but actually I can pinpoint it to this one moment in my teens, I was walking home from work with a light scarf and a leather jacket and it was getting dark just that little bit earlier than I’d noticed before. And I dug my hands deeper into my pockets and thought I needed a thicker scarf cos it was chilly and then I felt this huge sense of excitement run through me as though something huge was about to change. It doesn’t sound like much when I write it, but it was a big moment in my life somehow.

  2. chloetarot says:

    Your boat does look wonderful! And I love your reading of these cards – the Empress fits so well with your intentions, both in creating a new home, and having a family. Here’s hoping ‘quietly big’ happens, and that your spirit manages to catch up with your body: that’s a feeling I’ve often had when moving or travelling, that it takes me a while to be where I am… Best of luck with it all!

    • Little Red says:

      ‘takes a while to be where I am’ …yes that’s it absolutely, Chloe 🙂
      Thanks for your kind words xxx

  3. As always, great stories, fascinating life. Wondrous blessings for your Hermit time, Beth. I am looking forward to moving to the country rather than city soon, so I can feel the excitement as well as stress that you must have been dealing with.

    I get this sense of settling into the cushions inside your narrowboat…ahhh!

    • Little Red says:

      Thank you Joanne…and good luck with your own move in the opposite direction! I’ve never been to Houston but I can imagine it’s a pretty damn full-on place to live… will you be staying in Texas?


  4. Alison says:

    Thank you for sharing your journeys, Beth. All good wishes for this new phase of your life about Swallow, on the other side of the Pennines!

  5. Silvana says:

    Is there any possible way you could tell me more about living on a narrowboat? I’ve wanted to live on a houseboat for years…and I’m so jealous of your home. It’s beautiful! I came here from Autostraddle 🙂 Glad to hear you are well!

  6. Little Red says:

    Hey Silviana! I might ramble on about it from time to time here….but Swallow has her own dedicated blog here:

    …It’s written to be a record of me doing her up and living aboard (she’s my first boat, I’ve only had her for a year or so) so it’s not the most exciting blog in the world, but you might find some inspiration if you dig 🙂

    Plus there is talk over at Autostraddle about a possible ‘living on a boat’ series so… watch that space!

    Also: if you want to live on a narrowboat…do it! You can do it on more or less any sized budget (mine was super-minimal) and you won’t regret it I promise.

  7. C says:

    New to your blog…I adore it. Congrats on your civil partnership with Emma. I cried reading about it. I was married this summer and I too was surprised how emotional I found it, come the day

  8. Annette says:

    Lovely spread, beautiful deck and wonderful insights!

    Choosing September for a New Year spread feels just right 🙂 I’m not an expert on Numerology – but I grew up with it 😉 According to the mystery of numbers, September is a time of endings, beginnings and BIG events, changes and upheavals… With September being the 9th month (end of the cycle) – both the month and the year have the same number influence, which increases the challenges and vibrations you are influenced by during that particular year… Coming close to the End of the cycle, you start to feel the vibrations of your next year, which makes it so perfect that you would do a New Year spread – in September 🙂

    Personally, I feel that September is the ‘tipping’ month – I’ve always seen the year as a wheel, where we start at the bottom in January – and move anti-clock-wise up through (autumn for people like me in the southern hemisphere), then through the cold months… and then, bingo – along come the September Winds, heralding a new season, a change and around the corner… a new year!

    all the best xx

    • Beth says:

      Thank you for these insights Annette – I didn’t know about the numerology for September! I just knew that every year, just as the leaves turn, I feel that sense of change. Interesting to find there is a numerological connection here too.

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