I am a woman given to a certain predisposition towards magical thinking, but coming into 2021 I am sure I am not alone in attempting to scry into the future for a meagre glimmer of hope.
We have entered the new year in much the same state we left the old one - despite many of us illogically holding to the fantasy that things would miraculously shift for us all overnight. In fact, despite the brief respite of a few weeks in early December, we are worse off. Stricter lockdowns, dictates of separateness, yet more bonkers political unrest across the water (as well as the failures of our own government), and, to top it all off, it's fecking freezing. Subzero is surely the phrase of the early part of this new year, because we are all frozen in place, waiting, hoping for the thaw to come in.
So you wouldn't hold it against me, I am sure, if I indulged in a spot of bibliomancy - my favourite of the prophetic arts. The wonder of this art is you can pick up any book lying close at hand, or randomly pick one up off the shelf, and let the book fall open at random, allowing your finger to find a spot on the page. Read the message you have landed upon, and I would be surprised if you did not find in it an uncanny prescience for your current situation. Better yet, ask a question before you let the book peel open, and see what comes of the answer.
I sometimes do this with my own journals of time past. I get through a large volume of journals in any one year, given that the simple act of writing with a nice pen on beautifully textured paper - whether it is a list for the Aldi shop, or observations on the types of birds that have visited the garden since I put the seed down (pheasants, gloriously - two golden ladies and richly auburn strutting male) - is one of the simple pleasures of my life. Often I will find a small bite of wisdom in an old entry that has survived the fire (I have a habit of burning my old journals when they pile up too high). You never know when something you have once thought or wondered at becomes an important message for you at a later date - I often feel that we time travel without realising it when we write, which is why I believe the practice of bibliomancy is so effective.
So I ask you to do this with me - find the closest book to hand, or one that seems to call to you from a nearby shelf or table. Open it at 'random' should you believe such a concept exists, and let your hand lead you to a word, a phrase, a sentence. I will do the same. Closest to me is 'Business for Punks' by James Watt. Closing my eyes, I let my finger run along the tight wad of pages, my nail find an opening, my fingertip glaze the page and come to rest. The sentence?
"DEFEND YOUR GROSS MARGIN LIKE A JUNKYARD ROTTWEILER"
In other words. know your worth, and stick to it. No more playing small in 2021. Decide on what you're worth - whether that has a literal, financial meaning, or whether it relates to how you find yourself being treated in relationships with family, friends or your significant other. Defend your territory and your peace - it may be harder to do these days when there is so little movement, but all the more reason to make it a priority now. Very few others will do the same unless you don't first set the rules about how you deserve to be treated. In 2021, we're staying fierce. Are you with me?
If you're interested in this exercise, please share your bibliomancy messages in the comments below. You never know who might benefit from them!
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RM Clarke is a writer and voice-over artist. She has written for various literary mags and anthologies and won awards. She has put her voice to most things she can think of.