Speculative fiction writer, translator, and editor


Date & Time June 2, 2022 • 9:15 am–11:50am
Duration 155 minutes total
Manuscript time n/a
Worked on Draft Draft 0
Related planning

– Made condensed playlist.
– Did multiple divination reads to figure out characters. They’re feeling a lot more solid and like the rest of the prose will slot itself around them once I return after lunch. Lmao, there’s 2,277 words in tarot notes below. Not manuscript words though.

Divination, Characters – Psyches, Meta – Music Playlists

Wordcount Starting 4717
Ending 4717
Location Home
Devices not recorded


Created excerpted playlist solely for songs that have specific scenes or Vibes attached to them, as opposed to the firehose that is the main novella fuel mix:

Wild Unknown Archetypes read for tone of today’s work

Archetypes read

Archetypes - The Shapeshifter
Archetypes - The Crone
The Empty Room

Haha, wow. Really didn’t expect my deck to be eavesdropping on me; I did this read shortly after tweeting this:

Also stunned the Empty Room shows up in the third position again. But, I’ve been working on the Grotto, after all. I love that the Crone transcends binaries and that the triskelion shows up on the card. The Shapeshifter affirms that I’m going in the right direction with eschewing conventional prose and structure and writing how my brain thinks. I mean, this is all the encouragement I need:

Anyway, this read is encouraging, because yesterday was some pretty hard key scenes, and I had a big ol’ good cry to music after coming until I myself ascended into the Grotto. Hue Go lamp set to Grotto!blue helps with the vibes. I could do the hard work two days in a row, but I self-cared preemptively yesterday and this is an encouraging sign to not try to push myself into pain to try to force a diamond out from pressure—that writing is as much about panning gold and knowing when to change sites as it is about forging under fire.

Morgan-Greer read for story trajectory

Originally wanted to do a beginning–middle–end read but also wanted to do something more complicated, and I guess the deck heard me and slipped a card out when I was putting the unread cards back in the box, so, bottom card acting as a da’at/hidden knowledge card. Haven’t used this deck for ages, but:


Beginning: II of rods (reversed) – “Though power and dominion are within one’s grasp—still one is forlorn. REVERSE: Emotional disturbance, fear of the unknown.”

Middle: queen of cups (reversed) – “A warm and loving woman. She has great emotional depth which she will gladly share with those in distress. REVERSE: Self-satisfied, vain and untrustworthy.”

End: X of pentacles – “Financial power, material domination, family inheritance.” Interesting how the imagery has crossed staffs as if to bar someone out from this. It’s not shared.

Da’at/Hidden Knowledge: knight of pentacles (reversed) – “A responsible and hardworking man, he has acquired sufficient skills to be of service. REVERSE: Idleness, stagnation and carelessness.”

Interpretation: I feel like the deck is intuiting that I don’t really want a beginning/middle/end read. I actually see four main characters: Ahosabai as II of rods, Iboshi as Queen of Cups, Amardeep as Knight of Pentacles, and Käntu as represented by the barring off of the Ivory Tower. Fascinated that Amardeep is under Iboshi—perhaps a representation of the subordinate relationship, even if sometimes inverted with D/s.

I think I’m going to do another read laying the cards out as characters and seeing what cards show up underneath—two for each, to explore the duality. I feel like today is for some deeper character work with maybe more slow-moving scenes to counter the weight of the scenes from yesterday.

f’(x) Morgan-Greer read

Haha, hell. When a deck wants to speak, it sure as fuck will speak.

Holy shit, I just noticed that Ahosabai and Käntu both feature a major arcana on the first draw and a 7 of a suit in the second. Wow. Really reaffirms their connection and duality despite the fact that I put them on separate ends of the spread. (I love how the Queen and Knight face each other in this layout too—how the II looks at the Queen from behind, and how the Knight defends the Tower as well—imagery of Morgan-Greer still powerful af.)


Initial impressions: Very masculine figures. Strong bird imagery. Like Aztec eagles, and like harpies.

IV – The Emperor – “A mature man with conviction and the ability to execute plans and ideas. He maintains an overview of all situations with stability, control and reason.”

VII of rods (reversed) – “Validity of one’s principles are under attack by adversaries. The courage to uphold those principles create advantage. REVERSE: Confusion; feeling vulnerable, defenceless.”

Interpretation: lmao omg so utterly on-point. Even the imagery of the gender-ambiguous figure representing Ahosabai, only to have deep masculine energy underneath. Ahosabai is really all about principles, then. Making Ahosabai even more fiery and uncompromising. Like my sense of justice on steroids, allowed to be fully released.


Initial impressions: Thought the first card was the Tower inverted at first, which would have been amazing. Still, the inverted tower imagery juxtaposed with the construction imagery—it’s like a reaffirmation of what Iboshi’s trying to do, the scale of it. Now to uncover the emotions under it.

IV of rods (reversed) – “Beautiful and well earned harvest of peace, prosperity, and harmony. REVERSE: Unaltered peace, prosperity, and harmony.”

III of pentacles – “The apprentice enjoys spiritual reward from earnest labor.”

Interpretation: Interesting how the key difference in the interpretation of the rods is whether the harmony is earned or not. Even thought maybe it was a typo at first, since there are a couple? But no, it makes sense that Iboshi works hard as hell and earnestly to uphold these ideals that nonetheless create an empire that isn’t harmonious, but artificially homogenized. Maybe there’s even a part of Iboshi that knows this. And that that shows through as she has her gradual meltdown. Which is something to explore more now, apparently.


Initial impressions: Good lord, his cup runneth over. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised for a character who I named “amar deep.” Kind of an affirmation in itself that I should just keep his name as is, multiple A names be damned. Anyway, love to see the retreating figure in the first one and the sense of community in the second. I suspect this will tap more into Amardeep’s social network.

VIII of cups – “Retreat from emotional involvement.”

III of cups – “Bountiful outcome with contentment and solace.”

Interpretation: Really reaffirms how deeply Amardeep is haunted by Iboshi’s actions, and how much he’s haunted specifically by his retreat and inaction. Kinda reaffirms that at the end he’s got the support of Ahosabai, Käntu, and Xùyào, who will share a table/space with him.


Initial impressions: Oh my poor baby lmao. You have so much to bear. Like good God, is that a whole-ass family under a trumpet in Judgment, and the weight of violence in the swords—albeit a lessened burden, with two swords driven into the ground? I knew Käntu was bearing a lot, but I think he has a very warm and 溫馨 vibe that obscures how much he carries. Guess it’s time to dive in to see what’s actually churning in his psyche.

XX – Judgment – “An unfolding sense of one’s part and purpose in the world and the universe. Awareness of the interrelation of all things.”

VII of swords – “Partial success in coping with authority.”

Interpretation: OMFG LMAO OMG OMG. Okay yes perfect. Yes, Käntu starts off with this solid sense that his involvement in the academy is Noble and Just and For the Greater Good etc. etc. etc. Only to gradually become burdened with knowing exactly how much his role can create complicity in the empire. The weight of the empire’s own violence on his back; the colonial violence of museums that don’t actively question the status quo. But by the end, he’s begun a path toward another way, with less of the violence. *chef kiss* I’m lov!!

So anyway, I’m going to supplement this read with the Botanica deck’s guiding questions. I’m finding the duality cards are sort of aligning with roughly a beginning state/ending state read, though Ahosabai and Iboshi seem to muddle that a bit more. Hopefully the Botanica questions will give some insight.

f’’(x) Morgan–Greer x Botanica


Emperor: Dominion. A power being exerted. An organizer, a leader. The positive results of hard work. (masculine) Are you working toward something? Is someone’s ego causing them to be overbearing?

VII of rods (reversed): A struggle or confrontation is brewing. Strength to endure the ordeal. Reversed: Inability to recognize inner potential leads to failure. (be ready for battle) Is there a conflict on the way? Have you thought your motivations through?

Interpretation: Seems everything is leading to letting Ahosabai fall, and fall hard, even if I don’t want to imagine something bad. I think this is the crux of what exactly Ahosabai does to become incapacitated in the Grotto that Käntu has to navigate. Not knowing one’s limits. Not knowing one’s potential.


IV of rods (reversed): A house in order. Stability, warmth, harmony. Reversed: Vigilance is required for continued success. An imperfect peace. What brings you comfort and a sense of security? What threatens it?

III of pentacles: Honing one’s skills to master a craft. Material increase. Trade and commerce. Have you taken the time to become proficient in your skills?

Interpretation: Iboshi makes huge efforts to perfect skills like tongueslaying because it’s like, all she knows. Hone yourself like a weapon; calibrate yourself like a tool. Painfully pragmatic. Not so much soulless as she is aware of how much power a compressed soul can have. As she breaks down, she, like Ahosabai, goes back to practicing skills. To the rote that’s familiar. Crux is finding what those exact things are. The training, as a proxy so you can see how much she’s deteriorating. The grace she now lacks.


VIII of cups: The well is poisoned, and it may be time to move on. Lack of fulfillment. (omg imagery uses wolfsbane which resembles a knight’s helmet?? synchronicity?? perfect???? and lassi cups omg) Is it time to move on? Are you holding yourself back from growth?

III of cups: The path diverges ahead, and while only one branch may be picked, all paths have merits. Pick any option, success will follow. Do you have a choice ahead of you? Are you making a change for the right reasons?

Interpretation: Interesting how this one takes the three options as choices, rather than community. Really reaffirms that the crux of Amardeep’s character is how he chooses to respond according to his ethics and morality. A deep sense of agency. I think it’s so important that this compounds and intersects with him being a dom, and doing that as a choice. He’s really a very important character, important to complete the double duality as well.


Judgment: New possibilities. Change just over the horizon. Can you feel something about to change? Is fear holding you back from making a change yourself?

VII of swords: Cunning, devious. A foolhardy plan. Ill-advised confidence. (foxglove—fascinating that it shows up now, and that I conceptualize foxglove as a feminine flower, full of hollows—consider whether Käntu is actually of harpy descent, or perhaps of fox descent, and we can explore the actual shapeshifting more. something that Ahosabai is also jealous of, perhaps. maybe doubly so, since Ahosabai can’t shapeshift away the horns. the juxtaposition of hypervisibility vs. invisibility.) What machinations are at work? Are you forgetting the forest for the trees?

Interpretation: Käntu has always felt the pain of being in the academy, but he’s—because he’s actually a fox—speaks vulpine creole and so feels a kinship with dock creole—adept at blending in, and thinks that assimilating will grant him peace—maybe the reason why what he looks like has utterly escaped me, unlike the others, is because he IS a shapeshifter and doesn’t have a fixed face; he, unlike some others, is a thousand-faced shifter—but assimilating doesn’t grant him peace; becoming anyone in any circumstance, being a people-pleaser, doesn’t grant him peace; only by bearing and accepting the swords, finding that place in the Grotto where the Essence of him is seen and perceived by Ahosabai, that’s what brings the peace.

Juxtaposition really underscores the nature of Ahosabai and Käntu’s conflict. Two sides of the hypervisibility and invisibility of being Chinese American, really. Just refracted into the space of secondary world scifantasy.

Iboshi and Amardeep both relying on training and principles. Disruptions to each, and the differing ways they react. Ahosabai and Käntu similarly being pairs of principles, and the realities of bearing them.

Okay, Morgan–Greer. Heard you loud and clear. Love it.


Going to consult the I Ching for a bit more on Ahosabai’s fall in the Grotto. Then an overdue break. Or, actually, let me have a snack now. Been working hyperfocused and need to tend to body before more divining.


ughhhh why does food take time to make!! sigh!! guess I will just toss these dice around while I wait.


Trigram 41
Trigram 40

Decrease (41) to release (40). Full details of read in pgs. 24–27 of Leuchtturm.

Scroll to Top