We don’t know what happens next.

In the past, we’ve said this of the afterlife. Do we go somewhere else? Do we get some great reward? Do we come back as turtles or puppies or rocks? Is there nothing? No one’s really sure—well, some folk are sure, but those who have passed on haven’t come back and told us, so it’s hard to be sure about how sure they were. But, in the past, it’s been okay, because this is not a thing that we need to worry about today. It’ll bug us. It’ll haunt us in the middle of the night. It’ll be that nagging thing that doesn’t go away.

Right there with that nagging thought is something else. Something left behind in a box once. Something that counters that nagging uncertainty, and that thing is hope. It’s a funny little thing, hope, in that doesn’t need much to stick around, but when you reach for it, oh, it’s definitely there.

This is part of the purpose of fiction, whether you say it explicitly, obliquely, and cynically. But you do say it: Yes, we don’t know for sure what happens next, but we can imagine anything.

In that spirit, I would like to offer you four aspects of this eternal spark. The numinous, the esoteric, the supernatural, and the weird. These are the ways that hope manifests. These are the ways we keep ourselves engaged. These are the ways by which we learn how to fight monsters. We stand with cup, shield, sword, and stick. This is the iconography of Arcana. These are the four quarters of the whole. These are the ways we heal, harbor, howl, and hum.

Just as we began with XIII—the transformation that was not death—and continued with XVIII—the threshold beyond which anything was possible—we now continue with the rest. This is the death and resurrection. This is the life and the revelation. This is the sideways slip into the infinite perambulations of the possible. This is the messy in-between of what we know and what we fear.


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