Overwhelm and the Ten of Wands

The 10 of Wands starring the Sassy Sibyl with her OSU sock hat because winter is relentless.

I can’t think of a single card in the Minor Arcana of the Tarot that fits my life any better than the 10 of Wands.  What do you see when you look at the card? Yourself? What do you feel? I feel tired. The way I feel after working in the office all day and then cooking dinner, running around to playdates and baseball practices, before coming home to clean up and do laundry while the rest of the world is tucking itself into bed.

And all while Mercury is retrograde!

I’m not complaining. I love the work I do. And I love my kids. But dang, I’m overwhelmed.

There are some ways to think about the Ten of Wands that may help, if you’re feeling the same kind of pressure to DO IT ALL (if I ever write a memoir, I’m going to call it, How to do it All). Pixie (or Art, maybe it was Art, who can know, really?) dropped key clues in this card to help us out.

First of all, 10 of Wands dude is CUT. Look at those biceps! He’s built for this kind of work. And you don’t get that by sitting around and then suddenly having the world drop into your arms. He’s been preparing for this moment for a long time, all his life maybe. And now that he’s got an armful, he’s able and determined to not drop anything.

Those sticks are sprouting. Look! Little green shoots. It’s not like he’s carrying this stuff for nothing. These are going to grow into something amazing. The effort put into the long haul is going to pay off.

He’s going somewhere. Not only that, he’s going to what looks like a castle. I don’t know about you guys, but if I get to go to a castle, I’ll carry some pretty heavy shit. Let me re-illustrate for you so the goal is more obvious:


Worth it, right?

But the last little thing I’ll point out about the 10 of Wands is that our heavy lifter picked up this burden deliberately. There was a method to the madness—see how the wands are crossed so they don’t slip out of his hands? It’s hard as hell, sure, but attacking your to-do list with a sense of intention and an outlook for the bigger picture makes the load seem a little lighter.

Not convinced?

I know, you’re thinking, “But Mel, I don’t want to be overwhelmed. I don’t want to carry heavy crap around all day long! I’m a delicate Dowager Countess!”

I hear you. And that’s the other side of the Ten of Wands. This card is about commitments—and while running around and picking up sticks, one of the things we might have inadvertently committed ourselves to, is being overwhelmed.

When you draw the Ten of Wands in a reading, consider:

  • What am I carrying? Just how much am I weighed down?
  • How have I prepared myself to handle this? (Don’t worry about how you’re not prepared, that’s not helpful. Besides, you can make it up as you go along, so long as you keep going.)
  • What’s the end goal? Why am I doing all that I’m doing?

You’ll have a pretty good idea by that point if you’re actually working out of steadfast determination, or over-committed to goals that won’t serve you. That happens to me sometimes. A committee, a book club, or even a new job sounds really good in the moment, but if I’m not careful to examine my motivations and intentions, I can easily overstretch myself. Then the card becomes about setting boundaries and knowing when it’s appropriate to say, “No thanks!” and walk away.

Luckily the Tarot has a few examples we can follow down that route too, which I will present here without further commentary at this point (I’m sure I’ll circle back to these cards later). Feel free to use these mantras as needed.



Let’s talk in the comments:
How do you handle overwhelm? When you’re in a Ten of Wands situation, what’s your coping strategy?

How do you keep overwhelm at bay?

Author: Melissa

Melissa Jozefina is a poet, stargazer, and fortune teller.

  • You made me laugh a really, really hearty laugh. I love the positive light you have found to this card, because those are observations I haven’t noticed before. You’re right — he is totally built of this kind of work! It makes sense that he can do it because he’s prepared.

    And the rods sprouting… kind of demolishes my definition of being burnt out from work, although it could be caring for his work that burns him out. I think I just found a loophole!

    Lately I am in a 8 of Cups sort of mood, but it feels more like that slogan with the Chariot instead.

    You know which one I get often? The 9 of Swords. That anxiety and lack of sleep really accounts for things being blown out of proportion and feeling out of it.

    I digress, that just went off topic. Enjoyed the post!

  • Much loving of this post in particular and all Sassiness in gen’l. Also, appreciating the shout out to my pal, the Four of (Don’t Want) Cups. (P.S. Am also hoping that “even a new job sounds really good in the moment” is not something to be taking personally!)

Comments are closed.