Over the weekend, I had a conversation with a lonely person. I was chatting with a friend outside a pub when he approached us and struck up a conversation. He tried to make a connection with us by sharing stories about his expensive homes and cars, but unable to impress, he awkwardly retreated back to the bar. Later at home, I started thinking about that man and looked him up in the Tarot, as I do sometimes with people and situations. I found him (can you guess which card?) and then I sorted through and found seven other cards where I saw loneliness indicated. The more I looked at the cards, the more I found they fell into two distinct groups. This is how loneliness shows up in a tarot reading, by shutting down and building walls, or by retreating inward and away.
This post is a monster, so grab a cup of coffee before you continue! 😉
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.
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?
One way to bring your tarot readings (especially when they involve those tricky Major Arcana cards) down to earth, is to pair them with a few Lenormand cards. Here I have Temperance from Robert Place’s beautiful The Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, along with the Scythe and Fish cards from my 1860 Dondorf Lenormand.
The message I’m getting is that I need to use my discernment specifically when it comes to investments. Should I consider cutting loose from unprofitable projects?
Last week I was approached by a fellow reader (not a professional, but a devoted cartomancer) with a question. She said that when she read for other people, she felt her intuition was spot on. No question too big, no spread of cards too small. But when she read for herself, about other people, she found the cards gave her muddled, confusing and sometimes contradictory messages.
You can imagine me cocking my head to the side. Reading for yourself, about other people, eh?
I’ll give you three guesses as to the nature of these readings. You don’t need three though, do you. Of course, she was reading about a love interest.
It’s so tempting to go to the cards when you’re crushing on someone. What does he think of me? I get this question all the time. And if only we knew, really knew what other people were thinking of us. Open up their heads and poke around in their mind a bit. Divination would revolutionize dating. No more second guessing. No more awkward friend-zone-or-more conversations. Or sitting up all night clinging to the hope of a drunken sext.
The issue really breaks down into two parts. Ethics and Practicality.
In terms of ethics, how much into someone else’s future is it permissible for us to peek? Is it ethical to ask what someone else is thinking?
I’m in the camp that we don’t exist in a vacuum, and the Tarot specifically, is set up to acknowledge our relationships with others (Lenormand too, for the record, and perhaps to a larger extent). I think it’s unavoidable to read about our relationships when we’re reading about ourselves—as other people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions affect us every day in every way. But do I want someone opening up my head and poking around in my mind? Hells to the no. It’s really uncool.
On the practical side of things, is it useful to ask what someone else is thinking about you? Or are there better questions?
I try to guide my clients in asking the best possible question for whatever conundrum they find themselves in. And sometimes just knowing the question is enough of an answer. To this end, I often counter their questions with:
Why do you need to know?
If you knew, how would that change the course you’re on?
If you knew what your lover was feeling, would it change the way you feel? The answer to that is usually no. So some more useful questions might look like:
Why do I feel anxiety about his feelings?
How do I channel my insecurities about this relationship?
How should I communicate the doubts I have to my lover?
How should I initiate a love-relationship with this person?
What should I be aware of when interacting with my love interest?
Can you ask the Tarot what someone else is thinking? Absolutely you can. Should you? That’s questionable. Is it the best course of action for a healthy relationship that’s based on mutual trust? Probably not.
Love is patient, love is kind, sure. But sometimes love is messy and makes you feel like you’re going to hurl. Not knowing is part of the fun of uncovering a new relationship.The best use of the tarot in these situations is to help you understand these feelings and give you direction on how to work with and through them.