6 Tarot cards in a spread upside down
6 Tarot cards in a spread upside down
6 card spread using the Textured Tarot https://www.lisamcloughlinart.com/the-textured-tarot/

If you follow me on Instagram you will know that I have been having a rough time with my chronic illness. After starting a herbal treatment two months ago for chronic Lyme and other issues, it feels like I’m going backwards. Hopefully it is just a reaction to the particular combo of herbs and my body will get back on track soon but in the meantime I am needing to be extra kind and gentle with myself and accept that my recent level of activity I do is too much even though it is already low. The hardest part of going through a ‘crash’ phase is coping mentally with it because life gets smaller and the fear is that it will stay smaller permanently. So I decided to consult the Tarot for some wisdom to help me through. I found a couple of posts online offering spreads but they weren’t quite what I wanted, so I created my own.

I created a spread based on the body. The positions are:

1.  Core - What is the core reason for my suffering right now?
2.  Head - What thought patterns need to change?
3.  Heart - Who can help me?
4.  Left/Feminine side: Intuition/Feeling - How can I support myself in the sadness?
5.  Right/Masculine side: Action - What practical steps can I take?
6.  Feet - What do I need to do to stay grounded in my physical (body's) reality?

I used the Textured Tarot for this reading and the following came up. Note all were Reversed (upside down) cards, which I usually take to mean things like: something is blocking the energy of this card; it is the opposite of this card’s meaning; I am resisting this energy. In this case, as everything feels like a struggle at the moment, 6 Reversed cards feels just right!

First four cards in spread
The first four cards in my reading laid out in spread positions, 1 is Centre, 2 is Above Centre, 3 is north-east of Centre and 4 is Right of Centre – Textured Tarot Deck
  1. Core – Hermit (R) – I am giving too much energy to my outer world. I need to draw my resources inward and focus on contemplation, meditation and rest. – This is so true. I know I have been doing too much but I have been resisting letting go. I’ve had a few appointments, been progressing various household matters, and having extra social time, all on top of the voluntary work I do, the trying to move things forward business-wise, and the general interaction on social media/online. If I do not ensure my core is strong, I will topple. I think this is why this position showed up as a Major Arcana card too, it is the foundation.
  2. Head (R) – The Lovers – Interesting, the second Major Arcana in this reading and it’s in the position that typically makes life difficult for me! I am trying to be with others, care for others, and compare myself to others. Some of it fuelled by love but some of it fuelled by guilt and by not wanting to miss out on the life other people are having. Instead, now I need to change those thought patterns about supporting other people, to supporting myself, and from guilt and fear of missing out, to compassion for myself. I need to be my own Lover right now and speak as tenderly to myself as I would to my beloved.
  3. Heart (R) – 6 of Pentacles – There are 3 Pentacles cards in this reading. Pentacles are about the world of materialism and earthiness. Looks like I need to be more focused on practicalities! In this card there appears to be an identical twin or mirror image of the person on the balanced scales. This card is all about harmony and balance, just like the Lovers, but in a more day-to-day context. As, like the other cards it has come out reversed, to me it is saying I need to give to myself, be generous with myself, rather than with others. So who can help me? Well the best person is myself. I am the one who can pull the blankets over me to rest. The one who can put down the gadgets and not engage. The one who can decide that the washing up can wait.
  4. Intuition/Feeling – 8 of Pentacles. This card speaks to me of meditation and visualising the riches of the future. But being reversed, I see it as telling me the way to support myself in my sadness is to focus on the riches I have now and dedicate myself to managing my current health situation. In other words, let go of the past and future and work with the present. One of the hard things about being chronically ill can be a habit of comparing yourself to your past self and of having dreams that at the same time you grieve for because you feel you won’t ever achieve them. Living in the present is a way of not heaping more suffering on myself.
Cards in position 1, 5 and 6
Cards in positions 5 (Left) and 6 (Bottom Centre) – Textured Tarot Deck
  1. Action – King of Cups – Well isn’t that interesting, Cups are all about emotions and intuition but it has come up on the ‘non-feelings’ side whereas Heart and Feeling both came up with the practical, materialistic Pentacles. But again this King is reversed. So instead of being all about being in charge of my emotions and balanced, this King is, I sense, telling me to feel the emotions. Do not try to manage the grieving or the anger, but allow myself to experience them and make space for them. Some time ago I learnt to use ACT – Acceptance & Commitment Therapy techniques – and I’ve got to say it was transformational. No longer was I trying to use Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and getting frustrated because it didn’t apply to the situations I was in. Instead I could accept what I was feeling. I had a good cry the other night and it definitely helped. I often think of crying as a way of releasing tension.
  2. Feet – 2 of Pentacles – Another earthy card for an earthy position. To stay grounded in my body’s reality I need to stop juggling things, stop multitasking and flitting between different projects and interests and focus on one thing at a time. I can’t tell you how hard this is for me but also how true it is. I read an article the other day that said that the reason looking at social media and the internet can be so tiring, especially for those of us who are energy challenged, is because we tend to read a little bit or glance at something and then move on to the next thing. We scatter our attention like seeds. And it is exhausting! So I need to decide what I want to focus on each day, reduce my online time, and get back to some good old deep reading instead.

It has taken me 9 days to do this post, from deciding on the spread, to doing the reading, the writing and finally the publishing. On Friday I tried to publish it but my WordPress App kept pasting the images over the text and deleting the text! Usually I would storm off to the desktop after spending lots of wasted energy trying to get it to work, and I would get it done on the desktop no matter what. But last Friday I realised the irony of doing that for a post about being kind to myself, and instead, let it go. It has taken till today to feel up to doing the final stage of publishing. In the world of social media this feels like a very long time. It is the time it needed to be. I need to stop worrying about what others are doing and focus on what I can do. I need to draw my energy in and carefully choose how to share some of it out. I have already started to step out of some things that it felt hard to take a break from and it felt a relief to do so. And I need to allow myself to feel what needs to be felt.

I hope if you are in a similar position and you have a Tarot or Oracle deck that you give this spread a go. If you do, let me know how it worked for you, or if you improved on it, but there’s no rush of course. In your own time.

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  1. This is fascinating, Alison. It all sounds like it makes real sense. Within Tarot, is there any sense of a Creator/God/Higher Being at all or is it based on human emotions and behaviour. Please do these explanations when you are up to it, as it is very informative for someone like me who has no experience of it at all. Julia

    1. Thank you! It’s an easy one to answer because it can be either, it entirely depends on the beliefs of the reader. Certainly Tarot systems became linked to spirit/creator/source and in systems like Rider-Waite and Thoth there are explicit religious/spiritual connections in the cards. But you don’t have to believe in all that to use the cards, you can use them purely from a human psychology point of view. For me I don’t believe in a Higher Being but I do believe in the interconnectedness of life. I don’t work with spirits but I do find the cards bring up lots of synchronicity which feels much more than just mere coincidence. Hope that helps!

  2. This looks like such a helpful spread. I’m definitely going to work with it. I have health issues too, that also limit what I can do and for how long, and I really struggle with the guilt that I get when it affects other people and then feel guilty for just not doing something because there’s so much pressure from our culture to produce. I follow the Nap Ministry on Instagram and it’s really helpful got stepping away from that. Anyway, loved this post and will try the spread for sure! Thank you!

    1. Thank you, Gwen! Let me know how you get on it if you do try it. It is hard in our society to not be doing. The Nap Ministry do really interesting stuff.

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