Today I’m posting a short reading I actually conducted for myself more than a month ago, in the midst of some physical and spiritual crisis. The previous two months had me suddenly dealing with some unexpected new health issues and the resulting stress – in addition to the pain, loss, sadness, and frustration I have felt through the pandemic. And shortly before doing this reading I had lost a cousin to COVID-19. It felt like it had all come to a head.
When I performed this reading, I’d been feeling more depressed, confused, and drained than I had in a long time. One could guess that literally everyone may be feeling similarly, given the past year and a half. Earlier in the year though, I had thought most things would in fact be getting better. Encountering these new issues triggered – or I don’t know, maybe uncovered with more rawness – an ongoing, intermittent sense of dread and sadness that has been present much of my life.
Since I’d already been attending to the new health issues – and seeing a new naturopath in addition to my GP and some specialists – and since some things seemed to have begun improving to a degree, I felt it time to investigate ways in which I could more effectively address the more internal issues.
A few months before, I had seen that Nigel Jackson was due to release a new tarot deck, called Rose Tarot. For many years, Jackson’s earlier tarot – The Nigel Jackson Tarot (published in 2000) – was a favorite of mine, providing uncannily accurate readings, with meaningful but charming artwork, and a more intuitive or precise LWB than typical. When I saw he was coming out with a new tarot deck I pre-ordered it, and had been enjoying it since receiving it. In early June I felt this was the exact tarot I needed to look into my personal health concerns. I expected depth, wisdom, and perhaps new insight or at least a new way of looking at things.
June 7th Reading
Here is the (very simple!) reading I did on June 7, with the notes I took on each card. I’ll follow up at the end of this with how it has been working out…
This short reading involved four cards, meant to guide me in where I might focus my energies or attention, for stronger healing.
Card 1 to show a focus on healing physically
Card 2 to show a focus on healing emotionally
Card 3 to show a focus on healing spiritually
Card 4 to show where it might ultimately be best to put my focus
The cards drawn:
Card 1 – III The Empress
Card 2 – 9 of Swords
Card 3 – 5 of Coins
Card 4 – 3 of Swords.
So, it is already obvious that this tarot has pinpointed some really key factors. These are not necessarily unexpected factors… Indeed, those two Swords cards are probably cards I’d offer up if someone asked me to select a few cards to describe my current or recent state! But, let’s see how the Rose Tarot describes them and fits them into my situation. The Empress is a more significant card than I would have expected for any placement in this reading. But I believe it fits quite well on reflection, and the Coins card also seems to fit, at least when reading the accompanying description.
Card 1 – III The Empress
This card is meant to show where I might focus my energy in physical healing. Jackson’s Empress is dressed heavily in green, and is surrounded by structured, ornate green gardens. Life and growth are prominent. It is easy to look at the card (as with most Empress cards) and get a sense of abundance, creation, and vibrancy. Also in the card are what Jackson refers to as, “distillations and solutions.” Taken a bit literally, I could see much of this as pointing to a more natural approach to physical health – especially in its focus on nature – combined with some prescriptions. In fact, my approach to physical healing lately has been in sticking more closely to a mostly plant-based, nutrient-dense diet, combined with a few formulations recommended by the naturopath. If this is a decent reading of the card, I’d say my focus for physical healing should be headed down the correct path…
But the Empress can signify much more than physical abundance or healthy lifestyle. Jackson notes these qualities more in a brief listing of Divinatory Meanings that include, “Artistic creativity,” “Beauty. Pleasure.,” “Harmony,” to name a few. This may be where I trip myself up, areas which I have neglected in my life – at least recently. Feeling too much pressure to meet major as well as more mundane responsibilities in my life, I have neglected much in terms of creativity, or even simple relaxation. Even just considering devoting meaningful time to creative endeavors or – gasp – purposeful relaxation, part of me bristles with a sense of guilt (which is of course common for many people). But I also feel that this is something I have known and have ignored. And thus, will take to heart here.
Card 2 – 9 of Swords
This is certainly interesting. I might at first think it is all too obvious a card for describing where my focus should be for emotional healing. But Jackson’s description really homes in on the matter. Under Divinatory Meanings he lists these attributes: “Debilitating fear, morbidity, nightmare, anxiety and unease…” among others. I have not had a “debilitating fear,” but I have certainly experienced the others, even started having pretty awful nightmares in recent weeks. He also includes mention of daemons, sharing from the Zohar and offering this, “These influences are malefic psychic forces that work on the soul through morbid fears, destructive lower compulsions, and the sowing of delusions, afflicting human individuals, whose wholeness as spiritual beings they envy and crave.”
Jackson’s 9 of Swords is such a unique and beautiful way of illustrating this card, and it – whether you believe literally in his description or simply metaphorically – again homes right in on a possibly less comfortable element of the matter. These are things one might wish to avoid facing head-on – even acknowledging – but they are important, and it’s easy to see how and why the card is important in my healing emotionally right now. There is no solution offered, no specific step to take, but it shows me the true weakness of these aspects. Whether real or figurative (and I know this especially from meditation practice) the “daemons” of anxiety, etc. are fleeting. They do not exist by their own power.
Card 3 – 5 of Coins
This is the only card that gave me pause initially. A Coins card, in this reading, in this placement? It does however make sense. Jackson’s illustration is of a traveling friar, and his discussion of the card focuses much more on a spiritual poverty than a material one. I find this quite fitting in this regard. Surprisingly, it is a more difficult card to reflect on here than the two Swords cards, because it is showing me a different approach than what I was taking.
I have been feeling the need to again enrich my spiritual practice… this card would be more a suggestion of emptiness and nothingness, a release of ego or ego-based drives. In my life I tend to go back and forth between a more fully immersed practice that involves ritual and study; and a strong, rather unavoidable sense of existential dread or futility. This card would seem to imply to me to choose a more middle way between those two – neither so outwardly spiritual, yet not so devoid of spirit as existentialism. Ah, well… I will see what this brings.
Card 4 – 3 of Swords
The fourth card I drew showed me the ultimate focus, kind of what underlies all else that I’m looking at right now. The 3 of Swords’ appearance here does not surprise me. Beneath it all then, is a sense of loss and despair, brought on much by the pandemic. Jackson’s illustration so precisely mirrors what I have been feeling – feeling abandoned with thoughts of death and a sense of running out of time. Not to sound dramatic! Haha… But seriously, there have been many times this is exactly how I have felt, and I can easily believe these feelings underlie much else that has been going on.
He describes the card thusly, “The sword-pierced heart is a symbol of existential suffering, angst, and melancholia in the wheel of sorrow, the circle of time and mortality (the skull and hourglass).” He also says, “The 3 of Swords is harbinger of an alchemical cycle of passage through darkness and suffering until the coming light dawns…” The focus for me? Recognizing all of this, facing it head-on, and realizing it’s a bit of a dark night of the soul.
So, with this short reading, have I learned how I might better heal? Most likely, if I allow the insights given to lead the way. Continue a focused, healthy lifestyle, incorporate more creativity as well as more dedicated effort for relaxation and simply enjoying – truly enjoying, without guilt – the more joyful and lighthearted moments in life, releasing or possibly even banishing the “daemons,” taking a bit of a leap of faith, and believing in positive change and progress.
And now back to today…
Since doing this reading, things have improved, I would say in all aspects covered by the reading. In August I have several follow-up doctors’ appointments and ultrasounds. But so far things seem to be going okay physically, and I am cautiously optimistic. The nightmares passed, the anxiety lifted, and interestingly, spirituality has been somewhat renewed, even alongside some continuing melancholy.
Also since the reading though, I’ve lost an aunt, and have seen a very dear friend lose her son. My dad is sick again (not again with COVID-19) and back in isolation for at least another week. I’ve been revisited again by my painful past and have been unpleasantly reminded that I will always be a survivor, regardless of what I try to leave behind. What comes next, is – I believe – allowing myself a reborn determination and strength (and not quite the topic of this blog).
As we all come through this phase of the pandemic (hopefully we are nearing an end(ish)??), I know there are millions of others, literally, around the world suffering not so different issues from everything I have touched on here. Some are far worse than mine. I hope that you are not among them. If you are, I wish you healing in all ways as well.
As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out or leave a comment. I love hearing from visitors.
If you are interested in conducting a tarot reading for healing for yourself, you might also be interested in this original spread I designed years ago to look at more details than the short one featured in today’s post: The Healing Star
Card artwork and brief excerpts from the Rose Tarot, © Nigel Jackson.