Layers of knowing: A daily check-in tarot spread

Cards from Thea’s Tarot, by Ruth West

I’m taking a spring sabbatical, starting tomorrow.

Not gonna lie, I’m intimidated by the time stretching ahead of me, the space that’s opening up. On the one hand it looks like simply taking a healthy and needed work break after eight years on the job. On the other hand it feels impossibly loaded with questions about who I am, what is my longing, how I can serve my both my community and my desires, how I can make my work a living prayer… Ya know. Big stuff. And as I closed the shop today, I was feeling angry, tense, scared.

At a friend’s suggestion, I’ve come up with a few daily rituals to try, at least for this first week, to give myself a sense of structure and purpose, to keep me curious and present and experimental, and to take the edge off that ‘big open space’. Morning pages. Tea at the allotment. Meditative yoga. A simple tarot spread to pause and reflect each day.

Since my ‘sabbatical’ newsletter hit a chord with so many folks, I thought I’d share the tarot spread/ritual here.

A ‘daily check-in’ tarot ritual

Give yourself a good 15 minutes of uninterrupted time – more if you can.

Gather tarot cards, a notebook and pen. Maybe a cuppa? Phone away.

Close eyes, take a few deep breaths, and settle in, feeling your weight in your seat. Keep breathing til you feel ready.

0. Checking in

When ready to begin, note down:

How is my mind, in this moment?

How is my heart, in this moment?

How is my body, in this moment?

1. What you already know

With soft hands and eyes, leaf through your tarot deck. Don’t judge your choice or over-think, just let your gaze fall upon the cards, moving slowly through the deck til a card offers itself to you. Lay this card in front of you.

This is the wisdom you aready hold, knowledge of where you’re ‘at’ or what’s important to you today.

2. What you can learn today

Now close your eyes, shuffle the cards, draw one in the usual way, and lay it face up beside the first.

This is a deeper wisdom. It’s not that you don’t ‘know’ this, but that it is a learning space, a point of enquiry.

Take the time to notice any similarities, symmetries, conversations or tensions between the two cards. How does the ‘learning’ card relate to the ‘already known’? Does it deepen or extend it? Does it contradict it? How does the first card support the second?

My reading

0. Checking in

  • How is my mind, in this moment?
    Angry with myself, looking for someone to blame. Restless and wanting to check out.
  • How is my heart, in this moment?
    A bit scared, I think? Underneath it is a sense of total okay-ness and safety though. I can’t quite feel it as truth, but I know it’s there.
  • How is my body, in this moment?
    Cold and tensed-up (it’s actually snowing a bit right now). Hungry even though I just ate. As I give my body this moment of attention though, I can feel a little release.

1. What I know already… Daughter of Pentacles (queen).

I am in relationship with everything around me. I have the resources and opportunities to tend to my needs and desires, and doing so is an act of service.

I am allied with the ancestors of this land, the mountains, the freezing February sun, the seeds pushing through the cold soil.

I sowed oats on new year’s day – I can see their bright green shoots coming up like a ragged carpet. In the summer, they will become medicine. They already are medicine.

2. What I can learn today… 0. Innocence (Fool)

There is strength in my vulnerability today, power in the risk I am taking.

None of this has to look a specific way. I am enough, exactly as I am.

And I am reminded of my prayer for this year, and the very intention behind my sabbatical: I do less, so I can love more.

Innocence deepens my understanding of the Daughter of Pentacles, a card that spoke to me on Saturday night, reading in the back yard with a good friend and wine and a smoky fire. On Saturday, this card was a simple reminder – less head, more body. Today, Innocence helps me ease into that.

I’ve been annoyed with myself for not planting more kale before the winter. But I don’t have to plant seeds to be welcome, to have a place on this land. I don’t have to share some huge resource list or perfect landing page in order to earn my break and close the shop. ‘Earning’ and ‘deserving’ are constructs of capitalism, white supremacy, meritocracy. Yes, the Daughter of Pentacles is planting out seedlings – it’s a beautiful symbol of tending and growth. But this is not the only way to be in reciprocity. The Daughter is not the Daughter because she is working the land… rather, she works the land as an expression of her Daughter-ness. It is a choice, an intention.

I don’t have to ‘earn’ this rest, I don’t have to work to deserve space in my own life. I am already welcome, already enough, and the space to be myself is already on offer. Innocence strips out the “shoulds” and the insecurities, the baggage of “not-enough-ness”, leaving me whole, rooted, belonging.