Ask the Agony Augury: What Comes Next?

The Agony Augury is a new regular column here in Two Sides Tarot Land. Think a trusted agony aunt, armed with tarot cards, the Agony Augury is here to take on your most pressing problems and difficult dilemmas! Got a question? Drop me a line, and your quandary might just get answered right here on the blog.

Now, what better way to kick off a new column than with a big, serious, life purpose-type query? We're getting straight into the deep and meaningful stuff here! A rich question demands a rich answer, so I advise you steep some tea and get comfortable for this one.

Dear Agony Augury,

The last two years for me have been about personal growth, I have been disciplined (on the whole) with a few goals I had set for myself.  Stop smoking (tick), continue not drinking (tick), exercise, exercise, exercise (yup), study to the very best of my ability (hard work), reliable at work and socially (it's a process), loving my family and being there for them and my friends (I find myself feeling guilt at times for not giving enough)...

There have been emotional ups and downs, I am quite an emotional creature, and I have also been working on keeping the dark thoughts in check, and life, yes, is blessed on the whole.  Being in this situation of blessedness, what possible question can I ask? This being the very first I have ever asked of the cards, and again, what wonder, in your very capable hands, here it goes:

I'll let my gut do the talking, what, perhaps, finishing my study, what will the end of the year open onto?


Midnight Muser

Dear Midnight Muser,

Before I even think about turning a card, let me say, huge props are due to you for taking your life in hand in this way. Seriously! This is no small feat. Sometimes when we're focused on where we're going we forget about how far we've come, so take a minute now to revel in your accomplishments! 

Done revelling? Ok, let's get started.

For your reading, I brought out the big guns and turned to one of my favourite tarot experts, the inimitable Barbara Moore, and her wonderful book, Tarot Spreads. Her Through the Shadows Spread is one of my favourites for those times when the path ahead is unclear, and I thought it (in a slightly modified incarnation) would be the perfect way to tackle your query! The spread positions are based on the imagery of the Rider-Waite-Smith trump, XVIII The Moon, which carves a shadowy path from the darkness into the light.

Using the Centennial Edition of the Pamela Colman Smith deck, here's what I came up with.

1. THE MOON: Your truth, at this moment, AS IT RELATES TO YOUR LIFE POST-STUDY - Two of Swords

This card is about how you think about yourself, your situation, your beliefs about your life's journey at this time. The Two of Swords speaks loudly about someone who is on the cusp. There is a choice to be made, but you haven't yet allowed yourself to look it in the eye. Swords are the suit of the mind, and having this suit appear here is a testament to the fierce intellectual rigour you have brought to bear upon your life so far. Methodically reviewing all aspects of yourself and your life. Cutting away the excess. Throwing yourself wholeheartedly into academic pursuits. Recognising what needed to change, and changing it. 

This Swords approach has been going well, but you might suspect that something different is needed for the future, for that moment when structure falls away and big messy life opens up. Twos are all about balancing disparate elements, and you'll see that although this card comes from the suit of Air, the landscape it depicts is predominantly water. There is tension here between the mind and the emotions. You said yourself that you're an emotional creature, and I suspect there may be a little fear of that emotional tendency in your current view of yourself and your life. Perhaps a fear of emotional excess, or a mistrust of intuition? Midnight Muser, are you afraid that without the structure of academia, you'll be swept away by tides of whimsy or wildness? This card suggests you have reached an impasse, and balance demands to be restored. The key to finding deeper self-knowledge will lie in inviting those resisted or repressed parts of yourself back into the conversation. Trust that you won't be washed away by your emotions. Let them be what they are - not a dangerous weapon, but one tool among many on your worktable. 


Whatever the future brings, it is certain to be a bit of an adventure! You'll see that this card depicts a cloaked figure, turning her back on eight full cups and striking out into the unknown. At the conclusion of your studies, you have the opportunity to head out and forge a new path for yourself. Admittedly, this card doesn't give us too much information about where that might lead. There is a sense of mystery to it - from our vantage point, we can't discern too much information about where the figure is headed.  When faced with this uncertain path, the most important thing is to cultivate a willingness to enter the unknown. There's no way to account for every variable, to predict every turn in the path. All you can do is shoulder your pack, and be willing step out of your comfort zone into whatever comes next.

Let's be honest, this card can feel a little painful. Note that the figure is leaving her full cups behind. You've found a lot of purpose and meaning in structuring your life the way you have, and there are probably many things about the status quo that you'd be unwilling to see go. Focusing so firmly on your studies has given you direction, an outlet for your intellect and creativity, and an anchor, and that's all about to come to an end. That might feel uncomfortable, but I think you know you can't stay in this place forever. You know your life's work is not finished! Numerologically speaking, an Eight is not an ending but a moment of transition. Trust that the time is right for you to shed this skin you've been wearing and to blossom into something new.

We saw in the Two of Swords that you are experiencing some tension between the structured world of the mind and the wild and mysterious world of emotions and whims. Being of the suit of Cups, this card says giving voice to your emotions and intuitions will be more important than ever. As you did in asking this question, you must follow your gut, and your heart. Let your emotional compass guide you as you move through this transition.

The question is, what does this journey involve? Although "The Path" might seem like this spread's big answer, I suspect the next card is actually what holds the key to your conundrum. It is all about fear, but it sometimes happens that our greatest fear and our greatest desire are one in the same. Midnight Muser, let's forge ahead and see what we can learn about your journey!

3. CRAYFISH: Your deepest fear about this situation - Ace of Wands

What could this be, but a fear of starting over? Who among us hasn't had that feeling? Aces wipe the slate clean. They demand that we start from zero, empty handed but for our cunning. Exciting, sure, but terrifying, too! Interestingly, this Ace points to creativity and passion. In theory, our culture celebrates these lofty attributes, but in our elevation of artists and their work, we tend to overlook something that anyone who has attempted a creative project knows: there's nothing more terrifying and lonely than having to face the blank page. Dare you allow your voice to echo into the void?

I suspect, Midnight Muser, that you have a secret hope, an unspoken desire, project, or inspiration that you know will be ignored no longer. Once the final exam is done and your mortarboard flung to the heavens, your secret passion is going to come knocking, and you won't be able to say, "Get lost, I'm studying!" You know you have to make the room in your life for this thing, whatever it is, to be born. There is something your subconscious is burning to do, a tiny seed of an idea that is starting to take root, and frankly, it scares the living shit out of you. I feel you, my friend! There are few things more terrifying than answering that call. What if you fail? What if you succeed, and it doesn't feel like you hoped it would? What if you never even find the courage to take the first step? I know, Midnight Muser, it's a tough one. 

You are being invited, Eight of Cups style, to leave behind what feels safe and predictable and structured, and start something totally new, uncharted, unknown. Is your skin crawling yet? Or are you excited? This might be a deep-seated fear, but at its heart, this fear is also your deepest hope. At what cost do you ignore this calling?

4. DOG & 5. WOLF: These are external fears and distractions that may divert you from your true path - VII The Chariot and Six of Pentacles

These cards have a lot to say about grappling with the whispers of the Ace of Wands. Firstly, The Chariot, the dreaded ego that tells us we're too stupid unskilled foolish unattractive poor unworthy to do the things we most want to do - insert your chosen insult here! If you are to draw out and ignite that smouldering Ace of Wands within, keeping that ego in its box will be more important than ever. You've already talked about keeping dark thoughts in check, and this card says that skill will continue to be needed as you start to tread your post-study path. The fact that this is a Major Arcana card speaks to how life-changing and invasive those ego-thoughts can be, but don't forget it appears here as a superficial fear or distraction. Don't give it more power than it deserves!

Now, the Six of Pentacles. This card has two pieces of advice for you, Midnight Muser. Firstly, pursuing excessive material wealth is an unhelpful distraction. Let's be realistic - we all have to eat. I don't want to underplay the importance of taking card of our basic material needs; however, let basic be your guiding principle here. If you can put food on the table, you're doing fine, and that will leave you with room to scratch other itches. Don't let that chattering ego talk you into chasing time-consuming, soul-consuming jobs for promises of material gain. The other cards in this spread suggest your priorities are not in the material realm. Recognise what is enough, and don't let anything more distract you from your path. 

The second piece of advice in this card is to think about how your energy ebbs and flows. You mentioned in your missive that you value being there for your friends and family, and sometimes you feel guilty about not giving them enough. Notice that this card depicts a rich man distributing money to the poor. This card serves to remind you that sometimes you're the wealthy man, and sometimes the pauper. Sometimes you have enough to spare, and other times you have to be the one asking for help. Bear that in mind when it comes to your relationships, Midnight Muser. Generosity is noble, but it doesn't do much good if it sends you to the poorhouse! It's ok to say no without feeling guilty. It's ok to love with abandon when your heart feels open. It's ok to lean on your friends and family when you're the one who needs support. Guilting yourself into over-committing your energy will take you off course. Remember to save some for your own life, and don't you dare feel bad about it.

6. & 7. THE TOWERS: These are the beacons to light the way, resources you can draw on for inspiration and support - Knight of Wands and XXI The World

Fear not, Midnight Muser! Just when your blank slate, your chattering ego, and your worries about not being enough are about to stop you in your tracks, there is light. The road may be less travelled, but no journeyman need go it entirely alone. At your back are the Knight of Wands, and holy cat on a biscuit, The World. It doesn't get much better than this!

Notice that the Ace of Wands and the Knight of Wands share the same provenance. The Ace is that fledging idea, that empty page just burning to be filled with your genius ideas. The Knight of Wands is the pen in your hand, so to speak. He reminds us that passion is nothing without action. You can have a million great ideas but if you never make them happen, they don't mean anything at all. Thus, the best way you can serve yourself on this journey is by doing the hard work. Packing your bags, taking that first step. Getting your hands dirty. Looking your desire in the eye and saying, "Ok, here's what we can do." The Knight of Wands is a creative bulldozer, and he's here to lend you some of that chutzpah. Action is your ally, and you'll need it because fear can be paralysing! When in doubt, ask yourself what you can do. Then, waste no time. Do it.

Finally, The World. Do you hear that heavenly choir? Here, we have a truly special card. The World is the final trump of the Major Arcana, a culmination of everything learned on life's journey, and sign of wholeness, completion, purpose, and peace. This lady is literally floating in space, that's how great she feels. The World wants you to remember just how far you've come, how much you've learned about yourself, others, and the world. You're in the place you are because you've worked your ass off. Cast your mind back to the first paragraph, and give yourself those epic props again. You deserve it! This card wants you to remember that whenever you need a little light in the darkness. You might be about to enter foreign territory, but you can bring your experience, expertise, and your evolving sense of self to bear upon any challenges you face. You've got this!

Remember, too, that the world is round. There's no end to a circle, and this card is as much a sign of ending as it is of beginning. In the last two years, you've been dedicated to your personal growth, caring for yourself, your future and your relationships like the precious treasures they are. The World says, there's no end to this kind of learning. It's not just about looking back and feeling good about where you've been. There are always new things to discover about yourself, new ways to learn to live and flourish. You've come a long way, but that doesn't mean there's no room to start over. When in doubt, remember to be open to new adventures. Trust that you're in the place you need to be at the time you need to be there. The World is your oyster, my friend! Don't forget it!

Midnight Muser, thank you so much for writing in. I hope this reading has given you some clarity and food for thought about your path. I wish you all the best with this scary exciting new adventure!


The Agony Augury 

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