Agony Augury

Ask the Agony Augury: The Fork in the Road

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Today's question has more than a little bit in common with the last question The Agony Augury tackled back in September. I hope today's querent takes a little comfort in knowing that she's not the only one facing a crossroads! 

Dear Agony Augury, 

I recently graduated college, moved back in with my parents, and am working a slow job at a grocery store. My mom has ideas for where my future should go -- and part of that involved persuading me to take more classes at a local college -- but I don't want any part of it. It's hard to be motivated about something you didn't decide on, y'know? I've been enjoying a fraction of the freedom I had at university, and I've had to lie to my parents every day which makes me feel awful. I quit my classes but haven't told my parents, for fear of their reaction. I'm feeling trapped, like I'm a teenager all over again, and I'm starting to resent my family; all I want is the freedom to decide my own life path and take risks without parental guilt/expectations looming over me. To add to the frustration, I haven't been contacted by any of the jobs I've applied to. To get to the point: should I stay and not make (more) waves, or should I walk out I my parents (my boyfriend will soon need a new housemate) to carve out my own life? Should I stay or should I go -- what can you see for me in the cards? 

A Girl at a Crossroads

A Girl at a Crossroads, thanks for writing in! As I said above, this kind of question crops up all the time for tarot readers, so take a little heart in the knowledge that everyone finds themselves paralysed before that fork in the road at some point in their lives. To answer your question, I've decided to get back to basics, and use a classic, three-card spread. We could spend a whole bunch of time exploring option A versus option B, but I think it's more useful to cut out the umming and ahhing and go straight for the jugular. Let's dive right into the heart of this situation - ie, right into your heart - and see what the cards can illuminate for you. 

For your reading, I'm using the Dreaming Way Tarot. It's a whimsical and supportive deck that isn't afraid to dish out some firm advice when the situation calls for it. Just what the doctor ordered!

At first glance, this spread gives me the feeling that you're in the midst of a developing story. A crossroads indeed! It's impossible not to notice the two trumps, Temperance and The Devil, which are numbers fourteen and fifteen in the Major Arcana. The Major Arcana represents all the possible stages of development we can experience on our life's journey, and to see two of those consecutive stages in sequence here suggests that there's a lesson or a major life development bubbling away under the surface here! 

1. The Situation - What's really going on here? XIV Temperance

Temperance speaks to the fact that you feel caught at this crossroads. In all aspects of this situation there are two sides to the story, two options at play, and you're frantically trying to keep them in balance. There's what you want, and what your parents want for you. There's following your own impulses, and trying to keep your parents' approval. You're in a situation where you're trying to do two things at once - you've quit your classes because that's what feels right to you, but you're also living something of a secret life in order to keep your parents happy - and you're trying to keep both of those contradictory balls in the air. It's stressful, as you've no doubt discovered!

Temperance often gets associated with the word "balance," but for me, it's about so much more than that. What we're talking about here is alchemy, the creative and magical combining of two disparate ingredients in order to make something entirely new. What you're working with right now are the ingredients for the recipe, not the final product. As in cooking and chemical reactions, in order to get to that final product, there has to be a catalyst. You have to activate what you have on hand to bring it together and transform its nature. 

What does this mean in the context of being stuck at this crossroads? This situation is calling for more of your creativity and courage. Trying to keep all these options open and not make any waves isn't making you happy, but you also don't want to say, "Screw you!" to your parents and cut them out of the equation. Temperance says that you can't keep these two parts of your life separate forever. There must be a way for you forge your own path and to preserve your relationships, even if, as in making a cake, you do need to apply a little heat to the situation in order to spark a change! One thing is certain here, though - you are the alchemist. If you'll allow me to extend the cooking metaphor, it seems that this situation - and your wellbeing as you try to weather the status quo - is reaching boiling point. Simply having your ingredients on the table isn't enough. You have to be the one stirring this pot!

2. The Obstacle - What is the nature of your biggest blockage or problem in this situation? Page of Swords

Crossroad, it's my hunch that the Page of Swords is about your relationship with your parents. Pages are the children of the deck, that playful, youthful, fresh and inexperienced energy we all need to channel from time to time. When this energy comes up as an obstacle, though, it suggests a lack of agency, perhaps childishness on your part, perhaps infantalisation of you on your parents' parts. Put simply, even though you've left home and received a university education, it's easy to slip back into being the kid when back in your family home. It happens to the best of us! For some inexplicable reason, as an adult my first stop as soon as I cross the threshold of my parents' house is the pantry, where I madly and vacantly eat dry cereal out of the box, even if we're just about to sit down to dinner. What's with that?! I haven't lived at home in over a decade, and in my "real" life I don't ever even buy cereal! Something adolescent comes over me when I get into that house, clearly. But, I digress!

You're in a situation where you have hidden your true desires in order to keep parental approval, and you're resenting and rebelling against the dominating influence of your parents, your mother in particular. On the flipside, you don't sound particularly excited about your current job, and the hunt for something better is frustrating and disappointing. No wonder you're feeling like the Page of Swords, with that powerful Queen (that'd be your mum) and King (the world at large) trying to thwart your destiny! All of this has cohered to create a situation where you feel like it's impossible to make a decision, let alone know which path you'd want to take.

Another aspect of this Pagely obstacle is the idea of making a new start. You are in a transitional period of your life, between the end of one major commitment and the beginning of whatever comes next. Scary shit, dude! We put a lot of pressure on people at this crux of college and "real life" to make the right choices, as if your choices are immutable and the life you want for yourself at 21 will be the life you'll always want. That blank slate weighs heavy indeed, and I think the Page suggests you're feeling that acutely. Perhaps in some ways it feels easier to hide under the parental blanket and be resentful, because the alternative is, "What the hell am I supposed to do with my life?!" Realistically, though, you don't want that. You've said as much. This situation is becoming untenable, and your fear of making a move is going to level out with your irritation at your family any minute now and force your hand!

To tie all of that into a nice little package, the obstacle that you need to overcome is your lack of agency and autonomy. I don't mean to suggest that your relationship with your parents isn't good, and it's certainly a wonderful thing to have family to support you during this transitional time in your life. This isn't about saying, "Screw you, motherfuckers!" and riding off into the sunset so much as it is about you allowing yourself to take on your fully adult form. You're not a child anymore, and while you'll always be their baby in your parents' eyes, that doesn't mean you need to live your life as if you are an actual, literal kid. You really don't have to take classes that don't interest you, and you don't have to pursue a career path you don't like just because your mother thinks you should. How you negotiate your blossoming adulthood with your parents will probably take some consideration (as I said, there's no need for door slamming!), and it make take some time for them to accept your decisions, but this is coming to a head. The pot of your adult life is bubbling! You're the freakin' alchemist! 

3. The Advice - What course of action or approach can you take to get that energy flowing again? XV The Devil

Ooh, mama! I love/hate it when The Devil shows up, because this means we need to do a little work on ourselves. Oh, joy! Well, I say "ourselves," but really, I'm just the messenger. You're the one being called to do the heavy lifting! The good news is, though, that the rewards of The Devil are great. This card really forces us to get to know ourselves, and to work through the demons we might be sheltering that get in the way of us being happy and fulfilled. 

The question that The Devil is proffering to you is at once extremely simple and highly complex: What do you need to do right now in order to let yourself grow up? I don't mean that as insult; please don't think I'm being flippant or accusatory. What's at stake here is the chance for you to evolve (which we're all being called to do, regardless of age or experience - it's all the journey, or whatever it is they say!). We've already noted that you have two sequentially numbered Major Arcana cards in this reading. You're in a transitional, liminal place in your life, AND you're engaged in the most archetypal of conflicts, the cutting of the metaphorical adolescent umbilical cord! I know I keep saying it, but Crossroads, your pot is boiling! 

And yet, you're stuck in limbo. Why is that? Is it fear of that new beginning, fear of taking responsibility? Fear of upsetting people you love? The trap of old habits in your relationship with your parents, making you behave in ways that don't serve your interests? Uncertainty about how to navigate adult conversations with the people who've known you since babyhood? All of that is completely understandable (hell, I confessed to my compulsive parental cereal eating, so you know you're not the only one!). We all have little devils within us that stop us from growing. The thing is, you're obviously unhappy and looking for an out, so it's time to take those little devils to account. 

The enemy of The Devil is self-reflection. The shady shit this guy gets up to can't go on once you shine the light of your awareness on it. Rather than tackling the problem of what to do for the entire rest of your life, start with the inside of your head. What's going on between you and your parents? Do you feel like a kid when you're with them? Are there any childish or regressive thoughts or behaviours sneaking in as a result? What are your fears and hopes for this situation? If you can't get those jobs you're going for, what would a bearable plan B for you right now? In what ways might you be contributing to your own stuckness or holding yourself back? Confronting The Devil can be really uncomfortable, so go gently, but I think you'll find that if you're prepared to do the work, you'll be able to navigate yourself out of this corner. Whether that ultimately means you decide to move out, or apply for different jobs, or go back to school, or wait it out and spend some time chillin' at the grocery store and living amiably and honestly with your folks is all up to you, but a little inner inquiry will go a long way towards helping you cultivate true agency and use it in service of your own good! 

Good luck, Girl at a Crossroads, and thank you for writing in!


The Agony Augury

Got a question for the Agony Augury? Drop me a line, and your quandary might just get answered right here on the blog. And don't forget, my most comprehensive tarot offering, the Deep & Detailed Reading, is currently buy one, get one free! Head to my booking page to order yours!

Ask the Agony Augury: Should I Stay or Should I Go?

The Agony Augury is a 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.

Today's Agony Augury reading comes to you from beautiful Sedona, AZ. It's hard for me to believe that this landscape is even real! I'm currently sitting on the floor of my hotel room, staring out the balcony door at a vast, red cliff, silhouetted against a cloudy sky. Looks like we might get some rain today! My time in the city on this trip was busy, busy, busy, but in the presence of these natural marvels, it feels right to sit down quietly and shuffle the cards once again. I hope this beautiful and energetically charged landscape gives this reading a little extra magic! 

Today's question is a tarot classic! Our seeker is caught between two options, which is hard enough when both options are appealing, but really tough when neither of the roads available seem to offer anything good. Let's get to the question, and see what can be done with this tricky situation.

Dear Agony Augury,

Should I move away or should I stay in this town? The trouble is nothing good has happened since I moved here yet I cant form a vision to move towards either to make me want to relocate. So I feel stuck and trapped. Neither way pulls me. What can you see for me?


Miserable! I'm so sorry to hear you're feeling trapped in this no-good situation. When it came to reading on this question for you, I knew there were two sides to the situation that we needed to take into account. Firstly, the nature of the options at hand - that's a no brainer, and a feature of all decision making tarot spreads. More importantly though, in my opinion, is some investigation into what lurks beneath the decision - what are your hopes, needs, and desires for yourself? I often find that when we're stuck in a depressing situation, our connection to our needs and wants is the first thing to become clouded, which causes the situation to perpetuate itself because it's so hard for us to navigate our way through it. I hope this reading helps you to renew that connection to your inner compass, which in turn will help to guide you onto a more fulfilling path. Shall we get to it?

For your reading, I used the Spirit Speak Tarot. Please forgive the zany hotel carpet in the background!

My first impression after drawing these cards is of things hidden and obscured, of fires burning beneath the surface. If we hoped the solution to your dilemma would be found in the outside world, in a move and a new scene, I think we're going to be disappointed! At a glance, I think getting to the bottom of this situation will require a little work right where you are. I don't know if you find that heartening, but I do think it is an emboldening idea that you can make the best of things, no matter where you are!

1. What do you need to know at this time about staying put where you are? Ace of Wands

I must say, this was a card I did not expect to see here! The smouldering fire of the Ace of Wands is quite a contrast to the bland and suffocating feeling of being stuck in a place where nothing good has happened. It's not entirely unrelated, though. Given that this card is an Ace, I think there is a sense of waiting for things to get started - perhaps you felt that when you moved to this town, your life would really get started, and now that you're here you don't feel all that different. Aces are just the first step, after all, and perhaps some of your disappointment stems from the fact that you hoped you'd feel further down the road by now? Perhaps there's a feeling, too, of being exhausted by starting over in a new place. Making a good life for yourself does take work, and at times, especially when you feel like decisions don't pay off, that can be very tiresome.

As an antidote to the feelings of frustration and weariness that are reflected in this card, I think the Ace of Wands wants you to know that you're in charge of this situation. Key to the suit of Wands is the idea of personal agency, of action and drive and passion, and the message here is that in staying put, you will have to summon these fiery Wands qualities. It is a new beginning for you, and there are bound to be some teething issues, but this feeling of nothing good happening is not the end of the road, oh no! This is just the beginning of your journey in this place, and it is up to you where you take it from here. It's understandable that you're not feeling too fiery and bold since things aren't going well, but you're at a crossroads right now. You have a choice before you - do you throw in the towel, or do you power yourself up and make something of this situation? There is potential here. In order to make the best of this situation, to really start something here and get it flourishing, you will need to summon your fire. Can you do that?

2. What do you need to know at this time about moving away? Eight of Swords

Here's where the idea of things hidden and obscured comes in. The Eight of Swords is all about being unable to see things clearly, a mistaken belief that there's no way forward and no way out. There's also the suggestion of a fixation on circumstances, a preoccupation with how you are being limited by external forces. In this position, I think this card is - if you'll forgive the pun - a bit of a double edged sword. On the one hand, the message is, you're not really stuck here. You can move if you want to. That rose may be caged by swords, but with a little persistence and poise, she can keep growing up and blossom above the blades that seem to be holding her in. 

On the other hand, I think this card suggests that the idea of escape is unhelpfully preoccupying you. It's easy to point the finger at the town you're living in and say that if only you could go somewhere else, things would be different. This way of thinking about the place you live as a trap is making it hard for you to see what's really going on. Your ambivalence about moving suggests that you're aware of this to some degree, but I think it's very important that you aren't seduced by the idea that you just need to find the right place to live before you can flourish. Look at this rose - she might be penned in by swords, but she's still blooming. Her external circumstances can't diminish her inner capacity for growth. In a nutshell, the Eight of Swords says that the place where you find yourself is not the most important factor in your happiness. You can move if you want to, but the bigger challenge is to find the courage to blossom wherever you are. 

3. What is your biggest need - be it emotional, physical, intellectual, or spiritual - that is not being met at this time? Two of Cups

Ahh. Herein lies the key - or at least, part of the key - to your troubles. The Two of Cups speaks of the needs of the heart, for connection, love, companionship. To put it simply, I suspect that loneliness and isolation are big factors in your unhappiness where you are. Perhaps a break up was a factor in your move and the wounds are still a little raw, or maybe you've just had a hard time making friends where you are. Maybe being away from family is getting you down. Whether we're talking a lack of romantic, platonic, or familial love (or a combination), it seems that your biggest need right now is to find meaningful connection with other people.

I think the message of this card relates back to the Eight of Swords. You might be finding it easier to tell yourself "This town sucks, I want to move!" than to admit that you're feeling lonely and heartsore. Those feelings are hard to accept, I know, and for many of us it is easier to push them away than to meet them face to face. It's important, though, if you are to get to the bottom of what you want, that you're honest with yourself. Whether you stay or go, reaching out and asking for love and companionship must be part of your journey, because one simply can't live without it! 

4. What is your biggest desire or hope for yourself that isn't being realised at this time? Seven of Swords

Once again, something is being hidden! Perhaps you don't even know what it is! The Seven of Swords is all about the stuff that goes on under cover of darkness, the secrets we keep and the things we get away with. Sometimes this card is about doing something shady or secret, but sometimes it's related to the workings of the subconscious. You'll notice on this card that the figure has her back to us, the face is obscured, which I think suggests that your hopes and desires are bubbling away beneath the surface, obscure even to you! You've said in your letter that you can't form a vision of what to do, and I think this card reflects that. It's hard to see the road ahead when we are turned in the other direction! 

I suspect, though, that at heart, you are holding onto a secret desire. Your dissatisfaction with your living situation might be distracting you from it, or maybe it is more a fear of declaring your intentions that is keeping this desire under wraps. Feelings of shame or unworthiness, or imposter syndrome can also go hand in hand with the Seven of Swords, so it may be that you feel like you have no right to realise this secret hope, and if you go public with it you'll be found out.  Given that our first card is the Ace of Wands, I suspect that this burning, hidden desire is related to a creative project - is there some art that you are secretly desperate to make, an avenue of self expression you want but are afraid to explore? Maybe you're dreaming of starting your dream business, but it all seems too hard and scary? Whatever it is, I think now is the time to start drawing it to the surface. Bringing the Seven of Swords out into the light is going to be a great first step on the road of the Ace of Wands. If you do decide to stay put where you are and make the most of this situation, your hidden desires will have to be spoken aloud!

5. What approach, action, or mindset can you adopt in order to start feeding these needs and desires? Three of Pentacles

It's up to you to decide whether you stay or move on, but I think the bigger issues at play here will still need to be addressed, wherever you find yourself. The Three of Pentacles says that all of this inner turmoil, these unmet needs and secret desires, will be best explored by getting your hands dirty. This probably has something to do with that secret project that tied together the Ace of Wands and the Seven of Swords. This card suggests it's time to take up your tools, whatever they may be, and start putting them to use. Whether this means you apply for your dream job, start writing that poetry, set up your small business, apply for that course, go on some dates, join that life drawing class... Whatever form it takes, the Three of Pentacles says that small, tangible steps towards your goal are the key to overcoming your creative and emotional misery right now, Miserable! 

If you're feeling a bit of that Seven of Swords fear or unworthiness, it's important to remember that this card is just the Three - you aren't expected to be an expert on your chosen path right now. You don't have to be an overnight success, or have a professional qualification in order to get started on this path. These are all mental obstacles and excuses we use to discourage ourselves from getting started, and that isn't helpful right now. If you have the willingness to begin, then you have everything you need to get moving, to start fanning that fiery Ace of Wands and shaping your life from miserable into fulfilling. You can deliberate on whether to move or not, but save some energy for addressing your emotional and creative needs, because chances are, you'll be able to find a way to meet them, no matter where you live. You can start where you are, but just make sure you start!

Miserable, I really hope this reading gives you some food for thought about your situation. I can't tell you whether to stay or go, but I hope I've at least been able to nudge you back in the direction of your own inner compass! May it steer you towards greater fulfilment and happiness!

Much love,

The Agony Augury

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Ask the Agony Augury: Getting Spiritually Unstuck

The Agony Augury is a 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, let's dive into our question!

Dear Agony Augury,

Ever since I was a small child, I have had a strong connection to all things "weird". Raised in a pretty strict Christian household, magic, tarot, crystals, New Age, wizards, witches, etc. were all banned and "of the devil." And of course, this made me feel horrible. All the things I naturally was inclined to study and all the things that I felt were "me" were considered by my family to be evil. I am now twenty-four and for the past few years have really tried to get deep into my natural magic being. But I feel like I'm stuck. I feel like I'm only scratching the surface and that something is holding me back from really letting myself go there. What can I do, or what can I shed of my old self, to let myself connect with who I have always felt myself to be?

With much love,

Desperate Witch

Desperate Witch, thank you so much for writing in! I think everyone struggles with forging an authentic and personally resonant spiritual path at times, and this struggle only deepens when the expectations and structures around us prevent us from engaging with the type of practice that truly resonates. Before we dive into your reading, I have to commend you for seeking out the kind of spiritually that is personally meaningful to you, despite having that forbidden and negated for so long. You may have an obstacle to overcome, but don't overlook the fact that you're already on the path. That, right there, is an act of courage!

*insert appropriate interval of applause for the courage of Desperate Witch*

Ok, shall we get down to business?

Now, isn't this interesting! Your question is almost entirely about spiritual matters, and yet, your cards are almost entirely Pentacles, the suit of the material and earthly. Before we dig into the details of each card, I think this pattern is asking us to hold an overarching theme in mind. That is, consider how your spiritual practice is reflected in your day to day life. Pentacles refer to work, money, routine, the home, the earth. I suspect it is going to be important for you to consider how your spiritual practice fits (or doesn't fit) into your everyday life, and how you might make your work life, your physical space, and the ways you spend your time and energy better reflect your authentic witchy path. Hold that question in mind now, as we get down to the details!

1. In general, what do you need to know about your spiritual path at this time? Knight of Pentacles

The key idea for the Knight of Pentacles is slow and steady progress. Before I drew your cards, I wrote above that you have showed tremendous courage for walking this path, no matter how blocked or frustrated you might be feeling right now. The Knight of Pentacles agrees with me on this one, and wants to remind you that you are on a journey and you are making progress, no matter how gradual that might feel. I think we've all felt the desire for a epiphany at times, or the wish that some aspect of our spiritual work will yield sudden and dramatic results. Certainly, if you've grown up on Bible stories, it can seem like God should be popping up in some form or other and dramatically dispensing wisdom every five minutes! Of course, this is rarely the case. It is more likely that the progress we might be making on our spiritual paths day to day is going to be subtle and unmeasurable, and even if we don't ascend into heaven in bodily form or start levitating during meditation, we still have to keep practicing.

The other Knights in the deck are all speeding about the place, racing into the wind on their fleet-footed steeds, whereas the Knight of Pentacles rides a heavy draught horse. His mount is not known for its speed, but it is bred for its strength, fortitude, and capacity for hard labour. Stamina over speed is the key here! This Knight is showing you the qualities that are needed from you at this time. Patience is a big one, and continued attention to the work at hand (the Five of Pentacles also has something to say about this, and we'll get to that soon enough!). Also, it's important to trust that you're going in the right direction. Although you might be feeling stuck, you said in your letter that the practices you are exploring have always felt resonant to you. After keeping them at arms length during your childhood, you're now starting to integrate them into your life, and to integrate that rejected or suppressed part of yourself. This can't be achieved instantly, but this Knight says that with slow and steady attention, you will create a meaningful spiritual life for yourself. Forget about the finish line right now, and turn your focus to the day to day. Putting one foot in front of the other is the most important thing for you at this time.

2. What part of your upbringing and spiritual journey so far needs to be cast aside right now? Nine of Pentacles

This card has many facets, but in this context, there's just one thing I want to say to you about it. Loneliness. The feeling of being the odd one out, of being misunderstood and judged and alone in your passions and beliefs and views. Ouch! It's a killer, that feeling. I think this card speaks to the experience of isolation that you've been through, growing up in an environment where a big part of who you are was denied. 

The perpetuation of loneliness and isolation that you may have experienced in your past needs to be set aside, once and for all. It isn't serving you on your current path. This may seem obvious, because I doubt you would want to hold onto that feeling, but sometimes releasing experiences like this can be more challenging than we might think. After years of keeping your spiritual tendencies secret, it may not come naturally to you to be open about that part of yourself, even in a supportive environment. It might feel safer for you to be a solo practitioner, to keep your magical workings on the down low, as you have probably done for many years.

Coming out of the broom closet is tough, Desperate Witch, there's no doubt about that! Trust, though, that you need to seek out your people. You need to be true to yourself, and build relationships that support, not deny, who you are. No doubt you will feel vulnerable and exposed, but the support you will receive on your journey will be so worth the risk! Your time of being alone in the gardens of mystery, Nine of Pentacles style, is over. It's time to get out and mingle!

3. What part of your upbringing and spiritual journey so far needs to be honoured right now? Three of Pentacles

The Three of Pentacles and the Nine of Pentacles actually form a nice pair, even though one is to be cast aside and the other to be honoured. Just as the Nine of Pentacles was about leaving behind loneliness and isolation, a big part of the Three of Pentacles is about finding community. Of course, I can't say what your Christian upbringing was like, but in my experience, church is just a fancy word for tribe. I was raised Catholic, and lord knows, those folks know how to throw an afternoon tea! Just because that particular tribe isn't resonant with your practices and beliefs, doesn't mean you can't borrow a little of their community spirit for your own purposes! 

You'll see in the image on this card, an artisan shows her work to two curious and encouraging onlookers. Right now, you are being urged to practice your craft in company, to share your gifts and interests and experiments with a supportive audience. The internet is, of course, a wonderful place to meet fellow travellers - the spiritual and occult community on Instagram is vast and very encouraging! If you have an interest in tarot practice, and you aren't already a member of Little Red Tarot's Alternative Tarot Network, I urge you to rectify that immediately! That community is a ready-made collective of your people, just waiting to invite you in. If virtual connections aren't doing it for you (or even if they are), you might also want to reach out to fellow witches in your area. You might not be able to find someone practicing in exactly the same way, but practically all sizeable towns and cities will have opportunities for you to learn about or practice meditation, yoga, kirtan, reiki, observance of solar or lunar days, and so on. Put yourself in the path of other spiritual seekers. Talking to other people and hearing what they have to say will be so stimulating and encouraging for your practice. Trust me! 

One more thing I want to say about the Three of Pentacles is that, coming from a Christian background, I dare say you have some notion of what it means to practice your spiritual beliefs with consistency and discipline. Church every Sunday, grace over every meal, rituals and prayers and devotion engaged with as a matter of day to day life. Those specific rituals and practices are no longer yours, but you can still take the consistency and discipline of your upbringing and apply it to your own witchy work. This card is about honing your craft, and you can only do that if you are prepared to be turn up and work at it consistently. 

Coming from a very structured religious system into a more exploratory mode of spiritual practice (which is not to say that all forms of witchcraft or occult practice are unstructured, of course!) might have you feeling a bit untethered. There's no one to say you have to observe the cycles of the moon, or meditate every day, or fill your house with crystals, or read tarot in the Thoth system, or read tarot in the Rider Waite system, or channel your spirit guides, or what have you. Of course, you can try all of these things or none of them, but if you're dedicated to your spiritual path, you have to make time for practice, in whatever form that takes. It's up to you what you do and when you do it, but remember the consistency with which your former Christian community observed their beliefs. Real, tangible, observable practice - this is the suit of Pentacles, after all! You don't have to have your beliefs or rituals totally figured out, but you do need to turn up for yourself consistently, even if it is just a few minutes of quiet reflection on the bus each morning. Let a commitment to practicing your spirituality be your anchor. 

4. What mindset, course of action, area of study, or pursuit might you explore to help yourself get unstuck in your current practice? Five of Pentacles

I must admit, I'm torn about which direction to take this card! My instinct is telling me that angle we should be taking here might actually make you want to go screaming in to the distance, but please hear me out, I think there could be something in this. The Five of Pentacles depicts two lowly figures, cold and dejected, struggling through a snow storm, and passing by a church, lit warmly from within. Often this card is about being so absorbed in suffering that we miss salvation when it's right within reach, and I think maybe there's a little something to that for you, Desperate Witch.

I think you could hit upon a modest spiritual breakthrough by engaging with some aspects of the religious tradition you've come from. Before you say, "Oh fuck no, I'm not going back there!" let me say that I'm not at all suggesting that you need to go back to Christianity in the form that you previously experienced it, or indeed, in any structured or traditional form. I think it could be of interest to you, though, to do some more digging into the Western mystical tradition, because so much of that is informed by Judeo-Christian religion. Hell, you only need to look at the very tarot deck I've used for your reading to see myriad biblical influences! I'm no occult historian, but as I understand it, all of the progenitors of the modern Western mystical tradition - the Golden Dawn, Crowley, Blavatsky, the Rosicrucians, and so on - were influenced to some degree by Christian ideas, archetypes, or symbols. Perhaps learning more about these connections might prove to be an opening for you. 

If you are interested in working with the divine feminine or goddess archetypes, you might find it resonant to do some work with the Madonna, in one of her forms. As a lapsed Catholic, that's something that has proven useful and intriguing to me over the past couple of years. I also recently learned more about the Ignatian spiritual exercises and tradition of imaginative prayer. I'm not about to become Jesuit (I doubt women are invited!), but that way of storytelling and visualisation actually really resonates with the way I read tarot cards, and so it's a piece of intel that I'm hanging onto and considering in my own work. These are just a couple of examples that might pique your interest, but I'm sure there are many more ways in which Christian traditions might intersect with or inform the expansion of your current work. Just pull on that thread a little bit, and see where it leads you.

5. How can you support and nurture yourself as you work through this challenge? VI The Lovers

This last card is taking no prisoners! I almost always include a card that advises on self care, and I always hope it is going to say something nice and fluffy like, "Have more long bubble baths!" Desperate Witch, you have my blessing to have as many long bubble baths as your soul requires, but there is also some deeper work being asked of you here. The Lovers is about the choices we make, the things and people and circumstances we decide to invite into our lives, and it is almost always a lesson about values-based decision making. Not as relaxing as a bubble bath, but I think it will prove to be even more self-supportive and -loving for you. 

This card is asking you to look at the components that make up your life, and to ask yourself if each one reflects who you are and how you want to live your life. Chances are, if your religious upbringing imposed a strict set of expectations upon you, some of those things are still lurking around even though you're now walking a different path. This might mean you still feel like you need to observe certain family or social traditions, even though they make you uncomfortable, or perhaps in your work or education you are trying to tick someone else's boxes as opposed to your own. You may even be committing some quiet microaggressions against yourself by mentally judging or criticising your thoughts or actions in a way that an authority figure may have in the past. The Lovers asks you to look at all these subtle and unsubtle external pressures that are still having a negative influence upon you, and to do what you can to mitigate that influence. If you find some of that persuasive influence creeping in, ask yourself, "what do I value, and how can I enact that value in this situation?" You won't be able to spring clean your life and mind in a single sweep, but just being mindful of your power to choose your own way of living - that great and terrible gift of The Lovers! - is a good place to start.

I think the most obvious place you will be called to apply this is in your relationships - it is people who create and perpetuate social norms, after all! Are there people in your life from your past who aren't willing to accept you for who you are? Perhaps some old friends, or even family members, aren't prepared to love and support you on your new spiritual path? In order to create a supportive and loving environment for yourself, you need to think about managing these potential conflicts and upsets.

The Lovers reminds you that you don't need to give your time and love and respect and attention to people who don't respond in kind. Of course, relationships are nuanced, and while there are probably some judgy, closed-minded people in your life whom it might serve you never to see again, you probably don't want to cut ties with all your loved ones, even if your relationships with them are a little trying at times! In this case, boundaries are your friend. If you can't have a conversation with your high school bestie about your spiritual explorations without her calling you the devil, but you still enjoy going out to coffee with her, set up a firm boundary. Make that topic off limits, if you have to. If she starts to get all "you're the spawn of Satan!" on you, it's ok to speak up and tell her she's crossed your boundary. End your coffee date if necessary, and ask her to behave herself better next time! Same goes for your parents, family members, whoever. The Lovers says you get to choose. It isn't always easy to make your own rules and get other people to stick to them, but being firm with yourself about what you value in your relationships and in your life at large will give you a strong foundation from which to ask for the love and support you deserve. This card says exercising your power to choose, in your relationships and in all aspects of your life, is the most self-loving thing you can do right now!


Before I sign off, there's one final thing I want to share with you - I was walking down the street just now, heading home to finish this reading and listening to Elizabeth Gilbert chatting to Rob Bell on her Magic Lessons podcast, and a little light bulb went off in my head. They were discussing the challenge of working a repetitive, mundane job when all you really want to do is be creative, and Rob Bell said, "if you can pay attention in the valley, then you're going to have no problem paying attention on the mountain." That is, we want to be on the mountain having a transcendent experience in the middle of a lightning storm, but if we can stoop to find holiness in the every day, we can find it anywhere. All of these Pentacles say that you're in the valley right now, and perhaps a wish to be on the mountain having an epiphany is part of the reason you feel stuck. Don't lose sight of the fact that the valley is a holy place, too. If you can find the sacred in the mundane and material, you don't even need to go to the mountain. Let that be your point of departure as you set out to get unstuck!

Phew! Desperate Witch, I feel like there is a LOT going on in this reading, so don't be alarmed if you can't take it all in at once. After you've had a read through, go get some fresh air or make yourself a cup of tea. Take that bubble bath, if it feels right! As the Knight of Pentacles says, you're already walking this path, and slowly, I think all of these stray pieces are going to fall into place for you. Good luck Desperate Witch, and thank you for writing in! 

Much love,

The Agony Augury

Got a tricky problem or juicy dilemma for The Agony Augury? Send it my way! Oh and remember, you can summon The Agony Augury into your inbox by subscribing here.

Ask the Agony Augury: How Do I Get Off My Butt?

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.

I'm cheating a little bit with this week's question, because it is, in fact, from... myself. I've been ruminating on this issue for a little while and considering going to another reader for guidance about it. I may yet look to someone else for help, but for now, I thought, why not role play it out here on the blog and see what happens? It could be interesting, and hey, I might just be able to solve my own problem! Shall we give it a go?

Dear Agony Augury,

I need a little help to get my fitness mojo back. I used to work out very consistently, and went through a period of several years where exercising was rarely a chore or something I complained about. It used to be just a fact of my routine, and I was even at times one of those weird people who LOVED it. In the last 18 months or so, my habits have become more sporadic, and although I do still work out, it's more like a weekly yoga session than five sessions a week of hard cardio or weights like it used to be. I put it down to the fact that in that time, I've started running my own business on top of working full time, and what with wanting to keep up with pursuing other interests and giving love and time to my relationships, I feel as though I just don't have the time or brain space to work out like I used to. 

I did go through a phase of self-recrimination about all of this, but now I have mostly separately my self-esteem from my level of fitness, so I no longer berate myself or my body if I don't exercise. Thank goodness! I do feel though that my body wants to get moving again, and I miss those post-workout highs and that powerful, embodied feeling that comes with being physically fit and well. All of that hasn't been enough to get me to work out consistently though, and now, whenever I try to get started with a new routine (even a small commitment like exercising twice a week), other things take up my attention and it falls by the wayside after a couple of workouts. I want to get physical exercise back into my life in a regular and meaningful way, but I just don't know how. Help me, Agony Augury!


Couch Potato 

Oh dear, Couch Potato. What a familiar dilemma! And I'm not just saying that because you and I are the same person. You could buy any women's magazine (and a good proportion of magazines for men, too), or watch any breakfast television program, and hear about ways to overcome widespread couch potatoism and find the motivation to get fit. As a species, it seems we're just not that great at habitually doing the things that are good for us. Because you're actually me, I know that you think most women's magazines are a simmering anti-feminist hotpot of capitalist propaganda, so you're hardly going to turn to them for advice. And don't even get yourself started on breakfast television! Let's turn instead to the noble art of tarot, which I hope will provide a more holistic, personal, and possibly even spiritual solution to your fitness dilemma. Before we begin, let the record show that I, both Agony Augury and Couch Potato, am desperately scrambling for the crumbs from the bottom of a corn chip bag as I write this. Zero irony, zero fucks given. Ok, now we can start!

I chose the Dreaming Way Tarot for this reading because it has both an earthy feel and a nurturing approach - excellent qualities for dealing with sensitive matters of the body!

Well, Couch Potato, there are a few things of note upon first glance at this spread. Firstly, a lot of Swords going on here! I suspect the message for you will be something along the lines of "mind over matter." Also note that we have two Eights here - a number of transition and breakthrough. It seems to be a good time to ask about this matter, because there is momentum at your back! Provided you can get over this last obstacle, you'll be able to get that mojo back. Now, let's get into the details!

1. What do you need to know right now about your relationship to your physical body and health? II The High Priestess

In many ways, I think you'd be hard pressed to find a less embodied card in the deck. The High Priestess governs the ephemeral, the emotional, the spiritual and intuitive. She's not exactly the type to hit the gym, and she keeps her figure because all she eats is the odd pomegranate seed from the underworld. Not a great prescription for health! 

This card has couple of points to make for you, Couch Potato. Firstly, you're not connected to your body in the same deep and grounded way that you used to be. This is probably because your priorities have shifted - running a spiritual business, being a professional tarot reader (hello, High Priestess), has engaged those upper chakras at the expense of the lower ones. You're so focused on the great mysteries that going for a run doesn't hold a lot of appeal. Understandable, I guess, but how is that working out for you, really?

The High Priestess archetype is both the obstacle and the answer, because the other point she has to make is that there is intuitive wisdom coming through to you from your connection to your body, tenuous though it may feel at present. You said yourself that your body wants to get moving again. All that hip stiffness and those knee twinges that you didn't mention in your letter but I know about because I am you? They are protests from underused muscles, whispers from the fleshy bag that you live in on this planet, demanding that you give it some love and attention. Your body is inviting you to come back in. You've spent way too much time honing your spiritual craft to be an idiot about this, Couch Potato. Don't ignore it. Use your High Priestessly powers to attune to your body's wisdom, and listen carefully.

A final note on The High Priestess - she may hold a clue about a way to get back into this. You mentioned in your letter that you're more likely to do yoga these days than hit the gym hard, and perhaps that's because this holistic practice speaks to you in a spiritual sense, as well as a physical one. Your priorities have changed, and you've changed, Couch Potato. It makes sense that you don't feel connected to the ways of working out that you used to. It could be time to find a new way. Consider how you might incorporate your inner High Priestess into your workout routine. She's hardly a gym bunny, but her style of activity would have to be something that connects body and soul. Perhaps therein lies your answer.

2. What unconscious or hidden factors are holding you back from following through on your desire to exercise regularly? Eight of Swords

I can be frank with you, Couch Potato, because you're me. I wouldn't ever say this to a client so brashly, but I think you can take it. Stop bullshitting yourself, yeah? You tell yourself a lot of stories about why you don't make the time to work out. You're so busy, work is so tiring, you'd rather be reading, you're "listening to your body and letting it rest" - for A YEAR? Yeah, right! You've built such a convincing fort of swords around yourself on this issue that you've bought your own crap, hook, line and sinker. 

Your challenge now is to lift that veil. Throw off your blindfold, and see how easy it would be to lace up your nikes and jog out of this field of self-deception! Let's try working with a new story, that goes like this: "Am I being totally honest with myself in telling this story?" Now, every time you think about working out and then immediately start to tell yourself a little Eight of Swords sob story about why it's ok that you don't follow though, pause. Say to yourself - out loud if necessary - "Am I being totally honest with myself in telling this story?" Dig deeper. Interrogate the stories your mind is habituated to throw at you. Take off your blindfold and look them in the eye, and you'll see them for the steaming load of B.S. that they are! I'm not saying that there aren't legitimate reasons to miss a work out, and it's not the end of the world if you do, but you'll never get started if you take everything as a legitimate reason to miss a work out. Capisce?

3. What are you consciously resisting about exercising regularly? Eight of Wands

Once again, I'm going to be straight with you. Resisting the Eight of Wands says to me you're being a bit lazy, Couch Potato. You don't want to make the effort, even though you know the rewards are worth it. You don't want to be uncomfortable, you don't want to have to push yourself, you don't want to have to get all red and sweaty and take a shower (N.B. I have neither conscious nor unconscious resistance to showering, thank you very much - Couch Potato). Given that this is conscious resistance, you're well aware of it and prepared to own up to, too. I know working out seems like a hassle when sitting on the couch reading for seven hours without pause is pretty much your idea of heaven, but you wouldn't be asking this question if you didn't know that you could benefit from it.

Our friend here from the suit of Wands is vastly outnumbered by Swords in this reading, which I take to mean you need to switch your rational brain on and cut this lazy crap right out! You know that the kind of energy represented by the Eight of Wands, the kind of energy required to do some exercise, is an intense but short burst. It doesn't last for hours, and it doesn't even come every day. It's a little bit of time coupled with a concerted effort, and then it's over. Your resistance to it is irrational, and you have to cut through that by being realistic about what it will entail. It'll be quick, it's good for you, and in the immortal words of Jillian Michaels, you're not going to die from being uncomfortable. So, pony up!  

4. What mindset, approach, or archetype might you adopt to overcome these blocks and hindrances? Five of Swords

Couch Potato, I think you're going to need be a bit ruthless with this! Those irrational, habitual stories about why you don't want to follow through with your intentions to work out are so ingrained, they're overwhelming your ability to make good decisions for yourself. Effectively, you will need to do battle with that sluggish mythology you've created and seize back control for the smart, sensible part of yourself that knows how good you feel when you do the work. 

If you look at the image on the card, you'll see there are two figures, one empty-handed, and the other clutching all the swords and looking pretty smug. Right now, this is the excuse-making part of yourself. She's totally winning, and she's pretty pleased with herself about it! We all make excuses from time to time, and that's fine, but if we always let ourselves get away with it, nothing gets done! What you need to do is tip the balance back in the other direction. When those excuses start to filter through, take a minute to ask yourself that magical question - "Am I being totally honest with myself in telling this story?" Give the rational, intentional part of yourself, the part who knows that your body wants to do the work, a chance to have a say. Let her reclaim some of those stolen swords so she can help you act in alignment with intention. It might feel like an inner battle at first, but trust that this confrontation is necessary for you to take your power back!

5. What mantra or power phrase can you use to fire yourself up and help you stay focused on your intention? Page of Swords

It might be a little hackneyed, but I'm going to borrow from a well-known purveyor of exercise-related paraphernalia and say, "Just do it."

Like all Pages, the Page of Swords embodies the energy of her suit with excitement, enthusiasm, and anticipation. She doesn't get bogged down in dreading discomfort or worrying about whether this is best use of her time. She really doesn't have any mental baggage at all! Lucky for some, eh? The Page of Swords invites you to get back to basics with this - remind yourself why you want to start exercising regularly. Let this perceptive and rational Page cut away any inner misdirection, and help you identify all those good reasons for following through with your plans. Then, borrow some of her exuberance, and just do it. Get started. You don't have to be a master or even aiming for a marathon. Start at the beginning, where you are, and just do it. That's all it is. Mind over matter, my friend!


The Agony Augury

I must say, I had a great time giving myself some tough love with this question! Now let's see if I can take the Agony Augury's advice and get going with my plans! I'll report back.

I did kinda hog the spotlight this week, but next week I'd love to answer a question from YOU! If you have a juicy dilemma that you think the Agony Augury could take on, drop me a line at

P.S. You can invoke the Agony Augury straight into your inbox by subscribing to Two Sides Tarot right here.

Ask the Agony Augury: Am I On the Right Path?

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, let's get to our question!

Dear Agony Augury,

My general question is, "Am I on the right path?" I separated last year from my wife, I'm now a single Dad. I've been going to uni but not sure whether this is the path I want to follow anymore. I really enjoy working at my current job, and have been working in the industry for years, so maybe this is the way to go in moving forward. I guess I'd also like to know the current situation regarding love and romance after such a big life event. The general question at the moment is that is where I am now productive and am I following the right path to happiness?


Path Quester

Excellent question, Path Quester! Don't we all wonder whether we're headed in the right direction from time to time? I wanted to tackle this question in particular, because I think it shows how useful tarot can be in helping us manage decisions and uncertainty. Before we begin though, I think it's important to note that you've asked, "Am I on the right path?" This is a yes/no question, and I have a little foible with it.

A tarot reading can be tremendously useful in helping us clarifying our feelings and thoughts when making decisions, but I don't believe that the cards can make those decisions for us. Regular followers of Two Sides Tarot will know that my practice is all about self-empowerment, and I think asking for a yes or no answer to this question would be giving your power away. Don't do that, Path Quester! You'll need it to take on your epic quest! Instead of telling you whether your path is right, I hope this reading will support you in working through that decision, in using your best judgement and intuition, and in taking a course of action that feels fulfilling and right to you. Sound ok, Path Quester? Now, without further ado, let's get to it! 

Because your chosen moniker, Path Quester, makes me think of some kind of sci fi epic, I chose to do your reading with the Steampunk Tarot. Always a fun deck to work with!

Interesting cards here, Path Quester! You'll see that all of your cards are Minor Arcana cards - these are the cards of the nitty gritty, day-to-day stuff of life. No sign of the Majors here - they usually indicate big, karmic energy, life journeys, and so on. The good news is, you don't need to lose too much sleep over this decision! The choice you have before you is not about finding your soul's purpose or fulfilling some vital aspect of the grand narrative of your life. We're working down on the micro level here! In this situation, no choice is immutable, and the factors to weigh up are largely of a practical and changeable nature. I'm sorry if you were hoping that Gandalf was show up and deliver a grand prophecy, but the upside is, you're not being called to go to Mordor right now. Think of it more like a trip around the neighbourhood. There's still the potential for stumbling blocks and moments of illumination, but you're not going to get eaten by anything if you take a wrong turn! Phew!

The next thing I want to point out before we get into the details is that you have all four suits of the tarot - Cups, Pentacles, Swords, and Wands - here in this spread. The suits represent all the different aspects and energies of our selves: Cups are emotional/intuitive; Pentacles are material/physical; Swords, intellectual; and Wands, spiritual/creative. At different times in our lives, we're called to focus on some aspects over others, but I think right now, your challenge is to be more holistic. When all four suits appear more or less equally, I see it as a need to seek balance between different needs and desires - sacrificing all your family time for say, the exclusive pursuit of academic goals, is not going to please you for long. Instead, think about how you might integrate all four elements into your chosen path. All these different parts of yourself have a role to play in your happiness at this time, so bear that in mind when considering where you spend your energy. 

1. The nature of the path you are treading - this card represents the energy surrounding you at this time. Queen of Cups

The Queen of Cups speaks of a depth of love, passion, creativity, and intuition. She is someone whose heart is always overflowing with grand feeling and generosity. She's such a passionate card, which I think speaks volumes about what you're looking for! You want to be a loving dad to your children, a passionate student, an inspired artist, a dedicated worker, a romantic lover, generous with your time, compassionate to others, sensitive and unafraid of your own capacity for emotion, and open to whatever life throws at you. The Queen of Cups is such an abundant, giving card, and she suggests that you're trying, hoping to follow your heart right now, so that you might share with the world all the gifts you have to offer. Walking this path is not just about fulfilling your own goals, but about showing the world who you are, setting an example, and giving everything you have to give. Noble ambitions indeed, Path Quester! 

Like every card in the tarot deck, the Queen of Cups comes with some challenges. I think we've all found ourselves overwhelmed by the intensity of our emotions at times, and this card speaks to those times when our hearts feel too full to hold the depth and complexity of everything we're feeling. The Queen of Cups is a lot to take on, even the most generous heart can have trouble containing her! When you're walking the path of the Queen of Cups, it's easy to feel too sensitive, to feel as though this cruel world will never appreciate the gifts of your heart. In order to generate this passionate feeling and creative instinct, the Queen must sometimes dive into darker territory, and her heart can be filled with great melancholy, as well as great love. Also, feeling this impulse to give and give and give of yourself can sometimes leave you feeling a little emptied out. The Queen of Cups is a beautiful card, but not without her challenges. The secret to mastering this card is to find a way to keep the goodness flowing in both directions - outward, into the world, because spreading the love is what you're all about, and inward, so that the love and support you want to offer to others is also something you give to yourself.

2. You've just come through a time of great transition - what, if anything, from your past requires healing, attention, or resolution in order for you to find clarity about your future? Ten of Pentacles

Well, if this isn't the card of playing happy families, I don't know what is! I think the message in the Ten of Pentacles is fairly obvious. When it comes to what you've just been through, particularly with the change in your relationship and your family life, there is still some healing to do. This upheaval takes time to understand and integrate. The good news is, in the progression of the Minor Arcana, Tens represent the end of a cycle, the completion of an era of life. In this context, partly this is about mourning the end of your relationship, but I think it also represents how far you've come in working through this tumultuous experience. When it comes to healing your wounds and rebuilding your life, you're doing your homework! This period of transition is almost complete.

I often see this card as being the idealised vision of the family - stable, traditional (yes, apologies readers, this deck's take on the Ten of Pents is very heteronormative!), and comfortable. Observe, though, that it is a window, a scene upon which the woman in the foreground is looking. This vision of family life is just an image, and it doesn't necessarily capture the nuance of real, ground-level, family life. Part of the challenge of the Ten of Pentacles is that it asks us to let go of our idealised view of what the perfect family is, and to embrace what we have, whatever that might be. You and your wife might not feel like standing on an elevated plinth in full formal regalia, staring lovingly into each other's eyes, but that doesn't mean your family isn't a great place to be. I think you are probably still coming to terms with the fact that your family and your romantic relationship don't look the way you hoped they would, and that's perfectly understandable. Just remember that the idea of the perfect family that is impressed upon us is just an idea, an image. We live down here in the real world, and the reality of family relationships is much more complex, and also much more rewarding, than any flat, uncomplicated, "perfect" ideal. I think you'll agree that it's far more important to embrace the circumstances of our lives as they actually are than it is to cling doggedly to a vision that is out of touch with reality. If you're still feeling a little attached to that vision, it's time to start loosening your grip. Mourn what has gone, and let it go. That big-hearted Queen of Cups is needed here in the messy, imperfect, amazing real world!

3. What are you seeking on this path? What form do your hopes and aspirations take at this time? Six of Swords

The most important theme for the Six of Swords in this context is change. Actually, I lied! There are two, equally most important themes that have bearing on your situation here - change, and healing. This card depicts a woman on the run, leaving behind a bad situation and hitching a ride on this dirigible, striking out for fairer shores. Does that sound familiar, at all? This card suggests that what you are hoping to do is to make your life anew - no small feat! Right now, when it comes to pulling together family, study, work, and romance, I think your heart is hoping that you can make a totally new way of living for yourself, one that is happier, more abundant, more loving, more satisfying. What this change actually involves might be less important than the simple fact that you are changing, taking on something new and novel. Departure from the old ways is a key theme of this card, and I suspect that's a big part of what you want right now. Anything, as long as it's different! 

This Six of Swords energy - the opportunity for change and healing that this card suggests is at play here - is a really positive and cleansing kind of energy. Up there in your zeppelin, the wind might actually blow your troubles away! I think the difficulty with this card is that there is so much joy and relief in the thought of moving away from what wasn't working, and there's little focus left for where you're going to land that thing. In terms of what you're seeking, I think you're not quite sure at the moment. You know what wasn't working, and you're changing it. Those balls are still in the air, and you're not quite clear yet on where you want them to land. That's ok, no big deal. Being in this transitional phase can make it hard to set concrete goals and visions for the future. Everything is in flux, after all! When it comes to the actual things you want - a new job, a degree, more money, more family time, a new romance - you're finding it hard to pin down the specifics. In your escape vehicle, you're floating too high above the earth to get down to the micro level here! Instead, allow yourself to be in this phase. This card asks you to acknowledge that you are in a state of transition. The time will come for you to land on solid ground, but for now, try to enjoy this part of the journey. Embrace letting go of what went before. Look for opportunities to refresh your perspective, and to take care of yourself when you're feeling fragile. Positive change and opportunities to heal yourself of past wounds will be your allies. I think you'll find that once this phase is over, you'll have a lot more clarity about where you want to go next.

4. In terms of your study and career, what mindset, approach, or course of action will best serve you in your quest? Nine of Pentacles

Whenever I see this card, I immediately get Independent Women by Destiny's Child in my head. Ergo, the approach that will best serve you at work and in your studies is the Beyonce Method. Familiar with it? You may think I jest, but really, Yonce has a lot to teach us all, and the Nine of Pentacles is here to help us with that! This card is all about relishing your accomplishments, about being self-reliant, being rewarded for your skills, and feeling secure, comfortable, and totally badass in your own good self. 

In terms of putting that into action, ask yourself, what is it that you love spending time on? What type of work allows you to put your most valuable skills to use? Does your degree (or the eventual outcome of completing  your degree) make you want to get down and shake your booty? What about work - does that put the spring in your step? Where's the joy, the swagger for you right now in this part of your life? I hope we've all been lucky enough to have moments where we feel like we're totally in flow with our work, we're at the top of our game, and we could toil away with great satisfaction for hours. That's what you need to chase right now! Ask yourself, "when it comes to my work life, what makes me feel as bootylicious as Beyonce?" Therein lies your answer.

Another aspect of the Nine of Pentacles that you should consider, which may seem a counterpoint to the idea of chasing flow and joy, is money. Cash cash money. Now, it isn't the be all and end all of this card, but it is something to consider when weighing up any choices about work or study. The lady on this card, a la Destiny's Child, is totally financially independent. If she wants a nice new frock to go with her falcon, she can afford it. Of course, I'm not about to advocate that you work a job you hate just because it allows you to buy stuff! That would be terrible advice. I do think though that it's important to remember how money makes us feel. When we have enough - maybe not for new frocks, but for the phone bill - we feel very different to when we don't know how we're going to make the rent. Part of having that swing in your step from a job well done is knowing that you don't have to rely on anyone else for financial support. Money can't be the only factor in your decision about your career, but you should throw it into the mix. What is your minimum requirement for financial security? This card says you need to consider that before you make any plans.

5. In terms of your romantic life, what mindset, approach, or course of action will best serve you in your quest? Five of Wands

Finally, the romance card! All that serious thinking about work and career and life path, and now we get to the kissing part! 


I was just joshing there, but I actually think the Princess Bride might be a good proxy for the Five of Wands when it comes to love. This is a card of contest, conflict, and competition. I'm sorry that it isn't the lovey dovey Two of Cups, but I think you can handle a little dragon slaying on that path of yours! There are a couple of aspects of this card that are worth thinking about. Firstly, the idea of competition. Often, I interpret this card as an incitement to dive in and get amongst it! It suggests that when it comes to the dating scene, there are plenty of people down on the ground, battling to show off their best qualities to anyone who'll stop to look. There's a lot of preening in this card, and I think you're being called to get in on that! Staying in and hoping a hot new lover falls through the ceiling is not going to get you very far - no surprises there. Do whatever you can to meet people and put your best foot forward. It's in your best interests to fluff up that peacock tail and do the promenade! Don't hold back. 

Sometimes, I find that the conflict represented by the Five of Wands can be internal - all those competing agendas and voices can be inside our own heads, battling with each other for supremacy and drowning out good sense and self confidence with repetitive thinking and anxiety. There are few times in our lives when we're as vulnerable as we are when we meet a new romantic partner. That shit is scary! It's understandable that you might be hesitant or doubting yourself and what you have to offer. Unfortunately, those naysaying voices will probably always try to trip us up when we put ourselves in a vulnerable position, but we can take some power back from them by giving them a little less attention. If you find yourself having a moment of self-doubt or poor self-esteem, just take a pause. Remember, your brain is just frightened about putting your heart on the line. It's trying to protect you (even though that might mean you miss out on connecting with another person - stupid brain!). Say, "Thank you, anxious brain, for trying to protect me from heartbreak. I've listened to that advice, and I've decided not to take it. Cheerio!" And then go back to building your OKCupid profile or whatever it is you're doing to advance your romantic quest. Stop hiding in the pub toilet and go back to your date! You want to be out amongst the fun with other people, not embroiled in a crowd of chattering inner critics!

Finally, a note on the suit of this card. Usually, when I see a Wands card appear in a romance reading, it screams physical chemistry and sex. The metaphor is obvious - wands, anyone? Wands tend to lean less towards to the romantic walks on the beach and more in the direction of a little less conversation, a little more action, if you follow! It may be at the moment you're not sure if you want to commit to a big serious love, or perhaps that's just not on the table for you at this time. This card says, a bit of a sexy fling might do you good! Don't think too much about the future, just follow those animal instincts. That might not be what you had in mind, but if such a thing presents itself, don't write it off automatically. Who knows, it might be fun! 

Path Quester, I really hope this reading has helped you to find some perspective and clarity about the path you're on right now. Thank you so much for writing in, and all the best with whatever comes next,

The Agony Augury

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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 

Got a question for The Agony Augury? Drop me a line, and your dilemma may just make it onto the blog! 

Need some advice, pronto? Don't forget, you can book a reading with me here.