Steampunk Tarot

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

Have you got a question for The Agony Augury? Drop me a line, and your dilemma may just make it onto the blog! I'd love to hear from you!

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