Tarot for Teddy: Coaching Through a Block

Most of us are pretty familiar with the feeling of wanting to move full speed ahead in an area of our life, but feeling somehow blocked. Often, it's very hard to identify that block, and even if we do, it's even more difficult to envision a way past it, to move of the territory of the usual stories we tell ourselves into new terrain.

Teddy came to me this month with this kind of issue. He'd made so much progress in his business and in his personal life, but felt like he'd hit a rock. He was enjoying working for himself, but wasn't getting as much business as he'd like, and felt like he was stuck at the beginning. Like as for many people who come for coaching, there was so much going on in his life that he didn't even know what to home in on. This, of course, made him nervous that he was wasting his money; being a type A bear, he didn't want to just talk for an hour and see what came up -- he wanted some kind of focus.

This was a perfect time to sling some cards. I picked a "Creativity Spread" from a book by Liz Dean, to focus on a few areas of the current situation as well as give hm a chance to interact with the spread and make some changes.

The spread consists of five cards, arranged as they are on a die or a playing card. The center card represents him or his situation. The top cards relate to time and whether it's an issue, and his expectations--what does he expect to achieve? The bottom cards are what's blocking him, and what describes his inspiration or motivation. Note that in the picture below, I've put all cards upright so you can see them better--the top right and bottom cards actually came up reversed.

"So, Ted." I started. "Let's start with that middle card, representing you or your situation. The Fours are about structure and security, which can be desirable but also confining. The Four of Wands represents the warmth of hearth and home, and can sometimes refer to taking the time to rest and enjoy it, or celebrate. What do you think?"

"I certainly don't feel confined," Teddy said. "I'm really enjoying things. But it never would have occurred to me to just rest and enjoy it. How long do I need to do that for?" 

I laughed,​ then realized he was half serious. "Well, how about a little? It could be you need the break. It took a lot for you to get where you are, and maybe what you're seeing as being stuck is just a natural time to rest and be grateful. How does that sound to you?"

"That totally makes sense," he said. "I'm like that knight up there to the left, ready to charge away all the time. I bet he doesn't even know where he's heading!"​

"That's totally the Prince of Wands," I said. "He's eager and energetic, and always ready to move, but he doesn't necessarily know why, or follow through. Since this position relates to the nature of time around this issue, I think it does suggest that you're being impatient--there's no point in forcing things if they're not ready to happen. That could be why you're feeling blocked--it's not that there's something in your way, you just can't see the future because it's not here yet."

"I can buy that," Teddy said. "So does that Six of Pentacles mean that I have unrealistic expectations?"

"Well, the sixes are about balance and harmony, and the pentacles refer to material things, like money and work, and the nuts and bolts of your life. The Six of Pentacles, when it's upright, refers to generosity and giving to others--a balance of getting and giving. It's reversed, though--what does that mean to you in terms of your expectations? 

Teddy frowned. "Well, what strikes me is the difference between this and the Prince. I'm kinda like that. I like to act really confident and I start a lot of things, but if I was really honest about what I expect to happen...I'm not good at reaching out to other people, or asking for help, so I guess I kinda feel like I have to do everything myself, and I know there's no way I can do that, so try to be better at all that but it's so much work."

That was sure a lot to get out of that card! I suggested to him that probably a lot of the "stuckness" he felt was the conflict between his desire to jump into things and the reality of day to day life. 

"Let's look at the block, and see what we can learn there," I said. The card on the bottom left, the Seven of Swords, shows a man writing while seven swords sit nearby. Traditionally this card represents being somewhat shady in the mental arena. At its worst, it's depicted as betrayal, lying, or stealing, and at best cleverness and trickiness. To me, though, that never really rang true for the "intent" of the card (which you can argue about if you want to get into more esoteric matters). Personally, I interpret this card as "trickster energy." Not bad, not good, but playful and and full of mischief. 

Teddy caught on quickly. "And because it's reversed, it means I don't have that?" he asked.

" Well, what do you think?" I asked back. "Is everything feeling kind of dull and no fun?  Because if you look at the card to the right, The Sun--that tells us about what inspires you. Which would be warmth, and a feeling of youth and excitement. If you don't have that, things are going to be looking kind of grim."

"Yes!" he exclaimed. "That is so, totally it. If I could feel that things were more fun--and it's my own darned fault, I know--if I could be a little more playful about things, I'd be a lot happier. It's not that I'm stuck, creatively, I'm just being too serious, not enjoying what I have, and bringing myself down."

"Awesome," I said. Now let's move that block card away, pretend for the moment that you don't have the block of making everything so serious. Let's move that happy Sun over there." I handed him the deck, and said "Now you pick another card that looks to you like what your life will be without that block." 

He picked the Two of Pentacles, which shows a woman juggling. 

"She makes it look so easy," he said. "She's balancing things, without any effort, it seems, an on top of that she's having a good time."

"So maybe you can work on that, Ted," I said. "Try and be more playful. You're a clever bear, too -- I bet you can catch yourself when you're taking things too seriously or you're stuck in your "this is so hard" story. I'll see you next month!"