Tarot for Teddy–The Heart and the Head

Teddy has made huge strides in his life--so it surprised me when he called me and showed up for our session looking like total crap. It turns out, that in the process of moving in with his duck girlfriend and starting a new business, he'd neglected to tell me that he hadn't quit his day job. "It was fine for a while," he said, "but now I feel like I'm going to rip all my hair out. I'm driving myself crazy trying to figure out what to do!"

"OK, Ted," I said. ​"What are you thinking?"

He sighed. "I'd really love to quit my job and go back to school for a business degree, but ​I don't know if it's the right thing to do. I'm totally torn. I don't know what to do, and I just keep going around in circles."

We decided to try and clarify some things for Ted, and maybe see if we could find a middle ground between his head and his heart, a plan of action that felt right, and not extreme in either direction. I laid down nine cards, in three columns, as shown below. The first column  described the Heart, the last column the Head, and the middle column was the bridge between the two.​ I used the Rider Waite Centennial edition just to throw a little traditional feel into the mix, and because the pictures are fairly easy to interpret.

You'll note that from the backs, you can't tell what cards are upright and which ones are reversed. Some people don't read with reversals, but I tend to like them. After I flipped the cards over,  I righted any reversed cards and put a penny on those to indicate the reversal, because it's easier to see and interpret them right side up.

I flipped the cards over, and told Teddy that we'd go row by row and see what came up, and that rather than telling him what the cards meant, I wanted him to see what came up for him, first. If he got stuck, or if something came to me as he was speaking, I'd mention it. But I really wanted to use the cards as a way for him to explore his ideas and emotions and get them out on the table. I reminded him of what the rows meant, and that he should try to use the words "I feel" and "I think" to make the meanings clear to himself.

"Shit!" he said, looking at the first card. "I don't need you to tell me what THAT means. ​"I feel like a kid who just built something out of blocks--I want to knock everything down and start again. I'm so sick of working in a bank."

"Well, that's pretty clear," I said, laughing. "What about the last card--and remember it's reversed--you can let that mean what you want."

"Well, it's someone leaving, and it seems pretty final. I guess that even though my heart's not in this job, I still think that I'd be crazy to leave, that it's not right to just have a temper tantrum and quit my job. I don't know about that middle card, though."

"Ok, I said."What might there be in between the whole wanting to tear things down like a little kid and your judgement of that? Is there some other way you can approach this?"

"It's funny that it's an actual little kid," he said. "But he's not having a tantrum. He's all happy and warm under the sun."

"And what might that look like in your real world situation?" I asked.

"I guess if I were just doing what felt the best to me it wouldn't really be a tantrum, would it? And I wouldn't need to think I was being stupid."

"Ok. And what about the next row?"

"I don't get that first one," he said. "He looks bored. I am really bored there. But what does it mean when it's upside down?"

"You're right, it's about ennui, being so bored you can't even get excited about an opportunity. The way I like to read it upside down is that all those low emotions are being released, poured out of the cups. You're done with feeling like that."

"God yes!" he said.​ "But my brain says I need to be strong and just do the work so I can make money even though I hate it." He frowned, then smiled again as he looked at the middle card, the seven of pentacles. "But clearly I should quit and go plant pentacles, right? That's a shit ton of pentacles."

"I don't think you'll find that on Monster.com," I said. "But that's kind of a delayed gratification card. The guy has done the work of planting, and now he just has to wait for the plants to grow. Right now, he's just standing there. What do you think that might mean?"

"Huh. That makes me think that sitting around and not going anywhere isn't really good, even though I'm getting paid for it, and that going back to school would actually be work, even though I haven't been thinking of it that way. It would be an investment, not goofing off--even if it felt like that because it was fun.

"Cool!" I said. "Now let's move on to that last row. What do you see?"

"Well that first guy is beat to shit. He's been fighting too long and he's done. The guy at the end looks lie he's excited about something new, like a ship coming or something. That's totally me--my heart is really heavy when I think about work, and my brain is excited thinking about new things. But it's confusing for me, because that doesn't really feel like I'm getting a clear message from either side. It seems like if going to school was the right thing, I should *feel* excited about it and not be trying to talk myself into it."

"Yeah, I can see that," I said. "But maybe you're just so tired you *can't* feel that yet. That middle card, the Wheel of Fortune--upright, it's about luck changing, and things moving along. Reversed, it can mean resistance to change. Are you sure you're not tiring yourself out even more by worrying about moving on? Let's pretend you DID decide to quit and go to school--you've made that decision. How do you feel now?"

"Great!" he said. "Totally like the two sword guy, not the nine sword one." He paused. "Way cool! My head and my heart agree!" 

"That is cool," I said. "We're not going to get better than that. Go home and think about all this, and we'll talk next week!"