How Tarot Can Help Spoonies
When your body and mind are chaos, a second opinion can really help.
A spoonie is someone who deals with a condition that limits how much energy is available on any given day.
First, to quickly fill you in on The Spoon Theory: It was created by a lupus fighter named Christine Miserandino, who explained what living with a chronic condition was like by gathering spoons in a diner, having the inquiring friend put down a spoon for ev-ver-y little thing done in a day; illustrating that we never have enough, and that borrowing from tomorrow’s “spoons” means tomorrow will have even fewer. (In other words, we’re fucked.)
I’m a spoonie due to autism and fibromyalgia, but there are all kinds of ways to be a spoonie — sometimes it’s chronic pain from an issue (like endometriosis), that uses up those missing energy units, other times it’s pretending to be “normal,” as being chronically ill, or otherwise incapacitated, is quite frowned upon in our society.
Unfortunately, these conditions don’t come with spoon-counters, so we just have to make educated guesses about what our limitations are.
This dilemma is compounded by the fact that many of us are disassociated from our bodies due to the unpleasantness, and perhaps from our feelings as well, especially in autism. (This is due to more unpleasantness, plus all that faking fine/normal.)
With so much going on in our minds and bodies, it can be hard to assess how many spoons we have, therefore what we can get done that day.
That’s where self-readings using tarot cards come in.
Tarot has mysterious origins, but we do know that it’s been around for hundreds of years. Rider-Waite is the most popular deck in modern times, and it was created in 1909. It has 78 cards, and each of these cards represents a common aspect of life, following a path from The Fool to The World.
It’s all about connecting with one’s unconscious wisdom to better navigate life. No one knows how it works, but I’ll tell you that it sure does.
I was skeptical at first, but by the end of my first month, I was blown away by all of the coincidences and how helpful the cards actually were. This feeling became more intensified as I got sicker, coming to depend on them to make my plans.
Here’s what you need to know.
The first step, of course, is to acquire a deck, which you can do literally via local spiritual shops/the internet — or you can download an app (though I’d recommend sticking ones that use Rider-Waite while you’re learning). If you’re going physical, shuffle the deck so cards are upside down in addition to the regular shuffle, or choose an app with reversals.
Once it’s shuffled or downloaded, start by giving yourself a two-card reading.
Cleanse your energy using sage/palo santo, or just imagine light passing through your body and outer surroundings. Then, center your attention in your heart. Think of your plans for the day, and ask the cards how that’ll play out for you, choosing any two cards (I like to pick one + whatever’s on the bottom) — if any fall out of the deck, then it chose for you.
To interpret the meanings, simply look them up online (my fave) and reflect on how they might apply to the day ahead of you.
Cards that are often spoonie-related and how—
Four of Swords: This one says it’s time to rest, so reassess your plans and remove anything that you can. And if it’s reversed, you’re going to pay dearly if you proceed with plans unchanged, trusssst me, and avoid flare-city.
The Hermit: If your plans are out in the world, are there any non-peopling plans you can attend to instead? If it’s in reverse, you either need to get out of the house or really really need to just stay in. How have you spent the past few days? Where is balanced needed? What feels right in your body?
Strength: You can do iiiiiiit! You’ve got the spoons to power through this, remember to get still in your mind and focus on your heart energy when you’re feeling low on juju. If it’s reversed, it may be reminding you that you don’t have to do it all (or it may be referring to a time of inner, emotional, strength).
Eight of Swords: Victim mentality. Things aren’t great for the woman in the card, but they aren’t as bad as she thinks — if you look closely, her bindings are loose, and the swords aren’t really blocking her way. Where’s your present wiggle-room? How can you empower yourself today? If this card reversed, the answer to that question probably has to do with banning negative self-talk.
Two of Wands (R): Your plans have got problems, or they aren’t really sorted out yet. Have you reflected on everything you need today? We all know that going home for forgotten stuff eats up precious spoons, so reassess. (Right side up speaks to thinking about the future, making those plans.)
The Chariot: Get it, get it, my friend! Your day’s good-to-go, well done Glen Coco. (Other cards generally considered positive are generally a green light too, look for how they pertain to other matters.) Reversed, most likely you’re almost there, look for tweaks in your plans to get better direction — but reversed can also point to car/travel problems, so if that’s a probable issue, consider backup plans.
The Emperor: Pertains to rigid structure and figures who are ‘an authority’ in some way. Are you going to the doctor? Reversed, it’s gonna be a hassle. (Or perhaps you’re dealing with insurance bullshite?) Spoonie-wise, reversed could also point to needing a less structured plan; if that feels right, be kind to your mental and cognitive health and switch your day up so it’s more flexible, wherever possible.
Two of Cups: This talks about pairs and partnerships, with the reversal being a not-great omen, and right-side-up being a wonderful one. The symbol in the middle, Caduceus of Hermes, is often used in medicine; making this especially relevant if you're seeing a new care provider.
Death: Rarely means death! It speaks to cycles ending or, if reversed, holding on when you need to let go.
These cards can apply to other areas of your life too, of course, and often will apply to both (they’re clever like that). And many of the cards not listed could also sometimes apply to spoonie-related matters, as well.
At the end of your day, look at the cards you drew again and reflect on how they fit the events, emotions, and outcomes of your day. I recommend doing daily for at least 30 days before making up your mind. (Taking notes is helpful.)
Any other spoonies out there tarot’ing it up, or ready to give it a shot?
Meg Hartley has been practicing tarot for six years, find her on the socials @howilostallmyfs for more spoonie fun.