Oh, people. Life. It does come down to relationships, doesn’t it? Work, love, kids, family, but in the end, it’s all about relating.
So how can tarot be a constructive companion when you’re absolutely, positively SURE that you absolutely, positively, cannot STAND your [boss, co-worker, classmate, business associate] etc.? That’s a tall order.
At the risk of sounding redundant, I’d first suggest to put the question back to yourself. Even a cursory glance at a range of self-help, spiritual, and psychological texts will often suggest that the very traits and behaviors that so vehemently push our buttons when we have to “put up with them” from other people, are paradoxically the exact issues that we need to examine more deeply within ourselves.
And therein, my friends, is the rub.
So how can we bring in the imagery and deep wisdom of the tarot in trying to find meaning and constructive growth in a situation that is frankly (seemingly) intolerable and impossible to shed a positive light on?
Here’s a starting point. I’ve selected a few of the key cards that come up in difficult situations of human relating, and how you might constructively address them with the aid of your trusted pack of cards.
“They’re All Out to Get Me!” – Conflict, Competition, Paranoia
5 of Wands, 7 of Wands, 9 of Wands
Whoa! That’s a lot of wands there! And no one is looking too happy.
Do you find it interesting that these cards go in odd order: 5, 7, 9? Four and six are joyful and celebratory. Clearly we have to put up with a lot of tough crap both before and after we get to kick back.
In five, everyone wants something different, and no one is willing to give in. We’re all tangled in a mess, and no one is really getting the upper hand quite yet, we’re just pissy and fighting. Sometimes on this card it looks to me like we’re fighting for our place in the group, and some figures seem to be comparing their wand to other people’s wands. It reminds me of my three preschool age kids, when one of them has something that the others don’t have and the other two start to shriek “NO FAIR!” It’s terribly cliche’, but folks, the world is not fair. In the 5, we’re in conflict almost simply for the sake of conflict. Everyone’s got a strong viewpoint, and no one is listening to anyone else.
In seven, now we’ve made it to the top, but that doesn’t mean we can take a load off just yet. Others want what we’ve achieved, others want what we’re going after, others want what we’ve got. No rest for the weary. Here we’re in a defensive stance, fighting to keep what we have and not topple off of our precarious perch from above. Here we’ve risen above the fray, however; direct conflict is minimized as we have at least a micro amount of power that gives us the upper hand.
In nine, paranoia starts to set in. It’s like, holy crap, enough already, I can’t take this anymore! Clearly still standing, but bandaged and bruised. Now we’re really on the alert for anyone or anything that’s going to deliver us another blow. This card reminds me of the saying “When it rains, it pours.” We’re being sorely tested and perseverance is needed in order to make it to the home stretch.
This poison needs an antidote! Tarot to the rescue!
Tarot Antidote #1: Counteract conflict with collaboration and shared planning, 3 of Pentacles
So, you just CANNOT get along with your work team, or can’t see eye to eye with a colleague? A hefty dose of humble pie might be needed, as well as a spirit of collaboration and shared planning. Here we see a scene with three figures from totally different backgrounds: an artisan builder, a monk, and an architect. All of them want different things, and yet they all have to come together to achieve their common goal of getting that cathedral up. As the antidote to the 5 of Wands, the 3 of Pentacles suggests listening to others and trying to put yourself in their shoes, as well as an awareness of the shared purpose of the group. While what you want and are willing to fight for are certainly important to you, at the same time, others come from totally different perspectives and with different objectives that are just as important to them.
Resolution questions to ask for tarot insight in a one, two or three card spread: What is my role in this conflict? What can I do to minimize the conflict?
Tarot Antidote #2: Detach from aggressive competitiveness by reinforcing your skills and worth, 8 of Pentacles
When we feel like competition is beating down our door, we can often fall into a negative spiral of comparing ourselves to others and looking for where we fall short, as well as getting ourselves unnecessarily involved in trivial drama with those who are vying for our spot. A good antidote for this is the 8 of Pentacles. Dude is flying under the radar. He’s focused on his task, you can see that he’s physically removed himself from distracting environments and he is dedicating himself to perfecting his craft. Honestly, you only have control over yourself, not those who are being competitive, backstabbing, conniving, and Lord only knows what else. That being the case, buckle down and keep on keepin’ on, doing your best at what you do best.
Resolution questions to ask in a one or three card spread: What is the underlying meaning behind this competition? What should I do now to leave the competition behind?
Tarot Antidote #3: Scale back feelings of paranoia by reflecting on how far you’ve already come, 6 of Wands
Despite those moments when you might feel like the man on the 9 of Pentacles, we all have examples of times when we’ve been able to truly ride high on the wave of our accomplishments, garnering praise, compliments, and admiration. Rather than letting the 9 of Wands feeling of “what’s going to hit me next?!” overwhelm your thinking, spend some time actively recalling those examples of when you were able to shine in your successes, and allow those times to help balance out your thinking that you’ll never succeed. The man on the 6 of Wands isn’t paranoid in the least, in fact, his strong sense of self means that he is able to rise above unfounded feelings of wariness towards others and instead lead others triumphantly forward. Self-confidence doesn’t have to be arrogant. Focusing on this card can help you regain a strong sense of self so you can shed the victim mentality that makes you believe that everyone is against you.
Resolution questions to ask in a one or three card spread: What am I really afraid of? Who or what will help me and support me in my situation?
What cards do you relate to conflict and resolution in the tarot? How have you used your cards to address difficult situations in relating with others?