Tarot for Overachievers, Part Two

Whew! It’s taken me a while to get back to finishing this post. Crazy, crazy hectic times.

In the first part of Tarot for Overachievers, I discussed a common tendency that many of us share, in which we constantly push ourselves to the utter limit of action without taking the necessary time to reflect and be still. Granted, getting to the bottom of something like this isn’t rocket science, but because at least in my own life it had become almost a monkey on my back, I wanted to develop a custom spread and take a deeper look at the personal factors and motivations that might be underlying this anxiety I was creating for myself. I have been feeling an overpowering and urgent necessity to “get ahead” in life, learn more, do more, be more, and I’m constantly left wondering why, no matter how much I do or how well I do it, I always feel I’m still one step behind and will never get to exactly where I want to be.

I developed a series of three spreads in the format of a tree, with three separate parts: crown, trunk, and roots. Each part has three cards to address various questions I felt I wanted to look at.

Here’s how the cards came out. I used the entire 78-card deck for each group of 3, because I wanted to leave room open for the same card to appear twice, in case there was one or more themes that the cards really wanted to emphasize for me. I find this often happens also in readings done across time, which is why it’s always a good idea to keep a tarot journal to record your readings and be able to look back on them.

The first reading is the crown of the tree, which I related to what I’m aware of in myself, how others see me portraying myself to the world, and what part of me wants to be seen. All of these relate to the very visible part of the tree that’s at the top, completely above ground and fully exposed:

Reading 1: The Crown of the Tree
1 – The “me” that I hold as personal truth, the “me” that I am conscious of
2 – The inner “me” that is crying out for expression
3 – The “me” that others see in the world



Here we have the 2 of Pentacles reversed, Judgement, and the 9 of Pentacles. This clearly highlights a dichotomy that we often face and are unaware of: who we feel we are and how others perceive us. I find it’s rather hard to be objective about the image we present to the world, and if the image we show is at odds with who we think we are, or reality as we subjectively live it, then that gap can create dissonance in our lives and our expression of self. We might think we’re communicating one thing to the world or being a certain way in our world, while people are thinking or receiving a totally different picture of us, by us, and from us!

In this case, we see that I hold myself as the man in the 2 of Pentacles, trying to juggle everything and keep his head above choppy waters, and being that it’s reversed, I don’t even feel like I’m doing a good job of it or that I can’t seem to “keep everything under control.” There’s a distinct lack of balance. In fact, as many of you know, I am a divorced working mother of three preschool-aged children, raising them in a country that’s not my own, without any help at home. I have an absolutely fundamental need to write and express myself, so I keep not only this blog (and slowly growing business!) but also my blog about life in Rome. I also read books just about every waking minute, insatiably. Squeezed in there is laundry, doing dishes, cooking meals, dressing and washing three kids, lifting weights, and oh yeah, sleep! Oh my Lord! So obviously it takes a lot for me to juggle all of my responsibilities with the amount of care and attention I want to devote to all of them. I feel disorganized, off balance, and financially like I don’t know which way is up or down: finances in fact are an issue for me because I need to tightly manage my household budget while also trying to set aside savings and pay off debt. I want to actively attract financial abundance into my life, but I realize that I feel very restricted towards risk, because of my kids, I don’t want to take any “crazy chances” as regards work or finances.

Across the way we have the lovely Ms. 9 of Pentacles, oooh! Look at her! She’s so blessed and living a life of leisure. Now, my first thought is: why on God’s earth would ANYONE perceive me to be this woman right now? That’s what I would love for myself, but I certainly don’t feel like I embody any of those qualities whatsoever. So here I have to take a very objective look at the card. The 9 of Pentacles is secure in her environment, and she gracefully accepts all of the abundance around her. She enjoys her surroundings and revels in her good fortune. She is able to provide for herself and stands on her own two feet. She’s not afraid to be on her own and is very self-confident.

I know what this is now. In fact I’ve had more than one friend recently highlight this exact observation of me. While I’m personally feeling frazzled, overwhelmed, and unable to juggle all my responsibilities and commitments (especially internally sort of berating myself for all this, and being with my kids by myself feeling completely in over my head) which is the 2 of Pentacles reversed, I try as much as possible to keep that hidden, and I try to never complain. The outside world therefore sees me as someone who is on her own but in a super self-sustaining way, and therefore not in need of any sort of help. I mean, would you think to offer the woman on the 9 of Pentacles assistance? She looks like she’s got it all, and is handling it all quite nicely, thank you very much. The cards here are showing me a gap that I need to close, the gap between feeling like I have to show everyone how well I’m doing (“everything’s under control, don’t worry about me! life is good!”) and the me that I personally experience (holy effing crap man, I can barely find time to shower!). Sigh.

And in the middle we have the “me” that’s crying out for expression, and this one really hits the nail right on the head: Judgement. Oh man do I feel ready to answer to my life’s “calling” and completely be reborn in my new role, not only as it regards me as an individual, a woman, a mom, a member of my community, etc., but also in my career. I almost completed my degree in social work before moving back to Rome two years ago, and my heart for service is crying out for expression. In fact, this card could even be translated as my need to serve others in transforming their own lives and experiencing new ways to rise above their challenges and answer their own calling from their higher selves. Either way, Judgement here is showing me that I have a deep need to be reborn both on a metaphoric level as well as a concrete physical level, and that I want to consciously choose to walk in this new path, the new life I’ve created for myself, the new “me” that I’m growing into post-divorce. This phoenix, people, is ready to rise from the proverbial ashes! But thus far, is not finding a way to squeeze that in between the perfectionist portrayal of the “life is good” 9 of Pentacles and the harried and overworked juggler on the 2 of Pentacles.

We’ll see the trunk of the tree in the next post, which will address:

Reading 2: The Tree Trunk
1 – What motivates my behaviors [ie, over-achieving and perfectionist]
2 – What I fear most if I don’t behave in that way [ie, if I stop doing, going, and giving]
3 – What I need to know regarding that fear

Click here to go to Part 3



  1. awesome! Im going to try this spread myself. I often get 9 of pentacles and also struggle with the same issues you do…single mum (one profoundly disabled) , financial concerns, the need to constantly be working towards goals (multiple) and a desire to serve…I see the 9 of pentacles as a person with the capacity to give, to create, and like a swan calm and graceful on the surface but legs paddling like mad to stay afloat, yet you would never think so to see her float across the lake

  2. Hey, thanks!! If you want to try the entire process, go to the original post where I list the three spreads. Otherwise you could also do each one day by day, if you want a slower approach. I’d love to hear about your results! Your analysis of the 9 of Pentacles is beautiful and interesting. I’ve never thought about struggle to stay afloat with her, ever. She always seems to not have a care in the world, to have officially “arrived” … but then again, there is that very fierce independent streak with her, that “self-made woman” kind of thing… hmmm… so interesting. Thanks for sharing!!

Come on, let's discuss! Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s