Thursday, April 6, 2017

Reading a Spread: Self-Compassion

I am certain that I am not the only person who struggles with shame and vulnerability. They are experiences that are a normal part of the human condition, but shame can easily hijack our minds and prohibit us from growing or moving forward. I came up with this spread last week after realizing that I needed some concrete, tangible way to frame my feelings.  This spread provides a scaffolding that makes space for shame and pain, but also a pathway for self-compassion.


CARD 1: Querent's ego

When I say ego, I mean the self-aware part of ourselves with cognitive, critical focus. In this case, it is the part of us that replays every sentence uttered, every gesture attempted, and finds it wanting. Pulling the five of wands in this position was some major real-talk; when I am in a defensive, reactive place, I lash out. Some of the blows hit my attackers, but inevitably some also land on my allies and even myself. It feels not unlike being in a chaotic fight with a bunch of guys with sticks. For me as the querent, it leads to shame, which makes it difficult to find self-compassion.

CARDS 2 & 3:  A container for the pain

I pretty much sighed with relief with these two; I think the ace and the ten of pentacles provide a lovely symmetry here.  If the ace is the essence of the suit, and the ten is the suit come to fruition, then I see here that my pain and discomfort is held in a container of tangible security. I always have the earth, and I always have my home. I can relax into that certainty when facing my ego.

CARD 4: A strength of the querent's

This card, the four of swords, surprised me a little.  While I may struggle to control my reactions in the moment, I'm actually pretty good at finding time later to retreat and consider what happened.  This card also speaks to recovery; it tells me that whatever pain I suffer, I have the resilience to spring forward from it.

CARD 5: A message of compassion

Possibly the most empowering card I could have pulled, Strength is about emotional fortitude. In this position, she is a reminder of my own courage as well as the loving support of those around me. I'm actually struggling to write out an interpretation because this is one of those cases where the simplicity of the card, and the impact of the visual with her basic meanings, really conveys the message better than words.  It's one of those lovely moments in tarot that seems to transcend language... although I guess that's kind of a cop-out for a blogger!


This spread gave me a chance to honor the painful experiences of shame by providing a safe vessel for vulnerability. Do you think you would use this spread when you need to practice self-compassion? Could you see this spread working for somebody trying to cultivate compassion for others?  Did I totally just leave you in the lurch with my inability to describe the fifth card?  Please share your thoughts in comments!

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