Welcome back to Tarot and Self-Care! After getting distracted by watching my country spiral into a robber-baron-driven hellscape, I’m ready to keep examining how the tarot can help us identify self-care strategies.
Let’s turn our attention to the Queen of Wands. The wands suit represents work, muscle, ambition, and fire. Seeing as much, if not most, of burnout stems from work issues, this suit’s queen implores us to take a hard look at our work lives. Here are some of her self-care strategies:
Establishing work-life balance. Yeah, this is a big one–both in difficulty and importance. Usually we quantify this balance by counting the hours we spend at our jobs. 90 hours a week? You work too much! 40? Perfect! 35? You must have a dream job! But stress and burnout don’t necessarily correlate with time spent working. It’s possible to work reasonable hours at your job and still feel overwhelmed. If your boss is demanding perfection, or the stakes feel too high, or you’re being pulled in a thousand directions at once, you’ll have a hard time taking care of yourself even if the job is part-time. A few years ago, I was put in charge of several projects at once at my job and it nearly destroyed me. I’d spend long hours with nothing to do, waiting for other people to finish tasks–and then five disasters would erupt at once and I wouldn’t know which fire to put out first. It was exhausting.
Obviously quitting or cutting back isn’t always an option. So how do you distance yourself from a job you can’t necessarily leave? Find little ways to steal your time and energy back. Read a book for 15 minutes in the parking lot before you go in for the day. Take the scenic route to lunch. If a meeting turns out to be pointless, journal instead of taking notes. If your job demands loyalty or brands itself as a family, don’t fall for it. You’re there for the money and you deserve your own life. Make your own headspace a sanctuary if you need to. Remind yourself that your job doesn’t own you.
Pursuing meaningful work, even if it doesn’t pay. Do you have hobbies? Causes you care about? What work fills you with joy? Knit a scarf. Blog. Go to a march. Do something that makes you proud.
Finding your passion. Speaking of meaningful work, wands corresponds to fire, which likewise corresponds to passion. What are you passionate about? Do you have time and space for it? If not, steal that time and space back. Camelia Elias writes in Marseille Tarot: Towards the Art of Reading that cups and coins bring us closer, while swords and wands create distance. Wands don’t create the same kind of distance that swords do, but they do encourage us to be firm with friends and loved ones when we need space to immerse ourselves in what we love. Maybe your friends really want you to get dinner with them, but you’ve got a writing project churning that you need to get down on paper. Beg off of dinner. Your friends will understand.
Practicing saying “no.” Part of a healthy work ethic is choosing which work you’ll do. Practice in front of a mirror if you have to. Say no to projects you can’t take on, invitations you don’t want to accept, so-called obligations that you’re guilted into. Recognize when you tend to be a martyr.
Tending to your muscular and digestive systems. Are you exercising? What’s a quick exercise you can do right now? (Usually, between work and parenting and keeping the house clean, all I have time for is a 60-second plank pose before bed to keep my back from going out, but it’s something.) How are your eating habits? Can you get something healthy in you? If you’re getting frequent stomachaches, tension headaches, or sore muscles, pay attention to them. Often I don’t realize how stressed and anxious I am until a “mysterious” headache descends upon me.
Getting a massage. Massages are a healing modality, not a luxury. If your muscles are rocks and you’re strapped for cash and time, see if you can find a dollar-a-minute option somewhere or ask a friend to rub your shoulders. Acupuncture is another good option which may even be covered under your health insurance, if you’ve got it.
Your turn! Meditate on the Queen of Wands. What ideas come to you?
Next up, our final queen: the Queen of Coins. Spoiler alert–retail therapy isn’t always a bad thing.