I love this week’s spread so much because it’s so crystal clear.
We have the forceful, thrusting, aggressive energy of the Knight of Swords juxtaposed with the tranquil, restorative feminine energy of the Six of Wands on the right. Sandwiched directly between the two is Temperance; the ultimate balance and integration card.
At the most basic level, this spread asks that you pause to take a look at the areas of your life that feel out of balance. Imbalance could look like lack of fulfillment, stagnation, or frustration. Take a closer look at the way you approach each situation, and adjust appropriately.
Are you exhausted from working way too much in a job you don’t like? Or drained from pushing someone to give you something that they’re not willing or able to give? This week’s spread says that if you’re applying force and getting nowhere, it’s time to reassess. Remember that your energy is your currency. You use it to acquire resources, to build relationships, and to otherwise ensure that your basic needs are met. Don’t squander it.
Alternately, are you coming out of a period of excess passivity? Maybe you’ve spent the last several months or years coasting in a situation that is easy and comfortable but unfulfilling. Or perhaps you have an addictive habit that you’ve been hoping would go away on its own. For each and every realm of your life that matters—work, health, family, romantic relationships, creative projects, friendships—now is a good time to try asking:
Does the way I’m approaching this situation feel more aggressive or passive?
Is the way I’ve been approaching things moving me closer to or further away from what matters most to me?
Which approach—aggressive or passive—would probably be most conducive to bringing me closer toward what matters?
Ideally we’d ask ourselves these questions every day and we’d never waste an ounce of energy. But in real life, we just don’t. It’s important that you carve out some time to take a pause for checks and balances now, and that you be willing to do what it takes to adjust according to your true priorities.
Last week, I wrote about being thirty five different things at once and making zero apologies. In some ways, this week’s reading presents a road map for how exactly this is done.
There are only 24 hours in a day and when you have 24 different interests competing for attention, how do you divide your time? The temperance card speaks to the process of mixing and matching and constant willingness to stay tweaking the formula that is your life to adjust to the changing conditions that surround you.
Allow yourself the freedom to oscillate between the activities that best address your needs at any time; whether those needs be financial, creative, interpersonal, or otherwise. Remember, you are under no obligation to pick one thing or even two, and stay there. Do what works now, and when it stops working, change. Life is a living document. Be ever willing to make revisions.
By the way, do not expect any sense of balance you achieve to last long. This is what life is; a constant shifting in to and out of balance. Trust that the moment you catch your balance, something or someone will arrive to shake things up again. The sooner you accept that life is a perpetual cycle of catching your balance and losing it, the sooner you’ll find you have the space to get good at navigating and maneuvering through change.
There are also some really cool insights about making “mistakes” tucked inside the Temperance card. I personally believe that there are no true mistakes in life but for our purposes today we’ll use the word mistake to describe a dead-end situation that creates distance between you and what matters.
In order to bring the many aspects of your self into balance—your vastly obscure and random creative projects; your often conflicting interpersonal obligations; your visions for the future, and so forth—this week’s spread says that you need to get very, very comfortable making mistakes.
Honestly, if you’re not making mistakes what are you even doing?
It takes courage and skill to make mistakes and to not let your perceived failures define or totally derail you. Get so good at making mistakes that you start to identify them quickly and move forward without much sustained injury or damage.
A natural perk of acquiring mistake-making skills is that qualities like non-attachment, self-compassion, and flexibility are cultivated automatically throughout the process; and these are the ingredients for a life well-lived. Allow yourself the space to fuck up—time, and time, and time again. When you can fail fast and recover rapidly, you boost the odds that you’ll succeed sooner.
As you take those initial actions to dig yourself out of a mistake, the Six of Wands asks, “what has this mistake taught you?” Tucked inside of the pain or discomfort that told you something wasn’t right, there is rich data about who you are at the core of your being. You may have realized that you don’t want to do a particular type of work; or discovered that you have work to do around having better boundaries; or that you’d like a lover who truly sees you because the last one never did and it was painful.
In letting go of something—whether it is the moment you realize you’ve made a mistake, or later on down the line—you’ve chosen to transform, rather than stay the same. You will never again be just as you were before you made that mistake; it has taught you something that you can’t un-know. Something that you’ll carry with you forever. Letting go takes a certain type of mental muscle and when you practice doing it that mental muscle gains strength—which means you’ll relate differently and hold less tightly to the world moving forward. Knowing how to let go is a super power.