The journey of self-care requires hard work, compassion, and finding a balance between challenging oneself and giving oneself generous rest. Like all journeys, there will be ups and downs. This process happens within the self, and therefore is vastly different for everyone, so the solutions to these “downs” are difficult to identify. To help me encourage my fellow Millsies to feel more empowered on their journey, I asked my tarot cards about what advice I could give. My question for my cards this issue is: what should we keep in mind for self-care?
The cards that I pulled from left to right are: Four of Cups, Five of Wands and Queen of Pentacles. Let us begin our introspection.
The Four of Cups shows us three young women, Psyche and her two ugly sisters. The sister on the right is dressed in red, while the sister on the left is dressed in black. A columned building behind the women overlooks their discussion. Ahead of the women are four golden cups that only Psyche is looking at. What we see are Psyche’s shadow selves, spite and jealousy, filling Psyche’s ears. She is looking longingly at the four golden cups, but remains seated between her sisters, listening to their promptings of doubt, and questioning her partner’s true form. Behind the three sisters is the palace of Eros, whom Psyche has married. Although the bride lives lavishly and is visited nightly by her husband, her sisters whisper to Psyche that her husband must in fact be a monster; otherwise, why would he conceal his identity and visit only at night?
This card represents the conflict with our shadow self. When we feel spite or jealousy, these feelings are often pointing to an underlying, growing issue. This growing insecurity or doubt is related to inner conflict and darker feelings such as anger and fear. This card indicates that on an inner level, we ourselves know that something is wrong and is not being dealt with. Though these feelings can seem negative, they are in fact positive encouragement to deal with the underlying problem that is causing such unease. These feelings force us to be more honest with ourselves about our wants, needs and limitations. In this way, we must force ourselves to admit that when we do not listen to these feelings, we cheat ourselves out of true happiness. We must look more deeply at our feelings and use them as guides for what we truly need. This allows previous assumptions or fantasies to be laid to rest, and allows us to identify and receive our true happiness.
Next in our spread is the Five of Wands. Here we meet Jason, who battles a dragon for the golden fleece. For those who do not remember Jason, he is a hero on the quest to claim his throne by reclaiming the golden fleece for his kingdom. In this card, we also see Jason’s lover Madea standing with him as he fights. She serves not only as his guide, but as his lover.
What we can infer from this card is the representation of struggle. The dream of being king collides with the reality that the obstacle of a dragon stands in Jason’s way. Dreams can sometimes be challenged by the less glamourous reality we must fight. The greatest challenge for any individual is the battle of the self, and here we see Jason fighting for his dream in an earthly battle. Be it in the form of money troubles, insufficient skill, the ailments of our bodies, or the dilemma of choosing where to compromise in our creativity, this card represents the concrete and tangible battle ahead of us. The obstacle might be as big and mighty as a dragon, but without fighting this dragon, we can not attain our dream. There are some obstacles that simply can not be avoided. Medea is necessary for this card, for as she stands in support of Jason, she signifies both intuition and inner wisdom. We know that it can require more than just persistence to overcome our obstacles, and that we must be intuitive when choosing the right time to act.
This card represents the struggle of an individual chasing a dream while hampered by the reality of material limitations. These limitations are important to keep in mind, for we must battle with them in order to make our dreams come true. We may have to make compromises, but by protecting the essence of our dreams, we can see them come to fruition.
The last card in our spread is the Queen of Pentacles. In this card, we meet the queen Omphale, who appears to us on her throne holding a pentacle in one hand and grapes in another. Behind the queen, we see cows grazing in a healthy field. Omphale has inherited her kingdom from her late husband. Ruling alone, Queen Omphale is pragmatic as well as powerful. Under her rule, the kingdom remains healthy and abundant. At one point, Omphale is offered a nameless slave who later she discovers is Heracles, a greek hero known for his strength. Having been known to be dressed in a lion’s pelt, Heracles sheds the pelt to Omphale and instead begins to wear adornments of the kingdom. The two become lovers and the hero is adored, and tamed by the queen’s love. He spends his time in her lush home, being doted on by the queen and her servants. In one instance, when the two come across the god Pan in some vineyards, the queen manages to trick the god. Pan declares his love for Omphale, so to stay loyal to her lover, she asks that Heracles switch clothes with her for the night. When Pan sneaks into their encampment and tries to assault Omphale in her sleep, he finds Heracles in her clothes instead. The angry lover kicks Pan clear across the vineyards, and Omphale laughs with Heracles through the night.
Omphale signifies the image of inner strength and sensuality. With an allure powerful enough to tame even Heracles, she rules a kingdom alone, and does a fantastic job. The intuition within ourselves is our greatest attribute, and since that is what Omphale trusts the most, she is a powerful ruler. Omphale is an example of how we must treat ourselves. Although she has faced obstacles, the queen refuses to settle and treats herself as she does her own kingdom. She shows us that with diligence and inner wisdom, we are capable of anything.
This card also represents the value of our bodies. It emphasizes the importance of satisfying our own pleasures and preserving our own lives. Like Omphale, we must strive to be self-sufficient and hard-working, as well as generous with our own indulgences when it suits our purpose.
We can see how much encouragement is in this spread! Although we might have to face some tough battles on our journey to self-care, including some that may be all too dragon-like, we are capable of not just persevering, but thriving. In our inner conflicts, we must remember to honor our feelings to pursue their roots and explore our needs. For our outer conflicts, we must remember to pursue integrity with our actions and trust our intuition on when we should act. Overall, this spread reminds us that when we listen to our needs and stand firm in our decisions, we are capable of being strong and worthy of our own self-love.
To honor self-love, I wanted to combine inner conflict with the outer conflict of self-love by challenging both! The best way I thought of to do this is with a gratitude shower. This is a slow physical honoring of our bodies full of mental intent. Below I have provided the recipe for a shower satchel that diffuses as we steam. It’s my favorite way to take some time for myself!
The recipe is as follows:
Makes 2 satchels
- 1 ¼ cups dried and crushed lavender flowers
- ½ cup dried lemon verbena leaves, crushed
- ½ cup dried rose geranium leaves or rose petals, crushed
- 2 tablespoons fixative
Using a glass bowl, add the fixative to the crushed herbs and flowers. Split in half and wrap in colorful 10×10 inch pieces of fabric, gathered with lace or twine.