Tarot Spread: What Does my Mind Need?

I’ve already shared a tarot spread to help connect with your body and its unique needs and wants. With the new year well upon us and all the stress that it can entail, this feels like a good time to give that same treatment to the mind! 

Now, full disclosure: I am much more familiar with physical challenges than mental ones. I’m pretty confident I have some undiagnosed sensory processing issues (I’m working on the whole diagnosis thing this year) and I am diagnosed with generalized anxiety. But I’ve had much more experience talking to doctors and peers about chronic pain and fatigue than I’ve had talking to doctors and peers about mental health conditions or neurodivergence (ND). As the blog continues to find its footing, my plan is to interview witches with all manner of disabilities, chronic illnesses, mental health conditions, and neurodivergences. But in the meantime, know that this is a very general mind-focused tarot spread, created by someone who’s operating in the overlap that we all share (in other words, that our brains and bodies function very differently than abled and/or neurotypical folks’ brains and bodies). And if there are ways that I could be doing better here, please do feel free to reach out and let me know! As I’ve said before, disability/ND is an enormous category that covers a dizzying variety of conditions and limitations. I want this to be a space for all of us to come together and share our challenges and the resourceful ways we might address those challenges. 

With that gigantic disclaimer out of the way, let’s take a look at the spread of the day! 

THE SPREAD

As in the case of our body needs tarot spread, first take a few minutes to connect with your mind and your thoughts in whatever ways are comfortable/safe. A few possibilities: 

  • Set a timer for five minutes and free write, doing your best not to stop your pen, just writing down anything that comes to mind. You could also do this by recording a voice memo.
  • Spend a few moments outside or at a window, just noticing anything that catches your attention
  • Meditate in whatever way works best for you
  • Do an activity that is somewhat tactile and repetitive, like needlework, folding laundry, etc. As you go, pay attention to what thoughts and feelings arise
  • Talk to a friend or family member about whatever might be top of mind at the moment. 

Once you feel ready, grab your tarot deck, shuffle in whatever way you prefer, and lay out five cards in the following positions:

Image description: five rectangles representing tarot cards in a layout. The first card starts at the top left corner, the second directly across from it to the right. The third card is below the second, and the fourth is to the left of the third and directly underneath the first card. They form a square, and in the center of this square is the fifth and final card.
  1. What is weighing me down? (Fatigue, depression, burnout, etc.)
  2. What is overloading me? (Anxiety, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, etc.)
  3. What else is on my mind? 
  4. Who can I ask for help? 
  5. What gift can I give my mind today? 

As always, here is a sample of the spread that I did for myself. 

Image description: an example of the spread above is laid out on a purple altar cloth. The first card is the Page of Wands, represented by a young person with fiery red hair and a flame in their chest. The second is the Seven of Wands, depicted as a single axe growing from six other branches. The third card is the Four of Cups, which shows a person looking away indifferently from four cups. The fourth card is the King of Cups, depicted as an older person pouring a cup of tea invitingly. And the fifth and final card is the Four of Swords, represented by a person nude from the waist up meditating with four swords arrayed around them.

(Not my best work, photo-wise, but I was in a coffee shop. What can you do.) I used the Sasuraibito Tarot for this reading. 

What is weighing me down and what is overloading me? Both of my “what’s going on” positions at the top here have Wands, which is pretty interesting. I interpret that to mean that I’m pushing myself too hard to be creative and active when sometimes I need to let myself rest and recharge–not just from a physical standpoint, but a mental standpoint, too. Page of Wands weighing me down suggests that I’m trying to BE the Page of Wands–creative, sparky, always flitting from one idea to the next–but when I’m overwhelmed, this inspirational image of myself becomes heavy and makes me feel guilty that I’m not living up. And similarly, the Seven of Wands is spinning me into anxiety and overload because I’m trying so hard to be unique and prove to the world that what I have to offer is special and worthwhile. I don’t need to prove anything. 

What else is on my mind? We have Four of Cups, which is often a harbinger of apathy or boredom. Because I am currently focusing all my energy and time on this blog and my writing endeavors, there’s a fear lurking in the back of my mind that I’ll grow lethargic. I’ll rest on my laurels and let my creativity go stagnant. On a more positive note, this is a card that often pops up for my relationship with my partner E (not in a “this is a boring relationship which you’re apathetic about” way, but in a “we are each other’s comfortable places” way). It’s a good, warm, affirming relationship, and the fact that it’s on my mind is a bright spot to focus on. 

Who can I ask for help? Sometimes this can bring up more of an abstract suggestion, like “here’s the type of person you might need to reach out for” or even “here’s an energy you need to cultivate in yourself.” In this case, though, my cards gave me a very concrete answer: for me, the King of Cups is always, always my dad. I unfortunately can’t go directly to him, being that he is an ancestor and not a tangible person in my day-to-day. But I haven’t done any tarot readings specifically for him recently, so this might be a nudge that he’d have insight to share if I intentionally opened the line of communication. 

What gift can I give my mind today? Again, this is a dang clear response from the cards: Four of Swords means REST. Rest is not the same thing as apathy or lethargy, and in fact it is intentional rest (both physically and mentally) that gives me the oomph to keep doing the creative things. Also, Four of Swords is another ancestor card for me; my dad’s dad, Grampa Bennie, likes to use this card to say hello. Could be another reminder that ancestor work is a space for rest and reconnecting, too. But most importantly, I need to stop seeing rest as a fail state and instead see it as important and productive. And just because I’m not physically exerting myself, I may not be resting my mind, too. That is equally important. 

As in the case of the “what does my body need” spread, if you draw a blank as you look at your cards, consider jotting down some notes or taking a picture of the spread. Things may click later on, and you’ll want something to refer back to at that time. And feel free to drop questions or spread-related thoughts in the comments–I’d love to chat! 

And meanwhile HOLY HECK MY BOOK COMES OUT IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS! I’ve heard pre-orders have started going out already, so now is a great time to order your copy!

Tarot Spread: What Does my Mind Need? Ru-Lee Story

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://ruleestory.com/2023/01/28/tarot-spread-what-does-my-mind-need/

Fundamentals: What Tools Do I Have?

One of my absolute favorite witchy movies (and actually, one of my absolute favorite movies of any category) is Practical Magic. If you haven’t seen it, highly recommend. Near the end of the movie (no major spoilers here, promise!) the main characters are trying to pull together a rag-tag coven of ordinary women. They’re asked to each bring a broom with them. One of the ladies blows in, triumphantly holds a Dirt Devil above her head, and queries, “Is this okay? It’s all I had!” 

As much as this moment is played for comedy, I’ve come to appreciate it as a moment of witchy resourcefulness, too. (Though tragically, she doesn’t end up using the Dirt Devil in the spell–they loan her a broom like cowards.) Many of us can remember reading our first witchcraft book or attending our first metaphysical event and feeling overwhelmed at the number of tools, accessories, and trinkets you can use in your practice. From wands and athames to candles and crystals to herbs and oils, there’s an unbelievable amount of paraphernalia out there. But if you’re just starting out, or you don’t have much space to store lots of tools, or if you’re in a living situation where you have to keep your witchcraft closeted, or you don’t have money to spare on fancy tools…it can feel like there’s an awful lot of prerequisites to being a witch. (And I probably don’t need to say it, but many of us in the disabled and neurodivergent [ND] community struggle with space, money, and/or living conditions…so that describes a lot of us.) 

In previous Fundamentals posts, I’ve discussed why witchcraft should be accessible, and how to consider your capacities and limitations. Today’s post (you may have guessed) is all about tools. What tools do you have? What tools do you need or want? And what tools can you create–not just physical tools, but quick, accessible shortcuts to make spells and rituals more manageable for yourself? 

Let’s dive in. 

HAVE, NEED, WANT

Brace yourself, we’re making another list. As always, this doesn’t have to be a physical list. It could be a bullet point list of scribbled notes on your phone or laptop. It could be a voice memo. It could even just be quiet time and your own thoughts. Whatever works best for you. 

First of all, think about what witchy tools you already have. Maybe you picked up a wand. Maybe you have a handful of carefully-collected crystals. Maybe you have a gorgeous notebook that you’d like to use as your book of shadows. These are all somewhat conventional magical tools, but make sure to think about tools that seem mundane at first glance, too. I do a lot of witchy needlework, so I could include all of my cross stitch supplies, for example. You might use a sketchbook to create sigils, so that sketchbook and any drawing supplies would count. Basically, any object you own that you use to enhance, channel, or inspire your witchy practice should be part of this list. 

Now then. Shift to considering all of those shiny, beautiful witchy tools you’ve seen in your local metaphysical store window. Or that list of “must-have tools for beginners” in your Wicca book. Think about what tools you might need or want. Now, at the end of the day, you don’t need most (if any) witchy tools to do magic. Intention is the most important thing, and you can direct that with words, focused thoughts, and/or movement. But there are tools that might feel particularly necessary for the flavors of magic you’re most interested in. If tea magic seems like the perfect method for you, you will need a teapot or water heater, mugs or cups of some sort, and at least one or two types of tea. If candle magic feels like your scene, you’ll need a few candles and either matches or a lighter. Etc. These are the types of items to put on your “need” list–any object you don’t currently own that would significantly impact your magical practice for the better. 

For the final category, list any object that would just be really nice to have, but wouldn’t necessarily have a huge impact on your practice. I don’t need yet another tarot deck, but boy that one deck is gorgeous and I’d love to have it. I don’t need amethyst for my altar, but it is my birthstone and an amplifier for magical workings. I don’t need this print of my patron deity, but it is from one of my favorite etsy artists. You get the picture. Having witchy accessories to sprinkle through your life, while not necessary, can be incredibly fun and affirming. And this is just a wishlist, so you can feel free to make it as extravagant or exhaustive as you’d like! 

CREATIVE SUBSTITUTES

For the moment, focus on your “need” list. Are there items that could sub in for the witchy objects you’ve listed? (A Dirt Devil instead of a broomstick, for example?) I’ve talked about this before, but I use battery-operated candles in place of regular candles most of the time because of my spouse’s fragrance/smoke sensitivities. You might create a google drive folder or document to function as a book of shadows instead of a physical notebook. Maybe one of your kitchen knives could play the role of ceremonial athame. (Or a spoon instead of a wand! That’d be thematically appropriate, wouldn’t it?) There are apps with virtual tarot decks if you can’t currently afford a physical one. And so on. 

If you can’t think of any pre-existing alternatives, would it be possible for you to make one? A medium-sized stick can be decorated with ribbon, beads, etc. to create a wand. A stone gathered from your backyard can be infused with energy and purpose just as well as a polished crystal. A cloth napkin can be embroidered upon, and presto, you have an altar cloth. It might not have the same sparkly “but new pretty tool though!” vibe, but it will work–and more importantly, you’ll have it accessible and ready for witchy doings, instead of just wistfully staring at it through a shop window or a computer screen. Obviously your mileage may vary if, for instance, fine motor skills are a challenge for your particular body or brain. But it’s definitely an avenue to at least consider when you’re assembling your list. 

You can go through this same process for your “want” list, though you might want to prioritize the “need” items–at least a few of them. The “want” list is a good one to circulate for gift ideas, or to turn into an online wishlist. The “need” list might be something to save up spoons for if you’re making items, or to save money for if you’re purchasing. 

MENTAL TOOLS

Not all tools are physical, tangible items. You can create mental tools–behaviors and activities that make the processes of magic easier and/or more accessible for yourself. I like to think of this as magical shorthand: you are building a language of magic and symbology that is meaningful to you. 

Here’s an example I absolutely love (and not JUST because it comes to me from one of my partners). For each of their loved ones, E selects a special crystal or stone to be that person’s. They keep these crystals on their altar most of the time, but if they want to feel their loved ones’ support more tangibly on any given day (especially since many of E’s people are long-distance!) they can put their stone in their pockets or bag and carry that person’s love with them. And if they wanted to do a spell for someone specific, they could use that person’s stone in the spell as an anchor of sorts. Outside of the initial energy of acquiring/selecting/programming the Right Stone, this is a super low-spoon option for invoking someone’s presence! And you could do this with anyone or any energy you wanted. Program a special stone or crystal for a deity you work with often, or an archetype like Empress energy, or an ancestor! 

The possibilities for these sorts of shorthands are endless. If you aren’t sure where to start, think about magical activities that you often get tripped up on, that seem to drain more energy than you’d prefer, or that are frequent parts of larger rituals/spells. Grounding might be a good starting place, for example–where an abled/neurotypical witch might be able to spend 5-10 minutes meditating in silence before moving on to a spell or ritual, a disabled or ND witch might be exhausted by trying to focus that hard for that long. Maybe your grounding shorthand could be putting a hand over your heart and taking three deep breaths. Maybe it could be doing a specific stretch you reserve for grounding. Maybe it could be opening a window and getting a breath of fresh air. You get the idea!

Creating sacred space is another action that many spells and rituals begin with–casting a circle, inviting in deities/ancestors/spirits, etc. You don’t have to walk the perimeter with a broomstick if that’s Too Much for you physically or mentally. Maybe you sit in the center of the circle and trace out the perimeter with your pointer finger. Maybe you visualize a bright white bubble expanding out from your heart, protecting the space you’ll be working. Maybe you have a tangible item that usually lives on your altar, like a larger stone/crystal, a small statue, etc. that you bring into your working space and set in the center to signify sacred space. 

Here are a few more common witchy actions that you might want to create magical shorthand for! Obviously this list is not exhaustive by any means–it is merely a starting place.

  • Protection (sending it to others, invoking it for yourself)
  • Attraction (calling in some sort of energy and anchoring it to yourself)
  • Blessings (sending them to others, invoking them for yourself)
  • Energy (building for spellcraft, directing it towards someone or something)
  • Healing (it can be especially helpful to create shorthand for your common symptoms/triggers! For example, I have a special sigil I created for fibromyalgia flare-ups, which I draw on my wrist when I’m flaring)
  • Release (letting go of something that no longer serves you) 

If you want a ready-made set of mental tools and self-care actions based around the tarot, look no further than my upcoming book, Your Tarot Toolkit! We are SO CLOSE to February 8th, which is release day! But you can go ahead and pre-order it here.

Tarot Spread: What Does my Mind Need? Ru-Lee Story

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://ruleestory.com/2023/01/28/tarot-spread-what-does-my-mind-need/

Imbolc for the Spoonie

I ended up having to take a few weeks’ break after the chaos of holiday travel and a visiting long-distance sweetheart, so my apologies for the radio silence! I’d like to dedicate the first post of the year to Imbolc, which will be upon us at the beginning of February. Imbolc marks the transition from winter to spring. It’s the time for airing out the stuffiness of winter, making space for new plans and projects, and for many, honoring the goddess Brigid. 

I am comparatively new to the deity work aspect of witchcraft, but I like the idea of using a sabbat to honor Something. No matter if that Something is a specific deity, an archetype, a general energy, or even something within yourself. Brigid has many associations, from the maiden/mother/crone cycle to childbirth to flame and water. But given her many connections to nurturing energy, now is the perfect time to honor any form of nurturing presence in our lives. Some might call this presence the divine feminine, and if that resonates with you, that’s a good energy to work with! But this energy exists in all of us–femmes, mascs, and those of us outside the binary, too. So I prefer to take a leaf from my favorite tarot deck, Cedar McCloud’s Numinous Tarot, and call this energy “nurturing” instead of “feminine.” 

As disabled and neurodivergent (ND) folks, it can be hard or even impossible to make time, space, and energy for rejuvenating activities. We’re doing good just to get the bare necessities done! But when we are able to, even every now and then, we should try to take care of ourselves. Not just in the sense that we “take care of” our daily needs, but truly taking care of ourselves the way a loving parent or significant other might. It’s become a stereotype at this point, but we all deserve the occasional self-care moment of taking a bubble bath or getting a massage. And the beginning of spring feels like an apt moment to indulge, to shake off the drudgery of the winter months (especially for those of us who struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder!) and refresh ourselves for the spring. 

So to celebrate Imbolc, let’s choose an indulgent activity that feels manageable/achievable, and dedicate it to a nurturing, rejuvenating energy greater than us. 

PREPARATION

First of all, think about what sorts of things recharge you. I don’t mean baseline necessities like sleep or food. I mean those activities that feel like a gift you give yourself. This will be different for everyone! A few obvious options include the above self-care measures (taking a bath, massage, etc.) but you might prefer an hour curled up with an excellent book. You might feel refreshed after getting coffee with a loved one. The two biggest factors to consider when selecting your activity are 1) is this something you don’t get to do as often as you like? And 2) is this something that recharges your inner batteries? Obviously you do need to think about the practicalities, too–perhaps a trip to the beach would refresh you, but if that’s cost/time/energy prohibitive, that shouldn’t be the activity you pick. And if your activity is one of those things that you sometimes but not always have the energy for (for instance, going to get coffee with a friend might be impossible for me in the grip of a fibro flare-up), I recommend having a lower-key activity in mind as a backup (mine might be taking an epsom salt bath at home could work). 

Once you’ve got an activity picked out, the next step is to decide what or who to dedicate the activity to. If you already work with a deity who has a nurturing, reassuring presence for you, then this is easy. (I’m a devotee of Hestia, who certainly fits the bill, for instance!) If you don’t typically work with deities, or if your patron deities aren’t quite the warm and fuzzy sorts, you can always work with Brigid. Here is an excellent overview of Brigid, her associations, and her evolution as a deity. 

Personally, though, I don’t like to call on deities that I haven’t already worked with a bit. I wouldn’t show up at a stranger’s house and dedicate an activity to them or ask for their aid. I like to at least introduce myself first. If that’s the case for you, too, broaden your scope a bit. Rather than choosing a specific deity, you might choose an energy. The divine feminine could work, or just “the energy of love” or something on that order. If you work with tarot cards, you could pull out the Empress or the Queen of Cups–I often use tarot cards to evoke certain energies or archetypes in my spellwork. 

If none of these options feel Right to you, one final option is to simply dedicate your activity to your inner nurturer. That aspect of you may be hidden, quiet, or tamped down from years of having to put on a brave face, just survive, etc. But they are in there, in one form or another, and this is a great opportunity to reach out to them and thank them for all they do. 

THE ACTIVITY

Choose a time and space where you can be as focused as possible. This doesn’t require solitude or silence–maybe your activity needs to take place somewhere public, for example, or you focus better with music playing–but it does need minimal distractions. Young kiddos and animals (who aren’t directly involved in your chosen activity!) should probably be with someone else if possible. If you’re in public but alone, consider wearing headphones as much as you can–this tends to send the signal to passers-by that you prefer to not be disturbed. If you’re with a loved one, ask that device usage is kept to a minimum. You get the idea! 

Before you begin the activity you’ve chosen, take a moment to get grounded. If you can, put your hands over your heart. Close your eyes if that helps you focus. Speak the following words, either silently to yourself, aloud, or via sign language: 

As the new season pokes up from the ground like a new seedling, 

So, too, do I stretch and shake off the winter months. 

I take this time for myself, to renew and refresh for the months ahead. 

I dedicate this time to (insert your chosen deity or energy here), in gratitude for the care I am given, 

And I ask for support as I begin anew. Remind me to care for myself as I do now. 

If giving offerings is your thing, you may give an offering to your chosen deity or energy. For Hestia, I tend to use olive oil, lavender flowers, and barley, but it’s relatively easy to look up any specific deity’s preferred offerings. In a pinch, I’ll use tea leaves or coffee grounds as an all-purpose offering–this could work well if you’re dedicating to an energy rather than someone in particular. You can even just write a few words of gratitude on a slip of paper and offer that!

From here, you simply do whatever activity you have chosen. Simple enough, right? Do make an effort to stay mindful throughout the activity. When your mind inevitably wanders, gently bring it back to enjoying whatever small luxury you’re giving yourself. But don’t berate yourself for losing your focus, either! Ideally you want to be focused enough to bask in your self-care, but not to the point that it’s taking away from the enjoyment. 

When you’re finished, give one more round of thanks to your chosen deity or energy. It can be as simple as, “I thank you, (deity or energy), for your assistance today.” But you can also just speak from the heart here, and say whatever comes to mind. If it feels right, you can also ask for insight on other ways to care for yourself. You may get an answer right then, or it might come to you later. If you do ask for insight, keep your eyes and mind open to what may surface. 

Imbolc blessings to all of you, my dears! May your spring bring renewed energy, focus, and an easing of any symptoms that might be plaguing you. Any new projects or plans that you’re hoping to work on in the coming months? I’d love to hear about them in the comments, as well as what activities you choose for self-care! 

(Audio version of this post coming soon!)

Tarot Spread: What Does my Mind Need? Ru-Lee Story

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://ruleestory.com/2023/01/28/tarot-spread-what-does-my-mind-need/

Book Review: Tarot in Love

The publisher of my upcoming book, Llewellyn, was kind enough to send me several tarot and witchy books to review here on the blog! I decided to start with Tarot in Love: Consulting the Cards in Matters of the Heart by Elliot Adam, which will hit shelves on January 8th. I don’t actually do love-focused readings all that often–my readings tend to focus more on self-improvement, self-esteem, that sort of thing. But right off the bat, I appreciated Adam’s approach to reading tarot for love. “More than anything, tarot helps you see yourself,” he writes. Although you may be pulling cards to answer questions about your relationship or your desire for a relationship, ultimately you’ll receive insight for you and how you navigate your relationship (or your search for one). That shift in focus immediately piqued my interest in doing love-related tarot readings, because it aligns with the way I tend to read in the first place. And Adam’s book makes for a fantastic companion for love readings, because he provides a whole range of angles and nuances for each card, depending on what flavor of romance you’re sampling. 

Image description: Ru-Lee Story, a nonbinary person with blue-green eyes and spectacles, smiles at the camera while holding an advanced reader copy of Tarot in Love by Elliot Adam.

Clearly I’m a fan of this book and Adam’s writing, but let’s dive into the pros and cons in more detail, with a particular eye for reading this book as a spoonie witch! 

PROS

As I’ve already mentioned, Adam really digs into each card’s potential significance for a host of romantic situations. For every card entry, he describes what it could mean if you’re in a new relationship, in a long-term partnership, and if you’re seeking romance. Additionally, you can find information about what a card might mean for desires and intimacy. Then he goes through the same series of approaches for the card’s reversal. And THEN there’s a passage for what the card may be teaching you, outside of (or in addition to) its romantic possibilities. 

I adore this level of granularity. It’s not often that a tarot book provides eleven different facets of each card. And several times I found myself appreciating a new aspect of a card or a series of cards, something I’d never considered before. For example, Adam notes that cards that depict armored characters (such as the Chariot or many of the court cards) can point to someone more guarded, someone who might take additional time to open up to a loved one or a new flame. I’d never really thought about the significance of armor in the traditional tarot illustrations (though admittedly I don’t tend to use the original Rider-Waite deck much) and it’s a nuance that I will absolutely be carrying into my future readings. 

Speaking of things I’d never considered, Adam includes a section on what it might mean if you encounter a cluster of same-numbered cards in a reading (for example, if you pull the four of Swords, the four of Wands, and the four of Cups in the same reading). I’ve read plenty of tarot books that discuss the significance of pulling several cards in the same suit (for instance, several cards in the Pentacles suit), but I’ve never seen the same attention paid to clusters of identical numbers. (In the previous example, Adam writes that multiple fours can be a call to focus on reestablishing stability on your life.) Again, this is an element I’d never given much thought to, and Adam’s insight is something I’m excited to incorporate.

From an accessibility standpoint, this book could make a great reference guide if you’re looking to do quick, low-energy tarot readings for love. Let’s say you’re just starting a new relationship and you want to do a reading for the future of the connection. If you’re low on spoons, you could pull a single card, find that card’s entry in the book, and read the brief paragraph on what that card means for your nascent relationship. If you’re up for a bit more detail, you could read the whole entry for the card to deepen your understanding of its many facets. Or if you’re feeling ambitious and have the energy and time, you could do one of the more involved spreads in the back of the book, taking the time to look up each card in the spread and what it could mean for you. I love how approachable the book makes these readings, allowing you to do a meaningful reading with insightful guidance no matter how much (or little) energy you’re able to give at the moment. 

CONS

I really can’t think of many cons for this book, if I’m honest! The only caveat I would give is to treat Tarot in Love as a reference material, not necessarily a guide to read cover-to-cover. The intros for each section are worth looking through outside of a tarot reading. I guarantee you’ll find insight that you hadn’t considered before, as I did with the multiple-numbers-in-a-spread section. But beyond that, my suggestion would be to keep this book on hand and flip to the entries for the cards you’ve pulled in a love reading. Trying to read it cover-to-cover all in a row can get a bit information-overload-y. Which isn’t really a con–I truly love how much detail and nuance Adam packs into each card’s section! But they can start to blur together if you read too many of them one after the other, and that’s coming from someone who doesn’t usually struggle with focus or information processing. 

SAMPLE READING

Because I don’t usually dip into love readings, I decided to finish off this review by attempting the largest spread in the book. The Celtic lovers’ knot calls for eighteen cards, nine for you and nine for your partner. If I tried to do a detailed writeup of the whole reading, it would be a blog post unto itself. But I’ve included my scribbled notes below, and I’ve broken out one of the pairings (for cards 5 and 6) for a bit more detail. Also, I could not take a picture of this spread. It was too big. I actually ended up moving twice as I laid out cards–once from my spot on the couch where I usually do small spreads, then from the table to the floor because my table still wasn’t big enough for all the cards! And my floor is a bit, um, cluttered (thanks, chronic pain condition) so I didn’t want to curse you with visual evidence. 

Image description: A page of Tarot in Love with a tarot spread layout. There are eighteen cards, laid out in pairs one on top of the other.

In this reading I referred to my partner as “E” to maintain their privacy. I am polyamorous, and while I’ve been with my spouse for seven years now, my relationship with E is newer–we’ve only been dating for a few months. I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to do a more nitty-gritty reading for us and our potential.  

CELTIC LOVERS’ KNOT

  1. Me in the present: Temperance–I need to learn to balance (especially with having two partners!). I’m not perfect at it yet, but I’m on my way.
  2. E in the present: Five of Swords–They are isolated to some extent from a recent falling out (due to complicated family stuff, hiding aspects of identity, etc.) 
  3. Currently on my mind: Two of Coins–I need to manage fluctuating circumstances, but I am working towards finding that balance (this reinforces what card 1 said!) 
  4. Currently on E’s mind: Nine of Coins–They are learning to find joy in self-sufficiency and enjoying the abundance they’ve worked hard to cultivate. Again there’s synergy with card 2, though this is the positive side of independence and solitude. 
  5. Present foundation: Four of Wands–I am celebrating accomplishments and stopping to enjoy the bounty. I’ve recently had successes and transitions, including but not limited to beginning my relationship with E, so my current space is growing out of joyful and proud roots.
  6. E’s present foundation: Four of Coins–They might be clinging to resources (perhaps particularly resources of affection and love, since they had to deny themself a lot of that pleasure up until recently). Also, though, there’s an aspect of knowing what to hold onto and honor in a positive way. Sidebar, we have two fours in this pairing, which the book notes can point to re-establishing stability, perhaps by developing new routines. E and I are both working to develop new routines with each other and with other partners, so this is bang on. 
Image Description: Two tarot cards from the Last Unicorn Tarot. On the left is the Four of Wands, which shows Robin Hood and Maid Marian walking hand-in-hand. On the right is the Four of Coins, which shows Mommy Fortuna holding one of the four coins.

I used the Last Unicorn Tarot for my reading, because E and I share a love for stories and especially fantasy. 

  1. My past: Three of Wands–I’ve achieved much, but I haven’t necessarily acknowledged a lot of those successes.This actually suggests progress to me, though, given that my present foundation is about celebrating accomplishments! 
  2. E’s past: Four of Swords–They’ve needed a great deal of rest and time to recover from past traumas.
  3. My near future: Five of Wands–Conflict, likely internal. I’m guessing I’ll need to keep working on balancing all my plans against my body and mind’s needs. 
  4. E’s near future: Queen of Wands–Actualizing goals, cultivating meaningful and nourishing connections.
  5. Me in the next several months: Three of Coins–Teamwork! This makes me think of me, E, and my spouse, becoming closer and developing a family unit.
  6. E in the next several months: The Fool–Beginning a new journey (which will evidently be successful, based on card 10!)
  7. People who affect me outside of the relationship: King of Wands–This is the card that often pops up as Spouse’s card! They affect my relationship positively, encouraging my romance with E and developing their own close friendship with E.
  8. People who affect E outside of the relationship: Six of Cups–I always think of this as the nostalgia card, so it could point to immediate family to some extent. But Six of Cups also always gives me a “let’s form new memories together” vibe, so it could also suggest E’s other partners as well. 
  9. My feelings in the future: Knight of Cups–Capital-r Romantic!! 
  10. E’s feelings in the future: King of Coins–They’ll have the ability to manage emotional and energetic resources, and thus will feel a sense of mastery in balancing their relationships, their career, etc.
  11. My outcome: The Emperor–This is kind of similar to card 16 for E–I’ll be able to provide structure and foundation for the relationship.
  12. E’s outcome: Six of Wands–Confidence, celebration, and support from others. 

Thanks again to Llewellyn for sending me this ARC! For anyone who does a lot of romantic tarot readings, spoonie or no, I can absolutely recommend Tarot in Love. I’m definitely going to have to pick up Adam’s first book, Fearless Tarot, and give it a read as well! 

And if you want to see more short-form reviews (as well as other tarot and witchy content) please follow me on instagram

Tarot Spread: What Does my Mind Need? Ru-Lee Story

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://ruleestory.com/2023/01/28/tarot-spread-what-does-my-mind-need/

Holiday Health Tarot Spread

Even if you’re abled and neurotypical, the holidays can bring a lot of stress with them. Travel, shopping, family drama, etc. And if you’re disabled or neurodivergent (ND), all that stress can be exponentially more impactful. Travel is physically demanding and can be mentally overstimulating. Shopping means extra expenses, organizing, wrapping, and shipping. And family drama can be all the harder to navigate if, for example, you tend to go nonverbal in the face of conflict, or if you have a family member who’s especially ableist. This isn’t to say that holidays can’t be wonderful, disabled, ND, or otherwise! Just that any challenges that might arise can be all the harder to manage when your body and/or brain work differently than the average body or brain. 

As you may have deduced, I really love tarot spreads that act as quick-ish check-ins. A 3-4 card spread doesn’t need to take too much time or energy. But it still gives you more details and context than pulling a single card. This spread is a holiday-specific check-in. It’s intended to give you a heads up about any possible speed bumps coming your way this season, how you might get over that speed bump with minimal jostling, and how you can care for yourself in the midst of a demanding time of year. As always, I’ll show you the spread itself, and then offer a sample reading so you get a sense of how it might play out. 

Image description: a tarot spread arranged to look like a gift box. There are three cards to the spread.
  1. What challenges might the holiday season present?
  2. What can I do to mitigate the challenge? 
  3. What gift can I give myself for the holidays? 
Image description: Three cards from the Next World Tarot, laid out in the spread described above. Card one is the Two of Wands. Card two is the King of Pentacles. Card three is the Three of Wands.

I used the Next World Tarot for my sample reading. I love this deck for its social justice-minded energy and its diverse range of characters depicted–definitely recommend checking it out! (Though if you have small hands like me, definitely grab the mini version. I have the full-sized deck and these cards are BIG.)

What challenges might the holiday season present? I drew the Two of Wands, which this deck also notes as “dominion” and “Mars in Aries.” I do a lot of traveling for the holidays. We go from my in-laws’ in one state to my mom’s in a neighboring state. It’s mostly wonderful to see everyone, but it’s definitely exhausting. I usually associate the Two of Wands with collaboration, and I wonder if this draw is pointing to the difficulty I have collaborating with my body. It’s easy for me to see my body as a ball and chain to drag about, when it would be much healthier and more constructive to see it as a well-meaning if sometimes-easily-overwhelmed ally. 

What can I do to mitigate the challenge? We have the King of Pentacles, which Next World subtitles as the Throne of Security. The Pentacles are all about resources–and not just financial resources, but emotional and energetic resources, as well. The Kings are all masters of navigating and allocating their respective areas of focus, so the King of Pents is someone who knows how to manage their resources wisely. I get this advice from my cards often, but here in particular it feels like a reminder to guard my energy fiercely and don’t be afraid to speak up when I and my body need a break. 

What gift can I give to myself for the holidays? Finally, I pulled Three of Wands, AKA “foresight” and (again) “Mars in Aries” in the Next World Tarot. The Three of Wands is a midway point on any journey, that place where you can see how far you’ve come and simultaneously how far you have yet to go. In my upcoming book, Your Tarot Toolkit, I call out the Three of Wands as an opportunity for pride. We don’t celebrate our accomplishments as often as we should, especially the disabled and ND among us. Often our accomplishments feel too small, too late, too different, etc. But we deserve to be proud of what we achieve, even if it’s as small-feeling as getting out of bed on a bad day. The gift I need to give myself this holiday season is pride in what I’ve achieved, no matter what that is. 

There you have it–three cards, three tiny insights that I can carry with me into my holiday travels. What about you? If you give this spread a try, I’d be honored to hear what challenges and gifts you come up with, and what insights you glean from your cards. And PS, if you tend to draw cards and think to yourself, “Okay, I understand what this basically means, but what do I DO with that information?” you will love my aforementioned book! It’s choc full of affirmations, reflection questions, and activities for every card in the deck so you can turn your daily draw into a self-care toolkit. Click here to preorderYour Tarot Toolkit hits shelves on February 8th! 

Holiday Health Tarot Spread Ru-Lee Story

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://ruleestory.com/2022/12/16/holiday-health-tarot-spread/

kofi

Yule for the Spoonie

Yule begins on December 21st, and of course it is side-by-side with several other winter holidays and festivities! No matter which holidays you celebrate at this time of year, no matter how or if you mark the occasion, this is a time of year that speaks to embracing and celebrating the light that our loved ones give to us, and giving them light in return. 

When I was thinking about how a disabled or neurodivergent (ND) witch might want to mark Yule’s arrival, I kept thinking about how my online fibromyalgia community uses spoon emojis and reaction stickers to send empathy and virtual hugs to fellow members going through a hard time. It’s almost a teeny-tiny digital spell: “I know you’re struggling, so I’m sending you an image (a sigil of sorts!) of something we in this community associate with energy and health.” This spell is written in that spirit as a way of sending out wishes for health, uplifting energy, focus, or just about anything your spoonie loved ones might need. 

A NOTE ON ETHICS

Before we dive in, I want to take a minute to talk about ethics of spellcasting. There are many opinions about the morality of casting spells for other people, particularly those who aren’t in the know. Some believe you should never do a spell for someone without express permission. Some think that as long as your spell isn’t altering anyone’s free will, it’s fine to cast for others whether they know you’re doing it or not. Some are willing to do spells for others under most circumstances. And there’s as many shades of these stances as there are witches. I’m not here to tell you what your personal code of ethics should be–that’s only for you to determine. But here’s a few things I always consider before casting for others: 

  • Are they also witchy? On the opposite end of the spectrum, are they staunchly AGAINST magic (e.g. of a religious faith that disallows the practice of magic)? 
  • Is the spell something passive (such as a general wish for good health) or is it something that could actively invite new energies into their life (such as a love spell)? 
  • Is this a type of magic that could impact their behavior or free will? 
  • Does this spell truly have the potential to benefit the recipient, or is it more of a spell intended for you? (e.g. “I want this annoying coworker out of my hair so I’ll do a spell for them to find a different job!”) 

There isn’t a value judgment on any one of these questions or their answers. But they do provide useful data in your personal decision on how to approach spellcasting. For instance, I tend not to do spells for people I know would be VERY against spellcasting for religious reasons. But there are exceptions–I’ll ask my patron deity and my ancestors to watch over my very-Lutheran grandparents. While they might feel weird about that if they knew, I think of it similarly to my grandparents praying for my health, even though I don’t believe in their god. There’s exceptions to every rule, which is why it’s important for you to start defining those edges for yourself. And you can always adjust your plans if you find your answers to the questions above leave you unsure. Maybe instead of doing a spell to banish a loved one’s bad ex, you might instead do a spell to help your loved one feel empowered. 

In the case of this spell, it’s a small good-health/kinder-mind sort of spell. But it could brush up against the person’s free will/behavior if, for instance, you’re casting for someone with mental health challenges or neurodivergence. And you are going to be sending these charms to the people you’re casting for, so one way or another they’ll know you did SOMETHING, even if they don’t know it’s magical in nature. My approach was to ask each recipient if they were okay with me casting this spell for them, and asking what area they’d like me to focus on. Does this have to be your approach? Nope! But again, make sure you’ve given these questions some thought before you start the spell proper. 

Phew! That was a lot. Let’s get to casting, shall we? 

THE SPELL

Things you will need: 

  • Something to represent darkness and something to represent light (dark stone and light stone, one candle that’s lit and one that isn’t, etc. Get creative! This could even be something like a flashlight with no batteries in it to represent darkness and a battery to represent light.) 
  • Small objects to represent any of your spoonie friends (spoon charms, clear quartz crystals, beads, etc. anything you can part with and is easy to work with!) 
  • A small dish, bowl, paper plate, etc. to hold all your “spoons” 
  • Envelopes, maybe holiday cards if you’d like
  • Something to write with

Things you could use: 

  • Stuff to decorate with your spoons with. This could include essential oils and/or herbs to anoint with, but as always, be mindful of who you’re making them for. Many folks have fragrance limitations, and you don’t want to accidentally run headfirst into those. Even with the best intentions! When in doubt, err on the side of caution. You can also use beads, sparkles, tags, etc. for decorating purposes. 
  • Herbs or crystals to add to your altar/workspace for increased energy.
    • Herbs: Amaranth, eucalyptus, thyme, or yarrow. Alternatively, use herbs that you associate with taking care of yourself. E.g. I drink peppermint tea when my stomach is upset, so I might use peppermint here
    • Crystals: Amazonite, jasper, or sunstone

PREP (BEFORE THE SPELL)

  • Label envelopes with the names and addresses of each person you want to make charms for, and make sure they have stamps
  • Lay out as many charms as you’ll need and collect them in the dish/bowl
  • If you’re using herbs or crystals, lay them out on your workspace in a pleasing manner
  • Set up your symbols of light and darkness on either side of your workspace. Place the envelopes and the dish/bowl of charms next to your symbol of darkness.
Image description: A desktop working space. There is an unlit battery candle, blue, green, and yellow candles, mod podge and a paintbrush, purple and blue beads for decorating, envelopes, and a small dish of tiny spoons.

My “darkness” side of the workspace. I have an unlit battery candle, candles in a few appropriate colors, mod podge and a paintbrush, beads for decorating, envelopes, and a small dish with my tiny spoons.

CAST

  1. Create sacred space, ground and center, whatever you need to do to do get in spellcasting headspace
  2. Pick up your first charm and envelope. Hold the charm in your hands, in your lap, or however it’s comfortable. 
  3. As you might when programming a crystal, infuse the charm with the energy of healing and energy you’d like to send to this particular loved one. Think about how their disability, neurodivergence, chronic illness, etc. impacts their daily life. Think about the ways you’d ease the challenges–smoothing out bad pain days, reducing the hoops they have to jump through to get accommodations, anything goes. Pour that energy and warmth and caring into your charm.
  4. If it feels right, speak an invocation to lock in your charm’s purpose. There are a few suggested invocations below the body of this spell, or you can write your own! 
  5. If it’s an object that allows you to do so (and you want to), decorate the charm! Customize your decorations to the person you’re creating it for, and what you want the charm to help them with. You could use decorations in a color associated with healing, such as blue or green. (Here’s an excellent and detailed guide to color magic, if you want to use another color!) You could also create a small sigil to put on the card you’ll be sending the charm in (or on the cardstock if, like me, you’re gluing your charm to a decorative piece of cardstock.) 
  6. If you feel up to it, write a small note to your recipient. This could explain the charm’s intent, or even include the invocation you used to program the charm. (This step could also be done in advance when you addressed the envelopes.)
  7. Put the charm and the note/card in the envelope and seal it up. 
  8. Set the envelope by your symbol of light. 
  9. Repeat steps 2 through 8 for each of your charms and envelopes. 
  10. Once you’ve finished programming, decorating, and sealing up all the charms, take three deep breaths and say aloud or in your mind, “This season may feel like one long night, so I share with you the gift of my light.” 
Image description: Envelopes laid out with decorated charms on top as they dry. Each charm includes a colorful piece of cardstock, on which are glued tiny spoons and beads, and each has candle wax dripped on top. Each charm also has an invocation written on it. The various sample invocations are further down in the post.

A few of my completed charms. I used seed beads and different-colored candles to drip wax onto the charms. 

And with that, once you’ve put the envelopes in the mail, you’re done!

For step 4, here’s a few possible invocations you could use. As always, it’s impossible for me to cover every possible chronic illness, disability, challenge, etc. So I tried to hit some broad categories. You can of course edit these to fit the recipient’s situation however you’d like, or write invocations of your own! Make sure to name the charm itself somewhere in the words so that the warm, healing energy you’re summoning knows where to settle itself. And make sure to specifically call out how you want your loved one’s life to be made lighter or easier: improved symptoms, decreased flareups, better relationships with caregivers, anything goes! But you want to be clear about your intent, even if it means giving up the rhyme scheme altogether and saying simply, “May this charm help Aunt Celiabethanneruth have better, more restful sleep.” 

For pain, exhaustion, or any life-interrupting symptoms:

As leaves will fall in autumn breeze/With this charm, may your symptoms ease. 

For fatigue, exhaustion, low mental energy, etc:

With the drive of a honeybee/May this charm grant you energy. 

For executive dysfunction or trouble focusing: 

This charm and wish I gift to thee: May focus serve you easily.

For anxiety, depression, or any mental health challenges:

Though light and calm feel hard to find/May this charm grant you peace of mind.

To repel ableism: 

With this charm, may you know your worth/And ableists give you wide berth.

If you have a loved one who’s also witchy and you want a scaled-down version of this spell, you and your loved one could each create a charm for each other and send them as a witchy gift exchange. Even if your witchy loved one isn’t disabled/ND, you could create a charm that wishes for their continued good health, or for joy and comfort through the holiday months. 

I wish I could make charms for each and every one of you! But I’ll settle for wishing you all a comfortable and peaceful holiday season, however you spend it and whoever you spend it with. (And if you have a tarot-reading friend and don’t know what to get them for the holidays, consider pre-ordering my book for them!) 

Tarot Spread: What Does my Mind Need? Ru-Lee Story

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://ruleestory.com/2023/01/28/tarot-spread-what-does-my-mind-need/