5 Ways to Make Spring Fever Your Friend (And a New Tarot Spread!)

The sun has warmed and the flowers have bloomed. Dogs and babies and grown-as men and women are laughing more, jostling more, smiling more. The smell of coffee emanating from the cafe seems deeper, more intoxicating. And everybody looks damn good.

It’s official: spring fever has hit me like a Mac truck.

It happens every year–I’m chugging along like the little engine who could, making deadlines and conceptualizing projects and getting my hustle on and adulting like a complete badass. Yet, on the first day the temperature rises past 70 degrees, I chuck my planner in the corner, put on a flowery dress and say, “Fuck it. I’m going to walk the earth.”

Instead of writing this blog post yesterday, I sewed a light, flowing skirt and spent the better part of the day walking around and thinking, “I must look so seductive and amazing in this skirt.”

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(Image from yesterday when I finished said skirt and was seriously feeling myself so I took a picture in my messy-ass room because fuck it–it’s spring. And yes–that’s a clean diaper on my dresser.)

Don’t get me wrong–I still went grocery shopping and mailed some tarot bags and cleaned and cooked and live-streamed a Spread This, Witches video, but there were a fair few things I didn’t check off my to-do list.

And if the gloriously balmy breeze streaming through my wide-open window is any indication, there are a fair few things that may be left unchecked on today’s to-do list.

Because I’m a decades-long sufferer of Spring Fever (and because I’ve had to figure out how to prevent my life from falling to shit as soon as the winter breaks), I’ve generated some fail-safe methods of keeping myself on task and in the driver’s seat. Firstly…

Let Go of the Expectation of Perfection.

It’s nice outside. You’re a human being. If you’re lucky, you’re a Pagan (heehee), and the call of the wild is freaking impossible to resist. So give into that impulse to commune with the mother goddess of nature and go out and enjoy her bounty. 

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(Image from the cherry blossom in my neighborhood from one of many “I’ll just go out for a few minutes” turned two-hour walks.)

This season comes but once a year, and if you don’t allow yourself time to enjoy it, you’re going to have to wait another nine months to do so. You don’t have to be completely productive all the time. Likewise, you can indulge in a total “fuck it” day without utterly falling behind (as long as you don’t let it go to your head and are able to put your nose to the grindstone the next day!)

Make the most of Crappy Weather Days.

If I see rain in the forecast, I book my schedule to capacity. If I’m able, I do all of my client readings on that day. I write as many blog posts as I can and I shoot a video or two if possible. I order in take-out and I let the house fall into chaos and fully devote myself to work. I turn off the TV and immerse myself in the interwebs, tweaking reading offerings and the design of my website. Why? Because when the sun breaks and it’s beautiful again, I can spend my evening walking to the park and listening to drum circles and watching hippies hoop and walk the slack line. Holy crap, I do really live in the crunchiest neighborhood ever.

Make the Most of the ‘Weird Hours.’

The ‘weird hours’ are those that fall outside of the nine-to-five–the super-early mornings and the late nights and evenings. Many of us use these times to unwind with a cup of tea or coffee or wine (which is freaking glorious, btw) and a good book or TV program, but when the spring arrives and the greatest delight can be found through riding a bike or laying on a blanket in the grass, I use these hours to get some serious shit done. I’m writing this blog post in the “weird hour” time slot. I’ve finally figured out the proper lighting and camera angle to shoot my cardslinging videos at night (as it gets nicer, expect many more of these!). Likewise, the warmer weather makes it easier for me to get out of bed and be immediately productive, so I use that to my advantage by writing/responding to social media posts while I make breakfast. It can be super multi-tasky, but when you’re doing yoga in the park at sundown, you’ll be happy you did it.

There’s a Spread for That!

This is a tarot blog after all, and what would this post be without an awesome spread to round it out? I conceptualized this spread this morning when I was like, “How the hell am I going to stay on task when it’s so damn lovely outside?!” I’ve christened it the “Spring Fever Spread”, and it goes a little something like this:

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  1. Energy to embrace as we bloom into this glorious season.
  2. Impulse to resist for the good of Self and All.
  3. Card to channel to get some serious shiz done when you need to.
  4. How to be like the spring and be a creative badass.
  5. Advice for finding harmony and balance.

Bring the Inside Out, and Bring the Outside In.

If, like me, you do a majority of your work on your laptop, bring that bad boy outside. Sure, you run the risk of distraction, but if you persevere in this, you’ll be able to find a way to be productive despite the call of the wild. Experiment on days where your schedule isn’t madly packed so you can allow yourself a digression or two. And besides, how awesome is it to read tarot outside?

Tear open the shutters and fling wide the windows, folks. Go to your local farmer’s market and buy a bouquet of fresh-cut flowers and feature them on your kitchen table. While you’re at it, select some gorgeous produce and make a spring green salad. Create a vibrant home that’s filled with light and cleansed by a constant breeze, so even if you can’t be outside, it will feel like you are.

Much Love and Happy Spring,

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A Guide to Intuitive Tarot Reading

When I first tackled the behemoth that is tarot study, I armed myself with a deck, a beginner’s collection of tarot books, and a few blank journals to jot some notes in. Honestly, I didn’t think it was going to be that hard. I mean, I’d gotten down and dirty with Deleuze, Foucault, and Heidegger–what kind of challenge could divination cards give me? Turns out, quite a challenge. When you’re working with text, it’s literally spelled out for you, even if it is a bit abstract or archaic. There’s usually some sort of objective meaning to be gleaned, a central point that’s attempting to be made and that drives the essay forward. Not so with tarot, my friends. The visual and symbolic components invite much more subjectivity than one initially realizes, and the point, more or less, is revealed much more cyclically. Essentially, your subject matter is the same (universal archetypes), but the way it’s addressed and to what end is radically different. Therefore, commonly accepted study methods–repetition, memorization, and critical thinking–are not enough in terms of becoming a well-rounded, proficient reader. One must dip into more primal, esoteric energies–intuition, premonition, and spontaneous knowing. This is where the concept of intuitive tarot reading enters, that method which utilizes the imagery and symbolism readily apparent to the reader rather than commonly accepted card meanings. In my humble opinion, the most powerful readings incorporate both, resulting in a gorgeous balance of masculine and feminine energies. But, as the reader who inspired this post so accurately pointed out, there’s much more attention given to the former, and not nearly enough to the latter. So, let’s change that a little bit, shall we?

Methods of Reading Intuitively

From what I can glean, the extent to which readers read intuitively varies, as do their methods. Some readers never read a traditional tarot book and choose only to reference the guides that are specifically created for their decks. Thus, they aren’t necessarily approaching their readings with one of the three traditional systems (RWS, Thoth, Marseille) in mind. Rather, their knowledge is based off of the specific imagery conveyed in their deck and the meanings the deck creator chose to attribute to it. So, one who bases their reading of the Osho Zen Tarot on the guidebook and one who bases their reading of The Osho Zen Tarot on its RWS correspondences are going to provide two completely different readings. Likewise, one who approaches the Osho Zen as an oracle deck (it’s been known to happen and I’ve certainly done it from time to time) is going to pull something completely different from it–oracle cards are often read as entities in and of themselves and not necessarily a subsidiary part of a larger whole.

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The Osho Zen Tarot, St. Martin’s Press, 1994

Another method of reading intuitively is to reference no system or guidebook at all. Rather, one riffs off of the images presented in the cards, interpreting what the cards mean as the reading progresses. In this sense, the reading is largely querent-focused and as such (in my opinion, anyway) is much more overtly directed towards what’s being asked. These types of intuitive readings seem to work best when done in person because they create a sense of equality amongst reader and querent that invites the querent to take an active role in the reading process. In some cases, the querent is given the opportunity to deliver input on which cards moved them or spoke to them, and so there’s much more of a psychological exploration going on than there would be if the reader were interpreting the cards based on her knowledge of esoteric modes and systems of thought. Actually, this is most often the method of reading used amongst therapists and psychologists–cards are flipped face up and the client is asked to rifle through and riff on those that jump out at them. In this process, the reader/therapist takes a bit of a backseat, gently guiding their client on a trip through the subconscious.

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The Rider-Waite Centennial Edition, US Games Inc., 2010, The Wild Unknown Tarot, HarperElixir, 2016

 The last method of intuitive reading that I’ll offer here is the one I use most often: applying one of the three traditional systems when reading with a deck that isn’t wholly based on it. A good example of this is my approach to The Wild Unknown Tarot. From what I understand, the deck’s influenced by both the Marseille and RWS traditions, but given that I’m fluent in RWS, I simply approach it that way. Now, there were times when I first began working with the deck that I noticed that my understanding of a card simply didn’t add up with the imagery (the six of wands is a really good example of this). In this instance, I studied the imagery on the card and deciphered meaning based on that. Then, I reconciled my intuitive understanding with my traditional understanding to arrive at a holistic understanding of the card.

The Spontaneous Intuitive Read

Contrary to what the first section may suggest, intuitive reading isn’t solely based on the approach the reader takes with their deck of cards. Rather, intuitive interpretation can crop up in the middle of any reading for any reason whatsoever. In this case, the card in question speaks to the reader in a way that’s hardly related to the traditional meaning at all–she gets a feeling that it’s supposed to mean something radically different, and she chooses to trust that message over the one that the card would commonly convey. A few days ago, for example, a reading I was doing for a client had revealed a five of swords. However, I had an overwhelming feeling to read it like I would the five of wands. I didn’t really know why I had this feeling (nothing in the question indicated that this interpretation would be somehow “better” than the traditional one), yet I viewed it as a synchronistic occurrence and followed my intuition. There are readers for whom this admission would make them cry “blasphemy!” There are others still who’d question whether or not there was a distinct difference between them anyway. This is why the community of tarot is so amazing–every reader approaches the art in a way that’s unique and resonant with their own strengths and personality traits. No two readers read alike, so chances are, there’s a reader out there whose approach deeply jives with what you’re looking for. And this diversity can be attributable to the intuitive aspects of reading–those that deviate from the common meaning to add depth and richness to the form. Frankly, the vast array of tarot decks available to us as students and readers also do much in terms of coaxing these intuitive readings from us. If we were all using the RWS all the time, chances are there’d be much more similarities than we currently find.

Practicing Intuitive Reading

It may seem contradictory that one could practice intuitive reading. After all, isn’t it something that blossoms organically? For some, reading intuitively does come naturally–creative and spontaneous meaning generation is one of their strengths, and they can seamlessly connect the narrative of one card to the next. For others (the majority, I’ve found!), the ability to coax original, nuanced interpretations is a skill that must be practiced. There are a number of ways to go about doing this, but one that I’ve found most helpful is to create what I call tarot narratives. I think of a transformative or vivid experience that I’ve had and I choose a card from the tarot to represent it. Then, I record my experience through the lens of the card that I’ve chosen, paying keen attention to the myriad subtle ways it plays into the story. For me, this is more of an exercise for the subconscious–I’m attempting to create a web of connections that may not be readily apparent, but reveal themselves when something in a reading triggers them. Another way to practice intuitive reading is to pathwork the cards (I know I’ve mentioned pathworking copious times, but that’s only because of how instrumental it can be in expanding your understanding of tarot). When you project yourself into a card’s unique energy landscape, you can pick up on things you didn’t even know were there. Likewise, you can upload quite a bit to the hard-drive unconsciously to be accessed at a later date). When you’re reading for yourself, try identifying your question in the cards. Think of the answers you’re looking for and see if there’s any card that could speak directly to that answer. Say you’re trying to decide whether or not to switch careers. Which card indicates a potential career that you’re interested in? Which one represents the one you have currently? You can even use the two questions I just posed as the basis for card positions (1. My present career 2. My potential career) and figure out a way to relate the card to the position even if it seems to completely oppose it.

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The Mary El Tarot, Schiffer Publishing, 2012

Another wonderful way is to buy a deck that’s based off of a system that you’re completely unfamiliar with and do readings for yourself based on the imagery alone. Don’t be afraid to speak stream of consciousness as you take in the imagery and symbolism and likewise offer an interpretation. And if you still find that your intuitive reading game is off, let a friend who knows nothing about tarot flip through one of your decks and riff on the cards. Take note of the creative process they undergo as they try to figure out what it all means. It’s inspiring, interesting, and it can teach you a hell of a lot about learning.

Much Love,

Jessi

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