Clarity In The Darkness: Working with the tarot to let go

Written By Gabriela Herstik 

The tarot often ask us to see things with a different gaze- the cards ask us to open ourselves up to their messages even when a dose of reality from inanimate objects is the last thing we want. But with this shift in perspective comes clarity- a new way to see through the veil of self-doubt, pain, and trauma. Confront your feelings and ask how they can help- if you don’t want to do that, don’t worry. I’ve included a spread to help you with it as well. 


Five of pentacles
It is a winter night. Your feet are cold. There is snow on the ground and your nose is red from the chill air. The stained glass church you stand in front of looks inviting but you are too scared to go in - you do not belong there, with your tattered robes and frozen toes. It is not the church itself that matters- it could very well be another place of worship such as a mosque or temple, but that is also unimportant. The invitation is always there, as is the light. 
You can be cold, standing in the snow for the rest of your life. Sometimes it feels like you will be standing outside forever- even though you know you won’t. But very often the invitation to go inside is open. There is refuge if we chose to go somewhere else- there is refuge in faith, because after all what’s the worst thing that can happen if you believe? If you’re left in the cold because you wandered and gotten lost, you too can wander and find something better. This card is often associated with material loss- poverty, illness and the like. But this is not the end- wander until you find something inviting, or find refuge in the universe and yourself- there are no rules that say you cannot create your own temple from what you DO have.
Keep moving- you can fight off the cold with your inner fire and light. Find solace in others. The support you need is around you if you listen.

Five of Cups
Invite yourself to feel. Truly, deeply feel. What is it that you lost? If you don’t take time to sit with your hurt, with your pain, with your anger, then you will never be able to learn from them. Cloak yourself in your hurt- hold it up against your heart and learn its language. Give it time to talk to you. And when you’re ready, release it. You may have lost, but what else do you still have? This card tells us of accepting what we cannot change without losing sight of what we can. If there’s something that is still worth holding on to- keep it. Don’t let one drop of black ink ruin your perfectly pure bucket of clear water. Once you mourn what was lost- once you take time to recognize what you no longer have, very often you will see not only what you are left with but where you should go to find more. If you look up when you’re ready you’ll see things more clearly. You’ll be able to see what you do have and you’ll be able to cross the watery river of your spirit to get to the other side of the shore.  

Ten of Wands
We very often base our self-worth on our success and accomplishments. On what we’ve done and what we’re doing. And this in itself often leads to feelings of being lost and overwhelmed- how can we think we’re valuable if we aren’t also doing x, y and z? You are holding too much at once. You are taking too many projects, or people, or things or feelings and neglecting your own sense of freedom while you’re at it.  Inspiration is only valuable if you use it. This  overwhelm is a burden you don’t have to carry. Instead, I invite you to think of all these blessings, feel grateful for them and recognize that not everything you’re doing will serve you. Let go of what won’t. It is your right to feel worthy regardless of how much, or what, you are doing. You do not have to be stressed or overwhelmed or overworked to be an artist, to be loved, to be valuable. Burning out is never ideal- slow and steady does win the race.  You’re valuable because you’re YOU- and that is enough.  

Nine of Swords
Sometimes the worst part of a nightmare isn’t what happened- it’s just the feeling, intrinsically knowing something isn’t right. Something is off. This same sort of pain can happen in our waking lives when we lose sight of our path and we stop doing the things that will serve us in the long run. It’s not that anything is necessarily wrong- but we know it isn’t right. Sometimes we are scared of what we need. We cover our eyes and blame our nightmares for making our skin crawl and our hearts ache. But facing these demons head on, working alongside of them and learning their language so we can avoid them and take a better, more direct route, is also important. Failing is okay. Falling is okay. Asking for help is okay. But to do that you will have to uncover your eyes and look around. See things as they are. Feel them out. Listen to yourself- how can your biggest fears turn into a new goal? Don’t beat yourself up for your fear- just give yourself permission to do something about it. 

A tarot spread for clarity while working through hardship

1.    What is it that I’ve been hiding? 
This is what you’ve been looking away from- perhaps it’s something that’s been hurting or something you’re afraid of. When confronted with these issues it’s important to look at them from every angle. Opening your eyes is the first step to finding clarity.

2.    How can I begin to heal? 
Sometimes healing comes naturally- but sometimes it’s a choice. Chose to heal. It will not get better overnight but it will get better.  Awareness and acknowledging what you’ve been hiding is often the first step. 

3.    What do I need to know moving forward? 
Sit with this card- how does it feel? How can you use this to move forward, with less effort, with more awareness and presence? Healing is movement forward, even when it feels like  going backwards. There is always something to take away, whether it’s a new lesson or a new sense of self. Don’t ignore that. 

4.    What do I need to leave behind? 
There are things that are meant to stay in the past- people, relationships, feelings. It is impossible to move forward if you’re still holding on to the rope of the past. Cut it. What is it that you  need to let go of to move forward? Go there.