A tarot spread for those who struggle with a gratitude practice.
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If my former therapist knew I was writing about gratitude in an affirmative way, I'm pretty sure she would retire triumphantly and write a book about her wild success in clinical practice. Let's just say, I was not an easy sell on this whole "gratitude" thing. I'm not sure if it had more to do with the Roman Catholic upbringing or my deeply Scorpio penchant for grudge holding, but making lists of things I'm thankful for felt...naïve. It's undeniable that we live in a world that is fundamentally harmful to the spiritual, physical, and environmental well-being of billions of people. You all have lived through 2020. You know things are...not great. What exactly do we all have to be thankful for?!
Whew, OK. Got that out of my system. What sold me on a "gratitude practice" was the realization that expressing gratitude wasn't robbing me of my motivation to make change. In reality, it allowed me to connect more deeply to the natural balance of the universe - the goodness and the hurt. In practice, naming and working with gratitude soothes my anxious mind and empowers me to be in community with my loved ones and peers as an equal actor. Gratitude is fundamentally an act of communal hope.
What exactly is a gratitude practice? Honestly, there is no one way to work with gratitude. In it's most basic form, you begin with identifying and accepting what it is you are thankful for and then take some kind of action. I argue that a truly integrated and meaningful gratitude practice demands action. As a witch, I feel that naming a thing is only the first step. Once you have shaped energy into a specific form with a name, you must then act. In exorcisms, we banish that energy. In spellcasting, we manifest it in our world. Working with gratitude is no different, and I found that my practice became much more satisfying when I approached it as another ritual rather than a wellness trend.
For my fellow #OfficeWitches, you may get down with a really good gratitude list (maybe written in The Good Notebook - you know the one). Fellow heathens? Host a sumbel (or symbel). This drinking ritual is often described as bragging or speech-making, but honestly, what is the line between bragging and thankfulness other than tone?
Whatever your path, I encourage you to give gratitude a try - you might be surprised at what you find.
Actively Working with Gratitude Spread
Take 5-10 minutes to make a list of things you're grateful for. Write it in your grimoire, notebook, or planner. Once you are finished, circle one to two items you want to work with in this spread. You don't have to select the "biggest" or "most important" item, but you may want to select something that you are having trouble accepting or integrating. Copy that item onto a small piece of paper and set it at the center of your tarot spread.
How can I honor this gratitude? What action can you take to acknowledge what you have?
What is blocking me right now? How are you rejecting this achievement/gift/situation? What is keeping you from accepting the goodness here?
How can I share this gratitude? We're at the community portion of our gratitude practice. Who should you bring into this ritual? Sharing your thankfulness can be an act of love.
How is this different than I expected? We're human. Sometimes our gratitude is tinged with regret or resentment. "I'm grateful to have a job....even if I hate it." "I'm so thankful for my health...except I wish I was different in X way." Explore those complicated feelings in this space. You may even find it helpful to draw multiple cards or create an entirely separate spread.
How can I ground myself in this gratitude? The world is a tough place, and our minds and hearts can be the toughest landscapes. If you struggle with celebrating your bounty, it may quickly be eroded by the bustle of everyday life. What can you do to root yourself in the goodness you have cultivated so that you can face the struggles ahead from a strong foundation?
This spread can be repeated as often as you need, though on a daily basis I usually make a quick note of one thing I am grateful for in my planner. I love working with clients on around the themes of gratitude, hope, and meaning. If you'd like to work through a gratitude spread with me, head over to my shop to book a socially distanced reading online or by email.
If you try this spread, let me know what you think in the comments, or share something you're grateful for this month!
Alex is the founder and primary tarot reader for Dead Reckoning Tarot. She has been working with tarot cards since she was an anxious and overeager teen, and now as an anxious and overeager adult enjoys finding ways to infuse the every day world with magic. When she isn't slinging cards, you can find her cuddling her small dogs or crocheting in central Kentucky. You can book a tarot reading with Alex here.