To that end, your favorite spread here deserves itself a fine sequel. Introducing the WTF Was I Thinking?! Tarot Spread, for dialoguing with the past self, with empathy and humor.
This fraught and preposterous age fosters no shortage of strife around ageism and toxic intergenerational relations. As with any other -ism, we all have to contend with internalized ageism. Internalized ageism orbits the ways we view and speak to our former, younger, and in-some-but-not-all-ways more foolish selves. And if you can’t embrace the Fool-self with love, what are you doing in tarot?
Do you have the patience to speak to the cringiest incarnations of your past self without being a condescending dirtbag about it? Do you have the guts to consider the possibility that they know some things better than you—things you’ve forgotten and could stand to review? Do you have the humility and respect to listen more than you speak to—and more than you scold—your younger selves? If you sat down for coffee with 2010 you today, would they “OK Boomer” you? Would you have earned it? Can you walk the line between having a sense of humor about yourself and punching down from perfectionist cruelty? I think you can. Let’s find out!
It’ll help, before you shuffle and draw, to specify which past version of yourself, from what time range, you’d like to speak to. You can ritualize this if you like by gathering a photograph or personal effects from that time. Imagine that you’re summoning your old self to the table. Try to bring in some sensory connections. Play some background music you loved then, spray a perfume or light an incense you used, or throw on an outfit like something you’d have worn at the time. Imagine that you’re sitting down to tea or coffee with your younger self, and prepare yourself to hear them speak.
The WTF Was I Thinking?! Tarot Spread
I read this segment as a cross because the intersection of two cards can better reflect the complexity of one’s baseline outer circumstances. You can take the two cards here individually, as two separate outer influences from the time, or draw a single card in the “What The” position if that’s easier. I always find a lot of meat in the intersection of two cards’ stories. I don’t read any hierarchy between the crossing cards in this spread.
3. ACTUAL: Something I’m remembering wrong. How it really went down.
Memories tend to grow distortions over time, and some of the most difficult times in our lives—the one’s we might most need to speak to—are difficult to remember clearly because of trauma or shame. This card serves as a prompt to jog the memory in an area that is particularly distorted, overlooked, or hard to access. Unpack at your own pace and see the notes below on counseling and outside support.
4. FUCK: What and how I fucked up.
Aim for accountability with patience as you approach this one. It might hurt, but it might be cathartic. The trick is to take responsibility for and track what you got wrong without beating yourself up or giving up on yourself. You can’t fix what you won’t face.
If your poison is hyper-criticism and you tend to tell yourself that you screwed up everything you ever touched, you might add a bonus card here to check for a point of distortion. What do you think you fucked up that you did not, in truth, fuck up. Are you blaming yourself for something that was out of your hands? Have you taken on responsibility or embarrassment for something someone else fucked up?
5. X 6. WAS I: My inner landscapes at the time. The state of my old mind.
Again, a cross for nuance and depth. At any given time, in any given person, there’s quite a lot bouncing ‘round the psyche. You can distill this into a single card, though, if you prefer.
7. THINKING: Motives and reasoning. Why I did things the way I did.
Again, the point here is not to be hyper-critical. In fact, this is where it’s most important to listen to the old self with openness and care. We do very little without some kind of thought process or reasoning. Even if a past decision makes little sense to you now, you probably had your motives at the time. Reconnecting to them can help you forgive yourself for some of your mistakes, and illuminate blind spots in how you reason through your decisions now.
8. ?: A question to ask my former self. What did they know and get right that I’ve forgotten?
Remember that you have been an entire person at every age, and those other persons had their finer qualities. Some of them may have fallen to the wayside. Remember what you got right. Ask yourself what you can stand to revisit and relearn.
9. !: An action I can take to reintegrate the lessons from this time, and remember what I knew better then, without repeating my nonsense.
Let this card prompt a good brainstorm, then follow through. Introspection can only carry us so far without action and meaningful movement.
BONUS ROUND: TIME-WARP CHALLENGE
You can also point this spread to your current self, as seen by your future self. What the fuck are you thinking right now and how could you handle it with greater strategy and clarity? I tested out this spread both ways, and found it helpful in both cases, though yikes! That present to future one can sting some. Brace yourself to face what you’re at risk of fucking up right now.
Here’s the adapted breakdown:
1. X 2. WHAT THE: What’s going on at this time? My background situation and challenges.
3. ACTUAL: What’s really going on here? What truth about this situation do I risk losing sight of even now, and risk remembering wrong in the future?
4. FUCK: What and how am I fucking up right now? Where’s my biggest risk of making mistakes or losing my way?
5. X 6. AM I: My inner landscapes at this time. The state of my current mind.
7. THINKING: Motives and reasoning. Why am I doing things this way? What’s driving me on my current trajectory?
8. ?: A question my future self will want to ask my current self. What am I getting right? What’s worth carrying forward from this phase?
9. !: An action I can take to integrate the lessons from this time, while minimizing the nonsense and baggage I carry forward.
NOTE: If you are reviewing a time of trauma, it may be helpful to tackle this spread with a trusted friend or a licensed counsellor. It’s fine to pace yourself and take breaks. Journaling is your friend. You never have to complete a whole spread in one sitting. There’s no shame in needing adaptations, or needing outside support!
Tarot is not a substitute for professional counseling or medical attention. I, the author of this quality blorg, am an artist with an arts degree, sharing the resources I invent largely to brainstorm, entertain, and console myself. I am not a therapist. For entertainment purposes only. You know the drill.
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