I used my vampire deck, and the cards ran out as follows: Ten of Cups, The Lovers, The Moon, Seven of Swords, Six of Pentacles.
The Ten of Cups, here representing the past, is Joy. This card refers specifically to harmony in personal relationships and to having all the external elements of your life fulfilled and in balance. I don't know if in this case it is supposed to represent good health in and of itself, if it's supposed to mean that I got into the situation I'm in for good reasons (for having lots of awesome friends and family to eat and drink and stay up late with?) or if it goes back further than that, to when I used to have people to work out with and coincidentally was in better shape. It could also be reminding me that while I might be internally cranky about my weight, I have in actual fact been perfectly healthy for quite a while.
The present card, representing my current thoughts, feelings, and actions on the matter, is Major Arcana VI, The Lovers, representing Choice. The choice I have been mulling over in my head lately is basically "Should I make significant lifestyle changes to my diet, exercise plan, drinking habits, etc. and if so what should they be?" On a shorter timeline, I will have to make a choice about whether or not to skip work tomorrow if I don't feel any better after a good night's sleep. Which choice the spread is talking about is unclear to me at this point. The card usually refers to major decisions, though, and taking a sick day tomorrow would probably only have major ramifications for how my Monday goes. Sometimes the card actually does refer to romance or new relationships of some sort, and the Louis book suggests "You may find yourself buying new clothes or otherwise improving your personal appearance to attract new love into your life." I'm not sure that's really why I want to get back into the sort of shape I was in when I was 22, although it probably couldn't hurt to sit back and closely examine all my motivations.
The hidden influences card here is Major Arcana XVIII, The Moon, which basically itself represents hidden influences, so nice going there, Tarot. I kid, sort of. The Moon represents deep instinctual forces, past conditioning affecting present behavior, dreams and intuitions, deceit, lies, confusion, all that kind of stuff. It suggests I am "entering a period of fluctuating moods and uncertainty during which you must confront unconscious forces in order to proceed." If the choice in the previous card is indeed about making lifestyle changes to be healthier, this I guess would indicate that I need to figure out what's holding me back from doing the healthy thing already and that it's likely some sort of emotional dysfunction or deeply ingrained bad habits. I guess it is time to try to pay more attention to the signals my body is giving me naturally rather than trying to have the super willpower to enact major changes just because they sound good? Or something?
The advice card is the Seven of Swords, which, despite being a sword card, is not terrible: It's the Stealth card, representing doing the unexpected. I am now fairly at a loss for what is supposed to be going on in this health and fitness reading. Maybe I should shake up my workout routine? The card advises "Do not become your own worst enemy. You will need to be diplomatic, crafty, or evasive to deal with the opposition and reach your goal." Does anyone know how to be "diplomatic and crafty" in a way that can outwit 15 pounds? Between this and the Moon card, I think we're looking at trying to figure out a way to somehow train or trick myself into developing better habits, rather than my usual setting of clear goals until I get tired of them. I don't know what this would look like. A lot of these cards are not really coming off as being very physically grounded. Maybe I should be focusing more on mental health than explicitly targeting physical health; that stuff can certainly have an effect on the immune system and appetite and things of that nature. Maybe I need to be on the lookout for someone who is affecting my mental health negatively by screwing me over, thus making it harder for me to be physically healthy?
The final outcome card is the Six of Pentacles, the Generosity card, representing "getting what you deserve." It often refers to material gain, helping others, financial assistance, etc. Work paying off, that sort of thing. What I'm getting from this is either that if I can be crafty and diplomatic enough I'll finally get that raise, which would certainly be good for my stress levels, or more generally, if I can work out the mental health stuff that the earlier cards seem to be pointing to, my physical health will sort itself out. Which would be good.
Overall it's looking to me like the big choice to make is what avenue focus on in terms of fixing my health and fitness, and that it's probably a better idea right now to be working on mental health and psychological issues rather than trying to force myself to make deliberate changes to my diet and exercise. If I feel better in my brain, hopefully it'll be easier to do things like do proper workouts rather than wussing out on them first thing in the morning because I haven't slept well, or whatever.
So. How do I go about taking better care of my mental health? Should I scale back on some of the stuff I'm over-committed to? Meditate more? Journal more? I've been doing a bit more self-care-y types of things lately, but it's clearly not enough. I don't think I can really afford to go back to therapy. I've been doing on-and-off better than I was early in the year, but I still spend way too much time stressing myself out about politics and stuff. I definitely have been having problems with focus and motivation for the entire year. I don't want to be thirty.
Anyway, food for thought, but step 1 in self-care is going to be taking NyQuil and going straight to bed.
Finally, after many many weeks, I got around to doing a reading using the "What are the next steps on my path?" reading that I grabbed from DIY WITCHERY on Tumblr. I used Maggie Stiefvater's Raven's Prophecy deck, meaning I used her Illuminating the Prophecy book as well as the Anthony Louis book I usually use. I had to fill out a lot of these new in my notebook, which means a lot of these haven't popped up in readings I've done for myself since I started taking notes.
The first card is the Last Step card, showing the step on the path I just came from. This card is the Nine of Swords, the Nightmare card, which represents paralysis and depression, indicating that whatever this reading is about (I didn't have a specific thing in mind, just life in general, maybe writing, maybe job stuff, I dunno) and I admit that this is pretty accurate for a lot of how I've felt for most of this year. I've done no fiction writing and made little attempt at career advancement, and wasted untold hours being generally tired and fretty and Extremely Online. I guess the positive thing here is that this is the last step and not the current one, meaning I'm moving on from the paralysis. I'm not quite sure what the lesson from the previous step is, except possibly that I should take better care of myself.
The second card, which is the center card in the second column, is the Current Step card. It is important to know the lessons from the current step because they provide tools that may be useful in later steps. The card here is the Ten of Cups, the Joy card. This card basically means that things are going well--not just that you're happy internally, which is the Nine of Cups, but that things are in harmony and balance externally: your relationships are all going splendidly, etc. The lesson for this card, according to Stiefvater, is to not squander it. Coming out of the last step of depression and paralysis, this indicates to me that I'm basically in a safe space now and have room to become productive and do stuff again, which I shouldn't waste. But what should I do? I've been pretty good at generally keeping myself busy with regular ongoing nonsense and not necessarily accomplishing anything--haven't finished my novel, haven't been studying poker or Gaelic, haven't actually done much concretely in terms of organizing within DSA. But now is a good time to do whatever it is I want to do with a good time, apparently.
This seems to be borne out by the next card, the Next Step card, which indicates where my path with lead me next. This third card is the middle card of the third column, and it's Major Arcana I: The Magician, who represents "Mastery of special knowledge, focused energy" in Louis and "Ability, versatility, control, connections" in Stiefvater. The Magician indicates that you've been acquiring knowledge or engaging in some form of disciplined training or otherwise preparing to do stuff, and it's time to take that specialized knowledge or experience and go forth and use it to do some stuff. It's an auspicious card for initiating projects. I think the progression among the first three cards is clear, at any rate; the big question left is, what project do I focus on?
The fourth card, which is the bottom card of the second column, is the Advice card. Here it is the Ten of Wands, "The Weight of Ambition," which is basically a card that says you're trying to do too much stuff and you need to figure out how to share some of the workload so you don't burn out. This is probably good advice for me in that it is something I have been bad at my entire life; I try to do too many things and I don't like to ask for help. This ties in with some readings I've had done in the recent-ish past that basically indicate I need to cut the pointless stuff out of my life and prioritize better if I want to get anything done. I am not good at this and have done a lot of waffling over what it is I ought to prioritize, although since the last reading that said that (Gillian did the reading for me several weeks ago) I have done better at wasting less time on social media and reading the news.
The sixth and seventh cards, which are the top card in the second and third columns, oddly enough, are supposed to be input from whatever spirits or deities or other entities you want to hear from. I'm secular so I have no idea who or what I want to hear from, but I want to hear it, so I guess these two cards are words from An Uncaring Universe or the Law of Narrative Irony or something. Which is odd, because having included them in the spread I can only include that they sound like they're from my parents. The Ten of Coins is the Material Abundance card, which basically indicates material security and family support, and provides a reminder to pay it forward and think about other people in the future. The Emperor indicates rules and authority, but he is a dude who has rules for reasons, and according to Stiefvater provides a reminder that, if you're going "to slough off the authority of an Emperor, you must find the Emperor within yourself." In other words, discipline.
So, in short: I've been not doing much lately, but I'm in a good place now and it's time to do stuff, regardless of if I feel inspired, and to do stuff in a disciplined and forward-thinking manner. The cards, needless to say, do not tell me what kind of project I should be focusing on.