100 Days of Tarot, Part 1

I created a tarot reading profile on Instagram when I saw a friend joke about doing a “100 days of tarot” challenge because two of her recent posts referenced tarot cards. I wasn’t tied to the online tarot reading community at that point, so I wasn’t sure if it was actually a thing. (I’m actually still not sure how many people have actually done it—and I’m talking order of magnitude here, not specific numbers). But I believed it was a good excuse to take the plunge and bring my tarot practice out of back rooms and friends’ houses and into what I soon discovered to be a vibrant, enlightening, and loving community. I wasn’t sure what to expect of the 100 days’ experience. I was open to whatever it could be or would be, but I didn’t have a set plan for where I wanted to be at the end of it.

Because it was a large and fairly open-ended project, the Celtic Cross seemed like it would be useful as a way of examining where it was coming from and where it was going. It was reassuring at the time, and it certainly proved insightful, looking back at those 100 days. Not all questions or topics are as well-served by the Celtic Cross, but when the topic is something big but imperfectly defined it can be handy.

I talk about the Celtic Cross and the positions of the cards as I normally read and draw them in “The Celtic Cross,” so I won’t explain that again here. Instead, I’ll just list the cards and the “meaning” of their position within the cross.


Celtic Cross for 100 Days of Tarot

1. Current situation: 2 of Wands

2. Primary obstacle: King of Swords

3. Subconscious basis: 6 of Wands

4. Past events: 6 of Cups

5. Goals: King of Wands

6. Upcoming events: Knight of Swords

7. Approach: 10 of Pentacles

8. Environment: The Magician

9. Hopes / Fears: 4 of Swords

10. Expected outcome: 6 of Pentacles

In the 100 Days of Tarot, I took each of the cards and pulled out some meanings day by day. In some ways, it’s more reflective of my actual tarot readings in its length and depth of analysis than my other Instagram readings. Because IG has limits on the number of characters in a post, you are limited in what you can say unless you’re willing to string a reading across numerous comments (and who wants to read all those?) or across numerous days. This spread took up quite a number of days, partly because I wanted to also establish myself as a tarot reader online since I actually didn’t let Instagram connect with any of my non-virtual contacts. Partly that was due to privacy and partly because I wanted to work with a new audience, one that wasn’t already familiar with what I do.

That said, I’m going to blend my original reading with analysis of what actually came to pass. It’s been ages since I did the original reading, so in some ways I could make a fresh reading of it, but I actually remember quite a bit because it was so salient and accurate for what actually came to pass. I’ll also post different interpretations that escaped my notice before.

The Reading

My first card, the 2 of Wands, was very exciting to see. I expected the digital venture to be a professional and spiritual journey, and I saw it as full of potential based on past decisions with plenty more to make in the future. A card shouldn’t be read in isolation, but its relevance jumped out at me in a literal way. I didn't have a clear plan for the Instagram account other than to use it to complete 100 Days of Tarot, so I expected every day to be a fun little adventure: how would I use the tarot each day? I knew I wouldn’t want to just post about my daily tarot card draws. Using Instagram that way is totally fine, especially if you want to use the platform as a public journal, but that wasn’t how I wanted to use it. In some ways I would’ve benefited from greater planning, but I tend to plan in an “agile” way, with a little planning that still leaves the door open to exploration and that benefits from iteration. Some of the plans that I did have for how I would use the account quickly faded, and while I might follow up on some of those later, I’m glad that I didn’t try to force them when they didn’t feel right. I value quality, and they would not have met my professional standards. And by going with the adventure of it all, I was more open to learning or trying new things than I might have otherwise been, and that’s one of the greatest benefits of the online tarot community.

Then I drew the obstacle card, the King of Swords. By profession and appearance, if not quite age, this would be my court card significator if I used one. And seeing what might have been my significator in the spread makes me glad that I don’t use a significator. (To be perfectly candid, I actually sometimes use a card like a significator in my readings, although it’s randomly drawn, and it usually serves as a guide. It always has a clear purpose or question, so I don’t just remove a card from the deck because I want all the cards to be available for fresh analysis.) Any therapist, coach, trainer, or guide can tell you that you’re often your own greatest obstacle, and I had a good reminder of that in the reversed King. But there was more to the meaning of that card. After all, if I just wanted a card to represent “me” in the spread then I might have seen the Hermit in that position (my life path card), or the Moon as a parallel to my life path card, or the Hierophant for my zodiac sign, or the High Priestess given the day of my birth, or the Six of Pentacles given the actual date of my birth. Any one of those could signal “me” but they would have very different messages to send, and the message of the reversed King was precisely what I needed to see in this position, so that’s why I’m glad I don’t use significators. Beyond just signaling myself as an obstacle, I also would need to watch out for the tendency to overanalyze and relay too much on intellect and too little on intuition. As someone embarking on a journey into a new arena (the 2 of Wands), I could easily become a slave to tyranny of logic and to analysis paralysis. And as a point of comparison between the two men, I looked to their body positions, with the king seated in his throne while the 2 was ready to venture forth, even if still in a static post. If ever a card representing me could be at odds with the power to transform, it would be the old man seated on a throne so confining that a butterfly could be trapped within it. Seeing the reversed King was a reminder that I would need to be open to learning and trusting my own intuition. I didn’t quite realize how much those 100 Days would teach me, but I’m so glad that I knew to be open to those unexpected lessons.

Because I wanted to interpret the cards piecemeal for Instagram, I drew the past and future cards next, but now that I have more space to write, I’d rather just look at all four of the remaining central cards together. As I mention in my post describing how I complete the Celtic Cross, it’s the intent that matters for the tarot. Since I knew at the time where I was putting what, I could order the cards however I wanted. Surrounding the central situation and its obstacle are three factors driving it and the immediate outcomes I could expect from those. Among the three drivers were the 6 of Wands representing the unconscious basis for my actions—a desire for recognition, albeit earned recognition—the 6 of Cups representing the influence of my recent past—a sort of naive generosity—and the King of Wands representing what I thought I was driving toward—a charismatic ruler full of talent but also some pride. At the time, I thought of the unconscious and conscious motivators as tied together in ways that were clear to me but which I wasn’t all that comfortable opening my 100 Days challenge with: namely, that I wanted to try something new with my tarot reading and, because I knew I was a good tarot reader, I thought I would naturally excel at it and be rewarded for it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that now, but there is a fair amount of pride in it, and pride is my major weakness, so I didn’t really want to admit it up front. I thought I ought to let new people get to know me before I opened up that bag of sins.

There was also a fair amount of heat in that part of the reading thanks to the three wands, something that followed me throughout the 100 days and throughout the experience I had with the Spirit Guide challenge. When I first did this reading, I noted the King of Wands’ rising up from his seat, so energetic that the stoicism of the kings couldn’t keep him from physical activity. Considering that I was well into the south Texas summer (and swimsuit season), reflections of heat and activity were not all that surprising. I was definitely feeling myself as I had gotten to a new level of physical fitness, and that was giving me a new source of energy and turning back the clock a decade or so. Despite this, I ended up deciding not to show my body (or face) on my Instagram account during those 100 days. I’m glad I didn’t because I wanted to establish the quality of my tarot reading separate from my appearance, and I didn’t want someone to follow me just because they liked my abs. It would have felt cheap to me, even if I still appreciate when people find me attractive (Moon in Leo after all). So some of the energy that the Wands represented, such as creativity, were able to be expressed in different ways that I ultimately found more in line with my tarot practice rather than in my vanity.

Combining these two with the 6 of Cups showing the past should also have clued me in to the reality that I wouldn’t be some dominant personality in tarot magically attracting followers left and right, but I was more interested in the development from the giver in the 6 of Cups to the giver in the 6 of Pentacles, so I didn’t quite notice that. Instead I was drawn to the idea of being a people-pleaser and being rewarded for that. To be frank, my notions of what it would mean to be a tarot reader on Instagram were naive in that I didn’t think I would really need to do much planning in order to excel. As I said, I’m glad that I didn’t plan more thoroughly because I was open to so many more opportunities to learn and grow, but it was clear then that I wasn’t going to become some tarot-reading version of an influencer. (I don’t know that anyone really is. Anyone I could think of is really just savvy a businessperson who works with intuitive practices.) Thank goodness for that. It’s so much easier and satisfying being authentic. I still expect high quality readings and images from myself, but even the “features” of my Instagram account are challenge enough to keep on top of.

All of these pointed to a fairly clear outcome that I actually wasn’t all that upset by, the charging Knight of Swords. He is probably going too fast for his own good, but the alternative would be the frozen King trapped in his throne, going nowhere and daring nothing. And I was ready at that point to go big or go home. Things were changing at my office in drastic ways, and I knew I would need some new outlets. Honestly, I didn’t have much to lose with the bold rush forward on an Instagram account disconnected from my daily life—it was just an Instagram account—but I knew that if I didn’t act I would continue to sit and stare at the world before me, overanalyzing and never leaving that platform on the 2 of Wands to take the first steps out of what I knew to be comfortable and easy. It’s actually been an enormous amount of work to maintain the account and keep up with what I do, as well as to start up this website and open an Etsy store, much more work than I (naively) expected, and I was doing even more in the early days with free readings via Instagram direct message and daily pick-a-cards. But I felt (and continue to feel) as though I can help people through this work. The King of Swords (and probably Pentacles and rising Capricorn) in me is tracking the hours and comparing it to other wages earned per hour with a big old frown, but I don’t mind being the 6 of Pentacles and giving of myself now that I’ve found a better balance. And if people want to pay for more personalized attention, then I’ll make time for them. I will say that I don’t miss those earlier days when I was being a 6 of Cups instead of a 6 of Pentacles because people tend to ask less meaningful questions of the tarot when they don’t have to pay for readings. Money can be great for prioritizing. (I have a weight loss/sugar reduction/budgeting tip related to that, which I’ll offer up at the bottom of this post.) And since time is precious to most of us, I like to make sure that I’m prioritizing my own time properly.

Before moving onto the final four cards, I also want to point out two of the interesting visual stories I was reading in these central six cards, largely reinforcing the idea of my maturation and desire for activity in moving into this digital journey. Reading the three cards from bottom to top, I saw the same red-cloaked man go from sitting to standing to moving forward. Although the King is in a throne rather than a horse, and thus arguably more stationary, the actual movement of the man was what intrigued me. I saw this as telling the story of someone going from resting on their laurels to thinking about moving to starting to move, even if he’s also restraining himself at the same time from going too far too fast (contrary to the Knight of Swords energy). Similarly, the horizontal line showed the development of a a child into an exploratory youth to finally an action-oriented knight, and in that transition from child to (young) man, there was also a shedding of security. The children of the 6 of Cups are well guarded in a walled city, and the would-be explorer stands on some kind of platform suggesting that he is at his manse or some other luxurious location gazing out from a place of safety. The Knight, on the other hand, is rushing into the wild unknown, and I saw that as a pivotal part of this journey for myself. I didn’t know what I would find or see. But I did know that I would find adventure.

For the sake of people actually reading all of this, I’m going to cover the last four cards in a second post.

And for those interested in my tip for reducing sugar or helping lose weight or reducing expenses, here it is. I said this was related to priorities, but it’s really about what you think something is worth in terms of time, effort, and money. I’m not a health professional, and I’m not a dietician, so take it as advice from a friend that has no real backing behind it other than anecdotal evidence. Will it work for you? I don’t know. But could it work for you? Maybe. And I find it unlikely that it will hurt you in any real way. And if you love the way you look and feel and the amount of sugar you consume or frivolous purchases you make, then you do you. I’m not trying to shame anyone into breaking habits they have no problem keeping. It’s your life to live, not mine.

Weight loss / Sugar Reduction / frivolous expense reducing tip

When I’ve wanted to save money or reduce my sugar intake or improve my nutrition, I’ve done one (conceptually) simple thing: I’ve tracked it. It sounds simple, and it can be. It also sounds annoying, and it should be. That’s why it works for me and for many people who try it. Keeping track of things is annoying, so if you commit to tracking an activity you want to reduce, say eating added sugars, then the annoyance of having to track it helps you reduce the activity. Hear me out on this. I’ll give an example with reducing added sugar intake, but the same concept applies to reducing non-critical spending or reducing fat intake, carbs, calories overall, etc. or (almost) whatever else you want to reduce. (It isn’t for literally everything. It probably won’t, for example, help reduce compulsive behaviors or obsessive thoughts.)

If you really want to reduce how much added sugar you consume, you should track how much added sugar you consume. If you’ve tried calorie or nutrition tracking and it hasn’t worked for you, then don’t make it easy on yourself by buying an app that lets you scan a barcode and get all the information or type in what you’ve had and get all the details out of it. While that gives you useful information, and information is power, it’s just too easy to do. There’s no disincentive from consuming all that sugar. It also can make you feel good about your food choices because you probably only look at the total carbs or calories, which might not give you a realistic view of the extremes of what you’re putting in your body.

I personally like the approach of using a cloud-based spreadsheet (Google, iCloud, whatever) that I can update on my phone or computer. While the phone provides easy access, the tiny screen and awful user interface tend to add a little bit of pain to the process, while firing up the computer and opening the application, which needs an update half the time, is usually also annoying. Groan all you like. That it’s annoying is a key component of the process. Then you enter the information each time you engage in the activity. So when you have that one serving of three Kit Kat fingers (yes, that’s {grossly} what they’re called), you open up the spreadsheet and you record what you had, the date, and the amount of added sugars (I encourage you to use a different tab for each week for a minor extra annoyance). But isn’t doing it every time I eat something annoying when I could just write it down and add it all up later? It is much more annoying. You’re getting the idea.

For something as straightforward as keeping track of added sugar (it’s one number per item, unlike keeping track of all the main nutritional facts, which you cannot reasonably fit on the screen of your smartphone), I like to add another layer by monetizing my purchases. This adds another bit of pain while not actually hurting you. Then, you set aside an annoying amount of money as payment to your future self. If, for example, you want to lose weight in order to feel better about how you look in a bathing suit, then that money should go toward paying for a new bathing suit, preferably one that you wouldn’t otherwise treat yourself to. (If you’re trying to reduce unnecessary spending, then transferring money from a checking account into a savings account might be the way to go.)

If you’re a sugar fiend, and you don’t have oodles of cash lying around, then you might set aside 47¢ for each time you add sugar/honey/syrup/agave to something or each small piece of candy you have, $1.06 for each serving of candy, pastry or slice of cake, and $3.49 for each whole cake or pie or ice cream sundae. (TBH, I’m getting hungry.) When you do this and you add the tracking component, it makes it annoying so that you’re encouraged to ask yourself whether that peppermint candy lying on the table in the company break room is worth searching for the amount of added sugar in a typical peppermint candy, going back to your spreadsheet and entering that information, and then setting aside that amount of money. Unless you love peppermint candies, it’s probably not worth it. They last about fifteen seconds before they’re just something you have to pick out of your molars. I work out a lot and can consume a lot of calories, so I don’t shy away from eating a pastry now and then, but I discovered a new habit. Even when I feel like I’ve “earned” a pastry and am willing to do all that annoying stuff in exchange, I won’t settle for a second-choice option when my bakery or coffee shop is out of my first-choice option. And that is a good feeling because I know what that second-rate pastry is worth to me, and it’s not worth the original cost of the item plus the “penalty” for buying it plus the time and effort required to track it. A cinnamon roll from that one farmer’s market stall? Yes, I’d pay double. A danish for that same place? Hell, no. Now that’s some valuable information in the big picture of what something’s worth.

Know that you don’t have to do this forever. I actually have recently stopped tracking things for the time being, but the calculations of what something “costs” me and what I gain from it are still ingrained. I would recommend that you stop a few weeks after you feel like you’ve gotten into a good rhythm with it because we humans tend to underestimate how hard bad eating habits are to break. When you start to feel like you’re losing those new better eating habits, then you just start back up again. I know I will in a few weeks or so because I love sweet things, but then it’s easy to get back into the mindset of evaluating what those sweet things are really worth to me. Some are worth a helluva lot, and some are just filler candy.

The cards depicted above are from the Smith-Waite Centennial Tarot by Arthur E. Waite and Pamela Colman Smith © 2009, U.S. Games Systems, Inc. 179 Ludlow Street, Stamford, CT 06902. All rights reserved, used by permission.