Exploring Your Chronic Illness Through Tarot

In this post I show you how to explore your chronic illness (or situation) using free association, intuitive tarot reading, thinking outside of the box and using tarot questions instead of a positional tarot spread.

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Every tarot spread I have created has come from a direct need to understand a personal situation. I share those tarot spreads with you freely, but I do not always share the reason why it was created, or the details involved.

This tarot spread though, is different because I’m going to show you how to read your tarot cards outside of the box, so to speak. While we will be using the general tarot card meanings to help us decipher what the reading is telling us, it is also necessary to let the tarot speak to us in a different way than usual.

In order to see the cards differently, we need to consider the tarot deck we want to use. This can work in two ways:

  • We choose a deck we are very familiar with so that we know its meanings and nuances
  • We choose a deck we don’t normally read with to enable us to see things we wouldn’t with our familiar, working deck.
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My Own Chronic Illness

For a number of years, too many, in fact, I have suffered from fatigue. It comes and goes in bouts. I have had no help from my doctors who one time plainly admitted that they didn’t believe Chronic Fatigue Syndrome existed as a standalone condition. They believe it must be the result of something else and will only acknowledge Post Viral Fatigue.

I agree with both of their statements and while that may appear contradictory, it’s not. There is clearly something going on within my biochemistry that causes such debilitating fatigue. They are of no help and even through my years of complaining to them that aren’t doing anything to help me, they order the ususal blood tests that we all know will come back ‘within range’, even though a large percentage of my blood results sit on the edge of the range at either end. No-one but myself has tried to interpret these edge-of-the-range results.

The only doctor to have ever really helped me understand what has been going on within my system is a doctor I’ve never met. Her name is Dr Sarah Myhill. She has stood alone for many years, often derided by the medical community for her belief that aside from a number of situations that can create fatigue, at the root of it is a mitochondrial dysfunction. It’s important to get that description right because she is not talking about genetic mitochondrial diseases.

In a person with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, the mitochondria aren’t producing and recycling enough energy for the body. The number of causes that can affect mitochondrial energy production is vast and is beyond the scope of this post. However, if you suffer from chronic fatigue and are absolutely frustrated at the ignorance and treatment you receive from your own doctors, I strongly recommend you visit Dr Myhill’s extensive website. She’s a private GP but she hasn’t been taking on new patients for some time as she is in such demand her appointment book is closed.

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Chronic Health Tarot Spread

If like me, you have suffered for years from chronic fatigue, or indeed any other chronic illness that you never seem to get on top of, you may be wondering if tarot can help you get more information regarding your situation and what you can do about it.

I have to state loud and clear at this point that in no way is this tarot spread predictive – it is purely exploratory and is designed to help you uncover information about your illness you may not have known about and what you, the sufferer, may be able to do about it, by yourself. Let’s be honest here, if you have suffered any chronic illness that has been poorly understood by medical doctors, you will already be treating yourself, at your own expense, in your own time.

I am very well read, medically. A valid description of me is that I research the shit out of everything. So when I treat myself, it’s because I’ve taken the time to educate myself about what I’ve been experiencing in my body. You should be doing the same, if you’re not already. A chronic illness like CFS is not made better nor improved by the prescribed Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Pacing.*

*Dr Sarah Myhill is suing the British Medical Council for misleading the public and the misuse of public funds for falsifying the results of the research that suggested that Pacing and CBT were the best options for people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and related conditions. Please see her YouTube channel for full details and information.

So how can tarot and a spread help? By asking the right questions. And I have to say here and now, this is not a tarot spread of the usual design – it doesn’t have positions, it has questions – questions relevant to your situation.

So this is a custom tarot spread. You can use the questions I have outlined below, and I genuinely asked these questions based on my own situation, or you can ask your own.

My questions aren’t asking for a diagnosis because I already have one, despite my current doctors disagreeing with it, my previous doctor did diagnose me with it.

My questions were formed sequentially, which just means that as I asked a question and drew a card, I interpreted that card and asked the next question based either on that answer, or from what I discovered during the process of interpretation.

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My Chronic Health Questions:

  1. What is the most debilitating aspect of my illness?
  2. What can remedy or assist the correction of the Knight of Swords?
  3. Is there a particular medicine or treatment that can help create/store/generate energy that I’m not doing already?
  4. Is there anything else that maybe an underlying issue that is as yet undiagnosed or unidentified?
  5. Would I benefit from further blood/serum/urine tests to help pinpoint the Page of Cups?
  6. Am I likely to get any further help or support from my doctor?
  7. Is there a single card that can sum up my health condition, as I experience it? It’s diagnosis, its effects of me, how and where it leaves me in my life?
  8. Is there a timeline that may indicate a permanent improvement in my health?
  9. Would moving to a warmer location be beneficial to my health?
  10. What else can I do to improve my health, or avoid/consider?
  11. Will employing the help of an angel like Rohael help?

These questions are relevant to my personal situation and it is my hope that you will find them relevant and useful to you too. You can absolutely change or modify these questions to make them more appropriate to your particular situation.

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At the start of this post I said we would be thinking outside of the box when we interpret the cards that were drawn in answer to my questions. And so we shall.

Using Free Association & Intuitive Tarot Reading

Or in other words, say what you see. A bit like playing Catchphrase, just not on the telly.

As well as free association, we can also use very direct interpretations of the cards, their literal interpretations. We will also be drawing on the imagery of the cards – hence why it should be either a very familiar deck or one you don’t often use but one that has unsual imagery – a collage deck would be great here – Voyager by James Wanless springs to mind. I used my vintage Rider Waite.

This is all a very intuitive way to read the cards because we may read them out of context or be totally literal. What I see may not be what you see and vice versa. No answer is wrong – this is an exercise in exploration, investigation and discovery.

So, when you ask your own questions, be sure to get some sheets of A4 paper and a pen and write everything down that springs to mind when you draw your cards.

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How I Interpreted the Cards in My Chronic Health Spread

1. What is the most debilitating aspect of my illness?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot Knigh of Swords
Knight of Swords:
  • Burning energy too quickly
  • Not holding onto energy created/energy retention
  • Asking too much of yourself when you have some free energy
  • Always fighting against an unseen force
  • Needing the support of another to help me get through the day

The Knight of Swords is an interesting analogy for how it feels when the fatigue kicks in. It’s hard to describe to someone who’s never experienced it. The best I can do is say it feels like someone unplugged me. The ‘unseen force’ makes this insidious as it seems to strike whenever it likes.

2. What can remedy or assist the correction of the Knight of Swords?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - 06-swords
6 of Swords:
  • Time away from my daily routine/life
  • A trip abroad
  • Discovering the science/mechanisms behind energy loss
  • Change the way I look at my CFS
  • Always look forward and put the illness in the past
  • May indicate energy work/meditation therefore a retreat
  • Staying as mentally strong as possible
  • Let it go and don’t own the illness

I have a good understanding of the science, though the energy recycling part of the Kreb’s Cycle gets a bit much… A holiday would be great, plus I am aware that because I feel so frustrated with the doctors, I can sometimes focus on the negative side of it.

3. Is there a particular medicine or treatment that can help create / store / generate energy that I’m not doing already?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - 4 of Wands
4 of Wands:
  • Healthy food – lots of berries
  • Nutritional supplements
  • Support groups
  • Spending time with friends to lift the spirits
  • Spend time amongst flowers or fruit producing plants and bushes
  • Spend time in places where life is abundant
  • Stop isolating myself

I eat really well and while Dr Myhill does advocate a paleo diet including berries, I do have a berry smoothie every morning. I don’t have the full amount of required supplements so I need to work on that. I live in rural Scotland, beautiful as it is, and especially during lockdown (C-19), I don’t get out and about amongst people so much. I agree I should socialise more, for the joy of it.

4. Is there anything else that maybe an underlying issue that is as yet undiagnosed or unidentified?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - Page of Cups
Page of Cups:
  • Water retention
  • Dehydration
  • Ocean/sea water/sea salt – body fluids/blood/serum
  • Blood pressure
  • Take fish oils!

My blood sugar levels are one of those on the ceiling of the UK range, which is wider than the US. In the last couple of months it has tipped above the ceiling. I attribute this to insulin resistance and am currently reading the works of Dr Jason Fung and watching his YouTube videos. I have been follow his advice and begun 24hr fasting sessions twice a week. My blood pressure has been higher than usual in recent months.

5. Would I benefit from further blood/serum/urine tests to help pinpoint the Page of Cups?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - High Priestess reversed
High Priestess reversed:
  • Further testing may reveal something hiding in plain sight
  • Further testing might not reveal any new insights
  • Doctors are not acknowledging pre-diabetes or underactive thyroid
  • Pomegranates – anti-oxidants
  • Veins/blood cleansing

I feel that any further tests would only confirm my higher blood sugar, underactive thyroid and low vitamin levels, all of which I am dealing with using supplements. It’s interesting, visually, how the two pillars are tubular like veins, and that pomegranate is said to lower blood pressure and improve heart health.

6. Am I likely to get any further help or support from my doctor?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - Judgement
  • Unlikely to be in the way I would hope
  • There maybe encouragement to continue on the path I have taken
  • Further assistance from other quarters or my continued insistance for help may attract criticism
  • Feeling judged by those who don’t understand, particularly my doctors

It is possible that my negative experiences at the doctors regarding my fatigue is influencing how I interpret this card. Typing this up now, I can see that perhaps I may get the referrals I need. Perhaps there may be a call to join a study or participate in research as a subject.

7. Is there a single card that can sum up my health condition, as I experience it? It’s diagnosis, its effects of me, how and where it leaves me in my life?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - 3 of Wands
3 of Wands:
  • Always looking at something seemingly so far away
  • That it just gets bigger, taking over more of my life
  • I’m always hoping and looking for new ways to treat it
  • Always waiting for my ship to come in – waiting for help/an answer
  • It’s a long term approach and most likely will always need treating
  • Dig deep – push forward

The Thoth Tarot has a much more positive feel to this card than the Rider, and it is that deck that normally informs my definition of the card. The Rider is a much more sombre looking card and it really does sum up how CFS makes me feel and describes my lived experience.

8. Is there a timeline that may indicate a permanent improvement in my health?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - The Star
The Star reversed:
  • No – it may always be ongoing
  • Perhaps in line with the High Priestess and the Page of Cups, I will improve when all of my symptoms are identified and treated. This card may confirm the need to treat something other than CFS
  • Interferring with the flow – I could be hindering my health in some way as the water doesn’t flow upside down. Is it food, allergies, coffee?

I really wanted something positive here, but this is what I got and in some way, I knew it would be this way. I’m optimistic though, as always, because getting this under control is the name of the game. Then I have to maintain it, which obviously hasn’t worked for long enough before. I slide with the protocol and find myself back to square one. Idiot.

9. Would moving to a warmer location be beneficial to my health?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - 2 of Pentacles
2 of Pentacles reversed:
  • Moving abroad, at least, won’t cure my energy issues and may recreate more due to the heat.
  • Being out of balance
  • Turmoil with no support
  • Financial loss

I really wanted this to be upright! I dream of a Greek Odyssey, an olive grove and a little plot by the Aegean Sea… I also have to say, despite usually preferring cooler weather, I feel my bones don’t like the dampness in Scotland nor a Scottish winter. I am reminded of the 4 of Wands here and feel the family connection is strong.

We have known for a long time that this area, beautiful as it is, suffers from geopathic stress with multiple ley lines running through the area. This may be something that is causing additional issues to my health and reminds me of the Star rx – an interruption of the flow of water/energy.

10. What else can I do to improve my health, or avoid/consider?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - 9 of Swords
9 of Swords reversed:
  • Reduce stress(ors)
  • Keep a regular sleep pattern
  • Get enough sleep
  • Rest when required without worrying about losing time
  • Stop focussing on the negatives associated with dealing with doctors and those who don’t care to understand
  • Deal with it but don’t dwell on it

Stress and sleep are big and seeing as I’ve had trouble with my HPA Axis this year particularly, I’ve been working hard on both. According to Dr Berg on YouTube, once you have accumulated a lot of stress over time, biologically, it doesn’t take much to kick the whole cortisol/adrenaline machine into action and you are a trembling wreck over the smallest thing. Like I said, I’ve work hard on this one.

11. Will employing the help of an angel like Rohael help?

Vintage Rider Waite Tarot - Ace of Cups
Ace of Cups:
  • Most definitely!
  • Seek out the divine for assistance
  • Employ healing modalities that involve energy work

Rohael is one the 72 Shem Ha’maphorash angels. A synchronistic reading indicated this angel can help with restoring energy. Just what I need. In my last post, Angelic Protection Magick During Times of Crisis, I introduced the idea to my readers about accessing the angelic realm for assistance in life. Aside from continuing my Reiki practice, I shall definitely seek out the divine for assistance.

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Another Example of Using Free Association and Tarot

I also used free association in Waking the Dead, when I explored the nature of my great, great, great, great grandfather and his life – Captain Joseph Hynson – Double Agent during the American Revolution. I used the Thoth Tarot for that exercise and what is interesting between these two posts is how differently I have approached the subjects. It is often true that it’s harder to be objective about yourself than someone else and I feel that may be the case here. My free association with Joseph is much more clearly defined than this one.

An interesting exercise as an addendum to this one, would be to compare the deck you used with another to see if anything else comes up. For me here, that could mean drawing out the same cards in the Thoth Tarot as I did in the Rider, repeat the questions then compare them side by side and see if looking at them as tarot combinations or tarot pairs brings out anything else.

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Summary and Sources of Help

This post is much more personal than usual. I don’t normally reveal such private details but I wanted to reach out to everyone who also suffers, often alone, with a chronic illness and show them that the tarot can be used in such a way to obtain unique and helpful details.

By stepping outside of the box and employing the liberating practices of free association and intuitive tarot reading, a detailed exploration and discovery about a subject you are already familiar with can yield sometimes overlooked information. I will definitely be keeping an eye on my blood pressure and my heart health.

To give you an idea of how my life (including this blog) have been affected by CFS, I first wrote this post on May 16th – six weeks before I could actually post it. I have been unwell and even managed to get bitten by a dog on my right hand, which required a visit to the emergency room and stitches. I have been up and down and also dealing with my lower back pain and stenosis – a separate condition from CFS, but as Fibromyalgia sufferers know only too well, pain wears you down and drains you. I am happy to report that I have stabilised now, medically speaking, and have begun to implement some of the things that came up in the reading as well as seeing some new things I didn’t before – like the Star – those seven white stars and the large sunny coloured one are trying to tell me something.

Please be sure to check out Dr Sarah Myhill’s excellent website for information about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, mitochondria, vitamin and mineral protocols and information regarding diabetes, the thyroid and much more. She has written several books, all on Amazon and also has a YouTube and Twitter account which is run by her co-author, webmaster and former patient.

Dr Jason Fung is a Canadian Nephrologist (kidney specialist) and has been leading the charge, medically speaking, regarding the causes of obesity (it’s hormonal), diabetes and therapeutic fasting to help correct those conditions as well as insulin resistance. His Twitter account is a good place to start, as is Amazon for his groundbreaking books.

Support groups can be found everywhere, but especially online. I find the Healthunlocked forum site to be really informative and helpful. It’s populated by people like you and me, but what is helpful is that a lot of answers are found there, like the most effective types of supplements to take. For example, magnesium citrate or malate is more bioavailable than magnesium oxide and more gentle on your digestive tract. Magnesium oxide is often used in multivitamin and mineral supplements as a cheap option. Unless you want the runs, it’s best to avoid it. Healthunlocked is amazing at helping you understand your test results, where to turn next and just for support.

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While I strive to bring you really useful and relevant information, from how to read your tarot cards outside of the box to help you understand your condition, I in no way suggest you should start treating yourself, as I have. You must make your own informed decisions. If you are already under the care of a doctor, please do not replace their advice based on what I say here. Again, do your own research and research the shit out of your condition so any decisions you make for yourself are well informed.

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Image by Prettysleepy from Pixabay

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8 thoughts on “Exploring Your Chronic Illness Through Tarot”

  1. Thanks for writing this. My friend Jessica Macbeth (Faerie’s Oracle) will really appreciate this. I tagged her on FB so she could see it.

    • Hi Nancy,
      I am also friends with Jessica on Facebook – she’s an absolute treasure. Thank you for sharing my post with her!
      I hope you are well.
      Catherine x

  2. What a wonderful read. I empathize as I am too a chronic sufferer of pain. The medical community is really not proactive or responsive to my needs. It is frustrating and exhausting. I am looking forward to learning a more intuitive approach as you put forth in this post. Thank you
    In light

    • Hi Tina,
      Thank you for such lovely words about this post. The medical community have in general been a let down for everyone I’ve ever spoken to. Like many others, I’m standing here today through my own research and efforts to get myself well again.
      Keep your resolve up as much as you can – I will be thinking of you as you take care of yourself!

  3. This is a really great post, thank you. I suffer from a degenerative neurological disease and a handful of other chronic conditions and have specifically been wanting to use Tarot for healing. I’m just setting up my blog, so will be looking into this to kick things off.

    • Hi Leigh,
      Thank you for your kind words about this post. I was unsure whether to share such personal information but it has been well received with lots of messages from people saying how much it helped them too.
      I wish you well on your journey and look forward to reading your blog when it launches.

  4. Thank you for sharing this. If I had more energy this is word for word what I would have blogged. Your life is my life. Undiagnosed, constant, debilitating pain and fatigue. No help from the medical system.
    I too research the shit out of everything! I’m currently teaching myself how read my own X-rays and lab results!
    Thank you for the spread and information links. I wish you well in your journey and I look forward to reading more of your blog.

  5. Oh and the bit about the HPA axis/cortisol…I relate HARD! My parasympathetic nervous system is so off the rails. A knock on the door sets off tremors so strong my teeth rattle and I can see straight.

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