Clinging On ~ Letting Go

A reading for a difficult work situation – the questioner enjoys their job and has a good professional relationships with their employer. The office is located in the employer’s home as is the employer’s spouse and their business office. The questioner is experiencing increasingly heightened tension with the spouse. The work environment has become extremely uncomfortable. The questioner would like some guidance from the cards.

I’m using the traditional Rider-Waite deck, designed and illustrated by Pamela Colman-Smith*. I pulled four cards from the deck:

  • 9 of Swords
  • 4 of Pentacles
  • Page of Pentacles
  • High Priestess


In this reading, my first question is “what’s missing” and I see there are no wands/fire or cups/water. And so, even though it seems like a dramatic situation, there’s not much passion or emotion for the questioner. Instead, I see that in this situation the primary discomfort is in the thought systems (swords) and the material world (pentacles).

The 9 of Swords expresses the current situation perfectly – it’s a nightmare. It keeps the questioner up at night wondering and worrying about what to do. The nightmare follows them to work every day and they feel unproductive at work because they are always worrying about the next encounter with the spouse. Unfortunately, there are no wands in this reading — so it’s not quite time for taking action.

You’ll notice both the 4 of Pentacles and the Page of Pentacles have the characters holding on … the one is grasping and clinging and the other is raising it up to consider more closely. The recommendation here is that the questioner consider what they are clinging to in the situation that they don’t want to let go of. Is it the money? (often the cast with pentacles.) Is it the security? Is it the prestige?

I often recommend that clients take the physical pose of the 4 of Pentacles, feel the pressure of the pentacle on the head, pushing them down and hunching them over, feel their arms holding onto the pentacle protecting their heart and belly, feel their feet planted on the two pentacles. It often feels that the pentacles are trapping the person as much as the person is clinging to the pentacles.

Once they figure out what they’re clinging to and what they are feeling entrapped by, it’s time to shift to the energy of the page and contemplate it – is the clinging worth the pain? Do they feel they have the power to free themselves? If they were to let go of the situation entirely, what risks would it entail?

Note the pomegranates, a symbol of female sexuality, on the hanging behind the High Priestess. It may be that the employer’s spouse is afraid of sexual relations between the questioner and the employer and that fear is brought out by the energy of the 4 of Pentacles, clinging to something that one is afraid of losing.

The High Priestess follows the Page of Pentacles as the natural next step in this reading. As the questioner contemplates the situation, they are invited to go deeper and ask for guidance from their intuition. The High Priestess sits in balance between the dark and the light and encompasses them both as valuable. She has a moon crown and has the new moon at her feet. This suggests that the situation will be resolved over the next month as the questioner moves through the phases of the moon.

Sometimes, in a reading that has no clear answer, and at the client’s request, I will pull a final card for more guidance. In this situation, the questioner preferred to consider this information first and to ask for guidance from their spiritual guides.


Pamela Colman Smith circa 1912.jpg

* Not many people are aware that Pamela Colman-Smith was biracial and bisexual at a time when it was not as socially acceptable as it is now. As was (and still is) too often the case, her name was left off the cards and her identify erased for more than 100 years other than as the invisible artist of the Rider-Waite deck. Throughout her career, Colman-Smith was a talented, popular, and well-traveled illustrator, set designer, and costume designer.

She was instrumental in the development and design of the most popular tarot deck in use today. She worked in partnership with Arthur Waite and the deck was published by the Rider company in 1910.

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