Practical Tarot: Ending Productivity Paralysis

Have you ever had one of those days — or maybe one of those weeks, or one of those months — in which you are either a) feeling so anxious or depressed,  b) have so much to do, or c) both at the same time, that you fall into a state of paralysis? Negative emotions like depression, for me, bring on productivity paralysis like nothing else. I can easily get into a funk in which I don’t want to pick up a deck of cards, don’t want to write, and don’t even want to look at social media. At such times, I could easily just sit and stare into space for hours. I think that for a lot of people, this is what they do when they watch t.v., but spending time scrolling through social media sites or even reading books can also be a symptom of the same problem. This problem is not procrastination, unless you’re able to recognize that procrastination is NOT rooted in laziness or in ADD but in sheer despondency and depression. It is actual productivity paralysis — and if you’re an entrepreneur or a student or work in a field where you are expected to take initiative and be creative every day, this condition can be the death knell to your hopes and dreams — or at least, that’s what it feels like.

But productivity paralysis doesn’t have to be a death knell. It can instead be a delay — a delay that you can slowly chip your way out of.

I took my first step out of depression-based productivity paralysis today by picking up a deck of cards and asking simply, “what should I be doing right now?”

First, though, a word about the deck I chose for this exercise: it’s a new deck that I have never written about in this space before, the Wisdom of the House of Night cards, an oracle (not tarot) deck. Before reading with this deck I decided to make some alterations to it (so if you have the same deck, my images may look a little different). I trimmed the borders off with a paper cutter, and, since that meant that I also lost the words and numbers printed on each card, I wrote them back onto the cards with gold and silver craft markers (which unfortunately smeared a little as they dried). The result is a much smaller deck that fits in my hands as if it were a mini-deck. It is half the size of the House of Night cards that I originally bought.

So here are the cards I drew: Reminder, Belonging, Focus.Reminder--House of Night cardsBelonging--House of Night cardsFocus--House of Night cards A reminder to focus on the work that I belong in, and on finding the exact place and group of people (if you’re familiar with the House of Night books, you know that the House of Night is in many ways a place of refuge for people who don’t fit the standard mold) where I belong. To me, that’s a reminder to spend more time on and make more of a priority of tarot and other spiritual work. I especially love that the sunset on the Belonging card looks much like the sunset I often see out my office window. These cards (the Focus card, in particular) are also a reminder to use the tools that have been placed in my hands.

If I take an even closer look at these cards, there is more advice to be gleaned. Both the first and the third cards show images of earth and nature. Connecting with earth, and even looking upon earth as our mother (as hokey as that sounds) can be a helpful way to release negative emotions that bring on productivity paralysis. It is possible to lie on the ground (savasana, yoga’s corpse pose, is a good way to do this) and let negativity drain out of you into the earth, where it can be composted and transformed into something nourishing. At the same time, earth can hold you up and fill you with grounding, calming, down to earth energy — just what is needed. The middle picture, showing a house or large building, tells me that my particular productivity paralysis is related to first chakra level anxiety — anxiety about things like home, family, security. Common concerns, but we have to look at them and delve into them, or at least prioritize them, to be able to make a difference. Finally, the woman shooting the arrow on the focus card is using a flaming arrow: fire, enthusiasm, creativity, all directed at one important target. This clue tells me more than anything else: that I should not only be doing work in a place where I belong, but that it should be something I am passionate about, something that fires me up. So, here I am! 🙂

If you have a practical tarot question that you’d like to have answered in this space, please write to me at If you have a practical tarot question that you’d like to keep more private, please choose a reading from the options on my Readings pages (or write to me directly if you prefer).


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