Thursday, 12 July 2012

Whole Self Spread on Eating

©Emily Carding
I used to be bulimic.  It's not something I talk about much, or think about too often these days, but there was a time when I would regularly binge on food, normally sweets, and then make myself throw up.  I haven't done that now for over eight years, but I do sometimes binge still, and after a bad one the thought crosses my mind, "I could throw this all up, get rid of this feeling.  Get rid of the guilt of having overeaten, the feeling of shame that I am disgusting and out of control, and the physical feeling of being overfull."  So far, I've always managed to resist the temptation.

This happened last night, and my eating hasn't been great for the whole of this year - not dreadful, but not good.  Last year, for the first time in my life, I went 11 months without eating chocolate or cookies or cakes or biscuits!  This year, though, is a different story.

A couple weeks back I was eating badly, but realised that it was connected to my DH and I having an on-going row.  For the last 5 days, though, I don't know what is wrong, but I figure something must be, or I wouldn't be eating so poorly that I thought about purging.

I decided to do a tarot spread to try to clarify what's going on with me to cause this negative behaviour. Drawing from my favourite Tarot of the Sidhe (Schiffer, 2011), I chose to use Emily Carding's Whole Self Spread, which comes in the companion book.

©Emily Carding

1)  Sun: That which is seen - Warrior Queen - Gift of Charm

At an obvious level, I seem to be fine.  I do work I enjoy and that pays okay, I have a DH who is kind and funny.  I generally feel quite creative, and am not overwhelmed by turbulent emotions, despite having some rocky situations in my life.

Yet, looking deeper at this card, it seems like quite a precarious balance - most people may just see that I'm doing fine, and not notice that actually I'm balanced on a rock, with waves crashing around me, and feeling pulled in lots of different directions.

©Emily Carding

2) Moon: That which is hidden - I - The Magician

What I don't see, though, is that I do have everything I need to cope with these situations.  Perhaps I don't trust myself enough, though.

In this Magician I see a balance of all the elements, an ability to fly or swim, to create and destroy.  From his head a tree sprouts, suggesting being creative in a practical and grounded way - after all, he manifests his will in reality.  His wings lift him up, connecting him with spirit and with the lofty realms of the intellect and higher truths. The flames over his palms, and the sun that blazes behind him, speak of his creativity, passion and drive.  His tail, and the river that flows beneath him, suggest he is also comfortable diving into more emotional realms.

I know that I have a lot of tools at my disposal to help with this issue, I just have to remember that and actually put them to use!

©Emily Carding

3) Stars: That which is truth - Dancer Six - Born of Joy

At first glance, this seems to say that I need to remember that I have a right to be happy, to seek joy, to experience and express my emotions in a positive way.  It suggests that I have support in this, from friends and family.

I also see the more traditional interpretation of this card: memories and emotions from the past re-emerging.  This has both positive and negative aspects: the past includes a number of years where I was deeply unhappy, and so bulimic that I stopped menstruating.  It also includes the last eight years where I have been much happier, where I have learnt to manage my emotions better, and to be healthier.  So, while it's true that I may be influenced by negative patterns established in the past, it's also true that I have the experience to deal with them.

©Emily Carding

4) Earth: The Physical - Dreamer Eight - Web of Mirrors

On a physical level, I get the sense I am not seeing things holistically enough.  I just see this symptom or that, not the bigger picture.  There may also be assumptions underlying some of my physical issues which I am not aware of.

There's also the fact that she looks pretty depressed, surrounded by negative, attacking thoughts.  Physical symptoms and manifestations can certainly be caused by this kind of situation.  So, I think I need to try to look into those mirrors, to figure out what the negative thoughts are in particular right now, because they are what are leading to my physical sensations and behaviours.

©Emily Carding

5)  Air: The Mental - Maker Four - The Greedy Tree

This is definitely how I think of myself right now: greedy, fat, gross! :(

There's something more here, though.  When someone is hoarding physical resources, or in my case overeating, it means that there isn't room for anything else to grow.  What am I stopping from developing by focusing on eating?  As I write this, I realise that this is connected to the row my DH and I were having, after all.

We have an appointment with a fertility clinic next month, and I feel very ambivalent about having another child.  If I sink into an eating disorder, then I may once again stop being able to have a child, and that may seem, at a subconscious level, an easy way out - it wouldn't be me refusing to have the child, it would be something physically stopping me.  I'm not saying it makes sense, but I believe that's how the subconscious sometimes works - creating a bad situation to prevent one that feels worse, or maybe just scarier...

©Emily Carding

6)  Fire: The Spirit - Dreamer Seven - A Coward Betrays

At one level, this card seems to support my analysis of the last card.  I am finding a sneaky way to get out of doing something that scares me, without having to face my emotions, or those of my DH.  I am betraying him by not talking openly about the issues, and instead hiding behind my eating.  It's tough, though, as he doesn't like talking about this stuff, either.  He just wants to get on with it, and doesn't get why I'm ambivalent.  It's not him that has to have the baby, though!

There's something here, too, about feeling that having another child would be a betrayal of my own creativity and spirituality, and a betrayal of my son.  Certainly, the first trimester of my last pregnancy I didn't have energy for anything above the absolutely necessary.  And having a young infant doesn't leave much time and energy for playing with a toddler, or for creative pursuits, for meditating and circle work.  I know that disruption won't last forever, but it is another thing that puts me off, and leads back to the bit where I feel ambivalent.

©Emily Carding

7)  Water: The Emotional - XVIII - The Moon

Doing this spread, and especially writing it up, I have realised some of the hidden emotions and thoughts that have been weighing on me, causing me to overeat.  The emotional realm is the one I find it hardest to deal with, hardest to navigate.  The Moon card reminds me of how much goes on under the surface, at a subconscious level.  I need to dredge these things up, bring them into the light of day, so that I can deal with them more productively.

©Emily Carding

8)  The Core: The Central Issue - Dancer Eight - Escaping Stagnation

At the core of all this is the fact that I need to deal with all the negative emotions that are pulling me down, trying to suck me into a black fug where all I do is eat so I don't have to feel or act, or have a baby.  I need to find something to reach for, something positive, that will help me escape this darkness of my own making.  I wonder whether it is something that I can create, or whether I need help from outside - a kick up the butt to get me moving...

©Emily Carding

9)  Bottom card - what is furthest from my consciousness

I don't always look at the card at the bottom of the stack, but I felt called to do so today.  Interestingly, this card reminds me of the Magician in the "what is hidden"  position.  Although I am not aware of it, I do have the strength of spirit to walk through fire if need be. 

I see this being both about talking to my DH, and about having the wherewithal to deal with another pregnancy, if it comes.

This was really helpful.  It clarified that it is stuff around having a baby that is bothering me, suggested that I need to root around in my emotions for those dark thoughts that most stress me out, and bring them into the light of day.  I may need a bit of help with that, but I do have all the tools I need, and the strength of spirit, to manage this.


  1. Just to say what a powerful reading this was...

    I wonder if you've come across the writer Marion Woodman ("The Owl was a Baker's Daughter", "Addiction to Perfection", etc.), who comes at food and such in an archetypal, highly thought-provoking way.

    And on the strength of so much obvious richness in the Tarot of the Sidhe, I am impatiently waiting for my deck to arrive...

    1. Hi Nion,

      No, I hadn't come across Marion Woodman - amazon, here I come :)

      I hope you'll love the Tarot of the Sidhe as much as I do - it's an amazing deck!

      L&L, Kerry

  2. Hi Kerry, what an amazing reading this is, and you've had some really great insights into your recent feelings and behaviour. I just wonder if you're feeling pressured to have a baby, based on what I've read here. It's something you and DH are going to have to talk about, for the sake of your marriage and the possible resulting child. You know it's perfectly acceptable not to want more children. I hope you find peace within yourself and your marriage on this issue very soon. Blessings.

    1. Hi Carla,

      You're completely right, I have been feeling pressured about having a baby. My DH has said he'd regret it for the rest of his life if we didn't have another child, so I worry it might be enough to drive him away! I know I need to tell him that, about my fear of losing him. I've been much better at talking to him about these things this last week, but there are still bits that feel really hard... Still, what I have felt able to say has definitely helped, as I haven't eaten any sweets or chocolate for over a week now :)

      Thank you for your comment and support, I appreciate it.
      Love and Light, Kerry