Of all the hardships a person had to face, none was more punishing than the simple act of waiting.
-Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns
-Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns
Tarot is a master of dilemmas. One of the finest uses for tarot is sorting through the angles and what if's and projecting possible outcomes. It's what makes it such a great tool for brainstorming and decision making. So when the advice the cards give is to wait it can be extremely frustrating. We've been waiting, hence the stalemate of the stubborn problem, and we decide to give tarot a go at the situation and even tarot is being stubborn! At first you might think tarot is being obtuse. Like, no shit Sherlock, I already know I'm stuck, give me a freaking answer already!
There are several cards in the deck that indicate waiting. The Hanged Man is probably the most obvious as he's got no other option.
|Ambre Tarot by Florence Magnin, Phage Press 1994|
In some ways, as frustrating as any kind of waiting can be, this kind of waiting is one of those "Oh well, may as well make the best of it" kind of times. And with this card you really do make the best of the waiting time and come away from it better off. What's more, you don't have to do much externally. (Well, you can't anyway.) All the good stuff happens internally. Your focus and perspective takes a major shift so when the waiting is over, you're all set to move forward. Getting this card as a signal to wait is a bit easier because you already know if you're caught up like the guy in the card and there's nothing you can do. It's nice to have this acknowledged by a tarot reading so you can accept the situation and get to the internal business rather than struggle against the ropes.
The 4 of Swords is another kind of waiting.
|Fenestra Tarot by By Chatriya Hemharnvibu; Published by US Games 2006|
The waiting in this card can be either self-imposed or externally demanded. It indicates a time out either due to illness, imprisonment, a short retreat, even spending time catching up on desperately needed sleep. Like the Hanged Man, it involves gaining perspective, indicated by the swords, as the mental blockade becomes less impenetrable during the time spent in rest. This card advises stepping back and waiting so your mind has an opportunity to settle and in that time you will be better able to go back and deal with the issue. With waiting, time seems suspended and that can be the most frustrating part. Waiting is always less frustrating when we have something to do. But doing isn't always active or physical, it can be mental doing that occupies the time. However, this card says we shouldn't even be doing that. Stop tossing the problem back and forth in your mind for a while. Let it just be and go take care of yourself. Stop obsessing.
And then we have the 2 of Swords:
|DruidCraft Tarot By Stephanie Carr-Gomm & Philip Carr-Gomm & Will Worthington; Published by Connections 2005|
If ever there was a dilemma card, this one's it. It's not always indicative of indecision. Sometimes it can be a conscious choice to remain neutral in a situation. In terms of waiting, however, this card advises to take that neutral stance until a truth of some kind reveals itself that will undoubtedly break the stalemate. That revelation often comes as the 3 of Swords, an unpleasant truth, but necessary to understand clearly before one knows what to think and do.
Active waiting is another kind, somewhat better to deal with, but still frustrating to get in a reading. The 7 of Pentacles can represent this kind:
|Pamela A tarot deck|
In the situation represented by the 7 of Pentacles, you've already put so much time, energy and investment into the situation but you're wondering if you should expend any more. It may be starting to look like it was all a wasted effort and if you continue you may just be throwing good resources after bad. Or maybe when you started you felt more positive about the whole thing but now, you're just not sure it's what you really want. And it's turning out to be a lot more work than you bargained for, too. This card is full of doubt and wishful thinking. Still, there's stuff you can do in the meantime while you're waiting for the situation to ripen. Until something indicates it's time to go in a different direction, you can keep tending to the situation as you have been. I wouldn't invest any more additional resources if you can help it, but just watch and wait to see if things turn out well (or not). This means you'll still be busy, which makes the waiting somewhat more bearable.
Fours in tarot often show stillness, a time of unmoving stability. The 4 of Cups is interesting because cups, emotions, are often anything but still:
|Hudes Tarot By Susan HudesPublished by US Games 2002|
Here's the kind of waiting that one does when you're just not feeling it. You had hoped for more and you didn't get it. There's disappointment and feelings of hopelessness. These emotions have a way of dragging you down so you don't even want to keep trying or hoping. Just fuck it, you think, I should just forget it. But you can't. So you wait until something happens to engage your emotions or passions again. Waiting through this card can feel awful, so the advice would be to try not to be so pessimistic and look around you for opportunities you may be missing that would fill your cup again. Take time to just sit with your emotions (or lack of them) and accept that we all go through times like this. I definitely wouldn't make any decisions during this time. Probably unwise. So wait it out.
I really hate the next one, the 8 of Swords:
|Robin Wood Tarot By Robin Wood; Published by Llewellyn 1991|
Stuck. So goddamn stuck. I always get the sense that this woman didn't get into this predicament by herself. While her own thoughts may be keeping her there, she's been hoodwinked and tied up, too. It's as if someone has deceived her and she is now realizing she has been deceived but doesn't know what to do about it and can't find her way out of the deception. The advice here isn't about waiting for rescue, because that isn't going to happen. The waiting in this card is less about standing still any longer, but waiting on your own senses to engage and give you important clues how to release yourself. This woman can use her sense of smell and hearing to gather crucial information. She can smell the sea and hear the waves and know not to move in that direction. She can feel the sand under her feet and take tentative, careful steps across the sand, feeling her way forward. This card can also indicate you've been accepting of your victimization and it's now time to take some control. This card can reveal why you have been waiting but it doesn't exactly advise to keep waiting. It does, however, advise that whatever you decide to do, do carefully and calculatingly.
Usually the 4 of Pentacles is viewed in a rather negative light, as a miserly, greedy, stubborn kind of energy. But in terms of advice and waiting it can mean not these traits but something different:
|Housewives Tarot By Paul Kepple; Published by Quirk Books|
This is mine and you can't have any. It's telling you to not give any of your stuff, your time, your resources, your attention. Be stubborn and stick to your boundaries. Don't give in. It's not so much about waiting as about taking a stand and refusing to be manipulated or victimized. So if you're wondering what you can do about a situation and this card comes up as advice, don't do anything. Don't give anything. Let them come to you, and even then, don't budge.
While waiting is hard, really hard sometimes, when the advice is clear that waiting is the best course of action, er, non-action, we can at least use the time wisely and productively by following the other clues in the card's advice. If we need to take a break from the situation, do that. Take a long drive, go to a movie, whatever it takes to get away from the anxiousness of waiting. If the card says just keep doing what you've been doing, then do that and try not to stress over what if's. If you're supposed to start taking baby steps, take one. Doesn't matter which one, just move in a direction. If you can't actually do anything, try to see the situation from other perspectives. A change of mind and understanding can actually be the key to getting unstuck. Waiting is always difficult, but with something to do it seems to pass more quickly.