Summer Burnout~ A Sun-Baked Divination

Some days, there’s just not enough coffee in the universe to get me going.

During most of the year, doldrum days are pretty rare for me. I generally have good forward momentum: I have dreams and visions I’m trying to manifest, sacred Work I’m focused on, and a beloved community to serve. For some reason, right now, I’m feeling kind of stuck. I think there are a host of variables at play: the pandemic pendulum swing is making me hesitant to put things on the books. The specter of another lockdown has my emotions spinning toward anxiety. The ever escalating global and national calamities (Afghanistan, fires, plague, mass shootings, drought) weigh heavy on my mind.  I find that I’m struggling to write. Too often, I sit in front of a blank page, willing my brain to do something only to receive….silence.

I think I’m suffering from a little bit of summer burnout. When I can’t puzzle my way out of a problem using logic, I turn to my magickal practices.

Today, I designed a new reading to get a better understanding of why I’m feeling burned out. This reading is designed for sortilege-based systems. Tarot, oracle cards, runes, and kahina stones should all work. This reading is also designed with the use of a Shadow Deck in mind.  A Shadow Deck is a divinatory tool specifically aligned to reading the repressed, hidden or destructive parts of our psychology and the influence those impulses have on our lives. Our Shadow behaviors are frequently obstacles to our goals.  For more information on Shadow Decks and how to use them, click here.

If you do not have a Shadow Deck, you could simply use two different sortilege systems.  Or, you could do all the draws with the one sortilege system you have. In theory, it ought to work for multiple scenarios.

The Summer Burnout Spread

Begin with your ‘normal’ deck.  Hold the deck and take a moment to tune in on the feelings of burnout, lethargy, or apathy you’re struggling with.  Ask, ‘How do I move through this feeling of burnout?’

Then, lay the cards down in this order:

One: The center of the situation.

Two: The obstacle that most needs to move.

Three: (Earth) What aspect of your career or finances do you need to focus on?

Four: (Air) What mental health or creative efforts do you need to focus on?

Five: (Fire) What do you need to focus on to support your vitality and passion?

Six: (Water) What emotional messages do you need to focus on?

Before turning them over, pick up your Shadow Deck. Hold the deck and again, tune in to your feelings of burnout, lethargy, or apathy.  This time, the question is ‘what hidden, repressed, or self-defeating factors are playing in to my burnout?’

Then, lay the cards down in this order. The question is roughly the same for each position – we’re looking for underlying and root causes with these cards.

Seven: What shadow is this obstacle rooted in?

Eight: What shadow is the resistance in the Earth area of my life rooted in?

Nine: What shadow is the resistance in the Air area of my life rooted in?

Ten: What shadow is the resistance in the Fire area of my life rooted in?

Eleven: What shadow is the resistance in the Water area of my life rooted in?

Turn the cards over and interpret them in the order they were placed, starting with the ‘normal ‘deck and then moving on to the Shadow Deck positions.


Because this one is a little complex, I’m going to share my own reading with you.  I use the Legacy of the Divine as my standard deck, my Shadow Deck is the TrueBlack Tarot.

One: Faith. This is the Hierophant in other decks. It’s time to go back to my personal studies, to spend more time learning from others.

Two: The Moon. I most need to deal with my fear, and the distorted reality that I perceive when my fear is driving me. It’s creating harmful illusions that are clouding my judgment.

Three: The Star. It’s time to grow again. My career needs to take its next step, and that step must be inspired by faith, creativity, and following my own inner guidance.

Four: 6 of Wands. I need to be more open to enjoying the rewards of my hard work, and allowing those rewards to help fuel future movement.

Five: Two of Wands. I need to decide what I actually want my physical health to be like and make a solid plan for getting there (FINE, FINE, WHATEVER).

Six: Nine of Cups. I need to open to and focus on the abundance of healthy relationships and love around me.

And now we add the shadow:

Seven: Five of Cups. The Moon, and all my fear, is rooted in the crushing disappointments of last year. I lost so much – the company of my community, events I adore, my wedding, my physical health (I broke an ankle and still haven’t gotten back to where I was), and the worst one: my father’s life. That grief remains and is fueling my fear.  On a deep level, I’m afraid it will all somehow happen again.

Eight: The Hermit. I’m having problems accessing The Star’s forward movement because I’m in a Hermit place.  I’ve turned inward. I’m soul-searching about what all that loss means, how it changed me, and who I am now.  All that navel-gazing is keeping me from focusing on the path in front of me with my full attention.

Nine: The Seven of Wands. I haven’t been open to my own success simply because I feel like I’m fighting an uphill battle to keep going. I need to learn how to take some breaks, to enjoy the small victories, so that I can find the strength to keep moving forward.

Ten: The Ten of Wands. The extra burdens I’ve been carrying have kept me from even thinking about, much less making plan for, my own physical health and vitality. I need to start setting some of what I’m carrying down – these extra weights were never meant to be temporary, and they are starting to get in the way.

Eleven: The Knight of Wands. I’m so consumed by my visions and dreams that I’m missing some of the beautiful relationships around me, and the opportunity to deepen and revel in them. Slow down, Irene. You’ll miss the important stuff if you don’t stop hitting your head against the wall.


I’m pleased with the results of this reading: it helps explain why I’m feeling stuck and gives me some good directions for what I need to sit with and resolve to get moving again. And that’s why I’m sharing it – it was really useful for me.  So, give it a try!  Let me know how it works for you. And, if you’d prefer to have someone else do the reading for you, you’re always welcome to schedule a reading with me.

If you found this spread helpful, please feel free to share it around!










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