Oracle of Ybor: Achieving Career Goals While Struggling With Mental Illness

Jul 10, 2023 at 1:00 pm
Tarot cards on a table with candles.
Tarot cards on a table with candles. Photo via Adobe Stock.

Dear Oracle,

Am I going to be successful with my career goals despite my mental illness? I want to do a childcare and early-year developmental course, but I’m unsure if I’ll be able to get onto the course and complete the course while I’m struggling with my anorexia and depression. What do you think? 

—Looking Ahead

Cards: Knight of Pentacles, High Priestess (rev.), Nine of Cups, Eight of Cups.

Dear Looking,

Very recently, someone wrote in and discussed dealing with their eating disorder. In that response, I highly encouraged the letter-writer to seek out an eating disorder specialist and would encourage you to do the same. Anorexia is a very complex disease (as is depression, which often co-exists with eating disorders) that requires specialized care. If you already have someone, that’s great, but if not, I strongly encourage that to be priority number 1.

Having a solid team that you can rely on will help you as you work towards your career goals—which I do believe you’ll be able to reach.

Mental illness can feel like chaos, which the horse in the Knight of Pentacles represents. But the Knight is in control; he can see his destiny on the horizon, and, most importantly, he can guide the horse. I think this applies to both your career goals and your mental health recovery. As long as you’re feeling in control (and have help when you feel out of control), you can absolutely do this.

The High Priestess reversed paired with the Nine of Cups are two cards that suggest deep psychological work and soul searching. The High Priestess is often a card of the unconscious, as well as secret knowledge. She is the guardian of our spirit, and to work with her is to truly meet ourselves deep down. The Nine of Cups tells us not to be distracted by fantasy and to really know who we are and what we want.

If you genuinely want to go into a career in childcare, you will get there. You’re the Knight in control. But that path might not look as straightforward in practice as it does in theory. With the Eight of Cups, it’s important to be adaptable. You’re already showing a lot of bravery by taking this new path, but it might zig and zag in ways you can’t foresee.

If you enroll in your courses but find that you need to take a semester off to treat your mental health, that’s ok. Just because you’re pausing on the road doesn’t mean you’ve abandoned the journey. You are on this path for you. Artificial deadlines don’t matter. Doing things “the normal way” is horseshit. You’re doing what you need to do to reach your destination, so please show yourself some grace. It’s hard to be human, and all of us need help from others now and again.

You are here to take care of yourself and, in turn, care for others. You will absolutely get there. It may not be as fast as you imagine, but your illness will not stop you. The worst it can do is slow you down temporarily. But, again, this isn’t a race. It’s a journey.

I hope you get there with your health and your hard-earned degree.

Take care, my darling.

Dear Oracle, 

I’ve been a sommelier for five years now and have worked for a wine distributor for the past year. While I’ve worked in some phenomenal restaurants and made great connections, I’m ready to leave the South to advance my career. I have contacts in California and Italy and have been considering moving to either place. Any thoughts on which place is best for me? 

—Wandering Wino 

Cards for California: Five of Wands, Nine of Wands, Knight of Cups (rev.)

Cards for Italy: Hierophant, The Lovers, Ten of Wands (rev.) 

Dear WW,

If you can swing it, go to Italy. I know that option is the more expensive one, and would require all the paperwork of visas and passports and would probably require you to learn (or improve) another language and flee your home country, but it’s got the best cards by far.

California may be a struggle. I don’t know much about the wine world, but I do know about working in fine dining restaurants (the natural habitat of sommeliers), and some can be incredibly toxic. The Five of Wands is a lot of conflict, and with the burnout-central Nine of Wands, it feels like you might be facing uphill battles. The Knight of Cups reverse also suggests that your love for wine and your passion might be exploited—which, unfortunately, is also common in the restaurant world. It doesn’t seem like the healthiest vine for you to grow.

Italy, on the other hand? My god. You have the Hierophant, the giver of knowledge and vocations, where you’ll learn everything you need to know. You have The Lovers, the ultimate expression of love and passion for what you do. Then you have the Ten of Cups reversed, the marriage of your passions and knowledge, the culmination of your journey to get here. (Alternatively, The Lovers and Ten of Cups could mean a literal lover and marriage, so fingers-crossed you also meet your future spouse and live out your days in a villa in Tuscany.)

Even if Italy is a temporary move and you only stay a year or so, all of that major arcana energy could really ignite something inside of you. Italy has a wine culture that is thousands of years old, and while Napa is nice, it just doesn’t have that kind of history. Think about what you could learn from a 900-year-old vineyard! 

Again, I know that an international shuffle is not an easy option, and certain things need to line up both bureaucratically and financially, but if it’s in the realm of possibility, I say go for it.

Buona fortuna, bella.

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