The Eudaimonia Spread

I argued with Aristotle today. It’s all Joanna Powell Colbert’s fault or maybe it’s Rachel Pollack’s fault. No really!

Eudaimonia, according to Princeton, is a “contented state of being happy and healthy and prosperous.” While Aristotle would tell you that it mean “striving toward excellence based on one’s unique talents and potential.” Both are fabulous thoughts, right? I mean who doesn’t want to be in a contented state? However if I examine that old wily Greek’s words a bit more, I see a stumbling block.


ari_2Um, excuse me, Mr. wiser Than Athena’s Owl Philosopher Man, doesn’t strive mean WORK? You mean I gotta work to be happy? I just knew there was a catch, dang it. What’s that, Mr. Makes Robes Look Good? You don’t mean work when you say strive? You mean “try really hard and focus on the goal” striving?

Well why didn’t you just say so? Sheesh! Some people’s ancient Greek philosophers!

Joanna Powell Colbert posted that on Twitter. No, not all of that… just this bit:

Today I am practicing eudaimonia”!! “striving toward excellence based on one’s unique talents and potential.”

JPC’s blog is one of those I hit frequently. Sometimes I go to reread an older post because I need to be reminded of something. She, like Lisa Hunt, explores her world and personal vision through art. I love diving into her pictures to see what new thing I can find. I also follow both these talented women on Twitter (along with a whole slew of others). Very often I will read something from someone that sparks me.

Joanna’s eudaimonia twitter sparked me. No. I don’t think sparked is right. Set ablaze. Engulfed my spirit in creative flame. Set me on fire! What a world it would be if we all practiced this concept of Aristotle’s — this eudaimonia. Of course, you know me, I immediately saw a wealth of questions in this 140 character Twitter from Joanna.

Because, after my donkey moment about striving being working, I had to wonder what my unique talents really are? And potential? Sure I have potential but where would it be best applied? I have one or two irons in that proverbial fire, donchano! This Tarot business. My writing career. My day job in tech support. My going-back-to-school self.

ari_1So if I agree that I have unique talents (and I do), then maybe I “might should” figure out what they are. And more importantly, maybe I should get a handle on how to focus on those talents so I can reach that fabulous place of excellence that old Mr. Fancy Robes says my potential and talents can get me to.

So I knew I wanted to learn about my talents and how to focus those. I also knew I wanted to know about this elusive thing my mother used to worry about me wasting — that potential thingamabob. I did what you probably predicted. I designed a spread.


The first three cards represent three of your talents. These may be talents you know you have like ice skating or they may be hidden talents you need to explore like soothing savage beasts with your violin playing.

The cards next to them show you how you need to focus those talents. Consider this what you need to strive towards, if you will.

Then the potential cards are next. Here the Universe gets a chance to play the role of nagging parent where you are told what you are good at and what you need to haul out of the back of your “closet.” You know this routine. “Jane! Why don’t you volunteer at the soup kitchen? You are so good with making people feel better.” That sort of nag! Pay attention, please. You really don’t want to make the Universe have to repeat the message do you?

I didn’t think so.

That last card is the BOO-YAH card. Say that out loud and say it proud. BOOOO YAHHH! I can’t hear you! Louder! Now don’t you feel empowered? You earth signs who are saying you feel a bit silly, go sit over there. When you feel like playing with us again, you can come back. Remember that interview with Rachel Pollack where you commented about playfulness? Well? So we are being playful.

Ahem. Sorry about that other people who were happy to yell BOO YAH with me. So as I was saying, this is the card that shows us the contented state we are striving for. Those of you with heavy Fire or Air influences should not be surprised if you get a card that indicates you are most contented when multi-tasking. Remember that a “state of contentment” is not the same for you as it is your partner or best friend or whomever. Bliss for me is contemplating my toenail polish while sitting in total silence in a Japanese garden (okay or floating on the bayou in a canoe.) I happen to know that would drive quite a few of my friends insane.

So this last card is what your personal state of contentment is. If you violently disagree with it, take some time to explore why that is. Could it be there is a kernel of truth hidden in that card any way?

Because this is a very long post, I will do my own personal Eudaimonia Spread in a separate post in a day or two. Stay tuned!

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12 thoughts on “The Eudaimonia Spread”

  1. Oh, oh, oh! you want to offer this spread to the Spreads forum at Aeclectic? there’s a particular person whose reactions I’d *love* to see!

    Oh and I’m tired now, but I’ll test it out tomorrow. With the Visconti Deck .

  2. Excellent post! I think many people grapple with how to channel or merge their unique talents into some kind of package-of-wonderful. Years ago, I went through this while trying to figure out how to bring all that I loved doing together–and every so often, I still need to reevaluate what it is I want to explore next. Your innovative spread idea couldn’t have been suggested at a better time. Once again, your wisdom and soulful offerings are appreciated, Arwen. BTW, your many talents are impressive too! Not sure how you do it all, frankly.

  3. I like this spread alot! Thank you for sharing it, Arwen.

    I love tapping into my bright shadow. It reminds me of a quote I saw somewhere:

    “The shadow is BOTH the awful thing that needs redemption AND the suffering redeemer who can provide it.” -Liz Green-

    But personally I like my bright shadow better, don’t you? LOL

    Aurora, CO

  4. Me again, Arwen.

    I just did your spread on myself and found interesting insights!

    I won’t go too indepth with my reading here but I thought I’d share some highlights in it with you.

    In “talent 2” my card was the 9 of cups and its “focus for talent 2” card was the 5 of swords which reminds me of my communications skills could be used more for conflict resolution. I handn’t given that much thought before, hmm.

    My “potential least utilized” card was the 3 of pentacles which tells me I could teach more.

    I won’t post my final interpretation but the final card, the “eudiamonia” card, was the sun. I cried.

    Like I said before…I like my bright shadow, dont you?

    Aurora, CO

  5. P.S.
    Sorry for the multiple posts. I get this way when I do a good reading. LOL

    BTW, if you’re wondering what deck I used…
    it was the handcrafted deck by Carol Herzer
    called the “Illuminated Tarot”. This deck’s colors remind me of my shadow so it’s “illuminating”.

    Aurora, CO

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