Category Archives: tarot

“What, so what, now what” – a reflection model which doubles as a tarot spread!

In midwifery, reflection is encouraged as a tool for learning from and developing our practice, and can be especially useful to help make sense of difficult events, and allow a plan to be made to allow us to move forward. Reflection involves focussing on a particular incident, describing it and looking at it critically. There are various widely used reflection models that are essentially frameworks or prompts that ask questions to allow you to reflect on an incident in a way that is helpful in terms on ongoing personal/professional development, and the Driscoll “what, so what, now what” model is one of the simplest.

I was playing around with my tarot deck today, choosing a simple three card spread I could use to think about the point I was at with my midwifery learning, when I was suddenly struck by how the Driscoll reflection model translates perfectly into a three card tarot spread! Rather than seeing tarot as a divination tool to help me pull answers out from the ether, I see it as a self-reflection tool to help me find answers and reach conclusions from inside myself. And now I’ve noticed the similarity between tarot as a reflection tool, and the formalised question based models we are encouraged to use as midwives to reflect on our practice, I can’t believe I didn’t notice it before!

As I am not out in clinical practice at the moment I don’t have a particular incident to reflect on and more importantly this wouldn’t be the appropriate format or forum to use for that kind of reflection!! So instead I decided to use the “Driscoll reflection model tarot spread” I had just cooked up to think about the point I’m at in my midwifery learning, having crossed the halfway point in this term’s teaching and preparing for my first exam of the academic year. To think about where I’m at (“what”), what the repercussions of this are or could be (“so what”) and where I should go from here (“now what”). I use the Collective Tarot Deck for my readings (sadly out of print, but read about in the link at the end of the post!) which is a kind of right on, intersectional, social justice inspired deck and seems pretty apt for a radical midwife.

So here are the cards I drew:


Reflection spread: What? – Apprentice of keys. So What? – Ten of feathers. Now What? – Six of keys.


What? – Apprentice of Keys

I like the fact that I drew the apprentice here, it seems apt as a student! The keys suit corresponds to wands in more traditional decks, and is linked the the fire element, and the card literally shows two people learning how to eat fire! The deck’s accompanying book describes this card as meaning there is “much to be done… if a quiet center can be obtained, the Apprentice will be able to harness their tremendous energy and drive to accomplish the work they are passionate about” and suggests that “starting a project is easier than finishing it”. I think this card is describing the fact that I am learning a skill and I need to focus on the many things that need to be done and channel my energy and enthusiasm into quiet study. I’m also now into my middle year of study, the one that is widely thought of as the hardest because the the exciting new-ness of our first year has worn off, and we haven’t yet reached the safety of our third year where we realise how much we know and that we are nearly there, so the remark that starting a project is easier than finishing seems pretty apt.

So What? – Ten of Feathers

This card shows Icarus flying too close to the sun, his wings melting and him falling through the sky. The feathers suit is this deck’s reimagining of the swords, and in this card in traditional decks you often see a man with ten swords in his back, which makes me think of a really overblown melodramatic metaphor for things being a bit difficult (one sword would do it but no, someone has used ten to really make a point). I always read this card as the melodrama card, so drawing this card here makes me think I am being a bit melodramatic when I think I have such an overwhelming, impossible amount of work to do, like do I really think training to be a midwife is so hard that I will literally experience a failure akin to Icarus falling to earth in a pool of wax and death?! Ha! Now you’ve had a laugh get on with your work.

Now What? – Six of Keys

The keys suit again, this time it’s the six of keys.  The card of victory, showing someone having just won a mud wrestle whilst the other person lays laughing on the ground and the others watch on and cheer, as “creativity and persistence has paid off”. The deck’s book then goes on to explore how we all have our turn as victor, as the one in the mud, as the ones in the crowd watching on… and realising this can help us handle losses graciously as we know there will be times in the future when we succeed, and also recognise the privileges that may help us on the times we have our victories. To me, this card is telling me I’m on track and doing well and I should be pleased but to also recognise that things shift, that sometimes we are behind and sometimes we are ahead and it’s all part of the same circle. It also says that “passing on what you have learned in your own victory can help inspire others, and helps with remembering how you have obtained victories in your own life” – which sounds a bit like what this blog might be about.


Royal College of Midwives – Guide to keeping a reflective journal

Little Red Tarot reviews “The Collective Tarot” deck –