Obscure Sorrows Tarot Challenge

I’ve been wanting to design my own Tarot Challenge/Daily Draw prompt thingamy for a while now, but have been struggling with finding just the *right* theme to base it around. Enter, the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a “compendium of invented words” written by graphic designer and editor, John Koenig.

THIS IS MY AESTHETIC. | I'm assuming "vellichor" is a frankenword of "vellum" and "petrichor" (or "ichor") ?

THIS IS MY AESTHETIC. | I’m assuming “vellichor” is a frankenword of “vellum” and “petrichor” (or “ichor”)? [image from buzzfeed]

The word for someone who loves words is “logophile“, but I’ve been unable to find one for someone who loves the sound of words. I am the latter, and my synaesthesia makes certain words especially pleasurable to savour. Whether it’s the way the letters look when artfully arranged next to each other, the way a word “feels” in my brain, or the sensation of it in my mouth, certain words are infinitely appetizing when it come to satiating that indescribable hunger.

Almost every word in the obscure sorrows collection is deliciously satisfying to ruminate on and I was immediately inspired to use them as tarot prompts. However…

it got a little dark.


But you know, it’s kinda fitting. July is my birthday month, and I have an tradition of doing a little introspective digging around in the dusty corners of my psyche every year around my birthday. This is also the halfway point of the year (my birthday is exactly the halfway mark), a good time to take stock of where you are and how you’re doing; there’s still time to make the year work for you, abandoned resolutions be damned! Up here in the northern climes, the days are getting shorter and the best way to prepare for the dark is to make friends with it. Conversely, if your days are getting longer you might as well expose yourself willingly, before the inescapable brightness forces your hand.

All that taken into account, I present this series of 31 daily one-card (or however many you choose) spread prompts as a mild form of Shadow Work. They are posed as questions about – rather than solutions to – internal issues, as it is up to you to discover/accept the answers you likely already hold within yourself. How deep you go exploring is also up to personal choice.

If you are in a place where you are not mentally prepared for anything even approaching Shadow Work or looking at your yucky bits, please use caution – your health matters most!

There should be no judgement or other negativity when doing these readings. The aim is to look past your ego to see the objective truth of yourself and accept it as wholly a part of you, deserving of your compassion. Sometimes the answers are no great surprise; sometimes there are infinitely small moments in our lives that turn out to be exponentially impactful, and we are blissfully unaware of their long-reaching affects until we go looking. You cannot heal what you do not understand.

Please feel free to share these images with credit and a link back to this post or blog – thank you! (Full descriptions of the sorrows follow below.)

  1. Klexos: The art of dwelling on the past.
    What piece of your past do you need to let go of?
  2. Sonder: The realization that everyone has a story, that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.
    How can you become more in tune with the world?
  3. Jouska: A hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head.
    How can you stop the cycle of anxiety caused by living in the future?
  4. Zenosyne: The feeling that time keeps going faster.
    How can you “slow down time” and become more connected to “now”?
  5. LachesismThe desire to be struck by disaster – to survive a plane crash, or to lose everything in a fire.
    What is your secret disaster fantasy? (What urge does this satisfy?)
  6. OpiaThe ambiguous intensity of eye contact, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
    What are you afraid of revealing to to others?
  7. VemödalenThe fear that everything has already been done, and better.
    What are you avoiding because you fear you won’t match up?
  8. Chrysalism: The amniotic tranquility of being indoors during a thunderstorm.
    Where do you find your quiet comfort?
  9. Nighthawk: A recurring thought that only seems to strike you late at night, pecking at the back of your mind when you try to sleep.
    What nighthawk do you need to tame and tether?
  10. AdronitisFrustration with how long it takes to get to know someone.
    Where do you need to exercise patience in your personal relationships?
  11. Rigor Samsa: A kind of psychological exoskeleton that can protect you from pain and contain your anxieties, but always ends up cracking under pressure.
    What false armour have you constructed for yourself?
  12. OcchiolismThe awareness of the smallness of your perspective.
    Where do you need to broaden your perspective?
  13. Keyframe: A moment that seemed innocuous at the time but ended up marking a diversion into a strange new era of your life.
    What unremarkable moment from your past are you unaware defined who you are now?
  14. Yu Yi: The desire to feel intensely again. (Alice Cooper Novocaine)
    What can you do reinvigorate how experiences affect you?
  15. Mimeomia: The frustration of knowing how easily you fit into a stereotype, even if you never intended to.
    What stereotype do you unwillingly fit?
  16. Fitzcarraldo: An image that somehow becomes lodged deep in your brain, which then grows into a wild vision that keeps scrambling back and forth in your head, itching for a chance to be realised.
    What unexpressed vision keeps you up at night?
  17. Rubatosis: The Unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat saying, I’m here, I’m here, I’m here.
    What aspect of self-awareness unsettles you?
  18. Gnasche: The intense desire to bite deeply into the arm of someone you love.
    What do you love so intensely that you wish to devour it?
  19. AnecdocheA conversation in which everyone is talking, but nobody is listening.
    Where do you need to stfu and listen? / What are you not hearing because you won’t stfu?
  20. ExulansisThe tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.
    What is your private, unrelatable experience?
  21. Anemoia: Nostalgia for a time you’ve never known.
    What perceptions are tethering you to a false past?
  22. Daguerreologue: An imaginary interview with an old photo of yourself, the enigmatic person who became who you are now, without knowing who they would become.
    What one question would you like your past self to answer? (What would they say?)
  23. Kuebiko: A state of exhaustion inspired by acts of senseless violence.
    What force that you cannot control causes you unnecessary exhaustion?
  24. Heartworm: A relationship or friendship that you can’t get out of your head, which you thought had faded long ago, but is still somehow alive and unfinished.
    What heartworn is eating you alive from the inside out?
  25. MonachopsisThe subtle but persistent feeling of being out of place.
    Where do you need to get over yourself?
  26. Lethobenthos: The habit of forgetting how important someone is to you until you see them again in person.
    What important relationship has slipped your mind?
  27. Kairosclerosis: The moment you realise you’re currently happy, and therefore become unhappy.
    How do you ruin your own enjoyment of life?
  28. SilienceThe kind of unnoticed excellence that carries on around you every day, unremarkably.
    What unremarkable excellence are you not noticing in your everyday life?
  29. LiberosisThe desire to care less about things.
    How do you employ apathy as a means of dealing with overwhelm? (How could you cope instead?)
  30. AltschmerzWeariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had – the same boring flaws and anxieties that you’ve been gnawing on for years.
    Where are you exhausting yourself?
  31. RückkehrunruheThe feeling of returning home after an immersive trip only to find it fading rapidly from your awareness.
    How can you be more connected to the moment?

BONUS Obscure Joy Radiarius: The riotous unfettered joy of enthusiasts in an activity that would have thrown them into the nearest asylum 50 years ago.
What hidden joy do you wish you could share openly?



13 thoughts on “Obscure Sorrows Tarot Challenge

  1. Nikki says:

    Is there any way we can send you our daily entries while doing this challenge? It’s been deeply insightful thus far and I’m incredibly thankful that I stumbled upon this!


    • la Reine de l'Air says:

      Hi Nikki! Sorry for the late response – you can absolutely send me your daily entries if you like, or a link to them if you post on IG or tumblr or wherever. There’s a contact form under the “About” tag at the top of the page, or my gmail is d e e l a h u n t (remove spaces). So happy that you finding it a helpful challenge to take part it!


  2. allianora says:

    Reblogged this on allianorrra and commented:
    I started this late. Way late. But I’m more ready for shadow work now, so I’ve been doing a few spreads now and then. I will work my way through all of them eventually, so I wanted to leave this here for later.


  3. Gabi says:

    Well this was bloody great.
    Reaquainted myself with my own deck. Went down the list quite rapidly. Turning cards.
    I have a huge tower of cards laid in front of me. I think it would be apt to smash it apart.
    Until i went to share i had no idea it was you Deela. Even better.


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