Over the past couple of weeks, during classes, I have been thinking and developing a spread. This spread is designed to allow you to look into the personality of someone, and the various parts that make it up.
This spread is divided into two dichotomies (much like the Tarot itself). The first dichotomy is that of the public and conscious aspects of your personality – the parts of you that others see and that you are aware of, that you allow to escape and be seen by the outside world – and the unconscious and hidden aspects of your personality – those things about yourself that you hide or don’t know yourself. This dichotomy is represented by the division between upper and lower cards; the upper three cards are all aspects of your public and conscious personality, and the lower three are all aspects of your private and unconscious personality.
The second dichotomy looks at what I think are two important aspects of your personality, as embodied by the two questions the Vorlons and the Shadows ask in Babylon 5 – “Who are you?” and “What do you want?” As such, the left three cards all deal with identity, and how you are perceived by others, yourself, as well as how your past has influenced this identity. The right three cards represent your desire and your fears (for what is a fear but the desire that somethingwon’t happen?) – what you say you want, what you really want, and what you hope will happen in the future; your goals.
The center cards are just the defining aspect of your personality, and like many Tarot spreads, are the most important aspects of your character and personality. The central cards also serve as the center of a Celtic Cross-based design; with the topmost and bottom-most cards representing what they do in the Celtic Cross, the left and right cards representing past and future like in the Celtic Cross spread, and the central cards also serving the same purpose.
The ten cards in this spread serve to help one look into what forms the personality of a particular person – their thoughts and concerns, their hopes and fears, their own and others’ sense of their identity, and qualities that describe them. It looks at the goals of the person, and the influences that the past has had on them. The layout of the spread is a circle, signifying the idea of completion, and also resembles a wheel, representing the idea that one’s personality is always changing and moving forward (as such, it is important to remember that this spread only helps on understand one’s personality at the present moment; personalities can and do change). The circular form also resembles a face, with each section of the face revealing a different aspect of their personality.
Below is an image of the spread, and below a brief explanation of the meaning of each card:
1. Central Characteristic: This card represents the most important part of someone’s personality; it is the card that best describes and sums up the the personality of the entire person. It is both the primary factor and the summary of the rest of the spread.
2. Influencing Characterstic: This card is the second most important aspect of someone’s personality, and influences, mitigates, or complements the Central Characteristic; in many ways it also the secondary characteristic of a person, and provides a second dimension to one’s personality, adding depth to it.
3. Influence of Past: This card sums up the influences that past events have had on one’s personality; memory is an important part of our personality, our desires, and our own identity. This card represents and shows the influence that this memory has had on a personality.
4. Goals of the Future: This card represents what one are striving to accomplish; another aspect of one’s personality is their drive, and what makes them motivated: that motivation and drive is represented by this card, which shows the thing that the person is striving to achieve, and their most important desire for the future.
5. Unconscious Thoughts and Motives: This card represents the unconscious thoughts and concerns of a person, and also represents this person’s motives. It answers the questions of “why do they do this?” as well as those of “what are they really thinking?” This is their unconscious drive (rather than the conscious drive of Card 4), and represents the deepest aspects of their personality, hidden from themselves. This card also serves as the synthesis of cards 8 and 10.
6. Conscious Thoughts and Concerns: This card represents the person’s conscious thought. It helps one examine what the most important things are to this person, and represents their most pressing concerns, and what is most important to them at this time. This card also serves as the synthesis of cards 7 and 9.
7. Public Face: This card is the public aspect of one’s identity; this is how others perceive this person, and how their environment (including other people) affects them and notices them. This card is similar to Card 8 (second from the bottom of the Staff) on the Celtic Cross. This card represents how they want others to see them as well.
8. Private Face: This card represents the concept of self-identity and self-image, and shows how a person really thinks of themselves. This might line up with one’s public face, but often is at least slightly different. This card is similar to Card 7 (bottom of the Staff) of the Celtic Cross spread. This card shows how this person really feels about himself, and what they think their own identity is.
9. Public Desire: This card represents what one says they want; it is the stated hopes and fears of a person. This is what the person wants others to think they want and what they want others to think they are afraid of; this card represents those desires made public.
10. Private Desire: This card represents one’s true hopes and fears; their heart’s desire or their deepest, secret fear. These are the desires that people keep repressed and hidden – sometimes even from themselves – for various reasons. These are the inner passions and repressed terrors that often motivate people’s actions unconsciously.
Right, so I got some time to do a Tarot reading. Earlier, I made a post in which I analyzed the uprising in Egypt using the Celtic Cross Tarot Spread. Now, I aim to analyze the Middle Eastern situation as it currently is – using Joan Bumming’s Yin Yang Spread. Educate yourselves. The question: what are the opposing perspectives in the ongoing conflicts in the Middle East between governments and the people? using the Thoth Deck:
Central Matter One: The Empress – Unity. Caring. Motherly. Nurturing. Sensual. Sexual. Nature. Passion. Interesting, as I don’t see this card represented at all really in the situation except for the last. The card isn’t reversed, either, so this card is not representing a lack of something – but the presence of it. I think, in this case, we should be looking at passion, then – which certainly can be seen, especially in Libya, with civil war, a leader desperately clinging on to power, and the people trying to take it from him. The card could also represent the people’s desire to be a nurturing figure to country as an abstract principle; by overthrowing the Western-backed dictators, they are doing a good deed for the country, and allowing themselves to nurture it back to its full potential.
Central Matter Two: Queen of Cups. A personality, most likely, as this is a court card. Cups – emotion figures into it. Queen – the “feminine.” The water of water. Reflectivity, passivity, dreaminess, fantasy. But… this could also indicate distortion of reality – on the parts of the dictators? Qaddafi certainly is guilty of this, with his ideological trickery, and his denial of the unrest – and Ahmadinejad is as well, with his denial of the Holocaust. They project peace to hide the turmoil that lurks within; and indeed, the figure on the card is obscured partly by smoke. Truth being hidden by powerful personalities strikes me here, as tranquility is transmitted – but in the end, the true nature of the country will be reflected when the ripples on the surface of the water cease.
Government Official Stance/Desired Impression: Five of Disks – Worry.Instability. Strain. Helplessness? Could this indicate that the stance the governments are taking is that the people are bringing instability to the previously stable countries? This could be argued to be true; maybe the situation was terrible before, but it was stable. The governments might also be arguing that the country has hit upon hard times, which triggered this unnecessary revolution; but whatever it is, unrest and worry is part of the government’s stance. Likely, squelching this worry is also part of it. Alternatively, the government could be expressing worry and concern about this unrest, taking the card’s name literally, and trying to come off as putting the interests of the people at heart, though this may be false; a distortion, perchance?
Government Conscious Thoughts/Ideal Goal: Knight of Swords – Fitting that a court card be here, as the governments are typically strong individuals (dictators). This card, the fire of air, indicates ferocity, managed violence, clever subtlety, and an ideological drive. The dictators in charge certainly are ferocious and violent, but manage these parts of themselves in such a way that they appear only to be acting in the best interests of the people – certainly a manifestation of ideology, yes? And subtle and clever their propaganda and manipulations have been as well, to remain in power for so long. In this position, the government is conscious of these actions, and might even embrace them. However, this card can also represent fragility – the government, having seen others topple, knows that its rule is not unshakable. They can be toppled. As an ideal, the government will take on these characteristics even more so to increase its power.
Government Unconscious Thoughts: The Hanged Man. Things not being as they seem. Suspension. Letting things happen. Perhaps, somewhere deep down inside, the governments have resigned themselves to their fate, and though trying to put off their loss of power, know that it is inevitable, and that things will be turned upside down; and perhaps they also realize that the only way for them to win is to step down peacefully and let the country grow again, though their conscious thoughts prevent this from manifesting.
Government Guidance: The Eight of Cups – Indolence. In order to “fix” the situation, the most relevant meanings of the cards here seem to be surrender and moving on – the government has lost, or will lose. Tying in with the Hanged Man, they should just accept this and move on.
The People’s Official Stance/Desired Impression: The Princess of Disks. A persona – the Earth of Earth. Potential, beauty, the ability to create and give birth. That isexactly the image the people want to have – they want to remake their country, to give birth to and create something beautiful;to make it sublime. They see themselves as holding the future, and will make the world a better place.
The People’s Conscious Thoughts/Ideal Goal: Three of Wands – Virtue. Blossoming. Conception. Morality. Leading by example. Foresight. At the forefront of the peoples’ thoughts is the fiery passion if new birth and growth – the development of a new nation, ruled not by the whims of petty dictators, but ruled with the long-term goals of the people in mind; ruled with foresight. This card could also represent that the people are concerned with the morality of the constant situation, and seek to bring an element of humanitarianism in with them. Achieving this state of virtue is their ideal goal.
The People’s Unconscious Thoughts: Princess of Cups [Reversed]. Interesting; to me, a reversed card in an unconscious position reinforces the fact that the thought is unconscious – and perhaps even being suppressed. Another court card, the personality this represents is one of perpetual rapture, romance, inner exploration, and gentleness. These qualities certainly aren’t being expressed; perhaps they indicate suppressed desires? Perhaps the people aren’t looking into their own motives for overthrowing the dictators? Is it that the people want to be able to be happy and live in the wild and joyous abandon of the Princess of Cups, but can’t, which is why they are attempting their revolt? This card is probably the least clear to me – but I am not good with court cards.
The People’s Guidance: Five of Cups – Disappointment. Unexpected disturbance. Triumph of matter over spirit. The latter seems most relevant to me; in the end, though their cries and chants are often ideologically defined, what drives the revolutionaries and will lead to their success is the admittance that what they want is material; they want material, tangible benefits denied to them by the dictator. The question is; will they get these benefits, or will the be disappointed; like they have been Egypt so far with the military? They should be wary of disappointment; they might not get what they expected or wanted.
Guidance for Both: Ace of Cups. Emotional force; the birth of emotion. Intimacy. Love. Intuition. Seems simple(ish) to me, and very generic and kind of cheesy; they need to understand and respect each other (intimacy, love). The government should acknowledge the peoples’ wishes, and the people should acknowledge the government’s stake in the matter, and what will be lost. Will this happen? Likely not. Should it? I myself am divided on this. Emotion will play a key role in resolving this conflict; people’s ways of life will change, and with it, emotions will run high. Acknowledging and using these emotions will benefit both sides.
Outcome if Nothing Changes: Three of Disks – Works. Teamwork. Planning. Construction. Competence. A pretty good card, if I might say so myself. If the situation doesn’t change, construction will begin – but construction of what? I took this to mean of new nations, as “construction” does not imply “renovation,” which would have indicated the regime holding on to power. The people will cooperate and work together to build a nation that will function and work well (competence). Maybe, then, the situation should carry on as it is. The government will suffer, but the people will not in the end.
So there you have it. Lots of court cards; personalities and strong characteristics of populations will play large roles. They could be indicating the roles of dictators. Lots of cups as well, indicating the charged emotions involved. Also note that the cups that appear (other than the Queen) are in the positions for “guidance” – all sides should, then, perhaps, let their intuition guide them to reach the best possible outcome. Disks are present in both sides’ public images, interestingly; both sides want to be seen as offering the practical solution, and to be seen also as being grounded in reality. When thinking about this reading, I was drawing mostly in Libya – were my thoughts guiding me to the next major site of change in the Middle East?
Well, there are my thoughts on the matter reflected in the cards. Think about it while I get some sleep.
At the suggestion of my mother, I decided to throw a spread to look at political problems. Now, you’ll have to forgive my interpretations’ possible lack of accuracy in terms of factual events (also note that my political beliefs are not expressed in these cards), but using a ten-card Celtic Cross spread asking about the current uprisings in Egypt, I achieved the following (using Rider-Waite[-Smith]):
Root Cause: Temperance [reversed] – Indicating to me that the problem was an inability to calmly go about affairs – possibly overreacting protestors or a government failing to use moderation to govern the country, being too hard upon its people.
Contributing Factor: Nine of Pentacles [reversed] – The presence of two blocked cards at the heart of the matter seems to be to suggest frustrations and unrealized potential on both sides. This card seems to me to suggest that people may be working hard, but aren’t getting the rewards they wanted (the Nine of Pentacles, to me, indicates the process of hard work leading to a reward and a time of rest and contemplation). Perhaps frustration that the government won’t step down after the hard rioting of the protesters (or perhaps that the government has been taking the earned rewards of the people), or frustration that the rioters won’t give up on the part of the government? Combined with the reversed Temperance, perhaps this is what is causing the lack of moderation to be present?
Receding Influence: Seven of Swords – Depicting a man fleeing with what appear to be stolen swords, this card to me indicates that the time of flight and theft is over – the time of the government taking from the people is over, the time of hidden atrocities and dinhonours is over, and the time of the people fleeing from these problems is over.
Approaching Influence: The Hierophant – The second Major Arcana to appear (Temperance being the other) – after the events of this riot are over, perhaps Egypt will be inducted into some formal new society, or will have learned a valuable lesson? If the government wins, a lesson might be learned about the power and will of the people, and if the rioters win, perhaps this indicates that the new government will be accepted into the global community.
Conscious Influence: Seven of Cups – Choices. Some degree of confusion. Fantasy. Perhaps indicating, in this position’s role of what is superficial, that the government is either clinging to a fantasy of being able to hold power, or that the rioters are holding on to a fantasy of overthrowing the government. My own thoughts on the matter cause my opinion to lean more towards the former than the latter. Perhaps this also indicates that the situation is not as clear-cut as everyone in the West makes it out to be: the government either falls or doesn’t. Perhaps the government has realized this, as can be seen by their efforts at talks. There may be other choices available to end the conflict; governmental integration, concessions made by both sides, and doubtless other things I have not thought of. Confusion might come from the thoughts of the Western powers – Egypt is an ally, and while Mubarak’s regime was brutal and a democracy fits in better with their ideals, they are afraid of losing an ally and the possibility of a radical Islamic government.
Unconscious Influence: Judgement – The third major Arcana to appear in the cross – indicating that this uprising might have large consequences, such as we have seen hinted at in Yemen, Syria, and Jordan. Beneath the surface, some form of rebirth is at hand/is ongoing – Egypt will not emerge unchanged from this struggle. Issues of identity torment the nation, and perhaps on a deeper level, the nation is attempting cleanse itself of the oppression of the Mubarak regime and be reborn “free of sin.” Perhaps this need to remake the nation and start again also lies at the heart of this unrest.
For the next two cards, I have modified the bottom two cards of the Staff slightly – the bottom card now represents the government’s view (being at the “base” of the country), and the the one above the protesters’.
Government View: Three of Pentacles [reversed] – Normally this card represents teamwork; working together to meet some goal. Blocked, this seems to mean that this is not longer working – perhaps the government feels its allies are forsaking them (such as the Western governments), or that some unwritten agreement with the people to keep the country running is floundering.
Protesters’ View: Six of Pentacles [reversed] – Again, the earthy, practical nature of the Pentacles surfaces with regards to the viewpoints of the opposing sides. This struggle perhaps isn’t about abstract ideals; it’s a practical matter for both sides: the government wants to keep its power, and the people want to have better lives. The second reversed card also implies lots of frustration. But looking at the actual six itself, this seems to me that the protesters view this struggle as the government failing to balance the haves and have-nots; the Six of Pentaclesfor me has always been a problematic card, especially reversed. To me, this card normally represents the inequality in the world, but in the Ride-Waite deck, the presence of the man distributing some of his wealth to the less well-off can also indicate some sense of balancing the inequalities – perhaps the people feel that the government has failed to this (the reversal), and so want to do this form themselves.
Possible Solution: Three of Wands – To me, this card represents striking out into new territory, thinking ahead, and the qualities of leadership. Something to keep in mind for both sides, then, is that strong leadership will be needed – and looking at Mubarak’s current precarious position, it may very well not be him. In terms of exploration, perhaps a new, untested agreement will have to be put in place to resolve the conflict. The thinking ahead bit speaks for itself, really – if this is uprising is going to end well for everyone, everyone will have to be thinking ahead. Mubarak, very aged at 82, might not be thinking this way – perhaps this card indicates that he should, and begin thinking about Egypt after his death/resignation. In the same vein, the protesters should think about the long-term effects of their actions and make sure that they know what they’re doing – and should come up with a plan for what to do after Mubarak resigns; something I have not heard much talk about.
Likely Outcome: Justice – The fourth major Arcana to appear. Momentous events indeed. This card indicates, to me, that weighty decisions will be made, karma will come into effect, and order will be restored. This could quickly be seen as Mubarak will get what he had coming for his oppression and will fall – but The Tower would indicate this to me more than Justice. After all, despite oppression, Mubarak did hold the country together and was a “bastion of peace” in the Middle East, and a representative of moderate values (look back to the reversedTemperance here – maybe these values were no longer holding up?). To me, this just indicates that the situation will turn out well and everyone will get what it is they deserve – what exactly that is, I cannot say.
Though all four suits (Wands, Cups, Swords, and Pentacles) were present, the Pentacle dominated. In the end, the unrest in Egypt might not be so much about ideologies and grand ideas, but rather about simple and down-to-earth needs and desires: the conflict of power and satisfaction, of oppressor and oppressed.
As I have been thinking about Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth and his thoughts on the relation of the Tarot to the Tree of Life, I found I disagreed with him on one point – he put the Emperor (IV) as the connection between Netzach (Bliss) and Yesod (Essence of Being), and The Star (XVII) as the connection between Chokmah (Original Harmony) and Tiphareth (Experience). Now, his argument is based on linguistic and numerological arguments that go way over my head, but I am looking at this purely through my own philosophical standpoint.
To me, just thinking on the surface(ish) side of things, the connection between the Sefirot of Chokmah and Tiphareth should be representative of the active and powerful emanation of Chokmah – commonly associated with the male (as opposed to Binah, the passive, receptive female where creation occurs after receiving Chokmah’s seed – note that these terms are not representing what I think of men and women, but is representing symbolism primarily drawn from the Tanakh – or for those less knowledgeable of Judaism, the rough equivalent of the Bible‘s Old Testament) – exerting its will on the consciousness that is attained through experience (Tiphareth). This will to me would be better represented by the Emperor, not the Star – the Emperor as the “father” figure, the single stern authority who provides order from above. Additionally, putting the Emperor here would put him opposite The Lovers (VI) – which represents duality and intimacy, and in a way reflects the spirit of Binah, as the connection where Crowley places The Star should represent Chokmah.
One could argue that the Star provides light from above as a form of symbolism, but I see that as more of the symbolism of the Sun’s (XIX) role – and the Sun in its current placement is opposite the Emperor; would it not be better for the Star, which can be argued to have a similar function, to be opposite its closest example? The best placement for divine light from above, however, is the connection from Kether (The Spiritual Seed/Emanation) to Tiphareth, which is represented by the Priestess (II). This is fitting, as the Priestess serves not only as a passive figure, but also as the mysterious secrecy that lies behind the veil; she herself as a figure can be seen as Kether, the veil the abyss (in which dwells Daath and separates the supernal triangle from Tiphareth), and the viewer as the consciousness of Tiphareth. She, as a priestess, is herself “divine” in a sense, and also at the same time by her human nature more earthy and conscious in that sense; she then very well represents the bridge from the spirit to the “center” of the Tree of Life.
The Star, on the other hand, currently occupies the Emperor’s positions in Crowley’s layout, between Chokmah and Tiphareth, as mentioned earlier. The Star would better fit between Netzach and Yesod – Bliss and Essence of Being. Why? The star represents a calm serenity and a sort of dreaminess – that which is associated with bliss – and also with a sort of bringing down from above (just look at the image on the Thoth cards of Nuit, bridging the gap between high and low) and a sort of guidance, but in a different way than the Emperor’s stern imposing of order. More of a nudging or actual guide than a bring of order, which the powerof Chokmah seems to say to me. The more gentle “Bliss” aspect of Netzach, coming down to guide Yesod (Crystallization and Essence of Being), and providing the best possible help for what can be argued (except in the case of Swords) is the best of the Sefirot. The additional hunt that Nuit as a Goddess is doing the guiding also seems more fit for this happier, “better” connection.
At least to me. Crowley had his points, and from my more limited view, I disagree – plus this puts the Roman numerals back in order. I have adopted this variant form to use in my tarot readings now.
I recently just tried two new spreads, and was happy with one and not so much with the other.
The one I was not so happy with was a fifteen-card spread I decided to try based on the little booklet included with my Thoth deck – with five groups of three cards, one representing the heart of the matter, two representing different futures, one indicating the implications/psychology of the individual querent, and the last telling of larger forces. The main problem I had with it is the presence of the two futures indicate more divination than I am comfortable with, and the whole set-up just seems too simplistic, and the presence of three cards for each issue makes things murkier than they need to be. It was neat, however, to be able top modify the strengths of the central cards based on the influences of the flanking ones. I had a few interesting readings, but in the end, it didn’t call to me.
The second one I tried was Joan Bumming’s Yin-Yang spread. I asked the same question of this one (I tried the question with Celtic Cross, Fifteen-Card, and Yin-Yang), and I felt like it gave me the better answer. It was clear, concise, helpful, and very well-designed. Interpreting the cards came with no real difficulty and it almost seemed as if the spread was tailor-made for the conflict I was examining. I think I may have a new spread to often use along with the Celtic Cross I think. I will be examining this one further, then seeing what happens when I look at some of Raven’s spreads.
The Tarot are representatives of our life-course and the world around us. In theTarot Challenge, I will be going through each of the seventy-eight cards and explaining to my fullest ability what each card means to me. As the cards are largely subjective, they mean different things to different people. My thoughts on the cards come from two major sources: the first is my interpretations of the deck I learned to read Tarot with, the Rider-Waite deck, and the second is my interpretation of the Thoth deck and the cards’ relation to the tree of life. For the more practical interpretation of each card, I lean more on the meanings of the simplistic artwork of the Rider-Waite deck, but for the more abstract and deeper voices of the cards, I lean more on Crowley’s Thoth deck and his (and my own) interpretations of the Tarot with regards to the Sefirot and the Tree of Life.
The way that I envision the Tarot is as a divided representative of the Tree of Life; the Kabbalistic idea of how the divine energy of EinSof flows from heaven to earth, manifesting itself. Each numbered card in the suit, 1-10, represents one of the ten Sefirot; Kether, Chokmah, Binah, Chesed, Geburah, Tiphareth, Netzach, Hog, Yesod, and Malkuth. The meaning of each of these Sefirot and how they apply to the cards, as well as words on the organization and nature of them, will be delved into in more detail after I finish discussing each card. The suits of each card shape the way that each numbered card manifests the Sefirot they represent. Additionally, each Sefirot represents a number in the Naples arrangement: Position, Line, Plane, Matter, Motion, Experience, Bliss, Knowledge, Being, and Reality. Essentially, each Sefirot represents one level of the world’s – and life’s – basic construction.
The four court cards in each suit correspond to a particular Sefirot as well: Kings are Chokmah (the active male), Queens are Binah (the passive female), Princes are Tiphareth (Experience), and Princesses are Malkuth (Reality). Again, the suit of the court cards also reflects how they express each Sefirot; each court card also represents distinctive personalities we may see in ourselves and those around us, and between them all cover most aspects of personality that we see.
The Major Arcana, on the Tree of Life, are placed between each of the Sefirot. As such, they represent the paths the energy from EinSof must take to reach the Earth. In this sense, they also reflect the natures of the Sefirot that they connect. Additionally, when number 0-XXI, they tell the story of one’s life from a baby to their integration with the world.
Keep in mind that throughout this whole challenge I will be referring to “male” and “female” dualities and characteristics. Due to my sociological training, this is hard for me in many respects, so here I would like to emphasize that I acknowledge that gender is not binary but rather is a spectrum, nor is there any “right” way to do gender. I am merely using the antiquated terms philosophically.
Tree of Life Spread – Not Mine!
I recently joined the Aeclectic Tarot Community and have since been browsing peacefully among their forums. I quickly came across a new and interesting spread that I have recently tried out. The spread is linked above; I won’t give you a description here. If you’re a member yourself, you can view the finalized version I used.
My initial thoughts on the spread were that it was very interesting and seemed well-thought out and organized. Cards 2 and 3 in particular rang with me (in the positions of Chokmah and Binah, respectfully), with them representing the force and the form of the issue (again, respectfully). The one position there that I feel is iffy is 10; I m always leery to ground the Tarot too much in the material (it’s a very Swordsy hobby), but the card’s position kind of makes that interpretation necessary. As such, I don’t know what to do with it, so I’ll just leave it as is.
My reading was lacking in a few places, but unerringly accurate in many others. I will have to refine the definitions of each position a little bit, but I am already a fan of this spread.