Middle East Celtic Cross
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.