Almost as important as – or some would argue more important than – interpreting the tarot cards as they are laid out before you is the process of actually laying out that spread. This process varies wildly depending on the reader, so it is impossible to create a “universal” process (indeed, for any esoteric art, it is impossible to create a “universal” anything). So, in this post, I will describe what I personally do, the steps of which include many items common to many readers.
I believe that there are six important steps to throwing a Tarot spread: Formulating the Topic, Choosing the Spread, Writing the Question, Choosing the Deck, Invoking the Guide, and Laying out the Cards.
Formulating the Topic
The first step for me, Formulating the Topic is when you come up with the idea for a reading. This is, perhaps, the simplest step for me. The Topic does not refer to the specific question being asked (I cover this later), but instead the general area that I will explore in the reading. Usually, the Topic comes to me in a flash of inspiration: “I wonder what the state of the world is now,” “I wonder what I should do about X,” “I wonder what might happen if,” and other similar statements. Note how these all started with “I wonder;” if you can turn a topic into an “I wonder” statement, then chances are it can later make a good question and an interesting reading. Of course, some of the time I am not in charge of the topic. When I am doing readings for others, usually they are the ones choosing the topic. However you arrive at your topic – whether by thinking about what you want to do your daily reading on, in a flash of inspiration, or as ordered to by others – Formulating the Topic is the Spark/Origin (Ace of Wands, anyone?) that initiates everything that follows.
Writing the Question
The next few steps can really be done in any order, but the order I listed them here is the order I feel it works best in. The next thing that I do is operationalize the topic by turning it into a question that the tarot cards can help me answer. This is one of the most important steps of the whole process; by doing this you turn the Origin of the Topic into something that can be worked with and used, giving the topic the potential to become an interesting reading (the Ace of Cups, anyone? The Potential?).
In order to write a good question, you must think of your words very specifically. Your question will reflect how you interpret the spread, and writing a good one is essential to being in the right state of mind. If you are just coming out of a traumatic or depressing event and immediately want to throw a spread on it, by all means do so, but make sure that you are able to, at least for this step, detach yourself from the events. This can be difficult, but a biased question will result in a biased answer. If you ask “What should I do about stinking Uncle Larry’s thieving ways?,” you are assuming that Uncle Larry’s motives for thieving are not particularly important, that he is a bad man, and the answer you get will be straight advice, nothing more. This is not, in my beliefs, because the cards themselves will hear you and change to reflect the question, but because you are already in a mindset, when interpreting the cards, that will lead you to interpret them to give you the answer you want. The tarot is all about seeing situations in new lights, and if you are going to them for divination or straight “what should I do, tell me” advice, you are, I would argue, doing them wrong.
Your question should be unbiased and use neutral language, so as to get your mind thinking neutrally and to distance yourself from the situation. Your question should also be simple, so that it is easy to directly relate each card to the question. Your question should never be a yes or no question; if it is, just flip a coin and be done with it. It will waste less of your time. Asking advice in a question is perfectly fine, but “What should I do about’s,” while they can work, generally don’t. The cards are not there to think for you; they are to help you think be letting you reinterpret the situation. Instead, maybe ask “What factors should I consider when deciding what to do about…” Yes, this question is longer and not quite as simple (and both use “I should’s – but in different ways), but it more accurately captures what would be more useful information. Instead of just asking the cards what actions you should take, this question asks if there are any things about the situation that you should take into account when deciding what to do. The images and meanings of the cards will then lead your mind to think about things you may have missed, and help point you to where you want to go.
The cards are not diviners. They are mental aids. Treat them as such. Generally, I find merely putting the words “What factors should I consider when…” can make most statements into a workable question.
The last important thing about your question is its scope. Many readers will tell you to be specific. That is all well and good, but I think that broad readings also serve a purpose – like survey courses at a university. If you are tackling a large problem with many interconnecting parts, it can be helpful to first ask a broad question – for example, “What factors should I consider when trying to improve my company’s performance?” That reading will probably lead you to think of a few key areas you could improve. Then, you can get more specific as you think – “What factors should I consider when trying to fix workgroup R’s productivity problems?” This can lead you on to ask “What factors should I consider when dealing with the tense relationship between James and Ginny?,” and maybe after you come to a conclusion on that, everything will work out fine. Broad questions can also serve as interesting philosophical exercises. Just keep in mind that your answer’s scope will generally be the same as your question’s.
So, the most important parts of a question, I believe, are:
-Nuance (i.e., not Yes/No)
-Asking After Influencing Factors Rather than Straight-up Advice (long part, this one)
-Scope (choose one for each reading and go with it!)
So, going back to my first sample question, “What should I do about stinking Uncle Larry’s thieving ways?,” I would recommend rewriting it as “What factors should I consider when trying to understand and handle Larry’s frequent thefts?” The words in this question are less loaded than the original, and the question is more nuanced and open-minded. Also, though the question got longer, it is still just as simple; the wording just changes your state of mind and distances yourself from it (note the removal of the word “uncle”). The scope of the question is also still the same.
So, now that you’ve got yourself a question, how do you answer it?
Choosing the Spread
So, how are you going to think about the answer? Perhaps by invoking the energies of the Ace of Swords (the Thought), which allows you to translate your question into something that your mind can answer with the cards. There are two steps to this process, the first of which is choosing the spread. The spread is the pattern in which you will lay out the cards. There are far too many spreads to list here, but your spread should provide a format for the cards to answer the question.
The most common spread is the Celtic Cross spread, and generally I use it to serve as an overview of a situation, or as a go-to spread. The Yin-Yang spread is helpful when dealing with relationships between two people (and, in theory, could be expanded into large, more complex relationships). My own Personality Spread is useful when trying to understand someone or something thoroughly. The World Tree spread (as seen in the Wildwood Tarot: Wherein Wisdom Resides) is useful for examining the state of the world around you. The Astrological or Celestial Spread (twelve cards in a circle) can give you results similar to an astrological chart reading (though generally much less complex).
So, once you have your question, pick the format of your answer. There is no real tried-and-true way to do this; just follow your inner guide and your own logical thoughts to choose what pattern best answers your question.
Choosing Your Deck
The second half of the Ace of Swords bit! Choosing the deck you use is choosing the images you interpret, and can drastically flavor the tone of a reading. Generally, my go-to/neutral deck is the Thoth Tarot, which I use when I either really want to get a reading done accurately or have no other preferences. If I want to see the negative side of a situation (because I have been seeing the positive), I might use the Necronomicon or Dark Grimoire Tarot because of their darker images. If I am asking a question that reads like a narrative, I might use the Dark Grimoire Tarot because of its structure. If I want to see the positive side of something, I might use something like the Rider-Waite (which I find cheerful, for whatever reason) or the Gummy Bear Tarot (which I desperately wished I owned). If I am asking a question about the natural world, I will use the Wildwood Tarot. If I am asking a deeper, spiritual question, I will either use the Thoth Tarot (especially if I can relate the question to Kabbalah; hand-down the Thoth is the best deck for Kabbalistic readings) or the Celestial Tarot.
Decks can also match up well to the spreads you choose, and often go hand-in-hand (for example, the Tree of Life spread [which is literally the Kabbalistic Tree of Life in Spread form] goes well with the Thoth Tarot, the World Tree spread goes well with the Wildwood Tarot, and the Astrological/Celestial Spread goes well the the Celestial Tarot.
Choose the deck that calls to you and the situation. Again, there is no one way to do this; just follow your heart.
Invoking the Guide
This is a little ritual that any readers do before actually throwing the spread. There are no two ways of doing this. What I do, personally, is hold the cards cupped between my hands, and then shuffle the cards while asking my inner guide and intuition for guidance, and then asking the question I wrote earlier (it is often helpful to write this question down). This step, while it may seem small and trivial, helps get you into the right state of mind, and well make the reading go more smoothly.
Treating your cards with reverence also helps the reading go more smoothly, I have noticed, but do not ask the cards themselves for guidance (on occasion, when exhausted and in a state in which I shouldn’t be doing a spread anyway, I make this mistake. Kids, just say no!). The cards are not doing anything but exist and be used by you. It is you and your unconscious mind doing the work. By performing a little ritual and then asking yourself for guidance, it helps bring out your subconscious thoughts and allows you to see things you wouldn’t see otherwise. This step does not really fall into the Aces thing I have been hinting at; it belongs to the realm of spirit, of Daath, or perhaps even of EinSof.
Laying Out the Cards
This is simple. After shuffling the cards (very important), you lay them out in the pattern of the spread. Always lay the cards out in the same order (for each spread) every time. This removes the temptation to mix around the order to get cards you want. If you change the cards around, you are not helping yourself see things differently; you are merely using the cards to confirm what you think you already know. This is not helpful, and often misleading.
On the same note, never move the cards around or throw a new spread because you didn’t like the last one. It doesn’t matter how scary the cards before you are; if you open the door to moving around your spreads once, you may never stop, and the entire process will be invalidated.
This step coincides with the Ace of Disks – the Manifestation. Now you have actually begun the work of interpreting the cards!
And that is a post in and of itself, coming in the future! Stay tuned!
Hello, everyone! Just dropping by for a bit to ask anyone if they have any questions, issues, or ideas for an interesting tarot reading to put up here on the site. If it’s a deeply personal question, it might be best not to suggest it for the site (though if I have the time I’d be happy to send you a private reading), but anything else is fair game! Good topics include questions on current events, the state of the world or other localities, or questions on general spirituality or any other general topic. Currently, I will limit readings to Tarot readings, but in the future I hope to expand into Geomantic and Astrological readings.
I’m also popping in to inform you that the next posts on Astrology (on the aspects of the planets) will likely be coming this weekend or next week. This week I will be focusing on finishing the final draft of the final novel in my debut science fiction trilogy (the “Jakken Trilogy), The Libel of Blood.
So, any requests for readings would be greatly appreciated! Post your ideas as comments to this post, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include the following: Name as you want it to appear, Question, Requested Deck (If Any), Requested Spread (If Any), and any parts of the question you wish me to focus on. That’s all for now!
Happy New Year everyone! Like every other self-respecting Tarot reader, I threw a spread for the new year (it would be interesting to do an astrological chart reading for this day, but alas, my skills are not yet strong enough). So, what might the upcoming year look like? I considered doing my Personality Spread for this, but instead opted to go with the more traditional Celtic Cross, as I am not interested so much in the New Year’s personality as in what it will look like, what I should watch out for, and the like. So, here we are, using my Thoth deck. The question asked: What might the upcoming year look like, and what things should I look for or do in the coming year, both on a universal and a personal scale?
Central Aspect: Gain (Nine of Disks)
The central, defining element of the New Year, it seems, will be Gain. The Nine of Disks represents material gain and fulfillment in terms of one’s material needs. This seems to indicate that in the upcoming year, my labours (whatever they might be) will be rewarded and will result in material advantages, which in turn encourages me to work harder this year in order to maximize these gains. I’ve been looking for a paying job of some kind for a while; maybe this year I will find one. Or, perhaps, the books that I’ve written will finally start making me money. On a larger scale, perhaps the work of the world will also come to fruition and will bring material advantages. The first thing that comes to mind for me is the Occupy Movement (in case this wasn’t obvious); perhaps their work will yield material advantages and a better distribution of wealth and a more fair system of gaining from one’s work.
Supporting Aspect: Interference (Eight of Swords)
Coupled with the above card, this card suggests that perhaps gaining our material advantages won’t be particularly easy. There are hurdles to be overcome, and though it may seem hopeless, we need to power through everything that gets in our way in order to reap our rewards. The labours we perform in order to gain material wealth will be made harder by the influences of this card, and frustrations may abound as it seems that we are helpless to get what we want to get done done. This year, then, might be difficult for me in terms of my intense university workload this semester (and the beginning of my thesis next semester), and all of the little hurdles will add up to make getting these things done more daunting than they normally would be. Again relating this to the Occupy Movement, pretty much everyone will get in its way, especially big corporations and the GOP. It might seem hopeless to topple or change such an entrenched and wealthy system, and many things will stand in their way, but in the end there can be much gain in the material world from keeping the struggle alive.
Together, the first two cards in this spread say that though it will be very hard, this year one’s work will also be well-rewarded and will manifest in material gain, despite interferences.
Influence of the Past: Queen of Wands
Very interesting. I like to call this card the “tyrant” card. It is important to note here that I use the word in its original meaning, as a sort of dominating figure, which can be both positive and negative. This card in this position indicates that the direct influence of the tyrant is receding, but that her memory will linger on and affect our actions in the future. Again, let’s tie this to the Occupy Movement (this is really at the forefront of my mind)! The (negative) tyrant, in this case, is “Wall Street.” This card tells us that Wall Street’s influence might be receding – indeed, already, much of its legitimacy has been wounded by the movement. On a more personal level, this could also indicate the receding power of another tyrant in my own life (or rather, two of them, though they do not dominate me, but rather someone I care about), but I shan’t go into that here. Though perhaps asking too much, this card could also be indicating that the rule of strong, single personalities (particularly in political positions of power) will end, and community rule will once again return to the human race. The Queen of Wands is also an old, proud ruler, and the fact that her influence is receding indicates great change on the horizon, as reinforced by the influence of the future: Death.
Influence of the Future and the Path We May Take: Death (XIII)
One of the Major Arcana that usually makes one draw breath, in this position I think Death is a positive card. Like I hinted at above, the fact that Death – symbolizing transformations and broad, sweeping changes, the end of the old and the beginning of the new – is coming in the future seems to indicate that society will be changed forever as a result of this year. 2012 is a momentous year if one listens to doomsayers who believe that the Mayan calendar predicts that the world will end this year. If that happens, then that certainly would be a drastic, sweeping change. If it doesn’t (which I really hope is the case), then the world still might change drastically. The fact that the card is Death, to me, indicates that these changes will be on a broad, sweeping scale, which (again!) to me points to the Occupy Movement and their (hopeful) toppling of the current, unfair, corrupt system in the world. This would fit the card very well, as that would very much be an example of the toppling of the old and bringing in the new. These changes will probably affect me on many levels (especially considering the careers I’m looking at – economic equality would be very beneficial here), and hopefully will improve the world and make it a better place.
Unconscious, Hidden Influences in the New Year: Ace of Disks
A very earthy year so far! The influence of the Ace of Disks, to me, seems readily apparent on some thought: the driving force behind many of the movements that began in 2011 (and are continuing on into this year) are material. The material unequal distribution of wealth, the desire to improve one’s own standing and quality of life; all concerns of the material. Perhaps these concerns will become more pronounced as we enter into 2012. An additional thing to consider is climate change; the world is heating up (this is not disputable, this is fact. Whether or not humans are the cause is up for debate for some), and it is possible the cause of all of the strange weather last year. This card could indicate that the influence of the Earth and her moods might have a powerful effect in the coming year, her actions unconsciously moving many people to act. Maybe the effects of climate change will become extremely apparent, moving more and more people to environmental movements, making Mother Earth a hidden, covert influence in the upcoming year. Interestingly, I was thinking of joining a Druidic group this year – again another attachment to the Earth, as represented by the Ace of Disks. On a personal level, this card indicates that perhaps these thoughts will influence my actions in the upcoming year, though I may not realize it. Maybe if I join a Druid Grove, they will begin to influence me in ways I could not imagine.
Conscious, Overt Influence: Peace (Two of Swords)
Peace as a conscious influence in the New Year? That sounds nice. The United States has withdrawn from Iraq, and this year we will see how the country will react to the withdrawal. Perhaps this card offers a sliver of hope. Maybe the war in Afghanistan will end. Maybe the new leader of North Korea will reverse his recent violent speeches and threats, and will instead seek to help his people. Perhaps the upper classes of the world will end the class warfare that they began by oppressing those beneath them, and the war will become unnecessary. Perhaps what will drive the New Year forward is a desire for Peace, which may again lead to material gain as the violence that exists everywhere in the world ceases. Perhaps. On a more personal level, perhaps my own dark thoughts and problems I’ve had with… well, life, will finally be resolved and I’ll manage to attain some inner peace for once. I’ve been trying to consciously do that for a long time – it’s one of the reasons I study the esoteric arts. Maybe my labor here will be rewarded with gain (see what I did there)?
My Perceptions of Myself in/and the New Year: Ruin (Ten of Swords)
Well, this card seems to be at odds with the rest of the reading. We have being rewarded for one’s work, moving out of the shadow of the tyrant, being driven on by the material forces and the quest for peace, and experiencing vast transformations in the world. Perhaps these changes might not all be positive; maybe we shall move from tyranny of the wealthy to the tyranny of the mob. Ruin, as represented by the Ten of Swords, is a result of an extreme disconnect between reality and one’s thoughts. Perhaps the Occupy Movement will succeed in the New Year, but not in the same way I had been hoping; my expectations might then fall flat on its face and I will perceive the movement as having come to ruin. On a more personal note, perhaps I will achieve the peace I have been looking for, but to others around me I might seem as having come to ruin; I have always had a different perspective on life than other people, and what I consider inner peace might vary drastically from what they would associate inner peace with (this position is, after all, also associated with how I express myself to the world). My sense of the world as being ruined might also define me in the upcoming year, and might drive everything I do. Perhaps, also, this card is telling me that I have become too detached from reality, and in the new year, the first hassle (from Interference) that I have to overcome is my abstract nature; perhaps I need to become more grounded and see the world as it really is, not just through my Airy mind.
How the Rest of the World Sees Me/The Effects of the Environment: Oppression (Ten of Wands)
The second ten in this spread. Interesting. Tens in the Tarot are associated with the Sefirot of Malkuth, which is in turn associated with the Earth. This is a very Earthy year. This card also seems to indicate that the rest of the world sees me as being oppressed by the world; I certainly feel that way a lot of the time, and have expressed these sentiments to others. The world will continue to see me this way in the upcoming year. This position also tells of the influences the larger world will have on me; namely, I will be oppressed by it. Perhaps my feelings are not all that inaccurate, then; I will, in this year, become more of a victim of the flawed global economic system than I have been in the past.
Advice/Hopes/Fears: Completion (Four of Wands)
Completion. A sense of security, order, and celebration. Again, this card brings out the oddness of the previous two cards (perhaps they indicate what things will look like before Death’s influence becomes apparent). It tells me that what I hope for is security. For me, this will come in the form of a plan for my future, a way of maintaining independence from my parents, and some sense that when I go out into the job market, the flawed system out there won’t strike me down. I fear a lack of security and a lack of order, possibly as threatened by the movements across the world. I hope for a sense of completion within myself and with others; I have never been particularly social, and generally feel alone. Perhaps, this year, I should strive to make social connections with others, and go out and celebrate life with them, so that I can become part of a secure community, who can provide me with the order I also desire in my life (which has been surprisingly absent of late).
Summation: The Emperor (IV)
Assuming the year goes as the rest of the spread indicates, 2012 will be defined by order as dictated by a higher force acting to combat chaos. It will also be defined by virility and energy. Combined with the rest of the spread, Death will come and make way for a new order as represented by the Emperor, rising from the ashes of the tyrant. This new order will provide me with security and help me break free of the feelings of ruin and oppression in my own life, and perhaps some sense of justice and fairness will return to the world under the Emperor’s guidance. I feel that in the material world, the Emperor’s influence will be felt as the unconscious, mass mind of the world, uniting to create their own order and justice in order to fix what has been going on up to this point.
So, in conclusion? This year is a year to focus on the material and the practical, and get your head out of the clouds. Good things will come your way this year if you work hard, and overcome all of the obstacles that will be thrown at you. The old order will be abolished and swept away, and society and your life will transform into the something more ordered and just, driven by the powers of the earth and the search for peace. The oppression and feelings of despair will also help drive the world towards this coming momentous change, and hopefully, after said change, these feelings will stop.
Happy New Year everyone and have a good 2012! Rabbit rabbit!
So, I was thinking again (dangerous, I know), and I noticed that the order of the elements in Tarot and Astrology are different! This might seem minor to some, but for people who base part of their conception of the Tarot on the order of the elements (that would be me), this is shocking! The traditional elemental order in the Tarot is Fire (Origin), Water (Potential), Air (Thought), and then Earth (Realization). In Astrology, Fire (Origin) is first, followed by Earth (Realization), then Air (Thought) and Water (Potential). Water and Earth are switched in the astrological system!
After a few moments of panic, I began to rationalize this, and came to the conclusion that both orders are logical. The Tarot order makes sense because it starts off with a spark (Fire), which then gains potential (Water) and is defined then by thought (Air), which results in its manifestation in reality (Earth). An order of creation, based on the Tree of Life.
On the other hand, the astrological model is not one of creation, but of cycles. Fire begins as an initiator, providing activity to start things off, and is followed then by a manifestation on Earth. This manifestation is then observed and rationalized by Air, and after that it gains new potential through Water, which allows for another spark to ignite and carry on the cycle. This model makes sense for astrology, as there is an emhpasis on the cyclical nature of the Zodiac and similar, cyclical changes.
After finishing my recent Astrology post on Capricorn, I thought for a long while about the parallels that can be drawn between the Sun Sign of Capricorn and the Tarot Card of the Devil. The Devil is a rebel, a destroyer of order, and a god of wild, uncontrolled fertility. Capricorn is associated with order and discipline, and social status and hierarchy. At first glance, the two seem to be opposites, yet Capricorn is the Sun Sigh associated with the Devil.
This could be because of the symbolism. The Devil is a goat, and often represented as Pan. The same holds true of Capricorn, so on this superficial level the two have some parallels. However, the parallels do go deeper, even if you have to think about them.
Capricorn is associated with social class and order, yes, but not necessarily the accepted, established one. Capricorns are, like the goat, often thick-headed and sometimes confrontational, and will try to change the society around them to fit their view of what order looks like. Capricorns are associated with the Yin Polarity, making them passive and introverted, but that does not mean that they cannot initiate change and flip the order of things head-over-heels. One’s sheer force of personality can be enough to initiate an action to change the world.
When looked at that way, suddenly the parallels between Capricorn and the Devil become clear. The Devil tried to overthrow the old order in an attempt to establish his own order, and his sheer force of personality turned many angels to his side. In the end, his new order didn’t fully establish itself, but it did create some very large changes in the universe.
Capricorn and the Devil are also both associated with virility (Pan) and fertility (Earth), but in different ways; the Devil with wanton creation, and Capricorn with ordered reproduction. The two don’t exactly match up, but Capricorns are still associated with reproduction, in the sense that they reproduce their own values in order to spread them and establish their own order; just not in the same wanton fashion as the Devil once did.
So, though some of the meanings of the two symbols may differ at a glance, they are more closely related than one would think. And thus concludes my thoughts on the matter!
Fairly straightforward: a reading done with the Celtic Cross spread on the Occupy Movement sweeping the world (this spread has been sitting on my Tarot Table, unread, for a good while. Now that I have the time, I figured I’d get around to doing it!). The question was:
What aspects surround and influence the Occupy Movement across the world?
Due to my bias – living in the United States – my answer will focus on movements here, that I am more well-informed about, but I will attempt to cover all movements. The spread visually:
Position 1 (Central Aspect): Queen of Vessels (Salmon)
The Queen of Vessels in the central position of the Celtic Cross to me seems to indicate that this card is acting as a personality descriptor summing up the whole movement. The Salmon is famous for the journey it makes upstream each year to spawn, going through countless obstacles in order to reach its goal. In this regard, I believe that the Salmon reflects upon the tenacity of the Occupy Movement, and the deep devotion of many adherents to its cause. This Movement is not something that will go away, and no matter how many waterfalls and hungry bears you throw at it, it will keep on growing and moving forward. If we carry the comparison even further, the Movement might be weakened by the hardships it faces as a whole as people back out, but those left behind will be stronger and in the end will triumph, as the Salmon always does. It isn’t extinct yet, right? In the near future we will see if this holds true, following intense police crackdowns across the world, which have the potential to either shut down or inflame the movement. Let’s hope it’s the latter.
The Salmon can also represent virtue and caring, indicating that perhaps the Occupy Movement is right in what it is doing (I personally believe in it myself, which doubtlessly influences my reading). The Salmon is also associated with cherishing things – such as the ideals of freedom from corporate domination and economic inequality that the Movement is protesting. The Movement is also seeking to recover from the terrible downturn the world plutocratic society has taken, again putting it in harmony with the Salmon.
The Queen of Vessels also calls to mind self-sacrifice in the name of the future – what else is the Salmon’s journey upstream a prime representation of? Many have sacrificed much in the Occupy Wall Street Movement – pepper-spraying, arrests, and beatings – in order that they and their descendants do not have to deal with plutocratic oppression. The Salmon also represents honesty and generosity. Generosity can be seen in many of the camps, who provide for their members’ needs, and the message of honesty resounds on the Movement, though critics have pointed out – sometimes with merit – that some (but not all – not nearly) of those joining the Movement do so purely out of personal gain, and there are some horror stories of crimes committed in the camps. This brings perhaps a shade of dishonesty to the movement, possibly a cause for Mourning the loss of the Occupy Movement’s original integrity, as reflected in the next card.
The last important aspect of the Salmon as it applies to the Occupy Movement is its association with simplicity. Many critics have… well, criticized the Occupy Movement for having no clear message. In fact, the message of the Occupy Movement is very clear and very simple; so simple, in fact, that it seems to go right over many peoples’ heads. The message is thus: End corporate power and return democracy to the people. It is a very broad message, yes, but that simple statement incorporates all that the Occupy Movement is about.
Position 2 (Opposing/Supporting Aspect): Seven of Vessels (Mourning)
While the Salmon indicates that the Occupy Movement is virtuous and persevering, the Seven of Vessels – Mourning – has some contradicting messages, indicating that the Movement is not as simple as it may at first appear. As mentioned above, some of the initial spirit of the Movement has been lost – some of its integrity has been destroyed by those abusing it, the media, and, of course, its opponents – and it is no longer quite as spontaneous as it had once been due to its growing size. The time of those aspects of the Movement are past, and this card indicates that it is time to move on from them.
The Occupy Movement also has met with fierce resistance from law enforcement, and has had to recover many times from clashes with the police. Mourning is the first step to this recovery, and as protestors and occupiers mourn the loss of their encampments and the support of the law, they move on forward, putting the past behind them.
On a very broad level, the entire Occupy Movement can be seen as representing a reaction to mourning the loss of a true democracy in the United States, and in many other areas of the world, where corporations have taken control of political and economic power (look at Greece, for example, where this is most overt). The people have seen democracy fail, especially in the United States, due to corporate power, lobbying, and an ill-and-mis-informed populace, and mourn for the death of what was once a country where everyone mattered (this in itself is, of course, a fiction, but the idea of the past is almost always more important than its reality). The Occupiers have finished the worst part of their mourning, and are recovering – but not by moving on, as the Seven of Vessels urges you to do, but instead by embracing their grief and sense of loss, trying to restore that which they have lost. The entire movement, then, is a way of embracing what was lost and not letting themselves move on until the problem causing them to mourn is fixed.
Position 3 (Unconscious Influence): Knight of Bows (Fox)
The unconscious influences on the Occupy Movement are best represented by the Knight of Bows, or the Fox. This is very interesting, as the character of the fox is a strange mixture of wisdom, cunning, and playfulness. Certainly, the mischievous nature of the Fox is absent in many regards, but that character has come out in a few regards – emphasizing the fact that this is the unconscious influence, so is beneath the surface. One thing influencing the Movement is a desire to change the current system – and some might even go so far as to say “upset” or “overthrow.” This mentality represents, I think, the hidden influence of the Fox, and perhaps a mischievous desire to upset the anthill and see what comes out. Some members of the Movement are doubtlessly in this mindset, and this card is perhaps telling us that they wield more influence than we have been led to believe – or maybe it is telling us that the troublemakers that critics of the Movement are quick to point out do have influence beyond their numbers.
Other supporters of the movement – particularly Facebook groups such as the Coffee Party and The Other 98%, and of course Jon Stewart’s Daily Show – embody this playful nature in a less harmful way, making their point stronger through the use of wit (again the domain of the fox) and humor. These voices are perhaps the most influential (especially Mr. Stewart), even though they are not the official spokespeople of the Movement, making them, in a sense, “unconscious” influences. Jon Stewart in particular I feel is a good archetype of the Fox – using wit, humor, and playfulness in order to cunningly expose the ridiculousness of the system, and in his own way provide us with wisdom. Though not explicitly connected to the Movement or even to activism, really, Jon Stewart has been a rallying point for liberals, whether he wanted to or not, and a sworn enemy of many conservatives. The Occupy Movement, while not belonging to any political party, is generally more liberal than conservative (many have compared it to the Tea Party, but I believe that this comparison has no real merit), and so Jon Stewart I believe has served as a rallying point for the Movement as well, and his words have probably influenced a large portion of them – the Fox’s hidden influence becoming plain.
The Fox is also known for its stealthy qualities, further reinforcing the idea of hidden influences. Perhaps this card is hinting that the Occupy Movement has goals that even most of its members don’t know, or are being influenced and run by people that hide their ties to the movement. I’d like to believe that this is not true, but this card hints at the possibility, and I think acts as a warning to Occupiers as well, telling them to watch out for pranksters and those who hide stealthily among them in order to change their course.
The Fox also, however, represents cunning and wisdom. This indicates that perhaps the Movement is using underhanded tactics – something which I have seen for myself at my university, when Occupy protesters interrupted a lecture being given on what one scholar thinks of capitalism, heckling him and in some cases abusing their status; definitely not something admirable, and in the end something which might undermine the movement. On the flip-side, however, the Movement is also in many ways putting forth its own wisdom, pointing out the flaws in the current world plutocratic capitalist system. The first step to true wisdom is realizing what is amiss in life, and the Occupy Movement has, I think, realized this.
Position 4 (Past Influence): King of Vessels (Heron)
Next to his wife is the King of Vessels, the Heron, representing the influences of the past – whether these influences be receding ones or those influences that have been in effect for a long time. The King of Vessels is a court card, so I feel that this influence is one of strong personalities. The Heron is a symbol of the gatekeeper to the Celtic Otherworld, and often is seen as having uncanny, nearly psychic abilities of observation. He is calm and possesses extreme self-control, but when he is forced to take action, the Heron can be unstoppable and willful. Certainly, the latter part of this description made itself known in the initial stages of the Occupy Movement, when a group of people who had previously been (mostly) calm, going about their daily lives, trying to earn a living, finally felt compelled to do something about the inequalities caused by corporate greed around the world, and using a depth of character found in the Heron, managed to begin a global movement to change things, that may or may not be unstoppable.
Looking even further back into the past, the inspiration for the Occupy Movement can be, I think, be traced back to the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring came to the world’s attention first through Egypt’s example, although there have also been protests in Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and ongoing ones in Iran (although the protesters there are not Arab, but Iranian, similar ideas prevail). Of course, there is also the first country to overthrow its corrupt leader and the only Arab nation to have had any real success with its revolution: Tunisia, beginning with Mohammed Bouazizi’s setting himself on fire to protest the confiscation of his wares, bringing to light the oppression of the Tunisian government. Bouazizi is here, I think, the Heron that started the international idea of liberation in 2011: a street-vendor trying to make a living, harassed by officials and yet not resorting to violence against them (for whatever reason, ethical or practical), who when finally made to act, did so in a spectacular way displaying a real level of martyrdom and death that has significantly changed the country, and perhaps the entire world.
Taking this analogy further, Bouazizi is, as a result of his self-immolation, no longer among the living, his martyrdom making him a possible gatekeeper between worlds: while physically dead, his actions continue to play out in the real world, making his influence that of something between life and death, like the Heron of Celtic mythology. Bouazizi’s actions also demonstrated great integrity and honesty, and he fought for ideals of fairness – all aspects of the Heron as well. He also possessed extreme amounts of self-control: he did not attack officials, and it takes extreme self-control to set oneself on fire in a public space. He deliberately made a statement in the hopes of bringing equality, caring for his subjects like a good king should.
The suit of Vessels comes into play here as well, as the impact of his self-immolation was a result of the emotional trauma associated with such an event – something in the area of Vessels. This can also be tied to Mourning, the Seven of Vessels, as the Arab Spring began with the mourning of this man, and was a way of dealing with what he had done. Some people have claimed that Bouazizi’s story is not real, and was just a symbol. I personally doubt this, but even if it is true and it did not actually happen, that does not make the story any less powerful or influential.
In turn, the Arab Spring spread the idea of liberation to the rest of the world, and the Canadian group Adbusters adopted the Arab Spring’s revolt against political oppression into ideas of economic oppression, and thus began to movement. Whether or not the influence of the Heron is still strong, we shall see, but it seems to me as if it is, as the Movement still seems to have, as a while, the honesty and integrity of the Heron (though the rigidity associated with the Heron certainly does not seem to manifest itself in the Movement, other than in its unbending message). Additionally, the Heron stands beside his wife, the Salmon, whose perseverance will help the Heron keep his standing.
Position 5 (Conscious Influence/Thoughts): The Seer
This is a very interesting card to have here. The Seer is a card of wisdom and oracle, representing an inner journey and prophetic visions. While her counterpart, the Shaman, is an active manipulator of events, the Seer is passive and imparts guidance upon those who seek it. In this position, the Seer is representing the prominent position of the wisdom of the Movement. Indeed, the Movement is wise, I think, as the current state of world affairs cannot be allowed to go on for much longer. This card in its position as the conscious influence also indicates that perhaps the Movement wishes it had a guide, an oracle, or a leader of some sort, instead of being the supposedly leaderless Movement it is – or that it has one. This guide and imparter of wisdom is, I think, liberal philosophy and, frankly, common sense. Life is unfair, and something can be done about it, so why not do it? That is the Oracle of the Movement.
The Seer is also associated with an empathy towards nature, which can manifest itself as a part of the Movement. The corporate world economy has done lasting harm to the environment, which in turn has harmed the people, and a return of power to the people will hopefully begin to reverse this process. Nature can also refer to the environment surrounding people, which has definitely been harmed as a result of the world plutocracy, and this Movement empathizes with the environment, and seeks to heal the world spirit – another aspect of the Seer. If you look at my Personality of the World Spread, I think you will notice that a lot of the themes I discussed there appear here as well – as well as many of the same cards.
Position 6 (Future Influence): The Pole Star
This card tells us that the Pole Star will influence the Movement in the future – or is it telling us that the Movement will act as a Pole Star in the future? The Pole Star is a guide, shining its light down from above. This indicates to me that something – perhaps the collective energy of the world – is guiding this Occupy Movement (after all, it seems to have advanced very far for being ostensibly a leaderless movement), and will continue to influence it in the future. At some point in this future – and perhaps even now – the Movement will begin to guide the rest of the world, by exposing the corruption of the system in which we live and ushering in a new cycle – something else that the Pole Star represents. To me, this card is very optimistic about the future of the Occupy Movement, representing as it does renewal and hope: perhaps it can save society and guide it out of the darkness we have found ourselves sliding into. The Pole Star represents universal law and spiritual order, and the Occupy Movement will eventually come to represent this law and order, bringing harmony back to the world. This card also represents the calm after the storm, and indicates that perhaps it is this Movement that will end a lot of the conflict on the planet if it can succeed.
Position 7 (Occupy’s Perception/Presentation of Self): The Wanderer
Not a surprising card at all. The Occupy Movement is presenting itself as the first phase in a new journey, and heading towards a new society. While the Occupy Movement is advocating for a return of democracy to the people, this sort of thing is actually, in reality, quite unprecedented in the world (if you want to dispute this with me, I’d be more than happy to talk about it, as I study both sociology and history). As such, the Occupy Movement presents itself as, much like the Wanderer, stepping out into the unknown, having faith that its foot will fall on the rainbow bridge, and won’t touch nothing and cause them to fall to their deaths below. Reinforcing the idea of the simplicity of the message brought out by the presence of the Salmon, the Wanderer/Fool is often portrayed as simple and naive. While the Occupy Movement itself does not try to portray itself as naive, that is how the Occupy Movement is seen by many. However, its message is simple (though not in the sense normally assumed of the Wanderer/Fool), as I explained earlier, reflecting the simplicity of the Wanderer’s mind. The Occupy Movement seeks to make the first step into creating a new society in which the power of the corporations are shattered and democracy belongs again to the people.
Position 8 (Other’s Perception of Occupy/Influence of Environment on Occupy): The Mirror [Reversed]
This is very interesting, at least to me. The Mirror in this position, I believe, has two meanings. The more obvious of the two meanings is what this card represents: patiently waiting for initiation into hidden knowledge. This card’s meanings in this regard seem to fall short here (there’s one of these cards in every spread), and that certainly does not seem to be how others perceive the Movement. Interestingly, though, many people initially skeptical of the movement, after visiting the actual sites, become involved in it and begin to support it strongly (one example of this is here). In this sense, there does appear to be a kind of initiation, but it is more similar to the Hermit’s initiation than the Mirror’s, as there is a conscious move to the sites of the Movement. However, the visitor does not often intend to “convert” to the Occupy Movement by attending, but is taken by surprise when this happens, indicating that perhaps the Mirror is at work here through her unconscious initiation into the inner knowledge of the Occupy Movements. Additionally, due to the way the media covers the event, it is often impossible for viewers to really know what the Occupy Movement is like without going there oneself (regrettably, I have not been able to make it to one, though I have searched out obscure articles by Occupiers on it), which in itself makes the Movement similar to the unconscious initiator of the Mirror. It is also important to recall here that the Mirror is, in fact, reversed, so the characteristics we see here are less obvious than normal – which is good, because some of those explanations are a little bit of a stretch!
I believe, however, that a second interpretation of this card is better. The Mirror initiates by letting one see oneself through one’s reflection, allowing for better self-awareness and an inner, spiritual journey. Many Occupiers no doubt see their own struggles reflected in the Movement, which in turn leads them to become better people and to understand themselves more. However, the still water that reflects can also distort, and the mirror is sometimes cracked. The fact that the Mirror is reversed to me indicates that this reflection might not be as pure. This card is not how Occupiers see themselves – it is how others see them. The most vocal speakers on the Occupy Movement are its critics (aren’t they always?), who, I think, like a Mirror, reflect the face the Occupy Movement puts forward (that of the Wanderer) back at them and distort it. The simple message of the Movement is criticized by its opponents as being too broad and ill-defined. The Movement is portrayed as being naive, and taking foolish actions filled with risks in order to gain something that critics argue was never lost in the first place. Many others view the Occupy Movement’s face and see a twisted and distorted version of it. Due to the influence of the corporate-dominated media (again, if you dispute this, tell me – I argue that the idea of the “liberal media” is a myth), no one truly sees the Occupy Movement for what it is, and instead receives a twisted picture of it.
Position 9 (Hopes/Fears/Advice): The Shaman [Reversed]
The Shaman appears with his counterpart, the Seer, indicating that two types of guidance are present in the Movement. The Shaman in particular is positioned in the position of guidance itself within the spread, indicating that while the Seer’s oracular guidance may be more visible, the Shaman’s influence is perhaps greater. This card is also, however, blocked, indicating that perhaps the Shaman’s influence has the potential to be greater, and perhaps is the best course of action, but something stops it. The Shaman is a manipulator and a liaison between the ancestral memory of the world and the current world. To me, this seems to mean that the Shaman here is telling us that we should look to the past for lessons, drawing upon our ancestral memory. History has a tendency to repeat itself, and the Occupy Movement could probably look for past precedents to determine what the most effective course forward would be, manipulating the world in order to achieve its ends. Examinations of the South African anti-Apartheid Movements, the Black Power Movements, the World Social Forum, and no doubt a large amount of other movements I am less well-informed about.
However, this possible influence is blocked; perhaps actively by the media and the corporations providing access to information about the past, or more likely, by people’s lack of knowledge of or motivation to look at the past for examples – the Movement is very liberal, and looking to the past is primarily a conservative idea, even though it is often helpful for liberals as well. Perhaps the Movement has been looking in the wrong places for its inspiration, or is unwilling to look back, instead preferring to look forward. It is foolish to forget that which proceeded you, however, and by doing so one turns one’s back on a wealth of useful knowledge. This card could also represent a lack of active manipulation of the world around them, and advises the Movement to take an even more active role in making its own terms.
Position 10 (Sum): The Wheel [Reversed]
This certainly seems fitting here. The Wheel is one of those cards that sums up things, lying as it does at the end of the first decade of the Major Arcana. The Wheel is also a representation of the entire structure of the Wildwood Tarot Deck: the Wheel of the Year. To me, this overtly suggests that the Occupy Movement will be defined by the cycle of time: rising in the Spring (interesting that the Arab Spring began in the Spring…), flourishing during the summer, and then becoming more cautious in the fall as reactions to the Movement increase, until finally being forced to go almost underground by repression. I believe that the first cycle of this has already happened, with an initial strong movement flourishing for a while with support, until the crackdowns began, scaring many off, and then finally winter began with the forced evictions across the world. This card to me indicates that this cycle will continue on and on, persevering due to the influence of the Salmon/Queen of Vessels, and that soon winter will end and the Movement will come back stronger than before: perhaps in the reaction to the evictions, or perhaps later. Only time and the turning of the Wheel will tell.
This card also can indicate karma and the balance of the universe through the actions of fate. The plutocratic system has created drastic imbalances in the world, and this Movement may the karmic force to restore that balance. Interested at the lack of Balance in this reading – which is what I believe the entire Movement to be about – I drew another card here to see if perhaps Balance would modify the Wheel. Instead, I drew the Five of Stones: Endurance. To me, the message here was clear. As a card in the Suit of Stones, Endurance represents Winter. As a Five in a Tarot deck, this card represents a destabilizing force. The Occupy Movement has been destabilized in the recent past – in the “Winter” phase of the Wheel – and Endurance will be necessary to get through it. This seems to indicate that the Winter of the Occupy Movement has only begun, and this it will go through difficult times before it triumphs.
This card’s position as the sum also inspired me to look more closely at how the Wheel of the Year played into the Occupy Movement. Most of the cards in the spread are Majors, and those Majors – and the Court Cards, which consisted of two Vessels – tend to concentrate in the Vessels area. I rearranged the cards in the spread to their positions according to the Wheel of the Year below:
This makes the heavy weighting on the side of Autumn extremely apparent. The Wheel and the Mirror (Reversed) are both at the Autumn Equinox, and the Seven of Vessels is also well into the season. The Heron and Salmon are also cards of Autum. This, to me, seems to indicate that at the current time, the Movement is currently in Autumn, which is disturbing to me on some level, as this implies that the worst is yet to come – the evictions of late are not the Winter of the Movement. However, it could be that there are smaller cycles of the Wheel, but that in terms of the overall Movement as a whole so far, it has entered Autumn – and has done so extremely quickly, if the Autumn of the Movement is also the Autumn of the first cycle. I do believe that this is the best interpretation of this; that in the overall cycle of the Movement the plutocracy’s oppression is just beginning to make the movement cautious, but that smaller cycles exist within the movement as a whole, and that this is a moment of winter for the Movement. I just hope we have the Endurance necessary to survive the coming Winter. Also, there are no arrows at all in this spread (initially there were no stones either, until I drew clarification card, indicating that Winter is Coming). Spring is currently long gone, and it will be a long Winter before it comes again.
Also interesting to note is that three out of the four cards at the hub of the Wheel of the Year are present: the Wanderer, the Shaman, and the Seer. Both the querent and his two initial guides are present in this spread, which to me seems optimistic; if the Wanderer (the Occupy Movement itself) can find the guidance of the Shaman and combine it with that of the Seer, the Wheel will continue to turn and Spring will come again, as the Hub of the Wheel is practically whole, allowing it to turn. This also, I believe, emphasizes the cyclical aspect of the Movement. The one element of Spring in this reading is the Pole Star. While still in Winter, the Pole Star is a guide that will lead us eventually to Spring and our rebirth, advising us that we should use the world’s guidance to succeed.
However, despite all of this, we should not forget that the Wheel is reversed. This is most definitely not a good sign. The shirt that the loom is weaving is uncompleted, and something is stopping its progress. Time is not moving as it should. This seems to reinforce the idea that the cycle is askew, and that Autumn – and perhaps Winter – will last longer than they should at the expense of Spring and Summer. While all seasons are necessary for renewal, giving too much time to one season can ruin the world. The corporate plutocracy of the world has cast us all into Autumn, and we will have to struggle to survive the Winter and emerge into Spring.
Reflections on the Spread as a Whole
The most striking thing about this spread was the large degree of Major Arcana – seven of the ten cards were Majors! Of the remaining cards, only one was a numbered Minor, the other three cards being Court Cards. As mentioned above, Vessels also dominated this spread, though there was a single bow present, indicating that the cycle has advanced on from Summer. There were also no bows available for the Arrows, which perhaps hints that the Occupy Movement will have trouble obtaining its goals – it’s hard to use a bow without arrows. However, through the tenacity of the salmon, the guidance of the Seer, Shaman, and Pole Star, the integrity of the Heron, and the passage of time (the Wheel) will in the end help the Occupy Movement succeed.
I would also to take this space to point out that many of the cards in this spread were the same as in my Personality of the World Spread, which either indicates that I need to learn to shuffle better or that the Occupy Movement is the face of the world right now. Indeed, in that reading, I brought that point up several times, and I believe that this reading then reinforces that idea.
That was long, I know, but hopefully illuminating and/or thought-provoking!
A reading done with my Wildwood Tarot deck, using my personality spread. The question: What defines the current state/personality of the environmental, political, and social world we live in today?
Essentially, an examination of the personality of the Earth, personifying it as a whole:
1. Central Aspect: Three of Stones – Creativity
The most important feature of the world’s personality is creativity; that is the quality that best defines it, and the quality most important to it. Creativity means the ability to innovate and create new things. It is the channeling of afflatus divine; the divine inspiration. The world best expresses itself through those that live on it; we all channel the Earth’s creativity in some form or another, whether it be through music, song, dance, ideologies, thoughts, philosophy, attitudes, actions, and beliefs. The world surrounds us all, and we all act as conduits for its energy and power. The presence of this card at the center of the spread indicates that the energy of the world flows around us and through us, much like the Neoplatonic and Kabbalistic theosophies; we are created from the superabundance of the world, eternally flowing from a bottomless cup, and we are all connected to the world’s energy flowing through us.
In a more literal sense, the world is also creative and an innovator. It’s survived for a long time, through several extinctions, large asteroid impacts, and so far even man’s predations on its surface. The spirit of the world is adaptable, and the planet itself will live on – but at what cost? With what change? The world could move on without us, finding creative ways to continue carrying on without humanity or other life. But at the same time, this planet was creative enough to give birth to life to channel its will. Will it give up that life so easily? It has come so far – and now it’s creations have become too powerful for it, and could very well destroy it; the world may have been too creative.
2. Influencing Characteristic: The Shaman
The secondary characteristic is that of the Shaman. The Shaman represents an understanding of all life on Earth; very fitting for the Earth itself. The world is a master of its own elements, and can manipulate the world to its will. This indicates a degree of predestination; does the world control all of our actions? How much of what we do does the Earth control? This card is also representative of the initiation of mysteries; the world opens its arms to all who live on its surface and shares its teachings and its mysteries. The world is the summation of all that came before it, the ultimate memory of the world (this concept comes up again in Position 6 in the World Tree). The Shaman is an active, guiding force, and the world itself is gently teaching us its lessons, and what happens when we do not have control of the elements.
In our pollution of the world and often (failed) attempts at taming the planet, we have shown ourselves not yet ready for those tasks. The Shaman present in the Earth tries to show us the ways, and is beginning, I hope, to succeed, as awareness about what we are doing to the Earth is raised. Similarly, in the social world, revolutions are taking place all around – the Arab Spring, uprisings in China, riots in London (though this was not really raising awareness for the most part), and Occupy Wall Street in the United States. People are becoming aware of how others have manipulated the elements for them, and now seek to take back control.
Combined with Creativity, the Shaman seems to indicate a sort of guided evolution and adaptation; it is not completely random, and there is some influence on the direction that the world takes. Maybe this influence is evolution itself, or maybe not. Humanity as a social group is certainly evolving, and this is not a random movement; people all around are guiding us towards a greater understanding of the world and ourselves. Taken together, these two cards seem optimistic.
3. Influence of the Past: Seven of Vessels – Mourning
An oddly appropriate card here; in the Wildwood Tarot, the card Mourning not only signifies mourning that which has passed on, but also being at peace with one’s past. The Earth has no regrets, and has come to terms with what it has done and what has been done to it. It feels no remorse for what it has done, but mourns over what has been done to it. The mourning of the Earth for what has been done to it represents the first step in its recovery, as environmentalist awareness rises throughout the world.
In terms of the world as the social sum of all of its inhabitants, the world’s mourning is being expressed in terms of the Arab Spring, stirrings of discontent throughout the world, and the Occupy Movements. The world is beginning to come to terms with its own past, in order to move forward; the evils of what has been done are being exposed and its results mourned, and all the while the world is beginning to move forward, seeking out a new path.
At the same time, this is also a card of conservatism, and honoring the past; the dead, traditions, and ritual. The placement of a card emphasizing the past in the position representing the influence of the past emphasizes the importance of the past in defining the world; history is hugely important in general, and learning from past mistakes – those which cause us to mourn – helps the world look to the future with wise eyes, able to forge the best path ahead. A mixed card; its pessimistic elements come in the form of the sadness caused by the wrongs done to the world – social and environmental – but at the same time, the world is able to come to terms with what has been done, mourn it, forgive, and move on. The time of mourning is in the past; it is time for the world to move forward.
4. Goals of the Future: Three of Vessels – Joy
Now that the world is beginning to put Mourning behind it, it can turn its eyes towards the larger goal: Joy. Joy is a very nice goal, and like Mourning, is in the Suit of Vessels, indicating that the world’s perception of the progression of time is in emotional terms rather than physical or mental terms; it is interesting that Stones did not come up in either of these spots. Joy represents communal celebration, the happiness coming with embarking on a new way of life, or welcoming home someone who has returned. This is exceedingly appropriate; the Earth wants to welcome back humans as members of its community, rather than forced by our own actions to be opposed to us. It wants to be full once again, and move forward on a different track, more in harmony with us and itself. The world seeks to heal, moving on from the Mourning of the past; and what better way is there to heal than through Joy? The world strives to reunite with itself, set a different course, and heal all of the wounds and rifts within itself and its social populations, coming together as one. A very sensible goal.
5. Unconscious Thoughts and Motives: The Mirror [Reversed]
The card of inner reflection. Again very appropriate when looking at one’s unconscious thoughts and motives. This card also seems to be at odds with the Shaman in Position 2, as the Mirror represents passivity and letting events wash over you, while the Shaman is a card of active manipulation. However, the Mirror is reversed; thee passive energy of the Earth and world has been blocked somehow; by harming the environment, by crooked capitalists (in the strict Marxist definition of the word) and corrupt politicians, or any other forms of oppression. Under its surface, the world is motivated by a desire for, above anything else, calm. This calm is impossible to maintain in the face of what has been done to the world, and so revolutions have begun acoss the Earth.
In its aspect as the Keeper and Initiator of Mysteries (a role the Mirror shares with the Shaman), the Mirror is also blocked. The Earth unconsciously lets other in on its secrets, but humanity’s blindness towards the Earth’s needs have made it impossible to truly for a connection with the Earth and the truth, which in this case is represented by the Mirror’s association with the Underworld.
The Mirror represents sitting back and letting your inner guide lead you through your life; essentially, letting your subconscious show your true nature. In this position of unconscious thoughts, this card is then very general; what influences the world’s unconscious thoughts and motives are… unconscious thoughts and motives.
The blocking of the Mirror also represents a blocking of the inner guide and the revelation of truth, indicating again humanity’s blindness in understanding the Earth, and a disconnect from the truth. This disconnect is not immediately obvious in all spheres of life – for example, in the social world, where many people are disconnected from reality through manipulation of the media – hence why the card appears in the unconscious position.
The reversed Mirror may also represent the Earth having trouble letting go; the people upon it are separate entities from it (though in this reading I am treating them as almost the same, the larger whole made from two parts). The Mirror involves a sort of surrender, and the Earth is unwilling to fully trust its care into the hands of humanity. This may be justified; the Mirror is a card also of patience, and its reversal means that patience may not be prudent. Perhaps drastic changes must be made to save the Earth and the world as we know it, environmentally and socially.
6. Conscious Thoughts and Concerns: The World Tree
An extremely appropriate card. This card indicates that the World is primarily concerned with, very obviously, wholeness and completion. This agrees with most of the other cards to so far. Interestingly, this is not reversed; that would match up even more well, indicating that the world is concerned with the breaking up of completion. Still, though, the world is concerned with completion, and bringing humanity together as one and revealing to them the hidden knowledge of the universe. This card also marks the end of a journey and the start of another, again hinting that the Earth and world is making it known that perhaps another path should be taken in its development; maybe it is time to use the knowledge we are gaining to move on to better places. The World Tree in this position also indicates that the Earth is forgiving, and its heart is open to any who turn to it; the world cares for every individual in it, as every individual is part of the larger whole. It serves as a reminder of the unity of the human race, and the futility of dividing ourselves up among nations. It urges us to remember who we are and our connection to everything else, in order to achieve harmony and truth.
7. Public Face: Ten of Bows – Responsibility
What the world wants us to know about its identity and personality is that it is responsible. It feels responsible for everyone living on/in it – after all, we are its children. It also wants us to know that it is carrying our burden; yes, we do harm ourselves often by our actions, but the world and Earth as a whole is hurt far more, and yet it still finds the ability to stay together and move onward. This card is placed in the position of conscious identity because the world wants its inhabitants to see its carrying the burden and emulate it; it urges us all to put our differences aside, bottle up our anger, and take responsibility for our actions. The Earth has already done so for too long, and we have prospered from the Earth’s ability to endure our maltreatment of it. Now, however, the time has come to learn from the Earth’s perseverance and suffer ourselves so that the Earth and world might be saved. We need to help shoulder the Earth’s burden.
8. Private Face: Five of Vessels – Ecstasy [Reversed]
What the world keeps hidden from us about its personality is represented by Ecstasy, reversed. The world keeps hidden its key aspect of spiritual awareness and fulfillment; the world has, in the past, been aware of itself, but now that awareness has been blocked by something – likely human actions affecting the social world. The world no longer is clearly defined, and does not know where it is going; turmoil is erupting across the surface of the globe, and the Earth is at a crisis – but it does not want us to know. It wants us to see its stoic endurance, and not its conflicted feelings and its lost of itself. The Earth no longer knows itself, and its spiritual fulfillment and ecstasy has been blocked. We pollute its surface and kill its children, and as can be seen in changing weather patterns that are beginning to prey on us all – the vicious 2011 tornado season, hurricane’s increasing in frequency, and similar occurrences – the Earth is no longer sure it wants to take it, and is no longer content; it has become unhappy, having lost its spiritual ecstasy.
The world has also begun to call others into its awareness through the above actions – the weather acts as the drums of the world, calling others to attention. Though inadvertently, the Earth is beginning to bring others into its fold, bringing it closer to spiritual ecstasy; for when enough people can become aware of the world around them, the world will be able to rediscover itself.
9. Public Desire: The Wanderer
The world/Earth wants us to know that it wants to start a new journey. It wants to to push away the burdens of the past, let bygones be bygones, and move onward – a theme coming up again and again in this reading. This, along with the presence of so many Major Arcana, indicate that powerful forces are shaping the world, and that it stands at a crossroads, on the brink of a new phase. If we look at Marx’s phases of history and then at the Occupy Movements, it is possible to read this card as indicating that the social world is ready to move past capitalist domination, and step off into the era of Socialism. However, I believe that this reading is of lesser importance in this card, and that the Journey or Blasted Oak would have indicated Marx’s Proletarian Revolution.
I do, however, believe that this card indicates that humanity is ready to move into another stage of existence; maybe not what Marx and historical philosophers envision, but something new. The Wanderer is poised on the brink of an abyss, ready to make a leap of faith. The world wants us to know that it is making this jump, and hopes not to fall of the cliff into an even worse state, but rather to walk upon the rainbow to a place in which a new journey can begin. The world/Earth is leaving behind its previous notions and striking out into uncharted territory, and hopes that its inhabitants share that desire. Do they? There’s only one way to find out…
10. Private Desire: The Seer
What the Earth doesn’t want us to know is that it’s lost. This is, again, like the reversed card in the Position of Private Identity; the world seeks to hide its insecurities to present a public face of responsibility. What the world wants is guidance and inspiration; but what inspiration is there other than the world itself? The world itself may feel lost, wishing for the Seer’s prophetic vision to help it decide where to go.
This card also offers the world some advice – use its experience and take the role of the Seer for itself! It has the experience and knowledge necessary to choose where to go and make its own future, rather than relying on others. It can channel its own power and use the personality of the Shaman – the Seer’s counterpart, appearing as the Influencing Characteristic in this reading – to influence the world to meet its goal of starting a new journey and regaining its state of harmony and union.
The world may also want to channel the abilities of the Seer and become her, rather than looking elsewhere for guidance and vision. The Seer tells us to go out and change the world ourselves, and maybe that’s exactly what we, as the components of the social world, need to do: go out and make change ourselves and act as the Seer for the sake of ourselves and the world.
The first thing I noticed was missing in this spread was any hint of exploitation; it just really wasn’t there. The only place it may have come up was in Mourning, as one of the various deeds of the past the world was injured and saddened by that it is trying to move past. Similarly, surprisingly few references to the environmental world emerged. This could be due to the environmental issues not being as important as the social ones (a claim which I do not believe – how can we fix our social issues if we don’t fix the planet that keeps us alive first), but I think it is more likely a product of my mindset as a student of sociology and history, and my scholarly focus on social issues over environmental ones (and following that, my lack of knowledge with regards to the environment). When reading the spread, I found myself making analogies to the social world more easily, and ended up interpreting the reading as the personality of the collective mindset of the world.
One other thing to note is my inherent pessimism popping up. Once I finished going through the cards, it became apparent to me that these cards could have been read in a very positive light, and I do believe that the readings hold a great deal of optimism. After much thought, however, I am going to go with my gut instinct and my negative view of the current world, as I do believe that these negative views are a result of the world’s reality. The cards also personally seem to be calling out to me and telling me that we can be saved if we take action like the world wants in the form of the Seer. As a whole, I see this reading as saying “Yes, we may be in a dark place, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel – if we choose to reach for it.”
This reading was also extremely general; it was interesting that a few cards representing the ideals of each Position in the spread showed up in the appropriate position. To me, this indicates a successful channeling of energies in the design of the spread, and also maybe a hint that I need to slightly adjust the meaning of the Positions so that they can tell me more. Additionally, there were lots of Major Arcana in the reading, which makes sense and again emphasizes the reading’s generalness; major forces are at play in the forces of the world, which itself… makes up a major force.
The reading was also dominated by Vessels. Looking at this from a cyclical/Wheel of the Year perspective, this indicates that the time of Autumn is upon us, and we are approaching Winter. We can sense the coming Winter coming, and emotions become charged and paramount; as we can see in the anger (the mishandling of emotions; blocked Ectsasy?) in the world right now. But if this is Fall… what is Winter? Will the events running through the world right now plunge us downward? But even then, it is important to remember that Spring will follow, and the world will be reborn – hopefully with us in it, and much the wiser for our experience. Ominously, however, there are no Arrows in this reading – perhaps this means that Spring will be a long time in coming.
The last point of interest is the lack of Court Cards. In a personality spread, I actually find this rather surprising; this indicates to me that perhaps the Earth’s personality is not strong, or at least doesn’t appear strong. At the same time, however, none of the cards contradict each other hugely, and most of them support each other; there is little self conflict in this reading. The world’s personality is, at least, defined, even if it has moments of self-conflict and doubt.
This was my first extensive reading with this deck, and I still have a long way to go before I master it (it’s a long way from my comfortable home in the Thoth Tarot), but it definitely is a very useful deck so far. Hopefully I will be able to in later readings incorporate more interpretations of the Wheel of the Year!