One of the most common Tarot spreads used to answer a simple question is a three-card layout, with the cards dealt left to right. They can stand for:
1. Past, present, future;
2. Body, mind, spirit;
3. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis;
4. God, man, spirit;
or any other three-part process that’s relevant to the reader. The spread we’ll discuss today elaborates upon the three-card arrangement by introducing a fourth card, thus turning the spread into an imitation of Yod Heh Vav Heh, the “unpronounceable” name of God.
The four cards represent, loosely:
1. The origin of the matter (Yod, fire, creativity);
2. constraining or supporting forces (Heh, water, dampening);
3. the short-term outlook; (Vav, air, direction)
4. the resolution of the matter (Heh, earth, stasis).
As an example, we’ll lay out a sample spread and analyze it using the above guidelines:
In this reading, the querent was an older woman who was inquiring about her employment prospects. She had been undergoing a prolonged period of unemployment, and was wondering about her chances of finding work in her chosen field. At the same time she had doubts about returning to that field, and was wondering if she should abandon her current search and consider a completely different career path, even though it was relatively late in life for.her to consider such a switch.
First, the presence of three cards from the Trumps Major suggests the immanence of spiritual forces that may beyond her control but which may be helpful meditative guides for her. Here, the presence of the “last card” of the Trumps Major—The World—in the “Yod” position would suggest “The matter concluded;” in other words, her former career may well have come to an end, though this may be a blessing in disguise as her current condition holds the potential to open “new worlds” to her.
The High Priestess in the first “Heh” position is entirely complimentary (the Moon governs the watery tides), and suggests that the querent’s intuition is sound, and that she should follow her instincts, even if they seem to fly in the face of reason.
Five of Pentacles in the “Vav” position, however, suggests a mercurial intellect distracted or “weighed down” by material hardships or obligations, implying some possible rough times ahead for which the querent should steel herself.
Finally, The Devil in the final “Heh” position—governed by the earth sign of Capicorn, no less—cautions her against falling into a state of obsession over material matters, or taking a job in desperation, i.e., only for the sake of making money and nothing more. Our work should be about more than just a paycheck, otherwise we become mindless slaves to money, and our work—which should be a direct reflection of our loving Selves—becomes the kind of spiritual dungeon that the Devil signifies.
Another way to read this spread is to lay out the cards in the following pattern: (1) “As above,” (2) “so below.” (3) As it was, (4) so shall it be:
We can see clearly, now, that a new world beckons the querent, and this prospect is activating and engaging her powers of intuition. At the same time, a stubbornness or unwillingness to see beyond material matters of the present day can lead to ruinous consequences in the future. We shouldn’t “sell our souls to the devil” to rescue us from whatever misfortune we perceive to be suffering. Those of us who have done that in our lives—and I admittedly count myself among present company—generally come to regret it.
None of this is to suggest whether or not our querent will find her “dream job”—it simply reminds her, and us, of one of our most important personal commandments to keep: “To thine own Self be true.”