One of the better Tarot spreads for novice readers, a modified cross that contains plenty of food for thought for advanced practitioners as well, is this five-card arrangement devised by the Swiss occultist Oswald Wirth. It’s a two-part spread (if desired; the first five cards discuss the situation at hand, and another five-card spread can be dealt afterward to develop the reading), and it’s good for answering those “Where do I go from here” or “What shall I do now” questions that a querent will often pose.
Today we’ll examine a Wirth spread I laid down after receiving some unfortunate news. A job I was hoping to land failed to materialize, and a rejection letter from the prospective employer was in my Inbox this morning. (Ironically, the Tree of Life spread I dealt yesterday included, as the final card signifying the present day, the Eight of Wands, which conveys the meanings of “news,” “messages” or “travel by air”.) As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, my finances aren’t the healthiest they’ve ever been, and I could really use some regular-paying work instead of the feast-or-famine of freelancing. So I asked, “What’s next? Should I keep at this blog-work (though it’s not paying me anything yet), or consider something else? What are my long-term employment prospects, anyway?”
Here is the spread that turned up:
Card #2: Knight of Pentacles. This is the “against” or “anti” card—things currently working to the querent’s disadvantage.
Card #3: The Lovers. This is the “discussion” or “correspondence” card, wherein the previous two cards are weighed against the other.
Card #4: Eight of Cups. this is the “solution” or “verdict” card.
Card #5: Eight of Pentacles. This is said to be the “synthesis” card, where the combined meaning of the previous four cards is distilled to a central concept. Wirth, who only used the cards of the Major Arcana for this spread, counted the numerical value of the first four cards, reducing their value to 22 or under, to arrive at a definition of the spread as expressed by the numerically corresponding card from the Major Arcana. We’ll take the same approach with the Minor cards here to see what we can discover.
Even a cursory glance at this spread shows a strong material aspect, with three Pentacles (i.e., coins) forming the horizontal axis of this particular cross. The Ten of Pentacles signals a completion of a material cycle—this could refer to the job that didn’t pan out; or that the querent has arrived at a place in his material life where he belongs, and that his condition is much sounder than he realizes. The Knight of Pentacles opposing him, however, signifies a condition of impatience or restlessness; as the “airy” part of his element (earth), he is as “dust in the wind,” neither capable of nurturing new growth nor setting down permanent roots—look carefully at the card, and you will see that this Knight guards a fallow field.
The juxtaposition of these cards suggests an unwillingness on the part of the querent to accept his current status quo, as reasonably favorable as it is at present. This could be a positive development or not. The Lovers, at this point in the reading, suggests that the querent is facing a definitive choice—whether to declare his loyalty either to God or mammon—and the “verdict” card, the Eight of Cups, suggests the path he should take: Renouncing the material comforts of this world for now, and continuing to seek “higher ground” in spiritual pursuits. The “synthesis” of this, found in the Eight of Pentacles, means that the querent will find his work rewarding in and of itself, and he should continue on in earnest; his material reward will come in time.
Adding the numerical values of the first four cards, as per Wirth, we arrive at 31, which reduces to 3 = 1 = 4. This corresponds to Trump IV, The Emperor, and all the powers of command the card suggests. As an alternative, I’d suggest adding up all five cards, which gives us 39 = 3 + 9 = 12:
This would seem, to me, to be more appropriate to the reading, particularly given the presence of the Eight of Cups in the “verdict” position. As the Talmud teaches, “In my exaltation is my abasement, and in my abasement is my exaltation”: as we surrender to love, in other words, so too are we loved in kind.
This spread was more than sufficient to answer my question, but for those seeking further clarification, Wirth adds a secondary spread using a “significator” (court) card to stand for the querent in the center of the spread. Four cards are dealt around the significator:
1. A card to the left of it; this is the beginning or past;
2. A card to the right; this is the future possibility posed;
3. A card below; this is the “development” or “dialogue,” where the previous two cards are weighed against each other; and finally,
4. A card above; this is the long-term outcome.