This variant on the ten-card Tree of Life spread, which corresponds to the seven chakras of Kundalini yoga, was first outlined by Mary Greer in her book Tarot For Your Self in the 1980s. She proposed it initially as a spread for people who are dealing with health-related concerns since it aims to interpret the cards through the prism of the seven psychic “energy fields” that govern the various “regions” of the human body. We can use it to address other issues as well by recalling the symbolic significance of our various body parts—our “gut instinct,” our “heart on our sleeve,” the “lump in our throat,” our “head for business” and the like. We’ll lay down a sample spread here, and discuss the cards in their corresponding positions to see how well our personal “energy field” is aligned today. Unlike the Tree of Life spread, the cards here are dealt “from the bottom up,” from the Foundation chakra to the Crown atop our heads.
Before beginning our analysis, one thing that jumps out here is—no Major Arcana cards! This would suggest that whatever it is that we seek to discover from the cards today involves forces and events that are well within our control to enable—or disable—at the present time, and the presence of two Aces and two Deuces suggests that the commencement of a new enterprise or project, or a new person entering our lives, could be a key factor. The cards as dealt, in order, are:
1. Five of Wands. This is is the foundational Muladhara chakra, which governs our basic survival and instinctual functions. Here we see plenty of youthful energy on display, albeit of a competitive nature. This could mean that our basic instincts are sound and our physical health robust, though this can be upset by overexertion or by types of behaviors that endanger our health. Conversely, the combative (negative) nature of the card could suggest that some primal urges are being blocked or withheld within the querent—what Freudian psychology refers to as “anal retentiveness” since the Foundation chakra is in close proximity to that organ.
2. Seven of Cups. This is the Svhadhistana chakra, which governs procreation, sexuality, romance and feeling. In this position, the Seven could be alerting us that a choice needs to be made, or some illusions discarded. This could mean the querent is undergoing a sexual identity crisis, or is perhaps suppressing her true sexual desires. It could signify an unhealthy obsession with sexual matters, perhaps even an addiction to pornography. It could also mean that the querent’s romantic expectations are unrealistic, that she is unfairly comparing one lover to another, or that she is considering ending one relationship in order to begin another. If this is the case, she must choose wisely and not in haste, or the outcome could be, quite literally, a nightmare.
3. Ace of Pentacles and Princess of Cups. This is the Manipura chakra, which governs our basic forms of consciousness. The card to the left represents ego and will; the card to the right emotions and intuition. Here, the Ace signifies a new way of thinking or expressing ourselves in a way that could accrue material benefit to us, while the Princess could indicate a correlation between this new state of awareness and the kind of esoteric or occult studies we undertake here. Needless to say, great care needs to be taken to maintain a balance between these two forces, particularly the Princess’s powers of the unconscious, which could literally drown the Ace in unprocessed psychic content—if, for example, she makes the kinds of poor romantic choices the Seven of Cups warns against.
4. Four of Cups. This is the Anahata heart chakra, which governs our ability to express empathy and compassion, and our openness to love. It is the central, “heart of the matter” card in the chakra spread. Here, obviously we sense some kind of emotional withdrawal on display; the querent is withholding a part of herself from others, or is actively working to detach herself from the pain of human suffering, perhaps by the study of Buddhism, Taoism or a similar Eastern religion. This is a tricky psychic exercise for us Westerners with our long tradition of individualism, and one in which great care must be taken; for once we have convinced ourselves that we have reached the state of inner peace that allows us to completely ignore our own sufferings, it becomes all-too easy to ignore the sufferings of others. When this happens, we run the risk of putting ourselves in a total state of separation from others and, hence, in a total state of separation from God. This is the definition of the “split mind,” and no matter how free from ego we have convinced ourselves we are, we delude ourselves by thinking we have somehow “transcended” the experiences we share with our brothers and sisters here. Put another way: when our brother suffers, a part of us suffers, too, even if we’re not consciously aware of it.
5. Eight of Pentacles and Two of Pentacles. This is the Vishudda throat chakra, which governs our conscious expression. The card on the left is our inner voice, while the right side signifies the outer voice. The Eight suggests a strong dedication to achieving self-awareness for its own sake, and is willing to work diligently at it; the outer voice weighs its words carefully as the juggler weighs his Pentacles, in order to avoid making the kind of waves that are tossing the ships behind him. Combined, the cards signify someone who is articulate, well-spoken, and who likewise appears well-rounded—at least to the outside world.
6, King of Wands and Two of Wands. This is the “third eye” Ajna chakra, which governs our ability to transform our thoughts and visions into outward manifestations and accomplishments. Here, the masculine element of Wands suggests that the querent is a creative dynamo who can accomplish anything she wishes if she applies herself. If anything has held her back, perhaps it is her tendency at times to be distracted by the “little things” signified by the image of the Two; this sometimes indicates perfectionism, “sweating the details” to an unhealthy degree, and could be an outward manifestation of the “anal retentiveness” we discussed earlier with the Foundation chakra.
7. Ace of Swords. This is the “crown” Sahasrara chakra, which governs our loftiest hopes and highest aspirations. The Ace is, of course, a symbol of power—and in this position, posits a force of great good or great ill. If the querent is successful or prominent in her chosen field, it is a warning to wield her power over others judiciously. The Ace in this position could also speak to the querent’s feeling of powerlessness, or of a personality type who is constantly striving—sometimes at the expense of others, and other times at the expense of her own mental health. This could also be a sign of a “revenge fantasy”—or worse, an intimation of self-destructive tendencies implied by the Seven of Cups.
A cause for concern in this reading arises when we examine the “middle pillar” of the spread. Each of the four cards depicts a type or stage of struggle, and seeing them aligned here in this manner suggests a troubling, and potentially destructive, force of karmic energy at play. Implications are of a state of inner unrest, and while our querent may appear as if she “has her act together” in public, something deep within her psyche is notably out of balance. It is not proper for me as a reader to speculate about the causes of this condition unless the querent wishes to volunteer further information, but if she were to ask me for advice to take away based on this reading, it would likely be, “Act not in haste, and avoid following your impulses today. Sometimes, doing no-thing is better than doing something, especially if “some thing” turns out to be the wrong thing.”