This spread, taken from Mary Greer’s Complete Book of Tarot Reversals (a must-have for any serious student of the esoteric arts), is a great “short-form” teaching tool that we can use to take stock of our lives at any given time: to engage in some honest self-examination, asking the cards if we have allowed ourselves to be swayed by any influences that are posing obstacles to achieving our fulfillment as spiritual beings. This is very much a “here and now” spread rather than one that attempts to anticipate the future.
The cards are dealt in a single row, left to right, and the meanings of the cards are as follows:
1. Relationships: Family and friends: your social support network.
2. Nutrition: Diet and intake.
3. Pleasure: What makes you happy—what brings you joy.
4. Spirituality: The direction and purpose of your life.
5. Prayer: Meditation, intuition and dreams.
6. Energy: Physical exercise and fitness.
7. Work: Obligation and responsibilities.
As an exercise, your humble blogger laid down a sample spread to see if there was anything the cards could teach him about his own life today—which, as he has written previously, has been in a somewhat unsettled and transitional state over the past year. Here are the cards that made an appearance today:
Before proceeding with the individual cards, we see some things of interest right off the bat. First, there are no cards from the Major Arcana here, suggesting that the answers to the querent’s questions, and the solutions to his problems, are well within his power of apprehension and enabling. Second, there are no Swords—cards representing ego and will that often imply destructive forces—and the dominant suit in the spread is Wands (four of the seven cards), which are “bookmarked” at the beginning and the end of the spread by a pair of inverted Pentacles. We also see that five of the cards are reversed, and when we take all of these factors into account, we could conclude that (a) material matters have been of overarching concern to the querent—his existential “alpha and omega”, so to speak; (b) his own creative energies are being “constrained” by this development; and that (c) he may be in need of some of that missing “Sword energy” to break the state of tension that exists between his intellect and his emotions. Now to the individual cards:
1. Ten of Pentacles reversed. This is the “last” card of the Minor Arcana,” the final stop on our esoteric journey of self-discovery, and as such, the card’s traditional meanings revolve around the themes of family, reunions, and homecomings: Marriages consummated, love rededicated,and longevity celebrated. Reversed in this position, it could indicate that the querent is feeling somehow “cut off” from—or even abandoned by—his personal support network. The querent’s immediate family has been of immense help to him in his time of financial struggle, but he has often wondered about his extensive network of professional colleagues, a network that he has cultivated for decades: Why aren’t they returning his calls and e-mails anymore? For all his many career accomplishments, there is something about his working life that seems to him somehow incomplete and unfinished. Perhaps he has taken a detour in the past, and has lost his way home, or could his ego simply be deceiving him?
2. King of Wands reversed. As it happens, the querent is a devoted home chef who cooks for himself nearly every night. In other words, the “home fires are burning” every night in his abode. The King of Wands—who in the Tarot is the ruler of the element of Fire—is therefore right at home in this position. Reversed, the King could be warning the querent about certain types of food—such as fried food or junk food—that are said to “angry up the blood” and that can cause hypertension (which the querent has, and takes medication for) and even heart disease. Not so coincidentally, the querent cooked up a batch of homemade French fries as a side dish last night; they were delicious at the time, but perhaps he’d consider refraining from them for awhile.
3. Ten of Cups, reversed. On a related note, one of the reasons why the querent is such a dedicated amateur chef is because it gives him great pleasure; he finds the processes of kitchen prep and cooking to be therapeutic and Zen-like, and he loves to share his talent with others by preparing them sumptuous meals; interestingly (but not surprisingly) ,the day that he laid down this spread, he devoted his entire afternoon to cooking for a brunch he hosted the next day. This is one of those instances where a so-called “reversed” card can have a positive and reinforcing influence in a spread (this happens more often that we think), and here, the Ten of Cups reversed suggests that the querent finds his greatest joy when he can “pour his heart out” and share his love freely with others in whatever form it may take—cooking for his friends at home, or blogging for his followers here. Conversely, the Ten reversed can also warn against “giving away the store”; Gemini that he is, he tends to “blow hot and cold’ emotionally, and there have been times when he has poured his emotions into relationships that bore little if any fruit, or when he volunteered his expertise to a business enterprise when he really should have been compensated for it (he’s never been very good with money—except at spending it, perhaps).
4. Six of Wands. About a year and a half ago, facing an uncertain future and a career that seemed to have hit a dead-end, the querent began consulting on occasion a well-known spiritual advisor. One of the most important lessons he took to heart from his advisor was the importance of engaging in regular spiritual path-work—ideally, during the opening minutes of each and every day—involving meditation, prayer and (in his case) daily Tarot readings. Up until this point in time, the querent had never applied himself quite as determinedly and single-mindedly to such spiritual pursuits, and certainly not for so long a time! (He’s a Gemini, remember—they bore easily.) But some eighteen months have passed, and he has kept his “foot on the pedal” throughout, and has not allowed the many disappointments he has experienced during this time from distracting him from his studies nor from diverting him from his ultimate goal, which is to apply his creative energies in a way that can be of help to others, that can help to heal the world, and that allows him to enjoy a materially comfortable life. If that sounds ambitious—well, it is!, and this is why, as with the victorious rider pictured in the Six of Wands, we need to remind ourselves that we are mortal men, not gods, and that each one of us can only accomplish so much in the time we are allotted here. Still, even with our limitations, if each of us dedicated our talents and abilities to the same ends that the querent wishes to dedicate his, think of how much more humane our world would be!
5. Ten of Wands reversed. This is another instance where a reversed card implies a positive outcome. In this case, the Ten reversed in this position on the spread suggests that the querent’s daily routine of meditation and prayer has permitted him to “lay down his burdens” and to relieve himself of much worry and woe, and the querent is absolutely convinced that this has been the case. Tens symbolize finality and completion in the Tarot—and this spread has three of them!—so in this case, it could be that the querent’s newfound power of prayer represents the closing of one chapter of his life and the beginning of another, one which hopefully will be more fulfilling and productive than the last.
6. Three of Wands. This card’s traditional meanings involve travel and journeying—more specifically, to embarking upon a spiritual vision-quest. Here, a lone seeker contemplates crossing a broad river—the river Jordan that stands between him and the Promised Land. In the querent’s case, it’s quite fitting that this card would appear in the position governing his physical shape. While he does have some health issues that are typical of men of his age (hypertension we mentioned earlier, for example), his overall physical condition is very good—and for a particular reason that is implied by the Three of Wands. One of the things the querent left behind when he departed the corporate world some four years ago was the privilege of a company car that he had known for two decades. Not having a car of his own (and not being in a financial condition to afford one), he gets around everywhere—in Los Angeles, no less—on foot or via public transit. He walks an average of three to five miles a day—and ten to twelve a day is not unknown—and this has kept him physically fit and his energy level high. The querent’s “daily walk” (literally) also speaks to the spiritual message embedded in the Three of Wands. Even a casual trip to the supermarket, which can be a frustrating exercise when done with a car—driving endlessly in circles looking for a parking space—can be like crossing over the river Jordan when we have to hike a mile or two to reach our destination. Think of the many things we may encounter, or the people we may meet, that would utterly escape our notice from behind the wheel of a car. Living this way, we have to anticipate events, and plan accordingly. We don’t have a car trunk to cram full of groceries that we might not really need, so we shop only for those things that we do need and that we can carry on our backs (see the previous card in the spread to see what happens when we “bite off more than we can chew” in this regard), and we also budget the extra time it takes to get from Point A to B. While it has tested his patience at times, going car-less overall has been a rewarding experience for the querent, and it has helped to open his eyes to behold a wider world. It also reminds him that journeys of self-discovery can happen anywhere—in a vision or in a dream, or simply on a trip to the dry cleaner’s.
7. Nine of Pentacles reversed. One of the things that has tugged at the querent’s conscience in recent days has been a sense of uncertainty and unease—a sense of foreboding that he is indulging a senseless whim with his Tarot blog, and that in his quest for spiritual enlightenment, he is ignoring a world that is passing him by. The reversed Nine here suggests that there is certainly the risk of that, but the card can also speak of a desire of the querent to be released from the material forces to which he has so often submitted, the spirit of halfhearted compromise to which he has often succumbed in the workplace, and—like the falcon held captive by the princess in the card—to “spread his wings” and pursue his heart’s truest desires. It’s only ego that would consider this an “indulgence”—in a world governed only by love, it would be all that we should wish, for ourselves and for others!
In reality, we serve others as we would ourselves be served, and in this regard, the querent has discovered something important about his worth in the world—that he has not always been compensated in accordance to his contributions, and that too often, he has willingly acceded to this because of a fear of rejection and of his own lack of self-worth. Now he seeks a “better deal” for himself, and he is willing to hold out to the last until he finds it—or it finds him. This is where the power of Swords—the gift of will, of applied power—can help the querent stand up for himself in the marketplace and claim his rightful role in it. So long as he is mindful of what he is doing, and does not get carried away by cleverness and guile, he can use the power of Swords to achieve whatever he desires. That power is not within the querent’s grasp at present, but such is not a permanent condition—and in any event, when those moments of doubt arise within, as they do eventually for all of us, he should take his burdens, as with the Ten of Wands reversed, and lay them down in prayerful supplication: for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.