This relatively advanced 18-card layout, taken from The Mandala Astrological Tarot by A.T. Mann, places a Celtic cross within a 12-card “mandala” spread that corresponds the 12 astrological houses of the zodiac. A Significator card is used at the center of the cross, and as with the Celtic layout, a “complimenting” or “crossing” card is laid out horizontally over it. The cards are then dealt in this order:
17 15 14
18 16 13
3 4 1/2 12 11
5 8 10
6 7 9
The interpretations of the cards are as follows:
1. The querent.
2. Something that compliments or complicates the querent’s life.
3. First house: Personality, temperament and personality; social skills and public appearance. Corresponds with Aries.
4. The “essence” of the querent’s spiritual and emotional life.
5. Second house: Material matters, finance and money; earnings and assets. Corresponds with Taurus.
6. Third house: Communications, correspondence and journeys; also siblings and family members. Corresponds with Gemini.
7. Fourth house: Family and home; also parents and grandparents. Corresponds with Cancer.
8.The “essence” of the querent’s material and intellectual life.
9. Fifth house: Love and beauty, and all things of that nature that elicit passion from the querent; also children. Corresponds with Leo.
10. Sixth house: Work, rules, health and hygiene; also dependents. Corresponds with Virgo.
11. Seventh house: Relationships, partnerships, contracts and marriage; also enemies and litigation. Corresponds with Libra.
12. The “essence” of the querent’s .life experiences up to now.
13. Eighth house: Death and transition, new beginnings and procreation; also occult and esoteric studies. Corresponds with Scorpio.
14. Ninth house: The “higher mind.” Philosophy, religion and ideals. Also, long journeys. Corresponds with Sagittarius.
15. Tenth house: Material achievement, status and wealth. Also, nature and the outdoors. Corresponds to Capricorn.
16. The “essence” of the querent’s likely future, given the other cards.
17. Eleventh house: Hope, dreams and aspirations. Also, friendships and associations. Corresponds with Aquarius.
18. Twelfth house: Secrets and lies, concealments and limitations. Also, faith and prayer. Corresponds with Pisces.
The “key” cards in this spread are the four “essence” cards that make up the spread’s inner ring. Being closer to the querent than the 12 cards in the outer “house” ring, they describe the “essence” of the querent’s psyche; the outer cards, as with the house of the zodiac, act as influencers to modify or enhance the meanings of the essences as implied. For the sake of exercise, I laid out a spread a little while ago to see what your humble blogger could learn from the cards today. Here are the cards that decided to show up today
A spread with as much “Tarot knowledge” to process as this can take many minutes, even hours. For the sake of brevity, we’ll focus our reading here on the “inner circle,” with passing mentions of the outside influencers.
First, “covering” or complimenting the querent—the King of Swords, governed by the sign of Gemini the Twins—is the Ten of Cups, which signifies that a rich and rewarding emotional life is available for the querent, should he desire it. Tens, however, also represent the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another, so we can surmise that the querent is in—or may soon be undergoing—a state of emotional transition; being a Gemini and prone to the condition of the “split mind”, he is accustomed to frequent “mood swings,” and he has always sought greater emotional equilibrium. This desire could be represented here by the Queen of Swords who occupies the “emotional essence” position in the spread. Facing the King, her husband in the suit, and governed by the sign of Libra the Scales—the symbol of justice—she could be implying the coming of a state of emotional balance—a resolution of the inner conflicts that he has wrestled with in his season of financial hardship, and that perhaps—just perhaps—the querent will soon earn his “just rewards.”
We can see the influence of material matters upon the querent in the form of the King of Pentacles who sits directly behind the Queen—he could be prodding her to a reconciliation with her husband—as well as the Seven of Pentacles reversed (meaning “work interrupted”) directly beneath the King. This could speak to the querent’s sensual side and his frustrations at not being able to indulge himself in the ways to which he has grown accustomed. He enjoys the “finer things in life” (as does the King of Pentacles), and he has bristled at having to control his spending habits. He’s managed to do it, but it has left him feeling constrained and unsatisfied, as signified most overtly here by the miserly Four of Cups seated directly beneath The Emperor—the card that represents the querent’s “material and mental essence.” The Emperor, of course, symbolizes great power to rule or misrule, and in this case, the querent is is his own worst enemy, perceiving his material state as a foreboding of the kinds of psychological and physical disaster signified by The Tower (psyche) and the Ten of Swords (body) that trap the Four of Pentacles in an environment of fear. We all make our own hell on earth for ourselves, and our querent is as accomplished at this task as anyone else.
Up to now, the querent’s life has been greatly influenced by unseen psychic forces and energies that he has often failed to recognize or that he has too often misapplied. This is signified by The Moon reversed in the “essence of the present” position. The defining narrative arc in this spread—which points upward, toward a higher level—can be seen in the three cards to the right: The Seven of Wands depicts struggle and strife, the psychological “need” to be “on top” and “in charge,” which has led to a self-imposed state of paralysis signified by the Eight of Swords (self-inflicted wounds) and Two of Swords (uneasy truce) directly above it. Reversed, however, these cards suggest to the querent that the time is opportune for him to “law down his sword” of ego, and allow himself the freedom (Eight) to take definitive action (Two) by “letting go” of his obsessive need to be in control of all things, and to stop punishing himself for his imagined failings whenever things don’t go the way he expects. This is the way of madness.
One way the querent can go about this task is to reexamine his long-term aspirations and goals—for given how he has lived is life up to now, without a significant change in attitude, he’ll remain trapped in a state of arrested emotional development as signified by the Knight of Cups in the “essence of the future” position. (Not ironically, the querent used this card to signify himself when he was a much younger man.) We can see the futility of this approach when we notice that all of the cards in the upper semicircle of the spread are reversed—that is, most likely to be working against the querent. All of the myriad blessings of spirit (The Star), of love (Nine of Cups) and of material wealth (Ten of Pentacles) can be his, but he will need to turn his way of thinking utterly upside down as signified by the King of Wands reversed. In the Tarot, the King is the alpha-male of the creative arts, and he appears as the last card in this spread. As such, he represents a kind of “final word” to the querent—but we can’t heed his advice if, like the Knight of Cups, we turn our backs to reason and keep our head in the clouds (a negative attribute of the King of Swords, who provides the “ego-foundation” for the Knight in this spread).
In any event, a fulfilling life is the querent’s for asking, and it is as near to him as his own heart—the Ten of Cups that “completes” him. He only needs to open it up, and let love out. All of his other successes in life will flow from this selfless act.