This simple four-card spread can be used to answer some basic “yes or no” question, or simply as a tool for meditation and guidance. The cards can be laid out either right to left, left to right, or in a cruciform arrangement. On a purely kabbalistic level, the four cards correspond to the four letters of the “unpronounceable” name of God, but they can also refer to the four seasons of the year, the four stages of consciousness, or the four cardinal points. Typically, no Significator card is used for this spread, but you may use one if you like.
In the version of the spread that I prefer, the cards are laid out right to left (remembering that Hebrew is written and read in that direction), with the following general correspondences:
4. Becoming (or “Outcome”).
Today, for purposes of example, I laid down a sample spread to see what lessons the Tarot could teach today. Here are the cards that made an appearance:
First, we notice no cards from the Major Arcana in this spread, so whatever spirit-forces may influence us today are well within our ability to receive and interpret them without needing to rely on the archetypes. Second, we note two inverted Pentacles bookended by two upright Wands—more precisely, upright Wands (denoting intellectual/mental activity) separated by inverted Pentacles (signifying material unrest). Note, too, that the two figures depicted in the Wands are looking away from each other. In fact, the characters depicted in the last three cards are all looking in the same direction—away from the “first” card, the Princess of Wands.
Princesses typically signify a student or apprentice, and in this case, the Princess is a keen intellect and a quick study. She fancies herself a leader, but her companions in the spread don’t seem at all keen on following her, preferring to look behind rather than ahead. Could this be because the Princess is either too “weighed down” by material matters, which prevents her from progressing, or is she simply unwilling to face them? The querent has some prior experience in the perils of material hardship because a number of years ago, he went deeply in debt and had to petition a bankruptcy court for ultimate relief. Could this be the significance of the characters behind the Princess all “looking backward” at an unpleasant past?
The querent admits that he’s never been terribly talented with money (other than spending it, that is), and he sees himself in the form of the Princess, turning his back on a potentially terrifying scenario—in his case, the prospect of financial ruin (King of Pentacles inverted). This fear in turn could inhibit him from pursuing new avenues that might be profitable for fear of even losing more of his wealth; the “action” card here, the Nine of Pentacles, when upright, is a card of warmth and welcoming—the gate of the Garden of Eden swung open; inverted, it becomes a symbol of expulsion, which culminates in the Nine of Wands, the “outcome” card signifying an atmosphere of suspicion and fear—the gate of Eden swung shut in our faces.
The spread, then, can have two distinct meanings: One, that there are material matters to which the querent must attend to avoid destitution and all the hardship implied. On the other hand, the spread could simply be advising him not to feel “held back” or constricted by matter affairs, to not be haunted by past failures, to have the courage to lead even if others won’t follow, and to leave his feelings of self-doubt and uncertainty behind; if not, the cards suggests, he’ll be trapped in a prison of his own making, and his material downfall will be in the end the self-fulfilling prophecy of a badly split mind.