For Today: Five-Card “Elemental” Spread

As a rule, whenever we shuffle a deck of Tarot cards, the cards we “read” in a layout will be the first ones we draw from the top of the pack. This spread, however, places each card in its prescribed “element” within the four worlds—a Wand, Cup, Sword and Pentacle, in that order, followed by a card from the Major Arcana. The cards are laid out in the following order,

5. Major Arcanum

4. Pentacle     3. Sword     2. Cup     1. Wand

with as many cards drawn until you have filled each position with a card corresponding to the particular suit. If, for instance, the very first card you draw from the top of the deck is a Cup or a Sword, just keep drawing cards until you find the first Wand; then place it in the spread and continue as with the other suits, discarding the unused cards as you go. After you’ve placed a card for each of the suits, find the next card in the deck from the Major Arcana in the deck and place it “on top” of the others. The operative idea here is to “dig a little deeper” into the deck, letting the cards convey a coherent narrative using a “linear logic” that might otherwise be concealed from us. 

Borrowing the nomenclature from a similar spread by Rachel Pollack (the “Mr. Apollo” spread), the cards’ meanings are, roughly:

1. The “Known”: The situation as you perceive it. Intellect.

2. The “Unknown” :The situation as you feel it. Emotion.

3. The “Barrier”: The situation as you would will it. Ego.

4. The “Opportunity”: The situation as you sense it. Body.

5. The “Action”: Forces and influences that can enable the desired outcome. Spirit.

The cards that made an appearance today were these:Screen shot 2015-07-24 at 10.36.23 AM(Warning: Sexual situations.) Interestingly, a few minutes after laying out the cards, the querent—your humble blogger, who else?—was reminded of a dream he had last night, and which he had completely forgotten about until he laid out this spread. In the dream, he was engaging in passionate sexual relations with a person of the same gender. (It’s amazing what powerful “memory triggers” these cards can be!) This kind of dream is an unusual occurrence in the querent’s inner life since he is heterosexual, or at least he consciously identifies as such, and while he can recall a few similar dreams in his past, the intensity and apparent realism of this one seemed to stand out for him.

Now, the symbolism of a dream like this can assume many meanings—repressed sexual desire, narcissistic tendencies, a reconciliation of impulses, an acceptance of the Self—but the dream is worth mentioning in the context of this reading because the quintessential “top guy” and “bottom guy” of the Tarot court—the Prince of Wands and the Prince of Cups, respectively—are facing each other as the first two cards in this spread. (Mary Greer, in her Complete Book of Tarot Reversals, even refers specifically to “the love that dare not speak its name” when analyzing the Prince of Cups, noting that the meaning is more typically ascribed when the card is reversed.) Before jumping to any conclusions, however, we can at least infer that the formative forces that these cards symbolize—the ”phallic fire” and the “watery womb” that are complimentary components of the mature masculine—are in a state of  accord (both upright); and that their joint appearance here, face to face and in conjunction with the querent’s dream, may signify a “meeting of the minds” (or the need thereof) within the querent’s psyche, and the stirring of some libidinal impulses—not necessarily of a sexual nature, mind you—that might be of benefit to him. Perhaps the following cards will help to elaborate.

If the two Princes represent the external dualities of Fire and Water, intellect and emotion, the Two of Swords reversed indicates the presence of another duality—this one internal, and contained within the realm of ego. Upright, the card speaks to the limits of perception, of ego as a kind of cognitive “strait-jacket” that confines us in a rigid and constricted view of life that (literally) “blindfolds” us to the reality that surrounds us. It is, at best, a necessary evil that keeps us in a state, however forced, of conscious equilibrium. Reversed, the card can imply a loss of balance and the onset of a period of inner turmoil, but it can also signify an increased sense of self-awareness (as our blindfold slips off) and a gradual release of inhibitions—the willingness to “let our guard down” around others.

The Two, then, tells us that we have the potential to (pun intended) “swing either way”—to exist in a permanent state of emotional separation, or to “let down our defenses” and begin the process of reintegration with the collective psyche of humankind. The King of Pentacles reversed suggests, perhaps, that the former—a loss of control and emotional disharmony—must precede the latter before genuine psychic progress can be made. This is because the reversed King is generally seen to be “cut off” from the natural world on which his identity is so dependent. Here, the sovereign is being ruled by events, not vice versa, and this reflects—to some degree—the querent’s own attitude about the world he seems to inhabit; his recent long bouts of unemployment have left him seeing himself as lorded over by material matters, not the other way around, and it has kept him in state of fear that, once acknowledged, must be overcome if the cooperative creative forces signified by the two Princes are ever to be fully reconciled and brought to maturity.

Which brings us to the “crown” of the spread, Judgement. Put succinctly, it is telling the querent that all of the conditions are present for the transformative spiritual experience he desires, but he must set aside all emotional attachments to material concerns, and all feelings of of loss and resentment that derive from them, before the process of actualization can take place. This is more easily said than done, obviously, and in reality, it is a lifelong process of dissociation that only reaches its complete and utter fulfillment when we are reconciled in the universe of Limitless Light that follows our time in the world of flesh and bone. Still, through repeated meditation and metaphysical study, we can “reprogram” ourselves over time to be as we were when we were first manifested as earthly bodies—less greedy and miserly, more loving and sharing, less covetous of objects of wealth and comfort, and more able to see the unity and interconnectedness of all things. Whenever we attempt this, no matter how slightly, we help to create new worlds of wonder through which miracles can happen. Light a single candle, and there is less darkness to be cursed; profess our love for others, and we invite love into ourselves. That is the ever-recurring dream of the universe, and it knows neither gender nor orientation.

Dante DiMatteo

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