One thing we come to learn when we work regularly with the cards in the Tarot is that regardless of how many cards we choose for a given spread, or the order in which we lay them out, each spread contains its own distinct narrative—a “story” that can teach us something about ourselves or the wider world around us. One thing to bear in mind, however, is that the narrative of Tarot, like the narrative thread of our inner lives, is never static or fixed in time—rather, it remains fluid and dynamic, without a defined “starting” or “end” point. Even when we lay down a card that represents a potential “outcome” or an “answer” to a question we have posed, we realize that it is only a temporary marker denoting a new chapter of our lives, or a new question to be asked.
Here’s an exercise to demonstrate the evolving and ever-flowing language of the cards. Shuffle your deck, focus your inner eye on whatever it is you wish to discuss with the cards, then turn over the top card. Whatever the topic of discussion, this card represents the Situation as it currently stands.
Deal six cards around the Situation card in the following order and pattern:
3. Feelings/emotion. 2. Thinking/intuition.
5. Touch/sensation. 4. Ego/perception.
Card 1 we’ve just discussed.
Card 2 asks the questions, “How does this situation affect my thinking?” or “What does my intuition tell me about the situation? Am I on the right track, or do I need to change my way of thinking about the matter?”
Card 3 asks, “How does the situation affect my emotions? Are my feelings in check, or do I need to get in better ‘touch’ with them?” Conversely, the card also asks, “Are my emotions getting the better of me, and if so, how can I regain control of them?”
Card 4 asks, “How does the situation affect my conscious perception? Is my ego in check, or do I need to re-examine myself?” The card also asks, “Am I asserting myself in a constructive manner, and if not, how is this behavior manifesting itself in my relationships?”
Card 5 asks, “How does the situation affect the physical world—my career, my finances, my family or my health? Am I in a ‘good place’ in this regard, or do I need to consider a psychological ‘change of address’?”
Card 6 asks, “What is at the root of the situation? What pre-existing condition, either within or without, material or spiritual, is influencing this matter? I am in firm control of events, or have I lost my way? Am I too much in control, and need to let go?”
Card 7 posits the likely conclusion to draw, or outcome to expect, given present circumstances.
As a suggestion, lay down the cards in a place where you can leave them untouched for the entire day. Consult the spread more than once during the day—you don’t need to spend a huge amount of time, just a few minutes for each meditation session. You’ll likely find that the more often you do this, the clearer the meaning of the spread will become to you. If not, don’t worry—even experienced readers can “draw blanks” in a reading from time to time. Also, try to avoid looking for transcendent, life-changing signifiers in every single card; sometimes, a card such as the Four of Swords just means “Get a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel better tomorrow.”
Now, regular visitors to this site will recognize this spread as similar to one we have reviewed in the past. What will distinguish this spread, however, is that it is intended to be continuous in application. How? The next day, take Card 7, the “Outcome” card, and place it in the center of the spread. It will be your new Situation card for the day. Gather up the remaining cards, return them to the deck, and deal a new spread around your new Situation card. Do this for as many days in a row as you like, again using today’s Outcome card as tomorrow’s Situation card. Don’t be surprised if you see a number of cards from today’s spread making another appearance tomorrow, perhaps in a different station in the spread. What you will likely discover over time is that the cards will seem to “oscillate” or “vibrate” according to their own logic, appearing in a kind of kaleidoscopic, ever-shifting yet ever-repeating manner from spread to spread that mirrors our own inner lives: A state of energy that may originate and terminate at the same point in the dimensions of space and time (78 cards, a seven-card spread), but a force capable of displaying within it an infinite myriad of colors and shapes in an endless circumnavigation—the great Cosmic Dance signified by The World—that lies beyond the boundaries of space and time. This is the beauty of the cards, and of our spiritual lives. We simply need open our minds, to let this beauty unfold within us like the petals of a flower, and the cards are the vessel by which this miracle can be made manifest.