Spread of The Week: Friday the 13th “Bad News” Spread

We’ve all endured stretches in our lives where nothing seems to go right for us, where every day seems to be Friday the 13th. In honor of the day, then, I cobbled up a simple spread to be laid out during those times when we seem to be mired in the middle of a personal losing streak, and when we are seeking a change in fortune. Part of the process of fortune-reversal, of course, relies on a change of attitude on our part, so this spread employs a “lucky” seven cards to break any spells of bad luck that we may misapprehend about ourselves.

The cards  are laid out, right to left, in the following sequence:

4        3        2        1

6        5


The corresponding questions are, roughly:

1. What is the situation as it stands?
2. How am I affecting or influencing the matter?
3. How are others affecting or influencing the matter?
4. What can I personally do to resolve the matter?
5. Who or what should I look for to resolve the matter?
6. Who or what should I avoid?
7. Given the previous, what is the likely outcome?

The cards that appeared today were:Screen shot 2015-11-13 at 1.23.32 PM1. What is the situation? The Fool. Most obviously, this could speak to a naivete on the part of the querent, or a tendency to trust in people or events that may merit more careful scrutiny. Given that the two cards that follow are both Wands, this could suggest troubles with one’s work or career—perhaps a dishonest boss or an unscrupulous coworker who is manipulating the querent for his own selfish ends, or it could signify a stubbornness on the part of the querent to refuse to see her work environment in a more accurate light. The Fool is, in many ways, a “Pollyanna” card, but in any event, it strongly suggests that a change in the querent’s outlook will need to precede any change in fortune.

2. How am I affecting this? Five of Wands reversed. Upright, this is a card of quarrel and strife—which implies an eventual resolution of a dispute—but reversed in this position, it could suggest that the querent is not fighting hard enough for herself, that she may need to “defend her turf” against others in the workplace who may desire her position. On the other hand, as we will discuss shortly, it could also just as easily suggest that the querent should “let her guard down,” abandon any combative attitude she may have, and “lighten up” around her coworkers.

3. How are others affecting this? Ten of Wands. In the workplace, this is a warning to the querent to be wary of anyone who places unrealistic expectations upon her. It’s also a warning against developing a “martyr complex” that excessive overwork can sometimes engender. It can also suggest a need —depending on the querent’s position—to delegate some activities, to refrain from being too much of a “micro-manager.”

4. What can I personally do? Two of Swords reversed. Upright, the card speaks to the limitations of ego, specifically its ability to constrain us and blind us to the greater, transcendent realities of our true Selves. If our only consciousness is Sword-consciousness, we will view our world as a dangerous place that must be ever subdued if not utterly destroyed. Reversed, it admonishes the querent not to fall in to the perceptual trap that ego springs for us, and of the need, from time to time, to detach our minds from the cognitive associations that we confuse for life’s spiritual truths. In the case of work or career, the querent should remember that her work and her Self are not the same thing! In our goal-driven workaholic culture, this simple truth is easily overlooked. In the end, the most important question we should ask ourselves and others is not “What do you do?” but “How do you live?”

5. What should I look for? Six of Cups. This is a card of miracles and memory, and it reminds us of what can happen if we “let our guard down” (Five of Wands reversed), “unbind our mind” (Two of Swords reversed) and offer up the gift of love for its own sake. In the workplace, this can mean offering to help a coworker on a project, or if in a supervisory role, to recognize the achievements of one’s employees with praises (or even raises!). More than anything, it reminds us of the power we have within us to brighten any environment in which we find ourselves with a sunny and generous attitude.

6. What should I avoid? Five of Swords. This is one of the “worst” cards in the Tarot deck, and in this position, it’s a stark warning against getting involved in a war of egos. No matter who “wins” such a war, both sides get hurt in the long run. Sometimes, it’s best to “lay down the sword” and walk away, and it also suggests that the meaning of the reversed FIve of Wands discussed above is to let go of any quarrelsome feelings we may feel for others, be it in the workplace or anywhere else in life.

7. What is the likely outcome? King of Wands. Since this spread has revolved around the dual themes of work (Wands) and conflict (the Fives), the King of Wands here could suggest the need of a third party to bring the matter to a close. This could be a work supervisor, an arbitrator or advisor, or even a personal attorney. It could caution the querent against making any rash decisions (the King of Wands possesses a mercurial temper), and it could also suggest that no matter how difficult things may seem to the querent at the present, what she is enduring is a kind of “trial by fire” and that, if she applies equal parts patience and persistence to the matter, she will survive her trial just as the mythic salamander, the King of Wands’ mascot, survives his alchemical trial by fire.

Overall, with five cards upright, and with two reversed cards mitigating their somewhat negative connotations, the overall ‘energy field” surrounding this spread bodes rather well for the querent, but she’ll need to “lose her attitude,” avoid striving for its own sake, and open her heart more freely to others if she wishes her fortunes to improve in the manner she desires. Life is a celebration, not a competition, no matter what our bosses and managers tell us.

Dante DiMatteo

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