Tarot and Archetypes: Introduction to reading a spread
The most fascinating thing about living a conscious, fully present life is that the Universe will give you clear signs when you are ‘on path’ and when you are not.
Signs will often come to you in your dreams but also in the ‘real world’ too… the same message will appear again and again until you “get it”, absorb the lesson, and are ready to move on — with new wisdom under your belt!
However, there are times when things seem a bit more confusing and you’re just not hearing the message you need to hear. Maybe there is doubt or confusion? At such times, an intuitive Tarot reading can be really helpful!
If you want to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ a Tarot reading is different to playing cards, then you have to understand something of the sacredness of such a reading.
A ‘spread’ is basically a container for the cards to be placed into. Actually, I find that if I concentrate my mind on each position as I shuffle, the relevant card (or possibly cards) will ‘jump’ out, either ‘right way up’ or ‘reversed’ most of the time.
A spread can be as simple as a 3 card spread, which could represent past, present or future.
Or it can be much more complex.
Actually, the three card ‘past present future’ is a good way to begin because you (as the seer/guide) need to concentrate on the question and hold the container clearly in your mind. The more clear and focused you are, as well as connected to your High Self, the better the reading will be.
Practising some other discipline like raja yoga, or dowsing, will help you develop your power of concentration. This is vital for more complex spreads.
My personal favourite, and probably the oldest and most popular pattern for reading the Tarot is the Celtic Cross (fig. 1). The layout of the cards is simple, yet powerful. A strong energy has built up around the spread due to its use by many people over many years.
You can think of the Celtic Cross as divided into two sections – the Circle/Cross (six cards) on the left, and the Staff (four cards) on the right. This cross has a ‘hidden’ circle linking the four perpendicular spokes. The circle and cross symbolise the joining of Spirit and matter, the unity of all events in time.
The feminine energy of the circle works in unison with the masculine energy of the Staff section on the right – it is ‘balanced.’
The circle/cross section is made up of two crosses – a central cross (two cards) nested within a larger cross (6 cards). The smaller cross represents the heart of the matter. It is the hub around which the wheel of your life is turning. The larger cross consists of two lines that overlay the mini cross. The horizontal line shows ‘time’ moving from your past (on the left) to your future (on the right). The vertical line is your awareness moving from the unconscious (at the bottom) to your conscious mind (at the top).
The cards of the Staff comment on your life and may lie outside of the immediate situation at hand. It gives the broader perspective.
For ‘mini readings’, you can just use the circle/cross.
For example, the other day, I had a client who was concerned about why she was eating huge amounts of food all the time (see fig 3). She was outwardly successful and had a lot of business in the form of clients but upon closer inspection it was clear that she felt she was ‘stagnating’.
The fool reversed (centre card) showed this stagnation, and the second card (crossed) showed that she needed to get in touch with her Inner Child to overcome this.
In the unconscious (the card at the bottom, position 3) the Page of Pentacles showed blocks to her goals, which was to integrate the courses she had been doing, or seeking to do, in her spare time. Either she couldn’t finish them, or she couldn’t get onto the professional course she wanted…
This card showed the ‘root cause’ of her unconscious desire to eat. Because it was unconscious, having a reading brought this to light, so it could be acknowledged and healed. Often we are ‘run’ by our deepest thoughts and feelings – and we may be doing certain things we don’t really want to do but we continue them because we cannot easily see into our unconscious. One has to meditate, go beyond the surface (conscious) reality. The Tarot is one of the best tools I’ve come across for peering into this part of ourselves.
My client had taken on an office job and this was consuming a lot of her time and energy, and taking the ‘fun’ out of life. The Two of Pentacles reversed (on the left) showed that her primary work (clients) and secondary work (the office) were not balanced.
The Knight of Cups reversed (at the top) showed she was aware of her frustration around this issue (the top card shows what we are aware of, or what we believe to be true) and the King of Cups (on the right) showed that she would continue to ‘stuff’ her emotions with food if she didn’t rebalance her life over the coming weeks and months.
As my client was intuitively aware, it was just a reminder for her to let go of the office job and to tell herself she could not only survive but ‘thrive’ with just her primary work of seeing clients.
Practise reading for someone else
If you are called to this work, I suggest reading for someone else first, not yourself. It takes a high degree of mental and emotional detachment to read for yourself, because we are all usually invested in the outcome of our own life. We want to succeed, not fail. We want to win, not ‘lose’. The stronger your emotional attachment, the more your energies (thoughts and emotions) will influence the spread and the reading of that data.
One of the most important things I have learned from becoming a master dowser and spiritual teacher is the art of staying neutral for healings and readings.
All humans grow up with a certain amount of conditioning, which is the filter they view the world in ‘ordinary reality’. However, as a seer, you must learn to thin that filter, so that your own prejudices do not distort the reading.
The question that is ‘asked’ is also vital, something I will cover in depth in another article. I ask my client a few pertinent questions to get clear on the issue they’re brining to the table, and I like to help my client phrase the question in the most appropriate way.
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