Last week on the blog, I talked a little bit about contemplative tarot. I’d like to be clear: this is not my specialty. I don’t believe I am a very contemplative person at the core. I am able to think deeply — on an intellectual level — about any situation, of course, and I can reach a state of empathy when I’m reading for another, but I’ve always had a bit of cognitive dissonance when it comes to really feeling & sorting through my own bullshit (avoidance is much easier for me — which is probably why I’ll die of an inoperable brain tumor someday). Also, I don’t like to cry. Just thinking about crying makes me feel nauseous. And damned if not every time I agree to go there — whether I’m reading for myself or am having my cards read by another professional, I end up all weepy and wet-faced.
So I’ve only just recently tried this shift in my self-care (journal, yoga, hot baths) that is inwardly focused and I must say, it’s scary! It’s really unpleasant to face some of what you might experience when you begin to seek these kinds of answers from The Universe. What you find within yourself may be ugly or need corralling. You may linger over a reading for several days or a week. I am not a psychologist, but I think that’s ok. In fact, I think it’s healthy to ask big questions and then feel disturbed when you get the answers. It means you’re human. It means you’re vulnerable. It means your heart hasn’t gone completely cold, despite yourself ;).
So I want you to take the following reading blueprints and advice from a position of sharing what I’m working with. And we can go through this together.
Ooh, I said blueprint. I don’t like the phrase “tarot spread” because I don’t think it’s very good description of the actual usage. I also find the word spread kind of ugly – purely aesthetic. I’ve considered other words that might better convey the purpose – layouts, maps, positions, etc. I like “blueprint” because it also suggests that we’re building something. We are. We’re building a base of understanding of the Self.
The other aspect of the following blueprints (this is the first of a series that will run through the end of October) is that they’re all Halloween-themed. This adds a layer of spook, for sure. We’re going to be using scary themes – monsters, ghosts, death, afterlife, etc., as the backdrop for our readings. In working with these spreads, I’ve noticed that the themes add serious depth to my experience. In a way, it’s like enjoying a scary movie – thrilling – because we’re actually safe the entire time.
Of course, I’m actually kind of creepy and morose and I probably have hidden goth tendencies… so your mileage on these spreads may vary. 😉
The first spread we’re going to examine is about the changing seasons. The equinox was a few days ago. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s fall. This means cooling weather, first frosts, leaves changing color and the onset of the harvest season. I’ve called this blueprint “Leaves Fall” and I think it’s very appropriate for this time of year (you know, if you’re entering the fall season, like I am – everyone else can just wait six months!).
You must understand this if you want to get the most mileage out of your readings:
- The blueprint is the metaphor.
- A tarot reading is a narrative.
- We use the metaphor to add layers of understanding to our narratives.
In this case, the metaphor is a tree in the fall. The leaves are falling — being shed to conserve energy while the tree hibernates for the winter. After the leaves fall, they become compost to nourish next Spring’s new growth. This is not a spread to use if you are beginning an outward exploration of the world, but is rather suited for the times in our lives when we need to become self-reflective, concerned with our own energy usage and regroup while we wait for a re-emergence with the arrival of brighter seasons. This spread looks at our histories, our growth, our gifts and then examines what is ready to fall. This spread answers the question, “What can I let go of to better preserve the self? What happens to the leaves of self I’ve let fall?”
The first thing we do when we begin any act of divination is to get grounded. I’ve recorded this short grounding meditation that you can use if you are having trouble or feeling off balance/out of focus. Get your cards and your reading place ready. Light candles, make an offering to your internal/external Spirit, etc. Listen to/download the grounding guided meditation by clicking here.
So you are grounded and safe. Before I do a reading, after I have grounded, I shuffle until I reach this place that is close to trance – and then I find knowing. I know the cards are in order to reveal whatever The Universe might reveal. I don’t question this, I just know it. This is basically how divination works, in case you were wondering 😉
Place seven cards so the arrangement approximates the blueprint. I start at the bottom of the tree and work up, then lay the two cards on the right. I am not concerned with ordered numbers with this blueprint. The tree should grow organically, so trust your hands to put the cards in the correct order, however you find your hands working.
Let’s talk about the metaphors in this blueprint and how you might use them to add a layer of meaning to your narrative. The following are just ideas you might implement. Use them as suggestions, not hard and fast guidelines:
- What roots me – The tree’s roots. Where were you planted? Where did you grow? What is your connection to your past? To your personal, family, ancestral history? To the history of the Universe?
- How I grew – The tree trunk. What summarizes your experience of growth? What describes your inner rings of growth? What is at your core? What is ingrained (as in, wood grain)?
- What sustains – (two cards) The tree leaves. What do you use to sustain yourself in the present? As the leaves turn sunlight into energy, where do you find your source of energy? What have you used (a skill? a talent? a gift? a person?) to live in the way you do/am/have been?
- What I’ve brought to fruition – The fruit of the tree. What has come into being as a result of what sustains? What is your highest potential for growth? What is the ultimate gift you cultivate? Is it sweet? Bitter? Useful? Poisonous?
- What falls – The falling leaf. What is the part of self you need to let go of? Which part of self no longer serves? In order to survive another season, what must be shed?
- Where it rests – The fallen leaf. What is your experience as you let go? Where do you move away from? What grows from your transition? How do you cope with what’s left behind?
And finally, how might a reading go with this spread? Since this entry is toppling a cool grand in word count anyway, I’ll post my reading on Tuesday morning, along with the modifications for using the Lenormand or another oracle instead of tarot. But in the meanwhile, if you’d like to try this and post about it, be sure to leave a comment here so I can pop over to your blog and check it out!
Oh, and because I’m just super-fantastic like that, I’ve made you a handy PDF you can download with the complete diagram and suggestions for usage, so you can turn off the damn glowing screen and get some good old fashioned divination done. Right click and save here!
Until tomorrow, gentle readers!