General “guidelines” for a Tarot Spread…

Three of Pentacles
Image by Micheal Goepferd, Light & Shadow Tarot

The special power of a tarot reading comes from the interaction between the person and their thinking as generated in their mind by the images. It is a projective tool. There is also power in the communication between the guide and the reader as they co-research the story as it enfolds. The cards and a reading of the spread creates an opportunity to more closely observe and evaluate the reader’s story in an externalized format.

The Tarot is a projective tool. Similar to stream of consciousness work, the Tarot is used to stimulate creative thinking about a particular concern or issue in one’s life. By using the different attributions of the cards and the positions they hold in the spread, one has an opportunity to view their own concern(s) about a specific issue or situation they are facing from several different angles. This gives one the benefit of a concentrated review and evaluation of their particular situation that they may not normally do or have the chance to do as thoroughly as reading a spread allows.

Forming the question properly is key to a successful reading. While “general readings” are possible, I find them to be less focused and often more about “tell me my future” than an actual desire to look closely at an issue with a goal of making things better or improved.

“How do I form a good question?” Explore: Why are you engaging in a reading today? What do you hope to gain by doing the reading? What do you expect the reading to reveal or do for you? These are important questions to ask yourself before beginning. The meta purpose is to gain insight into your concern and how you might approach it with an intention of making your life more fulfilling and harmonious. To do this effectively a well-formed question is essential.

Let’s look at an example.

Paolo says he is lonely and wants to make friends but can’t seem to meet people. He arrived from Argentina in the US a few months ago and the adjustment has been somewhat difficult. He is confused as to whether he is doing something “wrong” or if Americans are just not friendly. He notes that the way Americans interact with each other is very different from the way he grew up in South America. He asks “What’s wrong with me? I am very friendly and outgoing and have never had trouble making friends.”

First, and foremost, keep in mind - the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem, - so “what’s wrong with me” needs to be reframed. A good question might be “How can I make friends here in a new place very different from my home country?”
Keep it simple.

How to “interpret” the cards

The key is to think of it this way – the attributions of the card denote what part of the person or problem that should be considered. For example if the second card, the challenge or obstacle card is the Hanged Man then the challenge could be interpreted to be an upending of his ego, a change in how he sees himself and his place in community, his beliefs about himself and society. He is in a new culture very different from his own and “when in Rome” which would require seeing with different eyes – seeing things from a different angle.

Continue through each card position, relating the card to the position in which it falls, and then those thoughts in relation to the issue being explored. If the 8 of Pentacles lands in the “past” position you would consider how prudence impacted your life in the past related to your current issue or one similar. Did prudence work for you or work against you?

By the end of the reading you will have a better sense of where you stand, intellectually, emotionally, and psychically regarding your issue or concern.

© Mark Hannan.

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