Thursday, May 28, 2009

15 Card Spread

The fifteen card spread (mistakenly called by some The Thoth Spread because it appears for the first time in the LWB of Aleister Crowley’s Book of Thoth Tarot Deck, but was really an invention of the cards’ publisher) gets more interesting to me the more I work with it and study it from my perspective.

The first card represents the querrent and is the very center of everything, and the two cards surrounding it in addition to itself comprise an explanation of the nature of the question.

I first learned this spread years ago and when I began my professional career as a reader (doing parties and gatherings for trade and donation), I didn’t ask the querrent their question but said, "Don’t tell me your question, shuffle the cards with the focus of the question in your mind and all its myriad possibilities. Shuffle until you *feel* the cards have heard you." Then I cut and dealt (silently reciting a minor invocation).

The next three cards I look at are the section in the lower right, known as "The influences around the situation which you have no control over." This more often than not tells me the influences of past times on the current situation. Between describing in detail all the cards in those first six I mentioned, I pick up on the full nature of the question and tell it to them. More likely than not, not in the words they would have exactly chosen (though... on occasion...yes), but most definitely all the necessary elements of the story to say I know the question’s answer if I continue to fully examine the cards ahead. Specifically, the two various outcomes I’m showing in the upper right and upper left - which, by this time, I’ve informed the querrent that they exist in the reading and they will be eager to know what is there.

To the lower left in the spread are three cards given the responsibility of describing the influences on the matter which are within or can be within the querrent’s control. I call this "advice" and it is definitely worth consideration. Ultimately speaking, this is what the caller seeks - sure, they want to know what the future holds. We all want to admit responsibility for the outcomes, so we all agree that this isn’t about "fate" and we agree the "future isn’t written in stone" policy that we have the right to work toward a change. So whether the upcoming news looks good or bad, this information can make all the difference in the world. And the wise seeker is truly after this pot of gold.

So I will then describe the two outcomes shown. The querrent will then decide what is most favorable, the path they are on or the other road perhaps not so far afield. And the "advice" they may wish to consider when choosing which way and how to proceed.

In the sample reading above I have for the center of the spread Four of Cups, Adjustment, and The Chariot. Right away I’ve noticed the Major Arcana cards seem to rule in this. And so the nature of those cards is greatly enhanced. This querrent, signified by the Four of Cups, the card labeled "Blended Pleasure" by The Golden Dawn and labeled "Luxury" by Crowley, tells us of so-so pleasures. The querrent might even be bored, as things seem okay but "blah" is probably a closer word. With Adjustment and Chariot flanking him, he seems to be in a state of not certain yet of a pending desire to move forward. Wow. That’s seriously feeling the blahs.

The past, or influences past or beyond control, seem a blend of give and take really. Looks like a "you win some, you lose some" situation. Definitely with that 10 of Cups, it has been successful and certain. But apparently not perfect. Look at the five of disks – that’s definitely poverty and loss. Perhaps sickness influenced this man’s poverty (the man being read for – who like that Prince of Cups - knows how to manifest desires out of his heart and imagination). Maybe that’s why he’s so "blah" today.

He knows he can survive the good and the bad; he’s gotten plenty of experience in that. And right now he has an issue of legal information, a checks and balances situation, driven by (we shall gesture forth the most improbable) a higher purpose.

The bad news so far is that we get to tell the client that this is definitely his own fault. A sense of overconfidence stands out over these first six cards. Heck, the first three tell us in good stead exactly how it all got where it is! The querrent is all feeling blah and bored, with too much of a good thing on his hand but nothing to do with it, like being all gussied up with nowhere to go. And the past has certainly shown him everything it seems. He can handle it, he knows that. So my personal conclusion is, what with the signal of the Higher Power involved with those Majors, it definitely spells "consequences."

At this point, the client tells me "Yes, I was wondering about this upcoming court trial I have! And I definitely know it is my fault – it’s just the consequences, that are what I don’t yet know about. And of course, the cards are right; it was my own stupidity that got me here. I was overconfident, certainly."

By describing the first six cards, I’ve already determined on what the reading is about and that we are all on the same page with it. From here it is based on instinct which of the next three segments to read out of first. Usually the way to go is to the Most Likely Outcome position and then to the Advice section – with words from the Alternate Outcome to support. But in this case I’m startled by the three cards baring the number 5 and the fact that two of them sit side by side in the Advice, next to The Magus – almost like Hermes/Thoth arose just to go "hey, lookey over there!"

"Alright, I’m not a lawyer and you should really seek an attorney’s advice on this – because obviously this is a criminal case and seems to have greater consequences than you seem to be feeling are possible."

"Yeah," says the client, "I could end up doing serious time, but I just don’t feel that it’s likely."

"Neither do I," I add.

"Anyway…," so the querrent goes on, "I’ve got an attorney. I’m just wondering what is going to happen now."

"Well, with the three 5s showing up, there seems to be a lot to worry about but I’m not sure it’s been on your mind at all to do that." ["No. I’m thinking probation and fines".] "Well, yes, the short story version is that the most likely outcome shows definite success for you. But this success looks expensive and rather extreme. But because that ten of swords is in the alternate outcome, although both areas look hard to deal with, it doesn’t appear that ’prison’ is the most likely event. But don’t forget it can be! I think that’s why the Four of Cups is showing as you between those two pillars of society, not enough emotional involvement right now. Those two 5s in the advice suggest you have to come clean and make a full clearing of the air. Maybe even communicating something not yet openly known? Giving up for a lesser sacrifice?"

"So, a plea bargain?" asks the querrent.

"Exactly! Why didn’t I see that? The Magus is offering you a bargain! Take it."