At the Winter Solstice of 2016, I performed a Wheel of the Year spread for the coming 12-month period. This included an annual card (the Sun for this year), four quarterly cards (the Magician, the Hierophant, the Lovers and Strength), and twelve monthly cards (shown on the attached photo). For the 4th Quarter of 2017 beginning on the Autumnal Equinox, the quarterly card is Strength and the monthly cards are the 2 of Cups, the 6 of Swords and the 10 of Rods (Wands). At the beginning of each month, I draw a single card to see what the tone of the coming four weeks will be, and on each seasonal transition (Equinoxes and Solstices) I perform a more elaborate spread.
This year, to populate the 4th Quarter, I pulled three cards each for September-October, October-November and November-December (approximately the 21st of one month to the 21st of the next). I employed three decks: The Anna K (the one I used for the Wheel of the Year); Caitlin Keegan’s Illuminated Tarot (essentially a glorified playing-card deck) and the Messenger Oracle as an “advice” deck. No reversals were used. The cartomantic meanings I applied came from the Hedgewytchery material of Dawn Jackson. The suit correspondences differ from those of a standard tarot deck. In keeping with other cartomantic traditions, Clubs equate to Wands, Hearts to Cups, Spades to Swords and Diamonds to Coins or Pentacles. Furthermore, Diamonds = Fire/Spring; Hearts = Water/Summer; Clubs = Air/Autumn and Spades = Earth/Winter. Dawn cautions that any assumptions about the applicability of tarot suit correspondences should be left behind when approaching playing-card divination.
The September-October time-frame begins with the harmonious 2 of Cups, and its active extension includes the Queen of Rods (Wands/Batons/Clubs), the 4 of Clubs (Wands) and the 14th oracle card (“Have courage”). The Queen has one foot in the Mars decan of Pisces but is principally related to Aries and the 2 of Wands (Mars in Aries) and 3 of Wands (Sun in Aries). She is a perfect standard-bearer for the Sun and Strength, and advises to take charge and make hay will the sun shines. A lively start to the Fall season is indicated. The cartomantic emphasis of the 4 of Clubs is on slow and steady progress, with a firm hand on the wheel. The volatile Queen of Rods will chafe at the pace, but being of the same suit, she will understand the necessity. Goals are soundly framed and well within reach now. Keegan gives the meanings of “solid foundations; stability.” The oracle card shows a lion and perfectly bookends Strength as the quarterly overlord, bringing it to fruition. Its number, Fourteen, relates to the tarot card Temperance, which suggests precision, finesse and right action. This looks like a month to make creative strides.
The October-November period begins with the 6 of Swords, implying a mental voyage of discovery. The activating cards include the delightful 9 of Cups , the 7 of Clubs (Wands), and the 22nd oracle card (“Let go of the old”). The Anna K 9 of Cups shows a celebration, with a young couple dancing gaily, and I will in fact be attending the wedding of a nephew near the end of the month. This Nine relates to the Jupiter decan of Pisces, a highly benevolent placement. The cartomantic meaning of the 7 of Clubs is the power of chance, and happenstance in general. The Sevens spell trouble, so a practical problem may arise that will be susceptible to solution by magical means (i.e. a charm, talisman or spell). The two beavers on the card appear to be working together cooperatively to conjure the “natural magic” of the dam, so perhaps I will require some collaborative wizardry. Keegan’s keywords are “vigilance” and “the struggle to stay ahead.”The oracle card is well-aligned with the voyage hinted at by the 6 of Swords, which involves leaving something behind and seeking new horizons. Its number, Twenty-two, reduces numerologically to Four, the number of the Emperor; this is another potent Aries emphasis. It looks like another month for “doing” rather than passively slouching toward Winter.
The November-December fraction of the quarter begins with the laborious 10 of Rods (Wands); the Anna K version suggests that Winter is about to jump on the cowering man with both icy feet. Motivation for the month is provided by the 5 of Rods (Wands), the challenging 7 of Spades (Swords) and the 50th oracle card (“You were born to create”). The Anna K 5 of Rods shows two men engaged in a friendly arm-wrestling match at a tavern; the traditional meaning of this card is more about “striving” than actual “strife” (as in conflict or combat), so “aspiration” seems to be the keynote at the start of the month. The cartomantic meaning of the 7 of Spades indicates a mystery or something hidden that warrants investigation; also the possibility of a doubling of trouble, perhaps fated in nature. The two horses on the card don’t seem to be threatening any kind of mayhem, but I happen to believe that even one horse is trouble; they are just smart enough to be dangerous. Keegan relates this card to the Chariot and has it as “a triumph; a breakthrough; an inventive solution.” According to J. E. Cirlot in A Dictionary of Symbols, a horse can symbolize intense desires and instincts (among many other complex attributions), which could certainly signal a stimulating and possibly driven passage through the month. The oracle card’s number reduces numerologically to Five, which echoes the 5 of Rods at the beginning; all of the Fives are about change that is necessary but sometimes chaotic and disruptive. I call them the “can-opener” or “nut-cracker” cards since they liberate the stalled energy of the Fours. I often use the metaphor “You have to break eggs to make omelets.” The card portends an opening up to creative inspiration that may incite a new approach to the arts I’m currently practicing.
I note that the playing-card series includes three black suits, which the Hedgewytchery material characterizes as “Beset by problems and hardship.” The sequence includes two clubs and a spade, which could be read as trouble developing at work. But I’m retired, so it may mean difficulty with some project I have going on at home.