As usual, I’m having some fun with the title, but the intent of this spread is quite serious. It offers a “Progressive Betterment and Judgment” (“PB&J”) outlook for long-range prospects in life improvement, both overall and in specific focus areas. The three-card “sandwiches” provide a past/present/future profile in four areas of personal growth: Inspirational, Emotional, Intellectual and Practical. They can be read as four discrete “buckets,” or as an overall development-over-time projection according to the temporal color coding. The spread reads from right-to-left as prescribed by the “Tetragrammaton” model of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn: Wands (Actions); Cups (Feelings); Swords (Ideas); and Pentacles (Sensations).
The quintessence cards – derived from the four “sandwiches” in whatever manner you are accustomed to – serve as a summary judgment regarding anticipated progress or set-back in each area of life. The “Grand Quintessence” is a numerical roll-up of the four sub-quints that delivers an overall “life message” about long-range prospects for growth and development. Here is the layout diagram:
Here is an example reading using this spread and Cathy McClelland’s magnificent Star Tarot. I asked about my life prospects for the next year, during which I expect a number of significant self-initiated changes to occur.
In the Inspirational focus area, I received the 2 of pentacles, the 3 of Cups and the 3 of Wands. I read this as an “awakening” of sorts; Threes are cards of growth and progress, and I foresee expanded opportunities in the future. The 2 of Pentacles isn’t a bad place to be, but it reflects my current state of relative inertia.
In the Emotional focus area, I had the Queen of Cups, the 5 of Pentacles and the Knight of Cups. This is another encouraging progression, with the 5 of Pentacles as a momentary setback in the easy flow of feeling between the Queen and the Knight. At least all of the cards are elementally friendly. Since nothing significant can happen until next spring anyway, this obstacle is understandable, and the eventual release after that period of frustration will be that much sweeter.
In the Intellectual focus area, I got the 4 of Cups reversed, the 6 of Swords and the 2 of Swords. The 4 of Cups has a “cancelled” feeling to it which the reversal exacerbates. I think it reflects my current sense of “staleness” that the coming changes are intended to dispel. The 6 of Swords, which I always see as a “mental voyage of discovery” and the 2 of Swords, which here suggests that the ultimate destination is “peace of mind,” are perfect symbols of what I hope to accomplish.
In the Practical focus area, I obtained the Hermit, the 10 of Pentacles and the Prince of Swords. The series shows me moving from a state of isolated self-satisfaction to one of intense curiosity. The changes I’m contemplating will open up a whole new field of exploration for me in the realm of mental self-application.
The sub-quint in both the Intellectual and Practical departments of life was the Emperor. The Emperor epitomizes the solidity and stability of the number Four, which shows that there will be no vacillating when things get underway next year, and no turning back. The sub-quint in the emotional focus area was the Empress, an indication that I will be well-situated to nurture my growth potential when that time comes. The Inspirational sub-quint was Strength, with the Fire of Leo providing an ideal complement to the Wands assertiveness of this area; I consider this card to represent “applied solar force” due to the presence of the Sun in a fixed sign. When the stars align, I will be ready.
The Grand Quintessence card was the Sun, which I don’t think needs much elaboration. It shows “all systems go” for the coming transition, with unequivocal success a distinct likelihood.