Joe and Jill: A “Moral Dilemma” Example Reading

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This is a hypothetical reading addressing a common real-world scenario that I worked up to demonstrate my “Moral Dilemma” spread. The principals in this reading are entirely fictional. I used the Night Sun Tarot to populate the “Left-Hand Path” (or “dark” side) and the Connolly Tarot for the cards of the “Right-Hand Path” (the “light” side).

Joe was a 32-year-old married man who admitted that he wanted to start a sexual relationship with Jill, an attractive coworker a few years older than him, and also married. He asked the cards what his chances were for a hook-up. Joe obviously had no reservations about the propriety of such an arrangement, so I figured any evidence of reluctance would have to come from Jill. The cards did not disappoint.

I used the Devil cards from the RWS Centennial Edition, the Radiant RWS and the Albano-Waite RWS; all of the decks have reversible backs. I randomized for reversals and came up with the Albano-Waite Devil in an upright orientation for the top position, with the Devil’s torch-bearing left hand pointing to the “light” side of the spread. This told be that Joe – at least in his own mind – was entirely on the “up-and-up,” and had no motives other than wanting a casual, consensual affair. I looked first at the “dark” side to see whether it would tell me anything about Jill’s position in the matter.

The very first card in the left-hand column was eye-opening. The 8 of Swords in the Night Sun Tarot shows a semi-nude woman with a lattice-work of eight swords blocking the entire front of her body. This appears to be saying not just “No” but “Hell, no!” to Joe’s aspirations. She also has her hand across her eyes and looks unimpressed, showing her refusal to even consider it.

The second card, the 7 of Pentacles reversed, also suggested that Joe would be better off to just slink away quietly. The Golden Dawn title for this card is “The Lord of Success Unfulfilled,” and Aleister Crowley bluntly calls it “Failure.” If the Sevens indicate the taking of a step in a new direction, the reversal shows that Joe won’t even get to “first base.” Rather than “getting a tumble,” he will probably “stumble and fall.”

The 9 of Pentacles at the bottom reveals Jill’s maturity coming into play. While she might be pleased by the attention of a charming younger man, she has no intention of risking her comfortable, stable situation on a fling. The unblinking eye in the center of the card sees exactly what’s going on, and where it could lead. The quint for this column was the Wheel of Fortune (I subtract the value of reversed cards); taking a chance might cross her mind, but the other cards in the column advise strongly against it. I don’t see her going for it.

The card at the top of the right-hand column was the Tower reversed, saying quite clearly “No ‘boom-boom’ for Joe!” If he chooses to press his luck, he will most likely crash-and-burn. Still, there is a powerful temptation here that will take denial as a challenge. With his lust in danger of running away with him, Joe needs to be careful to avoid doing something he will regret.

The 9 of Wands and 10 of Wands, both reversed, look like lack of ego gratification. Joe has too steep a hill to climb with Jill to get any satisfaction out of the attempt. While the 9 of Wands might suggest that persistence will make a difference, the following 10 of Wands looks like too much work for scant reward. She doesn’t even want one of his “rods,” never mind ten. The cards seem to be showing him licking his wounds after the shock of his “Tower event.” With three reversed cards feeding it, the quint for this column was Strength reversed; Jill is offering no encouragement and will remain in control of the situation. The randy Lion doesn’t stand a chance.

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