Twice Bitten, Thrice Shy

Those of you unfamiliar with the Ian-Hunter-penned song Once Bitten, Twice Shy will understandably be puzzled by the title of today’s post. Hang in there.

A woman of my acquaintance has twice contracted an infectious respiratory illness this winter during consecutive visits to her son’s family, approximately two months apart. The first was a serious intestinal virus and the second an even more persistent head cold. Having slowly recovered from the cold, she is now contemplating another visit. The question was whether she will risk a third episode of sickness by going there. I used my “Simple Yes-or-No Spread” and the Thoth deck. In keeping with the theme of the question, I chose the murky-looking 8 of Cups (“Indolence”) as the Significator.

The initial layout, which I now call the “risk-factor template” clearly shows that respiratory problems are the main concern, since four of the nine cards are Swords. With four of the remaining cards being Disks, the agent for delivering this potential calamity-in-the-making will be physical contact (probably with her infant granddaughter, whom she can’t refrain from hugging and kissing; the youngster has had a series of respiratory ailments over the last few months). The remaining card, the 3 of Cups (“Abundance”) suggests that things could get rather “runny.”


The Significator turned up in one of the two “Maybe Yes, Trending Toward Yes” positions of the “exposure scenario.” The Hermit to its left and the 3 of Swords to the right indicate that not isolating herself from this risk could result in renewed distress. That “3” is a telling number here since it shows an accelerated opportunity for realization of the card’s implications, and the esoteric title for this card is “Sorrow.” Her fortunately “tuned-up” immune system (9 of Wands, “Strength,” in the center position) will have to contend with a “snap decision” (Ace of Swords reversed) that throws caution to the winds (8 of Disks, “Prudence,” reversed). The series Princess of Wands, Adjustment and 7 of Disks reversed implies that her enthusiasm (Princess) will cause her to take her chances with the dubious clemency of the Universe (Adjustment), and the 7 of Disks reversed (“Failure”) looks like she will come out on the short end of that judgment. (Not even reversal will lighten the burden of that 7 of Disks.) However, another possible “wild card” in this outlook is that a major snowstorm is brewing in this area that may cause her to cancel the visit (Adjustment + 7 of Disks), which would be a disappointment of a different kind, dodging one bullet (reversed 7 of Disk) but taking another one through the heart (3 of Swords). The rest of the story will be told by the cards in the Significator’s vertical stack.


The sequence was 8 of Cups, 3 of Disks, reversed (“Worry”), Hierophant, Ace of Disks, Prince of Swords and 3 of Cups. It says that her worries would be somewhat alleviated (3 of Disks reversed) by taking suitable precautions (Hierophant) regarding physical contact (Ace of Disks), which may seem hard-hearted (Prince of Swords) but will ultimately leave her happy she did so (3 of Cups). Note the dominance of the number Three throughout this reading: 3 of Cups, 3 of Swords and 3 of Disks; only the 3 of Wands is missing. Whatever happens will make itself known promptly. There are also three Saturn cards here (8 of Cups, 3 of Swords and 7 of Disks, while Saturn is exalted in Libra, the sign associated with Adjustment), meaning that the consequences could be long-lasting; two of Saturn’s esoteric titles are “The Taskmaster” and “The Great Teacher.” This lesson may have to be learned the hard way.



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