In this example pull for my new life-reading spread, I used the Spanish Tarot TdM deck without reversals. The question I asked was “Where will my guitar-playing initiative take me in the next six months?”
Last week, completely out of the blue, I decided to resume the guitar-playing ambitions that I dropped shortly after buying an instrument and beginning to learn when I retired almost ten years ago. It probably didn’t hurt that at this time of year there isn’t much I really want to do that will take me out of the house, there isn’t any significant maintenance to do in a brand-new home, I’m tired of sitting in front of the computer and there are only so many tarot readings to do, tarot essays to write and new tarot spreads to create. So it’s hobby time!
The first trump card to come up (it was at the very top of the shuffled deck) was Judgment. Something was clearly “calling” me to exit my moribund state and undertake this journey. (Aleister Crowley noted that this card “always represents the taking of a definite step.”) The second trump card was the Empress, offering encouragement that I will be able to make “beautiful music” by the end of the learning period. (I would settle for “skillful music.”)
The intervening cards between the first trump and the first court card were the 8 of Swords and the 5 of Swords. The meaning was immediately obvious: “finger pain!” Anyone who has ever tried to play a steel-stringed guitar knows what happens when you press baby-bottom-soft fingertips against thin steel wires insistently and repeatedly. Ouch!
The first court card to come up in the draw was the Knight of Cups. I definitely feel an emotional compulsion to press forward toward my goal. It just “feels right” at this time. However, the Knight is moving to the left, toward Justice and the 9 of Swords in the past. This shows that I remember very well the last time I tried to learn, when the 9 of Swords bombarded me with other interests, so I only got out of my musical efforts what little I was able put into them (Lady Justice would call it “just desserts”). I’m holding out my cup but Justice just rolls her eyes and pretends she doesn’t see me. It’s interesting that Judgment came before Justice in the draw, the “verdict” preceding the “trial” and suggesting a “foregone conclusion.” The Empress at the end gives me hope it will be a congenial one.
The timeline cards were the 9 of Swords and Justice (already described) in the past and the 2 of Coins and the 5 of Cups in the future. The 2 of Coins (a “transitional” card) implies that I will persist in patiently “working through” the debilitating tenderness of my finger-tips (5 of Cups) and develop the necessary toughness to be able to “do the bidding” of the Empress by the end of the day.
The “best case” scenario presented the 5 of Coins, the King of Cups and the Page of Cups. This series suggests that I should be able – without too much drama – to master (King of Cups) the untrained clumsiness of my fretting fingers (5 of Coins) and become more nimble (Knave of Cups) at creating guitar music (perhaps by drinking lots of beer!).
The “worst case” scenario delivered the 4 of Cups, the Knight of Batons and the 2 of Swords. These cards imply that I could become bored (4 of Cups), impatient (Knight of Batons) and frustrated at my slow progress (2 of Swords). Perhaps I shouldn’t become too enamored of early success and risk getting stuck there (what “sounds good” on the surface may not technically “be good”).
The Empress (as well as each of the other “future” cards) is on much friendlier terms with the elements of Earth and Water shown in the “best case” scenario than in the mix of Water, Fire and Air offered by the “worst-case” cards. I’m thinking that this favors realization of the “Hope Cards” outlook. Now all I have to do is make it happen.
In practice, I find it more useful to let the significance of each pip and court card (Joseph Maxwell even calls them “Minor Trumps”) expand or contract to find its own level within the context of a reading, perhaps in combination rivaling that of a “Major Trump” card, rather than trying to spread the meaning of the latter like peanut butter to fill all of the voids left by removal of the pip and court cards from the deck. By way of example, it seems noteworthy that there are three “Fives” in this reading when so much of my future success lies in developing the agility, strength and toughness of my five fretting-hand fingers. In The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, Waite says “3 Fives = determination.” In his TdM book, The Tarot, Maxwell writes “The number 5 breaks the equilibrium of the square, and is favourable in a muted sense, bringing, however, new and unusual influences with it.” I can certainly relate to “muted” since it describes the gentle tone one gets from finger-picking and strumming, and until I learn some actual songs, everything I attempt will be “new and unusual.”