Stretchable Positions

No, I’m not talking about yoga or the Kama Sutra. Yesterday on the Tarot Professionals Facebook page Marcus Katz mentioned the notion of adjusting the meanings of spread positions according to the cards that land in them. I wasn’t able to look at his full explanation because it’s on the paid part of the site, but it got me thinking. The idea is that the positional layout wouldn’t change but the significance of each position would be more elastic, offering a symphony of challenges and opportunities rather than a single steady note. I dubbed them “stretchable” positions that would mold themselves around the nature of their resident cards, making for a kind of blended pastiche of meaning. It’s something I already do in a certain way with parts of the Celtic Cross spread.

For example, let’s consider the different Swords cards landing in the “Recent Past” position of the Celtic Cross. In practice, I consider the Recent Past to be almost indistinguishable from the next card in the sequence, which I call the “Present.” Its impact may still weigh heavily on the querent’s mind, understandably coloring their current behavior and perhaps tainting their future outlook as well, even though there is recognition of the need for closure. It often reminds me of picking at a scab; it just keeps on bleeding. There is a kind of seamless segue between the three cards at the summit of the cross: Recent Past, Present and Near Future, and it can be difficult to discern where one leaves off and the next one begins. One possible consequence is an inability to let something go in the fervent hope (or festering fear) that it might rekindle.

If the 10 of Swords falls in the Recent Past, I would read the situation as over-and-done. I call this the “scorched earth” card; there is nothing left worth salvaging, so move on. The 9 of Swords is a psychological “black hole” threatening to suck you back in and keep you there. If the 7 of Swords appears, there may be someone who is trying to worm their way back into your confidence, “whispering in your ear,” so to speak, even though you’ve cut them loose. It might also mean being “blindsided” by someone or something that was thought to be out of the picture, so you should watch your back. The 3 of Swords indicates a burning hole that won’t be salved (or at least a debilitating anxiety attack), while the 5 of Swords could mean that you’re arguing with yourself over whether to keep on trying. The 8 of Swords suggests that you’re still wrestling blindly with your inability to comprehend something said or done, and the 2 of Swords shows doubt over whether you made the right choice. The rest are less ominous: the Ace of Swords shines the light of reason on the path ahead, the 6 of Swords is underway along that path, and the 4 of Swords is willing to “let sleeping dogs lie.”

In each case the significance of the card modulates the thrust of the position, either squeezing it down to its essence or leaving it more open-ended. Clearly, though, more than just the card itself must be taken into consideration; the  retooling  of the position as a result of their mingling can clarify the card’s place in the story, giving it traction and direction, while deriving from it a sense of purpose that differs according to the interpretive import of the card. As I’ve said, it’s something I’ve done intuitively over the years, but now I’m going to apply it more assiduously. My impression is that this paradigm could be applied to the “past” position in any spread that includes a timeline since it suggests a number of things: second-guessing yourself; unfinished business that won’t go away; lingering fondness for something you know is done, even though it’s holding you back; a nagging fixation on a slight of some kind; a case of emotional “indigestion” as you try to process an upsetting development; in short, any kind of self-limiting attitude or behavior that interferes with future growth.

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