A “Motivational Extremes” Example Reading

I performed a reading to test my new “Motivational Extremes” problem-solving approach. The question I asked was how best to cope with the emotional distress caused by the extended societal lock-down and stay-at-home expectations stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. (We haven’t been able to see our young grandchildren for a couple of months.) I used the RWS Centennial pocket edition with reversals and chose the 5 of Cups as the Problem Card, showing that, in emotional terms,  we’re losing more than we’re gaining as a result of these conditions.

All images copyright U.S. Games Systems, Inc, Stamford, CT

The Obstacle card that is most hostile to the 5 of Cups is the Queen of Wands due to her impatience and “Just do it, dammit!” attitude. She is refined Fire to the 5 of Cups raw Water (Aleister Crowley mentions the “putrefying power of Water” and “frustration of pleasure,” making me think of “raw sewage”); this represents an elemental train-wreck, and she is an  exacting royal personage to the 5 of Cups’ low-key commoner, who might be seen as “stewing in his own juices.” This is also one of only two upright Obstacle cards and it is directly facing the Problem card, so the Queen is pushing her agenda and the pressure is building. The impulse is to break all the rules and get on with life.

The Opportunity Card that is most sympathetic to the 5 of Cups is the 7 of Pentacles. They are both minor, passive, odd-numbered and rather colorless cards, and Water and Earth are elementally friendly. The 7 of Pentacles is the card of unfinished business, suggesting that “it ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The advice is to maintain a patient outlook and not act precipitously, just keep my head down, accept the inconvenience and live with it for the time being. Other Opportunity cards that imply the same thing are the 4 of Swords and Temperance, but the former conveys fatalistic resignation, not a healthy attitude under these circumstances, and the latter is an elementally incompatible Fire card that operates at a more abstract level of consciousness. The rest of the Opportunity cards are reversed, showing little inclination for engagement with the Problem card.


Considering this array as a three-card line, the 5 of Cups seems to be mesmerized by the promise of triumph offered by the Queen of Wands, but the 7 of Pentacles is tugging at its cloak and saying “Get real!” All of the Sevens suggest a step in a new direction, but also that careful planning and preparation are required before stepping out. Note that the black cat on the Queen of Wands mirrors the black cloak on the 5 of Cups; she is well aware that what she is proposing is contrary to the facts of the matter but she chooses to ignore it. This is not an especially inspiring narrative, but it is an honest one.

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