Our spread will be a simple three-card spread addressing underlying
problems (cards 1 and 2), and a direction or potential for alleviating
those problems (card 3), in response to a client's desire to identify what
the crux of the communication problem is in a familial relationship.
The following cards were drawn:
Card 1: Five of Swords
Card 2: Ten of Wands
Card 3: Page of Cups
Interpret the RW cards according to their positions and synthesize the
What message or insights are you getting from these cards? Now,
using the ST, select the same cards from this deck and lay them alongside
their RW counterparts. What do these cards tell you that you
might have missed in the previous layout? What further amplification
are you getting with these cards? How are you hearing that second
voice with this deck? Is the message stronger? Does it change? Are
you getting reinforcement of the initial message, or is this additional
information that needs to be synthesized?
Five of Swords
The Five of Swords in the RW deck shows a man in possession of three
swords while two lay behind him on the ground.He has a smirk on his
face and appears by expression and posture to be gloating as he looks
at the people in the background. In the ST deck's depiction of this
card, Rachel Pollack has painted a dead Shaman, around which circle
many-feathered vultures. As she mentions in her book, one is tempted
to turn the card around seeking the proper orientation, which seems
slightly elusive from every angle. She has made the card deliberately
disorienting in an effort to shake us out of our fixed Western perspective.
While cultural biases may lead you to concentrate on the dead
body or the vultures themselves, it is important not to miss the nimbus
of light surrounding the head of the Shaman, which signifies his
understanding and self-knowledge. This takes us beyond the usual RW
meanings for this card (self-interest of the personality/body, discord,
possible dishonor) to self-empowerment from the proper confrontation
of a situation and the resultant process of healing in order to
release that inner light.
This family seems to suffer from competitiveness carried to the extreme,
a sense of one-upmanship and a tendency to gloat over minor victories.
All of these things aggravate communication and make it a real sore
point. This problem will only get bigger if ignored. Things need to be
put back into perspective and healing needs to occur.
The Ten of Wands in the RW deck shows a man struggling with ten
heavy wands he is carrying awkwardly as he heads in the direction of
a house in the distance. His back is bowed under the weight of the
wands. In the ST depiction of this card (the Ten of Trees), we see a
Tree of Life bursting forth with energy and signifying the pleasures
and satisfactions of daily life. The abundance and variety of our lives
is accentuated rather than the burdens of attaining such joys. I find
in this Ten a message we should heed more often, that of thinking
less of our burdens and more of the blessings they truly represent.
Only through experience, both challenging and rewarding, can you
arrive at consciousness. Perhaps the man in the RW card should
glance up and see just how close the beloved home to which he journeys
One or more members of this family feel overburdened. The family
has the health and strength to offer support to the burdened member(
s). All members seem to have suffered from dysfunctional communication
for so long they have missed seeing how close they were in
the past and can be again.
Page of Cups
The RW Page of Cups shows a young girl holding a cup from which a
flying fish protrudes. Common interpretations of this Page would
include: Listen to your emotions and intuitions; don't miss the opportunity
to experience deep feelings and your inner life; don't be afraid
to receive guidance from within. The comparable ST card (Place of
Rivers) is a simple and beautiful depiction of inner peace. An androgynous
figure kneels before a pool of dark water fed by two lighter-colored
streams. Ms. Pollack mentions that we enter this place simply by
stopping our compulsive outward rush of attention and turning our
awareness inward (Pollack 2001, 249).
Get rid of that neener-neener approach, that sense of superiority
and preoccupation with who is richer or more successful than whom.
Remember the love that unites you, that bonds you at a root level, but
has been overlooked for so long. And most importantly, remember to
love yourself. Until you have discovered yourself and are truly happy
on a soul level you will not relate well with others, nor will you find
peace within. Look into your cup. It is truly full. See your reflection
and then experience the depths of the liquid within. Therein will you
find inner peace and the love for and communication with others you
misplaced along the way.
A second example of this method will be a three-card Past-Present-
Future spread using the RW deck and the hauntingly beautiful Legend
deck by Anna-Marie Ferguson. A friend had asked me to read for her
when her sister approached her for advice on her current troubled
relationship. The sister had asked her to give her situation thought,
prayer, and even to seek a confidential second opinion if necessary.
Accordingly, my friend approached me to obtain further insights via
the Tarot on her sister's relationship so that she could better give the
advice her sister sought.
The following cards were drawn:
Card 1 (Past): The Tower
Card 2 (Present): Four of Cups
Card 3 (Future): King of Cups
The Tower in the RW deck shows the infamous image of the lightning-
struck tower from which bodies tumble to the earth. In the past
position, does this indicate that the relationship has sustained some
sudden dramatic upheaval or some quick and possibly explosive
change? What else can we learn with the addition of the second deck?
The Legend deck shows us another threatened edifice, but this image
shows us there is a specific reason this tower tumbles. Here we see
Vortigern's Fortress and the pair of legendary dragons that troubled it.
Time and time again Vortigern built his fortress, and repeatedly it
came tumbling down. In that legend we learn that Vortigern chose to
build upon a spot underneath which was a subterranean pool of water
in which slept two dragons. Merlin explained that the destruction of
the fortress was due to the nocturnal battles of the awakened dragons.
Perhaps fortresses (relationships) built on battling dragons can expect
constant strife? Is constant stress and endless strife a good foundation
on which to build your castle?
Foundations have been built on turmoil; relationships need to be built
on solid ground.
Four of Cups
The Four of Cups is often called the apathy card and is commonly
interpreted as boredom and dissatisfaction of an emotional nature. In
the RW deck a self-absorbed man is seated at the foot of a tree and gazing
listlessly at three cups in front of him while completely missing the
cup in the outstretched hand close by. In Legend we see the disenchanted
Knights of the Round Table. They are disgusted, disillusioned,
and uninspired. The tournaments have been fought, the damsels rescued,
and Arthur is away fighting in a distant land. They need something
to motivate them and inspire them anew. In the legend the inspiration
they sought appeared in the appearance of the Grail, symbol of
inspiration and love. Caution is urged here not to let self-imposed apathy
allow you to miss the apparition of your personal Grail. How can
you find love if you see it not?
Hello! This is a wake-up call. You are bored and you know it. You have
emotionally sold out. You have the right to real love. Open your
eyes-only then will you not miss it.
King of Cups
The King of Cups (RW) represents the mastery of all that is embodied
by the suit of Cups.As with all Court cards, the appearance of the King
can signify both self and another in a reading. This King encourages
you to acknowledge your own emotions, feelings, and intuitions. Given
the nature of the question, I feel that the King has definite double
meaning here: Only by knowing your own heart fully and by being
ready for an emotion that empowers as it grows can you share such an
emotion with someone else. This card in the Legend deck is illustrated
with the Fisher King, the name given to the various kings entrusted
with guardianship of the Holy Grail. In the legend, only via the Fisher
King could one obtain and unlock the mysteries of the Grail.What better
way to meet your King of Cups than by using that King's energy?
Embrace the healing energy of this King. He lives within you. Know
your own heart and you will heal yourself.
As you use this method, you will find that certain decks work better
together than others, and you will begin to realize which decks to use
for certain querents or types of questions. The messages are endless
and the many voices of Tarot a siren's song to further study.