Here’s a bit of an odd one. I had the idea recently to perform a reading for myself. That, on its own, is less common than it used to be. I pull two cards every day to get a picture of what the day is going to be like, and beyond that I tend not to do much else. Or I haven’t in a little while. And so, the idea to do a full-sized reading for myself made me also think that it might be interesting to write about. You might wonder why the two thoughts came together. But, if I’m going to do something like that, something that I don’t do very often, I should take advantage of it and demonstrate how it works. See, it’s not like I can just annotate the readings that I do for other people to use as teaching aids. Those are private.
First, I should discuss the reading that I’m going to use. I don’t have anything against the Celtic Cross like some readers do, but I use it a little less ever since I worked this spread into my repertoire. It’s called the Fibonacci spread, and to the best of my knowledge it was invented by Mel Meleen. It’s in her book, The Rosetta Tarot, but you can get a glimpse of how it works by following along with her on the final episode of Fortune’s Wheelhouse. To be fair, I suppose that episode is doing the same thing that I am trying to do here. So maybe this isn’t such a weird idea after all.
Second, I need to talk about the question. A good question is at the heart of every good reading. Now, most of the time, when tarot readers write about things like this they give you the question as they formulated it. And that’s good, because it models good questions. But, they don’t start there. No one starts at the finished draft. The first version of my question was, simply, “why the hell do I feel this way?”
“This way” means burned out, irritable, tired, unmotivated, and a lot of other things. And I can kind of answer that question myself. I’m still dealing with the after effects of a surgery, I just finished a sped up summer class, and we’re still in a pandemic. And we have new current events to deal with too! Figuring out what the cause is isn’t as tough as it might seem. However, it’s still worth investigating those causes as I initially thought. So that’s where the query will start. We might phrase this question as, “what’s got my shit in a twist?”
Tarot queries should always lead to some form of actionable idea. I don’t mean every reading should lead to a pat solution. I also don’t mean every reading should lead up to specific advice. Some readings are about gathering information. But that information, in itself, should be actionable. Like how an astrologer does not simply stop at saying you have a tendency towards depression in your natal chart, a tarot reader should not simply stop at telling you that you’re burned out from work. Sure, there is a lot of value in having someone tell you that sometimes. But one needs to go a little further.
A more useful version of my question might read like this: “What are the causes of my listlessness and burn out that I am not sufficiently considering? Additionally, what actions should I take to begin improving my situation and how I feel?” You can see that this question is broken into two pieces. The spread that I will be using can be broken up in a number of ways.
To explain that, I should explain, briefly, how the spread works. It’s named after the Fibonacci sequence, and as such, each section uses as many cards as the previous two sections added together. Meleen begins by removing the top card and setting it aside as the Fool. The cards run in sets, associated with the tarot major that matches the number of cards in the set.
So we begin with two sets of one card each, associated with the Magician, before moving onto a set of two cards (The High Priestess), a set of three cards (The Empress), and a set of five cards (the Hierophant). I will be using the five set to answer my second question. They can be associated with the five senses and are the easiest cards to set aside for a question related to concrete action.
All that is left now is to perform the reading!
I will be using The Magical Tarot of the Golden Dawn, which I just got in the mail a few days ago. It came out recently and I intend to review it in the future. For now let’s say I’ve seen it working already.
My two cards to begin with, that are related to the Magician, are the Six of Cups and the Six of Disks. There’s a fairly positive cards to begin with. They are related to the sun and the moon and to fixed signs. On its own, seeing a Sun and a Moon card balanced together like this makes me think that part of the answer is related to seasonal cycles. It’s certainly true that my typical schedule doesn’t see me finishing a class right now. I typically don’t teach summer classes. The Six of Disks is particularly interesting. As you can see from the image, it shows a branch of flowers blooming. And the image of a plant budding or blooming typically makes me think of the right motion and order of things. Things take the amount of time that they take. You actually can rush a plant’s growth. But it gets leggy and doesn’t survive as well.
And the lunar node axis is in these two signs at the moment, Taurus and Scorpio. And it just so happens that they mark my 10th and 4th houses, which relate to career topics and home topics. These cards say, since they are related to the Magician and acts of reading astrology, that I am just in for some of this kind of burnout given the way things have led up to this point and the action that I’m seeing in my chart. Which is just as exciting as it sounds. “You’re stuck with it, kinda.” Gee, thanks.
The following two cards, which are related to the High Priestess, are the 10 of Wands and the Empress. It’s interesting to see the Empress show up in a set that’s not her own, since that was a possibility. But here, since the High Priestess is related to the moon, and the moon is related to what nurtures us, it’s appropriate to see this card. The 10 of Wands, of course, is less cheerful. Few of the Waite Smith images are as perfect for the card meaning as the 10 of Wands, since this is Saturn’s decan of Sagittarius. Saturn doesn’t like being in Sagittarius any more than Sagittarius likes having Saturn there. Saturn is about weight and Sagittarius is about motion, and so in this card image we see two pairs of hands trying to manipulate the wands while a single hand at the bottom holds them still. That makes sense. This seems like a fairly clear indicator that I’ve been doing too much stuff. The Empress also summons to mind images of the natural order of things, and this is the point that I remember that I’m recovering from a surgery and that takes the amount of time it takes. It is possible that I have been trying to act like everything is fine, since my recovery is fairly advanced, but I still have to deal with physical therapy, and doctor’s appointments, and anxiety surrounding the issue. As a person with anxiety, it does not surprise me to see the idea of controlling stuff as a burden, because I do try to control too much stuff, and it is a burden.
The following cards, which relate to the Empress as a set, are the Eight of Disks, the Three of Swords, and the Princess of Cups. This is another fairly auspicious set of cards. The Three of Swords doesn’t seem that way, and on its own it wouldn’t be. But it can indicate contracts and agreements. It’s another Saturn card, specifically Saturn’s decan of Libra. And of course it has shown up in the middle, as though it is equilibrating the other two cards. The Eight of Disks is a Virgo card, often called Prudence. It shows four flowers blooming on a branch with room for eight. It’s up to us to decide if the other four have been removed, are yet to bloom, or have bloomed and faded away. This card can often refer to a daily routine or a practice meant to make one better at something. Imagine the daily drills you have to do to get good at playing a musical instrument. Those, which are not necessarily beautiful on their own, make you better at producing something that is beautiful. And that is often what the Eight of Disks points to. The Princess of Cups is a card that I often associate with meditation. The Queen of Cups is more directly linked to it, as that card is deeply reflective. But the Princess can indicate a kind of directed meditation, a didactic or goal-oriented meditation, as opposed to simply clearing one’s mind. And these three cards remind me that I made a magical agreement to pursue a course of study and because of my surgery, I had to let it lapse. And it was certainly a nurturing activity to engage in, apropos the Empress set we find these cards in. So this ends up boiling down to something simple: I need to get back to doing that. The Three of Swords is important, because while I did not enter into a contract with a particular deadline, I did enter into an agreement to pursue this line of study until I hit a certain milestone. And I have not had that milestone.
You can see that the cards have already begun to direct themselves to my second question. Sometimes that’s the way these things work. It’s one of the reasons I like this spread. Each individual card position does not have a meaning on its own. The meanings are only determined by the full set’s relationship to the card associated with that set. So it’s unsurprising that the Empress set would be more about how to make me feel better than what’s causing the problem.
The final set is associated with the Hierophant. And it is usually necessary, since they are often associated with the five senses, to set those in advance. I will do that now. I will begin with sight, and then follow with hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
Well it seems like I need to see that things are going to change. I need to hear the full sounds of a happy home and again, that things are going to change. My first thought was that I should smell incense, which is related to the above ideas about getting back into a certain set of rituals. The Three of Cups means the cup of harmony and of, honestly, having a party. And I should taste the Princess of Swords, which is a bit of a weird phrasing. But if I should be tasting and being nourished by that card, that would be the sort of intellectual pursuit that is grounded in some way. Taken together, I see that the cards have two Mercury decans, all of the suits, and no majors. The lack of majors indicate that huge, life-changing changes aren’t necessary.
It’s worth sitting with the Ace of Wands a little longer. Those off the cuff immediate responses are very valuable, and so I do not want to dispose of the idea that I should be smelling incense, but the Ace of Wands does typically mean the beginning of a passion project. And I have a couple of things in mind that I was just waiting for a summer break to do. But they felt like too many things. But if I am changing, via the Two of Disks, to enjoy myself and pursuing ritual rather than job work, it might be possible to work these new ideas in.
The Fool “Set”
This isn’t quite the end. There is one more card. For I have the Fool “set,” which I set aside at the beginning. And this card presumably points to where to begin. The Fool is always a beginning of some kind. Though, surrounded by evil cards, it can simply mean foolishness or ignorance. That’s not really relevant for this reading, but worth noting in general.
And the card is the Four of Disks. That is associated with the son’s decan of Capricorn. And it shows a single flower balanced between four solid disks. This card is often seen as an image of greed, of Smaug sitting atop his gold, and it can mean that. But in this case it is more likely to refer to marshalling one’s resources. Even good kings have to save up in the treasury to be able to give gifts and make payroll. I think this card especially speaks to that imagery as well. The whole plant is producing only a single flower, because it is saving all its energy to produce that flower instead of going crazy with dozens of buds everywhere. If it did that, many of them would likely not survive. It does also make me think, as I look at it, that focus is probably something to pay attention to.
That leads me to my overall insight for this reading. Unbeknownst to me, I was spreading myself too thin. I haven’t actually been doing that much, so it’s hard to believe that at first. But it makes sense. I went into the background leading up to this reading earlier, so I don’t need to recapitulate it all here.
That’s the whole thing! I hope it is helpful to read through someone doing a reading for themselves blow by blow. I actually used voice to text for the first draft of this, so I could, quite literally, look at the cards and speak the story of them and produce this essay out of that.
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