I like to do sample tarot readings with new decks here on the blog in order to show how reading with a particular deck can be facilitated…and also for prospective clients to see the types of reading interpretations that I do. But because readings with clients are sacrosanct and confidential, I often do sample readings here based on issues revolving around my own life and questions—not to necessarily be too revealing about my own personal life, but rather as a way to offer real-world problem cases in a valid tarot spread scenario… So here, below is my tarot spread reading using the recently acquired Raven’s Prophecy Tarot, designed and illustrated by Maggie Stiefvater (Llewellyn Worldwide, Ltd. Publishers, 2015)…
I did this draw early one morning because I had woken up having had a fairly vivid dream. I won’t include all the details because some of it was kind of disturbing (read: nightmarish). But I felt like the main point of the dream was that someone in an authoritarian (or dictatorial) position of power was forcing an act upon me (or several people) that would deleteriously affect a much larger population of people. (Ominously, I don’t rule out as a cause all the fear mongering that occurs with this particular presidential election and the incessant media speculation drilled into viewers’ minds…) The worst part of the dream was that despite knowing what the evil repercussions of following such orders would be, despite protesting, despite knowing and contemplating that rebellion was the only way out of the catastrophic predicament…ultimately we complied with the orders… Our complicit-ness weighed heavily, and yet we followed through. Disturbing on several different levels…
It didn’t feel like there was a choice in the dream—which philosophically and psychologically is insane, because the point of human experience is that there IS ALWAYS A CHOICE—but it still felt like it was a failure of my own courage/strength.
The dream wasn’t specific enough for me to know what those feelings were in reference to. (In other words, the whole scenario felt allegorical.) So part of my tarot reading mission was trying to determine what the dream related to in the real world. Sometimes this is hard, because [just like with reading the cards] my imagination and my ability to connect between disparate things is so creative that the possibilities become too excessive to hone-in on any one thing.
However…I’ve been applying for employment opportunities…something that I have very mixed feelings about. “And why,” you might be asking yourself, “should getting a job—something virtually everyone has to do—cause such anguish and conflict?”
Well, several reasons, in fact. One, I’m embarrassed to say, still has to do with my failure at the monastic community. While I know that there are doctrinal and social-justice reasons why I cannot be there and be a part of that particular life, I still feel bereft and rejected by the ultimate utopian philosophy of that life and work. Every other social work option has its faults and short-comings in comparison. While the self-sustaining community of the monastic life permitted me to focus entirely on God, the well-being of my fellow brothers, and the needs of the poor, underprivileged, and downtrodden…survival in the public, commercial, capitalist world requires abandoning humility in preference for a kind of self-promotion, self-advancement, and monetized “coping” skills. There is so much societal pressure to conform to this American work ethic—that causes so much stress and anxiety and can subsume one’s life, and to which no other real alternative outside of homelessness is offered—that, much like my dream, “choice” doesn’t always really factor into the equation. People conditioned by the American ethic and capitalist-meritocracy would argue otherwise—that the myriad possibilities of employment and contributing to useful, valuable, monetized service are virtually endless. But I think it probably depends on one’s geographic location, in part, and the road I seem to be on and the geography I am immersed within doesn’t appear to have very many by-way options. It seems very limited. And the few options there are—even though generous and positive by many standards—just don’t fit my disposition or personality or philosophical comfort; they don’t accommodate my mental sensitivities (which to me, all seem like things that the American work ethic doesn’t much care about and often distains). There is a sacrifice of selfless idealism that is necessary for survival in capitalist society.
Here is an example: I could get free schooling (through government grant initiatives supporting technical trades) for a certificate in manufacturing compliance and safety and an internship that would almost certainly lead to full-time, long-term, steady employment with the local General Electric plant. But the culture of the workforce at that company is not one that I would appreciate nor thrive within. More distressing would be that the products I’d be helping to make would all be going to the military to fulfill contract orders for parts on combat-grade military equipment. It’s bad enough that other fellow citizens—my neighbors—are complicit in contributing to military war efforts through their jobs, the careers that allows them to survive…and that I just stand by in silence, complicit myself in my own way. …I don’t think I could do that work firsthand allowing my conscience to ignore the ramifications of what the end result of my labor might be…
So…if this particular dream was indeed about this existential conflict about the working world and employment…I can make some sense out of the cards that I’ve drawn… (This might have seemed like a long introduction to present the actual spread question, but this is, frankly, the type of in-depth, brainstorming, disclosure-type discussion that should always [preferably] occur during a reading session before any cards are actually drawn.)
The first card drawn—the Four of Coins, REVERSED—depicts not actual coins, but a bouquet of thorny rose stems bundled together with twine. It’s not so much the theme of burying the “treasure” with which I’ve been entrusted (or maybe it is…), but that there’s restriction…or a constriction…of my useful talents. That the card is reversed seems to indicate that the twine is self-imposed, however.
Perhaps I’m overly cautious about…I don’t know…the effect of my productivity? (That really sounds ridiculous, but no “feeling” or insight ought to be dismissed for potential insight.) Or, that I’m sensitive about the potential failure of my efforts? (more likely…) I self-bind myself because I’m afraid of being the cause or catalyst of damage? (the thorns…)
I am, in fact, afraid of failure and my mind often goes right to worst-case scenarios as some sort of defense mechanism…in order to protect myself. When, really, I know that I have the tools and the wisdom to do the best possible job (for virtually any employer). I know the amazing work that I’m capable of…even though it is not generally the tendency of people to provide affirmations or reassurances—other people are themselves too preoccupied with whether or not they’re doing the right things or performing effectively in their own roles and jobs, or managing employees effectively. Gosh! We’re all so self-centered that we never give ourselves a break…much less remember to be astonished and impressed by our fellow co-workers and human beings. (Perhaps we become more and more protective of ourselves and reserved because we see through the media how we are more and more deceived and taken advantage of…)
I hope, then, that not only can I remember that I am a constructive and effective worker (if my history and record are any indicator…which of course, they are…), but also that I remember to shower accolades on my fellow human beings for their own amazing accomplishments and contributions and personal feats of astonishment…that I’ll remember to unbundle my bouquet and spread celebratory and triumphant rose petals upon others who are working towards the dream…
The thorns are just the normal toil through which we sacrifice a part of ourselves, through which we all sustain scratches and bruises…in order to get to the lovely nosegays we chase after.
The next card—the Ace of Wands—oh my! Don’t you just love the Aces? Sometimes I feel like they’re guardian angels lingering—even swooping down. In fact, I’ve heard them described this way in their cyclical-numerical character… The Kings being the apex of their suits, masters and adepts of their particular elements…with nowhere to go except to another plane of existence or plane of understanding, they therefore transform into ether beings of light… Or perhaps are confronted by those angels with their fiery swords barring the way to further heavenly knowledge and circularly bringing the seeker back to earthly realms (from Aces-high -to- Aces-low) and the particular struggles of this tangible world—even with all its thorns—to learn and grow by facing the challenges of corporeal-ness, and human existence.
…Perhaps, looking into the flames of this fire on the card we can skry a bit of the future and its utter possibilities (instead of being terrorized by unjustifiable fears and worst-case scenarios that our minds can come up with). Embers float all around waiting to catch a breeze and find another spot to spark another fire—meaning that I’ve got the “spark” and the fiery element to be able to catch and thrive anywhere and in virtually any career.
Our success is really determinant on our state of mind…of being able to weigh and discern between these two extremes (a characteristic of Temperance), between debilitating fear of failure and the excesses of self-assuredness and too much creativity.
So the placement of the last (third) card seems apropos—a “waterfall” spread-placement as a reflection or combination or birth-child of the two cards above it…
Whereas the first card suit was coins (relating to the body, corporeal things, the fears that affect my wellness and ability to actualize things in my world),…and the second card suit was wands (my exceeding creativity and skills…one of my greatest gifts/knacks),…this third card suit is swords, representing information and intelligence. Whereas coins and wands are complimentary towards one another, swords conflict (characteristically) with both. This might signify a different kind of focus would be the best option for success (or as the best medium between fear and unrestrained creativity). And I understand that point… One has to become an adept of the particulars and the technicalities and the data of a new job before one can add the flair of creativity to bring it to the next level…or to have it serve its best socially responsible platform.
What strikes me most about this card is that the hand that is pictured—without its layers of skin and nerve endings—cannot be harmed by either the thorns of the the rose stems, nor by the burning of the fire. Its character provides, in a sense, a type of power/strength over the fears enveloped in the Four of Coins as well as the unrestrained excessivness of the fire in the Ace of Wands. I can deftly reach in and grasp either one, take what is needed from either or both, and sustain no harm.
The Ten of Swords is usually a really difficult card, often considered disastrous. But I don’t, in this case, see the card this way… To me it mirrors the Death (XIII) card of the Major Arcana in that it is showing me that a definite break or change from my previous conceptions and notions is required (perhaps the previous hopes and dreams and idealisms in which I had put so much weight and faith…). Change is necessary in order to move on. And the mental realm is the place where I can focus that attention in order to possibly achieve the necessary change. Perhaps I can try allowing myself to be subsumed in the learning of new goals, new details, and specifications of a new job, as a means to a new direction in life. While remembering that the Ace of Wands indicates anything is possible…particularly in finding the right “fit” in the workforce. Somewhere there’s the perfect job for me…
What’s missing from this spread? There are no suit of cups involved…employment doesn’t have to be—and often shouldn’t be—an emotional conflict. We should “work in order to live,” not “live in order to work.” Also, It seems necessary to move past the nostalgia and emotional hurt of what has been lost (contemplative life at the monastic community). So the fact that there are no cups is a sort of affirmation of these things for me.
There are also no Major Arcana cards in this spread. While work takes up a significant amount of our lives, it shouldn’t dictate our lives. Again, we work to pay the bills, but work doesn’t have to overshadow the lives we make for ourselves. It helps if work compliments one’s world view and if one’s work fulfills and satisfies one’s vision. But we shouldn’t let work be the end-all of our existence. Personal satisfaction and interests are also important. So this spread full of minor arcana is letting me know not to put too much weight on the question of workplace dynamics (in the grander scheme of my life). There are more important things in the world about which to have anxiety dreams.
If you found the images from this deck attractive and interesting, you can read my previous review of The Raven’s Prophecy Tarot here. You can order the deck through Llewellyn Publishers, through Amazon.com, or from your local bookstore or retailer.
If you’re thinking about having a tarot reading done with me, you can find out more about what my private tarot readings are like on this page…