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Watching the recent video (above) on the French Cross, by the excellent cartomancer Serge Pirotte, has rekindled my interest in this type of spread.
In large part, that’s due to the way that Serge has presented his interpretation, especially how he uses the synthesis position.
In the video, Serge describes that synthesis as the ‘state of mind’ of the querent towards the question and the example he uses illustrates that perfectly. It’s also the first card he turns over even though it’s the last card placed. This, for me, adds context and allows for a more nuanced interpretation
I very much appreciated this approach as I don’t usually see spreads where the state of mind of the person getting the reading (self-readings included) is being considered.
Recapping the positions as I’ve recorded them:
- Pro – What’s in your favour
- Con – What’s working against you
- Judge – Advice on how to resolve positions 1 + 2
- Result – Answer to the question
- Synthesis – the perspective of the querent has of the question
As this is already an adaption, I don’t think I will calculate the synthesis card, or use just the majors, but use it in the way Serge has suggested.
As a decision making spread this is one I am certainly to be adding into my active repertoire.
I have looked into the history of the spread a little as I always thought it originated with Oswald Wirth but it seems he got it from Josephin Péladan, though I don’t have the original sources of either to compare.
But in the links below from Tony Louis and Mary Greer’s respective blogs you’ll be able to compare Péladan’s reported crucifixion of Christ model with Wirth’s more legal model of interpretation.
Is this a spread you use? Please let me know in the comments.
Oh, and if anyone has any more sources please drop them in the comments too.
Note: I am illustrating this post with a series of Daily Card Spells I’ve done with this absolutely magickal deck.
I have been fan of The OceanDry Tarot since Colin shared images on his Instagram (@oceandry).
I have been very privileged to own a prototype and I was in awe of the creativity and depth behind the imagery from the beginning when Colin first started sharing images on Instagram.
I am so very pleased say that it’s NOW ON SALE and available to the world via the print on demand service thegamecrafter.
Reasons to get this deck as given by its creator include:
- Major Arcana tells a new “Fool’s Journey”
- Created using an interlocking system of 10 colors
- Free of human figures for abstraction and inclusion
I agree 100% with the above.
Colin has also done an excellent series of YouTube videos exploring this new ‘Fool’s Journey’ that sits behind the numbering of the Majors in the OceanDry.
The journey is a new story based on the Majors.
Colin’s video below tells the story of the hero as he wanders the desert, and if this doesn’t convince you to buy it, I’m not sure what will.
Set aside 30 minutes, give it a listen/watch, and relax as Colin tell you the tale behind the OceanDry.
It’s not just a visually stunning deck. It’s a Tarot whose whole visual design has been fundamentally tied into the meanings of each card. And colour plays just as an important a role as the story.
For example: the entire deck is created from 10 colours:
Each suit is created using 5 colours. Each colour symbolizing something specific. The colours can be added together like a maths problem to help inform your reading of the cards. Colin goes into a deeper and expansive explanation in the guidebook for the deck
Each card’s description in the LWB has examples of this “colour maths” and this is the first half of cardspell above.
2 of Disks – change | discretion | alternating Two disks form opposite poles in fields of color. Their positions oscillating back and forth in rapid attempts to interpret the plans of the Ace. Lime expedites and encourages plans to form, while red halts and offers careful consideration. Pink bursts form each disk, showing that each approach is just as valid. The pink disks symbolize the fruitfulness of balanced action.Guidebook for the OceanDry Tarot
To find out more about the colour system, watch Colin’s explanation video:
The Majors get a slightly different treatment as get the cards place in the story, a reflection on the image and a ‘divinatory’ meaning.
11 Judgement – vision | revelation | overwhelming
on Story – A fever dream sets in as the poison of the plants courses through your veins. Suddenly you are on the sea. The sun blazing gloriously over the horizon. In the distance, a boat floats on
the water’s surface. The vision is intense and overwhelming. The heat of the sun blasting your face alongside the wind whipping over the surface of the water. The distant boat constantly
draws your attention as you do everything in your power to approach it.
on Image – The sun blazes in the sky, rays of geometry overwhelming the senses and overriding
the night from Hermit. Complex geometry draws the hero towards what will be a boat on the
horizon of the ocean. The symbol of fire encases the geometry symbolizing the fever dream and the intensity of the vision.
on Learning – A breakthrough or flash of genius. Writing a complex formula without knowing how to solve it.The OceanDry Tarot Guidebook
I can’t recommend this deck highly enough. If you just want a pip-ish deck with amazing art. The OceanDry gives you that. If you want an alternative to the Fool’s Journey. Oh boy, do you get it. Do you want to feel depth and meaning in your readings from the colours and placement of the items in the image? Just lay the cards and be enchanted,
If you answer to any of the above is yes, then why haven’t you ordered a copy of already.
What do you think, is this a deck for you?
Deck collecting and deck reviews are not part of my “spiritual practice.” They’re my hobbies. The handful of consecrated and well-loved, worn-in workhorse decks I go to when life’s a mess– yes, that’s part of my spiritual practice.Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts
I’d highly recommend reading Benebell’s post before reading on.
Read it? Good. Let’s get into it.
Firstly, I have to say that the picture of Bell’s collection gave me tinges of envy. Actually that’s not right. I had tinges of regret.
You see, I have, over the 25 years that I’ve been into tarot, bought a lot of decks. I have hunted down and obtained almost of my unicorn decks (the masonic is my deck that’s got away). But then, I’ve had a lot of them sitting on my shelf collecting dust, unused and unloved.
I have rehomed decks only to obtain them again as the regret of rehoming and it missing from my collection become an itch I needed to scratch.
But I think that was more that we (the deck & I) had/have unfinished business.
Some decks that I reacquired and have kept (for now) include:
- The Wild Unknown Tarot (First and Second editions)
- Naked Heart Tarot
- Prisma Vision & Light Visions Tarot
- Next World Tarot
- Spacious Tarot
- Way of the Panda Tarot
- The Shimmering Veil 2nd Edition (is on its way thanks to Tom Benjamin’s video mentioned in my last post)
I have reacquired decks only to rehome them again. The Dante Tarot probably wins the award for being reacquired and rehomed. I must have done it 5 or so times.
I have rehomed different editions of the same deck. I once sold a copy of the first edition of the Alchemical Tarot by Robert Place to fund the 3rd edition.
And mostly I have no regrets in cards leaving my collection. If a Dante came along again for a bargain on eBay, I might add it back into the collection. But it would go against my ‘why’ of having a ‘collection’ of tarot decks.
Benebell’s ‘why’ is pretty clear. I am still wrestling with mine.
A hallmark of a compatible personal workhorse deck is that it’s going to be versatile. A querent can come at you with any sort of question and your personal workhorse deck is at the ready. But again, that’s different from the decks in a deck collection. The personal workhorse deck, at least for me, is now a tool. Not every deck in my collection is a tool.Tarot Deck Collecting and Consumerism: My Thoughts
I am the opposite, in that every deck needs to have a purpose beyond being a pile of Tarot cards on my shelf.
I used to collect decks for art, Dante is a prime example. I have collected a complete set of Robert Place’s work before realising that the Buddha, Vampire & Angel Tarots would rarely, if at all, come out of their respective boxes. I did have a wider range of historical reproductions that I do now.
I have had decks I wanted to study like the Pythagorean and Babylonian Tarot but I know that they’d never get the time I they needed, and they’ve left the collection with no regrets from me.
I am not going to stop buying decks as each as they potential to teach me something. That’s reason that the Way of the Panda is back in my collection and being used. And why the Shimmering Veil is on the way back again. More recent acquisitions have also become firm favourites – Benebell’s own Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is one such example.
I will also back Kickstarter projects, even if I rehome them at a later date. I want to hear for myself what the cards say.
From when I decided I was going to study tarot seriously in 2016/7, I have always had a range of ‘voices’ to choose from. They included the Universal Waite, Halloween, Medieval Scapini, Sacred Rose, Ancestral Path, and Thoth – all boxsets and I wanted to read what the creator (or their collaborator’s views on the cards). That’s one thing that hasn’t changed; if there is a book for the deck I’ll get it.
I have reviewed decks in the distant past, which was fun to do, and those decks have also found new homes.
But coming back to my ‘why’. For the vast majority of my decks, I have to feel that they are going to a a practical tool. I do have a small section of sentimental decks & a sub-collection of historical reproduction and a few decks that probably need releasing but I’m not ready.
The minimalist voice in my head says 22 decks total is ‘enough’ but I definitely need some variety and if I strip out the sentimental and historical decks I can’t quite reach that number. And that’s OK.
Jaymi Elford replied to Benebell’s public Facebook post saying she was ‘right-sizing’ her collection. And I totally agree. That’s what I want mine to be.
I also ‘right-size’ my other cartomancy decks. Over the last few days I have had a bit of regret around the Whitman’s Old Gypsy Fortune Telling Cards being rehomed. But The Life Line Lenoracle, the Hermes Playing Card Oracle, and the Maybe Lenormand incorporate some of the cards and their concepts. These are ‘enough’ for me to get what I need.
I guess I already have a deck for ‘that’ might be in the back of my head but it’s not really a strong voice. But it does get me to check my ‘why’.
Overall, I will keep adding and subtracting decks so that I feel I’ve got the ‘right-size’ but I won’t let it balloon. That might change if I have much more space, but as I’ve explained above I’d rather my decks had a purpose for me above being just ‘decks on the shelf’
Everyone’s why varies and not having a why is also totally fine but I hope I’ve explained mine.
Tom Benjamin is one of my favourite Tarot educators. With this YouTube tutorial, Tom must have known that I’d just bought the 20th anniversary edition of the Margarete Petersen Tarot despite knowing that abstract images on tarot cards scares me.
I bought it as I know Tom and Colin creator of the OceanDry Tarot (and YouTuber) both enjoy it. And I really wanted to experiment and experience a reading style outside my comfort zone. But I wasn’t sure what to start.
The Muse must have whispered in Tom’s ear, as this is exactly what I needed to hear.
In this video, Tom gives advice on how to use the tools that are already exist in your Tarot toolbox and gives permission (he gave it to me at least) to bring those into play during your reading.
He neatly demonstrates how (before you have the context of the question) you can build a series of connections that can be confirmed/or refuted when you know the context of what the querent wants to know.
Tom encourages us to embrace each tarot reading as an experiment. To see what talks to you from the cards on the table, and then add what you know about their meanings and connection so you build up the layers of meaning and understanding.
Thanks to this video, I now have a framework, based on the Pages, to experiment with the abstract image Tarot decks in my collection (which at the moment is only the Petersen). How long can I hold out before getting the Shimmering Veil’s 2nd edition?
I’d highly recommend this tutorial for those with abstract decks or for those who want to shake-up their reading style.
It’s one of my theories that when people give you advice, they’ve really just talking to themselves in the past.Austin Kleon, Steal Like an Artist
It’s worth pointing out in the early life of this blog, that I don’t consider myself an expert in divination or fortune telling. I see myself as a student sharing what I’ve found out about the various systems and cards that I’ve been studying.
I feel most confident in Tarot, as I’ve been studying it for over twenty years, I also feel quite comfortable with Lenormand with seven years (how has it been 7 years) of use. Kipper is a system that I find fascinating and slightly uncomfortable (it weights towards to the dramatic and negative when I read for myself).
Tarot pulls me in at least three methodological directions ; the Golden Dawn/Occult Tradition (especially the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot, which can still order); Marseille which I find more systematic (see the guidance book to Playing Marseille by Ryan Edwards as an example ); and the modern psychological (The Naked Heart Tarot by Jillian C. Wilde fits this mould)
And then we have newer card systems, oracle cards included, who are unique to their creators. I am getting to know Mildred Payne’s Secret Pocket Oracle and pulling cards from Wild Unknowns Animal Spirit, as well as trying out other oracles.
Playing Cards for me fall between the old and the new depending on what meanings you use or what customised deck you choose to end up reading.
In the future, I hope to start studying geomancy, oghams and runes in more depth. They all use casting in some way, and it’s not a technique I use.
Some guides I’ll be using:
- Ogam: Weaving Word Wisdom by Erynn Rowan Laurie
- Nordic Runes: Understanding, Casting, and Interpreting the Ancient Viking Oracle by Paul Rhys Mountfort
- The Art of Geomancy Art And Practice Of Geomancy: Divination, Magic, and Earth Wisdom of the Renaissance by John Michael Greer
- Geomagnetic Visions by James R. Eads [this is a coin set but comes with a guidebook.
The first threes have all been recommended by Kelly from The Truth in Story.
And thanks to The Living Wheel Astrology Cards I’ve finally taken then plunge into taking a serious look at Astrology – having a set of a cards to visualise the sky is breathing life into the chart for me right now.
But my current focus is a personal study of the Spirit Keeper’s Tarot: Revelation but also delving in again to the various correspondences using the Tabula Mundi Tarot and the Fortune Wheel House Podcast (via a systematic re-listen)
And I have only just set sail on this voyage, I am using this tweet by Sam Block to light my way. I am not sure what this blog might bring so this is an magickal mystery adventure.
As I’m on a this journey I hope I can help on your travels. I also hope that you will be able to help me along the the way too.
What are you currently studying?
‘Write a spell in the morning, and it will act as a compass, a shield, and a map for your whole day.– T. Susan Chang, Fortune Wheel House Podcast
One of the recommendations made to new tarot readers is to pull a card for the day. The idea is to help people to learn the card meanings, and integrate tarot into their daily routine.
And I do think it’s a great way to focus on getting to know the meanings, especially if you’re journaling and checking back later on to see how the card showed in your day.
But as a reader who has a few years under his belt, I do now find the idea of pulling a a single card tiresome. I don’t feel it activates or integrates Tarot into my daily life. It feels very passive and I fail to make it a habit.
Luckily, I discovered the Fortune’s Wheelhouse Podcast and the idea of a ‘tarot spell’ offered by T. Susan Chang.
I’m going to skim over the concept of magic and tarot as your ‘spell’ doesn’t need to be ‘magical’ but it does need to be meaningful to you.
I do think that pulling two cards everyday is a useful way of seeing the cards in different context and combinations and provides insight that you can draw on in future. This is especially true if you track your dailies and see what repeat cards come up.
I don’t go as far as completing a spreadsheet but I do note when I get the same cards turning up.
Things I do & don’t do in my current practice:
- I do pull two cards
- I do say something before I draw
- I do write my ’spell’ on a bit of paper
- I don’t log them in a spreadsheet
- I change decks every decan
- I do photograph my cards
- I do write down my spells in ink
- I do focus on guidance/affirmation based wording.
Here are a few samples of my daily draws:
Everyone’s practice is different.
T. Susan Chang has talked on her podcast appearances about how she focuses on fulfilling the requirements of the spell . This heads off the energy for the day so it doesn’t manifest randomly.
Personally, I want to see and listen to a message and, perhaps, prepare myself to change my vibe.
Drawing two cards and writing a two line ‘spell’ is how I now place tarot into the heart of my day.
Susie answers the question: Now, how do you go about creating this powerful talisman? in her article on Llewellyn.com entitled Tarot Spells: Make Magic from Your Card of the Day and provides an example. The also goes into detail in her excellent book Tarot Correspondences.
As I said above, there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way.
How do you make tarot part of your day? Do you have a daily draw routine? Please let me know in the comments.
Tarot Spells: Make Magic From Your Card of the Day on tsusanchang.com
A Year of Spells on tsusanchang.com
In her book, Tarot Correspondences, T. Susan Chang acknowledges Paul Stuart as the person who introduced her to the concept of card spells.
“When you come right down to it, reading Tarot cards is really very simple. You decide on your subject and your questions, you shuffle the cards and then you turn them over , usually one card per question, and see what they tell you. The trick, really, lies in the seeing.”Rachel Pollack, Tarot Wisdom
This article discusses the potential differences in the terminology and how the use of fortune telling and divination as a style and as a method may affect our approaches to reading.
Ultimately, I think we end up in similar same places but it’s worth exploring, especially as they are seen as different sides of the same coin.
Fortune Telling is a form of divine guidance. Fortune is also known as Fortuna, the goddess of Luck, Chance and Fortune. She is a divine being who has a particular role to play in our lives.
Wikipedia describes her as:
…the goddess of fortune and the personification of luck in Roman religion. Fortuna is often depicted with a gubernaculum [a ship’s rudder/steering destinies], a ball [usually standing on it to depict uncertainty] or Rota Fortunae [Wheel of Fortune] and a cornucopia [horn of plenty/ gibing abundance]. She might bring good or bad luck: she could be represented as veiled and blind, as in modern depictions of Lady Justice, and came to represent life’s capriciousness.
Knowing the above does give the ‘fortune’ part of Fortune Telling a bit more of an edge. It brings to mind thoughts like, ‘What has fortune got in store for me?’ and begs the question, ‘can I win favour with Fortuna?’ This raises questions about what a prediction actually is and if we have ‘free will’ or not.
I like really like the statement below as it shows that a predictive reading can also be empowering:
‘Fortuna Speaks Negative To Warn. To Be Warned Is A Chance To Prepare. Preparation Is Grace’– borrowed from a forum post.
Some people worry that readings take away free will but just as a reading can show us our fate, it can also offer us options about what can do about it.
I was lucky enough recently to hear Rachel Pollack tell a story about the Jewish tradition of ‘arguing with God,’ if we are able to connect to Fortune and Fate why can’t we argue our case?
What about Divination? How is that defined? The Wikipedia entry starts off with this:
Divination (from Latin divinare “to foresee, to be inspired by a god”, related to divinus, divine) is the attempt to gain insight into a question or situation by way of an occultic, standardized process or ritual.Divination, Wikipedia
The phrase that stood out to me is inspired by god. How powerful is that idea? Not to just be connected but be inspired by a god.
So at this point, the distinction between Fortune Telling and Divination is the difference between being warned or being told vs being inspired.
Because of the nature of the ‘language’ that comes from the cards, the decks and systems we choose do influence the reading we receive. A Lenormand or playing card reading is likely to be a more a ‘telling’ experience and from an oracle or tarot deck, we are more likely to get an ‘inspiring’ reading.
Another factor is the questions we are willing to put to our cards. There appears to be an acceptance to ask a more invasive question in a ‘fortune-telling’ reading than in a ‘divination’ reading.
And then there is the point where a reading of just the cards ends and where advice from the reader creeps in.
When I started to learn Tarot it was at a time where there was a push for Tarot to be as seen as professional and for it to move towards a more ’contemporary coaching-style’ rather than the more ‘traditional’ model of telling and prediction.
But since I’ve been learning to read Lenormand and other older cartomancy methods I’ve been forced into thinking differently. I am challenging myself around about what questions I am willing to ask, the nature of the answers I want the cards to give and how I integrate (if at all) my own views into that process.
There is also a conscious choice about whom want we want to reach out to in order to receive guidance. That is a very much a personal choice and goes into the realms of belief, which is outside the scope of this article, but I wanted to mention it as another influence.
Does choosing between fortune telling or divination make a reading unnecessary cold or overly comforting? An argument for a more fortune telling style reading is to keep a distance between the reader and the querent. whereas a divinatory reading can be seen as trying to empower the querent.
During a fortune telling-based reading you could stop at the telling level of giving information but that’s stopping you from taking it to the guidance level?
And with a more divination-based reading what’s stopping you from taking it back down to practical advice?
Nothing is stopping you defining your own rules. It’s a good idea to sit down an explore your boundaries and comfort levels, as well as being conscious of what style or styles you offer and how that may affect the service you offer.
I hope this has given you something to think about. What do you think? Is there a difference between Fortune Telling and Divination?
I am really proud of this post and it’s one I personally refer back to quite a bit.