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 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.
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.
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.
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. That’s not right. I had tinges of regret.
You see, I have bought a lot of decks over the 25 years that I’ve been into tarot. I have hunted down and obtained almost all of my unicorn decks (the masonic is my deck that’s got away). But then, I’ve had many 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 was missing from my collection became 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
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 five 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 about 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 straightforward. 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.
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 had collected a complete set of Robert Place’s work before realising that the Buddha, Vampire & Angel Tarots would rarely come out of their boxes. I did have a broader range of historical reproductions than 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 they needed, and they’ve left the collection with no regrets from me.
I will not stop buying decks, as each has the potential to teach me something. That’s why 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 Spirit Keeper’s Tarot is one 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.
Since I decided to study tarot seriously in 1996/7, 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, and those decks have also found new homes.
But coming back to my ‘why’. For most of my decks, I have to feel that they will be a practical tool. I 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 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’.
I will keep adding and subtracting decks to 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.