Position One: What calls me to rise up and become something new?
Knight of Swords
While this poor knight has a lot of negative connotations, in this position I’ll go with a positive one: passion for action in what I believe in. An inner voice within me calls for me to rise up and become something new. Stagnation is not a natural state for me, though depression can make it seem like it at times. If there is change to me made, I’m blazing the trail fueled by my own strong beliefs. Right now, this call is to set long-term plans to set up a tarot business.
Position Two: What can I become?
Ten of Pentacles
This card has really grown on me and become one of my favorites. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Between the Ten of Cups and the Ten of Pentacles, it is the “family” card I can relate to and appreciate the most. I can become stable and comfortable in my own skin, in the world around me. This transformation into someone new with focused purpose is a strongly positive force that can bring me the structured support and warmth of the Ten of Pentacles.
Position Three: How will my life change?
The Hanged Man
I will be able to surrender more often. I’m not always sure what battles are mine to fight and when I need to surrender. By having this inner focus and direction, my life will be more peaceful since I won’t always feel like I’m searching for something I’m missing.
Position Four: How will my change affect others?
Three of Swords
Hopefully I will be able to help people who are experiencing or have experienced some Three of Swords pain and help them find the power within themselves to grow and move beyond this pain. This would be a great privilege to be able to help people.
Position Five: How am I called to answer?
King of Swords
Master the cards (of course, learning will always continue) and be very logical in the setup of my business. Of course, I shouldn’t go overboard and forget about intuition or emotion, but in the initial process of setting everything up, logic and knowledge will be absolutely key to success.
Lots of swords indicate that logic and knowledge are important for this transformation, the Ten of Pentacles speaks to possible success, and the Hanged Man indicates that the transformation may bring inner peace.
The Tower represents sudden or surprising change, upheaval, revelation, chaos, crisis, or spiritual awakening. Spiritual awakening is particularly relevant when considering the Tower’s location within the Major Arcana’s third row of cards. The Devil was illusion, materialism, and imprisonment. In the Tower, the illusion is shattered.
If we compare the Tower to the Tower of Babel, it speaks to the idea that human constructions (be it buildings or even language itself) cannot ever reach or describe the divine. Language, for example, can blind us to the fact that the worldly and the divine are intertwined. This same idea that language divides the world and therefore the very way we see the world is also a sociological idea. The Tower shows (at least some of) these constructed ways of seeing or understanding the world being destroyed. The lightening can represent the divine spark which instigates change or enlightenment.
Like the Wheel, there is water at the bottom of the Tower, but the change in the Tower is perhaps more sudden and certainly not as anticipated as changes indicated by the Wheel. The water below both indicates a deeply spiritual and/or emotional experience of change. The waters below the Tower in the Efflorescent deck are much more turbulent than the waters in the Wheel. The Tower seems perhaps like a forced and much less peaceful Hanged Man. If we refused to or were unable to reach victory in row two of the Major Arcana, our perspective may be changed anyway, and it will be jarring and scary. (The people falling from the Tower are getting a new perspective whether they like it or not.)
Huszka’s depiction shows a women whose body is out of proportion and who looks pretty dismal. This is a great representation of the disorienting feeling of a Tower experience. At the very bottom of the card, we see some stairs leading down into the water (or into the unconscious). If we take these stairs and explore the meaning of our Tower experience, we may be reborn, so to speak, like the figure emerging from behind the woman. The Animals Wisdom tarot depicts a winged snake helping to destroy the Tower, and snakes can be a symbol of new beginnings and rebirth. I like the name of this card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot as well: “The Quickener.”
Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life reminds us of the saying, “The truth will set you free, but first it will make you miserable” (114). That is what we see in the Tower. (Though of course the Tower could at times represent a more positively felt revelation.) However, we have to acknowledge our Tower-like experiences as such or else we may set to work rebuilding the very same tower over and over instead of seeing that there is something better or bigger to be attended to.
Joanna’s description of the Tower imagines we are standing on the crumbling structure: “Beware. Watch each step and be forewarned: one must tread cautiously here. So pause, and calculate each step carefully, because one wrong move and everything will collapse, bringing with it a world of chaos.” This brings to mind our agency. Even when it feels like we’re being thrown through space and our foundation is gone, we do still have choices. And these choices can greatly influence how the Tower falls and what the ultimate outcome will be.
A shadow of the Tower could be this refusal to learn from these experiences. An opposite or reversed meaning could be preventing or trying to prevent a Tower-like experience.
If I were to assign an element to the Tower, it would be fire and water. Fire for the power and transformation of the card, and water for the intensely emotional and/or spiritual experience of this transformation.
Much of my life has been so traumatic, I think I actually expect most things to end is a horrible and chaotic Tower moment. Thankfully, things don’t work out that way much anymore, but even the expectation of my world crumbling around me kind of ruins (or seriously mars) many experiences. It makes it hard to enjoy living in the moment when I “know” it won’t last and will end horribly. It’s not a super helpful way to live. So I think I need to stop seeing Towers in the distance where there are none. I’ll find out later what the remaining Major Arcana cards might say about that.
This reading is about a choice or situation with extreme contradictions. I will keep in mind my internal conflict between people pleasing and intolerance for what I consider unacceptable behavior.
Position One: Current Situation
Falcon, Seeker of Feathers (Knight of Swords)
Air of air, the Knight of Swords can represent battle. I definitely have an internal battle being fought in a very air-like way (logic, thoughts). I think this card in this position is representative of this internal battle rather than me rushing forward, because I keep wavering back and forth, which is not a courageous run forward.
Position Two: Alternative
Bat, Master of Suspension (The Hanged Man)
Funnily enough, I think this card is an indication that the time for contemplation is over. At least until I reach a new place worth contemplating. It’s time to have my world turned upside down, to surrender control and see what happens. I have thought so much, but the remaining question is how others will react to me when I stop being so quiet and passive. And their reaction is something I cannot control. So surrender and jump into this new world. Then I can ponder where I’ve found myself.
Position Three: Possible Middle Way
Gorilla, Six of Fossils (Six of Pentacles)
I particularly love the Animal Wisdom Tarot interpretation of this card: “Six of Fossils highlights the harmony of exchange. Gorilla advises balance, to share freely and take just what you need. Release judgments of pride or shame; learn to give and receive” (73).
This could imply a more conscious back and forth. I may need to recognize when an olive branch or gift is being extended my way, even if it isn’t being presented in the way I might want or expect it to. And I can communicate what I need. I don’t have to only change my behavior and then fearfully wait for a reaction or response. This doesn’t have to be entirely in my head. I can keep these loving gorillas in mind and try to emulate their give and take, their loving care for all: others and themselves.
Position Four: Needed Approach
Hippo, Ten of Shells (Ten of Cups)
Happy, harmonious, and loving. Approach from a position of assuming the best and of loving those around me rather than imagining the situation as antagonistic or dangerous.
Position Five: How to let energy flow
Heron, Two of Feathers (Two of Swords)
Don’t assume my choice is between either the logical path or the emotional one. They are not actually mutually exclusive. It will be a painful choice if that is the choice system I create. The energy will flow better if I slowly lower my defenses.
Position Six: What commitment is needed
Monkey, Two of Fossils (Two of Pentacles)
I need to commit to the journey, knowing there will be ups and downs. I need to commit to staying in the process. This might take creativity, flexibility, and a playfulness I often keep buried.
There are an abundance of cards that speak directly to balance in this reading! I’m hearing that message loud and clear — both in the spread itself (a reading for Temperance) and in the cards that showed up (The Hanged Man, Six of Fossils, Two of Feathers, Two of Fossils). That may be my new mantra for a while: “Balance. Share like the gorillas. Choices aren’t all mutually exclusive. Go with the ups and downs. ”
I’m learning this card is much more nuanced and complex than I first thought (that’s starting to happen a lot lately as I get a better grasp of tarot). While Huszka’s depiction does not show the merchant and beggar of the RWS Six of Pentacles, the merchant and beggar symbols are both important in this position for me. I have given up on being so rigid I will not ask for help. Like the beggars, I am not too proud to ask for what I need. However, as a shadow, I do at times feel like I’m begging. I’m in the midst of the mystery of this death of pride where I’m not yet comfortable in a position of expressing need.
Huszka’s depiction seems very optimistic, perhaps pointing to the good that will come as I complete this passage in my life.
Position Two: What killed it?
Ten of Wands
I couldn’t carry my load alone anymore! I like the symbolism in the RSW depiction, but I really like Huszka’s vision of this card. I’ve pushed so many rocks on my path that I became trapped. They all piled up and I couldn’t move forward. I became completely overwhelmed, and now I’m having to say, “Yes, I do need help. Will you please help me out of this situation?”
Position Three: What needs to die?
King of Cups
While I am able to ask for help, I still keep a pretty good poker face about it all. Rachel Pollack in The New Tarot Handbook says, “The King of Cups may indicate someone with deep levels of feeling who does not show this side to others lest it rise up and flood him” (233). While it’s good to have boundaries, a perpetual refusal to allow people to see my emotions is not a good way for building deep loving and trusting relationships. This fear of vulnerability needs to die.
Position Four: What will release it?
Five of Cups
The traditional RWS depiction is a figure cloaked in black looking at three spilled cups while two upright cups stand behind them. This speaks to grief and loss as well as the hope that remains. I also like Huszka’s interpretation: without sufficient rest or love or trust, our fears can grow and overtake us, making it difficult to see the good. Using both of these depictions, I can say that release from my fear of vulnerability will come from turning around and picking up the two upright cups in the RWS version and in surrendering to the rejuvenating love that is being offered. Both require an act of will. I have to make that choice.
Position Five: What is buried?
Two of Wands
This is a tough card for me to interpret in this position. The Two of Wands can speak to a motivation for change, but an uncertainty about staying put (security) or moving forward (adventure). I have the spark, but what is buried is the confidence to throw myself into the adventure. I peek my head out the door, but I haven’t made a run for it yet. But as Huszka’s depiction of this card shows, stagnation can lead to rot.
Position Six: What can be born?
The Hanged Man
A higher level of peace and acceptance with vulnerability. That word, vulnerability, is what I always think of when I see Huszka’s Hanged Man. And yet she does not look sad or distraught or afraid or uncomfortable. She returns my gaze without shame.
Position One: How am I different from the people around me?
This is a really tough card in this position for me, but I’ll do my best after consulting all my books. I think I am more aware of the interconnectedness of all things, I have high hopes and goals, and I am (or try to be) very aware of my unconscious. However, unlike the World, I am not able to transcend the dualities that make up life. The people around me I think are less self-aware, but in being less caught up in trying to balance pieces of themselves, they transcend those issues.
Position Two: What are my deep values?
Six of Cups
The Animal Wisdom Tarot sums up some of my deep values well: “practice giving and receiving; celebrate togetherness; choose peace. … find pleasure in simply joys” (59).
Position Three: What brings me pain?
Seven of Cups
This card can symbolize imagination and daydreams. I am brought pain at times when my fantasies do not materialize into reality.
Position Four: What brings me joy?
Six of Pentacles
Equality, respect, and fairness. I try my best to always consider others’ feelings before speaking and acting, and it makes me really happy when I can tell someone has paid me the same respect. In Joanna’s depiction of the alligator and plover in the Animism Tarot, she says, “Life is a journey of give and take, and when they work as one, they both come out richer.” I agree 🙂
Position Five: What can I discover?
Nine of Cups
There are a wide array of interpretations of this card in my different books and little white books. One of these is enjoying the pleasures of life. I can discover how to live out my deep values of enjoying earthly pleasures. By embracing my imagination but accepting that not all I hope will come true, and through loving respect, my values can come to fruition.
The Hanged Man is a temporary state, so this spread reminds me that while there may be a pause needed before change can occur, I do have to move forward and put my plan into action at some point!
This card represents seeing something in a new way, surrender, inner or spiritual awareness, and peace. The Hanged Man is suspended upside down, but she doesn’t struggle and she doesn’t appear distraught.
Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says, “His number, 12, brings together the will of the Magician (1) and the soul receptivity of the High Priestess (2). The sum of their union is the Empress (3), who reminds the Hanged Man that his suspension, like her pregnancy, is but a precursor to a new awareness” (94). This is not a permanent state, but it is a necessary pause or surrender in order to bring about a new understanding or new inner or spiritual awareness. The snake in the Efflorescent Tarot depiction can be representative of a new beginning. The Animal Wisdom Tarot also suggests the Hanged Man as a representation of suspension between the physical world and the spiritual world.
I like how Joanna, creator of the Animism Tarot, says, “Why he is suspended, why he watches in reverse, only he understands. His reality might not make sense, but sometimes life needs to not make sense, and sometimes views must be shifted in order to achieve clarity. And so he holds on until he finds his release.” Things might not make sense right away, but by being patient and allowing things to come into focus slowly, we can achieve clarity. I think that statement also serves as a reminder to be gentle and understanding when others are going through a transition in their lives. It might not make sense to us, but it doesn’t mean they’re being silly or dumb. This could also represent being true to ourselves, even when it doesn’t make sense or conform to the expectations of others. Non-normative ways of being and valuing can be incredibly important.
Western culture is about speed and efficiency. The Hanged Man can remind us of the value of pressing pause. The Hanged Man can also represent sacrifice. We can’t have everything we want in our materialistic society, and this card can remind us of that and make us reevaluate our spiritual understanding of the world when we get wrapped up in materialism.
A shadow of the Hanged Man is feeling trapped or victimized. An opposite or reverse of this card is the end of a paused period in life, or a refusal to pause and see things in a new way.
Sometimes we feel stuck, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t making changes. It would be wise to look at these places we feel stuck and to evaluate whether we’re really “stuck” or if we’re simply making changes from a position of stillness. Inner change as in progress before we can physically move forward. I think Huszka’s depiction does a good job of showing the vulnerability that can come from this. Her Hanged Man is not upside down, but she is naked and, even though she is right-side-up, her feet do not touch the ground.
If I were to assign an element to the Hanged Man, it would be water and air. Water for spiritual enlightenment and air for knowledge and clarity. These elements can be seen in the Efflorescent Tarot depiction which includes a jar of water and a hawk.
It’s been tough, but I am pressing pause right now in my life. I had been wanting to go to graduate school, wanting to push forward and actively being “doing something with my life.” After much honesty with myself, I decided that is not best right now. I need to hold still. I need to stop running full speed ahead when I don’t have the emotional reserves to do so. I will continue to teach online, but other than that I will stay home and do the work that is so often thought of as not “real” work. I am (a) allowing myself to pause and stay at home, to not push forward into projects I am not ready for and (b) seeing housework in a new way, as valuable and worthwhile. So both pausing and seeing things from a new perspective. It’s a good time in my life to emulate the Hanged Man.
This reading is for a conflict situation, so I’ll just keep in mind what upset me last night as I do this reading.
Position One: What is outer justice?
Four of Cups
Huska’s description of this card fits this reading well. A balance in a relationship. This balance is made of respect and fairness and is needed to avoid dissatisfaction or resentment.
Position Two: What is the wisdom of pursuing it?
Clarity. If things are not clear, miscommunication can easily happen, and that can upset the balance.
Position Three: What action is best?
It may seem the opposite of the Sun above, but the Moon speaks to the mysteries of the unconscious. Both our own unconscious and the mind of whoever we are in a relationship with are mysterious places. Sometimes we have to dive in and explore these unknowns before we can reach clarity. The light of the moon may help us to see things we wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.
Position Four: What is inner justice?
The Hanged Man
A new perspective. The same old viewpoint can become torturous. Self-honesty and fairness can come through trying a new viewpoint. The Moon and the Hanged Man together in this reading might speak to the importance of this new perspective.
Position Five: What part do I play?
King of Pentacles
Pentacles represent the physical world, and the King of Pentacles can be read as a provider or a master craftsman. My role could include caring for (providing for) my body so my mind can do its necessary work.
I love Huszka’s depiction of this king. He’s not a rich businessman on a throne with all of his monetary wealth. He walks through the world and seems to have fruit falling from the basket/bag her carries. Fruit for everyone! Sustenance and health for all through this king. To provide this kind of care also takes love and dedication. I should feel those things for myself as I seek inner justice.
Position Six: How will justice come about?
The Chariot is a card that, like Justice, speaks to balance. But the Chariot is a more conscious and controlling balance. A less practiced and less natural sense of balance, but a balance nonetheless. Justice will come through practicing balance willfully. In the Major Arcana, we can’t get to Justice without first visiting the Chariot. Conscious effort and practice.
Position Seven: What is the link between inner and outer justice?
King of Wands
Fire of fire. This king is a creative leader, and while fire can suggest spontaneity, as a king he is responsible for his choices to more people than just himself. Passion and creativity can help to both facilitate communicate without giving up and to see things from a new perspective. And people in a relationship are responsible to each other. I can see creativity and responsibility being a link between inner and outer justice.
Four major cards and two kings! I’m not sure what that may mean, but that piece of the reading certainly stood out to me. With more practice I’ll be better able to think about what things like this may signify or communicate.
The tradition of “family” has affected my life in multiple, conflicting ways. For the majority of my life, family was a obligation and a system where I had to be obedient. This was a joyless tradition since it was all work and no spiritual fulfillment. I had no concept of family as a positive, safe place for spiritual and emotional support.
I have finally begun to assimilate with my family of choice, and this took a lot of learning and unlearning (the Hierophant as education in a tradition). It has been a healing process and, as I am becoming more confident, an enjoyable kind of “work” as portrayed in the Eight of Pentacles. In fact, I’m bringing some of my own “traditions” to the family, particularly holiday traditions. Before I became an active member of the family, they didn’t celebrate a lot of holidays even though they recognized them. This has been a really enjoyable experience, bringing these holidays to life and making them our own.
Each eight card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot contains a lemniscate, representing cycles and patterns. Traditions are shared patterns of actions and beliefs.
Position Two: What have I learned?
Dog, Ten of Fossils (Pentacles)
This new way of experiencing tradition has taught me how to play and be happy, to feel fulfilled. Now, of course it’s a learning curve and I still experience fear and inhibition a good bit of the time as well. But that doesn’t diminish this incredible lesson which I continue to grow with.
While the traditional RWS depiction of the Ten of Cups shows a family joyful in only needing each other’s company, the traditional Ten of Pentacles can be said to be more structured and rule-based. In this context, the Ten of Pentacles can represent family tradition. And that doesn’t mean less loving or more strict. Tradition, when done “right,” can be a warm and beautiful shared experience. That is what I am learning to be a part of.
This card appeared in my reading for the High Priestess regarding what is deep within me. So maybe I’m just learning to let it out 🙂
Position Three: How have I broken with tradition?
Scarab Beetle, Ten of Branches (Wands)
This card in the Animal Wisdom Tarot can can represent “conscious transformation.” In the traditional RWS depiction, it can represent excess and burden — the person in the card carrying the ten wands has their arms full and can’t see the road in front of them. I can relate to both sides of this card. The old “tradition” of family life for me was very much like the person weighed down with so many branches she can’t see anything else. But like the Animal Wisdom Tarot’s interpretation, I have made a conscious choice to do something else with those branches, and the road ahead is clear, even if I’m not sure exactly where it leads.
Position Four: What do I have to teach others?
Bat, Master of Suspension (The Hanged Man)
The Hanged Man shows us that a drastic change in perspective and/or a pause can bring great transformation or enlightenment. Not only do bats hang upside down, but they can “see” with echolocation. While I am by no means a “master of suspension,” I have made huge strides in my life from being utterly trapped with no sense of my own power to embracing my power, making choices that are far outside my comfort zone, and creating a new life for myself, starting with my inner world. I can teach and encourage that in others.
Position Five: How can I fulfill this role?
Salamander, Two of Branches (Wands)
Twos represent duality and balance, as symbolized by the yin-yang symbols on the twos in the Animal Wisdom Tarot deck. And while the salamander is a symbol of fire, she also lives on both the earth and in the water. A fiery spark with a balance of emotion and reality. Paul Quinn in Tarot for Life says that this card “illustrates the tension between stability and mobility” (148). So perhaps I can fulfill this role by carefully choosing when to remain still (like the Hanged Man) and when to move forward. A balance between the creative action of the Magician and the quiet contemplation of the High Priestess.
Since today is an anniversary, it’s a good time for reflection about the past, where I’m at now, and what’s coming. However, I decided to try a “body, mind, spirit” spread rather than a “past, present, future” one so I can be sure to assess each of these parts of myself as I look forward to another year with myself, with my sweetheart, and with my family of choice.
This card can represent “peace in the domestic sphere” (Wen, 133). The physical environment my body inhabits should become a more organized, clean, and peaceful place. I will have more time to dedicate to this physical part of my life, and I am approaching this change with motivation and excitement (wands = fire). The number four indicates stability, which can speak to my actual physical body as well as my physical environment. I need to spend more time caring for my body by:
making sure I eat (I have a tendency to not eat much when I’m stressed)
eating better (cereal and chocolate covered granola bars is not exactly a balanced diet)
moving my body (exercising regularly)
I love this card. I think it’s really beautiful. The woman looks so content and relaxed, like she has all she needs and can recline and enjoy the birds and the sunshine. And I absolutely love Huszka’s entry in the little white book for this deck.
Position Two: Mind, The Hanged Man
This card in the mind position could indicate that I need to use my intellect (swords, air) during this time when I am emotionally (cups, water) strung up and not sure where to go. Or maybe it means I need to stop trying to think my way out of this emotional quagmire and just be here even though it’s not the most comfortable place I’ve ever been. In Tarot for Life, Paul Quinn says the halo around the Hanged Man’s head “shows that it is an illuminated perspective, rather than a changed situation, that brings him peace” (93) or could also represent “the light at the end of the tunnel” (95).
The Hanged Man can be seen as allowing his subconscious to take over. I need to reconnect with the spiritual and pause long enough to do so! Tarot is already a major help in that department. While the Hanged Man seems stuck when we see him, change is happening within. I should be patient during this time of transition rather than trying to reason my way out of it as quickly as possible.
In this version of the Hanged Man, she is not upside down, but she is suspended naked next to two dresses. This is two different types of discomfort: her feet are not on the ground and she is nude (vulnerable?). Both clothing and the ground are close at hand, but neither are accessible.
Position Three: Spirit, the Lovers
My depression, anxiety, and c-ptsd can make it difficult to connect with others. The Lovers may symbolize prioritizing tending for the relationship with myself, with my sweetheart, with my family of choice, and with the world around me. In addition to caring for these connections, the Lovers could also symbolize my need to create connections between my conscious and unconscious, or my light and my shadow. If these aspects of my spirit can be connected or in communication, perhaps their contradictory features may not feel so jarring in my life. Accepting all parts of myself.
I like this card a lot as well. The way I see it, the white figures and creature on the ground could represent the physical world, the yellow and blue figures and creature in the air could represent the mind (emotion and thought), and the balloon can represent the spiritual realm. Both the body and the thoughts/emotions are holding onto the balloon string. I need to work toward connecting my body, mind, and spirit, and be open to the lessons of the universe and to the good that can come to my spirit when I connect with others.
I found this reading to be a great affirmation about the path I’m on 🙂