Friday, April 7, 2017

Card Counting Spread: Finding Hope

After having such strange daily draws, namely with the two Major Arcana in reversed positions two days in a row, I felt it was necessary to give myself a larger spread to get some insight on where my energies were being blocked. Quick disclaimer here: the method I used is one straight from the Golden Dawn in which you essentially "count cards" and tell a story that way. However, I have changed certain parts of this method to better suit my needs, and the deck that I use.

One of the key changes was that instead of using the numbers assigned to the cards by the Golden Dawn, I used the associated numbers listed in the guidebook for cards I was unsure of. (I used the numbers given by the cards for suits and Major Arcana, but consulted the guidebook for court cards.) One reason I did this is because I felt like it better applied to my deck. I use Linestrider by Siolo Thompson, and while I appreciate the authority of the Golden Dawn on these matters, I also feel that my deck is more useful when I stick to its unique qualities, such as giving the Queen of Pentacles a value of three as opposed to four, which is the default for Kings and Queens in the Golden Dawn's method. (You can learn more about this method here.)

Another reason I decided not to use the original numbers was that my layout didn't respond well to that. With the original count, I would have gone from the Queen to the 10 of Swords, which would have landed on itself, thus ending the reading altogether. In the alternative method I used (keeping the original GD rule of counting Aces with a value of 5, by the way), I still end on the 10 of Swords, which I feel means that my method gives similar advice, but does so in a much more fulfilling and comprehensive manner.

Finally, I should note that the GD method describes the process of telling a story with this method. I have never interpreted the cards in this way; my intuition tells me that the cards speak to give advice, not to lay out a specific moment of my future. Perhaps other decks are good for this kind of thing, but my deck feels like it would much rather teach me about myself than give me possible insights into what will happen later, and frankly, I'm perfectly okay with that. Due to this, my reading will be less of a story and more of a movement through each triad, keeping the previous in mind as a way to make out specifics about what I need to do in my life to end these blockages of energy and keep myself happy and healthy. With all of that said, let's get to it.

1. The Emperor
2. The Moon (Reversed)
3. Three of Cups
4. Ace of Pentacles (Reversed)
5. Queen of Pentacles
6. King of Swords
7. Nine of Cups
8. Ten of Swords
9. Knight of Wands (Reversed)

One of my favorite parts of the counting method is finding the card that represents you. I have not yet had the issue of doing this reading and not getting a court card, but I'm sure I will be baffled when I eventually do. This time, the court card that I knew had to be me (of the possible three) was the Queen of Pentacles. She is a bastion of compassion and generosity; two qualities which I have recently been trying to emulate every day. When I saw her, I couldn't help but smile. The reversed Ace of Pentacles beside her baffled me at first, but as I consulted the guidebook, one small note caught my eye and I immediately knew why it was there. Part of the reason I had decided to spend time focusing more on being compassionate and generous was because I felt that my emotional nature had taken on a more materialistic focus. I was getting upset when I didn't have material things to make me happy. I was frustrated when my boyfriend wouldn't buy me a snack. Silly things like that, which in small amounts are tolerable, but in large amounts, can be toxic to a relationship. Suddenly, the position of the queen made complete sense. The cards were explaining to me that my move towards compassion was a good and necessary one, and that I had spent too long letting my emotions rule me. Instead, I was now letting logic (King of Swords) be my guide, and making an effort to nurture rather than give in to negativity.

From there, I went to the Nine of Cups. Between the two Swords, I felt relatively certain that this card represented my finding fulfillment in areas that I have been focusing on, namely in strengthening my relationship by being more nurturing, keeping my emotions in check, and contributing to our little household by doing some domestic work. These recent ideas (King of Swords) will move me in the right direction, because now, all the pain that I had been feeling has peaked and the worst is over (10 of Swords).

After that, my ideas seem to be solidified as I land on the King of Swords. I notice that the count has placed me solidly in this half of the spread, focusing deeply on my need to balance emotions and the possible happiness I can find in doing that.

After getting to know the latter half of the spread pretty intimately, the count brings me to the other half, and at first I am bothered by what I land on: the reversed Moon. However, it very quickly becomes clear that the card represents self-deception, specifically referencing my recent anxiety attacks, which had me convinced that my relationship was at its end. With the Emperor and the Three of Cups on either side of it, the message felt crystal clear: Chill out. Stop listening to the voices of fear and worry. Your happiness is found in spreading love both for yourself and for others. At this point, as the cards were very clearly driving home a few very important lessons, I all but had to laugh at the fact that my deck had clearly been trying to tell me this all along. I was hesitant to believe that the cards were an entity, but as they continue to prove how clearly they are able to communicate, I find it easier and easier to believe.

From the Moon, I landed on the Emperor. Caught between two reversals, I knew the card was one of advice rather than one of encouragement. The Knight of Wands, when reversed, can indicate setbacks. It can indicate that things are moving slowly and that little progress is being made. This card really spoke to me, as there have been some major setbacks in my life within the past year or so, and that time did seem to slow down and I felt like I was at a standstill. With the Moon warning of self-deception, the Emperor felt like he was trying to tell me that what was really keeping me from finding happiness and purpose was myself. I had created my own setbacks by allowing my fears to control my actions, which is absolutely true. The Emperor felt like an opportunity to find enlightenment with my promise to work on strengthening my mental health.

The Ace of Pentacles was the next card I landed on, and it seemed to have one major piece of advice for me: Don't add new stressors to your life until you can better manage your emotional health. The only focus you need to have right now is to love yourself and others, and to find your own happiness before you do anything else which could potentially unbalance things even more.

I had to agree.

Finally, as the last transition I would make before the cards became circular, I landed on the Ten of Swords. For a while, this has been my least favorite card in the deck. It speaks of misery, and the artwork on the Linestrider deck is distressing. Even in specific ways, the image haunts me. I have always had a love for Elk, as those also happen to be my initials. When I see the elk-like creature, bleeding from his wounds, I can't help but wish the poor thing was already dead, no longer suffering.

Those feelings aside, however, I couldn't help but pull an extremely comforting message from this card. Especially with it being my last, it almost seemed to speak to me:

"Listen, you've spent the last month in deep pain. You've had anxiety attacks. You've had nightmares. You've gotten into ridiculous arguments with people you love. You feel as though you've been the worst possible version of yourself, and you had all but convinced yourself that the things making you happy would be gone. But the worst is over. You've pushed through that pain and you've made it to the light. From here on out, things get better. Check your emotions. Be loving and gentle. Stay confident in yourself and your relationships. You've emptied Pandora's Box, and now it's time to let Hope take hold of you."

Tears are brimming in my eyes as I write this, but I am hopeful. I am in love. I am happy.

Thank you, Tarot.
- Erebella

Extra Notes:

Many have speculated that "unread" cards in this spread represent the future. In that respect, I believe that the reversed Knight of Wands means that I will continue to struggle with a slow pace, which is to be expected as mental health issues aren't cured in a day, and hardly in a lifetime. My anxiety will always be a factor, and learning to control it is a slow process. However, the Three of Cups promises many happy days and celebrations to come with those I love. 

I can't help but notice the immediate closeness of the Queen of Pentacles and the King of Swords. I also can't help but seem some connections between those cards to myself and my boyfriend. In what may possibly be too optimistic of a reading, I think their proximity to each other denotes a permanence to their positions and a powerful bond between them. In conjunction with the message from the spread, I read this as a positive omen for my relationship, which has been my primary source of anxiety and self-deception as of late.

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