We now come to one of the most powerful patterns or spreads. This spread is used to analyse the psychological make-up of the Querent, his immediate, deep-seated problem, the alternative courses of action, and the memory of and attitude to the event he will have in the future. The pattern is called the Celtic Cross, and is shown in most books on the Tarot; each book will assign a different name or content to each station, but the pattern will look the same. There is no real demonstrable reason why the names and content assigned to the stations as shown in this book are the right ones, and you may prefer other ones. Remember, there is no one correct way, suitable for everyone. However, the pattern I am going to suggest shows definite advantages when we start connecting the cards.
In the diagram below Card 1 tells us about the immediate problem, the one which prompted the subject to come and have his cards read. The Querent may not always be aware of this on a conscious level, but will often recognize it when it is talked about during the reading. The second card 'covers' the first; this represents the course of action which will help the Querent to deal with the problem in a way that will help him to grow up. Card 3 'crosses' the first; this also shows a solution to the problem, but the solution is short-term, and leads to further problems, or the same problem in another setting and at another time. Card 4 shows the influence governing the subject's actions in the future, and Card 5 the influence in the past. Card 6 shows what actually did happen in the past to lead up to the crisis shown on Card 1 and Card 7 what will happen in the immediate future. In order to clarify, Cards 6 and 7 show what happened or will happen, and Cards'4 and 5 show why. Card 8 tells us about the most important character trait of the Querent with reference to the problem shown in Card 1. This character trait may not be the most important or recognizable character identification, but it is the one with the most bearing on the problem. Card 9 shows the Querent's nearest and dearest, card 10 his hopes and fears. Card 11 shows the attitude to and the memory of the crisis as seen by the Querent when the crisis is all over.
If you have followed events so far (go for an action replay if you need it), then you may well ask, why lay them in this pattern. Why not in a row, like the previous spread. The answer is presumably that the cards near each other have some kind of relationship; that the pattern itself shows some system of connection that enables us to read far more. I have discovered two possible patterns, and perhaps in the years to come I, or you, will discover further relationships.
The first pattern I have called the 'Flow of Events' and may be thought of as a broad arrow heading from past to future; in the diagram it moves from bottom left to top right. Students of the film, and especially of Westerns, will recognize that this diagonal division of the spread suggests movement. Looked at in another way, the arrow can dissolve gradually into an animal hide or even a pentagram, the symbol for human will.
The Flow of Events shows how Cards 5 and 6 form the past, Card 1 the present with its various possibilities 2 and 3, while 4 and 7 form the future, leading eventually to the memory of it all at 11.
The second pattern I have called the 'Spiral of Influences'. It links up a number of cards to show why the subject is in the crisis now confronting them. Card 10, Hopes and Fears, may be likened to a carrot and a stick which drives Character, which in turn comes under the Past Influence to undergo the Past Event and so arrive at the Present Crisis. It must be emphasized that all the cards only reveal their content in relation to the Present Crisis; the Present Crisis can only be understood if we understand all the previous cards. So when we have followed the spiral we must go back to re-interpret all the previous cards in the light of the final one, and this process may repeat itself several times before a unity emerges. As the psychic mirror is focussed, more light shines on the area revealed, and it becomes easier to focus even more sharply.
At this stage, when we have gained a preliminary insight into what is going on, we may make use of one of the most powerful tools in opening the subconscious to the conscious. We ask the Querent to pick three cards from the spread before him, by pointing at the ones which most interest him, for whatever reason. Then the Reader must forge them into one concept to create synergetic energy. In chapter 6 we discussed synergy in terms of a definition; the definition would leave most of us looking rather blank, so let us take an example.
In the forest, a large tree has fallen over, and a great number of people are in need of firewood. The log is far too big to be moved by any one individual, so each person comes in turn, saws a piece of log just small enough to carry, and takes it home. Eventually, twenty people saw off and carry twenty pieces of the tree, and it is all gone; each person must saw a bit of the log before he can carry it home, and thus he will be tired through the sawing before he starts the carrying. Yet if all the twenty people came as a group, they could lift the log in one go, and carry it to a saw-mill, where it could be cut quickly and easily. A great saving of energy made only possible through the synergetic action of the twenty people acting as a group. Similarly, the new concept in the cards created through combining the cards will create a far greater insight which will be beyond the reach of any three single cards. In this particular spread, the three cards taken together will create a new meaning which is not specifically stated in any one card, nor is it a philosophical griffon (a griffon is a cross between a lion, an eagle and a dragon, with bits of each making up its body) with bits of the meaning of each card tacked together. It should create a new concept not in the regular procession of the cards; the new concept will be the most deep-reaching meaning to be read in the Querent's problem.
Let us take an example using the Celtic Cross spread. The Querent comes to us with a problem concerning his marriage; he suspects his wife is unfaithful, and what should he do? His spread looks as follows:
We will start with the Spiral. His Hopes and Fears are about dedication, i.e. he would like to dedicate himself to something but is afraid to commit himself, for reasons we don't know as yet. His Basic Character is that of the Emperor, and so he loves order, hierarchy, custom, precedence and rule by divine right (perhaps he has a touch of the Male Chauvinist Pig syndrome). Under the Past Influence of the Devil, which means here the preconceptions with which he was raised and which he did not see as such but felt them to be part of the way of all 'right-thinking people', he found himself confronted with the Lovers, i.e. a decision he had to take in his Immediate Past, which led him to his Present Problem, shown by the Hermit. His Present Problem involves looking closely at known paths to see where to go next; he has told us his problem is what to do about his wife's possible unfaithfulness. The Hermit wanders along the paths made by other men, peering with his lantern to help his short-sighted eyes see the well-worn path; but he is far too old and crippled to jump off the path and make his own tracks, and he is too short-sighted to see paths unless they are very well worn.
Having taken the Mystic Spiral from Card 10 to Card 1, we go back again to Card 10, the Hanged Man representing his Hopes and Fears. I think he is afraid to dedicate himself to his marriage because in so doing he is denying part of himself, the part that wants to remain free; yet if he doesn't dedicate himself, he feels he is not doing the proper thing, the thing that properly married men do. His love of order, hierarchy etc. indicated by the Emperor under Character applies only to his marriage; he has definite ideas as to who does what in a proper marriage. The Past Influence, shown by the Devil, would seem to indicate and confirm that he was brought up by his parents and his community (dare we say 'conditioned'?) to believe that there were right and wrong ways about marriage and the role of the two parties; these ways were not to be questioned, and applied to all people, regardless of their individual needs and potentials. Perhaps at this point the wife got fed up with the role assigned to her, and started going out more often than he felt to be right; he started to get suspicious because to him the only reason a wife would want to go out and interact with other people of both sexes and roughly her own age would be in order to have an affair. He feels that he must take a stand, come to a decision, as indicated by the Lovers; the only problem is what to do now? He is looking for a way to carry on the relationship amongst the known models of his childhood, and becoming more and more perplexed since these ways have changed since then. He has no real model to look to for ways to behave and cope with this crisis.
We now take a serious look at the Flow of Events. In the past the Querent combines the Devil and the Lovers; the idea they have in common is the idea of pressure from outside, forcing one to choose or conform. The Present Crisis, indicated by the Hermit, is the problem of not being able to make decisions outside his conditioning. The two alternative solutions to his problems are indicated by the Chariot, and Strength. The Chariot counsels allowing the emotions to take over, perhaps letting the heart rule for a change, instead of the need for propriety. This would let the Querent grow into a looser, less rigid and more loving person. If, instead, he heeds the card of Strength, and applies rigid control, then the pressure of resentment will continue to grow, and eventually it will reach such strength that no ordinary slanging match can contain the fury; there will be a physical fight, or perhaps a final breakdown of the relationship. The crisis the Querent is trying to solve now will be deferred to a later date by heeding the card that 'crosses'. The Immediate Future is shown by the Fool and the High Priestess; these have in common the idea of spiritual development. Under the Future Influence of starting a new path he will gain a connection with his anima, his conception of the ideal woman. He learns to listen to his guardian angel and the feminine, soft and understanding part in himself. Finally, in the long term, he will look back on this crisis as an event which taught him to learn trust, optimism and well-being.
However, we still haven't come to grips with the underlying problem and for this we now suggest the choice of three random cards to the Querent, taken from the spread in front of him. He chose the Fool, the High Priestess and the Lovers. What concept unites these three?
The Fool is associated with starting new paths, breaking out of his preconceptions and habits, of being innocent, and having luck. The High Priestess has to do with being mystic, supportive, connecting with the inner ideal of womanhood inside any person. The Lovers have to do with choice between alternatives, of making decisions, and starting new relationships because of that decision. I suddenly realize that all three participate in the idea of 'potential'; the Lovers have to do with the idea of choice between potential paths, or alternatively with the change from the potential of a choice yet to be made, to a kinetic energy kindled through the exercise of the choice. One of the choices of the Lovers is between the Bad and the Good. The High Priestess has to do with the potential of growing towards an ideal contained within us; finally the Fool is about the potential each one of us has of connecting with the Universal (God, if you like) that lies within us. Obviously, these are not the normal everyday meanings of these cards; they are special, rarely used aspects of these cards. They fit together to produce a new concept, the idea of 'Potential Ideal'.
If we now look at the whole problem, we suddenly realize that the real conflict in Hopes and Fears lies between the conformity to the ideals of marriage embodied in the concept of dedication on the one hand, and the need to realize the potential within himself which he believes is stopped by the need to fulfill his role as husband and father within that marriage, on the other hand. He is playing the game of 'If it weren't for them . . . '; if it were not for his wife and children then he could go off and become a famous writer. He can't at the moment, because he must support them financially, which he couldn't do if he were trying to be a writer. And the little slut isn't even grateful for his self-sacrifice. We suddenly see the Hermit in a different light, and realize that he is unhappy precisely because his rigid upbringing prevents him thinking of alternative ways out of his dilemma. The alternative choices of the Chariot and Strength now seem to mean the alternative between allowing his real feeling to emerge in such a way that he and his wife can discuss his ambitions and frustrations, and the temptation to suppress all these feelings as weak and childish. His future, the High Priestess, shows him beginning to connect his inner drives to his conditioned ideals, probably as a result of this reading.
Obviously, the advice the Reader can give is to see whether the Querent can change his preconceptions as to the proper role of the man and the woman in a marriage. At the same time, a full opening of the emotions, 'showing that he cares' may well have a good result, especially as we note from the Nearest and Dearest that his wife has strong feelings concerning her responsibility and guilt with regards to her own actions in the past.
The above attempts to show the inter-relationship between the eleven cards and the importance of pattern; the meaning of the cards in combination is more important than the meaning of the individual cards. Never be afraid to assign new, slightly unconventional meanings to the cards if you feel 'they are right' in any given spread, but use them only for that particular occasion.
At the very beginning of this chapter I briefly described some purposes for which this spread is particularly useful. I think it might be interesting to say a little more about it. For instance, I mention 'the psychological make-up', and this in itself might be all that we wish to gain from reading this spread.
If we have some idea of the character, the hopes and fears, the past influence and the nearest and dearest of the Querent, it should, if this information is pooled into a synergetic concept, enable us to understand what sort of a person we are dealing with. We can start with the two cards showing Hopes and Fears, and Character. These can definitely be said to be 'adjacent'; each throws light on the other.