Chapter 11


MULTI-LEVEL SPREADS


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.
The chapter in this spread headed Hopes and Fears is a very strange one to most people, in that they have difficulty in understanding that they can be represented by one card. The way out of this dichotomy is to realize that to most people they are the same. A good example is the expression 'God forbid' which any pious Jew makes after wishing his enemy bad luck, as in 'Moyshe, that bad-tempered old schnorrer, should break a leg, God forbid'. The pious Jew hopes for bad luck to Moyshe, but if it should come to pass that Moyshe really breaks a leg, then there will be a tremendous feeling of guilt.

Similarly, in our secret inner lives, we hope for all sorts of dreams to come true; yet conversely we are afraid that they might indeed come true. This can be due to the realization that such a hope is so impossible for us to realize that we don't even want to start; many people would like to be film stars, but few of us even try going for an audition as a film extra or for a drama school. It can also be due to the realization that it will mean sacrifices on our part which we are not prepared to make; many fat people dream of becoming thin but won't take the trouble of slimming because it means the sacrifice of eating which they need in compensation for other deep-seated troubles. Some of us are afraid to achieve our hope because then there would be nothing left to aim for, or to grumble about, or to blame things on, or ... Try your own secret hope for size.

So perhaps you can now see how revealing the card on Hopes and Fears can be when read in conjunction with Character. If we now look at the Querent's immediate friends and loved ones, we can tell even more. As the old saw says, *A man is known by the company he keeps*. The card will tell us what sort of relationships he has with people, or perhaps what sort of friends he likes to keep. Lastly, we look at his Past Influence to learn something of the Querent's environment; these are the influences that mould his character into a particular form. The gourd starts as a gourd, and grows up to be a gourd; but by confining it with string you can force it to grow in the shape of a bottle or a bowl.

The analysis of the Querent's psychological make-up cannot always be expressed in words, but its intuitive understanding by the Reader will allow for direct prediction of the Querent's reaction to future events or stimuli.

The second major use to which this spread can be put is to try to understand any deep-seated problems the Querent may have. The need for this arises for either one of two major causes. Firstly, the Querent may feel unable or unwilling to discuss any such problem. This could be caused by embarrassment, or by a desire to test the perceptiveness of the Reader. The second reason, the more frequent one, is that the Querent sees the problem at one level, and the Reader at another.

A good example of this might be as follows. A young lady comes to me and states that her problem is that she cannot find a man who really cares for her; she has plenty of attention, but it is of the wrong kind, and what she really is looking for is a loving, cherishing husband. I don't even pick up the cards, but merely chat with her whilst observing her. I notice she is wearing a very smart dress with all the right accessories; she has paid attention to all the fine points like hands, hair, nails as well as make-up and handbag. She has brought out her fine points, and has a habit of smiling at me as she talks, facing me but never looking directly at me with her eyes more than a fraction of a second. Her dress in no way conceals her physical charms, with which she is well-endowed; in every way she gives the impression of making every man she meets feel that he is attractive to her. Small wonder that she gets plenty of attention. She makes this habit of flirting a standard for every man she meets; she cannot know in the space of a few minutes what I, or any other male, am really like, and whether we would ultimately suit. Yet she acts as if she is attracted; this makes me feel that she is not looking for a husband, but just looking for some fun. The more she flirts, the more likely she is to attract fun-lovin' play-boy types, and the less likely a husband. Why does she do it?

Her Hopes and Fears are represented by Judgement; she wishes to get to know herself but is afraid. Her Character card is the Devil, which shows how much she feels locked in. Her Problem card is the Magician, who is somebody who uses his abilities for mundane purposes. Suddenly I realize that her real problem is that she is afraid that the type of man she really wishes for would not find her good enough; should she find him, he would disapprove of her. In order to avoid putting this to the test, she tries to attract a totally different sort of man, of whom she can disapprove. That way she avoids the danger of being judged and found wanton.

I can now say that her real problem is her lack of confidence in the goodness of her character. When she solves that problem, she won't need to flirt desperately with every man, and can instead spend her energy trying to attract the man who really matters to her.

Many people approach the Tarot Reader wishing to test his 'psychic' qualities. Their attitude is one of- 'If you can see the real problem, then I'll trust you'. This raises some very interesting points.

In the first place, is it important for you to raise their confidence? It is important to a commercial fortune-teller, who must earn enough to live on, and can only do so by inspiring confidence. That is one of the reasons why so many spreads incorporate details of the past or a description of the loved one; they are designed to demonstrate the insight of the Reader. After Sherlock Homes has demonstrated his acute powers of perception and logical reasoning, the reader is left in no doubt that all crimes can be solved by the great detective. The people seeking his aid certainly are, and it is only the stupid bumbling Watson who remains in doubt.

If you are claiming clairvoyant powers, then such a test is certainly a reasonable one. But if you see the Tarot as a means of gaining insight, of understanding and focussing problems and possibilities, then this test will not work, and will prevent the real power of Tarot intuition from working. For this reason, I usually explain that you can only get out of a reading what you put into it, and that anything I tell the Querent is designed to help the Querent, not the Reader.

Before leaving this interesting spread, I would like to mention that I feel this spread is best done using the Major Arcana cards alone. Obviously it can be done with the whole pack, or just the Minor Arcana, but I strongly feel that the type of questions raised and answered is best done using the section of the Tarot with the deepest meanings.

The other spread in this chapter on multi-level non-directional spreads is based on the Tree of Life. The Tree of Life is a diagram which is used to explain the relationship between Man and God and anything in between. It is the product of a Medieaval esoteric study of the Old Testament by Jewish philosophers but did not really become of great interest to Western occult students until Levi and Crowley connected the Tarot with the Tree of Life. The study of the Qabalah is an interesting pursuit on its own, and there are plenty of books about it; all that interests us at this stage is the pattern of the Tree of Life:




















The general idea was that the higher you went, the nearer God, and the lower you went, the further away. 'Kether' means the Crown, and is the highest point Man can imagine, whereas 'Malkut' means the Kingdom (of things that you can hold and eat) and is identified with the body of Man, i.e. the body without the soul. There is a lot more to it, but for the present we are just going to take the pattern as a spread on which to lay out cards:



































The table below will give their meanings, and for comparison it also gives the names of the parts of the original Tree of Life together with the translation into English.

1. Kether          Crown              Intelligence of the Querent

2. Chokmah      Wisdom            The Querent's Father

3. Binah            Understanding   The Querent's Mother

4. Chesed         Mercy              Virtue, the good qualities of the Querent

5. Gevurah        Judgement        Conquest, the intellectual force of the Querent

6. Tipheret        Beauty              The ability to give; self-sacrifice

7. Netzach        Eternity             Love and lust of the Querent

8. Hod              Splendour          Procreation, arts and crafts

9. Yesod           Foundation        Imagination, creativity

10. Malkut        Kingdom           The physical body

As far as the Tarot is concerned, only the last column is relevant; I've only included the first two columns to show the link to the original Tree. Let us look at the spread on p. 129.

You will notice that the spread is divided into three vertical columns and four horizontal zones. These will provide us with further information after we have read the cards under the individual chapters.

First we must choose the cards. If you are using only the Major Arcana you will need ten cards; if you are using the whole deck, select thirty, three for each chapter. Naturally, if you use the whole deck, you will analyse the Querent in terms of the proportion of Major and Minor Arcana cards, and the numbers in each suit. The expected number of Major Arcana cards is between eight and nine; be suspicious if there are more than 10 or fewer than 7. More than 11 or fewer than 6 must prompt you to further questioning. Divide the Minor Arcana cards by four, and see which suits are average, over-represented or under. Analyse your Querent's character accordingly.

The next step is to look at the first three cards, and to form a synergetic concept so as to describe his ideals, his vision. This, in a sense, will be Hopes and Fears; an area he aspires to but cannot reach for some reason or other. Some ideals will never be reached, and others will be reached after a new, higher goal has been formulated. Cards 4, 5 and 6 represent what the Querent thinks he can do, what he is able to do and feels he ought to do. Cards 7, 8 and 9 are about what the Querent would like to do, but feels he oughtn't - it's either illegal, immoral or fattening. The last card, from this point of view, represents the unconscious and instinctual parts of the Querent.

Now we look at the vertical columns. Cards 3, 5 and 8 taken together will allow us to look at the way the Querent is practical, strict, no-nonsense, and destructive; that the column is female should come as no surprise to those of us who have heard of Kali. Don't forget that things have to be destroyed before the new can be built; destruction is necessary. Cards 1, 6, 9 and 10 show the moderate, spiritual and preservative aspects of the Querent; these are areas of balance, of care and cherishing. The last column shows the aspect of the Querent that is male, creative, intellectual, liberal; the attributes we officially admire in Western civilization.

The three vertical columns give us a different way of looking at the individual than the horizontal way. It is almost as if we have first looked at his profile, and now we are looking en face. What we are trying to build eventually is a fully three-dimensional picture. Preferably in colour, with sound and movement. It is up to the Reader whether he combines the three or four cards in any column to give a single synergetic new concept, or whether he combines columns and zones in order to define the 'practical vision' (i.e. Card 3) of the Querent, as opposed to the 'creative desire' (i.e. Card 7). There's lots of scope to form adjacencies of concepts, rather than cards. Of course, if you have chosen to use the full Tarot pack, you can have a field-day.

At last we can get down to individual chapters, and talk about the Querent's father, mother, intelligence and so on. By this time you should know a great deal about the Querent,and the cards in each chapter should speak volumes.

As you have seen, we have descended in order from the spread as a whole, through taking parts of the pack, to individual cards. A full reading, using the Qabala spread of the Tree of Life, will take you at least an hour or so; in order to get the best out of it, use all the different levels.
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