The Aeclectic forums are a wealth of information and there are dozens upon dozens of spreads to choose from. This is another that really spoke to me and is in keeping with delving deeper and deeper into the root of my malaise, while simultaneously opening myself up and learning to trust my intuition as more than just “stuff I make up”.
From the creator’s description:
“Cinderella had a hard life, but how much of it was her own doing? My belief is that she made herself a victim of that abuse her stepmother and stepsisters dealt out to her. So this spread is based on what makes us a victim and how to break out of that. You will see that finding your heart’s desire and gaining it and keeping it are not one in the same.”
Ooooh! What artist isn’t a victim in some way? And where do we draw the line between being a victim of x circumstance/event and being an x circumstance/event victim? There is a big difference in meaning contained in that small change of wording. Let’s investigate!
 Sitting in the Ashes – This represents what locks us into our own victim mentality. Watch for extremely positive cards here as these may indicate false sunshine.
5 of Pentacles
The 5 of Pentacles makes another appearance, right after it last “told me off” for creating my own misery. Interestingly, the questions it answered are practically the same: what do I not want to face vs. what locks me into the “Victim” persona. Not wanting to deal with the problem is a sure way of becoming stuck. Interesting choice of wording in the question too: “locks”. This is precisely what I see in this card: things locked up. Potential, gifts, happiness even. Locked away where no one can see them, where they can’t be utilised, left to wither and rot, stifling in the darkness, rather than be allowed to flourish and grow in the sunlight.
Hoarding, that’s the word I’ve been looking for. The original intentions might be based in protection – saving for a rainy day-, or they might be fear-driven – can’t waste what little I have! – or maybe a little from Column A, a little from Column B. Perhaps there is shame, misdirected as it might be. Shame for the “undeserved” blessings, or shame over not using them as they are meant to be. Whatever the case, I see a self-imposed imprisonment. The Pentacles are human cards, the 5 even more so; this is a human folly.
 Abandoned by death – This represents a physical, mental or spiritual loss that caused us to nosedive into victim mentality.
9 of Wands
First impressions: Building a stairway to Heaven, paradise, not very solid, not complete – stunted, ascension, close to completion? Lots of new growth, tiki, tropical, cloud that hovers has eyelashes (?) -> eye of God?
LWB says: 9 is number of ultimate achievement, symbol for eternal life, depicts the descent of Spirit into Matter, represents & unites fire & water, essential unity of all things, challenging cards: remind us of the opportunities for personal growth & development, as well as foolishness of neglecting these opportunities, levels we can aspire to if we are prepared to discover nurture and use our natural talents, Wands represent our creative abilities
And? This card pretty much confirms my feeling that the 5 of Pentacles references my given creative talents, the fact that I don’t use them and that I should. That doing so would aid me in reaching the heights to which I aspire; the feeling of peace and personal fulfillment that comes from daring to risk failure in order to achieve your…”destiny” isn’t quite the right word, but something like that.
How this pertains to a loss? I think it is most likely the loss of faith in my own abilities; a loss of that childhood freedom that allows us to create freely and openly, without knowledge – let alone, fear – of judgement. Although, from precious readings, there is the fact that even as a child I seemed to be ashamed of my creativity. I would definitely classify this as primarily a spiritual loss; creativity and the act of creation is very closely tied to my spiritual health, which in turn affects my mental and then physical health.
Incidentally, I have a fear of step-ladders, as portrayed in this card. I don’t trust them. Again, there is fear, distrust. Fear and distrust.
 Ugly Stepsister #1 – This represents how our victim mentality affects us on a physical level.
7 of Pentacles
First impressions: Difficult to see a “negative” here, 7 is a holy/magic/powerful number, the garden is beautiful, the only potential for imbalance I see is in the arrangement of the Pentacles: they aren’t quite laid out “right”, again the feeling of something crucial missing from the picture (although there is definitely potential)
LWB says: 7 symbolizes spirituality, mystery, magic & occult; number of creation, concerned with imagination, dreams and openness to the hidden realities behind the world of appearances, Pentacles represent the knowledge of the secret potential that is hidden.
And? By not living up to my full potential ie. by not manifesting my creative gifts physically, I am denying myself entry into that garden; access to that knowlege? Or maybe this is a more direct reference to my not using my “occult” gifts? I don’t know if I believe I have any “otherworldy” gifts, even though I’ve had small experiences that would demonstrate otherwise and been told outright by other people that I have abilities. I just don’t see myself as special in that way. It seems… presumptuous. There is also a fair amount of hiding going on – we all know how “those” kinds of people are treated and I am always careful to hide the most not-mainstream parts of me.
 Ugly Stepsister #2 – This represents how our victim mentality affects us on a mental level.
First impressions: I’ve never liked The Emperor, though this one is less offensive than usual. He seems more real, more human and less judgemental and Zeus-like. It’s still really hard for me to get anything from this card… I must have a massive block set up against what’s being said here!
LWB says: Represents objectivity and the power of the will, necessary for both earthly & spiritual success, eagle on shield represents sun & Heaven -> warning too that strong will can become egotistical, sceptre represents union of Heaven & Earth, soft crown shows power must be exercised with compassion, how does the Emperor’s power manifest in me? Strive for masculine aspect to be strong, dynamic & imaginative, rather than forceful, rigid & uncreative.
And? So, for the “physical affect”, I got a “physical” card, and the “mental affect” I get a card that represents the will. Ha ha! I love it when the cards sass me. Although, I should be grateful they are playing nice and being so helpful and easy. Thank you, cards ;)
Thinking back to the Hidden Sorrows spread again, the Empress appeared as a symbol of how I deal with my sorrows positively on a day-to-day basis. I see her as a symbol of femininity manifest. So then it makes sense that the Emperor would appear here as a possible negative: a warning that I let my animus run the show far too often, sacrificing my identity in favour of a mode of thought that is encouraged and praised in common society. Very likely a reference to the way my father shaped how I think, both superficially and on a far deeper level. We are very similar, and yet I railed (quietly, seething inside) against him too.
He looks stiff and uncomfortable – that’s what always bothers me! I am not comfortable in my own thoughts, because I’m wearing a “man” suit!
 Wicked Stepmother – This represents how our victim mentality affects us on a spiritual level.
King of Cups
First impressions: A father-figure of some kind again, but older; Poseidon, a male force tempered by water, mythical, triumphant, “What ho!”, bringing the celebratory cup, the cup of secrets -> Grail?
LWB says: At their finest the tarot Kings represent the Spirit, divine essence that brings unity & gives life to all things, Cups represents hasty & impulsive ruler who is full of enthusiasm but can be somewhat lacking in stamina, reminder to resolve inner conflicts into creative tension
And? The cards do it again: a Spirit card for a spirit question :) I am nothing if not enthusiastic, particularly about anything that is new and interesting. I quickly become bored though. I’ve never thought about the effects this might have on a spiritual level though. I do live with a constant sense of failure at all the things I start and never finish; over never accomplishing anything concrete (ie. not water). Hmm, I see the King adding new cups to his trident; collecting new experiences, but not doing much with them.
The King of Cups and The Emperor are facing off! Or at least, opposite; they are not antagonistic towards each other (there are enough similarities) If I can blend the two together…
 Invitation to the ball -This represents your own desire to change.
7 of Swords
7 again, with Swords representing the knife the Magician uses to cut the cord that will free the concealed potential of the 7 of Pentacles and allow it to be manifest, once it has been transformed.
On the one hand, I see a heavily guarded gate, barring the way to freedom beyond the man-made city of ideas. I hate to admit it, but could this represent a lack of desire to change? My fear that going out there into the Great Unknown poses danger?
On the other hand, some of the work – the desire to change – has been done: 4 swords are firmly stuck in the ground, while 3 are undecided, waiting for direction. The more I look at it, the more this second option seems more right. The swords point downwards, in a non-confrontational manner. If they were defending, they would be upraised. I also see those last 3 swords slotting in very neatly between the other 4. MAYBE: the 4 in the air are the barriers that have been removed, and those planted are the remaining blocks I need to remove! Yes!
 Fairy Godmother – Who or what will help you change.
10 of Swords
First impressions: Swords raised in triumph, the grass at the bottom looks like it’s clapping, or handing the swords up, like the 10 of Cups this shows multiple options – gifts without end, though less gifts and more tools, ways to solve the problem
LWB says: 10 is the final stage in a sequence: the journey through the Minor Arcana, achievement, culmination, completion, unity between the One and Eternity, 10s represent achievement or possibility thereof; Swords are what we fight against, question whether we have chosen the right targets to fight and whether we stay silent when we should speak out.
And? The desire to change and the instrument of this change are from the same suit. Does this card represent exploring ideas, or rather, putting those ideas into action? The concept of unity points toward cohesion between mind (ideas) and nature (spirit). Choosing not to let the differences between these two cause battles – stop fighting. The Emperor and the King of Cups!
I hear the urging to speak out where I have remained silent in the past. This will be a more difficult challenge to overcome. Hopefully, this journaling is a step towards validating the sense in speaking and sharing; getting the ideas out into the open, quite literally!
 The prince – This represents your true heart’s desire.
Princess of Swords
Hey there, Princess! Another Swords card. I still see her as the idealised version of myself; the free warrior. It is a very romantic and fantastical ideal, but then, I was raised on fairytales :) She is the culmination of the previous 2 cards (3rd time’s the charm!) As the LWB says: “The Princess is… the source of our intuitive wisdom and much of our creative genius” and “Swords… shows her ability to cut through falsehood and pretense.” She represents my desire to “get over” myself, my self-doubt, my excuses (lies, essentially), the falsehood I display for fear of showing my whole true Self.
The Princess also represents the easy joy of childhood that we all remember and carry deep at our centre. I long to recapture that feeling of pure happiness. I think it is the kind of happiness that comes with self-actualisation, enlightenment, radical acceptance of yourself, the world and the relation between the two.
 Midnight – This represents you fleeing your true desire.
6 of Pentacles
Hmm, interesting. The 6 of Pentacles has also shown itself previously in the Hidden Sorrows spread reading I did. Last time, it was a loss. Now it’s… a fear? An aversion. If the arrows represent highs and lows, I can see this as showing my periods of interest and boredom, exaltation and despair, extreme creative productivity and absolute lethargy and lack. These ups and downs coincide with periods of belief in my skills and abilities and self-doubt so deep and overwhelming that I am unable to consider being creative, let alone actually produce anything.
This is a choice? Yuck. Yuckyuckyuck. But… yes, I suppose it is, in a small way. A choice driven by fear and loss, but a choice nevertheless. Siiiiiigh. So much work to do.
 The shoe – This represents your chance to regain your desire… your reason to fight for it.
8 of Wands
First impressions: 8 happy little Wands dancing through the forest, like something out of Fantasia! It is the same scene as the one on the 9 of Wands, just 1 Wand short. What the Wands were before the loss of Card 2… what they can be again.
LWB says: 8 is most balanced of numbers, form represents indestructability therefore eternity, symbol for heavenly and material worlds, on a personal level satisfies a deep-seated inner longing for symmetry and harmony. Wands represent the spiritual strength that stems from realizing own true nature. 8 reminds us to reflect on whether we are spirit, or mere material accidents in a meaningless universe; should answer this not just through reason & external study, but through deeply felt inner experience. We are the answer to our own question.
And? From a contentious card, to a joyful card. The theme of heaven & earth, spirituality & materiality and the union +/ balance of these two worlds is repeated, along with the promise of ascendant joy that comes with this. This is the Spirit of the Princess of Swords as I see her here: whole and free. The birds fly high, with nothing obscuring the background scenery. This is a card of action; potential realised.
 The search – This represents what you need to become worthy in your own mind of your true desire. This is the shattering of the victim mentality moment.
8 of Pentacles
Another 8, this time one that combines the representation of eternity and eternal life with the 5-pointed star of humanity. The LWB says that this is the most significant of the 8s, standing for our true nature. Although this card follows the 8 of Wands in the reading, it is necessary to achieve this card’s mission before the previous one can be realised.
It is very simple and obvious: to become worthy of my true desire – freedom and joy-, I need to make peace with my true nature. Only then will I and can I stop fleeing from it.
 And they lived Happily Ever After – Outcome of regaining your true desire.
First impressions: Delight, sheer delight! I smiled widely when I pulled this card as the last; it is so obvious. There will be a death, but a freeing death. A transformation.
LWB says: Following the transformation of the Hanged Man this card further emphasizes that it is by dying – shedding the old – that one is reborn; life is eternal, death is simply the spiritual revelation of our true nature; am I ready to discard my ld, self-centred self ad be reborn as someone wiser?
And? Let’s read that again: “Following the transformation of the Hanged Man”. This whole spread is about being the Hanged Man – the card which “suggests that the traveller is guilty of a crime” (uh, duh) – and freeing myself from the illusion of life (that I have created, albeit with the guidance of others). It is time to turn my world right-side-up. There’s not much else to say.
SHADOW CARD: What is the immediate thing holding me back?
5 of Cups
Crap. You again. In light of the other cards in this spread, I see this as a strong comment on my approach to risk, or rather, my aversion to risk when it comes to my emotional/creative endeavours. Too afraid to drink from the Cups, that’s me!>
This spread has the 5-8 of Pentacles, as well as the 7-Princess of Swords-Wands. I see these as pointing towards a real journey or progression, which is what this spread speaks about, loud and clear. There is an ascension through the Minors, towards the Courts and my true desire. There are also several cards with birds flying to the heavens. I believe these symbolise the soul taking flight, or at the very least, the freeing of the mind. In my case, freeing my mind will lead to the freeing of my soul.
Deep breath. Deep, cleansing breath.