Elemental Strengths & Weaknesses Spread

I’ve been itching and twitching to do another reading, but haven’t been able to find the time or opportunity to sit down, quietly, by myself and focus enough to do a successful draw. Sunday night it just became too much; the Dark of the Moon positively threw me over its shoulder and hauled me upstairs to make matters right. What better time to stretch my intuition and make an objective appraisal of my navel?

The spread I chose is one I’ve been thinking of for a while. The “elements” is a recurring theme in my artwork and the tarot lends itself perfectly to basing a spread on this theme. The Minors already contain the 4 commonly recognised Western elements of earth, air, fire and water and the Majors are an excellent representation of the Soul. I laid the cards out in a star/pentagram shape, to denote the humanity of this spread. The inner ring of cards are the elements in their weakest state as expressed in myself, the outer, in their most exalted. The card at the centre is the sum total of the elements showing who I am right now.

Truth-Seeker's Tarot by Sylvie Daigneault and David Fontana; Duncan Baird, 2008

Truth-Seeker’s Tarot by Sylvie Daigneault and David Fontana; Duncan Baird, 2008

Fire

Weakest – Ace of Wands
Exalted – 3 of Wands

Numerologically speaking, Fire appears to be the least “mature” of my elements. I always see Fire as an “action” element; it gets things done. I really am more of a thinker than a doer; the joy in any project for me comes from figuring it out, rather than making it happen.

My first thought on the Ace is “single-minded” and then, “stick-in-the-mud”. Definitely not very mature. This attitude is reflected both in my personality and in my actions. I am stubborn to the point of sometimes not wanting to allow for any other option, even if I recognise it as being valid. Petulance at its finest. Sometimes I just want things my way; why can’t I be right for a change?? It makes me very angry – watch that volcano erupting back there. I also get stuck in projects; run out of steam or just become completely disheartened. Bored. That poor Wand is sitting there in the dirt, all by itself and it needs some help in order to grow. I need an outside source of Fire to push me onwards and upwards. And let’s not forget the horrible, horrible procrastination that takes on a daily basis.

The 3 shows a bit of progress, thankfully. It is the direct result of the Ace getting the assistance it needs: 1+2=3. I am very much a solitary worker – there is no “I” in “team” – so two of the Wands are shown supporting the third, rather than the three being aligned. I just need encouragement and backup; an opinion, input. There is huge potential here, but it is yet to be realised. Early days, early days.

Air

Weakest – Princess of Swords
Exalted – Queen of Swords

Opposite to Fire, Air appears to be my strongest element. No Pips here; it’s all Courts, all personality, baby! I’ve got Mercury in Gemini, my brain is my strongest – and deadliest – weapon and I’m not afraid to use it.

I really have to respect the way this deck is forcing me to look at myself from another angle; to re-evaluate what I hold most dear within me. Here’s my beloved Princess again, but she’s not so much Cinderella as the Ugly Stepsister. This is another “maturity” position. The Princess is a darling and people forgiver her for much of her failings because she’s just so gosh-darn charming and delightful, but she can be a right cruel bitch when she wants to be.

“There was a little girl,
who had a little curl,
right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good
she was very, very good,
but when she was bad she was HORRID!”

Absolutely. The Princess is smart and cultured and educated; she knows how she should behave in polite society, but has a rebellious streak. Sometimes, she just doesn’t give a damn. Sometimes, she wants to see the scullery maid cry. It gives her sick pleasure. She picks fights because it’s her turn and things aren’t fair and her way is the right way. She cries in private, behind closed chamber doors, disgusted and ashamed of herself and at the injustice of life. She really doesn’t want the responsibility of royalty; she doesn’t know if she can handle it. She doesn’t want to handle it. She’d much rather be running around outside, unrestrained. But she can never express any of this, for above all, she is Mistress of Secrecy to the point of deceit. It is her invisible shield.

And here the Princess is, all grown up. Wiser and a whole lot more choosy over the battles she fights. She’s still got her quick wit and sharp tongue, but she exercises it with more caution, aware of the unnecessary damage it can cause. She’s adjusted to the weight of wearing a crown, but she has not forgotten her roots. This is not a lion caged, it is a lion tamed. “Aloof” has transformed into “objective”. She sees and speaks with honesty – about herself included – and is open-minded and able to entertain all possibilities, even though they might be distasteful to her. The Queen has self-discipline and is master of her own destiny, no longer playing the victim; no longer lying about and, most importantly, to herself.

Something to think about is the relationship between Air and Fire. Air fuels Fire, but too much puts the Fire out. I need to address this imbalance and practice being more “outside” of my head to get things done. I don’t know yet if this exercise in tarot journaling qualifies… or am I just continuing the pattern of avoiding what I should be doing instead? I am finally actually doing something concrete with my interest and study, even if it involves much introspection. Perhaps that’s the key: the combination of thought and action to rewire my programming?

Earth

Weakest – 5 of Pentacles
Exalted – 10 of Pentacles

Earth is probably the element I am most “blind” to; least in touch with. It defeats me, swallows me, buries me. I feel oppressed just looking at most of the Pentacles cards. Trapped. When I think of the element Earth, I assign it to “Life”. This is a truly awful connection to make if that’s how Earth makes me feel, but it’s true. I’m not very grounded. Never have been and don’t have much of a desire to ever be. I’d much rather be out there, somewhere, floating, flying, soaring. Dodging, avoiding, shirking, refusing. Oh dear.

So the 5 of Pentacles is back to taunt me. There is a message here, which I am obviously having a hard time grasping. Or perhaps having a hard time doing anything about (needs more Wands!) The same thoughts come to mind as before: “trapped”, “bottle-necked”, “about to explode”, “suffocating”, “stifled” etceteraaah, etceteraaah. I think what’s most important about the 5 this time round is the concept of “hiding”. Not only do I hide my valuables, but I hide from the outside world. Life. BOO-YAH! There is is. The Pentacles are the human/body suit and the 5 is the human number. Being human is a chore. Bound in this mortal coil, I feel trapped by my humanity. I do, I do! It is tiresome and frustrating and so fucking limiting. Goddamnit I want to escape!

But. Look what can be achieved when that humanity is allowed to be expressed. Now the tight prison tower is a peaceful sanctuary, with divine light streaming through the stained glass windows. The Body doesn’t house the Soul, the Soul envelops the Body. Everything is beautiful and illuminated. The 5 Pentacles have blossomed into the Tree of Life. No longer hiding from Life or feeling trapped by it; now everything is interconnected. The achievement of Da’at.

Yeah. Wow. These 2 cards… There really isn’t a progression. It’s either-or. Half or Whole. A choice. I have a blinding headache now. It physically hurts me to (admit) hold this idea in my head.

Water

Weakest – Queen of Cups
Exalted – 9 of Cups

Well here’s an element that needs no introduction. And in saying that, I need to be careful not to be too glib about it. I need to pay attention to what’s going on and actually see what’s here, rather than what I “think” I see.

The Queen of Cups is commonly associated with the sign of Cancer – surprise! To save some time, let’s just copy this paragraph from Understanding the Tarot Court:

Hypersensitive (to criticism and disharmony); unstructured; unreliable; easily distracted; disorganized; unrealistic; irrational; unambitious; lazy; unfocused; sentimental; gullible; idle; moody; fluctuating; fantasies and daydreams; maudlin; nostalgic; insipid; vague; frivolous; saccharine; self-centred; bemused; wishy-washy; inconstant; oblivious to time and sometimes people; easily influenced.

I’ll just add “shy” to that list and call it done. It makes me sad that the Queen of Cups appears here in her weakest state, as a lot of my core strengths and abilities are hers too. Maybe this is a warning card: I possess these strengths, but used incorrectly, they flow over to the dark side very easily.

It’s the combination of the two Queens: Swords and Cups. Wind can coax Water into a gentle swell, just enough to keep things moving and fresh, but t can also whip Water up into stormy seas, lashing at the shores and claiming lives. Water merges with Air to make cool breezes and much-needed rain, but too much Water and it turns into a deluge, just as capable of destroying on land as at sea. Water has bogged down the Earth and Air has extinguished the Fire. Kate was right about me being Wind & Water, that’s for sure!

The Queens have a lot in common. More so than any of the other elements. They can be powerfully good together.

Soul

Weakest – The Fool
Exalted – The Moon

Ha! Too bad I haven’t yet posted on “Me & The Fool”, because now my record is ruined :) I never, ever, ever get The Fool in readings. I repeat: never, ever, ever. Ever. But here he is and now I have to deal with him. Hmm. It’s hard, because in terms of Soul, I always see The Fool as positive. If we’re talking behaviour, I can understand need for caution, foolhardy, rushing into things, but for Soul… I think the sense of adventure and faith that The Fool embodies are admirable and desirable. The most negative thing I can see in this scene is the dog biting the Fool’s calf: being pushed forward or afraid of animal instincts.

Let’s examine this concept. The Soul begins its journey through Life towards enlightenment. It makes this journey in a Body. A Soul afraid or at the mercy of its animal instincts would be very uncomfortable and unhappy in its Body. What suit best represents Body? Why, the Pentacles. And what is my hang-up with the Pentacles? Feeling trapped and unhappy. Now in this card, the Fool doesn’t look afraid so much as uncertain. I think he knows he’s heading into the Abyss, but is worried about the unknown. Or rather, worried about his reasons for heading there. No, I think this Fool needs the push. This is this Fool’s journey: to be comfortable in his own skin. To accept his humanity and embrace its depths and darkness.

Wow. Wow wow wow! Eeeeee! This is too perfect. What a glorious outcome for the Fool! I know this card is supposed to be “scary”, but all I see is emergence and awakening and claiming of Power. After plummeting into the abyss and the river below, the Fool is swept out to sea and is transformed to his base element. The cranky crayfish (old-timey symbol for Cancer) climbs out of the water, shaking off the darkness to bathe in the illumination of the moon. It is a baptism. An awakening into unconsciousness; awareness; opening of the third eye. The dog that pushed the Fool over the edge howls at the moon with his mate, who is pregnant with possibility; creativity. The offspring of Light & the Dark. The Princess of Swords hunts in this moonlight, the embodiment of Diana. Come to think of it, Diana (or Artemis) is a virgin goddess, untouched, innocent. The Fool is a card of innocence too, but of unknowing innocence… Pay attention: the moon is waxing – things are getting brighter and clearer.

The Moon usually indicates fear as well. Fear with an “F”. But with this card showing in an exalted position and the crayfish emerging from the safety of its home, maybe here it is a card of facing and conquering fear. Having plunged into the abyss and come to the surface again, the Fool can face the wild darkness and be at peace with it, even use it. Claiming his purpose and living up to a higher calling, despite the danger and uncertainty ahead.

I’m loving this little synchronicity: I chose to do this reading at the Dark Moon, a powerful time for wild magic, as embodied by The Moon card. I did it on Sunday the 18th. The Moon is the 18th card.

An astute observation by Ginger:

“… maybe the moon card is trying to tell you something about your question… For example… maybe it is saying the highest expression of self is an illusion… that every tiny small mundane things we do are an expression of our self… tiny things add up… it doesn’t have to be something huge…”

This absolutely makes sense: the illusion that we are bigger than we are; that we have a higher purpose; that we mean more in a universal sense. No Self transcends these concepts of individuality. And that’s why I’m not yet the World.

The Sum of Who I am Now

The Star

Yay! I

The Star is one step away from The Moon. And if I thought my head hurt before, I was wrong. Now it hurts. 3 things I’m picking up:

1. I am on the right path. I’ve been feeling as calm as the Star since I removed myself from the situation and focused on myself and what I want, rather than what I feel I should want.

2. Take a drink, rest for a bit and then take a deep breath! The deepest, darkest depths are yet to come. Also, strip off anything that will drag you under.

3. I am close. I don’t know how close, but close.

And hope. Hope.

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