When I saw the Chakra Spread at Kafka’s Ghost Studies Tarot, I immediately queued it up. It is appealing in both subject matter and the challenge it presents, being a large (21 card) spread to begin with and growing larger depending on your “problem areas”. After my recent deck purchases I knew I even had the perfect deck to read with: The Elemental Tarot! It is colourful, with simple, primitive-style images that are just begging for intuitive interpretation and themes that have been altered just enough to make them more applicable; less based in “stuff” and “life”. Besides, it just feels right for chakra reading.
I even – *gasp* – worked reversals into the shuffling process; typical me, when the deck is not designed to be used reversed. I laid the cards out face-down and swirl-shuffled them, repeating this a few times, then hand-shuffled a few more times. My logic behind using reversals for this spread was to get a clear, undeniable indication of areas where my chakras could be blocked specifically, or possibly over-active. I’ve been told time and time again that my throat is practically sealed in concrete – whereas my crown is spread open like a $2 trick at the end of a particularly busy weekend. Well, guess what? Not a single reversal. Not. A. Single. One. 27 cards pulled – just over a third of the deck – and not ONE reversal. So much for that little experiment!
I also chose reversals to help in detecting other energy disruptions. Part of reading the spread includes passing your left hand over the cards, feeling for fluctuations, hot spots, sticky places etc. and I don’t have much experience in this area. The reversals plan didn’t quite work out, but I did get some consistent feedback through my palm (eyes shut, of course). While shuffling, I also sent a very clear message that Majors were to indicate areas of strength – or, if ill-aspected, over-dominance – that I was born with and are essentially Me; Courts pertain to personality – the stuff that’s out there in the world – and Pips to behaviours, attitudes etc. – backup singers.
I got some big surprises in the cards that came up and from the looks of it, I think it was a very positive spread. Now to actually go in depth and see what’s what…
[First – Red] Muladhara/”Root”/Sacrum: group mind, survival/Earth
Here we may find patterns that tell us about the childhood of the querent. The more conservative and the less individuated the querent is, the more influence this area has on the other chakras.
9 of Fire / 17 Star / 10 Fate
Will to live, vitality; the happiness & joy of being honest to oneself; finding one’s true mode of expression through experience –> Forming one’s own opinion; the indefatigable human spirit; optimism –> Change & unrest; personal destiny; some things are completely out of your control
Oh yay! A Major for the foundation card – we’re off to a solid start! The cards together tell a story of finding expression and forming opinions through experience, good and bad. Quite a nice summation of childhood in general.
I consider myself fairly individuated and always have, even as a child. When I was busy, I could be quite intense and angry – see the droplets of fire raining down? – if disturbed. The way the figure is shielding his eyes from the face in the 9 demonstrates this quite well :D (Actually, the expression on the face in the 9 reminds of this picture of Theda Bara. Even the Egyptian-styled headdress matches.) The Star beams blessings down. For all the pain I experienced in the first 7 years of my life, I am blessed with a very loving and supportive family; an environment where I was giving a lot of freedom and encouragement to be my own little person. The Star also speaks of a certain delicateness; a quiet and shy child, with an essentially gentle nature. There’s something in this Star also that causes ripples deep down inside… the feeling of reflecting back… of being primarily a mirror, rather than a “real” person… And the Wheel shows that pain I was referring to: the uncontrollable and incomprehensible ups and downs of the adult world that drag you along, powerless to effect any change of your own.
[Second – Orange] Svadhisthana/”Sweetness”/Genitals: individual mind, desire/Water
This area deals with all desires: sexual, comfort, wealth, respect….It is desire that pulls one out of the group mind and helps one to become an individual, and this is where we begin to define our individuality. It contains patterns that show how one goes about satisfying desire. Often these patterns are formed in adolescence. This area is important for our emotional well-being and for developing the ability to find pleasure.
9 Shaman / 8 Strength / 6 Choice
Willpower, enlightenment; the higher spiritual self; no one else can share this experience –> Positive attitude to others; the self image that one projects onto the world; what I give, I get; recognising oneself and becoming strong –> Selectivity, taste; the individual as shown by the choices they make; choosing to ignore problems or change them and take responsibility for the consequences
Wow. BIG surprise. I thought for sure there’d be something hinky showing up here, what with all my repressed urges, but it looks pretty good on the surface of things. What’s amusing is that I was so surprised at the complete absence of Water cards in this spread, until I saw that this chakra is aligned with water. And it’s the strongest, based on the 3 Majors here :)
The Shaman seems very proud of and comfortable in his individuality, and Strength isn’t doing so badly herself. She doesn’t give a damn about stripping down in the locker room: “Yeah, I ain’t got no butt, so what?” :) These two together are very strong and definitely magickal (“piglet” photo from Tori Amos’ “Boys for Pele”, which is funny because I linked her to Strength via Circe a while back. The Shaman makes me think of the highest highs of the mental and spiritual plains and Strength the deepest, darkest depths of earth and blood and living; a powerful combination. It’s not without it’s problems though – Choice shows the potential for conflict, temptation and difficult decisions. You’re still basically dealing with two opposite forces and they’re not always going to see eye-to-eye. Strength can be a bit of a devil and the Shaman’s aesthetic tendencies sometimes lead him down the path of self-flagellation, but what else can you expect in the Water chakra?
[Third – Yellow] Manipura/”Precious Jewel”/Solar Plexus: self-identity, ego/Fire
This is fully developed in young adulthood. The patterns here describe the querent’s will, self-esteem, and power. A healthy ego is a necessary stage of development and allows one to progress to higher states of consciousness. Blocking the development of the ego is not the same thing as overcoming egotism.
4 of Earth / 9 of Earth / Father of Air
Maintaining one’s position in life; achievement of financial and material security; success in one’s career or ambitions –> Pleasure, power of attraction; realizing true satisfaction with what one has; sharing one’s wealth or abilities and inspiring others –> The power of attainment; a persuasive speaker, cool, detached & logical; dominating others through own ideas & words
This is the chakra where I felt something. First time moving upwards, a tiny “punch” at the base of my thumb, then again on the downwards journey. Once I’d laid out the 2 outer cards and was testing for areas where clarifiers were needed, I felt another little “punch” further down the base of my thumb (the mount of the moon, I think?)
Drawing the 9 of Pentacles as the foundation card for this chakra, together with the physical sensations experienced here, makes me think that this chakra is ready to “ascend”. Savitri is a solar deva whose name means “impeller, rouser, vivifier” and the 9 looks so joyous, surrounded by bubbles of light and spurred on by her companions. Beautiful energy. But look to her left: the scaredy-cat 4, holding on to what she knows, surrounding herself in a fortress and subsequently, stuck in a box. Clay. Mud. And the Father of Air… he’s literally talking down to the people in the card, bursting their bubbles and causing them to fall from the sky. His one cheek blushes with excitement and the other is covered in tears. If this is about the ego developed by young adulthood, I can tell you it’s not very healthy at all. But that’s changing, so how about…
Moving this energy onwards and upwards:
Father of Water / 10 of Air / 18 Moon
Harmonious relationships with others; a caring and understanding friend, a good psychologist; highly imaginative –> Limitation of freedom; complete breakdown of an idea or concept; mental desperation through being trapped in a system in which one can no longer believe –> Inner experience, soul; the unconscious self; there are hidden things that cannot or will not be revealed
First thing I notice is how these cards mimic the previous three: the Father of Water has his arm crossed and looks left; Cyclone dances, although it is a dance of distress; and the Moon shows a mask like the Father of Air’s face.
I think Cyclone here shows what will happen if this change does not occur; if I keep myself trapped like the 4 of Earth. What’s comfortable and secure now will be a depressing, back-breaking prison later and I will only be reborn in blood at that point. Rather do like the Father of Water – pull the top off and let it all flow free. The Moon says to seriously reconsider the face I show and how attached I am to that particular mask (or any of the other dozens I have stashed away) – in this case, the cool, logical, untouchable Father if Air. How long can I pretend, and at what cost? What is my ego, exactly? Who is it? I am a little Moon-child after all, but she’s been hidden away for so long…
[Fourth – Green] Anahata/”Unstruck”/Heart: relationships, love/Air
This is the area of true maturity, where we go beyond thinking only about ourselves and develop compassion. The heart is where we interact with the world. It is the center of feeling, not emotion, but a deep decision-making function where our values are created. We may find patterns here that depict jealousy, shyness, love, grief, empathy, or courage.
7 Victory / 1 of Fire / Mother of Fire
Fighting spirit, will; aggression & competitive instinct; accepting aggression & anger and allowing it healthy expression –> Harmonious willpower, enterprise; creation, vitality, the urge to success; individuality, originality & enthusiasm –> Desire to become a public figure; a mature woman who successfully manages family & creative career; positive, direct & caring, can be domineering & overpowering
Yowza, those are some FIERCE cards! Wait… Queen of Wands! Queen of Wands! A ha ha ha haaaaa – seriously, don’t fuck with these guys, ‘cos they’ll annihilate you. I guess we know now where my general rage, RAGE against the injustices of the world comes from. Some things really just speak for themselves… I am finding this all supremely amusing, even as I recognise that I could probably do with a little tempering in this area.
No, actually, this is the area where I most often get told to calm down and it makes me MAD! Should I be ashamed or have to apologise for feeling things more deeply than a lot of people? There is potential for great strength here, but instead I’ve had to put a lid on it and now it’s like a pressure cooker ready to blow and steam your face right off (heyyyy, fire + air!) Sigh. This is the place, this is the root of my biggest issues, slap-bang in the middle, jamming up traffic on both sides. Note to self: a separate spread is in order.
[Fifth – Turquoise] Visshudha/”Purification”/Throat: self-expression, communication/Ether
This area has to do with one’s occupation, creativity, and ability to speak. The chakras above the heart tend to relate to their parallel center below the heart. The throat relates to the solar plexus. A healthy ego supports eloquence and creative expression. A negative self-image will lead to the inability to speak or to express emotions, or may lead one into a stifling job. What we do for a living and how we express ourselves will also affect our self-image. We may find patterns here of shyness or excessive talking, an energy block, or artistic ability and free expression.
7 of Fire / 4 of Air / 6 of Air
Sudden, extraordinary effort; to break loose from well-tried ways by risking something outrageously new; self-generated change to find new challenges, rebellion –> Conventional thinking; security in one’s knowledge & understanding; confidence that one’s traditional approach will resolve all demanding situations –> Successful mental activity; the pleasure of broadening mental & physical horizons; confidence that one will be listened to and respected
Despite the absence of reversals in ye olde throat chakra, it’s clear that everything isn’t all nice and smooth and free-flowing here, especially in reading the descriptive paragraph of this chakra. Inability to express emotions? Check. Stifling job? Check. Blocked artistic ability? Check. Hopefully the stirrings I felt in the Solar Plexus are a sign of movement here too.
The foundation card of 4 of Air/Swords is usually a card of respite, but here I see it as a card of coma. The dove (emotions) is trapped by the mind; kept in check, so all the body can do is lie there. It reminds me of the Egyptian Ka – without it, a body is just so much meat. But some how, that blue body has stirred itself in the 7 of Fire. What the 7 shows and what it means are both fitting: there is anger and conflict of ideas and the person in the middle has had enough and is diving into a complete change of scenery – “self-generated change to find new challenges”. I think this reflects quite well where I am right now. The 6 of Air shows both the inherent desire and the possible outcome of breaking free: expansion in all directions and being master (rather than a prisoner) of your own world. So how do I get there?
Moving this energy onwards and upwards:
Daughter of Fire / 1 of Water / Son of Air
Working to a common end, cooperation; young woman with creative ideas and energy to organize projects; good at getting a team going or an exhausting workaholic –> Excitement, impulsive emotion; a great release of emotional energy after a period of control; overwhelming desire to express deep feelings –> Persuasive talking; intelligent, persuasive & devoted to campaigning for causes in which one believes; getting into action when injustice is seen
Huh, more mimicry: fire-fire, dove-dove (emotions), air-air. The Daughter seems to be bringing a message (communication), as does the dove in the top left of her card. Doves usually carry love letters… Her spirit of cooperation and clear communication smooths the conflict in the 7 of Fire. She frees the dove from its cage, causing much celebration. This allows the Son of Air to achieve mastery of the Open Air and give voice to and balance the warring urges. I have a very strong feeling that thee 3 cards are talking about the Heart chakra; of how to heal and balance it by strengthening the Throat.
[Sixth – Indigo] Ajna/”To Perceive”/Head: thinking, intuition/Light
This is where we develop our perception and philosophy and make decisions. Thinking can be thought of as a product of the energy rising up from the lower chakras. It parallels the desires of the genitals and seeks ways of fulfilling these desires, or it can go beyond thinking about hopes and fears and allow this energy to ascend to the crown, its ultimate goal. Intuition stems from the energy that comes down from the crown. It is a message from the higher self and can help to clarify our thoughts. This energy wants to descend to the sacrum and manifest in physical reality. In this area we may find patterns of obsession, delusion, or denial, or clear-sightedness, intelligence, imagination, and intuition.
19 Sun / 8 of Earth / 5 of Earth
Self-knowledge, the conscious self; seeing things as one did when a child; vibrant, alive, aware –> Tenacity & high achievement after extreme self-discipline & hard work; self-recognition for hard-won skills & abilities; a stage where one is confident & secure –> Strange conduct, disappointment; forced material change of direction through unexpected events; the necessity to move from a position of security to the unknown
Oh hi! That’s me in the middle, held hostage by the two extremes of my mental functioning: joy and light and freedom on the one, desperate despair and hopelessness in the face of life and happiness on the other. This is the face of depression and obsessive compulsive personality and it is not pretty.
“Quake” is a very accurate word for the 5 of Earth here, because that is the kind of drastic, world-changing energy that is needed to shake out of that hostage, “I give up” mindset; to bring down the Mountain, which – unless something is done to change things – will stay just as it is, where it is, practically forever. This is odd though, with the Sacral chakra seeming so strong… why is there all this nonsense going on here? Is it that the Choice card is too much in effect? I’ve been told – for what it’s worth – that I have great potential whizzing around this chakra, if I’ll just open that third eye and see. Linking this set to the Sacral and particularly looking at the Sun, I see a strong wanting to be self-actualised, but not knowing how to do it. Everyone else seems to be able to run around happily unfettered, but I can’t lift my butt off my throne of despair. But wait! There is a star on my throne – all is not lost! Look to the beginning…
[Seventh – Violet] Sahasrara/”Thousandfold”/Crown: cosmic mind, destiny/Thought
This center is actually the place where the system opens to the psychic energy of the cosmos and transforms this energy into the individual personality. It parallels the tribal group of the sacrum center with the universal collective of the unconscious. This is where we are in contact with the higher self. Just as the patterns that are found in the sacrum have to do with the past, the patterns found in the crown have to do with the future. This is advice from the higher self about where we should head. We may call it destiny.
3 Empress / 3 of Earth / 0 Fool
Feminine influence, caring; the experienced feminine self; accepting the responsibility of one’s feelings and strength to nourish & sustain –> Success due to perseverance; reaping some benefits of hard physical work before moving to the next stage; celebration –> Idealism & inspiration; the root of one’s abilities, talents & potential; making a decision to start afresh, open to new possibilities within oneself that have not yet been explored
::clapping & excited seal noises:: Happy cards, happy cards! I love how the shapes of the triangle, spreading leaves and branches of the Fool’s tree look like an opened Crown; the way the hands in the 3 are offering up or pushing upwards and faces engaging in happy discourse. The Mother carries the seed that sprouts in the 3 and grows into the Fool’s tree. That Ptah is the god of the 3 of Earth is especially lovely and especially lovely for me. I see him embodied in the Magician and he is the consort of Sekhmet, whose Indian cousin, Durga, usually rides a tiger (sometimes a lion) like the Mother. This 3 is the epitome of balance and harmony, but not stagnation, for there is too much growth and dynamism in the image. And fertility. The Mother, Fruits… abundance. The Fool says “it’s only just begun; you must decide how to continue.” As far as advice from the Higher Self as to where I should head, I think this message is that I’ve made a good start, at least.
So in the words of the inimitable Tim Gunn: Carry on!
Stats for Funsies:
- 9 Majors (10 with helper cards)
- Unbroken Majors 6-10, 17-19
- 4(5) Fire, 0(2) Water, 3(5)Air, 5 Earth
- Mother & Daughter of Fire, Father & Son of Air
- Foundation Quint = 5 Pope/Belief (Who’s a 5? Who’s a 5??
- Overall Quint = 9 Shaman/Will (11 Law/System)
- Quints for 2nd & 6th – corresponding chakras – are both 5 Pope/Belief
- Quints for 1st, 4th & 7th are found in 2nd
- Quint for 5th is 1st Foundation, Quint for 4th is 2nd Foundation