Boxed In Tarot Spread

It’s no secret that I suffer from chronic art block, as I whine about it on the reg. I am aware that the reasons for this are a great, big, gnarly ball of intersecting reasons and influences – including hyper INTPuality -, but despite knowing the “why” (or thinking I do), I cannot seem to begin the untangling process.

Not proud, but so far past being ashamed I'm in danger of burning up on re-entry. If you look closely, you can juuuust about see the ghostly manatee who mourns constantly for the state of my creative space. Sadly, it looked better _before_ my last attempt at organizing FFS [I know where everything is, though.]

Not proud, but so far past being ashamed I’m in danger of burning up on re-entry. If you look closely, you can juuuust about see the ghostly manatee who mourns constantly for the state of my creative space. Sadly, it looked better _before_ my last attempt at organizing FFS [I know where everything is, though.]

That post-apocalyptic landscape is my craft room, in case it isn’t immediately obvious from the piles and bags of things that cover every surface, including the floor. Long story short, I actually operate better (creatively) in a somewhat entropic environment; when I put things away in a Place That Makes Sense, I can never find them again. So the horrible cycle goes something like this:

  • tear the place apart; lack time +/ energy to piece it back together
  • time passes… OVERWHELMED
  • more time passes…  maybe if I add this |paint|paper|glitter| to my creative arsenal it will inspire me to get things organized??
  • lack time +/energy
  • time continues to pass…  TIDY ALL THE THINGS!!!

Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

It’s largely a case of lacking resources – time, energy, storage – to get it all done in one shot. Always 1 step forward, 2… 3… 7… steps back.

And then one day when I walked past the Room of Ten Thousand Sorrows and braved a look (I usually keep the door closed to avoid the pain) I realised: My art block is LITERAL. I am literally, physically blocked from any opportunity of being creative. And it is a block of my own making. It’s to the point where I don’t even know where the self-sabotage ends and the self-preservation beings, or if it even matters anymore.

The layer cake of issues I have surrounding being a non-practising artist is something I’ve been working on seemingly forever, but this is the first time I’ve made the connection to the more literal manner in which I’m standing in my own way. And what does a *woo girl do when faced with a hefty dilemma like this? She turns to an equally hefty spread to gain insight.

The “Boxed In” spread is designed by Keri at Three More Ways. There are 2 versions: Already Boxed In, for when you need to figure out an exit from a situation that already exists, and Being Boxed In, for the solution to a hemming-in situation that is currently in process. Both spreads – along with their full position descriptions – are viewable at the click-through.

My art block is something that already exists – so I will be using the first version of the spread – and I’m taking a 3-pronged approach to the matter: Break it to Me Gently (BoS: As Above), Tell it to Me Straight (Steampunk Tarot) and Words of Wisdom (Goddess Oracle).


Already Boxed In Reading

Book of Shadows etc

Book of Shadows Vol. 1: As Above by Barbara Moore and Simone Gabrielli, Grzegorz Kysinksi, Franco Rivolli & Pietro Scola di Mambro; Lo Scarabeo, 2012 – Steampunk Tarot by Barbara Moore & Aly Fell; Llewlleyn, 2012 – Goddess Oracle by Thalia Took; handmade

[Q] The QuerentHow has being boxed in affected the Querent?

Mother of Air – Ace of Pentacles – (Laverna) Oshun

*snort* Queen of Swords; how unexpected  >:/ Emotionally detached, living in her head, directing things from above with strict control. Keep your distance at all costs.

The Ace of Pentacles suggests that, though I might feel like I am separated from my art self by a yawning chasm, the limitless potential is still right there; I’ve just tucked it away in a secret garden.

The Goddesses split strangely: one card hovered between the two halves and that card was Laverna. Having seen Her once or twice before, I took it to be a confirmation from the deck that we were indeed takking about me. Funny little deck. Oshun’s wisdom tells me to release control – i.e. live outside the box! – and allow the beauty and joy of creativity to flow.


[1] The Box BottomWhat is the foundation/underlying issue(s) that trapped the Querent?
Mother of Water – 3 of Pentacles – Ganga

The combination of Mother of Water and Ganga suggests an overflow or deluge; a (perceived) too much of something. Then there is the presence of a Mother in both the foundation of the block and where I find myself now, moving from a state of burgeoning emotional/intuitive/instinctive -grounded- abundance, to the separation I currently experience. Oshun and Ganga share many similarities – look how they reach for each other! They want to reconnect.

Mother of Water shows the first rainfall after a drought and a woman joyfully welcoming the much-needed moisture. It seems the bottom of the box was put into place at a time that held great potential; at the very beginning of something.

The 3 of Pentacles supports this, showing an artisan getting their first big break. It also connects to the Ace in the Querent position. The mirroring of the cards gives me the idea that the foundation for this block is so sturdy and well-built, that I now believe it to be true; that this is how it always has been and can only ever be.

Ganga’s waters flow from the heavens, right down into the Underworld, or the bottom of the ocean, connecting the Upper with the Lower realms. When She first fell, there was fear that She would drown the world (as in the Mother of Water) and so Her flow was diverted. I think the wisdom She shares here is more confirmation that I am on the right track with finding the root of this issue.


[2] The Wall of FireWhat is subverting the will of the Querent and preventing the Querent from proceeding?
1 of Earth – O The Fool – Isis

These cards illustrate the “smokescreen” that has convinced me there is no way – or reason – to proceed. The 1 of Earth depicts Man in harmony with all the elements, however what I see more is someone bound and pulled in different directions. A sacrifice, even. The first thing I thought of was “drawn and quartered”! Feeling exposed and naked in the face of the world.

Feeling like a fool. A rote beginner. Okay; at this point, I’m pretty convinced this has to do with my first go-round at art school, or even some earlier brush with criticism.

Isis re-made Osiris, tirelessly rebuilding his body – and, by Egyptian standards, his soul – and restoring him to life. She is also a master magician. There is no situation She cannot find a solution to, even if that solution requires a shiny new wooden wang.


[3] The Wall of WaterWhat is dulling the Querent’s instincts?
5 of Earth – 7 of Cups – Ch’ang Ô

(What’s with all the Earth cards??) The 5 of Earth depicts waterfalls so this is something of a double answer; Earth, but also Water. I feel a strengthening of the the “deluge” theme; there is simply too much for there to be focus. Even the sound of a waterfall is important here, as it creates a dull roar that translates to white noise, effectively blocking out higher (a-ha! HIGHER) frequencies.

LOL 7 of Cups: more water; more spoiled for choice-ness. This is so accurate, it hurts. There are simply SO many things I want to do, that I can’t choose where to begin and so I do nothing instead. And at the same time I know some of those cups hold poison, but I don’t know which ones, so there is a certain level of trepidation (based in past experience) to taking a drink.

Ch’ang Ô’s wisdom lies in running away from something you love, out of (misplaced) fear. She abandoned her rich, mortal life to become the Goddess of the Moon – a cold, sterile place – separated from her husband but for one day a month when he could visit her. All due to a misunderstanding. I have a hunch She has something to do with perspective as well.


[4] The Wall of AirWhat is confusing and subverting the Querent’s reasoning?
2 of Fire – 7 of Pentacles – Pomona

The 2 of Fire shows Mercury, god of communication and quick thought. At the same time, Mercury is a zippy little thing, whizzing around the Sun much faster than the Earth. So much faster that it seems to move backwards at times! So then, thoughts – far too many of them – quite literally, spinning.

The 7 of Pentacles is another Earth card (state of being: grounded) and another 7 (state of being: stasis). It says, “The time for harvest is not yet.” You’re not ready. You haven’t prepared enough. You need to do more planning if you want to be successful. You don’t have the skills. Or the talent. Or the training. Or the materials. You can’t start yet. You’re not ready. And excuse me very much, but LIES.

Pomona tells a different story – your garden is beautiful, well-tended, filled to abundance. You may harvest at any time and the fruit will be succulent, ripe and sweet. Whatever you pick, more will grow to replace it; and if you do not, it will rot on the vine.


[5] The Wall of EarthWhat is tying up the Querent’s resources?
10 of Earth – 5 of Wands – Aphrodite

Ha! Day and Night. Life, my friends; life. It has become a self-perpetuating cycle.

The 5 of Wands supports this idea: it’s the constant battle against the little things; the daily skirmishes; the annoying details that use up all my spoons (and borrow some from tomorrow).

Qurrrl; would Aphrodite sweat the little things? Nuh-uhhh. That is so not her division. She has servants for that stuff, allowing Her to fully immerse Herself in experiencing pleasure, love and all things sensual. These things are very much of the Earth in their physicality, but they are hardly the soul-sucking humdrum of the daily grind. Aphrodite advises to rise above and take your joy, wherever it may be.


[6] The Box TopWhat is solidifying the box and sealing the Querent in place?
2 of Earth – Ace of Wands – Hera

That’s really a lotta Earth in a reading for myself… There is an Earth card in every position, so this is the element that forms my prison, if you ask me. Funny that I’ve never been fond of Earth; funnier still that I’ve lately been growing more appreciative of it. Stockholm syndrome, or the beginnings of coming unstuck?

The 2 of Earth and the Ace of Wands present a confusing combination. On the one hand there is the natural ebb and flow; the waters that bring treasures up from the deep, pulling back to reveal it. On the other is the epitome of forceful Will and determination; the classic self-starter who sees no barriers to success (even if they exist). These cards form the lid of the box. I can only think that it refers to my swings – or rather, fluctuations – from casual interest-disinterest-interest-apathy-OMG EXCITE-nevermind-interest. The walls and bottom of the box undermine the OMG EXCITE, never allowing it to develop into something solid.

I get the strongest sense of, “Quit your whining and own it,” from Hera. She holds her staff (Ace of Wands) with authority; She has a big stick and She knows how to use it (and you just keep that nonsense up and She will see just how well!) Her wisdom is of sovereignty; taking charge of the power that is innately yours and weilding it wisely.


[7] The location of the Escape Hatch This card is a location pointer – the Suit element relates back to one of the previous positions
Maiden of Water – 7 of Wands – Kamrusepas

The BoS says the answer lies in Instinct, while the Steampunk says Will. Kamrusepas says it’s all tied together and the answer lies in unraveling the strands. Or maaaaaybe, uniting the strands into a stronger whole – ? Fire and Water are opposing elements, but where there is conflict, there is also catalysis.

The Maiden of Water suggests to me that I return to the source, and to the joy I felt when I created without judgement i.e. early childhood. I think the Maiden and the Mother tell the story of how my attitude towards my creative process and the results thereof, changed as I grew older. (Though this is a Water card, I feel like the blazing sunset in the background pulls the Fire energy in.)

There’s another 7, and a combative card which isn’t especially good. However, the 7 of Wands holds the message of choosing your battles. You can rise above, if you want to (if you allow yourself to?).

Kamrusepas encourages gentle healing through treating oneself with kindness; She is also adept at banishing anger, something I am in no short supply of. It’s funny that I mentioned untangling the ball of reasons why I am where I am in the introduction to this spread – the wisdom of Kamrusepas clearly points to this process. As Thalia says in her description of the card: paralysis can be healed by carefully untangling a situation and letting go of what needs to go. Hence the therapy I guess!


[8] The nature of the Escape Hatch and what is preventing its opening.
6 of Fire – 8 of Pentacles – Blodeuwedd

Saturn, you old jerk. If your balls weren’t already lopped off, I’d be tempted to do the job myself. THERE ISN’T ENOUGH TIME! IT TAKES TOO MUCH TIME! I’VE WASTED SO MUCH TIME! I’LL NEVER GET THERE! That line of thinking; the one that leads to paralysis and hopelessness.

It’s not going to be easy; there will be some slog. I might feel like I’m doing the same thing over and over again, never getting anywhere or having anything to show for it. But my skills will improve slowly; I will make gentle headway; I will eat the elephant one bite at a time.

Blodeuwedd… ahh. I am the result of cobbled-together pieces; other people’s ideas of what I should be. But my Will and Desire are my own; I can take those pieces and use them to betray my creators. And though they think they can control me by changing my form, I will adapt and become greater still; something unknowable to be feared.


[9] The nature of the Key that opens the Escape HatchWhat does the Querent need to do to escape the box?
6 of Air – 8 of Swords – Morgana

Ohhhh, look at that: the barrier and the key are related! 6-6, 8-8, and two magical, shapeshifting Ladies.

The 6 of Air is “Omens”, but it always make me think of research and writing. I know that thinking about things, constantly gathering new information – that I’ll never use because I’m too busy learning more! MORE!! MOAR!!! – is a big part of the problem, so how is it part of the solution? Maybe I’ll believe it more if I write it down? Say the words out loud? It makes sense… ideas in my head go round and round; having to sort them into sentences tacks them down and makes them real.

The 8 of Swords, as well, is more indiciative of where I find myself, rather than a solution! So, I take it the cards are being OB-VI-OUuuuS. ARE WE OBVIOUS ENOUGH FOR YOU?? and reinforcing that just because it looks like a box and quacks like a box, doesn’t mean it’s a box (it’s probably some kind of Doctor Who-vian alien invasion) The cake is a lie, and so is the box it came in.

1… 2… 3…


(While visiting Fairy Gothmother, “SORCERY!” became the answer to everything :)) The description of Morgana’s card is really all that needs to be said here: “I end so that I may begin.”

One way or another, it comes down to a change of state.

Time to Die.


10 thoughts on “Boxed In Tarot Spread

  1. Casey Hamilton says:

    I, the Capricorn Earth lady, have some strong words of advice, vis-a-vis your craft room. Take your witchery broom and do a Clean Sweep, just like they used to do on TLC.

    Everything, and I mean everything, goes into one of 3 piles, Keep, Sell, Toss. And be RUTHLESS. Throw away everything you possibly can, just like a snake moulting its skin. [didja like the “u” there? Just for the Canadian ;)] Get rid of everything that doesn’t work for who you are at this exact second in time.

    Cut your way out of the box, and then you’ll be able to breathe freely and easily.


    • submerina says:

      Oh, Casey. Casey, Casey, Casey. Sweet, innocent Casey ;D

      That’s what it looks like post-purge. Post Purge 1, 2 and 2.5 to be accurate. It’s all good, useful stuff, but I a) lack anywhere to put it and b) start to flail uselessly in the face of my whelmed-overness. Really, the Judge has a freakin’ field day whenever I attempt to complete the transformation.

      BUT: I made really good progress on the bedroom, so now I know I can (mostly) do it, so there’s hope!! Even if I have to finagle my way out of the box, a la Morgana.

      (Here are sum werdz – that cause me physical pain to type – 4 U:



  2. Thalia says:

    Oh noes I iz triggered by horadiness and my heart iz plapitating

    The Sibling has a book that’s pretty good, I think it’s Organizing for the Creative Person. (I looked it up online but the cover is different and now I’m not sure if I’ve got the right book.) It addresses how to put things away when putting things away means they disappear, because visual people need to be able to see what’s there. Which is why I never put my clean clothes away and live out of laundry baskets; I will literally forget I own something if I can’t see it. Which could be due to Other Things, but is also because I’m a visual person.

    Not, mind you, that I am particularly organized. But I think it can be learned? Probably?

    /daughter of a hoarder so *issues*


    • submerina says:

      Oh noes well I iz not sry u shud haev read teh warning i will ban yr account nao read the 23pg dislaimer n00b

      I will look that book up – thank you! When I tidied the bedroom, I managed to put nearly all my clothes away (and jewellery). Did a THOROUGH cleaning out of the closet, even getting rid of all the pieces I had plans to reconstruct in interesting ways. Quite a proud moment and shows progress, for sure, though it still takes a very real, concerted effort to maintain. I have the same problem of forgetting what I own…

      The irony is that I run my department at work like the world dictator of organization :?


  3. hersixthcircle says:

    I see *at least* 4 Hello Kitty items in that photograph, but I suspect the total is actually much higher. And dude, it kinda just looks like you have a lot of stuff and not enough space to keep it all!

    In any case, I really like when we just get revelations like that sometimes. And then it makes so much more SENSE! Awesome that you found this spread to use, too. I’m going to need to bookmark it for later. >_>

    This spread and your interpretation was fascinating for me to read. It’s interesting how the cards are always like HEY LOOK DUH, just showing you things that you already know. I think somehow it’s often clearer or more acceptable or something when it’s coming from an outside source. But still, it can be frustrating when I pull that SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER??? card and it’s like THE ANSWER IS THE ANSWER, OF COURSE. Sigh.

    Anyway. I hope this was helpful for you. I’d love to see you climb out of the box and be able to push forward creatively. I can relate to a lot of this, too, so it really makes me want to do this spread for myself.


    • submerina says:

      Hmm, yes; a little bit north of “4” XD Are you familiar with the IKEA “Billy” bookcases? Now play Tetris and fill it with HK things!

      For me, it doesn’t matter if I know the answer; if it isn’t _phrased_ correctly, I just don’t get it on the level I need to use the information effectively. With this spread, I obviously – from the results after – received the answer in the way I needed to hear it. I’d love to see what you can achieve with your own reading!


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