Tarot Tuesday: Accountability + Boundaries

playshopbannerHappy Tuesday everyone!

I hope everyone had a lovely start to their August. The past month and a half has been a whirlwind of activity, re-structuring, and schedule changes for me. I finally came into a (partially body induced/mandated) slow down this weekend. It was unfamiliar and really lovely. I got to pull quite a bit of tarot.

Two things continued to come up: Accountability and Boundaries.

I got to thinking about the intersection of these two themes as I started to write Tarot Tuesday this morning. I thought about the ways that we are accountable for the time we put (or don’t put) to our healing, the type of healing we utilize, the way that we have to set boundaries for our self care versus the way we are accountable for our interactions with others, and the way that the guidance of tarot resides in between these two places.

Tarot can offer us guidance and direction for our awareness but, ultimately, it is our responsibility to integrate that information however we choose. Tarot might invite us to set some healthy boundaries, but only we will be able to truly discern what those boundaries will need to look like. With this in mind I decided to create a spread to help offer guidance on the common struggle of this intersection.

AccountBoundSpreadThis spread will be helpful if you feel like you need to set some boundaries in your life. Beyond some awareness around helpful boundaries it will support your consciousness around your place and accountability in the manifesting of these healthy structures. Card 1 and Card 2 signify the intersection while Card 3 and Card 4 support the question at hand in the stable structure of a triangle to offer specific guidance.

Here is the spread I pulled for myself:

AccountBoundTest

Card 1: Major Arcana 7, The Chariot or The Conductor (Inverted)

The Collective Tarot describes The Conductor… “The Conductor is victory, steadfastness, control, movement, strength, a plan, a direction, and riding the wave. This warrior is fierce , yet confident and relaxed.” Prior to the last re-paint of my room this reminder graced my wall and during a recent tromp through the House of Intuition in LA I flipped through the pages of The Secret Language of Birthdays and was unsurprised to see The Chariot staring back at me. In best forms, this individual is balanced, powerful, and confident in their abilities. Their power is something that is already familiar in my tarot reads and my life. The way that they showed up inverted in this spread, perhaps less than confident, less than trusting of these gifts, is also something familiar. What do I need to hold myself accountable for in the way that I set boundaries in my relationships is a conflict that is often hovering near the surface of my interactions. At the center of this intersection, perhaps The Conductor is reminding me that content is there if only I can find contentment in it?

Card 2: Major Arcana 9, The Hermit

The Hermit crosses my intersection as the central challenge. Why would The Hermit, “with the demented smile and candor of a master hold the message of challenge for me? She is both “map and compass to the human heart,” she trusts her intuition, and distinguishes loneliness from being comfortable being alone. I think that perhaps her lantern of illumination is drawing my attention to the ways that my people pleasing and friendliness can come off as extroverted gregariousness taking a heavy toll on my introverted spirit.

Card 3: Major Arcana 20, Judgment or Liberation (Inverted)

A card of transformation sits at the cornerstone of my accountability support in this spread. The center point of this transformation is taking off the mask, releasing expectation, and sinking into the truest self. It is a card that reminds us of the metaphorical truth that “the cards have been dealt,” and only we are accountable for how we decide to play them. While daunting, once this is accepted, we can find “A kind of letting go that is so vast and profound and honest that it reduces you down to your most basic raw child-like elemental self… A letting go that begins to dissolve the boundaries of our social and material constructs, so that we are no longer so separate and disconnected, but instead are more integrated and whole. Inverted, I wonder if it signifies the heartbreak that can only come from holding on too tightly to past versions of the self and how it keeps us from being accountable to our present/future integration.

Card 4 Major Arcana 15, The Devil or Oppression (Inverted)

The Devil or Oppression reminds us of difficult times where we feel drained by the way that we are confined and sometimes actively pushed down. It also requests that we stay wary that we are not oppressing others. My awareness of boundaries can often be draining, especially when I see them being impeded upon. With accountability close at hand, perhaps the Inverted Devil offers me a gentle reminder to shift my focus from others impeding on my boundaries to how I hold my own.

Overall, I really enjoyed building this spread with a theme in mind and feel like this is one I may come back to for insight into this intersection as well as the holding triangular structure supporting a central issue and challenge. While you can pull tarot in any way that feels right to you, you may also want to play with the extra information that comes with spreads or even create your own.

Happy Tuesday!

In accountability,

Traci

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Traci {She|Her|Hers|They|Them|Theirs} is a yoga teacher, therapist and amateur tarot enthusiast! They try to believe in the power of their inner Magician, stay inspired by the Fool’s spirit, understand struggle through the lens of The Tower/Disaster and always stay reminded that, “The Star Awaits…”

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There are photographs in this post that were borrowed lovingly from the internet and do not belong to us. All are linked and credited to the best of our abilities in hopes of attracting more traffic to the photographers and websites who have blessed us with this imagery. The inclusion of a photograph here should not be interpreted as an assertion of the subject’s or artist’s identity or beliefs. If there is a photo included here that belongs to you and you want it removed, please email compassionaterevolt@gmail.com and it will be removed promptly, no questions asked.

 

 

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4 Directions Spread: Cosmic Snapshot Part 1

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Happy Tuesday y’all – did you know we welcome submissions to Tarot Tuesday?

A reader wrote in, “I don’t really know how to interpret a directional spread,” but she’s playing with it – and she included a photo of a beautiful full moon spread she did while camping in the Cascadian forests.

4 Direction spreads have been my bread and butter for years – I love their flexibility and use them way more than the other common small spread, PPF or “past, present, future.”

(PS, “Spread” is what us tarot folk call the particular design guiding the cards’ layout after you draw them. It’s like laying out a feast. What a spread!)

Here’s what I love about the 4 Direction spread: It creates a little cosmos, giving you lots of room to explore aspects of relationships. That little cosmos is both circular and linear. Take a look:

Reader-Submitted "4 Directions Spread," using the Marseilles Tarot deck
Reader-Submitted “4 Directions Spread,” using the Marseilles Tarot deck

You see the circle clearly – the wheel created as your attention moves around the perimeter of the spread. It moves in both directions.

The linear is in the axes it sets up – I find myself using the word “axis” a lot when I read cards. These are the axles, the load-bearing places of support between cards: they give strength, seal connection, channel energy, and create oppositional movement.

Taken together, the two form an ancient and deeply archetypal symbol that has as many interpretations as we could throw at it, and then some.

The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.
The wheel and axes; also, the alchemical symbol for Earth.

Sometimes I’ll put a card in the center: a hub. This spread doesn’t have one. That’s okay. That’s part of the flexibility of this spread, and I often don’t include a central card when I’m just asking for a general picture of things (cosmic snapshot). Or, I’ll do the spread and then pull a card for the center about how to deal with all the lessons the outer cards have presented. To ground me as I move back into the mundane world. Anyway, this spread clearly has some beautiful ritual & magic going on in the center and that will have its own power in this reading for Our Dear Reader.

Some positions have more than one card: that’s cool too. Sometimes you need a little extra for certain positions – you have a question, it sparks another question, or you just don’t know what to do with the first card (the wtf factor). I am a big fan of just drawing another clarification card, even if you’re not sure why yet.

Another thing I love about this spread is that it is deeply orienting. Imagine me, or you, the querent, or the issue in the center – and then the spread encourages us to ground into that center, and then to take a minute to look in each direction, and then to really be with what’s there. Before I start playing with axes, I go around the circle and be with the card/s in each position. It has the effect of making a place, giving some ground from which to consider whatever the issue is, and understanding that issue not as a thing but as an ecosystem.

One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics :)
One kind of ecosystem. Clickthrough for some ecosystem basics 🙂

Part of sitting with each direction will include bringing your associations and meanings for each direction to bear on that image. This kind of practice (associations with directions) shows up in a lot of cultures, and we tend to take it for granted (especially in pagan communities) as something that belongs to us, just something we do. One of the places it comes from is Medicine Wheel, which belongs very specifically to various indigenous American tribal traditions. This is not something we can just take wholesale and plop into: East means this, West means this, according to the Great Indian Shaman, case closed. Especially for those of us practicing on this land, I feel very strongly that awareness of this history and our capacity to participate in its legacy of violence via cultural appropriation is a part of right relationship. Many Western pagan traditions do have their own sets of directional correspondence: great – use what works for you. But if you’re copying lists of meanings from (books about) indigenous cultures to whom you do not belong and with whom you have no relationship outside of your consumption of them, this paragraph is especially for you.

And so this is not to say we can’t practice directional spreads, or some form of Medicine Wheel meditation. It is to remember the importance of doing our own work, and to remember that personal spiritual practices are part of the web of collective life and history. To remember that the 4 directions are not lists of meanings but experiences of aspects of the ecosystem we live in.

That said, you probably have a blend of associations and meanings that belong to the different directions for you – a mix of personal experiences, things you’ve read, practices you’ve studied, and sheer intuition. I can’t encourage you enough to start practicing bringing your awareness to the different directions, and thus building your own library of associations to those directions for you. Maybe you regularly encounter a certain animal, or color, or goddess, or feeling when attuning to a direction: these are associations full of potential exploration.

Our dear reader, chillin' in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East <3
Our Dear Reader, chillin’ in the East with Kwan Yin at Sekhmet Temple, creating new associations to her personal East ❤

Bringing them to bear on a spread might look like: “The East is where the sun rises, a place of light and hope and restoration and newness. I associate it with qualities of Air, and stillness, thoughtful practice, and a refreshed heart. How might the Page of Wands embody those qualities, or what would she have to say about them?” Look how, in the actual spread, she even faces the East, and perhaps the coming dawn. I might close my eyes and connect with the East, visualize a landscape or setting there, and then allow the Page of Wands to wander on stage. What happens next?

Or: “The West is where the sun sets – where the darkness grows, the home of night, the gateway to dreams. I associate it with qualities of Water, especially ocean, because I live on the west coast; also I link it with change, and moving between worlds.” Look at how, in the spread itself, the two queens in the West regard each other; what kind of tone does their interaction have for you? How might this go down in the wild West I described? What kinds of power are at play?

Then, I might think about the axis. This horizontal axis I often associate with time. The West may reflect what is passing away from the present, where the sun is setting, what has come before – while the East reflects what is on the horizon.

It may also reflect different choices or influences: on the one hand, on the other, a kind of weighing. It may speak to fears (the growing darkness of West) and hopes (the rising sun of East). It may talk about where your emotions are at (the Watery West) vs. what your head is doing (the Airy East). Western Moon speaks with Eastern Sun?

You can see how deep a spread like this can go. And we haven’t even really gotten into more magical directional correspondances, or specific meanings of cards outside our immediate reactions to them. We haven’t even touched the cards of the vertical axis, or gone around the wheel. I’m telling you, 4 positions + your central attention is all you need to explore your mini cosmos, to get a snapshot of your psychic ecosystem.

Another "4 Directions" spread, using The Collective Tarot deck - and another way to trace relationships in a reading!
Another “4 Directions” spread, using The Collective Tarot deck – and another way to trace relationships in a reading!

Clearly we could go on (and on) with this one, but that’s about all the time and space we have for today. Next week we will look at the vertical axis, and dig a little deeper into this particular spread. I hope this little intro has sparked some ideas and excitement about using this spread for you though! I know Our Dear Reader who submitted this lovely query would enjoy any of your thoughts, for anyone who wants to jump into the comments and practice interpreting, or share their 4 directions stories. I encourage you to send in other questions, spreads, or ideas for us to play with too!

Be well!

Kaeti

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Kaeti is a therapist, teacher, and dreamer based in Long Beach, California. All of her work (and play!) is interested in dismantling intersections of oppression and breathing magic and radical healing into all the daily corners of her life, into all the spaces of community she helps weave.