I’ve decided to start doing regular weekly (bi-weekly?) tarot readings where I do a three card spread to ask what we should think about for the week, a kind of food for thought experiment to see what the cards have to say.
Here’s the first one I pulled today:
I worked with the Marseille tarot this time, so the cards are in French. In English, they are called the Wheel of Fortune, the Magician and the Hermit.
So what does this three-card spread mean?
In my experience, it’s far more effective to read the tarot as a story or even a sentence rather than to go through the cards one by one. What counts the most is the images themselves and how they interact, not the interpretation listed in a book, which is taken out of context anyway. This is how the tarot speaks to us.
So what do the cards say we should think about this week?
Let’s start by taking a close look at the Wheel of Fortune.
What do we see on the card? We see a wheel with one monkey-like creature struggling to climb up one side and another falling off the other side. On the top, a similar monkey-like creature rests with a crown and a sword, his cloak transformed into wings.
This speaks to our animal nature, always striving for more — more success! More money! More recognition! If only I can get to the top like that crowned monkey, look how great things are for him!
Who is he? Perhaps a celebrity or a billionaire. Or perhaps he’s not even real, just a statue, an illusory ideal that keeps us on the wheel. He is stiff, with a proud, almost arrogant expression on his face while the other two figures are dynamic, one climbing the other clinging on as it falls. Neither one looks happy, more worried and stressed out.
Even if the crowned figure is real, it won’t stay up there for long. What goes up must come down, and that pedestal looks rather flimsy. If nothing else, death will get him in the end.
Let’s move on to the next two cards. Here we have two figures, both looking towards the wheel, the rat race of life, only in this case it seems more filled with monkeys. The first figure is Le Bateleur, the Magician.
Oh, the youthful trickster! He has some ides up his sleeve, and they are designed to appeal to and entertain his audience or “target group” if you will. The advice he gives is likely similar to the life hacks and listicles you’ll find all over the Internet.
5 Secrets Highly Successful People Know!
How to double your income from home in six weeks!
Meditate to Boost Your Performance!
And on and on and on. The snake oil he peddles is endless.
The next card is the Hermit.
Like the Magician, he is looking towards the “monkey” race but he is doing so calmly and contemplatively. He has no advice to give or innovative solutions to offer, only a lantern to shine on both the wheel, so we can better see it, as well as the Magician, so that he might expose his tricks
In this reading, the animals in the Wheel of Fortune represent our unconscious, animal nature, the Magician an exuberant youth (although believe me, he shows up in people of all ages), who prefers illusion and cheap tricks to what is actually in front of him.
And the Hermit? He is older and more mature, a person who has taken the time to look inside of themselves and examine the world, shining his light to try to see that which is really there.
No easy task, but a courageous one.
However, I don’t think the cards are only speaking to people who are stuck seeking to achieve that which is considered conventional success in a materialistic, Western cultural conditioning context. They got me thinking about my own work as a writer and aspiring novelist.
What is the crowned monkey of achievement for me in my particular pursuit? I’ve already published several short stories, so is it publishing my novel? Once that happens, will it be publishing another book or getting a higher advance or selling more copies? Will it be literary recognition or some pie in the sky dream, like being awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant?
Each milestone crossed might still turn round and feel like a failure, a cycle (wheel) of dissatisfaction that has no end.
Perhaps the Wheel of Fortune here also stands a bit for a streak of dumb luck, something anyone crazy enough to pursue a career in the arts most definitely needs–and it’s frustrating that this is something I can’t control.
And what might the Magician be? Yet another shiny book on craft, spending too much time watching author interviews on YouTube, wasting time working on the razzle dazzle of my my social media presence instead of just getting down to work?
This is what the Hermit’s light reminded me of: forget all that other stuff, and just get your butt in the chair and write. In the end, that’s all that really counts.
Good luck with what the cards say to you, and have a great week!