November 2000 Spreads of the Month
In honor of Samhain, we have two spreads of the month, both dealing with death and dying. One is by Monika Awerbuch and the other by Lynell K. Landru.
Closing of the Circle Spread by Monika Awerbuch
It was a client who stumped me with some questions on death. I thought
I would come up with a spread that would help facilitate his/her transitioning. Instead of focusing on grieving, I decided to focus on
resolution. I'm calling the spread the Closing of the Circle (as in an ouroboros). Utilizing
six cards as the base reading in the following pattern:
The question I figured would be the most advantageous to the querent would be, what does ______ need to know to help facilitate his/her transitioning?
CARD 1: Past issues needing closure/resolution. What issues in the past does this person need to deal with? After bringing the issue to service, you can pull another card on top of it to help clarify a way of action if needed.
CARD 2: Present issues needing closure/resolution. As above, additional cards can be pulled.
CARD 3: Current state of mind/being ( the card of the querent)
CARD 4: Spiritual Advice. What can you do spiritually to help your transition?
CARD 5: Practical Advice. What can you do in your daily life to help you transition?
CARD 6: Meditation card~ path to what will bring you the greatest peace.
With cards 1 and 2, additional cards can be pulled to help clarify the issues, which in my eyes is the biggest part of preparing to die.
I used two different decks when I did a trial-reading ,the Medicine Cards and Thoth, and both worked very nicely. When I asked the universe if this spread would work and function to help the querent for his/her greatest good, the card came up as the Six of Cups. The image happens to be a circle of cups in the Thoth deck, similar to the spread I drew out. I figured that was about as good as it could get. The goal is helping someone to remember the joys/sorrows and experiences of the past to prepare for the future.
The Tree of Life Returning Spread by Lynell K. Landru
Can the tarot help a person work through the process of dying? Is it a valid approach to use? I believe it can be if a reader is properly prepared and is aware of the sensitive nature of this subject. With empathy and an alertness to unspoken needs, a reader can genuinely help a client who is dying or one who is losing (or has lost ) a loved one.
Not all of our reading sessions will deal with love and riches. Some serious topics will come up. And none will be more challenging than the questions concerning death and terminal illnesses. A reader should be prepared, at
some point in time, to be asked such a question. The more knowledge one has about the process of dying, the better a reader will be able to use the cards to comfort, advise, and affirm a dying client - or his/her grieving
loved one. If a reader has not explored some of her/his own fears or prejudices about death, objectivity may be more difficult. And since death is a real part of all of our lives, gaining understanding of the dying process would be beneficial even beyond the role of tarot reader.
If you are asked to do a reading around the dying process, be ready to call upon your own experiences with death. Be open and real - no platitudes. Take advantage of your resources before a reading on death comes up. Local hospitals and hospice organizations carry pamphlets and other information that they give freely to the public. Information can also be found online.
The Hospice Foundation of America
The National Hospice Organization
During the extended process of dying, a patient may go through various stages. These stages are not linear; they overlap and may cycle around several times before a patient works through issues and concerns. And some
patients may not live long enough to resolve all these stages, or even go through them.
Basically, these responses to death include denial, anger, bargaining, guilt, depression, acceptance, and resolution (release). All of these responses are normal and acceptable. No judgment should be made about the
client's feelings or attitudes. Though gentle suggestions might be appropriate, the purpose for this particular reading should be to ALLOW THE CLIENT TO EXPLORE these concerns.
In addition to the stages of dying, death can affect all four areas of a person's life: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Be prepared to talk about any of them, even if some aspects are more difficult to deal with
than others. You may be asked to listen more than speak. Make sure that the client understands that you are not making predictions about his/her death - or the death of the loved one.
A reading for the process of dying should touch on these basic areas, or at least provide an opportunity for discussion. Remember, not every issue can be covered in one reading, nor can a client work through the dying process in one hour. Be careful not to overburden the client. Be patient and gentle. If he/she goes away with only one word or image of affirmation and encouragement, then the reading has been a success. Be willing to stray from the reading if a major issue comes up and other cards remain uncovered.
The following layout is based on the Qabala Tree of Life. By beginning at the root of the tree and progressing upwards, the reader gives the client a chance to explore the various areas of concern in the dying process. I have given the title and a brief explanation for each of the corresponding tenspheres of power, gates, or Sephiroth (angels) on the Tree. These are just to aid the reader in understanding the organization of the spread. Most important are the descriptions for how each position should be read. I would suggest using a deck that is gentle, with positive images. The dying (or grieving) client is probably experiencing heightened emotions, and the sight of blood, stabbings, and pain might hinder communication. Use your own judgment here; there might be exceptions to this. Possible decks could include the Connolly Tarot, Tarot of the Spirit, Enchanted Tarot, Medicine Woman, etc.
The Tree of Life Returning Spread
1. Malkuth: The Kingdom - Physical manifestation: grounding.
This is the purpose of the reading, the main question surrounding the death situation.
It could point to hope itself: the desire to understand or make things "better."
2. Yesod: The Foundation - The Subconscious: energies.
These are the hidden issues crossing the situation. The undercurrents or base of surrounding
3. Hod: Splendor - Intellect: language, communication.
This has to do with the mental aspects of the situation. Possible denials may show up here. This
position can help open communication up concerning unacknowledged areas. What the client needs to know on a basic level about his/her personal
approach to the experience of death.
4. Netzach: Victory - Emotions: intuitions, arts.
This placement relates to the emotional aspects of the situation. Possible depression, guilt, and unresolved
emotional issues surface here. The client will need to open up to suppressed feelings regarding the death experience. These issues tend to be more
personal, centered around the self.
5. Tiphareth: Beauty - Healing: redemption.
Here the client can rest and receive encouragement and guidance regarding what has been discussed before.
A time of integration of mind and heart. A positive word about the unity of Life. A redirection and refocusing of the question. The positive essence of
6. Geburah: Strength - Judgment: clarity, discernment.
This position speaks to the possible anger of the client. Provides a time for "venting" hostile
feelings that life is "unfair." It might point to relationships or situations that claim the client's energy. Unresolved resentments. A time to
validate these feelings and/or attitudes. Compare to position 4: could echo feelings in 4, but tends to be more social, less personal. Patterns that
extend past the immediate situation.
7. Chesed: Mercy - Synthesis: settlement.
This begins the resolution of issues. A new level of awareness. Forgiveness and wisdom. Insights for
moving past blocks. Here, the reading may bring up "bargaining with God" issues. This position can make suggestions as to how these concerns
(bargains) can be worked through or released. Making arrangements for unfinished business. Compare to position 3: tends to expand on attitudes
discussed in 3, but seeks completion and stabilization, especially for physical and/or personal needs.
Before moving to the 8th card. The reader should pause and again affirm the client. On the tree of life, Daath (the invisible gate) stands before the next levels. This gate is the leap of faith across the abyss. It signifies
the mysterious knowledge, which is love. At this point, the release of previous attachments is addressed. The reader may or may not want to draw a special card for Daath.
8. Binah: Understanding - Receptivity: detachment.
Here the client will be given insight into acceptance of the situation. This position now takes a
forward approach. A possible time to discuss the question, "What will it be like?" Last concerns or attachments might show up, something of great
priority to client: What will happen to ______?
9. Chokmah: Wisdom - Positive energy: direction, final release.
This position provides the client with advice on last words, life review, gifts
of insights. What the client has learned about life, gained, been given. What he/she would like others to know. Good-byes.
10. Kether: Crown - Unity: God, divine, peace.
This position should serve as a final affirmation and/or meditation for the client. Something to carry
with him/her. Points to the peace of resolution, trust.
Monika Awerbuch is one of the founding members of the Daughters of Divination (DOD). A professional tarot reader, she helps support her deck, book and incense/oil habits by managing a bead store and working at an occult shop. She lives in San Francisco with another Tarot Slut and an eighteen year old Siamese cat.
Lynell K. Landru has taught college English and Adult Basic Education, but is currently at home working on personal design and writing projects. She has studied the tarot for 10 years, using it mainly for personal growth, meditation, and knowledge. Lynell is interested in how the tarot relates to the Western hermetic, Gnostic, and mystery traditions, and is working on her own esoteric-themed deck. She is also writing her philosophy of the tarot for publication. She recently created a computer clip art deck for playing the game of tarot.
Closing of the Circle Spread © 2000 Monika Awerbuch
The Tree of Returning Spread © 2000 Lynell K. Landru
Page © 2000 Diane Wilkes