When I read someone’s tarot, I walk them through an intricate spread called The Celtic Cross. It’s a ten card lay, each card a specific and important piece of the puzzle the querent is putting together in their mind as we go along at a pace they are comfortable with. But the ninth card is always the one which intrigues me the most. The ninth card represents a key of sorts, an unlocking of a door which leads into the very heart of the matter at hand. It can surprise, frighten, enchant, and enlighten like no other.
At that point in the reading we are about forty-five minutes in, give or take, depending on how much the querent has been willing to share with me out loud as we discuss their intuitions, ideas, thoughts, reactions, emotions, feelings, and hunches throughout the reading.
What is happening in the Celtic Cross lay is we are uncovering the story around a specific block the person is facing in their life. A difficult and persistent challenge which, if only they could resolve it, would open up a whole new world of possibility and creation. Conducting this kind of reading with an open, honest, brave, engaged soul is one of my very favorite things in the universe to spend time and energy doing.
I make a whole ritual of it. We have delicious tea in fancy china. There are candles and soft low lighting. We are alone with the quiet and the energy and the plants and the vibes and each other. It is as much a joy for me to watch their epiphanies fall open as it is for them to experience these magical developments as they unfold right before their heavenly eyes. The connection, that trinity of mystery between myself, the querent, and the divine, is as close a thing to faith in something beyond us as I have ever had.
People think the tarot is going to predict their future but it isn’t like that at all. It is about intimacy and interpretation of your own design. You are never not in control of your reading or the outcome. The intuitive connections – the way you use the messages, vision, images, words, to weave your own story together – are as unique to you as your own thumbprint. There are no ‘givens’ and there are no finalities. You are the master and you are the novice, both at once. I am there only to guide and support your own understanding. The cards are always yours. Their secrets are always yours, too. Before, during, and after.
But that ninth card is holy in a way the others cannot quite be. It is the key to unlocking the door to freedom, the door which up until that moment, as you were mired in the thick of your troubles and what led up to them, you could not have been aware of before. The ninth card reveals to you your deepest hopes and your deepest fears. What you wish desperately could be true for you, and what you are most afraid could be true for you. And in that moment, you are asked to realize the truth beyond that truth. That your hope and your fear are the same thing. What you most want for yourself is what you are most afraid to go out and get. For me, for decades, that thing was sobriety. I just couldn’t see it.