Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Come to the dark side

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Welcome to the winter solstice (Yule) edition of the Tarot Blog Hop (unless you live in the southern hemisphere or equator zones, in which case--could you please send the sun back this way?).

This time the theme is recieving messages from the Dark Side, looking for hidden messages from the universe, for hidden abundance buried beneath leaf, snow, soil, and the general rubble that we call everyday life. Or as one philosopher put it, "Come to the Dark Side--we have cookies." 

Tree of Life Tarot Spread
One of the Tarot spreads that I use a lot for reading is the Tree of Life spread. It is based on the ten sephiroth (the circles) of the Tree of Life used by some kabbalists. To these ten spheres, there is occasionally added an eleventh sphere to represent the division between the mortal mind and the immortal soul.

In the halls of the Western Mystery Tradition, those schools that descend from the Hermetic schools and the Christian version of the kabbalah, each sephirah has a virtue and a vice. It is said that you cannot summon the positive aspects of the sephiroth without also having the negative aspects also manifest.

As such, I find that one can use the Tree of Life arrangement not only to read the positive influences in a situation or the makeup of a person, but one can also use it to examine the negative influences.

One can either just read the negative by itself, or one can use two cards per sephirah to offset the negative with a positive. I recommend the two card per sephirah, much like the rule of always balancing out a devil with an angel in practical workings.

One: Kether, the crown--the first moment (big bang/creation of the universe); Virtue: Attainment, accomplishment of the Great Work, union with the divine. Traditionally, there is no vice, but I personally read the negative here as things and forces that are preventing perfect union with the divine aspect of the universe.

Two: Chokmah, wisdom--the wheel of the zodiac and the sphere of fixed stars; Virtue: Devotion, piety, respect for the universe and nature. Vice: disregard for nature, and hubris, those moments when your ego tells you that you are bigger and more powerful than the universe, typically this leads the universe to crush you like a bug.

Three: Binah, understanding--Saturn; Virtue: Silence, knowing when not to interfere. Vice: Avarice, hoarding resources--a card here will tell you what you are amassing too much of, the stuff that you should be allowing to circulate instead.

Eleven (note that my count here is based on how correspondence charts of the Tree of Life are numbered): Daath, knowledge. Traditionally, not considered a sephirah, but rather the interaction between Chokmah and Binah, and between the upper three sephiroth and the lower seven. As such, it is not traditionally given a virtue, and is often viewed completely from a negative viewpoint. I use it to determine what a person knows, and what they don't know (but think that they do); it also gives me a strong hint of the concerns of a person when I am doing a reading without knowing the subject of the inquiry.

Four: Chesed, mercy--Jupiter; Virtue: Obedience to the divine will (or as I like to think about it, being willing to be an agent of the universe). Vices: Bigotry, hypocrisy, gluttony, and tyranny--the kingly vices, so to speak--the lies we tell ourselves about how noble and understanding we are when in reality, we are acting like petty children.

Five: Geburah, strength (severity)--Mars; Virtue: Courage and eagerness, pruning away of the dead wood. Vice: Destruction and warlike tendencies, taking of unnecessary revenges, loss of temper. If someone feels insulted by someone, or is reacting to other people unwisely, here is where you can read it.

Six: Tiphareth, beauty--Sun; Virtue: Devotion towards the task of understanding and living in harmony with the universe, being Christ-like. Vice: Pride and ego issues, those situations where one thinks that one is a saint, but is really just a road hazard waiting to happen.

Seven: Netzach, victory--Venus; Virtue: Unselfiness and generosity. Vice: Lust and playing the field, also hungers and addictions.

Eight: Hod, glory--Mercury; Virtue: Honesty. Vice: Dishonesty, including areas where one is lying to oneself. This is an interesting position--often I can tell how a person handles a Mercury retrograde by looking at the card that occupies this position.

Nine: Yesod, foundation--Moon; Virtue: Independence, the ability to self-start. Vice: Laziness, idliness, and what a person keeps putting off and kicking down the road (which sooner or later must be dealt with, but just grows larger the longer one puts off dealing with it).

Ten: Malkuth, kingdom (the material world)--Earth; Virtue: Discrimination, being able to separate the fools from the wise. Vice: Inertia and gulliability, what lies a person will swallow hook, line and sinker, and those issues that nothing short of a disaster a person is willing to deal with.

For those who work the zodiac or the elements, one can expand the idea of this type of reading to take advantage of those ideas using the traditionally agreed-upon positive and negative traits. And if you are accustomed to doing readings using the Opening of the Key (a Golden Dawn Tarot spread), you can even extend it to the thirty-six decans.

Thanks for reading this edition of the Tarot Blog Hop, and consider leaping to another blog in this Hop for other reader's insights into the Dark Side.

And may we all have a better year this 2017. Or at least, more cookies.

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Tarot By Arwen said...

I have yet to dive into this spread fully. I've toyed with it but it is daunting to me for some reason. I must make the effort!

Karen said...

Thank Morgan! I've not done a TofL for a while... time to dust it off and try your version :)

Joy Vernon said...

I've always gotten good results with the TOL spread, but never made the jump to apply the vices and virtues directly to the spread positions. Brilliant! I have to try it out now with this new layer. And you offered some extremely helpful insights on reading the positions too. Thank you!

Unknown said...

Thank you for this, I have never tried the TOL spread but I might do it now! Great explaining!

Anonymous said...

Wow! Great synopsis of the TOL spread, and I, too, hadn't thought of applying the virtue and vice aspects. They work quite well in your explanation. This will be a great spread and draw to add to my new year musings...

Ania said...

I've never really got into Kabbalah, but I shall try this one out.