Tarot in my Life: Serenity Prayer Spread
I love tarot spreads. I love working with spreads and designing spreads. I didn’t know this would be something that really jazzed me when it came to tarot. But maybe I should have because as long as I can remember I’ve liked getting into the details of things, and most of my career involved some aspect of research and design projects and activities.
In 2013 I designed the “Getting Back to YourSelf” it was created based on an article I read in Yoga Journal. The intention of this spread is to guide you/me/the querent on a path of “finding yourself” when you are feeling a bit lost or out of control in the tilt-a-whirl of life. It guides you toward your center.
I recently got hung up on an e-tarot reading wherein the querent had three questions. Because I’ve been a spread junky, wanting the perfect spread, I’ve become like the gal in the 8 of Swords … caught in my own mind. I got stuck. I know I could have done three one-card readings or three (pick a number) card readings, but my nature is to go a step further. You see I love working with spreads of 10 -12 cards. It’s like an addiction. I am certainly up to the challenge of a single card reading and I’ve written blogs about single cards.
But there I was, three questions and nothing fit intuitively. When a friend jokingly offered me some crayons when he saw me drawing little boxes in my tarot journal as I tried to design a spread, I thought I should probably take a break. Sometimes the Universe bonks you on the head in unusual ways. I followed the sage advice from tarot professionals and took a day off to allow my mind some R&R.
“Behind my pride there lives a me, that knows humility,
Inside my voice there is a soul, and in my soul there is a voice
But I've been, too afraid to make a choice
'Cause I'm scared of the things that I might be missing
Running too fast to stop and listen
… Strength, courage, and wisdom
And it's been inside of me all along,
Strength, courage, and wisdom
Inside of me”
I guess that is exactly what I needed because the inspiration for my new spread came to me in a new way – a song by India Arie called Faith, Courage and Wisdom, which I began humming unconsciously the next day as I began to work on the spread. Those songs lead me to the Serenity Prayer authored by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr.
“God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
SERENITY PRAYER SPREAD ELEMENTS
I agree with the tarotists who believe that the first and last cards are often the most telling in a spread and I used this in my design by incorporating a “Past” and a “Future” card. I like the idea of Past as a representation of the subconscious mind therefore it is the first card in this spread. It represents actions, thoughts, or a way of being, that is ongoing and affecting the current situation, leading to the querent’s questions and “where the querent is coming from”.
I also like a card that represents the conscious mind in the Future position. In this spread the Future represents actions, thought patterns or a way of being, that could possibly be changed to affect the outcome, “where the querent is going”. When brought to light in the realm of the conscious mind, the querent is given the opportunity to “see” how she can be a catalyst in changing her future. Therefore, this is the last card in the spread.
One card is laid for each of the Serenity Prayers elements: Serenity/Strength, Courage, and Wisdom:
Serenity/Strength: Something you can’t change
Courage: Something you can change
Wisdom: Something you need to know
Many elements make up how we move throughout our day, therefore, even if the questions don’t relate to each other they can still be answered in this spread. The spread is designed to address from one to three questions with 11 cards. In my opinion more than 11 cards for this spread may get confusing to the reader and the querent. I also like that with 8 – 11 cards a grid of pairs and triplets is formed that can be interpreted vertically and horizontally. With 11 cards there is the option of diagonal card interpretations as well. The spread also opens the interpretation even further by the use of Elemental Dignities if you are into that type of interpretation. As a reader, it is your choice to interpret these cards within these multiple dimensions, or not.
If you consider numerology and the meaning of Eleven, then creating an 11-card spread may open up the symbolism represented by this number: insight, spiritual understanding, illumination, intuition, compassion, enlightenment, etc. (Anthony Louis, Tarot Plain and Simple).
Begin with the one to three questions and the specific order in which your querent has asked them. Then lay the cards as follows.
1 question would be 5 cards
2 would be 8
3 would be 11
Card 1: Past/Subconscious Influences - this represents something the querent has experienced in body, mind or spirit in the past – the way she thinks, or acts, that has come from a past influence in her life (person, place or event)
Card 2 (5, 8): Something you CAN’T change – this represents something related to the question that is out of the querent’s control and she needs to be at peace with or find alternative sources of healing or dealing with
Card 3 (6, 9): Something you CAN change – this represents something related to the question that the querent can take steps to change – it may take courageous baby steps, or maybe she already knows what she should do, but needs gentle guidance from the reader or additional help from local resources, friends, family, community, or spiritual leaders
Card 4 (7, 10): Something you need to know – this represents an internal or external action or influence (person, place or event) that may help or hinder the querent’s situation that she needs to mindful of in order to accept or change her circumstances
(If only one question, then lay Card 5 now, otherwise lay “Future” card as the last card laid.)
Card 5: Future/Conscious Influences - this represents something the querent can choose to change or not in body, mind or spirit in the way she approaches her situation to achieve the outcome she desires
I moved cards 1 - Past and 5 /(Last) - Future along the horizontal line of the spread and read them with Serenity, Courage & Wisdom, for each question to learn how they influenced the story and provided interpretive guidance as I delved into the reading. I looked at the diagonal of cards 2, 6, 10 and 8, 6, 4 and found they revealed more information for my querent. I also looked at the triplets (three cards) for the relationships between the elements (fire, water, air, earth) known as Elemental Dignities.
Some other ways to use this spread are to consider laying only a Major Arcana card for the Past and Future; and looking at the relationships between the cards not just horizontally in each row, but vertically in each column as well, to learn more about the querent’s life. Consider also, laying one Major Arcana card (of your choice or the querent’s, or even randomly) for “Strength” “Courage” and “Wisdom” in the header row (possibly from a different deck) and relate these cards to each column of cards (this might be best used with a smaller spread for 1 or 2 questions).
This spread proved very helpful for my querent and fit my style as a reader. If you try the spread, let me know how it resonates with you and your querent. I like this spread for the New Year because it provides guidance in a way that allows the client to “see” the changes they can make in their own lives.
For a PDF of this spread with pictures email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Linda & Chris have been traveling and living in the Caribbean on their sailboat, Troubadour. Read about their journey at http://sailingtroubadour.blogspot.com