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How to Create the Perfect Tarot Spread

Write the spread that guides you home…

If you read tarot cards, chances are you know about the classic spreads. These are the spreads like the Celtic Cross, the Horseshoe Spread, Past / Present/ Future, and so on. These are the spreads that have stood the test of time. They are iconic because they are bring in and cover such a broad base of messages. When I first started reading tarot, I turned to these spreads, and any others that accompanied the beautiful books of my teachings. I felt these spreads would last with me through my whole tarot journey.

And, that hasn’t been entirely incorrect. Every now and again I will turn to one of these tried-and-trues, but to be honest, once I got a handle on how I read tarot, and what I want the messages in the cards to offer me, I stopped relying on most of these well-known spreads. The main reason is that I like spreads with a little more direction. To me, the Celtic Cross started to move me in circles. Like I was driving to a new location that I have never to before. I know the zip code. I know the general location I am in, but the side streets and landmarks are not leading me anywhere helpful.

I started to write my own spreads. It may seem easy to write a tarot spread, and there are days where the needed messages just come flowing forth, from somewhere within me that I cannot name, only feel. Other days, I feel like I am on the right track, but still getting nowhere. So, if you want to write the perfect tarot spreads for yourself, or for your business, keep reading!

Tarot lets you explore your reality, your possibilities, your elusiveness. What do you want your cards to say?

To make it easy, there are three key things that I feel should be considered when writing a tarot spread, so that it includes everything to make your tarot experience beautiful and empowering….

Those three key things are:

  • Knowing the insight or clarity you / your client’s need from the reading
  • Knowing what is reasonable (within your ability to ask)
  • Being mindful of receiving the whole truth

Let’s begin with needed insight or clarity. It is vital to understand and be able to articulate what is being asked of this spread. For a spread like the past, present, future, the insight being gained is an understanding of what has passed, what is coming in, and what is within the present moment. If the spread is stop, start, continue, the spread is giving insight into actions that help or hinder.

So, in writing your spread ask what and where you need insight. Do you want your spread more general or specific? Do you want options or choices in your spread, or are you open to receiving concrete messages from your cards? Are you looking for a more spiritual or a more psychological approach, or do you want both covered in your spread? Your spread can include anything you want, as long as it includes the second part of the key themes.

A great way to gain full clarity of what you need from your spread is to do a freewrite journal exercise. Write down whatever you are feeling, thinking, experiencing, or considering. Just write. After you feel you have written down everything that honors and captures your point of view or your needs, put it aside for a day. Let the words sit for a moment. Return to your writing and highlight what you feel the key words or key themes are within your words. These highlighted passages are the bare bones of what you can explore in your spread.

Use journaling as a way to see what themes, feelings, or thoughts keep coming up. This could become the structure of your spread.

Once you have decided what you need your spread to speak to, it is time to move on to the second key theme: what is reasonable to ask of the cards. This theme is open to interpretation, as everyone has a different style of reading. Your style of reading will dictate and determine what is reasonable to ask. For example: my way of reading is intuitive, but not predictive. Therefore, while I have spreads that speak to possible outcomes, I do not in any way instruct or inform my clients that a certain circumstance or series of events will unfold. If you read from a purely spiritual point of view, your spread positions will speak to spirituality.

Once you know your reading style, consider what is reasonable to ask the spread. It is reasonable for you to ask about 3rd party readings? Is it reasonable to ask about financial matters or health issues? Only you can answer what is right for you and your reading style. Once you have decided what is reasonable, your spread will reflect that truth. If you find it reasonable to read for others, include in your spread questions that speak to this. If you feel it unreasonable, keep all questions in relation to you, or whomever is the seeker.

After you have decided what is reasonable, or unreasonable to ascertain from your spread, we move on to the final key theme: honesty, brutal honesty. If we think about it a tarot spread as a dinner plate, the insight and clarity is the main course. It is what is going to probably benefit you the most because you are getting to the bedrock to what has been elusive. The ability to discern what is reasonable to ask is the side dish, which makes honesty the bill.

A needed exchange…

The bill (brutal honesty) is the exchange so you can have this glorious plate of energetic beauty. It is needed, but it may be hard at times to recognize that this exchange is paramount. Just as you could not have a lovely dinner at a restaraunt with paying the bill, you cannot have a truly profound spread that is of service unless there is an exchange. In all tarot spreads it is useful to have specific position that highlight the positives, the love and light if you will. These positions can include: strengths, resources, gifts and offerings to the world, lasting energy, and more. These positions are beautiful, and can highlight the beautiful nature of your / your client’s unique self.

However, it is also important to be willing to have a thorough exchange with the card and include positions that speak to the shadows. These can include: fears, weaknesses, obstacles, things to change, things to let go, and more. It is important to include spread positions like this because your tarot cards are your ally, and the spread is the conversation it is having with you / your client. It is important to go into not just the love and light, but also the shadows and the blockages, because that is how we grow. We don’t grow within the comfortable, we grow with the full spaciousness of possibility, which needs to include that which we may not want to hear.

Obviously, these three focuses are, in my opinion, needed to create a badass tarot spread. You may have a different take, and that is totally fine. You need to find what works for you. If willing, I invite you to utilize these focuses while writing your own tarot spreads. They have never led me astray, and I am confident it will be of service for you as well.

**One side note that I wanted to mention was writing a spread with a specific deck in mind. All tarot / oracle decks can be of service no matter the reading (unless there is an energetic block that has nothing to do with the spread), but sometimes it might be useful to write a spread with the focus through one certain deck. I love using my Mystical Dream Tarot deck for a more psychological, symbolic feel. If I want tangible and of this earth, the Herbcrafter’s Tarot has been it for me. For all things relating to spirit and wild reclamation, The Wild Unknown decks have never done me wrong. Again, all decks can be interchanged, no matter the spread, but if you are really struggling, or really wanting to connect to a certain deck, try writing a spread specifically for the artwork and themes of one particular deck.**

Many Blessings XOXOXO

Ashlie

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When wellness doesn’t work……

With all this time in self-isolation and social distancing, so many thoughts and themes have been running like a wild horse in my mind. Although I believe strongly that holistic health practices and wellness techniques can create a strong foundation, I feel the need to talk about, and pull some cards, on what happens when wellness techniques aren’t working. What do you do when the toolbox has been emptied and used, with little to no results? The hard truth is that sometimes, despite all our intentions to tend to our needs, there is a deeper wound that refuses to be well.

All things exist within the Wheel

I sat down to pull a card, and the feeling that kept coming up for me was disappointment. I have been working with my own toolbox of wellness, one that I have been fortifying for years, and yet it has been a true sore spot of me. Turning it over revealed the Wheel of Fortune, a card that speaks to interconnection, nothing is lost or out of place within the wheel. Within the Wheel of Fortune, all moves together or not at all. One strand pulled on the dream catcher could release a knot somewhere else, holding everything in place.

It is also the card of energetic balance and cause and consequence. This brings us back to reality of wellness not always being available, providing a gentle salve of healing. Sometimes, wellness is not available as a healer, not because we are not doing the practices right, or because we don’t care, or are unworthy. Sometimes wellness is not available to us because there is hole deep within the psyche, and the implementation of wellness techniques pokes at that hole, stimulating the trigger that we are not without pain and disappointment and worry and grief.

Sometimes, disappointment festers deep in the unconscious, not stirring or stimulated until we bring forth a practice that should bring us more into alignment. Think of it like an anti-placebo. Being so focused on constantly using wellness techniques to find balance can have an opposite reaction. Hello Wheel of Fortune…..

So much emphasis on one trajectory means that the trajectory we are trying to move away is also turning, and sometimes the dial flips. Now, I am not saying that this means that all wellness practices should be forgotten, or that something is wrong with you if you are finding yourself in this space.

I have been here in some capacity for months. If you find yourself here, you are not alone. If you find yourself feeling disappointment, trying to remedy it, and just rubbing a sore spot…you are not alone. The lesson from the Wheel of Fortune is that all movement, however well intended, often puts the spotlight and what we want keep in the darkness. We cannot move towards wellness without even subliminally or subtly shining a light on from that which we are moving away.

There isn’t a hard or fast answer to remedy this, it may just take some time. One of the only ways I know to confront disappointment or pain or negativity when I have tried other and failed with other factors is journaling. Journaling allows expression over anything-bad good, right, wrong. Journaling is the place to emotionally dump all your shit. It doesn’t always bring an answer, but it can feel good to just get it out. Other ways might be a mantra like: “I am allowed to feel this” or “This too shall pass.”

Other techniques may be watching comedy, reading books, or finding ways to alleviate the brain, and your brain’s chemistry. It may also just need to heal in due time. Disappointment, and a plethora of other emotions, almost have their own brains or personalities, resilient in their attempt to keep us within arm’s length. In the end, the Wheel of Fortune does tell us that this too shall pass, it just may be uncomfortable as hell in the meantime….

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Book review: The Heart of Wicca by Ellen Cannon Reed

I intend to start posting more reviews on my platform: reviews of books, decks (a rare post as I am not a deck collector, but I do still buy the decks that really speak to me), podcasts, music, and more. If you have anything that you would like for me to review, comment below! My first review is going to be on a book that I just finished, The Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path by Ellen Cannon Reed.

I would first like to start by saying that I am not a Wiccan, and there may be themes or topics in this book that are over my head or beyond my comprehension because I do not subscribe to the path. I would also like to state that if I write something about this book, or about Wicca in general that is negative or a critique, I am not saying that you are wrong if you are Wiccan, love this book, or anything like that. This is simply a post coming from my personal insight and honesty as a new reader to this book, and these topics.

I picked this book up at a local store some time ago. As much as I know that I will ever become a Wiccan, I do want to learn and understand more about different religions and methodologies, Wicca included. That being said, I did not like this book. I found the tone to be off-putting, condescending, and elitist. The following paragraphs describe specifically what I did and did not like about this book, and why I only gave it a 1 out 5 stars on Goodreads.

First, the book is only 127 pages, which alone is not a problem. What irked me was those 127 pages read like a big condescending rant. The book is title The Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path, so I thought that this book was going to discuss some things that are paramount to the Wicca pantheon. Some of this was discussed, but not in any satisfying depth, which is not only disappointing, it is contradictory to the first paragraph. Reed states that other books often only skim the surface of Wicca, which is exactly what I thought of this book. (Reed 1)

One of the first things about this book that put me off was the constant contradiction. Reed would constantly state how other covens, or “new” Wiccans are doing things that irritate her, and then give one small sentence how her covens are not the only ones who do things right. I get the book is from her perspective and will obviously include her opinion, but it got a little tiring to read. From what I could find about the author, she walked this path for a long time before her passing, undoubtedly had a lot of wisdom about the path, and had seen how the path has morphed over time. From what I have heard from others who practice Wicca (how in depth, I do not know), the path is much more formulaic than others it seems. There are certain ways to do things, and ways to not do things. I do not have a problem with traditions, or Wiccans who use tradition in their magick or rituals. It simply read to me that those who don’t hold as much to tradition are doing it wrong, which I disagree with completely.

I was also not aware of how cutthroat the initiation process can be to get into a coven. Reed heavily emphasized that students who wished to be initiated into one of her two covens had to participate for a full year in rituals and traditions, and even then their initiation was not guaranteed. The coven goes off of gut feeling if a person will become an initiate into their coven. I am not saying this is right or wrong. I am simply saying that I did not realize that some covens were so selective. I can see the purpose, but all that did was emphasize why I have never been inclined to join a coven. I am a solitary witch anyway, but I feel like showing up should be organic and honest, a true statement of when and where they can be of service (which no human can always be of service 100% of the time). It should not be for mere attendance.

Again, I see the purpose of wanting a coven to be at its strongest. I can see why coven needs to be more than a social gathering. I can see why covens need to have a certain vulnerability to work through difficulties. Group magick won’t be as effective if some members are holding onto to old gripes, either petty or truly valid. However, I simply could not fathom being accepted or rejected from something I had invested my heart and time into based upon someone’s feeling about me. I also feel that accepting or rejecting someone based on gut feelings leaves room for human error and bias. I find it ironic that during much of the text, Reed makes it clearly known that both students and teachers will at times falter or stumble, as they are human. But, when it comes to the intimate process of bringing in a new and willing participant into the coven, that is left solely to gut feelings and bias.

Maybe that is just me…….

I also feel that people who say a coven always and immediately has stronger magic than a solitary practitioner are honestly just trying to recruit. As a solitary witch, I feel I enter a deeply intimate and magickal experience when I stand in my circle, my guides and the universe the only ones to witness me. I feel free and capable and empowered and deeply loved. No coven, no matter how established, can take that away from me. Reed did say that with the rise in popularity, there is no way that every single Wiccan could join a coven because there are not enough teachers to fulfill the needs of each new practitioner. With how cutthroat the initiation process is, I can see why……

The final point I want to make about snobbish and elitist mentalities come in the chapter about initiation, a chapter I find ripe with contradiction and looking down the proverbial nose on those who don’t follow the same path. Reed states there are two types of initiations: the one that comes from the coven, and the one that comes from spirit. The one that comes from spirit cannot come from a human, or from the self. It can only come from the Gods and Goddesses unveiling the mysteries to you in a process. Putting aside the fact that I disagree with that, I want to focus more on what Reed states about coven initiations. She makes the point that college degrees have fallen in strength, no longer holding the same weight as before, and that she does not want that to happen to her initiates. While I understand her wish for nothing but the best from her initiates, what I took from that is her saying that her coven members are more deserving of the magickal path, and stronger in their magickal creeds. This is simply not true. Credentials are great, but they don’t mean that someone is stronger, more pure of heart, or more deserving of the magickal path than a solitary witch, non-Wiccan witch, or anyone who isn’t in her coven. (Reed 58)

Okay, now on to some things that I agreed with Reed on: working with deities, and certain aspects of training and studying. In working with deities, I agree with her that it is important to treat it like any other relationship. It is not polite to call in a deity simply because you heard a friend or colleague say they did it. It isn’t polite to call them in to fulfill a need without doing some basic research or creating some respectful energy. Some deities will be lifelong influences. Other may be some that you work with on specific occasions. I don’t see a problem with any of that, as long as you approach the relationship with respect, and a willingness to engage in the process with this deity. Take time to read about them, visualize them, give an offering to them, or connect with them before simply asking for things.

I also agree that spiritual work does not, and should not, equal easy. Spiritual bypassing and a refusal to confront the shadow self in the end does more damage, and weakens the spiritual path. There is no race towards the other side of the darkness. There is no hierarchy for who has gone farther, confronted more, or overcome more. Please don’t feel like you taking the time you need to confront the difficult means your spiritual is lesser. In fact, you are doing what others refuse to do. I personally feel that we see this way to much with positivity culture. We need to be willing to share our hurt and pain and fear and dread. Those are just as valuable of spiritual teachers as any mentor or positive moment. I also agree with her that spells are a small section of a big umbrella called magick. I also agree that spell casting should be done wisely, and without vengeance in the heart.

Overall, this book did not pass the mustard for me, which I think I have made clear. Even Reed herself acknowledges on page 127 that the views of her and like-minded individuals may be seen as snobbish, old-fashioned, and elitist. Snobbish and elitist, yes. Old-fashioned, no. I actually wished that her book contained more of her “old-fashioned” views and tenets. I wish that she went more into specifics, and spent less time putting down anyone new to the path, or anyone who may stray from her opinion of how things should be done.

Reed, Ellen Cannon. Heart of Wicca: Wise Words from a Crone on the Path. Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC, 2000.

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The Law of Creation

Law 2: The Law of Creation

The second karmic law is the Law of Creation. This law states that life does not merely happen by chance or coincidence. Life is formed in the forges of ourselves; we are the creators. This means that as creators for our own lives, it is imperative that we hold to our truth, and honor that which makes each of us who we are. If you hide your truth or refuse to be an active participant in the daily makings of your own life, it can be of no surprise then, when your life does not hold the glittering riches of what you value.

One of the things that is important to be an active creator of your life, is to be present and aware of what is around you. Why? Because what is around you can be a direct message about your internal self. If your external world, and the way it moves and flows daily is peaceful (for the most part), inclusive (of yourself and others), creative (sacred expression), your internal self probably feels secure and sound. If your external world moves and flows daily from a place of fear, anger, or isolation, your internal world probably feels like a struggle or energy drain.

Photo by Gratisography on Pexels

The Law of Creation, with each person as the creator, means that if your world and external self are not in alignment with your higher potential, your internal self is most likely out of alignment with your truth. When or if this happens, look to what is within you that needs to be present and seen. Look to what your truth is, and that which you seek. If you look for answers and solutions outside yourself, your internal self is constantly left to adapt to themes, ideas, and situations that are not in alignment with your core.

5 of Pentacles from the Ostara Tarot

I think this sentiment applies nicely to the 5 of Pentacles, the tarot card of the month. This image shows a girl standing outside of a cathedral, and she is clearly destitute at the moment. Her wrap is in rags, her skin is exposed, and the night is bleak and snowy. With her is a snake, wrapped around her closely. Together they attempt to move and protect themselves from the elements. What she does not realize is that right next to her, shining through the cathedral window, is a stained-glass portrait of a snake wrapped around a tree of five pentacles.

If she would just turn and look at the light shining and the portrait on the stained-glass window, she would realize that she is where she needs to be to heal and be whole again. She would realize she is welcome beyond the doors of her current situation. Only she can make the choice to look and see that world is giving her an opportunity to regroup and grow through her personal truth. She is being given an opportunity by the universe to seek that which is seeking her, and to be part of the oneness of life.

The Law of Creation, since it applies to each person, means that you connecting to your life, forged from your own daily creation, means that when you meet another person, animal, or personified spirit, you are connecting to the oneness of the universe. Your life creation is a creation of energy. This energy is elevated through choice to be part of the wholesome universe as one energetic force.

There are certain things that are obvious outliers for the Law of Creation (in my humble opinion). Freak accidents happen. Bad things happen to good people. Life is often a painful experience. What is not an outlier that you, and each person, create your life through your choices, actions, relationships, intentions, spirit, and so much more. When looking to use the Law of Creation to connect more deeply to the oneness of yourself and beyond, look to the current energy within and around you. Ask yourself if you are happy. Ask yourself if you are okay. Ask the universe to help reveal the opportunity you need to grow, and then look up and choose…….

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Breakdown of the 12 Karmic Laws – The Great Law, The Law of Cause and Effect

We all know about the understood universal energy of Karma, even making memes and jokes that Karma is a bigger bitch than any of us ever could be (and there may be some actual truth to that statement). I have been thinking a lot about karma ever since the beginning of August. The Phoenix reversed is sending a message that it is time to really look at the karmic cycles we moving through, and the ones we are stagnant in. August is presenting an opportunity for each of us to really look at what in our actions, choices, or surroundings is holding us back from ascending on our hierarchical ladder of self.

The Phoenix is an invitation to provide for yourself and rise past Root Chakra

There are 12 Karmic Laws, and I want to devote a blog post to each of them. There is to much to say about each law for one post. So, we will start with the first law: The Great Law, also known as the Law of Cause and Effect. This is perhaps the most well-known law. This law basically means what is says. The energy you put out into the universe (including sub and unconscious energy) comes back to you.

Because of cause and effect, because the energy includes sub and unconscious energy, this law is often defined and perceived as a message of: if you are positive, positivity comes back you. If you are negative, negativity comes back to you. I respectfully disagree with this statement. Yes, there is something to be said about constantly looking at the world through a dark lens. There is something to be said about those people who constantly choose to exist in the darkness, and never wish to be honest about themselves so they can move into the light. We all know someone like this, and they are perpetuating a karmic cycle because they keep choosing a dark path, and then complain there is no light.

Where I take issue with this blanket statement of positive versus negative is 3-fold

1.) The Universe does not work or flow in only black or white: The Universe, the collective unconscious, Goddess and Gods do not exist in a state of either good or bad. There are layers of perception, action, emotion, and process. Sometimes the hardest things to do are scary to us. Sometimes the worst things for us, about us, are easy. Cause and Consequence is not a simple singularity that keeps a tally of every positive or negative aspect of ourselves. Cause and effect is more based in patterns, and a willingness to try and be courageous for change.

2.) It is impossible to be positive all the time: There is no way that we can have only good days, hold only good vibes. Why? Because that is not normal. If you can have a good day and have only good vibes during tragedy, that is not living and feeling into the dynamics of expression and emotion. Loss, death, heartbreak, rejection, insults, grief and more are going to bring out negativity, and that’s okay. It means you are human. The patterns come in how you handle it, and how you choose to let it define you.

3.) I believe it comes down to where this energy resides on your inner spectrum: Simply put, the life experience is going to move us on the spectrum with each day. It is going to move us further towards love, or further towards fear. I believe this is where the karmic cycle takes root. You can have a negative emotion, but still come from a place of love. You can keep perpetuating a smile to avoid having to deal with deep fear or sadness. In the end, I believe karma comes down to where the life experience consistently moves you on the spectrum.