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4 tips to read tarot cards in weird positions in a spread

Reading the cards when they throw you for a loop

If you are like me, you prefer to use set spreads to read the cards, for you or others. This is because a set spread helps me align the narrative with the cards, and gives me a foundation for reading the cards honestly and clearly.

However, even in specific spreads with specific positions, there can be cards that come forward that throw you for a loop. I know because it has happened to me often.

So, what to do about this surprising card in this position that now has you asking more questions instead of providing clarity. Here are the ways that I read the cards that surprise me, or throw me for a loop.

1.) Focus on the spectrum of the card

The Sun from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot

Let’s use an example:

Let’s say you are doing a simple two-card reading with the spread positions WHAT TO FOCUS ON and WHAT TO RELEASE. For the WHAT TO RELEASE position you turn over the Sun. The Sun is always a welcome sight in any reading, so what to do when it is in this position? I mean, who wants to release the energies of the Sun card? Go to the spectrum of the Sun card.

It isn’t saying you need to release your luminous light. It isn’t a bad omen. The Sun card invites needed illumination, and nourishment to feed your wild spirit and the growth you working through. So, in this position (at least the way I would read it), is to say that you have gained what you needed from the Sun. You have been given the clarity and the nourishment. You have fed your wild appetite. The burial part of the spectrum of the Sun would be to stay in this energy now could merge into complacency, or a comfortability that is no longer serving you.

Simply put, what you are releasing is the inclination to stay. You have gained what you needed. You have the clarity, the resources, and the strength. At some point, comfortability confines you to a space you have outgrown, and your spirit is ready to go forward.

2.) Look to where the card resides within the deck

Let’s go back to our previous example. Another way to read the Sun from the position WHAT TO RELEASE is to look at where the Sun sits within the deck.

The Sun comes after the Moon, and before Judgment. The Moon invites us to call in our wild magick, the Sun gives it nourishment, and Judgment invites us to take that wild magick and move into a position of purpose and interconnection with the world, or the bigger picture.

So, in releasing the Sun (again, how I would read it), it is saying that your wild magick and wild reclamation are ready to align into your devotion to yourself, and your bigger purpose.

The Sun has given you everything you need to take your wild and beautiful spirit into a position that expands to cosmic reclamation and sacred devotion. There isn’t any bad omen in that, is there?

3.) Look to how the cards interact with each other

From the Hush Tarot

I hate to depart from the example of the Sun, but for this section I have to highlight a real moment that happened to me, because it speaks to this tip perfectly.

For a little backstory, a little over a year ago I was looking at potentially renting office space with another person to do in-persons readings. I knew the person, adore and admire her still, the office was intimate, and was in a location that I loved (downtown Littleton to be exact). This little hamlet was my stomping ground since I was little, and I thought the location was a sure sign that I should sign the contract and get the keys.

I left the meeting with a lot to think about. Much of it seemed great, but I was also dealing with a lot of personal changes that could affect my decision, and before I make any big decisions like this, I consult my cards. So, I sat down when I got home and pulled three cards. These were the positions

Card for renting office space / Card for not renting office space / and a card for myself between these two huge choices.

The card pulled for renting the office space was the Page of Pentacles (not a bad sign). The card pulled for not renting the office space was the Queen of Wands (again, not a bad sign), and the card that represented myself was Strength. Look at how the Strength card is looking clearly at the Queen of Wands.

I had my answer. The Strength card was literally directing her focus, and mine, to the option that would best direct me. The Strength card was also looking away from a card that may have provided a lot of opportunity and growth, and I needed the strength to let an opportunity like that go.

I didn’t take the office space, and moved a few months ago to Conifer. The drive would have been over an hour if I taken the office and was committed to a lease.

So, look at how the cards interact together, or don’t interact. This isn’t about forcing it either. They may not interact, but you have the previous tips to help if there is no interaction to be had. However, if you look close enough, many times you will find interactions that you initially didn’t catch.

4.) Look to the symbolism in the card image

Sun Card from the Ostara Tarot. Perhaps my favorite depiction of this card

The final tip is to look at the symbolism in the card. Symbols speak to the unconscious mind, create depth outside the rudimentary understanding of what the symbol is, and encourage a deeper narrative and connection to occur within us. Most decks are stacked full of symbols.

The beautiful thing about this is that symbols create a very personal dialog within us to help take the invitations of the card and work them into the fabric of our lives. This is also subjective. I don’t connect in any way with the traditional symbol of the baby or the sunflowers in traditional depictions of the Sun card. I do, however, connect deeply with the beautiful warrior in the Sun card from the Ostara tarot.

The symbol of the wings, the armor, the scepter all speak to me on an unconscious level that the Sun invites us to take all we have, use it promote more light, protect what is sacred, and journey to the places that need our light and our fight.

So, use the symbols to create connections that transcend the spread position. Use what you see to create an internal dialog that helps build the foundation for the card energies to move from surprising to clarifying.

Certain cards can throw us for a loop in reading, but these are the tips that I have found to really help for my personal and professional readings. May they do the same for you. Thanks for reading!

If you like the way I work with the tarot, and need some guidance, check out my Store and Services page to see the spreads I offer!

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Journaling is the Initiation

Journaling is the Initiation

Now that we have discussed the pull-reflex

the next step in making sure that your tarot readings are unbiased is journaling your initial thoughts, feelings, and responses to the cards.

There is no wrong way to do this. Seriously…….

The only wrong way to engage with the tarot is through not engaging. It is important, especially in making sure that you are giving yourself an unbiased reading, that you are taking notes or documenting the way you work and interact with you cards.

This doesn’t have to be some long poetic diatribe on each and every card. It can be a list, bullet points, pictures, connections to things like colors, songs, or memories.

Why is journaling the initiation?

Journaling is the initiation between you and the cards because it shows the natural and free-flowing thoughts and emotions that come through in that moment. It shows the nuance.

Each day that you engage with the tarot there is a difference in energy, and in connection. It may not be exactly “correct”, but as a tarot reader I believe that correctness should not come before perfection. That is why every reader, no matter how many books, courses, or workshops they attend will have those slight differences in their own interpretation and understanding of the cards.

If you journal in the morning, at night, during a moon ritual, return to your latest journal entries and then write down how the card came forward in actuality. This is why I think it is important not to strive for complete correctness. That can create expectations of the ways that the cards are going to flow in your life, and when they don’t adhere to that expectation (and they never will), you find yourself questioning even more.

So, return to your latest journal entry, and check in. Write down how the card(s) actually came forward. Document how your initiation contained similarities, differences, complete out-of-the-blue surprises with the cards. This is the connection forming in real time. What a beautiful thing!

Some things to consider when journaling about the cards:

  • It is important to date each entry. That way you have a roadmap of your personal path with the tarot. How beautiful is that?
  • No matter the format (handwritten, electronic, art-inspired), keep your entries. Return to them, read them again, see the similarities and the differences between you and the cards from that space now in the past, and the present moment.
  • You can use your journal entries to compile a set of notes that form a clear-running connection with the cards.

After you have engaged with your latest entry, and some of your earliest ones, you will start to see the threads forming that encourage a deeper understanding of how the cards come forward for you. You will see the ways in which your free-flowing initiation was spot-on. These are the times when your intuition (whether felt or not) was speaking to you. Other times, you will see that your entries are completely out of alignment. This could be a time when ego was present, when a feeling was not fully worked through, or any other situation that could have altered the understanding.

Don’t get discouraged at these moments. These are the ways you really learn the tarot. It isn’t in some book or course. It is in the precious and intimate unfolding each day, seeing where you are truly in alignment, and where you need to connect more deeply to intuition.

Thank you for reading. Stay tuned for the next blog post in creating an unbiased connection to your cards. Don’t forget to sign up for the Trust the Tarot booklet which is designed specifically to help you engage with the tarot in this way.

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How to remain unbiased when reading your own cards

The cards provide beautiful invitations and considerations, and also accountability to truth.

It is true that reading your cards is one of the best ways to tune into yourself, your situation, your life to gain a deeper understanding. It is also true that the tarot can be used both creatively and analytically to engage this understanding. The tarot provides an outlook that, while scoffed at by many, can create an intimate moment of connection. All of these things are true, and yet, it is also true that reading your own cards, objectively and without bias, can pose an obstacle to an honest analysis.

I have been reading the cards for five years now, for myself, friends and family, and clients. There are still days that I have to really sit in my reading and make sure that I am not pulling a meaning out of ego, need for comfort, or an effort to assuage some deep feeling I haven’t fully worked through completely.

Over the years, I have found some tips and techniques that have helped me reach for an unbiased and honest understanding, no matter how uncomfortable or called out I may feel. I would like to make this a bit of a series, otherwise this would be a hella long blog post because your girl can write and talk about this until the cows come home.

Tip #1: Don’t keep pulling cards, clarifying or otherwise

The Wild Unknown tarot deck

This first tip comes with an asterisk. If your intuition is clearly saying that you should pull another card, honor that voice. Your intuition is paramount to any reading, and comes first. The reason that I place this tip at number is that it can be really easy to get sucked into what I call the pull-reflex (where something isn’t clear initially, or may present an edge, and another card is used to assuage the message, but it’s wrapped up in the context of clarity).

I have always said that more cards doesn’t mean a better, more clear reading. Some of the most profound readings are single cards. If you’re in a reading for yourself, pulling with a spread or intuitively, one of the most profound ways to have an unbiased reading is to the let cards chosen speak for themselves. It can feel easy when pulling the Tower or the 10 of Swords to reflexively pull another card for clarification, but that may diminish the biasness of the reading. Let the Tower talk to you. Let the cards that come forward be heard.

The reason I place this technique at number one is because it is important to get a connection with the cards that isn’t about what you want to hear. If that is what you are searching for, the tarot is not for you. Sorry, it just isn’t. Even cards like the Star, the 2 of Cups, the 4 of Wands can present an edge or challenge in reading. There are no good or bad cards. Some cards feel better than others, but that doesn’t diminish the nourishment that comes with each and every card.

Every card is of benefit, even when it feels heavy and hard to bear.

Going into the pull-reflex is honestly like fishing for compliments. It is an impulse reaction to ease the ego, or seek to gain comfort in some way. Again, if your intuition is knocking on the door, telling you to pull another card, than do so, but that presents the need to clarify if it is ego or intuition talking. This speaks to another tip that I will discuss at a later time.

The main point here is that no matter how you read, that you create a container, or a boundary around the reading. This means that your reading may go slower, may have fewer cards, or may take some time to really let the messages sink in. That is perfectly fine. I would wager that no one, myself included, always knows the deeper underbelly of a tarot analysis on every reading.

So, to sum up, the first tip that I can give you is to create a boundary so that you don’t get sucked into the pull-reflex. It is very hard, I know. However, the pull-reflex can diminish the capacity of the guidance of a card because it has been taken over by others. Let the cards pulled guide you towards creative and analytical observation and connection. Check back in for the next blog installment of tarot tips for an unbiased reading.

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How to Work with the 6 of Pentacles


As each day begins to bring us closer to March, distancing us from the shortest month of the year, it is therapeutic, dare I write it…….even cathartic to write my workings with this card onto the public page of my platform. In working with the 6 of Pentacles, and as I mentioned in the podcast episode (click here to listen), it is important to see and work with the 6 of Pentacles beyond an act of charity. I don’t like to work with the 6 of Pentacles based on a capitalistic narrative that puts money in the form of hierarchy between people. Instead, I am going to discuss how the themes within this card open the space for sharing for the bigger picture, and what that means. I am also going to discuss how abundance and generosity make magick and reality a fluid cycle, ending within the metaphor of pollination- and how it relates to this card.

When talking about sharing for the picture, I cannot help but reflect back on 2020, and the beginning of this year. I know…I know, we have discussed about the last year to the point that it has become a trope of itself. However, when I look back on the last year, I see that our lives are communally based. We may not be the most social of people (I am definitely not overly social) but the good of the individual enhances and elevates the good of the community. The good of the community leads to the good of a society.

This is not merely related to health, although 2020 showed how health is not a individual issue. When discussing the theme of sharing for the bigger picture, it is about all of that, and more. Sharing for the bigger picture means that we do not seek to shut ourselves off or away from the world. Instead, we open ourselves to the goods that abound with gratitude and companionship. We share with the community, with our spirit guides and ancestors, with our friends and family, so that the layered energies become enriched with stability and support.

From the Herbcrafter’s Tarot, the 6 of Pentacles is shown as Pine. Pine offers it’s medicine, resources, and support all year. This consistence supports all living things.

The Herbcrafter’s Tarot deck shows the layered meaning of this card. When we share for the bigger picture, it is not merely monetary or based on someone’s altruistic acts. This card speaks to sharing in ritual and magick and community because that is how the bigger energies change for the better. When working with this card, we are being asked to commit to sharing in the ways that we can, so that the community, society, and the very Earth experiences more stability, more support.

Building on this narrative, when we look to generosity and abundance, we are being asked with this card to be generous with all the layers and faculties of ourselves. We can use our hearts, our minds, our bodies, and our spirits to direct the bigger picture towards more support and stability. By offering out and being generous with ourselves, we charge the Universe to send back to us what we have put out. We merge into the large and small cycles of what is, was, and will be with more direction being paid towards wider description of abundance.

From the Hush Tarot deck, the Meadowlark is the only bird that sings while flying, indicating joy and bounty. Meadowlarks are a symbol of abundance and good harvest.

When we look to generosity, prosperity, and sharing it is important to find the space to really sit with what abundance means to us. Abundance and prosperity are not terms and themes that exist in a vacuum. They are around us all the time. It requires that we take notice, be part of the collaboration for prosperity’s own sake. Being part of the abundance for the bigger picture means that we actively choose the ways we are fulfilled continuously, constantly.

When abundance and prosperity move and guide us, we are freer to offer out our internal truth more. We are freer to find the small and subtle layers that bring abundance into our days. With all of this glorious energy, it can be easy to see this card as all love and light, sunshine and rainbows shit. Not true.

This card is a positive card, and indicates quite beautiful themes, but this card also points to work that needs to be done. It points to what is out of alignment with prosperity. It can also indicate our attention to money, the privilege that many (me included) hold and how that privilege has created deep, systemic imbalances. This card indicates and guides us toward move and bring abundance into spirit, but it also shines a light on where the balances of power are tilted.

When we work with this card, it is important to look at how we build and collaborate from a space of prosperity. When we take abundance and prosperity into our spirit, and then give it out to the world along with our truths, it is vital to see and reflect on how these systems, resources, and guiding forces can be called on and cultivated in times of hardship. In short, this card encourages us to not see and work with abundance as some fleeting, charitable influence. Rather, it is a form of stabilizing and ensuring that all things have a seat at the table of abundance.

From the Wild Unknown, we see the 6 of Pentacles as a form of growth, symbolized by the seed. Through pollination, more and more living things thrive.

Finally, we can work with the 6 of Pentacles by calling to mind the role of pollination, both metaphorically and physically. If you really want to be share in the totality of abundance for the bigger picture, go thank a pollinator! metaphorically, we can use pollination as an analogy for the 6 of Pentacles. Through the act of pollination the plant can grow and thrive, and others plants can grow and thrive. Pollination contributes to the whole ecosystem, with each living thing benefitting and offering their own abundance to keep all things in equilibrium. For us, on a spiritual scale, we can see pollination as a way to encourage our spiritual thriving, as well as the thriving spiritual ecosystem for all things.

I would love to hear how the 6 of Pentacles has benefitted you. I really love this card, and see the prosperous blooming in all things. In you, in me, in all things, we bloom together or we wither together. Thank you so much for reading.

Many blessings and much love,

Ashlie

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Challenges with the Page of Wands reversed

I am one of those tarot readers that rejects the idea of reversals meaning bad, no, or anything opposite of joy. In fact, some of my best tarot medicine has come from reversals, reminding me to tune into the subtle vibrations within me to elevate my heart and my spirit. However, I had an experience pulling a tarot card the other day that has not left me alone. When that happens, I know I need to give it a bigger and broader voice to let these messages be of service.

I have been slowly rebuilding my routine of pulling a tarot card every day. Actually, right now it is about every day, but what is one or two more days, right? I sat out in the suddenly chilly Colorado air Saturday morning, and pulling a card over, I asked for guidance. I pulled the Page of Wands reversed. Immediately, I felt a tightening and gripping sensation with this card. My intuitive way of confronting the challenge.

Tarot is NOT all rainbows and butterflies, and any tarot reader who tells you that is selling you a bill of goods. I am sorry, but it’s true. Tarot can be incredibly challenging, and also incredibly healing. With tarot, you are getting all the energies that come with the cards. Some days that energy is beautiful and radiant. Other days, it is a struggle to meet the energy on solid ground.

That is how I felt pulling the Page of Wands reversed. So, in the spirit of meeting this energy with grace and love and honesty, let’s dive into what challenges can come from the Page of Wands. First, a quick reminder about this card. The Page of Wands is the dreamer and initiator of spirit movement. The Page of Wands is the one who calls into being the outline and calling of spirit manifestation that the Son will then move and shake and stir into action. There is also the elements to consider.

These two elements come from the elemental association of the card, and the Court Title of Page. The wands represent fire. The Pages (as their own identity) represent Earth. These two energies stand at polar opposites in many ways, mostly in movement. Earth growth is often shockingly slow, with some exceptions. Fire growth burns hot and quick and it feeds. This means that the fire energy within wants to move, but the earth energy needs time to stir and dwell and hold.

Passion and growth are not on the same time table: My passion for tarot is a ferocious fire that will never go out. However, growing into this process is like the growth of a tree. It is happening, but it is hard to see or feel it in the moment sometimes. If there is something that you are passionate about, and you feel it so deeply in your bones that it almost hurts, but it is slow to rise towards the vision you hold within, that is Page of Wands energy in its shadow form.

One of the reasons that these two energies are so opposite of each other is that both passion and growth work with visions and dreams and wants. Passion sees everything through rose-colored glasses, while growth is met by the ego, who wants everything to be kept safe and comfortable and understandable. Growth needs time to stop, pause, reconsider, and thrive. Passion wants everything to unfold beautifully, organically, passionately.

This can be a huge challenge for the ego. It can be hard to remind ourselves that growth is happening, especially when it seems like it happens so quick for other people. Sometimes it does, and that is just the luck of the draw. Other times, it is important remember how you are seeing someone else’s growth. Are you seeing it through the lens of social media or a website, or are you seeing the real and raw energy that comes with growth?

When the pages are in their shadow element, and the dreams and visions become cloudy, it can be hard to keep your head above the metaphorical water. It can be hard to see the forest for the trees. It can be hard to hold the burning desires of the wand’s fire, while moving with the vibrations and rhythms of the earth. If this resonates with you at all, I invite you to take time to see where your passion can be directed, mindfully. Where can you place some energy so that it feels like you are merging these two elemental spaces?

One of the best ways I know, is that when I deeply feel the passion of the wands, but my growth is that of a tree, I tend to my physical space. I tend to my body. Movement, exercise, food, and tending are all beautiful ways to give your passion purpose. Move your passion back into alignment by redirecting it. Also, take a look at where you are putting your energy. Are you getting caught in the scroll-hole of comparisons? Are you getting caught up in drama because it’s exciting? See where your passion may be meeting forces that could compromise it.

Finally, remember that patience will allow this energy to pass. Practice patience and stillness. The Page of Wands never wants to be still. By practicing even a little bit of mindful slowing, you may be surprised how the pace that many people set for themselves is based more on output and expectation that need and control require. I wish you many blessings. If you would still like some help setting this space into alignment, consider my spiritual wellness coaching sessions. At $40 for an hour, we will look at how to use these confrontations and contractions towards your purpose and higher alignment.

Much Love!

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Reflections on an old blog post

The 5 of Cups from all my decks. Single pictures below.

Sometimes the most poignant lessons come from the ones you have already written. Sometimes the words that you wrote ages ago can reveal to you how far you have come, and how much you have offered before. These old teachings have the honor of coming from you, and following through you to become again.

Lately, I have been stirring the energies of my old writings. Between my blog and many, many journals I am able to see and remember the path that I have taken with tarot. I want to share an old blog post with you, one that I wrote on December 5, 2016. This time was right at the infancy of Tea and Tombstones, and my initiation into the tarot. I began to read tarot as a mere hobby, but my writings (at least I hope) show how quickly tarot settled into my very bones, changing my internal narrative, as well as the words that I offered out into the world. I want to share how I see this old post, and this card.

5 of Cups from the Mystical Dream Tarot. The emotional vessel we are means that we have to be mindful of when we are full or overflowing. Emotions and reason embrace the depth of knowledge to be gained. Mindful grace will help that which is in the depth come to light.

I started learning tarot very slowly, pulling a card once a day, but really committing to writing about a card weekly, which highlights one huge change. I don’t do a weekly pull anymore. Why? Because I believe that tarot has so much to offer that I could spend a whole life time on one single card. Now I do the monthly ezines to explore more deeply the resonance with each card. In between the texts I have included the 5 of Cups from all my decks, highlighting the many images that I personally have with this card. The old text will be colored in yellow to highlight the breaks between my past post, and this current one I am writing now.

The first card in this weekly series is the 5 of cups. This is perhaps not the most inspiring card to begin the week, but there is a lot that can be gained from this cup, and understanding the energy behind it. With this card there is disillusionment, depression, a feeling of loss, or focus on the negative aspects in life.

5 of Water / Goldenseal from the Herbcrafter’s Tarot. All the fives relate to endangered herbs, Goldenseal being one of the most endangered herbs. There is a need to face the threats coming in, but to move from a space of mindful protection to create nourishing restoration.

I find both truth and also a novice simplicity to this card. The 5’s all represent confrontation, conflict, or challenge of some kind. The fives are not easy to deal with, but they offer a deep pull towards the spectrum, towards the communal nature of your beautiful spirit. It isn’t always easy. I do still believe that the 5 of Cups speaks to disillusionment, loss, grief. But, I think that the 5 of Cups also speaks to what it means to feel courage. To reveal the truth of your heart brings the other side of the spectrum. It brings the fear that keeps us stagnant, retreating towards safety. When the very nature of the heart brings opposition, confliction, or doubt, our heart beats more rapidly. We feel like we must choose between truth or freedom. In reality, they are one and the same. They are the embodiment of what it means to feel into emotional vulnerability at the very moment we are seeking security and safety.

This card speaks to what every person feels in life at some point. It is not always a joyful ride. With joy comes grief, with changes come emotional turmoil, with relationships comes setbacks or breakups. There is so much going on in the world politically, socially, and individually. It is normal to feel the weight of changes and uncertainties. Human are messy creatures that can hurt or be hurt. Hurt comes in many forms. Even just this time of year brings out a sense of isolation and solitude.

5 of Cups from the Dragon Tarot. Although not an interactive image, this card speaks to not dwell on dissatisfaction. All emotions will move through, but it is always within your power to sit with the discomfort, and create your own transformative fire.

I felt the 5 of Cups stir in me when I turned on the news, tapped into any social event, or felt into what it meant to be a person, living and breathing, during the times of 2016. I feel the 5 of Cups now. I feel the 5 of Cups now when I look at my platform and my business. There is so much I wanted to do with this blog, and looking back on it, on all my previous posts, I realize that I kept myself looking into the dark abyss, feeling inadequate, feeling not good enough, feeling like I wasn’t worthy of having the platform I desire.

That is what the 5 of Cups teaches us. It teaches us that emotions can be a predictor for how we show up in the world. That is not to say that we should never feel any shadow emotions. All emotions are valuable teachers, but when we dwell on those negative emotions, those fears and vulnerabilities, it can stagnate us. It can halt us in our tracks when all we want to do is run.

What can be gained from this card is a personal, emotional check- in. If these feelings are present, the best thing right now can be restraint and reflection. Hasty decisions can make situations worse. It is ok to disengage. It is ok to say not right now, and it is ok to sit with these emotions for a while before reaching conclusions.

5 of Cups from the Wild Unknown. Freedom to move and choose and act and breathe is still possible, but it requires your courageous heart to acknowledge and reveal. Vulnerability is the only way to be whole. We cannot move from both love and fear.

This is still one of my biggest action-points with the 5 of Cups, and what I speak to with clients. The 5 of Cups should teach us that acknowledgment is not the same as dwelling. Dwelling, as mentioned leads to stagnation. But acknowledging our discomfort, our troubling emotions, and letting it move us towards reflection can create a beautiful window that lets all the light in. If you find yourself in the 5 of Cups, it is important to lean into self-care and restraint. Reactive emotions can create more problems. Reflective emotions can create great change.

Pulling this card today reminds me that energy is cyclical, but actions don’t have to be. This time of year, whether it is the holidays, the election, or the general nature of things, is already a hard time. Focus on what is positive, and what deserves that positive energy. Expectations and actions can be improved. Reflect and move forward when the time is right.

5 of Cups from Ostara Tarot. When we focus on loss from the perspective of ego, we cannot see that loss is inevitable to free the spirit. When we focus on what we lack, we continue to sit in skin that is begging us to shed and grow. Look up. Sit in the discomfort. This too will provide you everything you need.

I also fully believe that emotions can be cyclical. Frustration, hurt, guilt, shame, discomfort, and more will surface again and again. Each time they do, we have are given the gift of choice, so that our actions are not the same as before, if those previous actions were not helpful, or led to further hurt. We have all been the receiver and giver of these hard emotions. Letting reflection come through by acknowledging the emotion can show us what can bring us back to center.

Overall, I feel into this card much like I did years ago. There are obvious nuances and subtleties that will grow and change over time, but the paydirt of this card still holds me the same way. I cannot say I love this card, but I love that it reminds me that I am human, and that I can be messy even when I am ascending spiritually. I love that this card shows me the way out is through, and that my, and your, courageous heart can flourish towards personal and communal good.

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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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Reading the Devil Card

The Dragon Tarot (left) and the Ostara Tarot (right)

The Devil card is quite a loaded tarot card, in fact, the mere mention or turn of this card can change the whole tarot reading, especially for someone just beginning to read to tarot for themselves, or for other people, but this card doesn’t have to the dark little cloud that rains on a beautiful tarot reading. In fact, this card can be a wonderful, amazing teacher, if we are willing to shed the archetype as we have known it for so long. Many religious texts and teachings place Lucifer as the direct anti-thesis to God, to purity, to ascension. I believe that the Devil card can provide the space to create some great work in this world, and I wish to add new narratives to this card. If you view and work with this card in a different way, I respect, but if you are open to a different interpretation, I gladly invite you into this space. I also highly recommend that you look to Lindsay Mack’s Tarot for the Wild Soul podcast with the Devil as one of the great liberators of the tarot. I love her work, and this episode really struck me when I first heard it.

Let’s first get started by talking about the meanings of the Devil tarot card. The Devil card is all about finding your autonomous center, or your own autocracy. This means that the Devil card is all about responsibility, accountability, freedom, and spaciousness. When finding your autonomy, you step into your power. You are the creator of your life, free to make it what you will. That also means that you need to take accountability for actions and movement and choices. This is a not a card of bad omens or terrible evil. It is a card that is inviting the seeker into a space of rebirth, but requires that you confront this space with a willingness to move and shed the former self. You are being asked to be your own light-bearer, willing to step into the transformative fires.

The Devil card is about the cause, or the why, and not the what when it comes to circumstance. This is why I don’t read this card in relation to addiction, vices, toxicity, or attachments. Those are consequences of a deeper cause. It is within that cause, that why, that the Devil is asking for understanding and merging. For example, for two monogamous people who are in a committed relationship, an affair or adultery would not be the focus of Devil energy, it would be the why. It would be the trajectory off-course between these two that would be where Devil energy is.

Another meaning about the Devil is about finding freedom from expectations, dogmas, or external forces that do not serve you. The Devil as a means for rebirth means that the self needs to shift away from perceptions and energies that do not serve you. If you are not hurting anybody else, or forcing your will on anybody else, there is nothing you owe to anybody in terms of reasoning or explanation. Your body, your spirit, your personal light is yours and it is within you that balance and pleasure and indulgence and pain and understanding sit. What you promote within and outside of your body is your choice, again as long as it does not infringe on the autonomy of another person, or as long as it does not incite violence or promote harm to another person.

Now that there is a little bit of an overview of what the Devil card represents, let’s go to some key themes when reading the Devil card. When working the Devil card, I think there are three things that should be present in order to fully work with this card. These three things are:

  • Release judgment, for yourself and others
  • Let go of the need to see external proof of this card
  • Allow for the human space to be present, step into your creature self

I believe that the first thing when working with the Devil card is to release judgment. Judgment creates bias and a hierarchy that does not serve this card, or the reading. When the Devil appears, there is an invitation to move into the source so that great work can be done for rebirth. The card that immediately follows the Devil is the Tower. This means that by finding that autonomous center, and shifting attention to the cause and not the consequence of circumstance, you are creating the space for the Tower to fall, disintegrating that which does not serve.

This requires confronting the cause, finding understanding, and shifting perspectives back to self with honesty. This is not easy to do. The Devil may be one of the great teachers in the card, but it is not easy work. That is why it is important to remove judgment from yourself. If you judge what comes forth, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Judging what comes forward honestly and authentically will stifle growth and intuitive guidance. It will shunt what the Devil is asking you to do, which is to find your own power, take accountability, and move into a spacious freedom that releases external narratives.

The next thing I think is important when reading this card is to not try to find external proof of this card. This card, as mentioned, is often considered the card of addictions, vices, or toxic attachments. Those external manifestations further judgmental thoughts and behaviors. The need to see and point the finger to something external is exactly the kind of narrative that shifts the energy of the Devil away. It is within you to take control and accountability. It is within you to step fully into your beautiful power. It is within you that your autocracy lies. These energies do not always have an external shape or outline to point to and say, “there is the Devil.” They may, and it can include those listed entrapments, but it could also be found in so many other things, things that may be little and hard to miss.

So, when looking to Devil energy, it is important to remember that the Devil can be in the smallest of details and moments, and they do not have to be bad in any way. Coming into your autonomy, and creating a spacious space for freedom within you can be as simple, yet profound, as saying no to an energetic vampire. It can be in seeking answers, and doing the research, not believing everything that you are told. Devil energy can be found in taking accountability and apologizing. In reading this card, let go of the need to see or speak to external embodiments becauce Devil energy is so much more complex than that.

Finally, when reading the Devil card, let the space for the human-ness to come forward. To go back to the need to read this card in relation to addiction, vices, or toxic connections, if that is truly what the Devil card was about, it would be pulled every time. Why? Because we are all human. We all have bad connections within us. We all have vices and things that we can’t pull ourselves away from. Again, these can be related to a behavior or a state of mind. For a comedic metaphor of this, I recommend watching the clip of Jim Gaffigan talking about McDonald’s, and how everyone has their own form or version of McDonald’s. The point is: we all have things in our life that may not be the absolute best for us, but we are not perfect beings. There is no such thing. Let the Devil invite you into the human aspect. Let it provide you with the comfort and freedom to be a human in this world, with judgment or constant need to point the finger to something external.

It is important to recognize this especially if reading for someone else. When the Devil card is pulled, as a reader, it is important to recognize that what makes this seeker a human is based on their internal, core why’s, so let the space open for them to find their own answers instead of placing this card into the evil, bad, dark space. We all have been the toxic person at some point, so approaching this card and each reading where this card comes up as a space to step into internal power rather than see it as some bad omen will completely transform the reading.

I hope this was helpful for you and your tarot readings, for yourself and others!

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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….