A spread for moving forward – test drive

Okay – so I wanted to test-drive the spread I came up on Sunday, with which is centred around understanding a situation in order to move it forward. I’m trying to get to know the Shadowscapes deck better so I used this.

The reading was one of the best I’ve ever done for myself – incredibly insightful, and useful in clarifying the mix of feelings and actions going on in one aspect of my life. That the four cards surrounding the centre – the hopes and fears and how they are expressed – were all Cups gave me some clear ideas about what’s happening with my emotional energy at the moment, how I’m acting and why.


1. The central card is The Lovers. A union, a relationship, a strength – brought by a loving co-operation between reason and passion. Apparently this card frequently points towards a specific person, a lover. I am in a committed relationship, so I’m going to go with that straighforward interpretation. How can I strengthen this relationship?

2. Possible negatives; fears: The Seven of Cups. In this card, a pair of people are on a journey. One points away to a castle in the sky, the other looks down, studying a map. This is about possibilities, desires – perhaps too many of them, and carries a warning to stay grounded. My initial reaction to this card is that it shows conflict. In The Lovers, the scene represents rationality and passion working together, whereas the Seven of Cups suggest making a choice – perhaps between dreams and reality. Does this suggest that I’m taking to grounded an approach to my relationship? Or warn me to ground it more?

3. What is hoped for; motivations: The Ten of Cups. This is indeed what I hope for! The Two of Cups represents an equal and shared love, mutual respect between two people, the start of a new phase in a relationship, emotional peace and contentment, the deepening of a friendship through giving and receiving love.

4. What am I actually doing? The Nine of Cups. Lots of cups! This one suggests enjoyment, satisfaction, comfort. I found some scribbled notes I made ages ago where I’d put ‘not superficial, just a simple good time’. And the Six of Cups, the card of nostalgia and misty-eyed memories. It is a suggestion to keep hold of a child’s untainted perspective and to enjoy simple pleasures (like those of the Nine?) …but also a warning not to get lost in the past, as this can distract from what’s really happening. Together these cards show me that I’m not thinking deeply about my relationship. I’m happy, I’m enjoying the simple comfort of our being together, but I’m not spending time looking at it closely. It’s true that my usually-a-bit-overanalytical brain is taking a break at the moment, and it does feel good, but perhaps I could do with a little touch of it.

5. The past: The Hermit and The Devil. Two very different ideas. Whilst The Hermit takes himself away to think, maybe to study, The Devil indicates bondage – something from which we can free ourselves…but somehow keep choosing not to. I was trying to think of all sorts of stuff in the past that could be bearing on my current situation, but then realised – today was the last day of a difficult and intensive course I’ve been doing since last autumn. Many nights I tucked myself away in the little room to work. My social life took a dive, and I had less time for my relationship too. Whilst I don’t feel I could (or should) have ‘freed myself from the shackles of my coursework’ (I did want to pass!) I have definitely felt in bondage to it. I didn’t have much time for doing fun stuff, not even with my partner, so when we did hang out together, I mainly wanted to just chill, get takeaway, watch DVDs. I’ve not been investing much time in my partner or our relationship.

King of Swords, from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law
King of Swords, from the Shadowscapes Tarot by Stephanie Piu-Mun Law

6. What needs to be incorporated? The Sun and the King of Swords. Again, two drastically contrasting cards, which also contain very similar pictures. Whilst the young angel in The Sun rides on a huge, magnificent bird, surrounded by many more, colourful, beautiful birds, into a glorious golden sun, his pure white wings reaching up to fill with light, the King of Swords sits bent over on a cold stone throne, looking down on two black ravens. His wings, filled with the shadows of dark birds, reach up into the purple-grey sky around him. Wow. but what does that mean? It looks like two very different energies need to be brought into the relationship – by me, or maybe by my partner. What are these?  The Sun represents optimism – that moment you feel your eyes are opening and you’re really seeing clearly, and what you see is joy and beauty everywhere. Whilst the Nine of Cups showed me currently relaxing and enjoying the esay comfort of my relationship, The Sun adds a deepened understanding to this, leading to heightened enjoyument – more fun, more love, as Biddy puts it, ‘you have reached a new level’. But this card sits alongside the King of Swords – a symbol of courage and wisdom. He is a powerful leader, because he knows how to put his intellect, and his dreams, to work, creating action. He is used to battles, but is always victorious, because he is such a wise leader. Up on his throne, he’s removed from firey passions and emotional things.

The combined message of these cards encourages me to open my eyes. Why settle for easy comfort when there can be joy? I should aim higher, and expect more. But to do this I must also apply my knowledge. If my partner and I have been through some difficult times, what can I learn from these, how can I change my behaviour, how can I change that knowledge and understanding into real action for us? Not by sitting back and resting any more.

7. Outcome: Six of Wands. Victory! Triumph! All sounds a bit too good to be true…and maybe it is. It’s great to overcome obstacles and come out singing – together, strong, proud. But there is a warning here too – not to take that success for granted. To overcome every obstacle can lead a person to thinking they will overcome every obstacle – incorporating the optimism of The Sun, they expect success. Overcoming dificulties, particularly as a couple, takes a lot of strength and hard work – as the King of Swords showed me.

I’m excited by this reading. Not only were the cards incredibly close to my feelings about the question, but I felt that my reading them, largely without books, had taken a bit of a step. I’m starting to see more connections between the cards, to read a story running through the spread, rather than separate, individual cards in isolated positions.

As for the spread itself – I’m happy with it. I might move the order around – putting the past (5) before ‘current behaviour’ (4), as this would have made more sense in this reading. But on the whole I think the spread does do what it was intended – enable me to find a complete story around one central question.

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One comment

  1. Little Red says:

    I think it’s very readable…I don’t think I would’ve chosen this deck if it wasn’t so rich in tiny details – it really is beautiful.

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