Messages from the four directions: A compass tarot spread

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I began the new year reading Glennie Kindred’s Sacred Earth Celebrations – a beautiful book which makes an amazing primer for anyone wanting to work with the wheel of the year, and filled with information and guidance for those who already make the turning seasons, but want to deepen this practice.

One of the biggest things for me was the introduction of four directions to correspond with the four seasons, and the four elements (and thus the four suits in tarot.) Lines were drawn between the grounding solidity of earth, winter and north, the cool bright clarity of air and spring and the dawn in the east, the heat and activity of fire, summer and the south, and the flowing, intangible qualities of water, autumn and west.

This week I shared a tarot reading on Autostraddle which called on those four directions for advice. The querent asked about a possible move from the city, the beginning of a new life, but feared what would be given up in the process.

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I created a tarot spread based on the four points of the compass and their corresponding elements. I’ve created a compass spread before, and also a four elements tarot spread, but I’d never made something that asked for the wisdom of north, south, east and west in such a way.

I was struck as I did the reading by how physical those four directions seemed to become – as though I was allowing them to flow thorough me as I read the cards. It was a beautiful experience, very real. It made me think that this spread could be used as part of a ritual, or a ritual could be created in the process of reading. As Glennie Kindred suggests in her book, turning and facing those four directions as you ask, read or speak, placing cards or elemental symbols in the four directions helps you to draw down the power and wisdom of each.

As always, I thought I’d share it with you!

Here’s the card layout

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Card positions:

1. The heart of the question 
2. The dilemma or issue
3. North – where can you ground, what is happening in your physical world, how are you connected to the earth?
4. East – what is dawning in your life? What are you now able to see? What shoots are coming through, prompting reflection on when you sowed them? Where can you find clarity in your life?
5. South – what must you do? What action can you take? What can you create in your life right now, where can you channel your energy, what fuels your fire?
6. West – how are you feeling? Are your feelings flowing? How deep are you willing to look? What is your intuition telling you?


If you’d like to see this spread in action, you can read a reading over here on Autostraddle.

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6 comments

  1. Mara says:

    I’ll be sure to check out Glennie Kindred’s book. Another book I’m interested in that touches on similar topics is Seasons of the Sacred Earth by Cliff Seruntine, though it is focused more on homesteading. I grew up in Los Angeles and never had much feeling one way or the other about the seasons until I moved to Wisconsin, but now celebrating the equinoxes and solstices feels very important and grounding. Plus the logical Aquarian side of me thinks it makes for sense for my personal major holidays to be centered on the literal demarcations between seasons as they relate to astronomical events.

    I read the latest Fool’s Journey article you did on Autostraddle just the other day and was struck by how well everything flowed together and felt very “true”, which I think is the clearest sign of a good reading. You always come up with the best/most thoughtful spreads! My tarot journal is just filled with readings using the various spreads you’ve shared here; my favorites being the SWOT Analysis Spread and New Moon Creativity Spread. I can’t wait to try this one and thank you for sharing it. I hope the new year is treating you well so far. 🙂

    • Beth says:

      Thanks Mara, I’m so glad you appreciate my spreads – I love creating them! This one has already been used for a couple of client readings – it’s become an immediate favourite.

      Thanks also for the book recommendation! I’ll have to check that one out. xx

  2. Thanks for this spread… so glad you’ve found another layer of nature magic for fold into your work via the seasonal elemental correspondences. I also overlay cycle of the day onto my compass/directions. One way to do it is to think of it as a 24 hour clock – north is midnight, east 6am (dawnish), south is noon (the sun is at it’s highest and hottest), and west is the 6pm or dusk. Also the cycles of the moon have their place, with the north being dark moon, east waxing, south being full moon and west waning. So many layers of meaning that seem to fit so perfectly together – the Universe is so clever!

    P.S. This is me doing my homework for week one of your Tarot Class – commenting on a blog! Petting 2 kitties with one hand, as they say 🙂

    • Beth says:

      Ha! Glad you’re doing your homework 😉

      Interesting to hear about your own relationship with seasons and also day cycles – those four correspondences feel just perfect. Oh, now you’ve got me thinking…

  3. Liz W-M says:

    This is the second spread of yours I’ve done, and I have found this one just as amazing as the first! Thank you.

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