At the airport, beginning a long, long journey to western Canada, Em and I read tarot cards for our holiday.
It’s a favourite spread of mine, short, fun and intriguing, but one I rarely use…because I rarely go on holiday! But on Tuesday night, excited and trepidatious about a two-week excursion to a country we’ve never visited, it was time. Em and I read for each other (and one of my favourite things in the world is when Em reads my cards.)
It’s a six-card spread in two parts. The first three cards are about me/you and the spirit in which we’re taking our trip. The second part is about the holiday itself, its spirit, the highlight and what we’ll take away from it. You can read the first part in the moment before going, and reflect on the second part while you’re away.
Here are the spread positions:
1. Your spirit in going
2. What to pack
3. What not to pack (or what to unpack!)
4. The spirit of the trip itself
5. The highlight of the holiday
6. A souvenir to bring home
Lay the cards in a circle, clockwise from the top.
My spirit in going: Nine of Wands
What to pack: Six of Cups
What not to pack: Four of Cups
Gosh. The message I received from these three cards was about showing up. As in, really showing up. Bringing my full self, my strange and tiring year, my weird limbo feelings, my anxieties, my deep joy in finding home, my toe-dipping urges for going back beneath my surface, everything that has shifted and felt formative and scary and beautiful over the past year, the fact that I’m actually really damn tired, and also at a turning point…just bring the whole damn lot and let it seep into the earth.
The Nine of Wands – a favourite of mine – reminds me that I’m on the right path. Here, as the ‘my spirit in going on this holiday’ card, it lets me know that it’s been a long journey to get here. It has. I’ve spent the past couple of years searching for a home, and things like travel and holidays have felt pointless. I felt like, what’s the meaning in going somewhere if you don’t have a home to return to? Em and I were continually saying that when we finally found a place to live, the first thing we’d do is organise a real, big, exciting holiday. And now here we are, and the crescent moon is high above that tall, steep ladder, and it feels so good. I feel ready for this trip, and I know it’s going to be special.
The Six of Cups is for me about vulnerability. This is where the showing up part really comes through for me. I’ve been focused for so long on a sort of ‘just below the surface’ level of consciousness. With it’s deep, rainbow-coloured roots, bigger and more expansive than the tree above, this gentle card offers me a nudge. It’s safe now, it says. There’s nothing to fear here. You’re ready. The Four of Cups, in some ways the Six’s opposite, compounds the message. Show up, don’t hide, be curious, be open-hearted.
So then. Okay.
The spirit of the holiday: The Emperor
The highlight of the holiday: The Hanged Man
A souvenir to bring home: The Hermit
Three major cards? Is it wise to even try and interpret them? I’m seeing a lot of stillness, a lot of quiet, a lot of peace – which feels wonderful. I’m curious about the Emperor and its connotations of structure and strength, order and power. What is this card telling me about my holiday?
Or perhaps that Emperor is simply a big tree, and nothing to do with traditional tarot card meanings! Perhaps interpretation is pointless here, and the image itself offers me all I need. I’m heading to the boreal forest of the north, the Yukon. Perhaps that is the spirit of this holiday: forest.
Now, I’m here.
And all of the trees seem to look like that Emperor – a tall, narrow, slowly-waving spruce.
It’s 8am, an hour and a half til sunrise. It’s 20 degrees below, fresh snow fell in the night. My dear friend, the oldest friendship I have, has headed to work and her trailer-park home is cosy and bright. Em and I have coffee and bagels and we’re making plans for the day. Yesterday, jet-lagged and slept-in, we spent a gentle few hours landing and getting oriented, a walk in the snow, a tour of downtown, a trip to the river and trees. I’ve never been anywhere like this. I’ve never felt cold like it, never seen forests or water like these.
Like the spread, this trip is one of two parts.
We’re here for a time, before heading back south to the Southern Gulf Islands, where we’ll be staying with Andi Grace (whom many of you will know from their writing right here on Little Red Tarot, and on their incredible blog, Witch Cabinet).
And yes, it feels much too early to interpret this reading. I decide to simply sit with these cards, to carry them with me, but lightly. I will return to my Emperor, Hanged Man and Hermit when it’s time to come home, and read them in the light of the holiday I’ve had.
For now, all I need to do, is show the heck up.
Cards shown in this post are from the Wild Unknown Tarot.
Like this spread? Here’s another post where I used it in Spain!
I’m a 30-something writer, artist, tarot reader, and perpetual explorer of the space between thought, feeling, and action.
I believe that spirituality and ritual are for everybody. I’m about the journey, in all of its messy, non-linear, chaotic iterations. I am excited by anticapitalist business and living with my whole entire self present. I use tarot cards to bring forth hidden truth, and ritual to affirm my commitment, over and over, to my ever-shifting path.