A happy New Year’s Eve to you. Things have been quiet here because of the holiday craziness, which has finally died down. (Or rather, it died down a few days ago and I’m just now recovering.) A couple of weeks ago, I posted my massive Year Ahead Spread for 2016. While it is a predictive (i.e. fortune telling) spread, I’m not a predictive reader, so I did it for fun and also because whether it predicts the future or not, it has given me a broad range of things that could happen, which is important to think about.
When I did that spread, I chose a card each from the Wild Unknown deck and the Earthbound Oracle for the theme of the year ahead, and got the Emperor and Failure. Yup. I don’t know about Failure, but we’ll get back to the Emperor in a second.
After I did that spread, I downloaded and filled out Susannah Conway’s workbook Unravelling the Year Ahead (last year’s version of this workbook, by the way, is the reason why I got back into tarot.) Part of her method for helping people plan the year ahead is to choose a word that will set the theme. Last year, my word was OPEN, because I really felt like I needed to open myself to new experiences and others. This year, I chose the word UNKNOWN because I have now graduated and am switching careers, so my life is one giant unknown. I believe that embracing what is uncomfortable or uncertain is a vital part of spiritual practice, so my hope is that UNKNOWN will help me not only deal with uncertainties in my life, but also cultivate curiosity about things that I think I know. (Being a know-it-all is one of my biggest–and most tiresome–habit energies.)
Inspired by Unravelling the Year Ahead, which has a page for you to mediate on the four elements of your life and how you’d like to cultivate them (air/intellect, water/relationships & self-love, earth/possessions & connection to nature, and fire/creativity) I decided to create a year ahead spread that involved the four elements. And I added a fifth, spirit, just for fun. I never actually work with this element in my tarot practice, but I know a lot of people do. Then I added four cards about your direction and personal power–not predicting what will happen from the outside, but the things that help you though any situation, not matter how unpredictable. Finally, the last optional card is to choose a theme for the year ahead, or reflect upon one you’ve chosen.
The Gathering In Spread
This spread could be used for a new year (either a calendar year or a new birthday year) or the pieces of it could be split off and used for different purposes. The Gathering part of the spread could be used anywhere, anytime. It’s the bringing together of your resources and personal power–how to stay on track, what your personal power is, how do deal with the things, as they say, that you cannot change, and how to take care of yourself. For mine, I used the Wild Unknown Tarot (fitting for the theme, eh?)
1-5: The Elements
1: Fire This is the realm of creativity. What is the theme of your creative life for the coming year?
2: Air Air is intellect–how should you be thinking about things, how do beliefs or knowledge help or hinder you?
3: Earth Possessions, finances, your body, your environment–anything tangible. What role do these play in your life the coming year? How should you work with them?
4: Water Emotions and relationships: what’s the theme for this year?
5: Spirit What is the tenor of your spiritual life? Even if you are an atheist, what’s the role of your connection to others in your life?
6: What is my guiding light? This is the lighthouse beacon. It calls you back when you get off course; it provides guidance in times of darkness or confusion.
7: What is my personal power? What is that place of untouchable power in you–the thing that others can’t break, the thing that only you can access?
8: How do I deal with things that are out of my control? While we use our personal power to guide our selves, the truth is that control over people or events doesn’t exist. From a recalcitrant two-year-old to someone rear-ending you to the politicians signing off on oppressive legislation, no matter how many protests were had, sometimes we can’t control things. But how do we deal with them?
9: How do I take care of myself? Let’s remember to make this a priority.
(Optional) 10: What is ________? (Word, theme, card of the year, etc.)
When drawing these cards, I decided to work with upright cards only. Those who read this blog know that I work with reversals most of the time, but for big, archetypal energy stuff like this, I prefer to just stick with upright cards. As I turned each card over, I was amazed at what I drew:
I wrote my findings in the back of my 2016 planner, so I could flip back to them whenever I feel the need.
1 Fire of this year: 9 of Cups. Spiritually driven and creatively fulfilled by things that make me emotionally fulfilled.
2 Air of this year: The Star. Intellectually at my best when I am optimistic and focus on hope, larger lessons, and deeper meanings.
3 Earth of this Year: Daughter of Cups. Striving for a relationship with money and possessions that fosters emotional simplicity and gratitude.
4 Water of this Year: 8 of Cups. Walking away from things that are not emotionally fulfilling. Knowing when to move on.
5 Spirit of this Year: The Magician. My practice is whole-hearted and combines all elements of myself. Powerful because balanced.
6 My Guiding Light: The Sun. At this point, I have nothing to lose by pursuing what makes me happy.
7 My Personal Power: 9 of Wands. Sticking to my values and principles. This is the card of personal power. I have it!
8 How to respond to what I can’t control: 7 of Pentacles. Take a moment to remember that this is a small step in a larger process. Overall, progress with happen.
9 How to take care of myself: 3 of Cups. Do not isolate! Seek friends and lovers for comfort.
10 What is UNKNOWN? The Emperor. My encounters with institutions, organizations, and people in places of power.
If you’ll remember, the Emperor was the yearly theme card that I drew in my Year Ahead Spread. I did that spread before Susannah had made Unravelling the Year Ahead available and before I had even begun to think about picking a word. And yet–my yearly theme and my word of the year collide. This is why, when I want to get all super-rational about tarot and say it’s just completely random and it only works because of the things we project onto the cards, I pause. There is something amazing about opening ourselves up to chance on a daily basis, because stuff like this happens.
Overall, I feel empowered by this spread. Since it’s now in the back of my 2016 planner, I hope to return to it periodically, especially when things get rough. And I will keep my eye out for the Emperor since he showed up in critical places in both of my New Year’s spreads.
If you use this spread for the beginning of 2016, or for any other turning point in your life, please let me know how it went!