I originally created an example reading based on an existing medical crisis (not mine) but caught myself trying to massage the meaning of the cards to fit the circumstances, so I scrapped it and started over. This time I strove to come up with a personal “wellness blueprint” capturing my present and future state of health, with much better results. It was an informative and entertaining exercise in self-awareness, and the Thoth cards meld beautifully with the position meanings.
The middle “State of Balance” column reflects a decent amount of equilibrium that favors a robust constitution since the cards are predominantly vigorous and elementally cooperative with one another (I consider Fire and Earth to be “complementary opposites” producing useful dynamic tension). Any tendency for the Ace of Wands in the Mental Health row to “run away with me” (e.g. hypertension, inflammation) is curbed by the two sober, steadfast Earth cards in the areas of Spiritual and Physical Health. There is a calm but energized durability in this combination that augurs well for long-term hardiness.
In the Spiritual Health row, all of the Major Arcana are either Earth or Water cards that sit at the placid, contemplative end of the spectrum. The two “Yang” Earth cards imply orthodox values, which is interesting since one of my favorite oxymorons is that I’m “devoutly (as in resolutely) non-religious.” The duality of the masculine Hierpohant and the feminine Priestess suggests warring metaphysical viewpoints; despite its domination of Western culture, I’ve never had any use for the authority of patriarchal priesthoods since the matriarchal worldview holds far more sympathetic appeal. I don’t need to be “saved,” I just need to be left to my own vision of spirituality. The Empress as the “Ultimate Yin” card evinces a graceful, composed serenity that is the secular counterpart of the mystical Priestess, while her “Yang-in-Yin” counterpart, the non-combative Hermit, is content to let her have her way. My bet is on the ladies here; “low stress” seems to be the operative principle in my long-range wellness projection. All of the “personal planets” of astrology are present in this series except the Sun: Venus in the offsetting Empress and Hierophant; the Moon in the Priestess; Mercury in the Hermit; and Mars in the 3 of Disks. There is little that is ephemeral or abstract about this spiritual path. Furthermore, all of the trump cards are elementally friendly to the 3 of Disks (“Work”), making me think of the “Great Work” of spiritual transcendence arising from a humble beginning.
The Mental Health track has one each of Water, Fire, Air and Earth court cards (with a doubling of Fire through the Ace of Wands). The contrasting pairs (Prince of Cups and Queen of Wands; Princess of Disks and Prince of Swords) are elementally hostile to one another. About the best that can be said is that the Queen of Wands on the “Yang” side will most likely “pull rank” on the Prince of Cups (“Utmost Yang”) and give the rather docile Princess of Disks (“Utmost Yin”) some leeway to bring her adversary (Prince of Swords) to heel. In psychological terms, I once again think that feminine composure will outweigh masculine assertiveness; both of the female cards are elementally compatible with the Ace of Wands, while one of the two male cards (Prince of Cups) is unfriendly to the central Ace. This alignment suggests that Yin moderation will cool its ardor and mitigate any inflammatory consequences for health that it might portend as mentioned above.
Like the Spiritual Health series, the Physical Health row contains all elementally cooperative cards. The most interesting thing here is that both of the extremes, 3 of Cups as “Utmost Yang” and 10 of Cups as “Utmost Yin,” convey the idea of “liquid indulgence,” with the 10 of Cups at the Yin end implying over-indulgence. The 3 of Cups (“Abundance”) has the 7 of Disks (“Failure”) as its cautionary anchor (Saturn in Taurus could mean kidney stones in this context), while the 10 of Cups (“Satiety”) has only the “yes-man” of the 9 of Cups (“Happiness”) to countermand its urges (as the saying goes “One lies and the other swears to it”). If I were a recovering alcoholic, this scenario might mean “falling off the wagon;” but I’m not and don’t foresee becoming one (that 7 of Disks looks like a rather dismal “morning after”) so some kind of fluid intake/output imbalance may be implied. Happily, I already recognized the risk of dehydration several months ago and began drinking more water (especially with my occasional dram of scotch whisky), bringing the 3 of Cups and the 7 of Disks into stable accord. In that sense, the proactive Yang side seems to hold the lead over the slothful 10 of Cups/9 of Cups pair on the Yin side. The central 9 of Disks could very well mean “weight gain” with all that elemental encouragement, but I took the possibility in hand a few months ago by dropping a few pounds, with a few more still to go. I’m not exactly a “shadow of my former self” but the silhouette is shrinking.
Although it’s not a formal part of the spread, I calculated the “quintessence” card for each five-card row as a “roll-up” of all the influences into a summary statement of wellness potential. For the Spiritual Health series I got the Emperor (5+2+3+9+3 = 22; 2+2 = 4) intimating that I “have the situation under control,” mainly through force of will.
Considering the unnumbered court cards to be 11 through 14, the Mental Health row yielded Death (12+13+1+12+11 = 49; 9+4 = 13), but if I take it down one more notch (1+3 = 4) I again get the Emperor; since a bad attitude isn’t likely to kill me, I can only interpret this as some kind of mental/emotional “make-over” with the Emperor standing in the background cheering it on.
The Physical Health row gave me Lust (3+7+9+9+10 = 38; 3+8 = 11); Aleister Crowley’s brief divinatory meaning for this card mentions “courage, strength, energy and action,” all of which seem to reinforce the superiority of the Yang influence in this series. I just need to rigorously keep up what I’ve been doing for almost a year now, with the keynotes of regular exercise, appetite control and limiting of alcohol consumption.
It’s notable that of the 15 cards pulled only two were Fire cards and there was only a single Air card. Seven were Earth cards and the remaining five were Water. Although the “Yang” and “Yin” cards aren’t split along elemental lines, Earth and Water are characteristically less volatile than Fire and Air, implying that I should maintain a “steady as she goes” posture in my wellness regime and change nothing (unless I cop an attitude over skimpy portions and fewer cocktails, and require an “attitude adjustment”). The most appropriate motto for this abstemious approach to health might be “Life is too short to make it shorter.”