An “On-Point” Alternative Choice Reading

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Although the issue has already been settled in principle if not yet in fact, a client has reached a “tipping-point” in a major life decision and is seeking additional insight from an impartial Universe regarding the wisdom of a pending action that was chosen and is soon to be taken. I used my “Strummer’s Wishbone Simple Choice” spread for this reading.


For the “Subject” card I selected the Wheel of Fortune since this decision-making evolution entails “spinning the wheel of destiny.” I first pulled the spread using the Thoth deck, but after examining it I decided that the Waite-Smith tarot would provide a clearer perspective on the situation so I substituted those cards for the Thoth pull. This necessitated changing out one of the “quintessence” cards due to the alternate numerical correspondences for the Adjustment/Justice and Lust/Strength cards. Immediately below is the RWS version; the Thoth layout follows the interpretation, which is based on the RWS imagery.

The Ace of Swords reversed came up as the “Situation” card (aka “Status of the Central Issue or Conflict”). The matter surfaces as an outwardly rational, single-pointed choice that may have hidden aspects or implications. I decided in advance that the left-hand path depicts the “stand pat and stick with the original decision” scenario, while the right-hand path presents the “change of mind” synopsis. It’s notable that the former includes four numerological expressions of the number One (Wheel of Fortune through Magician), giving it symbolic preeminence even before any of the cards are read.

In the “stand pat” sequence, the 10 of Swords as the “Choice #1” progress card suggests that misgivings and anxiety abound in the case but, compared to the external emphasis of the comparable card in the “change of mind” series, the unsettling sentiments are a product of the querent’s own mental state and can be conquered once it is recognized that each escalating bout of uncertainty feeds on the previous one. This card precipitates overthinking.

In the “Outcome”position of the “stand pat” sequence, the Magician reversed implies some doubt in trusting the validity of the factors that have been fed into the decision-making evaluation. Rather than reaching for the sky, the destabilized Magician is stretching out with his wand for support from the Earth below, looking to prop up his shaky equilibrium with the best facts available.

Because the reversed Magician doesn’t provide a conclusive answer to the question, I decided to calculate the “quintessence” for the three-card chain. In my “quint” practice I subtract the value of any reversed cards, so here the arithmetic is [-1] + 10 + [-1] = 8, Strength in the RWS tarot and Adjustment (Justice) in the Thoth deck. In contrast to the quintessence card for the “change of mind” chain, this card bestows a “liberating self-confidence” and offers abundant affirmation for staying with the original decision. If I swap in Justice, it implies that an eminently cerebral deliberation will take place that further confirms this solution as the “right answer” (Aleister Crowley calls this decisive reconciliation of conflicting thoughts the “annihilation of illusion”).

In the “change of mind” sequence, the “Choice #2” progress card is the King of Swords reversed, suggesting that an opinionated and authoritative man (already a known force in the matter) will be in “Father knows best” mode and attempt to impose his own version of the truth on the decision, but the reversal intimates that he may be pushing a private agenda in doing so (anecdotal evidence outside of the reading hints that this may be true).

The upshot of this intervention appears in the “Outcome” card of the series, the 8 of Swords reversed (titled “Interference” in the Thoth deck). I’m thinking that the King of Swords will insist that the blindfolded woman walk meekly down the path laid out for her, especially since the reversal renders the bound figure even less in touch with objective reality. The combined imagery suggests that the woman is being prodded forward by the King’s big sword, and the advice to her is to not be cowed.

Once again, this is an inconclusive resolution, so I calculated the quintessence. The math here is [1-] + [-14] + [-8] = [-23]; [-2] + [-3] = [-5], the Hierophant reversed. In addition to signifying traditional or conventional wisdom of the kind offered by the King of Swords, this card corresponds to Taurus, the preeminent sign of “hale-and-hearty” physical well-being and security. Its reversal portends the “bottom falling out” of the robust Taurean wellness paradigm if the established order of things proposed by the King of Swords is followed. The conclusion is that this path could lead to weakness arising in the wake of a questionable decision. It appears to be diametrically at odds with the constitutional fortitude displayed by the “stand pat” quint. One is robust, the other is anemic.

In summary, the “stand pat” choice comes across as the better of the two. The only hesitation I have in recommending it is that the potential complications of the reversed Ace of Swords have yet to reveal themselves; but that card applies to both chains and its veiled implications could make an appearance regardless of which path is followed. It would not seem to be potent enough to dim the bright prospects of Strength or upset the sober rectitude of Justice.

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