Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Merkaba Spread

In this new year, I thought it would be a good idea to include a weekly entry on different Tarot spreads- a spread being the way the cards are laid out to extract information and insight from them. There are about as many different spreads out there as there are readers, and in many cases readers develop a handful of spreads they like to use. It depends largely on the reader, and different spreads often resonate with different people. I'll include here the ones that I frequently use.
Spreads can often be categorized based on what they are intended to do- there are spreads for relationships, situations and career, as well as more general spreads. Most people are familiar with a Celtic Cross spread, most commonly using ten cards, which form first a cross shape, then a line of four cards.
Today's spread is called a Merkaba Spread- it's also spelled Merkabah, but same difference. A merkaba is a funky little geometrical shape, and has several metaphysical connotations. The term comes from Hebrew, and on an interesting side note, translates roughly as chariot or vehicle, and is thought to refer to the seat God appears seated on in the prophetic books of the Bible.
All of which is beyond the scope of using a Merkaba Spread. This spread's focus does fit in with the concept of a vehicle or chariot, as it shows how the past leads up to the future; how the past conditions and prepares us for the decisions we make in the future. In terms of its utility, the Merkaba Spread is a situational spread, pointing to what factors influence a decision we may be facing, and what the outcome of a possible choice can be. Drawn geometrically, a merkaba looks something like this:
Somewhat like if you held a pyramid in each hand, then squished your hands together. The Merkaba Spread has two dimensions, rather than three, and like this, has a kind of symmetry to it. The cards are as follows:


No, you don't have to draw in the lines. The numbers here indicate the order the cards are laid out in, and the explanation of each position is as follows:
1. The Essence- at the center of the diagram, this card represents both the main issue of the reading, and also any long-term influences on the decision at hand, or the person making the decision.
2. Experience- This card is a representation of past experiences, both in terms of habits and patterns of behavior and in terms of life experiences. It could also be that these patterns are partially or wholly automatic or unconscious, and bringing them to light can help in some cases to change them.
3. Influences- Here we find more external factors in influencing the decision- other people and their opinions are indicated here, as well as situational factors that the decision-maker may take into account or be influenced by.
4. Opportunities- Moving from the past to the future, this position expresses one of two things- in many cases simply the same thing viewed from different points of view- either obstacles or opportunities at the present time, and either prompting or coming from change in the present situation.
5. Potential- This can be seen as the next step from the previous card, as here is the ways in which opportunities can be made use of. This too is dependent on thinking patterns and habit, and both of these can influence how and even if this is utilized.
6. Progression- Think of the 4th, 5th and 6th cards as representing development from the situation. The Progression card indicates the next step from the decisions that have been made, and how the decisions begin to unfold.
7. Outcome- This final card tells of what you can expect to see based on the path of decisions and choices that have been made- remember that this is not set in stone; you are always free to change an unfavorable or negative outcome, but the Outcome position represents the culmination of what has come before- change the decisions along the way, and change the outcome.
In this spread, I found the symmetry interesting to examine. There are two triangles, one pointing upwards, representing the future, and one pointing downwards, representing what has come about already. In the center is a single card, which is the first card laid out, representing an overall influence on this situation. Though it might seem like the old Wiccan adage "As above, so below" applies in this case, perhaps a better way to phrase it would be "as before, so again"- what we do in the past will have an impact on how our futures unfold; likewise, what we do in the present will manifest both in the present and down the line in the future.
There are a wide variety of sizes and complexities of spreads out there, and in many cases spreads can seem similar. This is certainly true, however at the same time, pick a spread you're comfortable with, and one that "speaks" to you. There are no brownie points for learning every spread in the proverbial book; rather, learn those spreads that work well for you, and work well for those you do readings for. The advice I was given in this area was learn a handful of spreads very well, and feel free to add either your own or spreads you have learned as time goes on. Not everyone reads cards in the exact same way- it's both an art and a science, as has frequently been said.

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