THE WORLD SPREAD
A spread is the way in which cards are deposed on the table in order to consulte them about a specific topic or question. There are many spreads, and none of them has a universal value. Most spreads have been developped with a specific thematic background in mind. The spread I will explain here below is a general spread. It can be used in many situations, where you need some background information. But it is a little bit complicated, so it cannot be used for simple questions where you want a direct answer (like yes/no spreads). The development of the spread has been inspired by the World card of the Marseille Tarot, so evidently the Marseille Tarot and their regional variations give the best result with this spread. The spread is not adapted for decks with illustrated pip cards. My preferred deck for reading is designed in the 17th Century by Jean Noblet, and I will use images of this deck to explain the spread.
The spread is based on the card called "Le Monde". What we see on this card is a human figure, half woman half man, standing inside a Mandorle. In the four corners around this mandorle four figures, three animals and an angel. This image strongly ressembles the illustration called "Christ in Majesty", a composition used above the entrance of many medieval cathedrals, on paintings and in scriptures. As an example here below the representation at the entrance of the cathedral of Chartres, close to Paris in France. Around Christ we see the same figures, a lion, an ox, an eagle and an angle, representing the four evangelists. It looks a lot like the World card of Jean Noblet, but there are some differences.
At the left the World card of Jaques Vievil (Jacques Vieville). Here the figure in the Mandorle is clearly a man. He has a wand in his right hand, where on the Noblet card the figure holds it in his/her left hand. The position of the figures around the Mandorle on the card made by Jaques Vievil is exactly the same as on the Cathedral of Chartres. On the Cathedral the four figures represent the four evangelists, the Angel representing Mathew, the Eagle representing John, the winged Lion representing Mark and the winged ox representing Luke. This is exactly copied as such on the Tarot of Jaques Vievil, with as only difference that the Ox and the Lion don't have wings any more.
On the card made by Jean Noblet the Ox and the Lion have changed places, but not the Angle and the Eagle. Why? As we have remarked in the section about the development of the Tarot, most cards of Jean Noblet are mirrored with respect to Vievil. Why?
The reason for the mirroring of the cards is as simple as astonishing, the Marseille Tarot is probably the first card deck specially conceived for self meditation. On the Tarot of Jaques Vievil we are looking at an illustration, on the Marseille Tarot we are looking in a mirror. The images on the cards represent the inside of our Soul. When looking at the cards of the Tarot of Marseille, we are looking at an mirrored image of our inner selves.
Now let us go back to the World card. The disposition of the figures on the card is not random and it is no copy of the disposition of the illustration of Christ in Majesty. Every figure is on a specific place adapted to its characteristics. In fact, in this way the World card, representing the Universe and God, is a summary of the whole Tarot deck, trump cards and suit cards together. Let us have a look at the details.
On the card of Jean Noblet we see on the top side two winged creatures, that are linked to spiritual values. On the bottom two Earth bound creatures, linked to earthly matters. On the left side two docile creatures, an ox and an angel. On the right side to killing machines, an eagle and a lion, who need to kill other animals in order to stay alive. The ox and the Angle have receptive female characteristicss, and the eagle and the lion have dynamic male characteristics. In the figure here below, we will replace the four figures with Trump cards having the same characteristics.
The flying figures have been replaced by the Popess and Pope representing spiritual values. The Earth bound animals have been replaced by the Empress and the Emperor, rulers over the material world. The docile figures are represented by two women, the Popess and Empress. And finally, the voracious eagle and lyon are represented by two men, the Pope and the Emperor.
After having added four Trump cards, we will add four suit cards, representing the four elements. Earth is down, Water on the women's side, Air on top and Life (Fire, Energy) at the men's side. Coins (Earth) will be represented by the Page (representing the Earth aspect in the court cards) on the bottom of the figure, Cups (Water) by the Queen (the Water aspect in the court cards) at the left side, Swords (Air) by the Knight (representing the Air aspect in the court cards) on top and finally Batons (Life/Fire/Energy) will be represented by the King (who is representing the Life/Fire/Energy aspect in the court cards) at the right side. The final figure is the following:
The above figure is the base of the World Spread. The spread consists of 10 cards. After shuffling and mixing the deck, put the cards on a pile. Discard six cards and put the seventh card in the center of the table. Repeat this procedure of discarding six cards and putting every seventh card on the table on the place as indicated below. When laying out this spread, the first card indicates the general atmosphere of the question. The next four cards are placed anticlockwise on the place of the Trumps II, III, IIII and V. They represent the influences on the general subject, on the bottom we have the influences of other people and the outside world on the consultant and his direct environment and on the top spiritual influences that work on the values and behavior of the consultant. At the left apparently hidden influences working constantly in the background and at the right strong influences working over a short period of time in the foreground. The next four cards are placed clockwise on the place for respectively the Coins, Cups, Swords and Batons. We shift them half a cardsize to the outside in order to immitate the Mandorle. They represent relationships, Coins the relation of the consultant with himself, Cups his relations with his close friiends and family, Swords his relations with other people and Batons his relations with society. The tenth card is placed on top of the first card. This card is an advice how to deal with the question. There are no reversed meanings, all cards are placed with the topside above. The figure below indicates how the spread represents itself. If you like you can use two decks together, to allow for the same card appearing twice.
The ten cards together explain more in detail the first card. If there are 2 or 3 trumps and 1 or 2 cards of each suit, we have a well balanced spread. If this is not the case, if a suit or the trumps are under or over represented this gives us more detailed information about the general atmosphere around the question. If certain numbers appear twice or even more this is also significant. If the court cards are over represented (more than 2) or under represented (less than 2) this can also give us some information.
In table form the interpretation of the different positions can be summarized as follows:
The general atmosphere of the question
Background influences on your values and behavior
Background influences on your daily life
Foreground influences on your daily life
Foreground influences on your values and behavior
Coins, your relationship to yourself
Cups, your relationship with close friends and family
Swords, your relationship with other people
Batons, your relationship with society
Advice how to behave with respect to the question
Because an example is clearer than a thousand words, I will show you the cards I have drawn on the first of January 2016 for myself to give me information and advice about the year 2016.
In the same way as you can draw a card for one day, you can lay out a spread for a particular year. So this spread is my personnal spread for the year 2016. The first card defining the general atmosphere was the Popess. The Popess represents the Virtue Faith, so in this context I interpret the card with confidence. I conclude that I can have confidence in the year 2016. This is confirmed by the overall picture, 3 Trump cards, 2 Coins, 2 Cups, 1 Sword and 2 Batons, a very well balanced overall picture. There are 3 court cards against 4 pip cards, where we should expect respectively 2 and 5 cards. So the court cards are over represented, indicating that my relations with other people will be important in the coming year. This is further emphasized by the fact that two of the court cards are Knights, so good communications with other people will be important. The number 5 appears twice, indicating changes taking place during the year.
The influences working on the background are the 3 and 4 of Batons. In a general way, materially I will encounter growing energy, an energy that is supported by stable spiritual energy sources. As a foreground influence on my daily lify we see the 5 of Cups indicating an event that will change in my relations with my family and friends. The Sun that shines brightly in the foreground indicates an important event strongly influencing in a positive way my values and behavior.
The 4 cards representing relationships are dominated by court cards, that is highly significant. The card dealing with myself is the Knight of Coins, so it is highly probable that I will have very important news concerning myself during the year. My relations with my family and friends is represented by the Fool, so these relations might change in a completely new direction, that confirms the presence of the 5 of Cups on position 4. My relations with other people are represented by the Knight of Cups. I interpret this here that I will communicate a lot with the outside world, and this communigation will give me new friends. Finally the Page of Coins on the place of the Batons indicates me that my children (page = child and coins = I) will take an important place in the way how I interact with society.
The 5 of Swords finally advices me to change my attitude towards other people, to be open, to listen and to learn from them.
I'm not a very experienced Tarot reader and I'm not using traditional card meanings, so you might have comments on the interpretation above. In this case don't hesitate to send me a mail through the Contact page or to start a public discussion in the comment box below. But please consult first the pages about the Tarot structure that explain the interpretation system I am using.
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