I started out with a simple 5-Card Spirit Spread.
For whatever reason, I seem to read Tarot better for myself when there are more cards on the table. Once I added the clarifying cards (as shown in the above image), it all came together for me with this standard Spirit Spread.
1. Earth: Queen of Swords Reversed • U / ↓
→5 of Wands Reversed • V \
2. Air: Ten of Cups Reversed • 10 of Cups Reversed • X U ↓
→ The Fool Reversed • ∅ ↓
3. Water: Queen of Cups • U U
→Prince of Cups Reversed • / U ↓
4. Fire: The Chariot Reversed • XII ↓
→Princess of Wands Reversed • O \ ↓
5. Central: Eight of Swords • 8 of Swords • XIII /
Things got very deep, very quickly with this spread. Here are the observations I made through external dialogue, copied from my Tarot journal:
“A survivor to a fault, you have absorbed the messages of women you consider strong survivors, past and present; you have determined your path based on their decisions. You believe making long-term choices is the way out of the dark, the past. Your acceptance, tolerance and knowledge does not afford others around you the freedom to remain in the dark, even if they are content to remain behind. You refuse to leave them with the blindfold on.
“You don’t believe there is conflict in embracing differences because that is part of survival and survival is about getting out. This makes you appear harsh unexpectedly because, most of the time, you hide this side. You do not fight with swords, you fight with shields, and it forces others into a position of attack. You are not an executioner, but you lose little sleep over closing the gates. Even your writing is a shield against the world and against the dark.
“Your mind is filled with broken homes, bad relationships, and shattered dreams. This is how you lost your innocence and it was lost at the beginning of an intellectual journey, a journey you chose with no example. You chose the unknown without fully understanding the risks. Your intellectual life is not a place of inspiration; it lacks direction.
“Yet, you’re good at your work. Your capacity for empathy and nurturing remains steadfast. You are fulfilled in this way and your willpower maintains your ability to navigate the world of emotions. Still, this leaves you moody, making your own cycles mercurial.
“Therefore, you are always at the mercy of opposing forces. You are ambitious in order to survive and progress, but your talents and nature lead you to dark places. You are constantly having to relight the fire of your creativity, though you never lack the passion to create. The cycle feels like a trap….
“Your spirit fears becoming trapped by your nature and circumstances. Because of your need of survival, your daily delving into negative worlds, your capacity for taking on emotions, and your creativity, your spirit fears you will trap yourself.
“It is your connection to your Animus with its power of structure and authority that will carve out a space for integration. Your physical persona cannot do it; your work and intelligence cannot do it; your compassion and creativity cannot do it. Let the Emperor within guide you.”
This spread came with a strong, honest message about myself, stripped of the many masks I wear and roles I embody. I have returned to this spread for further insight, reminding myself how to integrate my True Self.